Articles

dec_8__1983.html

  • Print
User Rating:  / 0
PoorBest 
Accommodations
Churches
Community Calendar
History
Schools
Social Groups
Web Links



1977197819791980198119821983198419851986198719881989

FAMOUS BASEBALL SCOUT OVERLOOKED BY HOMETOWN
December 8, 1983


Click

PIX #1 - Tony Lucadello, believed by many to be "the greatest baseball scout," photographed in his "hideway office" amongst the photos and other memorabilia which means so much to him. He insisted that one of his several baseball hats be in the photo. The background photos are of baseball league associates, and some of the 49 players he has signed, as of this writing. Baseball fans may recognize some of the players. Fostorian, Grant Jackson, appears in the top photo, lower left.

(AUTHOR'S NOTE: Today's article, the second in a series of three about pro- baseball in Fostoria, dwells entirely on Tony Lucadello, one of the young players on the Redbirds back in the '30s. Even though today's article is all about Tony, it is impossible to tell the whole story about his scouting career in such limited space. In today's article readers will see only the tip of iceberg. The series will conclude next week...unless by the miracle of some unknown reason, circumstances prevail upon me to make a fourth article. One thing is sure...material is plentiful.

Tony Lucadello, another of the young baseball players who came to Fostoria to try out for pro-ball, joined the Tiffin Mud Hens after the Red Birds flounder- ed. From there he went on to become a scout for the big leagues. He scouted for the Chicago Cubs for 14 years and then joined the Phillies where he is still scouting after 27 years.)

Tony Lucadello...a resident of Fostoria for more than 40 years, cannot be claimed as a native son since he was born in Thurber, Texas, to Dominic and Maria Lucadello, natives of Italy, who were married in the United States.

Special recognition and honors, however, are long past due Tony by this town for his unusual contribution to baseball at the national level, to those who have played, and for his work as a scout to locate likely players.

His search for players has kept him busy in four states during baseball sea- son, and primarily for that reason, the local community has not been aware of his work and the fame that has come to him through the years.

TONY EARNED HIS SUCCESS

Success has come to Tony as a baseball scout because he has worked diligently. He has done what he know best with the special talents he has inherited and developed from his early association with the game...even back to his sandlot games in the Chicago area, and later when he played Class D ball with the Red- birds and the Mud Hens.

Right now, before this article goes any further, let it be said that Tony has never sought the limelight. He has never sought publicity in the town where he has lived for more than 40 years. When I began to collect data for the Redbird article I ran into difficulty finding material I needed. I was told, "See Tony Lucadello." I recalled the name, and faintly recalled the face from back many years ago, but never did I officially meet him.

NAMED TO HALL OF FAME

After a couple of sessions with Tony, I discovered why he was a success in his chosen field. He knows his business and he gives freely and generously of his knowledge. He is a warm, friendly human interested in humanity. For those reasons and perhaps others, Tony was inducted into the All Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago in 1976.

Believe it or not, Tony turned down the opportunity to be so honored several times before he accepted. Here's why: he felt that someone who knew him had suggested his name to honor him without really knowing if he was deserving.

Officials from the All Sports Hall of Fame kept telephoning him from time to time to learn why he wa so modest and felt that he shouldn't accept the honor. He finally told them that if they really thought he should be inducted, it would be only after they had searched the records of the various leagues, the two organizations for which he had scouted (the Chicago Cubs and the Philadel- phia Phillies), and players whom he had signed.

They took him up on his "condition" and started the arduous task. At that time, 1976, Tony had signed 34 players who had gone on to big league success.

TONY'S SUCCESS UNKNOWN TO BOSS

In the process of the search about Tony's credentials, his employer, the Phillies, were shocked to learn about his activities and his record of sign- ups. At that time, the team was owned by Bob and Ruly Carpenter, father and son. When they saw Tony's record in black and white, they summoned him to come to New York. Being "called on the carpet" in this instance was to com- pliment him for good work, not bad.

Consequently, later on that Nov. 6 day in 1976, when Tony was inducted into the All Sports Hall of Fame, the president of the Phillies had arranged for George Bradley, director of scouts for the Detroit Tigers, to be present to honor Tony with a second award...a very nice plaque with the following message hand engraved thereon:

TO TONY LUCADELLO

In our opinion, by far the finest baseball scout in the game. He has contri- buted much to the success of the Phillies organization in scouting, on the playing field, and in his public relation work. A friend to kids, their parents, his coworkers and to all in his organization. The Phillies are proud to have Tony Lucadello as one of them.

BOB Carpenter
Ruly Carpenter
Paul Owens
Dalles Green
and from all in the
Phillies Minor League
and Scouting System

The plaque mentioned Tony as "A friend to his kids, their parents." Very few baseball fans, whether they are sitting in the stadium or in an easy chair at home watching televised games, really know what the above quote means. Some young ball players are bursting with promise and make their ascension to the major leagues in a hurry. Tony has found some of those and helped them along the way.

