Short Quotes

Identify Players

“Dick Young, a sportswriter for the New York Daily News, once encountered an irate Yogi in the Yankee clubhouse.  Berra was looking at the boxscore printed in the Daily News for the game played the previous day…”

— Ron Rizzi, long-time scout

Predicting who will be able to hit in the major leagues is the hardest single thing to do in any sport. Round ball, round bat, you’ve got to square it up.

  Joe Caro, long-time scout for the New York Yankees

Any time a player does not live up to our expectations, we try to evaluate and go back and see how we reported on him.  We look at the reports and see if they matched the tools.  That’s fairly easy to do and you can do that within the first year.  With most players, other than injuries, it is player makeup and work ethic and his determination.  Those things are usually the contributing factors more than any other factors..

Jim Fleming, long-time baseball scout for the Montreal Expos and Miami Marlins

I loved Jim McLaughlin telling me that when he watched Bubby Brister playing baseball, he said “I really see a Mike Schmidt body there.” I was reading the Mike Schmidt report when he was at Ohio University. Some scouts said, “reminds me of Jim Fregosi.”  If you could uncover a report on Jim Fregosi when he was an amateur, somebody might have said, “He looks like Al Rosen.”  And if you could get an Al Rosen report, it might have said, “Looks like Whitey Kurowski.” Each player you see as a scout calls to mind another player from an earlier generation. 

― Kevin Kerrane, author of Dollar Sign on the Muscle: The World of Baseball Scouting

My whole career I have been linked with one person. For 19 years, Lou Whitaker and I formed the longest running double-play combination in the history of baseball. I doubt that record will ever be broken. Lou and I were called up to the Big Leagues from Double-A on the same day. We both played in our first Big League ballgame at Fenway Park on the same day. We both got hits in our first Major League at-bats off the same pitcher, Reggie Cleveland, and we both got our last hits of our careers off the same pitcher, Mike Fetters. Can you believe that?

― Alan Trammell, former shortstop, Detroit Tigers, speaking at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 29, 2018

I was in my third year with the Tigers. John Young [scouting director for the Detroit Tigers] said to me, “I want you to go to McAdory High School, right outside of Birmingham, and go see this kid Bo Jackson. I don’t know what he can do, but I know he’s a great athlete.”

― Jax Robertson, long-time scout, Detroit Tigers and special assistant to the general manager, Pittsburgh Pirates 

I don’t have a ton of major league highlights but I got Wade Boggs out three times on cut fastballs that he hit on the ground to second base. They told me in the pre-game scouting report not to throw the ball away to him because he will hit it over the left fielder’s head and don’t throw it inside because he will pull it over the right field fence. I said, “What do I do?” They said, “throw it down the middle; he won’t know what to do with it.” I threw cutters down the middle. They started right down the middle and cut a little bit and he rolled over to second base three times.

― Jeff Bittiger, former pitcher and current scout for the Oakland Athletics

The Yankees wanted college players. George [Steinbrenner] never rebuilt; he reloaded. You never know what’s going to happen with high school players. For Jeter, we were optimistic that he would sign because he wanted to be a Yankee. But he had a girlfriend and she was very close.  She was going to the University of Michigan. That always gives us concern; that’s a very viable force.  So they asked me, “What do you think? Is he going to go to the University of Michigan?”  I said, “The only place this kid is going is Cooperstown.” That was as strong a statement as I could make. From my perspective, this was the guy and this was what I really felt.  He was a very special player. There are not too many guys I can put on that list. 

― Dick Groch, scout, New York Yankees

Baseball is totally about dealing with failure.  The number one thing a player has to learn is that, some days, baseball just wins.  Some days are not yours, “not my day.”  So you wake up the next day and try to make it your day.  That’s the hardest thing about baseball is all the damn failure.  If you don’t know how to deal with failure or maybe you don’t expect it, it can crush you.  You can get in a downward spiral where you put so much pressure on yourself.  I walked into spring training and I watched Alfredo Griffin and Tony Fernandez playing shortstop—my position—and I said “Holy shit, I can’t do what these guys do.” 

Augie Schmidt, shortstop selected by the Toronto Blue Jays with the second overall pick in the 1982 draft

 

Joe Panik, Shawon Dunston, Whitey Kurowski, Kris Bryant, Gregg Zaun and Pablo Sandoval

"Yog, it's a typographical error"

"Dick Young, a sportswriter for the New York Daily News, once encountered an irate Yogi in the Yankee clubhouse. Berra was looking at the boxscore printed in the Daily News for the game played the previous day. The boxscore showed Berra as having three hits in four at-bats. In fact, he had hit safely in all four times at the plate. Berra bellowed, "Dick, I went four for four yesterday." Young tried to calm Berra, saying, "Yog, it's a typographical error." Berra responded with increasing agitation, "No, it wasn't, Dick. I swear it was a clean hit."

XX

-- Quote by Ron Rizzi, long-time scout and Special Assistant to the General Manager of the Washington Nationals. 

Photo of Ron Rizzi with Yogi Berra, circa 2010.

 

"Go see this kid, Bo Jackson"

I was in my third year with the Tigers. John Young [scouting director for the Detroit Tigers] said to me, “I want you to go to McAdory High School, right outside of Birmingham, and go see this kid Bo Jackson. I don’t know what he can do, but I know he’s a great athlete.”

I went into his little high school early in the season. Only one other scout was there. Bo had not been a popular prospect in baseball circles. We got there real early, just the two of us. The coach was hitting ground balls to all these kids. I ask the coach, “Is there a kid named Bo Jackson around here?” I just keep peeking at the gym door and then this stud comes walking out the door and strolling down the hill. I’m thinking, “Man, this is him.”

Bo looks around, picks up his glove, goes out to shortstop where he played in high school and the coach is hitting ground balls. They had a skin infield, hard as a rock. Bo couldn’t catch a cold. He was awful catching ground balls. Coach says, “Anybody out here hasn’t hit yet?” Bo raises his hand.  About six more ground balls bounce off Bo’s shin. He still hasn’t caught a ground ball.

Coach says to Bo, “All right come on in, get a bat.” He doesn’t swing, doesn’t loosen up or anything.  Bo hits this one iron shot into the trees in center field. I start thinking, “Holy cow, this guy’s really something.” Then they played the game. Bo’s team won by a lot. He played shortstop and caught almost every ball hit to him. He lined shots to right field, left field. He hit everything.

It was by far the best athletic display on a baseball field I have ever seen.

― Jax Robertson, long-time scout, Detroit Tigers and special assistant to the general manager, Pittsburgh Pirates