Jim Walton Mined Gold For Team USA in 2000

While manager Tommy Lasorda was taking bows for America’s Olympic gold medal in baseball, the 2000 team depended on advance scout Jim Walton for some seasoned opinions on the competition. I asked the former Brewers coach what that felt like. He replied —
“Tom:
Thanks for your interest in baseball and the Brewers.
Advance scouting is always a very interesting area of scouting. You’re not only charged with evaluation of player skills, but also concerned with team strengths and weaknesses. What kind of game do they play? Of course, the overall depth in the team roster and potential match-ups against who’s hot and who’s not, team defense, pick-offs, alignments both offensive and defensive.
A lot of little baseball items — starts, release times, pitchers and catchers. 
The turnaround time of the information is critical in the Olympics — due to fact you see a team in a late evening game and Team USA plays that team the next morning, requires a lot of burning the midnight oil to have information ready and in the coaches hands early the next morning. 
It was a very interesting scouting experience. And great to have had the opportunity to be with a Gold Medal Winner, Team USA!
Thanks for your being a baseball fan.
Jim Walton”

John Feinstein Unearths Bobby Valentine Autograph Legend In ‘Where Nobody Knows Your Name’ Book

Standing O for John Feinstein.

The acclaimed sports author has created an all-star effort in Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball (Doubleday, $26.95).
Without giggling about some editor’s need to add “of Baseball” to the title, there’s much to like about this book.
How does it feel to be a minor leaguer, either as a player, manager or even umpire?
Fans and collectors need to read this book to walk in those minor league shoes.
(I remembered a man who photographed lots of American Association players passing through Iowa in the early 1970s had pictures at an early card show. I asked why so many well-known veteran players weren’t wearing their caps in the pictures.
“They don’t want to be seen as minor leaguers,” he explained.)
Feinstein captures this anywhere-but-here futility so well. While he looks at current minor league rosters for examples, the author found a minor league jewel in his digging.
Tommy Lasorda managed the 1970 Spokane farm team for the Dodgers. Bobby Valentine was a hotshot prospect called up in 1969. To put him in his place, Lasorda called a team meeting.
“First of all, I want you all to go and get Valentine’s autograph,” he said. “Because someday it’ll be valuable to you when he’s a star in the majors.” 
Feinstein’s book is filled with such gems of ego versus humility. His book shines new light on those rising and falling stars in the minor league sky. Give the title a call-up.

Rick Monday Beat Pitcher Doug Rau To Stop 1976 Dodger Stadium Flag Burners

Don’t mess with Texas. Or Texan Doug Rau.

The Dodgers pitcher might have provided a new twist on the fabled story from April 25, 1976. Outfielder Rick Monday thwarted two protesters (a father and his 11-year-old son!) who wanted to burn the American flag in Dodger Stadium’s center field.

If Monday hadn’t intervened, Rau says he was ready to take action. In this classic note from 2002, Rau explained his perspective of the situation:

“Thomas:

I was in the dugout, far left, near 3rd base, and I simply reacted by instinct. Monday beat me to the draw, and he said little when he gave me the flag.

I think I gave it to a grounds-crew guy (Tom or Scottie), and from there I know nothing.

The team was stunned, and I faintly remember Lasorda saying something to me about those…

Photos courtesy Mark Langill, Los Angeles Dodgers

Doug Rau”

What happened to that flag? Check out this impressive 2010 feature from Arizona reporter Zach Buchanan.

Tomorrow: Address king Harvey Meiselman offers TEAM address lists!

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