If Troy O'Leary has it his way, he'll soon be discovering America's next baseball idol.
O'Leary, who retired in 2003 after 11 seasons in the big leagues, has spent nearly two years working on his concept for a reality-television baseball show called "Play Big or Go Home," according to a report in The Boston Globe.
The basic premise of the program is to find a diamond in the rough. O'Leary will select 15 players, ages 18-22, from the East, Midwest and West regions, and they will compete on a field on Arizona before judges, likely made up of former big league players.
After 12-16 episodes, O'Leary hopes "to find the five-tool player and to get them an invite to a Major League Spring Training camp.
"It's the chance for kids to chase their dreams," O'Leary added. "I'm hoping to get a good, positive response from baseball teams, and the hope is they'll give these kids a chance. We're not guaranteeing anything but a Major League Spring Training invitation or a chance to play in an independent league.
"Some of them, just because nobody's heard of them or because they didn't show up on a scout's radar, or maybe because they went to a small college that wasn't scouted, they're not given the chance to even get their foot in the door."
O'Leary, who credits his father with pushing him to follow through on his idea for the show, has received guidance from Reds manager Dusty Baker. Former big leaguers Reggie Jefferson, Mike Stanley, Darren Lewis, John Valentin, Jeff Cirillo, and Rafael Naboa have committed to roles with the show.
Another element of the show will be to provide background on the contestants, a human-interest element that should help to attract a more diverse audience. Such rags-to-riches stories, O'Leary said, will also cast the National Pastime in a positive light.
"There's been so much negativity with the steroids," O'Leary said. "Baseball's been viewed in such a negative light.
"This is all positive. It's the chance for kids to chase their dreams."
Ed Eagle is a reporter and editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.