Archives

May 2020 – Week 3

May 23, 1974 — Scout Neil Mahoney Dies

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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.

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In 1942, he was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army and served on active duty as a major during World War II. Following his discharge from military service, he began 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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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