Baseball Hall of Fame Opens Arms To Honor Scouting
It was a long time coming but on the first weekend in May the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown N.Y. opened its arms to the profession of baseball scouting. At an emotional opening Friday night before the exhibit “Diamond Mines” officially opened on Saturday, tears were freely flowing from many of the speakers.
Retired general manager and Hall of Famer Pat Gillick, who built World Series winners in Toronto and Philadelphia, sensed that he might break down when he thought of the hundreds of thousands of miles scouts have traveled without recognition. “I can’t wait to see the smiles on the scouts’ faces, their chests pumped out and the pride they’ll feel,” he told Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Gillick has taken the high road and not responded publicly to the cheap shots Michael Lewis took at him in Moneyball, the overrated paean to statistical baseball thinking that as both book and movie cost over 150 scouts their jobs. But it has gnawed at Gillick and Roland Hemond, now in his seventh decade as a baseball executive, that baseball has not given more consideration to the men responsible for bringing in talent to the industry. As Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson told Nightengale, “Imagine a CEO going to a high school and finding a guy he wants to hire five years from now.”
Roland Hemond recalled his early years in baseball fresh out of the U.S. Navy typing files for the Boston Braves. “I always call him Henry Louis Aaron because that it is the name I typed on his form,” Hemond said wiping away tears at the happy memory of the future Hall of Famer’s early days. Hemond sang the praises of scout Johnny Moore who signed future Hall of Fame third baseman Eddie Mathews and insisted that before the Braves trade pitcher Johnny Sain to the Yankees minor league pitcher Lew Burdette must be included in the deal. (Burdette went on to win three games in the 1957 World Series as the Milwaukee Braves beat the Yanks.)
Scout of the Year Foundation executive director Roberta Mazur grew similarly emotional as she thought of the late legendary scouts Tony Lucadello, Tony Pacheco and Jim Russo who founded Scout of the Year in 1985 and gave its first award to Howie Haak, Branch Rickey’s indefatigable talent hunter who pioneered in mining the Latin American market with Roberto Clemente one of his first great finds.
At its heart scouting is a grass roots enterprise and Roberta Mazur’s story reflects that. Her dad worked at Disneyland and she began as an usher for the California Angels at the Big A stadium in Anaheim. She rose to become secretary to general manager Larry Himes and though Himes departed to work for the White Sox and Cubs, she always maintained her love of scouting.
The Scout of the Year Foundation is one of the sponsors of “Diamond Mines” that will run for at least two years and become permanent if a well-endowed contributor can be found. For now baseball fans and lovers of the special institution of baseball can read in high tech digital format 12,000 reports on players submitted by 400 scouts. This feature is guaranteed to mesmerize viewers who can also gaze at the radar guns and stop watches of donating scouts and contemplate the straw hat that Tony Lucadello wore on his numerous scouting trips that landed among other players future Hall of Famers Ferguson Jerkins and Mike Schmidt.
That’s all for now. Back soon with more tales of the wonderful unpredictable world of baseball in its many marvelous forms.
Remember: Take it easy but take it!