April 2021 – Week 3

Birthday of scout Jeff Bittiger — April 13

A former pitcher, Jeff Bittiger spent parts of four seasons in the major leagues, playing for the Philadelphia Phillies, Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox. On September 2, 1986, he started for the Phillies against the Pirates, hit his first and only major league home run, and got his first victory in the big leagues. Bittiger’s best season came in 1988, when he appeared in 25 games for the White Sox, including seven starts.

Bittiger spent the last eight years of his playing career as a pitcher in the independent Northern League. He retired at the age of 40 when his former minor league roommate, Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, prevailed upon him to accept a scouting position with the Athletics. As an amateur scout, Bittiger signed two-time major league all-star Andrew Bailey, catcher Anthony Recker, and pitcher Vin Mazzaro. Since 2008, Bittiger has scouted the minor leagues for the Athletics.

April 2021 – Week 2

Birthday of scout Greg Smith — April 5

Greg Smith spent parts of three seasons, 1989-1991, as an infielder with the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He started scouting for the Kansas City Royals in 1997 and has also scouted for the Cleveland Indians and the Texas Rangers.  He is currently a special assistant for the Rangers. Smith signed pitcher Jeremy Affeldt, among others.  He was one of the first scouts to identify Tim Lincecum as a legitimate top-of-the-rotation starter.  When assessing Lincecum’s physical and mental makeup, Smith compared him to future Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux. Smith provided a unique appraisal of both Maddux and Lincecum. “You could just see that they beat to a different drum that others couldn’t play,” Smith said.

April 2021 – Week 1

Happy Birthday Billy Beane – March 29

Billy Beane is the most celebrated baseball executive of his generation and the person most credited with introducing analytical, statistics-driven strategies to pro sports. As a student at Mount Carmel High School in San Diego, Beane was one of the most heralded athletes in Southern California. In 1980, the New York Mets drafted Beane in the first round (23rd overall) in the same draft in which the Mets selected Darryl Strawberry with the first overall pick.  With Beane and Strawberry, the Mets expected that their outfield would be set for years to come.

While Strawberry flourished, Beane struggled. Beane would spend six seasons in the major leagues, playing for the Mets, Twins, Tigers and Athletics, but never hit for either average or power.  He retired as a player after the 1989 season, with a career average of .219 and three home runs.  In 1990 Beane became a scout for the Athletics and then was named Oakland’s general manager in 1997, In 2015, he was named the team’s executive vice president. Beane is the subject of Michael Lewis’s 2003 book, Moneyball. When the book was turned into a feature film in 2011, actor Brad Pitt played the role of Beane.

March 2021 – Week 4

Scout Jerry Krause Dies – March 21, 2017

Jerry Krause became a household name in sporting circles throughout the United States as the primary architect of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan era.  Krause served as the Bulls’ general manager from 1985 to 2003.  He was responsible for drafting forward Horace Grant and engineered the trade that brought future Hall-of-Famer Scottie Pippen to the Bulls.  Most significantly, he hired legendary coach Phil Jackson, who would lead the Bulls to six NBA championships.

In his youth, Krause played as a catcher on the Taft High School baseball team in Chicago.  After attending Bradley University, Krause began working as a scout for the Cleveland Indians in the 1970s.  He later scouted for three other teams (Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, and Chicago White Sox).  Krause played a key role in the signing of shortstop Ozzie Guillén and outfielder Kenny Williams, who would later become the general manager of the White Sox.

March 2021 – Week 3

Scout Joe Engel – born March 12, 1893

In the years from 1912 to 1920, Joe Engel was an undistinguished left-handed pitcher for the Washington Senators, Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians.  He closed out his playing career with a record of 17 wins and 23 losses. Engel described his playing career with characteristic humor:  “I led the American League in walks one year,” he would tell people, “and the International League another year in stolen towels.”  After his playing days, Engel became the first full-time scout in the history of the Senators and became one of the most successful scouts in baseball history.  He traveled over 50,000 miles a year as a scout and signed several players who helped Washington win American League pennants in 1924, 1925 and 1933.  His most notable signees were infielders Joe Cronin, Bucky Harris, Ossie Bluege, Buddy Myer and Joe Kuhel.  Engel had a simple approach to scouting. “I can tell by the way a player handles himself whether he is a good future prospect,” he said.

March 2021 – Week 1

Happy Birthday to Scout Darrell Miller – February 26

Former major leaguer Darrell Miller currently serves as Major League Baseball’s Vice President of Youth and Facility Development.  Before assuming his current position, Miller scouted for the California Angels. Miller played baseball at California Polytechnic State University in Pomona, where he gained a reputation as an excellent defensive catcher and a clutch hitter.  The Angels drafted Miller in the 9th round of the 1979 amateur draft. In 1984, Miller’s sixth year in pro ball, he hit .326 for Triple-A Edmonton, earning a promotion to the Angels. Miller would spend the next five seasons in the majors as a reserve catcher and outfielder, hitting .241 in 224 games.  In 1993, the Angels appointed Miller as a special assignment scout.  In his current role as Vice President of Youth and Facility Development, Miller is instrumental in developing Major League Baseball’s Urban Youth Academies in cities across the nation.  In addition to his work with Major League Baseball, Miller is also a member of the Athlete Advisory Board of the Catholic Athletes for Christ.

