By David Willis
---- — Andover’s Gus Quattlebaum exuded joy even beyond his wide smile as he talked everything baseball — from playing to scouting to a few Red Sox stories — with a captive audience made up of the Andover Legion baseball team.
“I went to school with a lot of guys who are making a heck of a lot more money than me,” Quattlebaum said. “But I can’t say any of them are happier than I am. I wake up every day happy to go to my work in baseball.”
Once a star for the Andover Legion team, Quattlebaum now calls Fenway Park home as the assistant director of amateur scouting for the Boston Red Sox.
But he was back at — or near — the field where he stood out for Post 8, returning to Andover High to pass along advice and exchange a few inspirational and hilarious Sox stories with the Andover Legion squad last week. He brought his two World Series rings along for the ride, too.
“It’s really great to be back,” said Quattlebaum, who now calls Lexington home after living in California while scouting. “If it wasn’t for the Andover youth programs, I never would have gotten into baseball. They have sent me on the career path I am on now. Coach (Joe) Iarrobino coached me for eight years, so it is great to see him still coaching.”
Iarrobino is far from shocked to see Quattlebaum work his way into a role as a top Sox executive.
“I remember him as a kid talking about that he wanted to have a career in baseball,” the Legion coach said. “You couldn’t find a nicer kid or a more intense competitor. He told me he wanted to be a general manager one day, and he is on his way.”
Through the ranks
Quattlebaum grew up a dedicated Red Sox fan while playing in the Andover youth and Pony leagues before heading to Phillips Academy, where his parents, Ed and Ruth, both taught. He starred for the Big Blue, hitting .491 with 18 RBIs as a junior and .444 as a senior, while going 8-3 as a pitcher over those two seasons.
“Gus was a very good player,” Iarrobino said. “He joked to the kids that he wasn’t very good, but he could hit and was an excellent third baseman for the Legion team. He always wanted to take extra batting practice or fielding drills, he always competed.”
He was then recruited to play at Division 1 Davidson College in North Carolina, where he played primarily outfield and hit 35 career homers, the second best in school history. He briefly flirted with a professional baseball career, playing in the Orioles’ instructional league after graduating in 1997, but then found his next pursuit.
Redirecting his passion
Still hoping to make it as a player, Quattlebaum met with then-Montreal Expos GM Jim Beattie in 1998. Quattlebaum’s family knew Beattie, whose wife, Martha, had taught at Phillips.
Beattie introduced Quattlebaum to Montreal’s farm system director Dave Littlefield, who offered him an internship in the Expos’ player development office in Jupiter, Fla.
The internship included airport runs and picking up pizzas.
“But I got to sit in on the draft,” he said. “That kind of initially turned me on to scouting. ... From there, they sent me to a scout school that Major League Baseball runs.”
After his time with the Expos, he was hired as a scout for the Yankees, winning his first World Series ring in 1999, before moving on to the Orioles.
“As a scout, I averaged 140 nights a year in a hotel,” he said. “And those were the days before cellphones, so I would need to run around and find a pay phone. There were a lot of Marriotts and fast-food dining. Plus, when you are 6-foot-3 in the middle seat on a Southwest (Airlines) flight, it is pretty rough. But I love baseball.”
Finally, in 2006, he was hired by current Sox GM Ben Cherington, winning his second World Series ring in 2007. He accepted his current job in 2010.
“It means everything to be back in Boston,” he said. “With it, there is added pressure when things are going wrong, like the last couple of seasons. But the organization is great, the scouts I work with are great. When you can see a Brandon Workman or Jackie Bradley Jr. make it big, it is great.
“The coolest thing is going to the back fields at Fort Myers and seeing all the young players playing. They aren’t our children, but we treat them like they are.”
Quattlebaum, who has three daughters, currently helps oversee the Red Sox scouting and development. And he said he couldn’t do it without Andover.
“My passion for the game started in Andover with dedicated coaches like coach Iarrobino,” he said. “I’m a little embarrassed to admit it’s been so long since I’ve been at this school that I didn’t know there was a new field (Peter Aumais Park). But I really am thankful for what everyone in Andover did for me.”
Gus isn’t the only member of the Quattlebaum family who made a name for himself in baseball.
His brother, Hugh Quattlebaum, was a star at Phillips and Amherst College before being selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 25th round of the 2000 MLB Draft. He played four years in the minors, reaching triple-A.
“Hugh is living out on the West Coast now,” Gus Quattlebaum said. “He is coaching youth and travel ball, does some writing and works on commercials. He is about to have his first kid, so his life will be changing a lot.”