Jim McLaughlin wanted to make scouting scientific in three ways:
* By substituting centralized management for old-fashioned individualism: computerizing player data, rationalizing draft prodecures, and applying consistent policies to hire scouts, train them, and grade them the way they grade ballplayers.
* By psychological testing: securing professional analysis of the makeup of each prospect, by means of an exam like the “Athletic Motivation Inventory”.
* By physical testing: insisting on thorough tests of eye-sight and general health, and using new technology to quantify info on bat speed, reflexes, or ratios of muscle strength
The scouts .. were out doing legwork, getting details, while I sat back and analyzed. I went out occasionally–I went out on Boog Powell not so much to evaluate him as to help sign him–but mostly I was in the office so that somebody could remain objective. And the scouts couldn’t bullshit me, because I used to run surveys on everything–the progress of players each guy had recommended, the progress of players he hadn’t recommended, the amounts of money he was ready to risk, the amounts he ran up for expenses in a year. I tried to open the scouts’ minds, to what they were really doing, to make them apply something outside of baseball so that they could see themselves as more than just ‘baseball men.’ That’s why we had all those seminars, rehearsals for signing, and lectures by psychologists and insurance salesmen and FBI agents.
That last one stands out.
An FBI agent would tell them how to get background information on a ‘subject,’ how to compile a dossier by subtle investigation. The scouts didn’t see the FBI the way we do now, as raising questions about the suppression of American liberties. They could compare themselves to a government agent and it made them feel important, and maybe they could grasp how being a baseball scout had meaning to it, and logic.
About Charles O. Finley
When you talk about Finley, you’re talking about the whimsy and petulance of King Lear. See, Shakespeare knew all about Finley. Except he wouldn’t have taken him seriously enough for a tragedy. He might have made him a minor charactor in a comedy–maybe to showcase that talent for scheming.
Because there was a pipeline. After Finley fired all his own scouts, he used to phone up scouts he used to phone up scouts on other teams, flatter them, hint that he wanted to hire them. Then he’d ask their opinions on ballplayers. The funny thing was, I’d hear one scout say to another, “You know who called me today? Finley.” And I’d think: “You dumb son of a bitch, he’s just picking your brains.” I mean, he’d seduce people–and they either didn’t know it or didnt’ care. In that way, Finley was a little like Rickey.
But there’s a ton of information that gets traded all throughout the scouting business. I used to talk with my friends in other organizations … I was with Cincinnati in 1965, the first year of the draft, and a friend of mine with another club said, ‘You better go down to Binger, Oklahoma, to look at this Bench kid. We’re not gonna draft him because the general manager’s seen another catcher he likes up in New England.’
OK, that’s what I got for now. More later.