February 2021 – Week 4

Veteran Scout Orrin Freeman Dies – February 21, 2020

In the late 1960s, Orrin Freeman pitched for the University of Southern California Trojans, where he played with future major leaguers Dave Kingman and Fred Lynn.  After his collegiate career ended, Freeman became an assistant to USC coach Rod Dedeaux and, later, head baseball coach at San Francisco State University.  In 1984, Freeman joined the New York Yankees as a scout.  From 1988 to 1991, he scouted for the Montreal Expos.  Freeman joined the expansion Florida Marlins in 1991 and traveled the globe searching for prospects for the Marlins.  He became director of scouting for the Marlins in 1995 and later served the Marlins as special assistant and senior advisor for player personnel.  Freeman signed infielder Andy Stankiewicz and pitcher Tim Layana, among many others, and was involved in the signing of Josh Beckett and Mark Kotsay for the Marlins.

In 2014, Freeman was named Scout of the Year (West Coast Honoree) by the Professional Baseball Scouts Association. Veteran baseball reporter and writer Ken Rosenthal eulogized Freeman as “one of my favorite people in baseball, a brilliant guy, great scout and absolute gentleman.”

February 2021 – Week 3

Happy Birthday to Scout Bobby Darwin – February 16

Los Angeles Dodgers scout Bobby Darwin got his start in professional baseball when the Los Angeles Angels signed him as a free agent pitcher in 1962.  At the time, a scouting report on Darwin completed by veteran scout Joe Stephenson read:  “good, live fastball with good control. Smooth easy delivery.”  Darwin, then 19 years old, made his major league debut with the Angels in the last game of the 1962 season but fared poorly.  Five years later he returned to the majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers but was beset with control issues, walking five batters, hitting two and yielding four earned runs in 3.2 innings.  In 1970, Darwin gave up on pitching and returned to Class A ball in the hope of becoming a position player.  Darwin showed power in the minor leagues and, in 1972, made the Minnesota Twins out of spring training as an outfielder.  Over three consecutive seasons, 1972 to 1974, Darwin slammed 65 home runs and drove in 264 runs for the Twins.

After retiring as a player, Darwin became a scout with the Dodgers.  He and his colleague, Gib Bodet, were two of the few scouts who believed that future Hall-of-Famer Mike Piazza would develop into a consistent power hitter in the major leagues.  Upon seeing Piazza in a workout at Dodger Stadium, Darwin urged Los Angeles scouting director Ben Wade to offer Piazza a signing bonus of $40,000.  Ultimately, based on the recommendations of Darwin, Bodet and Tommy Lasorda, the Dodgers signed Piazza for $15,000.

February 2021 – Week 2

Birthdate of Scout Edith Houghton – February 10, 1912

From her earliest days as a grammar school student, Edith Houghton demonstrated exceptional skills on the baseball field. At the age of 10, she earned a spot as the starting shortstop for an all-girls baseball team named the Philadelphia Bobbies. Houghton was the youngest player on the Bobbies; her teammates ranged in age from 13 to 20. At the age of 13, Houghton traveled with the Bobbies to play against men’s college teams in Japan and was paid the sum of $800 for each game. In 1932, she became the starting first baseman for Fisher A.A.’s, a men’s semi-pro team in Philadelphia. By the time that Houghton ended her playing career, she had excelled at every position on the baseball field and had starred in competition against both men and women. In 1946, Bob Carpenter, owner of the Philadelphia Phillies, hired Houghton as a scout. She worked for the Phillies for six years, scouted hundreds of players and signed sixteen players to pro contracts. After leaving the Phillies, she served on active duty with the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. Houghton is widely recognized as the first woman scout in the history of major league baseball. She died on February 2, 2013.

February 2021 – Week 1

Phil “Butch” Rizzo Dies – February 1, 2020

Phil Rizzo played minor league baseball from 1951 to 1956. Following his playing career, he spent 45 years as a truck driver for the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation.  While employed with the city of Chicago, Rizzo moonlighted as a scout, focusing on high school players in and around the municipal area.  Rizzo is credited with discovering pitcher Brandon Webb, and he signed shortstop Dick Schofield for the California Angels and catcher Mike Matheny and infielder Mark Loretta for the Milwaukee Brewers.  Rizzo worked for nine different major league teams, including the Arizona Diamondbacks (1999-2005) and the Washington Nationals (2009-2020).  In 2008, he was selected as an inaugural member of the Professional Scouts Hall of Fame.  Rizzo is the father of Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, who says, “My dad is totally responsible for where I’m at today.”

January 2021 – Week 5

Scout Bob “Poochie” Hartsfield Dies – January 25, 1999

Bob Hartsfield spent 11 seasons as an infielder in the minor leagues, retiring in 1962.  His professional career was interrupted for two years, 1953 to 1955, due to military service.  During those two years, Hartsfield played on an Army team at Fort McPherson, Georgia that featured fellow pros Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell, Taylor Phillips and Norm Siebern.  Following his playing career, Hartsfield went into scouting and worked for the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros.  For a period of three years, 1994 to 1997, he served as the scouting director for the Giants.  In his time as a scout, Hartsfield signed outfielder Deion Sanders, third baseman Bill Mueller and pitcher Russ Ortiz, among others.  In the offseason, he worked as a college basketball referee.  Hartsfield regularly refereed University of Kentucky basketball games during the 1970s and 1980s and officiated at three NCAA tournaments.

January 2021 – Week 4

Scout Harry Minor dies – January 18, 2017

As a player, Harry Minor was known for his versatility.  Over the course of 12 minor league seasons, Minor worked primarily as a catcher but also pitched and played first base, third base and the outfield. His best offensive season was in 1949 when he hit .350 and slugged 24 home runs for the Keokuk (Iowa) Pirates.  Minor nearly reached the majors in 1953 with the Philadelphia Athletics, but his minor league season ended too late for him to report.  Minor retired as a player after the 1960 season and signed on with the Milwaukee Braves as a scout.  He joined the New York Mets as a scout in 1967 and remained with the team for 44 years.  While with the Mets, he was involved in signing Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Billy Beane, Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson, Gregg Jefferies, Hubie Brooks and many others.  In 1996, Minor received the Major League Baseball Scout of the Year Award.  In 2013, he became the first scout ever inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.  Minor’s two sons, Bob and Steven, both followed in their father’s footsteps and became baseball scouts.