TONY'S WORK WITH KIDS

But there are many kids who, to Tony's trained eye and intuition, hold promise because of their strong desire and that of their parents to be ball players. Some of them may be kids 8 to 10 years old who want to play in the little leagues but are turned down. Some of the parents of those kids have appealed to Tony, "What can you do for our boy? He wants to play baseball so badly. He cries and mopes around because of rejection."

Tony has a program for them which, if followed consistently without interfer- ence by parents, produces results. Without going into details, the program consists of supervised physical exercises and practice throwing, catching and batting the ball.

WALL HELPS DEVELOP KIDS

Tony said he has often been amazed, especially when he doesn't see the kids for a year or so, to see how they have improved after following the program. Many of those kids make the little leagues when they next apply.

One of the devices Tony recommends for the kids is a wall, 4 feet high, 4 feet wide, with two sides and properly shaped on the front of the back of the wall to redirect the ball when it is thrown against it. The wall should be made of concrete blocks. Tony has found that consistent use of the wall helps body development as well as their ability to handle the ball.

TONY'S RECORD FOR SIGNUPS

Telling about Tony and his kids, I became sidetracked about his record as a scout, and what the folks at the Hall of Fame and the Phillies found out in the process of investigation. These figures are for up to the year 1976: Tony signed 28 players in 28 years. The Phillies have 26 scouts, including Tony. All 25 (excluding Tony) had signed a total of 48 players for that same period. One day Tony signed two players...the only known scout in history to do so.

As this story is being written, Tony's record for signing players is 49, but he says there is a possibility that he may get his 50th yet this year.

I asked Tony whom of those 49 he would pick as the most outstanding. He said that was a difficult question since many were good. But here are the players he chose from the two clubs for which they were signed.

GRANT JACKSON AMONG CHOICES

THE PHILLIES: Mike Schmidt, Ferguson Jenkins, Mike Marshall, Larry Hisle, Toby Harrah, Grant Jackson (Fostorian), Alex Johnson, Barry Bonnell, Jim Essian, Todd Cruz, Len Matszek, Tom Underwood, Terry Harmon, Larry Cox and Dave Roberts.

THE CUBS: Jim Brosnan, Dick Drott, Don Elston, Harry Chiti, Wayne Terwiliger, John Lucadello, Eddie Haas, Hank Edwards, Ed Donnelly, Russ Kerns, Fred Richards, Don Eddy, Gene Fodge, Bob Rush, Bob Anderson.

Readers will note that Tony's brother, Johnny, who played with the Redbirds here in Fostoria, is listed above, having been signed by Tony. Johnny also was inducted into the All Sports Hall of Fame.

GREATEST CATCH IN BASEBALL

Tony told me a story which went back to the days of the Redbird team here. He called that story, "The greatest catch in baseball." The Birds were play- ing the Tiffin Mud Hens that evening on the Fostoria field...the one illus- trated in last week's article. George Silvey was player-manager. He was in the group team photo with that article, as was Tony. That particular evening Tony was playing in outfield, but shortstop was his regular position.

"I thought we had lost the game when a pigeon flew into the path of the ball. The ball and the pigeon collided right over my head, and right then I reached over the fence and caught it."

"Jumping off the fence, I headed for right field. Nobody could believe I had made the catch. Our players were hilarious and the opposition was chagrined. George Silvey came running after me and told me to hand over the ball. You see, Silvey kept track of the balls that went over the fence because money was scarce for buying balls. I replied to George's request, 'I can't...the ball went over the fence. I caught the pigeon.'"

At that point Tony explained that he took the dead pigeon out of his pocket and showed George, but he could scarcely believe what had happened. Tony thought George might "blow" the whole deal, but he didn't. "We waited until the place cleared out, then we buried the pigeon under home plate."

Tony explained that the fence surrounding the field was made with 2-by-4's both upright and crosswise. Since he hadn't played center field before, dur- ing practice he would race back to the fence, stand on the lowest 2-by-4 and reach as high as he could catch high flies.

The Redbirds were leading the game 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning when Tiffin rallied with two outs and loaded the bases. Up to bat stepped a player whose name Tony doesn't remember, but he led the minors with more than 45 homers. "He could really stick the ball," said Tony. "That guy got a hit and it took off like a shot going higher and higher the farther it went."

Tony was thinking fast. He remembered the fence and the 2-by-4 he could step on. "I figured there was a chance, so I ran back to the fence and looked up, then jumped up on the 2-by-4," he recalls vividly, "I reached as high as I could, but the ball was still over my head."

"We didn't tell anybody right then that I caught the pigeon instead of the ball...but nobody really asked. Silvey did insist that we go back and look for the ball later...he couldn't stand to lose it.

"It wasn't until about eight years later that the real story was revealed. We were down in Cuba with some top team officials and I told the story about the greatest catch in baseball...they almost died laughing."