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"I ought to put stuff like that in my reports," said Bennett. "Drive the scoutin' director up the wall."
"I met a high school coach one time—he didn't know how to read a score book. He had his assistant keep score by writing the game in sentences."
Nickels hoisted a beer in tribute to his mentor, Philadelphia's Tony Lucadello, 68, who had signed 46 major league players, more than any other scout in history. "When Tony retires, if he ever does, I hope the Phillies bring him in and hold a press conference and hand out a list of the players he's signed that went to the big leagues," he said. "Schmidt, Hisle, Harrah, Alex Johnson, Fergie Jenkins. If you tried to put a value on his players, it'd be unbelievable. When the Phillies were down and out in the '60s, Lucadello and Eddie Bockman kept the organization alive.
"Lucadello just covers and covers Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Ontario, and he never gets tired of it. He has that whole web of information from all his friends and part-time people, and if the weather's bad he'll work out a kid in a barn or a gym—even in a coal mine once. He has a sixth sense for ballplayers, a feel that you can't teach. But he showed me how to use grades, to decide in my own mind what a 68 arm is and then to stay consistent within that system. And what I really got from him was he taught me how to see."
Lucadello's theory is that every athletic body has eight sides (front-back times left-right times upper-lower), and that a scout at a game should therefore keep shifting his viewing angle until he's constructed a three-dimensional memory of each player. According to Lucadello, scouting a game well requires scurrying all around the field. First, he says, he positions himself behind home plate on the first-base side in order to see all the face reactions, the hand reactions, the footwork—all the front sides—of the pitcher, catcher and righthanded batter. Then he moves along the first-base line to see the pitcher's back, all the infielders' throws and the catcher's peg to second. Then he moves down the rightfield line to see the outfielders' movements. Then he switches over to the third-base side of the diamond to check the fielders' backs and the lefthanded hitters' fronts.
"I think Tony gets carried away sometimes, kind of spins a yarn," Nickels said. "I want to see a hitter's front side, hands and all, but I can get almost everything I need from behind home plate. When I scout a pitcher now, the first thing I look for is whether he has full arm action and how he lands on his front leg. Tony used to say, 'The pitchers who get faster are the ones who get to the big leagues.' And to get faster you have to be mechanically correct. Like Tom Seaver. When he was in high school and community college, nobody was that interested in him. He went to Southern Cal, and in one year the scouts were falling all over him. He'd gotten faster because he was so mechanically correct."
Elmer Gray of the Reds talked about trying to sign a leftfielder named Joe Na-math to a contract in 1961. "Joe's knees were O.K. in high school," Gray said. "He ran the 60 in 7.0. Had a fair bat—I thought it might improve—and an average major league arm. But when Cy Morgan and I took the contract to his house, we found out he was out of town...on a football recruiting visit to Alabama. We never saw him again except on TV. And then it was another guy. It was 'Broadway Joe.' "
"Have you met Broadway Charlie?" Nickels asked me. "The Red Sox scout? That's him over there. You should get Charlie to talk, because he's like an elder statesman."
"Be sure to talk to his buddy Socko, too," added Pidge McCarthy of the Phillies. "You don't know the one guy unless you know the other. They're night and day. Socko and Charlie are like the Odd Couple."
Broadway Charlie Wagner, 68, didn't look like an elder anything. Trim, tan impeccably groomed, he was wearing a blue-and-white seersucker sports coat with a dark wine handkerchief in the breast pocket, a light blue button-down oxford-cloth shirt with a wine-and-navy rep tie, gray flannel slacks and carefully buffed black Italian loafers—all this in a business where being "well dressed" usually means wearing a golf sweater and polyester pants instead of a baseball jacket and droopy gabardines.