January 2021 – Week 3

Happy Birthday Bob Cluck – January 10

Bob Cluck started out in baseball as a left-handed pitcher. He pitched for nine seasons in the minor leagues, rising as high as Triple-A.  During his playing career, Cluck won a total of 32 games, lost 22, and compiled a 3.06 earned run average.  After his playing career, Cluck served as pitching coach for the Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers.  He has scouted for the Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres and currently scouts for the Tampa Bay Rays.  Cluck has written 10 books on baseball and has sold more than 300,000 books world-wide.  “You scout tools,” Cluck says, “You look for guys who can run and throw, with good athletic bodies -– and hope they will hit.”


January 2021 – Week 2

Birthday of Scout Epifanio “Epy” Guerrero  – January  3, 1942

A native of the Dominican Republic, Epy Guerrero spent two seasons, 1961 and 1962, as a player in the Milwaukee Braves organization.  He quickly learned that, even in the lower minor leagues, it was difficult to hit professional pitching.  In 1963, Guerrero turned to scouting, working part-time for the Houston Astros.  Over a career that spanned more than 40 years, Guerrero also worked for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Milwaukee Brewers.  He was widely regarded as the preeminent baseball scout in Spanish-speaking countries.  He signed 54 players who would make it to the major leagues, a total that is thought to be more than any other scout in baseball history.  Among many others, Guerrero signed outfielder Cesar Cedeño, pitchers José Mesa and Freddy Garcia, and infielders Carlos Delgado, Tony Fernández, Alfredo Griffin, Luis Sojo and José Uribe.

When Guerrero first spotted Fernández on a baseball field, the shortstop walked with a pronounced limp.  Guerrero paid for surgery to correct the limp and then signed Fernández for the Blue Jays.  In 2009, Guerrero received the “Legends in Scouting” Award from the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation.  He died on May 23, 2013.

January 2021 – Week 1

Happy Birthday Theo Epstein — December 29

Theo Epstein began his career in baseball in 1992 when the Baltimore Orioles hired him as a summer intern while he was a student at Yale University.  In 1995, San Diego Padres president Larry Lucchino hired Epstein to serve as San Diego’s director of player development.  While with the Padres, Epstein obtained his law degree from the University of San Diego.  Epstein moved to the Boston Red Sox with Lucchino in 2001.  In 2002, the Red Sox appointed Epstein as general manager when he was only 28 years old.  As general manager, Epstein acquired several players, including pitcher Curt Schilling and third baseman Bill Mueller, who would lead the Red Sox to the World Series championship in 2004.  It was Boston’s first World Series title since 1918.  Under Epstein’s direction, the Red Sox would win the World Series again in 2007.  In 2011, Epstein moved to the Chicago Cubs as president of baseball operations and, in 2016, he was instrumental in helping Chicago win its first World Series since 1908.

In recognition of Epstein’s achievements with the Red Sox and Cubs, Fortune Magazine ranked him #1 on its 2017 list of the World’s Greatest Leaders.  Epstein reacted to the honor with his characteristic candor and humor.  “That’s ridiculous,” he said, “I can’t even get my dog to stop peeing in the house.”  Epstein spent nine years with the Cubs, resigning his position in November 2020.

December 2020 – Week 4

Scout Ed Herrmann Dies — December 22, 2013

Ed Herrmann was a major league catcher for 11 years.  He reached the big leagues with the Chicago White Sox in 1967 and would spend seven seasons with the Sox.  Herrmann was particularly adept at catching the knuckleball.  While with the White Sox, he was the catcher of choice for knuckleballers Wilbur Wood and Eddie Fisher.  Herrmann, a football linebacker in high school, also possessed a knack for blocking home plate from runners seeking to score. His ability to protect home plate led some of his teammates to refer to him as “Fort Herrmann.”  In 1972, Herrmann led all American League catchers in the number of baserunners caught stealing, throwing out 42 of 84 runners who attempted to steal.  After retiring as a player, Herrmann scouted for the Kansas City Royals and coached youth baseball teams.  In 1998, Herrmann launched an innovative website, titled “High School Baseball Web,” that helped prepare scholastic players for the challenges they would face as they advanced in baseball.  The website featured a series of articles on what professional scouts look for when evaluating players.

December 2020 – Week 3

Happy Birthday Mike Rizzo — December 14, 1960

The California Angels drafted Mike Rizzo in the 22nd round of 1982.  Rizzo spent three seasons as an infielder in the Angels’ minor league system but never rose above Class A ball. He retired as an active player following the 1984 season.  Rizzo became a full-time scout for the Chicago White Sox in 1986 and was instrumental in the team’s drafting of future Hall-of-Fame first baseman Frank Thomas.  Rizzo also worked as a scout for the Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks before being named as Arizona’s scouting director in 2000.  In 2006 the Washington Nationals hired Rizzo as assistant general manager.  When Nationals general manager Jim Bowden resigned in March 2009, Washington named Rizzo as interim general manager.  The Nationals subsequently appointed Rizzo as executive vice president and general manager.  During the 2019 season, Rizzo and field Manager Dave Martinez steadied the Nationals after a disappointing 19-31 start and led the team to victory over the Houston Astros in the World Series.

