Anne Scioscia apologizes for the plastic tarps in the foyer of her Westlake Village home, the plumes of drywall dust, the paper covering the Italian tile floors and the constant banging from hammers and whining from table saws.
“Welcome to my lovely home,” she says, laughing and walking to the living room to sit still for a rare moment in a typically hectic day of this baseball wife and mother of two.
Her husband, Angels manager Mike Scioscia, is on the road with the team. their son, Matt, 23, is catching for the Angels’ Class-A Cedar Rapids Kernels. their daughter, Taylor, 20, is a junior volleyball player at Loyola Marymount University.
“When Mike’s gone,” says Anne, setting down her Thermos of coffee, “we kick it into overdrive around here so that when he comes home he can relax and not have chaos.”
Anne Scioscia has been the ultimate utility player as Team Scioscia’s chef, trainer, treasurer, equipment manager, chauffeur, ticket agent, one-stop family SportsCenter ticker, traveling secretary, personal assistant, fan club president and cheerleader.
She wears many hats, including blinged-up caps for the LMU Lions and the Angels. but on this recent day, she probably should be donning a hardhat while overseeing the extensive kitchen remodel.
Click on the photo for a slide show.
Her cellphone in the white-rhinestone-studded case rings. She jumps. “It’s Mike,” she says, seeing the caller ID, “A1 Cheme the Man,” on the screen.
He’s “Cheme,” the pet name from his father, derived from the Italian cimice, meaning bedbug. Her nickname is “Bean,” perhaps because she’s petite, supremely fit from morning spinning classes, and full of energy.
They talk for 42 seconds. He wants to know whether she paid the contractor. She confirms that she has.
She lets him get back to managing the Angels, who are playing the Minnesota Twins on this night at Target Field. He lets her get back to managing what Mike calls “The Bellagio,” the five-bedroom hillside home they had built in 1993.
Then Anne Scioscia quickly rises from the plush living room couch, zips away and returns with a plate of chocolate chip cookies.
That’s how this love story begins.
Anne McIlquham was 21, living in Marina del Rey and studying to be an X-ray technician at Daniel Freeman Hospital in Inglewood when she and her equally cash-strapped girlfriend, Donna, sought a diversion.
They had seen all the $2 matinees and figured they’d make use of the Dodgers season tickets Donna’s parents weren’t using.
Three grilled Dodger Dogs into a game, Anne, a former Thousand Oaks High cheerleader and varsity tennis player who didn’t know much about baseball, turns to Donna and asks, “Who’s the receiver? There’s something about him.”
The “receiver” was Dodgers catcher Mike Scioscia. upon hearing that Scioscia would be signing autographs the next day, Anne and Donna decided to extend their homestand and return with homemade cookies.
Anne’s recipe: Nestle Tollhouse batter, a touch more butter and an extra shot of vanilla.
After a night of baking, Anne went early to the game and soon discovered that Scioscia wasn’t signing as scheduled. Disappointed, she told a Dodger Stadium security guard, Jesse, that she brought cookies for Scioscia.
“I think Mike would like to meet you,” Jesse said. “Come find me after the game.”
Where players met their families, Anne greeted the 23-year-old Scioscia and handed him the plate. He tore off the plastic and began eating.
Together, they walked out of the stadium. Hundreds of fans, including many women swooning and begging for photographs, besieged them. Anne wanted to disappear.
“I was doing the Moonwalk because I felt like I shouldn’t have been there,” she remembers. “But then it was like the Red Sea parted when Mike said, ‘Wait, aren’t you coming? Let me walk you to your car’ and led the way.”
That was May 3, 1982.
Their first date came 20 days later. they played tennis. Anne won handily, 6-0, 6-1. then they had dinner with Scioscia’s teammate, Ron Roenicke, and his wife, Karen.
“What did you two do today?” Roenicke asked.
“We played tennis. Ask Mike how it went,” Anne said.
The score might as well have been love-love.
Anne didn’t know much about the exhausting major league lifestyle.
She saw the 12-hour days Scioscia put in at the ballpark, the 162-game regular season, the brutal travel schedule, the rare days off, and the toils of both victories and defeats from Spring Training in February through an October postseason.
