Wednesday, September 15, 2010

RIP: Al LaMacchia

Today we got the sad news that Dodger scout Al LaMacchia passed away today. You may remember him as the man who recommended Andre Ethier to Ned Colletti.

Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti made the following statement today regarding the passing of Dodger Professional Scout and former Major League pitcher Al LaMacchia.

“Al was the epitome of a baseball scout. He loved the game and the people in it. I admired that he blended his love for baseball with his love of family. Many times I saw Al with his wife Ann at the baseball stops along the road. That is a rarity, but Al was not going to sacrifice one love for another.

“His recollection of players long since out of the game along with those of today was truly remarkable. Knowing that Al was always available to help with a player or a thought process was always a comforting combination. I found his wisdom of life and baseball to be rare.”

LaMacchia pitched in 16 games in the Major Leagues with the St. Louis Browns (1943, 1945-46) and the Washington Senators (1946) after 16 seasons as a pitcher in the minor leagues, including a 15-2 mark for San Antonio in the Texas League in 1942.

LaMacchia served in the United States Army in World War II.

Following his playing career, LaMacchia embarked on a six-decade career as a scout, working for the Phillies for four years before joining the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves from 1961-1976.

He joined the Blue Jays at their inception in 1977 and served as a Vice President during the team’s World Championship seasons of 1992 and 1993. Following 20 seasons with Toronto, LaMacchia scouted for the Devil Rays from 1996-2002 before joining the Dodgers.

Among the numerous players he scouted and/or signed were former MVPs Dale Murphy and George Bell, current Blue Jays Manager Cito Gaston and All-Stars Dave Stieb and David Wells as well as Willie Upshaw, Jim Gott, Rick Mahler, Ted Savage and Bruce Benedict.

He is also responsible for recommending Double-A outfielder Andre Ethier to Colletti prior to the Dodgers acquiring him from Oakland in 2005.

LaMacchia was named Midwest Scout of the Year in 2001 by the Scout of the Year Foundation and was also honored in 2008 with the Special Recognition in Scouting Award by the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation. He has also been honored as the Scout of the Year by the Texas Scouts Association.

LaMacchia was born on July 22, 1921 in St. Louis , MO and is survived by his wife, Ann, daughter Rozanna and son, Michael, as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

To follow up on the Ethier signing, here is the story from the LA Times, August 16, 2006.

Around the hotel table they were talking about dumping Milton Bradley and wondering whom they should demand from the Oakland A's in return.

In the corner sat the old scout who has never worked with radar gun, computer or even stopwatch.

Around the hotel room table, someone mentioned an unknown double-A outfielder named Andre Ethier.

In the corner, the old scout jumped.

"Wait a minute!" shouted Al LaMacchia. "I know Andre Ethier!"

In a gait slowed by years of climbing bleachers, LaMacchia walked over from the television to the table.

With Dodgers executives staring at him in amazement, the old scout began to sell.

"I've seen Ethier for an entire season, he's a tremendous athlete, works harder than anybody out there, a young Shawn Green," LaMacchia reportedly told the execs. "You trade for this kid, he has a chance to be something big."

Thus it happened that a new Dodgers star was born.

In some ways, so too was an old scout.

Sometimes you just can't beat the experience of the man on the street. His gut told him Ethier was worth the risk, and the Dodgers were doubly awarded for his call. Considering his past scouting achievements (Dale Murphy, Cito Gaston, Dave Stieb and David Wells) we should not have been surprised.

(Pic link: St. Louis Browns History Museum)

Update: I just found this so I thought I would pass it along.
LaMacchia, part of two World Series titles with the Toronto Blue Jays but still livid they didn't draft Roger Clemens or Tony Gwynn as he recommended
He obviously had quite an eye for talent.

Dodger Cartoons by Pap'

Lately, I've run into some great vintage cartoon drawings featuring the Dodgers. From Willard Mullin in Brooklyn to Ken Hubenthal in Los Angeles, there is a long tradition of editorial cartoons telling the important Dodgers story of the day. This time I found a couple of great examples from illustrator Thomas "Pap" Paprocki of the Associated Press.

Below Pap', as he was affectionately known, lets his fans know about the overlooked Heinie Manush. This 1937 cartoon laments the exclusion of Brooklyn Dodger Heinie Manush from the All-Star game.
"Brooklyn fans consider Terry's failure to name Manush for his all-star team a personal affront."
(click to enlarge pic)
(eBay Auction Link)

This 1938 cartoon tells us all about "Brooklyn's Boss"- Larry MacPhail. He came to town to try to turn around an ailing ballclub, and subsequently transformed Baseball. He was eventually elected into the Hall of Fame in 1978.
(click to enlarge pic)
(eBay Auction Link)
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