Tony Lucadello

Last updated
Tony Lucadello
Born(1912-07-30)July 30, 1912
DiedMay 8, 1989(1989-05-08) (aged 76)
Occupation Baseball scout
Spouse(s)Virginia Lucadello

Anthony Lucadello (July 30, 1912 – May 8, 1989) was a professional baseball scout for the Chicago Cubs (1943–1957) and Philadelphia Phillies (1957–1989). During his career, he signed a total of 52 players who made it to the Major Leagues, most notably Hall of Famers Ferguson Jenkins and Mike Schmidt. His total number of Major League signings is considered to be unsurpassed, and some have called him perhaps the greatest scout ever. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Contents

Early life

Lucadello was born in Thurber, Texas to native Italian parents, but grew up in Chicago, Illinois, where his family moved so his father could work in the area's coal mines. [5]

From player to scout

In 1936, Branch Rickey established a new Class D team the Fostoria Redbirds in Fostoria, Ohio as part of the St. Louis Cardinals system and the Ohio State League. Lucadello travelled to Fostoria to try out for the team and ended up spending two years as a shortstop and player-manager in the league with the Redbirds and the Tiffin Mud Hens. [4] [6] Never a major league prospect as a player, Lucadello eventually took a factory job with the Fostoria Screw Company, met his future wife and settled down.

In 1942, however, he returned to baseball as a part-time scout for the Chicago Cubs. [1] He began running tryout camps, assembling teams and borrowing equipment to outfit them, and playing his finds against some of the best amateur talent in the Midwest. [6] He was offered his first full-time scouting position by Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley after bringing two pitchers in two years to the attention of Cubs manager Charlie Grimm who were signed immediately to the Major League roster. After seeing the second pitcher, Bob Rush, throwing at a tryout at Wrigley Field, Wrigley told Grimm, "Before you sign this pitcher here, if you want him that bad, you better sign that young man right there," and pointed at Lucadello. As he left Grimm's office, Wrigley said of Lucadello, "This young man was born to be a scout". [7]

Scouting fundamentals

Unlike nearly all other scouts, Lucadello almost never watched a game from behind home plate. Rather, he moved from place to place around the field: a short way up the baseline (to see the batter's face), behind first or third base (to judge the arm strength of both infielders and outfielders), and halfway up the line (to watch pitchers). [8]

Lucadello claimed that the key to identifying a prospect was to focus on the player's body control and footwork, saying, "Eighty-seven percent of the game of baseball is played below the waist." [3]

The four kinds of scouts, according to Lucadello, start with the letter 'P':

He estimated that five percent of scouts were poor, five percent pickers, 85 percent performance scouts and five percent projectors. [9]

Lucadello's credentials as a "projector" were most clearly demonstrated in his vision for Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt. As a high school senior with two bad knees, Schmidt hit only .179 with one home run, but Lucadello had been watching him since Little League and still saw his potential. "I felt...that Mike was a late bloomer", he explained years later. He tried to keep his interest in Schmidt from other scouts by hiding behind dugouts or bushes or watching from a nearby rooftop. "I watched one game from the back of a station wagon in the parking lot", Lucadello said. [10] According to Schmidt, "Without Tony Lucadello, I wouldn't have been a Philadelphia Phillie. He scouted me from the time I played Little League Baseball all the way up through high school and college. He had me followed when a lot of other scouts had kind of written me off". [11]

The Lucadello plan

Like many scouts, Lucadello believed that modern players were weak in the fundamentals of the game. For many years he had proposed that young players could constantly improve their skills by using concrete walls to work on their arms and take ground balls at the same time, with or without supervision, similar to the way young basketball players spent hour after hour shooting at a basket. With the help of some high school coaches who worked as part-time scouts for him, he developed and published a series of training drills using the walls in a booklet called "The Lucadello Plan" that he believed could help change the game.

In 1984, American League president Dr. Bobby Brown, also believing the game's skills were in decline among its young players, began seeking a low-level way to reverse the trend. Among the ideas he received from major league baseball scouts was Lucadello's description of his "plan." With encouragement from former Phillies manager Dallas Green, who had seen clinics run by Lucadello in Puerto Rico, Major League Baseball created an instructional video in 1987 called, "A Coaching Clinic," that demonstrated the drills. Orders for the video came from all over the world, and it was given to officials from the former Soviet Union who visited spring training in 1988 in preparation for the creation of an Olympic team. [4] [12]

The Lucadello Plan lists six rules for young players to follow to maximize the benefit of practicing with the wall: [13]

  1. Learn to position your feet for ground balls
  2. Keep your head and glove down
  3. Grip the ball across the seams
  4. Throw with a strong, over-the-top delivery
  5. Take 100 grounders off the wall every day
  6. Play with enthusiasm