December 2020 – Week 2

Branch Rickey Dies — December 9, 1965

Branch Rickey spent parts of four seasons as a reserve catcher in the American League.  His last major league game occurred on August 25, 1914. Rickey served as an officer in the U.S. Army during World War I and commanded a chemical training unit in France that included major leaguers Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson.  From 1920 to 1925, he was the field manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. Cardinals owner Sam Breadon replaced Rickey as manager early in the 1925 season but simultaneously hired him to run the Cardinals’ front office.  As the chief St. Louis baseball executive, Rickey built a vaunted system of farm teams, implemented an extensive scouting network and oversaw the acquisition and development of players.

In the 18 years that Rickey led the Cardinals’ baseball operations, the team won the National League pennant six times and finished second in the league five times.  In 1942, Rickey took the position of president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, a position he held for eight years.  Rickey’s most notable accomplishment in Brooklyn was signing African-American Jackie Robinson to a major league contract.  On August 15, 1947, Robinson started at first base for the Dodgers in a game against the Boston Braves, thereby becoming the first black ballplayer to play in the major leagues.  In recognition of his accomplishments and ground-breaking work as a baseball executive, Rickey was posthumously inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1967.

December 2020 – Week 1

Scout John “Red” Murff Dies – November 28, 2008

“Red” Murff was a legend in Texas scouting circles. A pitcher by trade, Murff had spent two seasons, 1956 and 1957, as a pitcher for the Milwaukee Braves. He did not begin playing professional baseball until he was 29 years. He was 35 years old when he made his major league debut. After his playing days, Murff turned to scouting and, in 34 years as a scout, he traveled over a million miles in his Oldsmobile Delta 88 in search of prospects. He spoke with thousands of residents of the state of Texas looking for tips on talent. He is credited with discovering and signing pitchers Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman, Mike Stanton and Norm Charlton, catcher Jerry Grote and infielder Ken Boswell. Several of the players whom Murff signed played key roles for the New York Mets during the 1969 “Miracle Mets” World Series championship season. As a group, the pitchers whom Murff signed for the Mets accounted for 23 wins and 272 strikeouts during the 1969 regular season. The hitters whom Murff signed drove in 75 runs for the Mets during that same season.

November 2020 – Week 4

Scout Joe Bowman Dies – November 22, 1990

Joe Bowman spent nearly 60 years in baseball as a pitcher, minor league manager and scout. While pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1935, Bowman faced off against Cincinnati Reds right-hander Paul Derringer in major league baseball’s first night game. The game started at 8:30 p.m., with President Franklin D. Roosevelt symbolically turning on the lights at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field by flipping a gold telegraph key at the White House.  Bowman was a superb all-around athlete and, in 1939, had a batting average of .344 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, with 33 hits in 96 at-bats. He began scouting in 1952 and became the supervisor of scouting for the Kansas City Athletics in 1961.  He served in that position until 1968, when he assumed the same position with the Atlanta Braves.  He later served as Midwest scouting supervisor for the Baltimore Orioles.  Bowman signed or oversaw the signing of Reggie Jackson, Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Cletis Boyer, Tony La Russa, Earl Williams and Mike Boddicker, among many others.

Some experts regard Bowman as the best scouting director during baseball’s amateur draft

November 2020 – Week 3

Happy Birthday to Scout Carl Loewenstine ― November 14

Carl Loewenstine began in scouting in 1973 when he was recruited to work on a part-time basis by famed Philadelphia Phillies scout Tony Lucadello. Loewenstine became a full-time scout for the Phillies in 1975 and remained with Philadelphia in that capacity for five years. In 1980, he became a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, a position he held for 33 years. In 2014, he converted to part-time status with the Dodgers and later became a consultant for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  While working for the Dodgers, Loewenstine signed infielder Dave Anderson and was instrumental in the Dodgers’ acquisition of outfielder John Shelby and pitcher Tim Belcher.  Loewenstine was voted Major League Baseball’s Scout of the Year in 2005.  In 2012, he received a Legends of Scouting award.

November 2020 – Week 2

Birthdate of Scout Jay Hankins ― November 7, 1935

Jay Hankins was a speedy outfielder in the Kansas City Athletics’ system for seven seasons and spent parts of two seasons, 1961 and 1963, with the parent club. Hankins always hit well in the minor leagues but struggled at the major league level. His best season as a minor leaguer came in 1963 when he hit .357 in 41 games with the Triple-A Portland Beavers. Hankins began in scouting with the Cleveland Indians in 1967. In 1969 he joined the Kansas City Royals as a scout and then served as Midwest supervisor and national cross-checker for the Major League Scouting Bureau. From 1988 to 1992, Hankins was the director of scouting for the Philadelphia Phillies and later served as a scout for the California Angels. In all, he spent three decades in scouting. His most notable signings were catcher Mike Lieberthal, shortstop Kevin Stocker and pitcher Tyler Green.

November 2020 – Week 1

Scout Bob Thurman Died – October 31, 1998

During the decades of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Bob Thurman worked as a scout for the Minnesota Twins, Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals and the Major League Scouting Bureau. Prior to working as a scout, Thurman was an outfielder with the Cincinnati Reds. After serving with the U.S. Army in the Pacific Theater during World War II, Thurman signed to play for the Homestead Grays in the Negro National League, where he drew raves for both his power and his speed. Wendell Smith of the Pittsburgh Courier once wrote, “Thurman’s tootsies are lined with mercury.” In 1955, at the age of 38, Thurman made it to the major leagues with the Cincinnati Reds. He quickly became one of the most popular players on the Reds and the team’s most productive pinch hitter. In 1957, Thurman became the first player in major league history to hit a home run on his 40th birthday. During his scouting career, Thurman was instrumental in signing pitchers Rudy May, Wayne Simpson and Gary Nolan. Additionally, though Tony Robello was the Cincinnati scout who signed future Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench, Reds executive Herk Robinson gave much of the credit to Thurman.  According to Robinson, “Cincinnati wouldn’t have signed Johnny Bench without Bob Thurman.”

