In Search of...History
“Any one can recommend a ballplayer, but it takes real judgment to reject ‘em.”
Cy Slapnicka is another example of the “colorful” scout. He was born in 1886 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to parents of Czech and Bohemian heritage. He pitched in the obscurity of the minor leagues for 15 seasons, arriving in the majors only long enough to win one game for the Pirates in 1918. During the offseasons, he worked at many jobs including acrobat and juggler in vaudeville shows. When Cy began scouting for the Cleveland Indians in 1923, some critics felt that he was using his juggling background nefariously when signing amateurs for very little money and releasing them if they failed to develop.
“We knew that we were part of something bigger than ourselves.”
Several teams strongly opposed the idea of the draft. The Phillies’ scouting director Paul Owens, later general manager, told Kevin Kerrane, “I felt like a race car driver with a governor on his engine.” Traditionalists complained that bad teams should not be rewarded for bad management.