year the Tigers made me a part-time scout, and I took it up from there. I
learned a lot from Joe Brehany, the old scout for the Pirates. He's here at the
tournament, still kickin', 80-some years old and all mad that they won't let
him put on a pregame exhibition hitting fungoes at The Point. Anyway, he taught
me, then Wish Egan taught me and made me a full-time scout. And the rest was
experience led eventually to the front office. He had been as ambitious as any
of the current young scouts, and in 1957 he was promoted to scouting director
on the basis of his education (a master's degree in counseling from NYU), his
record as an Eastern scouting supervisor and his reputation as the man who
signed Al Kaline. He held that post for 16 years, guiding the Tigers into the
draft era, then coming to terms with the Major League Scouting Bureau (which
meant firing 17 of his 22 full-time scouts), and then beginning the new cycle
of hiring young scouts for the 1980s.
I asked him to
tell me about signing Kaline.
know," he asked, "that Kaline played right here at the Johnstown
where you first saw him?"
"Oh, no. He
was 14 years old the first time I saw him. I was down in Baltimore to sign a
shortstop named McCarthy, and the manager of McCarthy's team said, 'Ed, there's
a boy that lives right around the corner, going to be a hell of a ballplayer.
His name is Al Kaline.' So I put the name down in the little book. Then I found
out that McCarthy had a brother who was playing second base for another team,
and I thought, 'If I sign a brother combination at second and short, I'm going
to go down in the books.' I went to see the other McCarthy play, and who was at
shortstop but this kid named Albert Kaline.
"He was about
5'10" and weighed maybe 140, but he hit line drives, ran beautiful and
threw hell out of the ball. Fourteen years old. I watched him all through high
school, saw him get stronger and fill out to about 180, and the amazing thing
was that he had all the intangibles. Didn't lose his temper, had time for
people and just wanted to be a ballplayer. He was oozing with it. 'Lemme play
ball!'—that was his attitude.
scouts knew about him by then, but I had two advantages. I'd gotten close to
his whole family—his father, his mother, his sister, his uncles—and I even
stayed in Baltimore for three weeks before he graduated. The other thing was
that I offered him a big salary/bonus contract [reportedly $35,000]. In 1953
the rule said that a boy who received more than $6,000 in salary and bonus had
to stay on the major league roster for two years, so I was really giving a
major league slot to this 18-year-old kid. But I'd convinced John McHale [the
farm director] that he could play rings around our outfield, which at that time
was Bob Nieman, Jim Delsing, Don Lund and Steve Souchock. This boy Kaline, as
time proved, could run better than them, could throw better than them, could
catch the ball better than them. And he could hit better than all of them put
more of a numbers game now. These young guys won't have the chance to gamble
like that, or to romance a prospect the old way. They've become graders, and
they can't afford to fall in love with talent."
I hitched a ride
out of Johnstown with Bob Engle. He rarely stayed for the end of a tournament,
he said. "I'm scouting the players, not the games, so I never know or care
who wins." Johnstown was only one sliver of Engle's scouting territory.
"My area could be measured in square miles, or in scouting miles driven per
year, or in time away from home," he said. "I think the last one's the
most significant. And that's one reason I don't want to make a career out of
being an area scout."