Dinged Corners has found something great. She searched through the Library of Congress American Memory website and came across a old scouting report on Don Drysdale written by Branch Rickey. At the time, Rickey was General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, but we all know him as the pioneer who signed Jackie Robinson to Brooklyn in 1945.
The report was written on June 15, 1954 while Drysdale was still an 18 year old kid in Los Angeles. Rickey writes:
A lot of artistry about this boy. Way above average fast ball. It is really good. Direction of the spin and the speed of rotation the same on all fast ball pitches, -angle of delivery the same, stride is wide, and his body is in all pitches. Fine pitching hand, and placement on fast and curve ball needs no coaching. Let him alone on all his fingering. He is good. I don't know about his agility or whether or not he has the body control or can field his position, but his work on the hill itself has an unusual amount of perfection.The letter goes on to discuss his pitches and then when he might be ready for the big leagues. The most fascinating part is the contract talk. Rickey's level of interest was high as he was willing to dole out a Major League contract. Of course, he shouldn't get paid more than $4,000 if he plays in the minors. Major League minimum salaries at the time was $6,000.
Alas, Branch's pursuit was fruitless. As noted in red on the bottom left, "signed with Brooklyn, Father is bird dog for them." In other words, we had a ace in the hole. A "Bird Dog" is a local scout.
Check out Dinged Corners for more great finds at the Library of Congress.