Major League signees

Lucadello claimed, along with many of the coaches and part-time scouts he worked with, that his success in signing players was due largely to the close relationship he built with prospects and their families while he scouted them, sometimes over a number of years. [14] Ferguson Jenkins said, "I signed with the Phils because they had worked with me for three years...and 'cause I became real good friends with Tony Lucadello. He came down every weekend to watch me play." [15]

In one case, Lucadello was able to sign a player who had offers of at least $100,000 from seven other teams while all Lucadello could offer from the Cubs was $4,000. Lucadello had been watching the player, Dick Drott, since he was fifteen. On the night of Drott's graduation, the earliest time he could sign a high school player, Lucadello, Drott and both of his parents were in tears about their decision when the mother said, "I don't want the money....Over my dead body is my boy going to sign with anyone but Tony." [16]

These are the Major League players who were originally signed by Tony Lucadello (by ML debut date):

For the Chicago Cubs (Note: * All-Star, + Hall of Fame):
For the Philadelphia Phillies (Note: * All-Star, + Hall of Fame):

Awards

Lucadello was inducted into the All Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago in 1976. [17] He was named "Midwest Scout of the Year" by The Scout of the Year Foundation in 1986. [18] He was inducted into the Ohio Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989. [19]

Death

In the spring of 1989, at the age of 76, Lucadello was told by the Phillies that that year's draft would be his last for them. Apparently unable to cope with the impending loss of his work "the fear of not being wanted," Mike Schmidt called it [11] Lucadello committed suicide by a gunshot wound to the head [20] on May 8, 1989 on a baseball field in Fostoria. He was found by the local high school baseball team who found him laying on the ground shortly after he shot himself. The team knocked on neighborhood doors to call 911. After the ambulance took Lucadello away, the team resumed with practice. The field, now named for Lucadello, features a monument honoring the former scout as "Baseball's Friend". [4]

Notes

  1. 1 2 Robbins 2004, pp. 99-100.
  2. Jordan 2004, pp. 163-164.
  3. 1 2 Spivak 2005, p. 36.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Joyce, Gare (11 December 2006). "Wall of Dreams". ESPN .
  5. Winegardner 1990, p. 1.
  6. 1 2 Hanneman 1989.
  7. Winegardner 1990, pp. 30-32.
  8. Winegardner 1990, p. 42.
  9. Winegardner 1990, p. 97.
  10. Searcy 1989.
  11. 1 2 Dolson 1989.
  12. Winegardner 1990, pp. 85-87.
  13. Winegardner 1990, p. 15.
  14. Winegardner 1990, pp. 10, 93.
  15. Golenbock 1996, p. 395.
  16. Winegardner 1990, pp. 148-152.
  17. Krupp, Paul. "Famous Baseball Scout Overlooked By Hometown." Fostoria.org. December 8, 1983.
  18. Simpson, Allan. "Still waiting for Hall of Fame recognition, foundation honors three more scouts", Baseball America , December 11, 2002.
  19. Winegardner 1990, pp. 252-254.
  20. "Names in the News". Los Angeles Times . 10 May 1989.

Sources

Further reading

Related Research Articles

Philadelphia Phillies Wikimedia list article

The Philadelphia Phillies are an American professional baseball team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member of the National League (NL) East division. Since 2004, the team's home stadium has been Citizens Bank Park, located in South Philadelphia. The Phillies are the oldest continuous same-name, same-city franchise in American professional sports.

Ferguson Jenkins Baseball player

Ferguson Arthur "Fergie" Jenkins CM is a Canadian former professional baseball pitcher and coach. He played Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox (1965–1983).

Mike Schmidt American baseball player

Michael Jack Schmidt is an American former professional baseball third baseman who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Philadelphia Phillies. Schmidt was a 12-time All-Star and a three-time winner of the National League (NL) Most Valuable Player award (MVP), and he was known for his combination of power hitting and strong defense. As a hitter, he compiled 548 home runs and 1,595 runs batted in (RBIs), and led the NL in home runs eight times and in RBIs four times. As a fielder, Schmidt won the National League Gold Glove Award for third basemen ten times. Schmidt was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995 and is widely considered to be one of the greatest third basemen in baseball history.

Ron Santo American baseball player

Ronald Edward Santo was an American Major League Baseball (MLB) third baseman who played for the Chicago Cubs from 1960 through 1973 and the Chicago White Sox in 1974. In 1990, Santo became a member of the Cubs broadcasting team providing commentary for Cubs games on WGN radio and remained at that position until his death in 2010. In 1999, he was selected to the Cubs All-Century Team. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.

Ryne Sandberg American baseball player and manager

Ryne Dee Sandberg, nicknamed "Ryno", is an American former professional baseball player, coach, and manager. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs for 16 years.

