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McReynolds to be missed by many08/27/2007 7:45 PM ET
By Fred Claire
You won't find a copy of "Moneyball" in the office of Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan, but you will find a copy of "The Baseball Scout's Notebook" within easy reach of his desk.
The "Notebook" was written by Dale McReynolds, and the words and thoughts contained on the mimeographed pages have helped shape the careers and lives of a great number of successful people working for Major League Baseball organizations today.
"Mac had an impact on a generation of baseball scouts and player development people, particularly those who got their start in the Midwest," says Ryan.
Dale McReynolds, 85, a legendary baseball scout, passed away in his sleep last Thursday in Williams Bay, Wis. A memorial service in his honor will be held on Sept. 15 in McReynolds' hometown of Walworth, Wis.
"There isn't anyone who had more of an impact on my career in baseball," says Ryan. "Mac's teachings about how to scout should be a textbook for everyone who enters the scouting profession.
"Mac taught us more than just about how to evaluate talent. He covered all of the intangibles, from how you gather information to how you approach the family of a player. He stressed the importance of the things you need to do during the winter months as you prepare for the upcoming season. He was the most organized scout I've ever known."
McReynolds was never too busy to spend time with young scouts who wanted to learn about the profession he loved.
"I always enjoyed going to his home in Walworth to visit with Mac," says Terry Reynolds, former scouting director of the Los Angeles Dodgers and now director of player development for the Cincinnati Reds.
"Mac's wife, Dyne, would make us a great meal and he would take you to his office in the basement and talk baseball for hours. He lived his life with a passion for the game and the people involved with it."
It wasn't just the scouts that McReynolds influenced with his teachings. He was open to helping all of those who cared about the game of baseball.
"I will never forget Dale's willingness to help when we started the high school baseball coaches association," says Jerry Miles, former director of the group. "He loved the game and he did so much for it."
Former Major League pitcher Geoff Zahn remembers the guidance he received from McReynolds during Zahn's time as the head baseball coach at the University of Michigan.
"You could always count on Dale to give you good advice when it came to any phase of the game," says Zahn.
"In this era of technology-based scouting, there is way too much emphasis on office-based [analysis]," says Peter Bavasi, former president of both the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians. "It's good to remember a scouting legend like Dale and what he has meant to the game."
McReynolds got his start in baseball as a "bird dog" for the Cincinnati Reds and then spent 13 years with the team before moving to the newly formed Kansas City Royals.
"The Royals let Dale go after six years and I saw a tremendous opportunity for us to hire him with the Dodgers," says longtime Dodgers scout Guy Wellman, who knew McReynolds and recommended his hiring by the Dodgers.
Wellman and McReynolds were to remain lifelong friends, a situation typical of the friendships that were formed by the veteran scout.
"Mac always managed to stay in contact with people in baseball," recalls Ryan. "He was famous for his letter-writing and he would keep in touch with current and former players, young scouts and anyone who crossed his path and sought his help and guidance."
McReynolds was to spend 25 years with the Dodgers, and it's fair to say that no one person had more of an impact on the Dodgers' last two World Championship seasons of 1981 and 1988.
McReynolds was instrumental in the signing of both Bob Welch and Steve Howe, two pitchers who were key parts of the Dodgers' title in 1981, and his strong recommendation of Kirk Gibson was a key factor in the team signing Gibson prior to the slugger's MVP season of 1988. McReynolds also played a role in the signing of Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser.
Ryan recalls that his first meeting with McReynolds was when he was a high school pitcher in Janesville, Wis.
"It was my junior year of high school and Mac came to my house to meet with me and my parents," recalls Ryan. "He wanted to talk to me about my interest in baseball and to see if I wanted to sign, or if I was more interested in going to college."
That meeting was more than 40 years ago, and the young high school pitcher and the veteran scout formed a friendship that was to last through the decades.
Ryan has gone on to become one of the most successful and respected general managers in the game. His work ethic and credibility are well known throughout Major League Baseball.
McReynolds' final job in baseball was working for the Twins as a part-time scout. He had retired from the Dodgers, but Ryan knew his old friend would get restless, and the Twins' GM wanted to see that McReynolds could still go to games in the Midwest League and file reports. Besides, Ryan knew he would have the best coverage in the league.
In a game where scouting seems to have taken a secondary role in the view of some clubs, Ryan keeps the "The Baseball Scout's Notebook" close enough for a quick reference.
Besides that, the way McReynolds signed the book to Ryan carries a great deal of meaning: "... to my best student ever. Mac."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.