Longtime scout LaMacchia dies at 89
Worked in baseball six decades, most recently with Dodgers
SAN FRANCISCO -- Al LaMacchia, a longtime scout whose recommendation led the Dodgers to acquire All-Star outfielder Andre Ethier, died Wednesday. He was 89.
LaMacchia, who pitched 16 games in the Major Leagues as well as 16 years in the Minor Leagues, made his mark during a six-decade career as one of the most respected scouts in the game.
"Al was the epitome of a baseball scout," said Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, who hired LaMacchia in 2003. "He loved the game and the people in it. I admired that he blended his love for baseball with his love of family. Many times I saw Al with his wife Ann at the baseball stops along the road. That is a rarity, but Al was not going to sacrifice one love for another.
"His recollection of players long since out of the game along with those of today was truly remarkable. Knowing that Al was always available to help with a player or a thought process was always a comforting combination. I found his wisdom of life and baseball to be rare."
LaMacchia pitched in 16 games in the Major Leagues with the St. Louis Browns (1943, 1945-46) and the Washington Senators (1946) after 16 seasons as a pitcher in the Minor Leagues, including a 15-2 mark for San Antonio in the Texas League in 1942.
LaMacchia served in the United States Army in World War II and following his playing career embarked on a six-decade career as a scout, working for the Phillies, Braves, Blue Jays, Tampa Bay and Dodgers.
He joined Toronto at its inception in 1977 for a 20-year run, serving as a vice president during the team's world championship seasons of 1992 and 1993. Among the numerous players he scouted and/or signed were former MVPs Dale Murphy and George Bell, current Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston and All-Stars Dave Stieb and David Wells as well as Willie Upshaw, Jim Gott, Rick Mahler, Ted Savage and Bruce Benedict.
It was LaMacchia, who had been covering the Texas League, that recommended to Colletti a left-handed outfielder in Oakland's organization when the Dodgers were about to deal Milton Bradley. Colletti took the advice and in his first trade after being hired by the Dodgers in 2005 landed Ethier, who has gone on to be one of the club's most productive players.
"I thought, who's this crazy old man yelling at me from the stands to hit the ball the other way?" Ethier said. "The coaches said it was an old-school guy who had been around the game. He planted the seed that got me here. It's nice to have a guy in your corner like that.
"He took a liking to me, and I to him. We developed a relationship. If there's any tampering charge after someone passes away, I think there will be a pardon from the Commissioner on this one."
Ethier said LaMacchia called with congratulations after the birth of the outfielder's son this summer. LaMacchia was named Midwest Scout of the Year in 2001 by the Scout of the Year Foundation and was also honored in 2008 with the Special Recognition in Scouting Award by the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation. He has also been honored as the Scout of the Year by the Texas Scouts Association.
LaMacchia is survived by his wife, Ann, daughter, Rozanna and son, Michael, as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.