Gennett says he learned about baseball starting when he was very young. He believes that all of this success began with his parents when he was a toddler. "I have had so much support from my parent, and my dad started working with me when I was 2, like I said. It is good to see all the hard work pay off," Scooter said.
Scooter was born in Lebanon, Ohio. That is where he grew up, until he was 9 years old and the family moved to Sarasota, Florida.
The family frequented old Riverfront Stadium often in the summer. But he only remembers one Opening Day.
"I think I was like six or seven," Gennett says. "It was obviously a good experience—the streets shut down and stuff like that. It was pretty unique. I only remember Schotzie (former owner Marge Schott's dog) and the Naked Cowboy guy with the tighty-whities playing guitar.
"I was a Reds fan until I was drafted in 2009 by the Brewers."
Gennett did not get his "Scooter" nickname from his hustle on the baseball field. It comes from his love of Muppet Babies as a child, and his quick thinking.
"It's a funny story," Gennett said. "I was 4 or 5 and I kept unclicking my car seat. My Mom was determined to teach me a lesson, and she told me she was taking me to the police station if I didn't stop. I didn't, so she did. I was scared. I thought I'd better come up with an alias, so when the policeman asked me my name, I said 'Scooter.' I guess it paid off, because I didn't get arrested. After that, I wouldn't answer to Ryan anymore. I was just Scooter."
Scooter is your prototypical baseball player. And he has a good baseball body, with long legs, a lean frame and is developing all five tools.
- In 2009, the Brewers drafted Gennett (see Transactions below).
In 2011, Baseball America rated Gennett as the 4th-best prospect in the Brewers organization. He was at #5 in the spring of 2012, then at #8 in the offseason before 2013 spring camps opened.
October-November 2011: Scooter impressed scouts in the AFL with the way he swung the bat. He batted .411/.470/.556 with seven doubles and two homers in 90 at-bats.
Gennett is a classic yard rat, one of the first players to arrive every morning. He loves being at the ballpark.
Inside the Brewers 2013 spring training clubhouse, the newest revelation is that Scooter looks like Justin Bieber. Teammate Bobby Crosby put a picture of the Biebs in Gennett's locker
"I like giving guys a hard time," said Crosby. "I think he resembles him a little bit."
The picture didn't stay up very long.
"Gennett took it down about five seconds after I put it up," said Crosby, visibly upset. "It really ticked me off so I put it back up and told him if he fights me on it, it's only going to get worse."
Luckily, Scooter has gone along with the comparison and thinks it's all in good fun.
In 2012, Gennett represented the Brewers at the All-Star Futures Game.
In 2012, Gennett hit for the cycle against the K.C. Royals in a spring training game.
If you can think of a joke relating to size, Scooter probably has heard it. But that hasn't kept teammates at every level of his journey to the major leagues from trying to get his goat.
There was the time in the minor leagues when he found his belongings taped to the ceiling of the clubhouse. The time when he found a stepstool in front of a urinal sporting his name. The tweets with side-by-side pictures comparing him to his bobblehead. The pictures of Justin Bieber taped to his locker during his first major-league camp with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Gennett, as good-natured as they come, always just smiled and laughed, never minding he was the butt of the jokes. It's an approach he has kept to this day, despite his standing as the starting second baseman for the Brewers.
That Teflon exterior was developed at a young age. Gennett remembers the father of one of his Little League teammates telling him in no uncertain terms that he didn't quite measure up to the competition.
"(He) came up to me and said, 'You're too small. You don't have a chance at making it,'" Gennett recalled early in the spring of 2015. "It didn't make sense to me, and I'm glad it didn't at the time. I'm almost happy that person said that to me
Gennett grew up in Cincinnati but honed his baseball skills in Sarasota, Fla., where the budding star would be able to play year-round after moving there at age 9 with his family. He had suitably demonstrated his devotion to his father, Joe, a one-time associate scout with the Houston Astros.
"I would say I was about 7 years old on a high school field taking grounders and my dad was like, 'Want to see what a college ground ball looks like?' And he starts smashing ground balls," Gennett said. "So I was never scared of a ball. I was never scared of pain or getting hit by the ball. That kind of hardened me up at a young age."
Gennett made sure his family didn't uproot itself for naught. He played well enough to not only earn a scholarship to Florida State, but also to be selected in the 16th round of the 2009 draft by the Brewers.
"I was always focused on things," he said. "Having a plan to get better as opposed to just going out there and playing baseball. It was serious to me, and I always took it serious."
Gennett—a shade under 5 feet 10 inches tall and 185 pounds—still carries an underdog mentality. He's well aware of the success similarly diminutive second basemen Dustin Pedroia and Jose Altuve have enjoyed and is continuing to try and reach that level.
"For me, I never thought it was impossible to make it to the big leagues," he said. "Yet working my way up here, I never thought it would happen. I think when people get satisfied and think they're good and they're on their way, they start sucking, they're not playing with that right mind-set.
"I've always had the same mind-set. I've always said I am just trying to make the team. It sounds funny now maybe, but it's very hard to lose that mentality."
