Anonymous but hardworking scouts finally get due in Cooperstown

The most anonymous and yet most important people in baseball have made the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. The hall is recognizing the work of scouts in a two-year display that opened last week.

In an age when advanced statistics such as BABIP and WAR take center stage in player evaluation, the old-time scout, the guy that puts 50,000 miles a year on a car looking for potential big-league talent, is being recognized.

"It's about time,'' says Dan Jennings, vice president of player personnel for the Miami Marlins. "Scouts deserve recognition for pouring their heart and soul into the game.''

"Scouts are a group of people that love baseball, have a passion for the way it is played and they live for the chance to give a young man an opportunity to live his dream,'' former relief pitcher Todd Jones says.

Teams employ between 25 and 30 scouts across the globe. A scout makes between $30,000 and $70,000 a year.

Area scouts keep track of high school and college players in a three-to five-state territory and write the initial report. A cross-checker takes the area scouts' reports and makes comparisons, and, for example, might rank pitchers scouts in North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania have seen.

Scouts travel through the minors and majors, gathering information on opposing players that help the big club make decisions about trades. There are also advance scouts, who are looking for ways to beat an opponent.

The tools of the trade are part of a display named "Diamond Mines." There are stopwatches, radar guns and even the straw hat worn by scout Tony Lucadello when he found future Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt and Ferguson Jenkins.

And the best part of all is an interactive Web site that has published scouting reports of some 12,000 players written by more than 400 scouts.

The Hall's Web site is baseballhall.org. Go to exhibits and click on Diamond Mines. Here's an example of what will be found:

* On Sept. 23, 1989, Chicago White Sox scout Alex Cosmidis wrote back to his team that Orioles second baseman Billy Ripken is a "FB (first ball) fastball hitter. Tries to pull. Give him lots of hard stuff. Will offer at bad balls with 2 strikes.''

* In 1967, Al Campanis, who later became a Dodgers executive, wrote that Orioles outfielder Paul Blair runs well to first (4.0 seconds), has a strong, accurate arm and likes hit pitches up the zone. But Campanis said that Blair tips off when he's going to run because he puts "weight on his front foot. Can be picked off 1st.''

* In 1957, Washington Senators scout Dick Wiencek saw a prospect named Jim Kaat and said in his report: "This boy can really fire, throws bullets, a top-notch prospect.'' Then, in 1976, as Kaat was ending his career, scout Joe Branzell said Kaat had lost his velocity, was still the best-fielding pitcher in baseball and was a "pretty good'' fifth starter who "quick pitches'' every batter.

* In 1952, Red Sox scout Joe Stephenson rated Earl Battey the best catching prospect he'd seen in the Los Angeles area with a strong arm, good glove and excellent power. Stephenson wrote that Battey could be a "AAA'' catcher and "possibly the majors.'' Battey played 13 seasons with the White Sox, Twins and Senators and was the Twins' catcher in the 1965 World Series.