She witnessed the celebrity of being a Dodger, especially a young, rugged one who’d go on to play for 13 seasons in blue (1980-92), win two World Series (1981, 1988), catch two no-hitters and make two All-Star teams (1989, 1990).
Nurturing, generous and patient, Anne made Scioscia’s baseball-centered life easier, preparing home-cooked dinners – Teriyaki spring rolls on their second date – and picking him up at LAX after lengthy roadtrips.
Like Scioscia, she’s even-keeled, funny and smart. She always knew whether the Dodgers won or lost and how Scioscia did but she rarely brought up the game because “there are certain things aren’t said,” she discovered.
When Scioscia suffered his first shoulder injury in 1983, she learned a tough lesson.
“I said, ‘This is going to mean you can stay home when the team goes on the road, right?’” she recalls. “He gave me this look: ‘She doesn’t get it.’
“And you know, until then, I didn’t get that being a baseball player is a full-time job that you put 100 percent of your being toward, and the mate has to do it too.”
She understood her role. She worked as a certified X-ray technician and got accepted into a Loma Linda University angiography program. but she didn’t enroll because she would soon say “Yes” to a full-time, major league job.
After 18 months dating, Anne met Scioscia upon his return from a series against the San Francisco Giants. He suggested a drive-thru dinner: double-doubles from In-N-Out Burger on Foothill Boulevard in Upland.
“When we got home, he was fidgety and weird and not doing his normal thing when he dumps out the ketchup and starts dipping the fries,” she remembers.
It was then that Scioscia pulled a tiny, black velvet box from his pocket and proposed.
“My career became being his wife, supporting him and doing all it takes to have our family,” she says. “Maybe I was a little old-fashioned, wanting to stay home, but I knew I wanted to give everything I had to building our life.”
They were married on Jan. 26,1985, at St. Paschal Baylon Catholic Church in Thousand Oaks. Among the guests was Jesse, their Dodger Stadium security guard/matchmaker.
Her water broke when the Dodgers were in Houston. Scioscia took the first morning flight to Ontario and arrived at San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland before labor began on Sept. 20, 1988.
The Dodgers game was on in the delivery room. Broadcaster Vin Scully announced that Scioscia wasn’t in the lineup because he and Anne were expecting their first child.
Before the game was over, Scully broke the news that Matthew Michael Scioscia was born.
“I was afraid when the doctor asked Mike to cut the (umbilical) cord,” Anne says, giggling. “With those sausage fingers, he didn’t have the hands of surgeon.”
Scioscia helped Anne, waking up for 5 a.m. feedings so Anne could sleep. He liked watching East Coast feeds of “Wheel of Fortune,” and memorizing the answers. when the show re-aired three hours later in the Dodger Stadium workout room, Scioscia would call out the answers with a single letter revealed.
“(Dodgers pitcher) Tim Leary thought Mike was a genius,” Anne says with a sly grin. “Typical Mike.”
Anne brought Matt and Taylor, who was born Dec. 12, 1991, to their father’s games. She kept the family together as much as possible.
“It wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops,” she says. “There were hard times — injuries, surgeries, struggles, leaving the Dodgers to go to the Padres (1993) and Spring Training with the Texas Rangers (1994) — things that made us stronger as a couple.”
Scioscia, the Dodgers’ all-time leader in games caught (1,395), was helping Anne put away dishes on Aug. 1, 1994 in their new Westlake Village home when he felt the pain in his right surgically-repaired shoulder.
He dropped the plates to the counter and said, “That’s it.”
The next day, Anne was in her car with the radio always tuned to sports radio. She heard that her husband had retired. She wasn’t the first to know.
“He’s still in trouble for that one,” she says with a smile. “He still says, ‘I did tell you. I said, ‘That’s it.’”
Scioscia served as the Dodgers’ minor league catching coordinator (1995-96), bench coach (1997-98) and manager of their Triple-A Albuquerque Dukes (1999) before he got a call from Angels general manager Bill Stoneman.
“I don’t know what to expect, honey,” Scioscia told Anne before leaving for the meeting. “I’ll be back.”
He returned five hours later around midnight and was soon named the Angels manager, succeeding Terry Collins.
Life was demanding for both the rookie skipper of team that had never won a playoff series and the mother of two school-age children both active in sports.