October 2020 – Week 4

Scout Ray Boone Dies — October 17, 2004

From 1948 to 1960, Ray Boone was an infielder in the major leagues.  He played for six different teams, spending most of his career with the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers.  When his playing career ended, Boone turned to scouting for the Boston Red Sox and served as a scout for 30 years.  Boone was a direct descendant of American pioneer Daniel Boone. His best year as a player came in 1953,when he hit 26 home runs, drove in 114 runs and batted .296.  As a scout, Boone signed numerous future major leaguers, including Curt Schilling, Gary Allenson, Marty Barrett, Kevin Romine and Todd Pratt.  Boone was the father of long-time big league catcher and scout Bob Boone and the grandfather of former major league players Bret Boone and Aaron Boone, the current New York Yankees manager.

October 2020 – Week 2

Happy Birthday Tommy (T-Bone) Giordano, October 9, 1925

Tommy Giordano was a former MLB player who became a legendary scout and baseball executive. The colorful Giordano was known throughout the game as “T-Bone,” a nickname he acquired way back in high school when his dad regularly cooked a big T-bone steak for him prior to every game. While he only appeared in 12 major league games, all for the Philadelphia Athletics, Tommy homered in his second MLB at-bat against two-time all-star Virgil Trucks. Giordano worked as a scout and then executive for the Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, and the Texas Rangers for almost sixty years. He was very instrumental in the signing of Orioles’ Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. and Cleveland Indians slugger Manny Ramirez. Giordano was a beloved figure in the game and worked up to his death on February 14, 2019. Among his many talents, T-Bone was considered a gourmet cook who often wound up in the kitchen of Italian restaurants sharing cooking tips with the chef.

October 2020 – Week 1

Happy Birthday to Scout and Executive J.P. Ricciardi — September 26

J.P. Ricciardi is currently a special advisor to the president of baseball operations for the San Francisco Giants.  From 2001 to 2009, Ricciardi was the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. As a college student, Ricciardi played on the Saint Leo University baseball team. Upon graduation, he signed with the Mets and played second base, shortstop and third base for the Little Falls (NY) Mets and the Shelby (NC) Mets. After his playing days, Ricciardi accepted a position with the Oakland Athletics as a minor league instructor and scout. He then progressed to East Coast scouting supervisor for the Athletics and, later, held the positions of national crosschecker and director of player personnel for Oakland. As general manager of the Blue Jays, Ricciardi acquired power hitting José Bautista in exchange for catcher Robinzon Diaz. In ten seasons with Toronto, Bautista hit 288 home runs and was named to the American League all-star team six consecutive years. The acquisition of Bautista ranks among the best and most productive trades in Blue Jays history.

September 2020 – Week 3

Scout Joe Stephenson Dies — September 20, 2001

A catcher, Joe Stephenson played professionally for the New York Giants, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox. Over the course of three seasons in the majors, he appeared in 29 games. After retiring as a player, Stephenson worked as a scout for the Boston Red Sox for 50 years. He scouted and signed shortstops Rick Burleson and Glenn Hoffman, outfielders Dwight Evans and Fred Lynn and pitcher Bill Lee, among many others.

During his time with the Red Sox, Stephenson served as an informal mentor to numerous younger scouts, including long-time Dodgers scout Gib Bodet. Stephenson is the father of former Red Sox pitcher Jerry Stephenson, who himself spent 36 years in scouting, and the grandfather of Brian Stephenson, who currently scouts for the Dodgers.

September 2020 – Week 2

Happy Birthday to the late Scout Spud Chandler ― September 12, 1907

As a student at the University of Georgia in the 1920s, Spurgeon Ferdinand “Spud” Chandler starred as a pitcher in baseball and as a triple threat back in football.  After college, Chandler signed to play baseball for the New York Yankees.

However, his early years as a pro were beset by lingering football injuries.  He did not make his major league debut until the age of 29. Chandler pitched for the Yankees for 11 seasons, retiring in 1947. During his major league career, he won 109 games against only 43 losses and had 109 complete games. His winning percentage of .717 is the highest in baseball history among all pitchers with at least 100 wins.

Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey lauded Chandler as the best pitcher he ever caught. After retiring as a player, Chandler managed teams in the minor leagues.  In 1957, the Kansas City Athletics named him as pitching coach, a position he held for two seasons. From 1959 to 1984, Chandler scouted for the Yankees and several other teams. He passed away on January 9, 1990.

September 2020 – Week 1

Happy Birthday to Scout Kelly Heath — September 4

An infielder, Kelly Heath was a seventh-round pick of the Kansas City Royals in the 1977 draft. He played pro ball for 14 years, eleven of which were at the Triple-A level.  In 1982 Heath spent 24 days on the roster of the Royals, appearing in one game and recording an out in his only major league at-bat. He retired as a player after the 1990 season, having played in 1,359 minor league games with 105 home runs and a .256 career batting average.  Following several years as a minor league coach and manager, Heath turned to scouting.  Since 2007, he has scouted for the Royals and has previously scouted for the Oakland Athletics and Cincinnati Reds.  Heath’s most notable signing is Jared Burton, who pitched for Cincinnati and Minnesota in his eight-year major league career.  Heath appeared in the 1988 blockbuster film Bull Durham in a cameo role as a player.

