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DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH
Kevin Kerrane
March 19, 1984
In 1981 the author went to an amateur baseball tournament in Johnstown, Pa. to research a book on baseball scouts. As this excerpt reveals, while the scouts discovered their gems on the playing field, he found his own off the field
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March 19, 1984

Diamonds In The Rough

In 1981 the author went to an amateur baseball tournament in Johnstown, Pa. to research a book on baseball scouts. As this excerpt reveals, while the scouts discovered their gems on the playing field, he found his own off the field

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"What do you like to fight about?"

"Any old thing. I'm always in the heat of the arguments. I get after politicians. I get after the blacks—some of those guys who never even played in the big leagues got in the Hall of Fame, and Charlie Grimm still hasn't got in. I get after the labor unions."

"It ain't the blacks' fault they couldn't play in the majors," a Pirates scout sitting next to Socko said.

"I'm talking about labor unions. Like these major league players, led out on strike like a bunch of sheep. They don't look back. They never even send a Christmas card to the scout who got them started. And I'll tell you this: None of these guys who struck should ever be given a job in baseball later on. Shouldn't let any of them become scouts."

"Who broke you in?" I asked him. "Who showed you the ropes?"

"Nobody. I just did it. In 1940 Cincinnati told me to cover West Virginia, western Pennsylvania and western New York. You had to be a scout just to drive around in those mountains. And try finding some of those fields! There turned out to be some good prospects in that area, but most of my guys never got to the big leagues. They fell by the wayside. They got hurt, or they got married and quit baseball, or they just fizzled out. The year I signed Glenn Beckert I saw plenty of better prospects, and I didn't think that much of him, but he spent 11 years in the majors and made the All-Star team four times. He got the opportunity; the other guys didn't, and they finally packed it in. These college kids today pack it in early. Early. Two years, some of them. College is bad for ballplayers.

"And I don't give a damn about running," Socko said. "You want speed, go to a track team and get it. If they have it with them, all right. But you get a guy, speed merchant, and he can't throw or can't hit—what good is he? The two most important things to me are the arm and the bat. If a ballplayer can throw and hit, you'll find a spot for him—even if he's just a slow white guy."

"Is that what you're trying to teach that new Red Sox scout?" I asked.

"Rossi? He's Charlie Wagner's apprentice. Charlie's teaching him to change his clothes three times a day. But you're going to see lots of young scouts added on now. Major league clubs'll have to scout the minors up and down, because of this new compensation thing, this new pact with the players."

"Well, maybe that's one good side effect of the strike."

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