Tom Greenwade: The Great Yankee Who Helped Win Nine World Championships

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Tom Greenwade: The Great Yankee Who Helped Win Nine World Championships

Tom Greenwade was proud of being a New York Yankee. While he was with the Yankees from 1949-64, they won 14 pennants and nine world championships.

Greenwade was one of the great scouts when the role involved discovering young talent, not just to recommend which player select in the draft. He was the prototypical baseball scout.

Mickey Mantle, Bobby Murcer, Elston Howard, Hank Bauer, Clete Boyer, Ralph Terry, Tom Sturdivant, Jerry Lumpe, Bill Virdon and Whitey Herzog were all found by Greenwade.

Before working for the Yankees, Greenwade convinced the Brooklyn Dodgers' Branch Rickey that Jackie Robinson was the player that should break the great American game's color barrier.

Bunch Greenwade, Tom's son, knew how much his father had contributed to baseball.

''I realize my opinion is biased because he's my dad,'' said Bunch Greenwade, ''but I really feel Dad contributed as much to baseball as a lot of people in the Hall of Fame. Dad put so many people in baseball who wouldn't have been there if Dad hadn't stuck out his neck.''

Greenwade's "territory" included obscure areas of Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas.

In 1941, Greenwade became a scout for the St. Louis Browns.  A few years later, Rickey signed him to scout the Negro Leagues. Bunch explained.

''Dad decided Jackie Robinson had more heart and more physical ability than another player, I know it was no problem for my father to be scouting a black player. You see, his mother died when he was 10 years old, and he had a hard time, but some black friends helped him out, and I think he probably put forth extra effort for that reason.''

When he discovered Mantle, Greenwade deliberately underrated Mantle's arm, batting ability and fielding in order to get him to sign as cheaply as possible. It didn't take much to downgrade Mickey's defense at shortstop.

Occasionally, Bunch accompanied his father to scout a player. How different it was then.

''Some scouts take a lot of notes and use a stopwatch to time the runners," Bunch told a reporter. "Dad didn't believe in that. He said, 'I can tell if a player can run or not.' Dad watched for speed, a good eye and a strong arm. If a pitcher didn't throw hard, Dad wasn't interested.''

The Yankees reputation helped. A strong selling point was that Greenwade told a youngster he was interested in signing that even if the Yankees traded him, it would always be in his favor that the Yankees signed him first.

There has been much discussion the last two or three years with respect to who is a "true" Yankee. The concept is not new.

One time at a meeting discussing a prospect with general manager George Weiss, Greenwade said, "Mr. Weiss, he just isn't a Yankee." The Yankees didn't sign him and he never made the big leagues.

Marty Eddlemon, the sports columnist of The Springfield (Mo.) Leader-Press, wrote the in 1986 that Tom Greenwade should be the first scout enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Reference:

Vecsey, George. "SPORTS OF THE TIMES; Greenwade Knew the Territory." New York Times 22 Aug. 1986. Infotrac Newsstand. Web. 27 Oct. 2011.

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