August 2020 – Week 4

Happy Birthday to the late Scout Howie Haak — August 28, 1911

Scout Howie Haak (last name rhymes with “cake”) was known as “King of the Caribbean.”  More than any other individual, Haak was responsible for opening up the Caribbean, Central and South America to major league baseball. Haak got his start in baseball when Branch Rickey hired him to scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Haak’s most significant signing while with the Dodgers was future Hall-of-Famer Roberto Clemente. He also signed outfielder Gino Cimoli and catcher Norm Sherry for the Dodgers.  When Rickey moved to the Pittsburgh Pirates as general manager in 1950, he brought Haak with him.  While with the Pirates, Haak scouted and signed catchers Tony Pena and Manny Sanguillen and pitchers Jose DeLeon and Al McBean. Haak ended his career as a scout for the Houston Astros.  He passed away on February 22, 1999.

August 2020 – Week 3

Birthday of Scout John Stearns — August 21

John Stearns was a two-sport star at the University of Colorado, excelling as a catcher in baseball and safety in football.  Upon the conclusion of his college career, he was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in baseball and the Buffalo Bills in football.  He signed with the Phillies and played one game for Philadelphia before being traded to the New York Mets.  Stearns played for the Mets from 1975 to 1984.  During his career as a player, he appeared in 810 major league games and batted .260 with 46 home runs.  Stearns remained in baseball after his playing career, serving as scout, minor league manager, major league coach and roving catching instructor.  He has scouted for the Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners.

August 2020 – Week 1 and 2

Birthday of Baseball Scout Billy Blitzer — August 14

Billy Blitzer was a standout ballplayer at Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, New York, where he was a teammate of future New York Mets star, Lee Mazzilli.  An outfielder, Blitzer went on to play for Hunter College in Manhattan.  By his own admission, he was “good hit, can’t run.”  While still a student at Hunter College, he coached Youth Service League sandlot teams in Brooklyn.

Blitzer got his start in scouting in 1975, when veteran scout Ralph DiLullo recruited him to work for the Major League Scouting Bureau. Shortly thereafter, he took a position as an amateur scout for the Chicago Cubs.  He has worked for the Cubs for the past 40 years.

Blitzer’s most notable signings are shortstop Shawon Dunston, who was the first overall draft choice in 1982, and pitcher Jamie Moyer, winner of 269 major league games. Since 2011, Blitzer has been a pro scout for the Cubs, evaluating the minor league talents playing for other organizations. Blitzer is one of only a handful of major league scouts to be honored with his own baseball trading card.

July 2020 – Week 4

Birthdate of Baseball Scout Jack Butterfield — August 5, 1929

While still in his twenties, Jack Butterfield became head baseball coach at the University of Maine. He remained in that position for 18 years. In 1975, he left Maine to become head coach at the University of South Florida. After two years at USF, Butterfield accepted a position as a scout with the New York Yankees. In 1977, the Yankees appointed Butterfield to be their director of player development and scouting.

Butterfield died on November 16, 1979 in Paramus, New Jersey when his automobile crashed into a street sweeper that had stopped in the road. At his death, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said of Butterfield, “he was the epitome of what you would look for in a teacher of young men.”

July 2020 – Week 3

Birthday of Baseball Scout Wayne Krivsky — July 28

Wayne Krivsky played three years of varsity baseball at Duke University where, he says, he “peaked as a player.” After college, he took a job with the Texas Rangers in ticket sales. In 1979, Rangers scouting and farm director Joe Klein hired Krivsky to serve as his assistant.  Krivsky later served as assistant general manager for the Rangers. In 1995, Krivsky took a position as special assistant for the Minnesota Twins.

He later transitioned to assistant general manager in Minnesota. In 2006, the Cincinnati Reds hired Krivsky as general manager. He remained with the Reds for two years and, thereafter, worked in the front offices for the Mets, Orioles and Twins. During Krivsky’s time as general manager for Cincinnati, he oversaw the drafting of first baseman Drew Stubbs (2006) and catcher Devin Mesoraco (2007).

July 2020 – Week 3

Scout Del Wilber Dies — July 18, 2002

For eight seasons, 1946-1949 and 1951-1954, Del Wilber was a reserve catcher in the major leagues, playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox. Prior to making his major league debut in 1946, Wilber served on active duty as captain in the Army Air Force for three years during World War II. Over the course of his major league career, Wilber appeared in 299 games and finished with a career batting average of .242.

After retiring as a player, Wilber worked as a scout, coach, and manager. He managed for several years in the minor leagues. In 1973, the Texas Rangers appointed Wilber as interim manager after the team fired incumbent manager Whitey Herzog. From the mid-1970s until 1986, Wilber was a scout for the Orioles, Twins, Athletics, Reds, and Tigers.  He died in St. Petersburg, Florida at the age of 83.

July 2020 – Week 2

Birthday of Scout and Executive Ben Cherington — July 14

A product of Meriden, New Hampshire, Ben Cherington was a varsity pitcher for his Lebanon High School baseball team.  Cherington graduated from Amherst College and received his Master’s Degree in sports management from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.  He started in professional baseball in 1998 as an advance scout for the Cleveland Indians. In 1999, Boston Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette hired Cherington as an area scout. From 1999 to 2005, he worked in a variety of positions for the Red Sox, as amateur scout, operations assistant, and director of player development. In 2011, the Red Sox elevated Cherington to the position of executive vice president and general manager, a position he held until resigning in 2015.

In 2016, the Toronto Blue Jays hired Cherington as vice president of baseball operations. He served in that role until November 2019, when the Pittsburgh Pirates appointed him as general manager.

July 2020 – Week 1

Birthdate of Scout Joe Cambria — July 5, 1890

Long-time scout Joe Cambria was a pioneer in recruiting Latin American ballplayers. Born in Italy, Cambria immigrated to the United States with other family members in 1893. He got his start in professional baseball as a minor league outfielder, playing for the Berlin Green Sox in the Canadian League in 1911 and 1912. In 1929, Cambria purchased a minor league team, the Hagerstown Hubs of the Class D Blue Ridge League.

