Hawthorn: Baseball loses superscout Epy Guerrero

From SABR member Tom Hawthorn at The Globe and Mail on June 4, 2013:

The baseball scout Epy Guerrero plucked from the sun-baked fields of Caribbean islands a bounteous crop of slick infielders, power-hitting outfielders and heat-throwing pitchers.

Mr. Guerrero, who has died at 71, delivered an all-star roster of players to the major leagues. For 17 years, he was chief Latin American scout for the Toronto Blue Jays, and it was his learned and savvy eye that brought the likes of George Bell, Kelvim Escobar and Carlos Delgado to the team.

Known for his work ethic and dedication, the scout was not above calling upon subterfuge and legerdemain when needed.

He hiked up mountainsides and rode donkeys to check out athletes, and is said to have once dressed as a soldier to slip a prospect out of Nicaragua.

One of his more famous capers involved a beanpole boy who showed soft hands in the field and a lashing stroke at the plate. The youth was so poor he could not afford a glove, so had fashioned a cardboard milk carton around his left hand to cushion the sting of sharp grounders. His prospects were dimmed by a deal-breaking – and very noticeable – flaw. He walked with a pronounced limp.

Mr. Guerrero sent the boy away for surgery to remove a bone chip in his right knee. For the first time since childhood, the boy walked and ran without a hobble. The scout signed him to the Blue Jays. “The other scouts thought I was crazy,” Mr. Guerrero told the Washington Post in 1986. “They didn’t know that the boy had had surgery, so they told me I had just signed a tullido, a cripple. But I knew better.” That boy was Tony Fernandez, who went on to become a keystone player for the Blue Jays, winning four consecutive Gold Glove Awards as the American League’s best fielding shortstop.

Mr. Guerrero was a legendary scout, even rating a profile in People magazine. He was responsible for signing 52 players who wound up playing in the major leagues, according to the scouts committee of the Society for American Baseball Research. In 2008, his scouting peers named him International Scout of the Year, only the second time such a citation had been made. That same year, he was inducted into the national sports hall of fame in his native Dominican Republic.

Read the full article here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/baseball/baseball-scout-epy-guerrero-the-blue-jays-man-in-latin-america/article12357383/

Originally published: June 5, 2013. Last Updated: June 5, 2013.