Many years ago, George Steinbrenner told me that the key to winning championships was to have great scouts out in the field amassing the best information possible.
In the 1970s, he was armed with the best scouts in the game. That roster included Gary Walker and the great Birdie Tibbetts. It’s no coincidence that the Yanks signed so many great free agents and in turn won three AL Pennants and two World Championships. They also had terrific scouts at the amateur levels. Scouts that were very proud of working for the Yanks and in turn were always looking for that diamond in the rough. The brilliant skills of these scouts helped the Yanks get some terrific talent, despite the fact they were winning and weren’t getting high draft picks.
Forty years later, the quality of scouting in the organization, from the Major League level to the amateur ranks, has only gotten better. The pride that these scouts exemplify, even today, is remarkable because of how proud they are in being associated with the Yankees. They come across much different than scouts in other organizations. There is just a special attitude that they seem to inherit.
Two of those prideful people are veteran scout Cesar Presbott and the Yankees’ first female scout, Kelley Rodman. Both of these scouts truly do understand the importance of their jobs. They get up every morning and can’t wait to see who they might find that day. They are not afraid to follow a hunch. They are also not afraid to show people, especially kids, that they also have a heart and not everything is so matter of fact.
They’re not not afraid to give a kid with a dream, some hope. Sometimes maybe more than warranted. Sometimes they’re even willing to throw some batting practice or hit some ground balls after their coaches have gone home, because they see something that their coach may not have and they don’t want to step on the coach’s toes.
Baseball needs more people like Cesar and Kelley in this great game. We have good people in the game, however the great ones are far and few between.
This weekend MLB scouting was honoring me for my community service in baseball however I felt that the ones that needed to be honored was Cesar and Kelley. In the last year, Kelley was diagnosed with cancer and has lost her beautiful hair, yet she came to the ceremony and stood there with the pride of a champion and a true Yankee.
Cesar was dealing with a heart ailment a month ago and all he could think about, while in the hospital, was how long before I can get back on the field to do my job.
That’s the Yankee way!
While giving my speech, I said that I was more proud of the Yankees now, than at any time in my long association with the organization. When Cesar was down and hurting he got calls from team officials Damon Oppenheimer and Matt Hyde. Both men let Cesar know that he had nothing to worry about. They told him to just get healthy so that ‘you can get back in the field doing what you do best.’ I also understand that they have shown the same wonderful respect and support to Kelley.
I think the Boss would be very proud because this has always been the “Steinbrenner-Yankee way.”