In subsequent years, he would become the owner of minor leagues teams in Albany, New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. During his time as a minor league owner, Cambria developed a working relationship with Calvin Griffith, owner of the Washington Senators. Cambria would frequently sell the most promising players on his minor league teams to the Senators.

From 1938 until his death in 1962, Cambria worked primarily as a scout for the Senators and spent much of his time scouting ballplayers in Cuba. Cubans affectionately referred to Cambria as the “fat little Italian.” Cambria signed over 400 Cuban players to professional contracts. His most notable signings included Pete Runnels, Mickey Vernon, Early Wynn, Eddie Yost, Camilo Pascual, Pedro Ramos, and Zoilo Versalles.

June 2020 – Week 4

Birthdate of Baseball Player and Scout Babe Herman — June 26, 1903

Floyd “Babe” Herman spent 13 seasons (1926-1937 and 1945) as an outfielder in the major leagues, playing for five different clubs. He was an accomplished hitter and, in 1931, hit for a .393 average in 153 games. However, his lackluster defense and penchant for puzzling, sometimes bizarre plays in the field overshadowed his ability with a bat.

After his retirement as a player, Herman turned to scouting. From 1945 to 1964, he scouted for the Pirates, Phillies, Mets, Yankees, and Giants. He was responsible for signing, among others, pitcher Vernon Law, outfielders Wally Westlake and Paul Blair, and catcher Ed Fitzgerald. When asked what he looked for in a young player, Herman commented, “First of all, the kid has got to catch your eye. He has to have that certain something, a touch of class, maybe.” Herman died on November 27, 1987.

June 2020 – Week 3

June 20 — Birthday of Scout Gary Varsho

Gary Varsho was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the fifth round of 1982.  Varsho played eight seasons in the major leagues, primarily as a pinch hitter and reserve outfielder.  He finished his play ing career in 1995 with a batting average of .244.  From 2002 to 2006, Varsho served as the bench coach for the Philadelphia Phillies. In 2008, he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he was the bench coach for two seasons.

In 2012, Varsho became a pro scout for the Los Angeles Angels.  Since 2016, he has worked as a pro scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  For the past 20 years, Varsho has also operated the Gary Varsho Baseball League for youth baseball players in Marshfield, Wisconsin.  The League is based on two fundamental principles:  baseball should be fun for the players, and children who are friends should play together.  Varsho’s son, Daulton, is a promising minor league catcher in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ system.

June 2020 – Week 2

June 14, 2018 — Scout Ed Roebuck Dies

Ed Roebuck was a right-handed pitcher who played in the major leagues for eleven seasons.  He is most remembered as a member of the Dodgers, both in Brooklyn and in Los Angeles, playing for the Dodgers from 1955 to 1963.  While with Brooklyn, Roebuck appeared in the 1955 and 1956 World Series , pitching six innings in four games and recording a 1.42 earned run average.

After his playing career, Roebuck turned to scouting.  From 1968 to 2006, he scouted for five different clubs:  Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Red Sox.  As a scout, Roebuck’s most significant signing was catcher Jason Kendall, who was drafted by the Pirates in the first round of 1992.  During his playing days, Roebuck was reputed to be one of baseball’s finest fungo hitters.

He could routinely hit fungoes that reached nearly 300 feet in height.  In 1964, when Judge Roy Hofheinz, owner of the Houston Colt .45s, was trying to gauge the appropriate height to construct the roof at Houston’s Astrodome, he enlisted Roebuck to hit fungo fly balls at the construction site.  With Roebuck’s assistance, the roof was placed at a sufficient height to ensure that it would not interfere with fly balls hit during games.

June 2020 – Week 1

June 4 — Birthday of scout Terry Kennedy

From 1978 to 1991, Terry Kennedy was a catcher and occasional outfielder in the majo r leagues. The son of former big league infielder-outfielder Bob Kennedy, Terry was named to four all-star teams and finished his major league career with a batting average of .264. His best season came in 1982, when he hit .295 with 21 home runs and 97 runs batted in for the San Diego Padres. In the 1984 World Series, Terry drove in three runs for the Padres, making Bob and Terry Kennedy the first father-son duo to drive in runs in the World Series. After his playing career, Terry Kennedy was a coach and minor league manager for several organizations. He is currently a scout for the Chicago Cubs.

May 2020 – Week 4

May 28, 2002 — Scout Wes Westrum Dies

Wes Westrum was a stellar defensive catcher and two-time all-star for the New York Giants from 1947 to 1957. In his eleven major league seasons, Westrum hit only .217 but nonetheless was called “the most underrated player on the team” by teammate Eddie Stanky. In July 1965, Westrum became the second manager in the history of the New York Mets when Casey Stengel stepped down after suffering a fractured hip. Westrum served as the Mets’ manager from July 1965 to September 1967. He later managed the San Francisco Giants for part of the 1974 season and all of 1975. From 1977 to 1994, Westrum served as a part-time scout for the Atlanta Braves.

May 2020 – Week 3

May 23, 1974 — Scout Neil Mahoney Dies

A graduate of Boston’s Northeastern University, Neil Mahoney was catcher and captain of the 1929 Northeastern baseball team.  He played in the minor leagues for one season before embarking on a career as a scout for the Boston Red Sox. Mahoney scouted for the Sox from 1939 to 1960 and signed, among others, center fielder Jimmy Piersall and catcher Haywood Sullivan.