While the Brewers clubhouse is a fairly benign place, there are some characters. While he doesn't quite reach the level of a Carlos Gomez or Matt Garza—yet—Gennett is a popular figure among teammates, staff and media.
"When it comes to enthusiasm and stuff, that's just me," he said. "Even when I'm away from the field, whenever I see somebody that's not in a good mood, I go up to that person and try to give my positive energy to them. When I come in I just try to be positive, and that's something I try to do wherever I go.
"I know in our sport we're going to fail a lot. And the more you think about the outs you made than the hits you've gotten, the worse you play. That simple mind-set of being positive and being glass-half-full is just me."
And while his size might help younger fans relate to him, it's the entirety of what he brings to the table that makes him a favorite of fans of all ages. Asked if he could envision himself becoming comfortable as a face of the franchise, Gennett didn't hesitate.
"I do enjoy that because I feel that's my job," said Gennett. "On the field, obviously (I'm working). But if I tell someone I'm going to sign, I try to. If they ask me for a signature I'll tell them to meet me over there after the game and I do it because I feel like I'm obligated to do that. I'm probably not, but I feel like I'm obligated to do that because I feel like that's just what you should do.
"If there's a bunch of little kids who are looking up to this and we just blow them off, what does that do to them?" (Todd Rosiak - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - April 2015)
April 10, 2015: The Brewers had a surprise newlywed in their midst when they returned to Miller Park. While everyone else spent a stormy day lounging on the couch, second baseman Scooter Gennett got married.
Gennett wed his high school sweetheart, Kelsey, in the historic caves below Milwaukee's Miller Brewery. The two have been together since they were sophomores in 2007, were engaged at Thanksgiving, and favored a private, small ceremony. So private that the news came as a total surprise to many of Gennett's teammates.
"We were going to plan on it around December, but I have 30 first cousins and it would have been a huge wedding and a lot of stuff to worry about, and she didn't want that," Gennett said. "So we moved it up a little bit. Kept it under wraps. We've been planning it for 2 1/2 months now. It wasn't a spur of the moment thing, but it seemed like that to some of the guys in here because I didn't let them know."
Fewer than 20 family and friends were in attendance, and everything went off without a hitch.
Well, almost everything.
"I was supposed to have a helicopter there but the weather was so bad they had to cancel," Gennett said. "I was going to have a helicopter pick us up after everything was done and fly us around the city a couple times. It was going to be cool. I think they're going to come by some other time and fly us around. That was the only thing that didn't go according to plan." (A Mcalvy - MLB.com - April 10, 2015)
August 31, 2015: A Wisconsin teenager is being featured on a baseball card after winning a national contest.
And he gets to share the spotlight with his favorite Brewers player.
Ryan Groose-Miles, 15, of Mukwonago, saw the contest from the Topps Trading Card company on Instagram. He submitted a picture of him with Scooter taken at Wrigley Field in 2013 for the chance to have it printed on a card. Topps chose the picture as one of 20 nationwide to win the contest.
“I was surprised because I didn't think it would happen because there were about 500 entries,” said Groose-Miles. “I was just ecstatic.”
Ryan saw Scooter again at a recent signing event in Waukesha where he got him to sign the now-famous card. He says Scooter was actually his mother's favorite player, but he became his favorite after a former Brewer got traded.
Ryan says won't be selling it—he'll just put it on display. (Caissa Casarez - 2015)
One of the hobbies of Scooter is working with and making clay pottery. He took six courses in high school. (Intentional Talk-June 12, 2017)
Scooter loves to fly and is working on his pilots license. He got involved in liking to fly because it used to be a fear in his life, and he decided to face the fear and out of it came the desire to fly for himself. (Intentional Talk-June 12, 2017)
June 16, 2017: Scooter slugged his way into Reds lore by becoming the first player in franchise history to hit four homers in a game—and he did it with style. With the Reds back at Great American Ball Park to play the Dodgers, the club saw fit to honor Gennett with a fun pregame ceremony that was fitting for such an incredible achievement. In recognition of Gennett's feat, the Reds gave him a scooter.
Yes, a scooter for Scooter, but that's not all: it was driven out to an amused Gennett by none other than Cincinnati great Tom Browning, former World Series winner and fellow Red to do something rare (since he threw the 12th perfect game in MLB history back in 1988). (Adrian Garro-MLB.com)
Dec 22, 2017: Gennett had the type of 2017 season that many kids might wish to have granted from Santa Claus. The Reds second baseman not only got to play for the team he grew up cheering for as a native of greater Cincinnati, he had a breakout year, too.
To cap off his storied year, Gennett joined an annual MLB.com tradition of answering questions about the holiday season.
MLB.com: You spent your early childhood in the Cincinnati area. What was it like having the holidays here?
Gennett: A glove, a bat or anything baseball was always awesome on Christmas. There was always some type of Reds-related gift. Even when we moved down to Florida, I always got something Reds-related because that's what it was all about for me.
MLB.com: You grew up in Lebanon, Ohio, an idyllic small town near Cincinnati.
