Chad Finn takes a look back at those Zangerific Scouting Reports books from the 80’s.
Anyway, that explanation before I stumble into another too-early digression: Those snippets are from The Scouting Report: 1984, an annual that had a five-or-so-year run among baseball junkies in the middle of that decade.
...The inside-baseball candor, which felt like eavesdropping on a b.s. session among sharp-witted, Copehagen-stained old scouts, was enhanced by the one-paragraph commentary on each player from one among broadcasters Dave Campbell and Denny Matthews and legends Brooks Robinson and Duke Snider. It was intoxicating: Who knew Jerry Remy and Glenn Hoffman were “The Squeeze Men” on the Red Sox? Actually, based on what Margo Adams revealed a few years later, that designation should have gone to Wade Boggs. Speaking of outdated attempts at comedy …
If [Graig] Nettles ran the 100-yard dash against Lou Piniella, nobody would win … [The A’s] would like to see him stop smoking and put on a few more pounds, but [Chris] Codiroli rather fancies himself as is ... [Ned] Yost seems to be a follower, not a leader … [Bob Horner] is signed to a big contract and is expected to win the Triple Crown before the contract expires ... Bill Scherrer doesn’t look like an athlete. His teammates call him “Cig” because he smokes a few from time to time but mostly because he is built like one of those long, slender 10mm jobs ... You might say Jose Cruz has been very, very good to baseball ... The Astros have a nice problem. So does [Frank] DiPino, a bachelor who is often told by the ladies he looks like John Travolta … [Frank] LaCorte has changed uniform numbers, shaved off mustaches, even burned his uniform in attempts to fight off evil demons.
...I love these Scouting Report books. Not in the way I treasure an old Abstract or look forward to learning from the Baseball Prospectus annual—I don’t value the Scouting Report for input, but I love them, for all of their flaws, for their attempts at insight, but mostly for how they are a reminder of the knowledge we’ve gained. They’re earnest, a semi-accurate, jargon-laden, win-loving, RBI-fixated baseball time capsule of an era that existed a half-decade before Mike Trout was born. They were what we had, dammit, a charmingly misguided attempt at thorough analysis. Just like my just 14-year-old self who devoured them en route to something better, they had no idea what they didn’t know.