In 1960, Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey appointed Mahoney as director of Boston’s farm system. From 1969 to 1973, he served as director of scouting for the Red Sox. During Mahoney’s time as director of scouting, the Red Sox made a concerted effort to scout and draft African-American ballplayers. Mahoney was responsible for drafting a number of future major league stars, including Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Fred Lynn, Amos Otis, Cecil Cooper, Ben Oglivie, Joy Foy, and Sparky Lyle.

May 2020 – Week 2

May 14, 1977 — Scout Lou Maguolo Dies

Though standing only five-feet-five and weighing only 112 pounds, Lou Maguolo was an outstanding outfielder in high school and college. From 1921 to 1923, Maguolo played for Washington University in St. Louis and was named to the all-Missouri Valley Conference team each year. Maguolo scouted full-time for the St. Louis Browns from 1936 to 1942.

In 1942, he was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army an d served on active duty as a major during World War II. Following his discharge from military service, he be gan scouting for the New York Yankees in 1947 and would remain as a prominent Yankee scout until 1975.

He is credited with signing more than 40 players who went on to play in the major leagues, including pitchers Al LaMacchia (the inspiration for this book) and Zach Monroe; outfielders Roy Sievers, Whitey Herzog and Norm Siebern; infielders Jerry Lumpe, Tony Kubek and Bill Skowron; and catcher Elston Howard.

May 2020 – Week 1

May 3, 2004 — Scout Darrell Johnson Dies

For a period of 50 years, 1949-1999, Darrell Johnson was a major league player, coach, manager and scout. During his playing career, he was a reserve catcher for seven teams. He spent 1957 and 1958 with the New York Yankees, during which he was described by Sporting News as the “slowest player afoot” on the Yankees.

Nonetheless, on June 15, 1957, Johnson hit an inside-the-park home run off Kansas City Athletics pitcher Virgil Trucks. The home run came on a ball that Johnson grounded past first base. Kansas City right fielder Harry “Suitcase” Simpson searched in vain for the baseball under a bullpen bench, only to find that the ball was sitting in fair play on the outfield grass.

Johnson served as an area scout for the Yankees in 1957 and as a special assignment scout for the Boston Red Sox in 1970. From 1984 to 1993, he was a special assignment scout for the New York Mets.


April 2020 – Week 5

Birthdate of scout Charlie Metro – April 28, 1918

As a high school student in Nanty Glo, Pennsylvania in the 1930s, Charlie Metro worked as a coal miner when not in school. While still in high school, Metro attended a tryout camp held by the St. Louis Browns and was signed to a minor league contract. Metro never hit well enough to stick in the major leagues but, during 16 years in the minor leagues, he had a batting average of .284.

After his playing career, Metro worked as a scout for the Cincinnati Reds (1967), Detroit Tigers (1972-73), and Los Angeles Dodgers (1977-81). In addition to his work as a scout, Metro served as manager of the Chicago Cubs (1962) and the Kansas City Royals (1970). He is credited with inventing the batting tee that is used by players at all levels for hitting practice.

April 2020 – Week 4

Birthdate of scout Harry Craft – April 19, 1915

Harry Craft played centerfield for the Cincinnati Reds for six seasons, 1937-1942. Known primarily as a stellar defensive outfielder, Craft closed out his major league career with a .253 batting average and 44 home runs. Following his playing days, Craft managed the Kansas City Athletics (1957-59), Chicago Cubs (1961), and Houston Colt 45s (1962-64). After stepping down as Houston’s manager, Craft remained in baseball for the next 26 years, working as a scout and farm system official for the Baltimore Orioles, San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees.

April 2020 – Week 3

Birthday of scout Jeff Bittiger — April 13

A former pitcher, Jeff Bittiger spent parts of four seasons in the major leagues, playing for the Philadelphia Phillies, Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox. On September 2, 1986, he started for the Phillies against the Pirates, hit his first and only major league home run, and got his first victory in the big leagues. Bittiger’s best season came in 1988, when he appeared in 25 games for the White Sox, including seven starts.

Bittiger spent the last eight years of his playing career as a pitcher in the independent Northern League. He retired at the age of 40 when his former minor league roommate, Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, prevailed upon him to accept a scouting position with the Athletics. As an amateur scout, Bittiger signed two-time major league all-star Andrew Bailey, catcher Anthony Recker, and pitcher Vin Mazzaro. Since 2008, Bittiger has scouted the minor leagues for the Athletics.

April 2020 – Week 2

Birthday of scout Greg Smith — April 5

Greg Smith spent parts of three seasons, 1989-1991, as an infielder with the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He started scouting for the Kansas City Royals in 1997 and has also scouted for the Cleveland Indians and the Texas Rangers.  He is currently a special assistant for the Rangers. Smith signed pitcher Jeremy Affeldt, among others.  He was one of the first scouts to identify Tim Lincecum as a legitimate top-of-the-rotation starter.  When assessing Lincecum’s physical and mental makeup, Smith compared him to future Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux. Smith provided a unique appraisal of both Maddux and Lincecum. “You could just see that they beat to a different drum that others couldn’t play,” Smith said.

April 2020 – Week 1

John “Red” Murff, born on April 1, 1921

There have been many legendary scouts in the history of baseball. Red Murff was one of them. Murff covered the state of Texas for the New York Mets. Murff had been a pitcher for the Milwaukee Braves in 1956 and 1957.

As a scout, Murff traveled over a million miles in his Oldsmobile Delta 88 in search of undiscovered prospects. Murff discovered and signed pitcher and future Hall-of-Famer Nolan Ryan. He also signed several key players on the Mets’ 1969 World Championship team, such as pitcher Jerry Koosman, catcher Jerry Grote and second baseman Ken Boswell.