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Baseball Scout Saw Years Down the Road

Tony Liciardello was baseball's greatest scout, having signed fifty-two youngsters (including two Hall of Famers) who would rise through the minor league ranks and eventually play Major League Baseball. This number of signees making it to "the big leagues" ranks higher than any other scout. Amazingly, Lucadello's success came despite the fact that he covered the territory of Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, not exactly the haven of California, Florida, or Texas where the weather allows for year-round play—with better players and more opportunities to observe them.

Lucadello's scouting exploits have been chronicled by Mark Winegardner in Prophet of the Sandlots. Winegardner spent several summers observing Lucadello, a loveable curmudgeon who not only spurned the typical tools of his trade, the radar gun and stopwatch, but also roamed the perimeter of baseball fields instead of sitting behind home plate like most other scouts.

So how did he do it? According to Lucadello, there are four kinds of scouts: Five percent are poor scouts (who seldom plan), five percent are pickers (who just spot weaknesses), eighty-five percent are performance scouts (who look solely based on how players do—against amateur competition), but Lucadello was that rare breed of projector scout. He looked for how coachable a kid was, how a hitch in a swing or a throwing quirk might be corrected. He saw years "down the road" to envision, under the tutelage of better coaching and against stiffer competition, how a player would play. He used rose-colored-glasses looking to see the potential in talent, rather than just the current-state talent.

Possible Preaching Angles: In the same way, Jesus, the ultimate "scout," can see his redeemed children years down the road.

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