Traditionally, when you think of sports in Buffalo, your mind immediately goes to the Bills or Sabres, the city’s lone two professional franchises. With the multitude of players both teams have rostered over the years, countless have retired and wound up finding and building careers in Buffalo, and as a result, a fair number of former pro hockey and football players reside around Western New York.
However, there’s more to the world of athletics than just hockey and football – and as a result, plenty of Buffalonians have found success in other avenues both during their athletic careers and in retirement. Former soccer pro Liam Callahan and former baseball pro Bill Scherrer are no exception, and while both hail from the Queen City, their respective sports endeavors took them across the country.
Now, both are finding success in the work world, while staying true to their Buffalo roots.
In Callahan’s case, soccer was instilled in him young, and it only propelled him into reaching some of the highest ranks of the beautiful game.
“As a child, I was always told I had a soccer ball at my foot,” Callahan said. “From the time that I was first walking and playing with a ball it was just kind of ingrained in me … It was something that at a young age I kept up with for a very long time.”
After playing at Sweet Home High School, in 2012, Callahan began his college career at Villanova before transferring to Syracuse prior to the 2014 season. Playing defense and midfield, he tallied three goals and 12 assists over his three years with the Orange and captained the team in 2016.
In 2015, his Syracuse side, which featured the current U.S. Men’s National Team defender Miles Robinson, won the ACC championship and reached the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament before falling to Clemson in the semifinals.
His superb play with the Orange wound up getting him selected in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, going in the second round, 24th overall to the Colorado Rapids. It marked the first time a Western New York high school soccer product was selected in the MLS SuperDraft.
“Transferring to Syracuse was one of the best decisions I ever made,” Callahan said. “I didn’t expect to go that early [in the draft]. I didn’t get invited to their combine that they do every year … so I thought I’d get a tryout outside … That was something I dreamed of as a kid, so really no words to explain it.”
After spending training camp with the Rapids in 2017, Callahan’s time in the MLS would unfortunately come to an end before getting any game action. However, his soccer career wouldn’t come to an end there, as from 2018-2020, Callahan played for Utica City FC, an indoor soccer team that plays in the Major Arena Soccer League.
“[Indoor soccer] was a completely different game,” Callahan said. “It’s certainly not for everybody … In the time I played, Utica had probably the best fans that I’ve ever seen … it was a cool experience that I probably wouldn’t get anywhere else.”
Nowadays, at age 27, Callahan has retired from the professional soccer grind and is back in Buffalo working for Alliance Advisory Group, with aspirations to pursue a career in financial advising. Currently working as a business development associate, it’s the next step in his post-soccer journey.
“I help people align their minds with their money,” Callahan said. “Financial advising was not something I ever expected to get into … Alliance and the people that recruited me there had a different message and a different way of working things. Put the clients first in their process and try to help people and that’s something I enjoy doing and something I could see moving the road.”
Scherrer on the other hand navigated his way through a seven-year MLB career, and has been in baseball ever since as a scout for multiple pro baseball organizations.
Growing up in Tonawanda, Scherrer and his family played a multitude of different sports and excelled at many, but eventually, it became clear that baseball (in particular pitching) was the one he was most skilled at.
“I think we all thought we excelled at sports when we were kids,” Scherrer said. “God gave me a good arm so I enjoyed playing [baseball] and I guess we all enjoy something you really are good at, and I guess I was good at that.”
After playing at Cardinal O’Hara High School, Scherrer was drafted in the sixth round of the 1976 MLB Amateur Draft by the Cleveland Indians before again being drafted in the 1977 January Draft by the Cincinnati Reds in the first round.
He would make his MLB debut in 1982 with the Reds, and act as a relief pitcher for Cincinnati as well as the Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies before his MLB career came to an end in 1988.
In 228 games, Scherrer posted a 4.08 career ERA and 207 strikeouts. He was traded to Detroit in 1984 and was a member of the Tigers team that won the World Series that season.
“I was traded to the Tigers and it was comical, I wasn’t even in the big leagues, I was in AAA,” Scherrer said. “You couldn’t have written a better script. From a guy from Buffalo to eventually get to the big leagues and then all of a sudden be down in the minors and all of a sudden play for the best team in baseball and be a part of it … You sit back later on after you eventually retire and think of all the fond memories, but I’m sure that’ll come to the top.”
After his playing days came to a close, he managed to find a gig in scouting with the Florida Marlins, an expansion team at the time in 1993, and it would go on to kickstart a lengthy career in the industry. Currently, he works in the Chicago White Sox organization, trying to find the next generation of MLB talent.
“You can be a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, you can go to school for a lot of things, but there isn’t a definition of a baseball scout,” Scherrer said. “Somebody gave me an opportunity to scout, you learn the trade running around territories and trying to get the best players available … From 1992 to now, it’s been a great ride.”
While Scherrer currently resides in Arizona and has traveled across the country and the world for work and during his playing career, one thing has remained the same: his roots back in Buffalo still hold strong.
“I wear it on my sleeve, where I’m from,” Scherrer said. “Of all the different places I’ve lived and played, my home will always be Western New York.”
Author Adam Gorski
Editing Addison Shoonmaker and Zoe Oleshansky