Carl Lowenstine has been a baseball scout for 38 successful years.
One of the nicest men a person could meet, Carl is retiring this year. The Hamilton, Ohio resident has forgotten more about baseball than most people will ever know.
Lowenstine has worked for a few teams over the years but at least the last dozen or so, he has been the advance scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
This past weekend Dodger manager Don Mattingly told the press corp that Lowenstine passed on him when he was a high school player at Reitz High School in Evansville, Indiana.
"He will tell you the story," Mattingly said as Lowenstine walked past the group of reporters in the Dodgers' dugout.
"No comment," said Lowenstine, who in 1979 was scouting amatuer talent for the Philadelphia Phillies. "It was one of my famous mistakes. It made me know that I wasn't a very good scout at that time. It made me learn that there was a little bit mote to playing the game than ability. I don't want to embarrass Donnie but I know where he started and I know where he ended up. That doesn't happen without a lot of hard work and dedication. This one got away from me. There's not a finer human being in baseball than Donnie Mattingly."
Mattingly admitted that he wasn't a natural talent like his rightfielder Yasiel Puig.
"Other than no speed, no arm and no power, I was great," Mattingly said. "I was missing four of the five tools."
Yet the New York Yankees picked Mattingly in the second round of the amateur draft. He made his debut on September 8, 1982, at the age of 21. Mattingly was one of the few prospects the Yankees kept during the time they either traded young players for established stars or signed 'big name" free agents.
Mattingly spent his entire 14-year career with the Yankees. He was a lifetime .307 hitter. Mattingly hit 222 home runs and drove in 1,099 runs. He hit .343 in 1984 to win the American League batting title. In 1985 Mattingly won the American League Most Valuable Player Award with a .324 batting average, 35 home runs and a league-leading 145 RBI and 48 doubles.
So what was Lowenstine missing?
"Dallas Green told me to go see this kid named Mattingly," Lowenstine said. "I went to see him. He wasn't very big. He was batting against this guy throwing about 80 and he was just hitting the ball to leftfield. I thought 'he's not even pulling this guy.' Defensively he was just okay He just didn't do it for me. That's what I told Green. I was an inexperienced scout."
Years had gone by when Lowenstine next saw Mattingly in Nashville, Tennessee.
"I was with my oldest son in Nashville," Lowenstine said. "The Yankees came in there. There was a furniture store past the rightfield fence called Cain's. This guy kept hitting the ball into the parking lot. I asked my son who it was. He said, 'Dad it's a guy named Don Mattingly.' I said, 'Oh my God.' I knew I was sunk."
Lowenstine told the story of how his friend Jax Robertson, who worked for the Yankees then. Robertson still works for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Robertson worried that the Yankees wouldn't be able to sign Mattingly because he had college scholarship offers to play basketball.
"Don was a great basketball player," Lowenstine said. "He could have played for Evansville. He could have probably played at Kentucky."
Mattingly's dad told scouts about scholarship offers. The scouts knew it would take a lot of money to sign Mattingly.
The first day of the draft went by and Mattingly's name wasn't called by any of the 24 major league teams.
The Yankees were strategizing about the second day of the draft in a meeting that evening.
It was Robertson's turn to talk about Mattingly.
"Jax told the group that they probably couldn't sign Don because he had so much money and Mattingly's father wanted too much, We can't sign him." Lowenstine said.
George Steinbrenner was in the room.
"There ain't anyone in these United States that we can't sign," Steinbrenner said according to Lowenstine. "Draft him."
The Yankees ended up with a bargain.
|Professionally edited by ML Schirmer|
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