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Of Character: Scout looks into the future for professional baseball, but clings to faith daily

Lane Decker


By profession, baseball scout Lane Decker is asked to project the future.

However by faith, Decker leaves today and tomorrow in God’s hands.

By the numbers, the 51-year-old Piedmont resident has signed 10 players who have gone on to become major leaguers. He expects a couple more to join that group this season.

But, there are some other numbers he clings to daily — 31:8.

“The verse I like is Deuteronomy 31:8,” said Decker, who with a cowboy hat and jeans resembles a ranch hand more than a scout for the San Diego Padres. “It says, ‘It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’”

In each season of his life there have been those who provided spiritual leadership, said the native Oklahoman, who was born in Oklahoma City and raised in Bethany.

The late Carl Decker and wife, Betty, raised their son Lane in a “Christ-centered home.”

“They not only took us to a great Bible teaching church, Metropolitan Baptist Church, but were examples in our home,” he said. “We still attend Metropolitan Baptist Church.

“My dad was a great example of work ethic, being a self-starter, and to step out in faith if you feel God is leading you that way.”

And even in what some would see as defeating circumstances, Decker along with him family — wife Susan, 50, son Jake, 22, daughter-in-law Kelly, 22, and daughters Annie, 19, Gracie, 16 and Sophie, 11 — have found victories.

Sufficient strength

On May 24, 2011, a tornado reaching the strongest of categories, EF5, sliced through central Oklahoma, just north of the Decker’s rural home near Piedmont. In the aftermath, Lane and Jake noticed a woman stranded in a car. She’d driven over some wire and it had wrapped around an axle. Jake jumped out to help. Lane handed him a pair of wire cutters. Jake went to work, snipping away until suddenly the wire shot back at the teen’s face.

That strand of wire poked through the iris and the lens of Jake’s left eye. In the weeks and months to follow, there were surgeries and there were dreams pushed aside or never realized. But what also followed were numerous prayers from friends and strangers. Too, there were acts of financial kindness by those such as fellow scouts and others in Decker’s broad baseball family to help with medical costs.

“In our greatest times of need or sorrow He is more than sufficient to provide whatever it is that we need,” Decker said. “My family has dealt with some serious issues over the last couple years and we have always found our strength and comfort in our faith.”

And Decker would quickly say that if he were evaluating himself, one of his greatest strengths is unquestionably his family.

“I have to say that my wife Susan is so special to me,” he said. “She holds it all together and keeps me grounded. She not only takes care of the home while I'm away but also homeschools our children. We made a decision from the very beginning that we were going to ‘raise our children in the way they should go.’

“God truly brought us together for this journey. I am not able to do what I do without her.”

What Decker does is travel about 45,000 to 50,000 miles annually and watch 250 to 400 games each year.

Fellow scouts

With that much travel, Decker has another family away from home — fellow scouts.

Decker has always thought of Gary Nickels, now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, as his mentor.

“He has been with me from my part-time days with the Cubs to getting me hired with the Orioles in 1989,” Decker said. “He was always so professional and seemed to never get caught up in the negative aspects of the game. He was really patient with me when I wasn't a very good scout.”

Then there was Larry Chase, whom Decker said was “always my Christian brother on the road.”

The late New York Mets scout was going to games into early 2012 before learning he had bladder cancer. Only in his mid-60s, Chase died that April following surgery.

“It was such a loss to lose him because we could strengthen each other whenever we spent a day together,” Decker said. “We could always talk about a sermon we had heard or a verse we had read. Prayer over dinner.

“He was a special man that loved the Lord deeply and was a witness to the scouting community.”

In our greatest times of need or sorrow He is more than sufficient to provide whatever it is that we need. My family has dealt with some serious issues over the last couple years and we have always found our strength and comfort in our faith.”

Lane Decker,

Bryan Painter

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