Larry Bowa American baseball player, coach, and manager

Lawrence Robert Bowa is an American former professional baseball shortstop, manager, and coach in Major League Baseball (MLB), who played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and New York Mets. Bowa went on to manage the San Diego Padres and Phillies, and is currently a Senior Advisor to the General Manager of the Phillies.

Dave Kingman American baseball player

David Arthur Kingman, nicknamed "King Kong" and "Sky King", is a former Major League Baseball left fielder, first baseman, third baseman, and designated hitter who was a 3 time MLB All-Star with 442 career home runs and 1,210 RBI in 16 seasons. In his career, Kingman averaged a home run every 15.11 at bats, tied for 14th best all-time.

Scout (sport)

In professional sports, scouts are experienced talent evaluators who travel extensively for the purposes of watching athletes play their chosen sports and determining whether their set of skills and talents represent what is needed by the scout's organization. Some scouts are interested primarily in the selection of prospects, younger players who may require further development by the acquiring team but who are judged to be worthy of that effort and expense for the potential future payoff that it could bring, while others concentrate on players who are already polished professionals whose rights may be available soon, either through free agency or trading, and who are seen as filling a team's specific need at a certain position. Advance scouts watch the teams that their teams are going to play in order to help determine strategy.

Dick Allen American professional baseball player

Richard Anthony Allen was an American professional baseball player. During his 15-season Major League Baseball (MLB) career, he appeared primarily as a first baseman, third baseman, and outfielder, most notably for the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox, and is ranked among baseball's top offensive producers of the 1960s and early 1970s.

Lee Constantine Elia is an American former professional baseball infielder, who played only sparingly in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Chicago White Sox (1966) and Chicago Cubs (1968). Following his playing career, he managed the Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies, then served as a coach for the Phillies, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Baltimore Orioles, and Seattle Mariners. Elia was hired by the Atlanta Braves as a special assistant to general manager Frank Wren in November, 2010.

Dallas Green (baseball) American baseball player and manager

George Dallas Green was an American professional baseball pitcher, manager, scout and executive in Major League Baseball (MLB). He played big league baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Senators and New York Mets, from 1960 through 1967. A man of towering stature, at 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m) tall and 210 pounds (95 kg), Green achieved notoriety for his blunt manner. He possessed a booming voice and achieved many successes over a baseball career that lasted over 60 years.

Hank Sauer American baseball player

Henry John Sauer was an American professional baseball player, coach and scout. He appeared in 1,399 games, primarily as a left fielder, in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs (1949–1955), St. Louis Cardinals (1956), New York Giants (1957) and San Francisco Giants (1958–1959).

Tony Taylor (baseball) Cuban baseball player

Antonio Nemesio Taylor Sánchez was a Cuban baseball second baseman who played nineteen seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB). He played for the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, and Detroit Tigers from 1958 until 1976. He batted and threw right-handed and also played third base and first base.

William Crutcher "Big Bill" Lee was a Major League Baseball pitcher. He played professionally for the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, and Boston Braves during the 1930s and 1940s.

Lennie Merullo American baseball player

Leonard Richard Merullo was an American professional baseball player who played shortstop in the Major Leagues from 1941–47. He was born in East Boston, Massachusetts.

1984 Chicago Cubs season Major League Baseball season

The 1984 Chicago Cubs season was the 113th season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 109th in the National League and the 69th at Wrigley Field. The Cubs finished with a record of 96-65 in first place of the National League Eastern Division. Chicago was managed by Jim Frey and the general manager was Dallas Green. The Cubs' postseason appearance in this season was their first since 1945.

The 1983 Philadelphia Phillies season included the Phillies winning the National League East Division title with a record of 90–72, by a margin of six games over the Pittsburgh Pirates. They defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, three games to one in the National League Championship Series, before losing the World Series to the Baltimore Orioles, four games to one. The Phillies celebrated their centennial in 1983, were managed by Pat Corrales (43–42) and Paul Owens (47–30), and played their home games at Veterans Stadium.

1976 Chicago Cubs season Major League Baseball season

The 1976 Chicago Cubs season was the 105th season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 101st in the National League and the 61st at Wrigley Field. The Cubs finished fourth in the National League East with a record of 75–87.

The 1986 Philadelphia Phillies season was the 104th season for the Phillies. Under second-year manager John Felske, the Phillies stayed just below the .500 mark for roughly two-thirds of the season, until a charge after the All-Star break pushed the club past the St. Louis Cardinals and Montreal Expos into second place in the NL East. The eventual World Series champions rival New York Mets finished with a Major League best 108–54 record, and finished 21​12 games ahead of the Phillies. The Mets and the Phillies were the only teams in the National League East to post winning records. Mike Schmidt became the first third baseman in the history of the National League to win the MVP Award three times.

Robert Clinton Compton is a former left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the Chicago Cubs. His entire major-league career consisted of a two-inning appearance during the Cubs' October 3, 1972 game against the Philadelphia Phillies.