Gennett: It is a smaller-type town. But Reds country extends farther than Ohio, where people within a four-hour radius are impacted by the Reds. Lebanon is only 30 minutes away, but it was like we lived in Cincinnati. I just went back to Lebanon and talked to some high school kids. It's just awesome how everything works in a full circle sometimes. I'm very fortunate to have the opportunity to go back to where I grew up, talk to kids and share some wisdom or experiences of my own to help benefit them. It's just great to be in that position.
MLB.com: What is your favorite thing about the holiday season now?
Gennett: I think it's great because it's the time of year when family comes together. The main focus isn't what I'm buying for somebody or what they are buying for me, but it's, 'How do I make someone else's day?' Or it's, 'How to make someone's Christmas or Thanksgiving?' That's what it's all about. It's being around the people you care about and who care about you.
MLB.com: Do you have any special holiday plans this year?
Gennett: We're going to hang out in Sarasota, Fla. We went on the Reds cruise [in November], and that was a good experience. For the most part now, we'll just hang out in the house. I'm already in full swing with working out, hitting, throwing and stuff like that. We're just going to enjoy the rest of the offseason. Then it's a solid eight months of being on the go.
MLB.com: Do you have a favorite holiday movie?
Gennett: "Christmas Vacation" is the best. Cousin Eddie and the whole movie relates kind of to my Mom's side of the family and cracking jokes. My Dad's side of the family is the quiet side and serious. That movie perfectly shows my family, in a way. But the characters are different and act in different ways. I don't have a cousin that rolls in with an RV and empties it out in the front ditch. That's my movie.
MLB.com: Finally, do you have a holiday wish for Reds fans?
Gennett: Yes. When we're winning next year, that for all of them to show up and pack it in every night. (M Sheldon - MLB.com - Dec 22, 2017)
Even though it was Easter Sunday 2018 and a work day for many baseball players, it was still important to find time to celebrate with family, friends and—especially—teammates. For Scooter that meant dressing up as the Easter Bunny prior to the game against the Nationals.
While the reception of Gennett's outfit was decidedly mixed among the kids in attendance, there can be no doubt that his heart was in the right place. According to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon, Scooter also entered the clubhouse in his costume and promised to wear it after the game ... if the Reds were to win. Talk about providing motivation! (Chesterton - mlb.com - 4/01/18)
April 10, 2018: Babe Ruth, Bronko Nagurski and Dwyane Wade are just some of the most famous athletes to wear No. 3. But among NASCAR fans, there is only one: Dale Earnhardt. Count Scooter Gennett among that group.
The Reds gave Gennett No. 4 last season after Brandon Phillips went to Atlanta, but Gennett opted for No. 3 in 2018 (even if he did hit four dingers in a single game last year). With No. 3 on his back, Gennett opted to use a Dale Earnhardt sticker for his bat-knob decal:
"It's my favorite number," Gennett told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon this spring. "I was a big Dale Earnhardt fan when I was younger, still am. I didn't really like No. 4. I had the four home runs [in one game] and all of that. I think three homers a game wouldn't be too bad." ( Michael Clair-MLB.com )
In 2017, Scooter quickly became a Reds fan favorite after making Major League history with four home runs in one game, but, even before that, he already had one factor working in his favor. Although he was drafted out of Sarasota High School in Florida, he actually grew up around the Cincinnati area in Lebanon.
Gennett's favorite teacher in elementary school was Sharon Snyder, and when he was nine, the already-baseball crazed Gennett gave Snyder a unique farewell gift at the end of his third-grade year—a signed baseball that came with a prescient boast: "Keep this ball because one day I'll be famous."
In June 2017, Gennett and Snyder were reunited when she visited him at Great American Ballpark shortly after his four-homer outburst and he thanked her for visiting by giving her some souvenirs from the game.
During a day off in early May 2018, Gennett added to Snyder's collection again when he visited his hometown for Scooter Gennett Day. Now, Snyder has a signed baseball from 2018 to pair with the one he gave her in 1999: "To: My favorite teacher!!" (Mearns - mlb.com - 5/3/18)
In 2018, Gennett was selected as a reserve in the MLB All-Star game.
Feb 6, 2019: The last two years have been good to Scooter Gennett. In 2017, the second baseman made history by hitting four home runs in a single game, earning him a scooter to call his own. Last year, he made his first All-Star team and hit a clutch 2-run homer in the 9th inning to send the game to extra innings.
With those on-field accomplishments in tow, Gennett is setting his sights on some off-field goals in 2019. That starts with getting out in the community and helping kids have conversations about their mental health: Scooter is taking on bullying in 2019.
As discussions around mental health become less stigmatized in sports and athletes increasingly rely on sports psychologists to help them perform at the highest level, it's nice to see them bring that perspective into the community. Hopefully, Gennett's 2019 project helps the kids he works with and inspires more openness about mental health. (E Chesterton - Cut4 - Feb 6, 2019)
June 2009: The Brewers chose Scooter in the 16th round, out of Sarasota High School in Florida. On August 17, just three hours before the signing deadline, Gennett signed for a bonus of $260,000, via scout Tim McIlvaine.
- March 28, 2017: The Reds acquired Scooter off waivers from the Brewers.
- Jan 11, 2019: Scooter and the Reds avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for 9.7 million.