November 2005

A Salute to the Scouts

Baseball scouts are the unsung heroes of our game.  Without them, there would not be any players to watch, to cheer for, and to emulate.  They sacrifice their time, energy and family life to bring us the best talent from around the world, for which I say thank you. 

Scouts are a hard working group of people.  They drive from town to town, watching game after game from the bleachers of high school stadiums across the country looking for future major leaguers.  In fact, most of the players they sign won?t make it to the big leagues.  A player is a liability to an organization, until he reaches the majors, and then he becomes an asset. 

In my opinion, scouts should have their own hall of fame, just like baseball writers and broadcasters do.  That recognition would be the validation they so richly deserve.  Their contributions to the game are endless, their love for the game is unconditional and their commitment is inspiring. 

When my playing career ended in 1960, I became a scout for the Dodgers.  I spent four years covering amateur games.  My first territory was a seven-state area including: Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington D.C.  I eventually moved to Southern California to scout that area.  As a scout, my dream was to be driving along and come upon a ballgame.  I would stop, watch the game and see a young ball player with talent and passion.  I would sign this young man who eventually would become a star at Dodger Stadium. 

I would like to thank Dennis Gilbert, Special Assistant to the Chairman of the White Sox, for co-founding the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation.  The PBSF is an organization that helps scouts who have fallen on hard times.  However, it also recognizes the top scouts at their annual banquet every December.  Dennis has been a leader is working towards recognizing just what the scouts do for our great game; they are the backbone of baseball.

Colin and I

A Thanksgiving to Remember

On behalf of the Dodger organization, and all of our fans, I would like all of the men and women in the armed services, both at home and abroad, to know we are thinking of you, and praying for you during this Thanksgiving holiday.  Your commitment to service, and freedom, is only bested by your bravery. 

As we sit down at the table this weekend, lets all give thanks where it is most due. 

Tonight, at Dodger Stadium, I joined our new general manager, Ned Colleti, and Los Angeles City Council members Ed Reyes and Eric Garcetti in handing out 500 free turkeys to pre-selected families.  It felt good to help those in need.  My father always used to tell my brothers and me that it doesn?t cost you a nickel to be nice to other people.  We put smiles on a lot of faces, and we hope those Turkey families have a wonderful holiday.

Speaking of good Thanksgiving stories, I remember one year I was going to meet a friend for lunch a couple days before Turkey Day.  While I was waiting, I decided to get my shoes shined.  A lady named Betty was doing the shining, and while she brushed away I asked if she was going to have a big Thanksgiving.  She looked up at me and said that she wasn?t going to celebrate the holiday because she couldn?t afford a turkey.

I looked at her and said, ?I?m going to get you the best turkey ever.?

Simultaneously, a man asked me for my autograph.  Instead of just giving the man an autograph I would only sign for five dollars.  But instead of giving the money to me, I told the man to give it to Betty.  Another person asked for an autograph and I made the same deal; five more dollars for Betty.  After about twenty minutes of signing autographs for five dollars a pop, we collected $180.

I looked at Betty and said, ?Now you can go have the best Thanksgiving you?ve ever had, and eat all the turkey you want.?

It?s all about making people happy.

Welcome to the Dodgers

Welcome to the Dodgers, Ned.  On behalf of our organization, and fans, we are very happy to have you leave the Giants for the Dodgers.  You have made an excellent decision.

For all of you who are just getting to know Ned, let me tell you a little bit about him.  He has a tremendous background in baseball, as he worked for the Cubs and the Giants.  He has spent countless hours behind the batting cages, in minor league towns and amateur work-outs learning how to evaluate talent.  He knows one of the greatest secrets in baseball; he knows how to build a balanced roster of guys who play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.

Ned has certainly paid his dues.  He has served under talented general managers, dealt with the toughest of agents and navigated challenging baseball situations.  Now he has the opportunity to show what he learned, and to use his experience and expertise to lead the Dodger organization to the Fall Classic.  He knows how to surround himself with people who are loyal, honest and trustworthy. 

Ned

Last, but certainly not least, I don?t like Ned because he?s Italian, I love him because I?m Italian!

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