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Jim Furtado
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Branch Rickey Newsbeat

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Don Newcombe’s lost interview: Dodger great talks about barriers and breaking them down

Campanella and I signed to play for the Danville Dodgers in the Three-I (Illinois-Indiana-Iowa) League. When the president of the league heard about that, he called Branch Rickey and said ‘I’ll close the league down. They’ll never play here.’ There was only one club left in the Dodger farm system where we could go, and that was in Nashua, New Hampshire, in the New England League. Buzzie Bavasi was the general manager and Walter Alston was the field manager.

“What would have happened if the president of the New England League had said the same thing as the president of the Three-I League? You might never have seen Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe play baseball and set the records that we set.

 


Monday, June 12, 2017

Give Baseball Scouts a (Perfect) 80 for Tradition

“Eighty you’re a franchise player, 20 you’re nothing and 50 you’re average,” said Detroit Tigers General Manager Al Avila, the son of a scout and the father of a major-league catcher. “It’s always been that way.”

And if it hasn’t, there may be no one alive who remembers otherwise. Art Stewart, a senior adviser to Moore with the Royals, is 90 years old, born on Babe Ruth’s birthday in 1927. Stewart took his first scouting job with the Yankees in the early 1950s, when a Pittsburgh Pirates scout showed him a numerical grading system at a spring training game in Bradenton, Fla.

“That’s a funny way of doing it,” Stewart said he had thought at the time. But then, he said, he learned who had created it: Branch Rickey, the pioneering executive, who was working for the Pirates near the end of his Hall of Fame career.

“Branch Rickey is the one that came up with the number system. What we have today is just a takeoff of what Rickey did,” Stewart said. “He was so far ahead of the game, it was scary.”

When Stewart joined the expansion Royals in 1969, the team used a 1 to 4 scale, like a movie critic’s rating system: 4 was excellent, 3 good, 2 fair, 1 poor. But in late 1974, when Major League Baseball created a centralized scouting bureau, the 2 to 8 scale took hold throughout the game.

Gordon Lakey, who started his scouting career in 1970 and now works for the Philadelphia Phillies, spent three years with the bureau in the mid-’70s. He said its first executive director, Jim Wilson, had encouraged the use of double-digit numbers — not just 2 through 8 — to further differentiate prospects. Not all teams took their reports from the bureau, Lakey said, but enough did that the 20 to 80 scale became the vernacular.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 12, 2017 at 09:50 AM | 59 comment(s)
  Beats: branch rickey, draft, scouting

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

215 Montague Street

I was delighted to speak yesterday at the site of the Brooklyn Dodger offices at 215 Montague Street. Chevrolet sponsored a four-stop baseball tour for media types who would be driven (or themselves drive) an electric-powered Chevy Volt to each site after the starting point of the MLB Fan Cave. Not knowing that I would be speaking outdoors in full sun for the second stop on the trail, I had prepared a 15-minute talk that stayed in my pocket; sunstroke made for poor public relations, I figured. I winged it, but this is the talk I would have offered. Portions of it are based on an article that Jules Tygiel and I published in SPORT Magazine in June 1988.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 31, 2017 at 08:51 PM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: branch rickey, history, jackie robinson

Friday, January 27, 2017

Was Dixie Walker a Racist?

Dixie Walker received MVP votes in eight separate seasons, finishing as high as second in 1946. Yet if he is remembered at all by today’s fans, it’s for the charge that he was the player most responsible for trying to keep Jackie Robinson from joining the Brooklyn Dodgers.

It’s easy to cast Walker as the bigoted villain, but history suggests things may be a bit more complicated than they seem…

gehrig97 Posted: January 27, 2017 at 12:44 PM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: branch rickey, brooklyn dodgers, dixie walker, jackie robinson, racism

 

 

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