Not wanting to move his family, Scioscia made the 144-mile roundtrip to Angel Stadium. Sometimes Anne would take the train from Simi Valley to the games to ride home with him at night.
One night in 2000, they saw a loose tire bounce in front of them in the carpool lane. It just missed their windshield.
“If I’m not with him, I worry and I try to wait up,” Anne says. “As soon as I hear the garage door open around midnight, I’m relieved.”
Scioscia guided the Angels to an 82-80 record in 2000 and 75-87 in 2001 before the magical 2002 World Series championship season.
During the 2002 postseason, Anne packed the family into the 2000 black Lexus LX470 she nicknamed “Rex” and made the drive to every home playoff game.
“That’s the ‘Victory Van,’” remembers Taylor Scioscia, who was 10 when the Angels won the title. “It was incredible.”
After the Game 7 victory over the Giants, Scioscia brought two bottles of champagne up to the Diamond Club and found Anne to celebrate.
“I felt the joy of every fan, except this was closer to home,” Anne recalls. “I take pride in his accomplishments because I feel like they’re ours.”
For every special occasion, Anne receives red roses from Scioscia. Anne has kept dozens of bouquets, now dried and faded, hanging from a pot rack in their garage.
“I absolutely feel appreciated,” she says. “Mike calls at least once a day. He always remembers our special days. He makes time for us.”
They still make 5:30 Sunday Mass when the Angels are in town. they still have Thanksgiving, Christmas, new Year’s and their late January trips to Napa for their anniversary. they still hold hands.
On May 3 of this year, they celebrated the 30th anniversary of when they met by sharing some of Anne’s chocolate chip cookies.
She is the one who begins each morning with a daily to-do list longer than the one some people have for a month.
“My mom is super busy,” Taylor says. “We can’t go anywhere without making three other stops for errands. She’s always on the go, being there for all of us.”
For years, Anne has shuttled the children to school, appointments and baseball and volleyball practices, games and tournaments and had put more than 280,000 miles on the Victory Van.
“I have always been at or following someone’s game,” says Anne, who attended all of Matt’s games from little League through Crespi High.
She videotaped the action and always kept the phone nearby in case Scioscia, whose Angels’ schedule conflicted with most of Matt’s games, called for an in-game update.
“He’d want to know how Matt was doing, whether he got the hit, where it went and what was the count,” she says. “I gave up trying to tell him what kind of pitch it was.”
Anne played catch with Matt. She even tried coaching him the way his father would, yelling, “Spread out, Matt.” From the stands, she cheered double.
“There were so many times when Matt and Taylor were sobbing, wishing their Daddy was home,” she says. “I’d think, ‘What am I, chopped liver?”
She’s Mom, always there, always supportive, always neck-deep in a project.
Anne last year redecorated Scioscia’s home office — the family’s “brag room” — complete with glass-enclosed sections devoted to each family member’s sports accomplishments. There’s even a section for Anne with her tennis trophies and cheerleading megaphone.
Anne helps run Scioscia’s annual charity golf tournament for the Amateur Baseball Development Group, which benefits grass-roots baseball in Southern California.
She participates in Angels Wives’ functions, lovingly preparing an Italian cooking basket for last year’s charity auction and donating her time to collect canned food for a drive.
She organizes Scioscia fan mail so it’s ready for him to read, sign and seal. She pays the bills. She watches Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives,” scribbling down places she and Scioscia – both foodies — should visit on the road.
She keeps the refrigerator stocked with his favorite varieties of Diet Coke. She enjoys making gourmet dinners for the family. She rolls out the dough and preps all the ingredients for their “Make Your Pizza Night.”
She even puts Scioscia – “I was born 10 pounds, 12 ounces and I’ve been trying to lose wait ever since,” he says — on a healthy diet every offseason. She prods him to walk their Golden Retriever, Bella; reminds him to have protein for breakfast; and gets him healthy for Spring Training.
Her devotion knows no season.
She was in the Tempe Diablo Stadium stands during this past Spring Training when Matt entered Angels’ games as a pinch hitter. Mom and Dad were proud.
And on Mother’s Day, Anne Scioscia will join the longest tenured manager in baseball in
Arlington when the Angels play the Texas Rangers. She will be in the stands, her bedazzled Angels jersey and cap on, always rooting, home and away.
Contact the writer: email@example.com