Giants' Mapson among Scout of the Year winners
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Doug Mapson's first job was working at a gas station in Carmel, Calif. If he hadn't been a Dodgers fan, the Giants might not have won two World Series.
Mapson's boss, a devoted Giants fan, fired Mapson after his employee laughed at him when Los Angeles beat San Francisco one day. It worked out well for both sides, though, as Mapson played a key role in two Giants championships in 2010 and '12.
Mapson went on to become the head coach at Palmdale (Calif.) High, which led to a position as a bird-dog scout with the Phillies in 1980. He got his first full-time scouting job with the Cubs in '82, and two years later he went to bat for a skinny 5-foot-10, 155-pound right-hander from Valley High in Las Vegas.
"I really believe that this boy would possibly be the No. 1 player taken in the country if only he looked a bit more physical," Mapson wrote in his scouting report. That boy, Greg Maddux, would go on to win 355 games in the big leagues and four Cy Young Awards.
Mapson was rewarded for that signing and his work on several others Wednesday night at the Winter Meetings. At the 30th annual Scout of the Year banquet, he was named West Coast Scout of the Year. Bill Bryk (Midwest) and Howard McCullough (East Coast) of the D-backs, and Bill Kearns (Directors Award) of the Mariners also were honored.
Mapson moved on to the Giants in 1993, spending a decade as a West Coast crosschecker before becoming a national crosschecker and then a senior advisor for scouting. He was involved in the signing of another Cy Young Award winner, Tim Lincecum, as well as Matt Cain, both of whom helped San Francisco win those World Series titles.
"Doug's fingers were all over our championship teams," Giants assistant general manager/scouting director John Barr said. "They're all over everything we do in our organization. Doug is a great representative of the Giants, of the scouting profession, and of himself."
"I don't think the gravity of this award could be any greater," Mapson said. "I'm proud to be a scout. I'm proud to be with the San Francisco Giants. I'm appreciative of all this."
Bryk, who currently serves the D-backs as a special assistant to general manager Kevin Towers and a Major League scout, signed with the Washington Senators as a 32nd-round Draft pick in 1969 and reached Class A as a right-handed pitcher before retiring in 1972. He became head coach at South Suburban (Ill.) Junior College and a manager in independent professional leagues before joining the Padres in 1979 as a scout and Minor League manager.
Bryk actually signed his first big leaguer before he worked for a big league organization. While managing the co-op Victoria Mussels in the Northwest League in '79, he inked Tom Candiotti out of a tryout camp. Bryk didn't land a Major Leaguer for the Padres before leaving for the Pirates in '82, but he did play a crucial role in the development of a Hall of Famer.
Tony Gwynn had also played basketball at San Diego State and didn't concentrate on baseball until the Padres drafted him in the third round in June 1981. He broke into pro ball at Walla Walla in the Northwest League, where Bryk was his manager.
"Right off the bat, I felt like he was a guy that I was going to learn a lot from," Gwynn said. "I felt very comfortable because he talked baseball all the time. I got so comfortable as a matter of fact -- and I was only there for a month and a half -- that when they moved me up, I really didn't want to go. I felt I was learning so much about the game and its tendencies and nuances. Bill was so great at giving me that stuff."
Bryk signed nine big leaguers for the Pirates, including Rob Mackowiak and Brian Shouse, before returning to the Padres in 1999 and joining the D-backs in 2010. Besides scouting and managing, he also has served as a farm director and field coordinator. He's known for his ability to offer a quick and blunt opinion, and he recalled when then-Pirates general manager Ted Simmons asked him for one while in trade talks with the Twins.
"Ted called me and I was at happy hour in Houston," Bryk said. "He wanted Denny Neagle and I was our only guy who had seen him in the big leagues. He asked me how many games he was going to win in the big leagues, and I was on my fifth beer, and I said 15-20. I hung up and said, 'My neck is in the noose now.' But it all worked out."
Like Bryk and Mapson, McCullough was a coach before he became a scout. He was the head coach at Webb High School in Oxford, N.C., and an assistant at the University of North Carolina before joining the Red Sox in 1986 and later the D-backs in 1995.
"We call him 'Coach,' " Towers said. "He is a Southern gentleman. When we go to tryout camps, players and coaches are drawn to him. That's the type of person he is. And he's a tremendous evaluator."
McCullough directly signed Mark Reynolds and Chad Tracy as an area scout. As a crosschecker, he was involved with Chris Capuano and Trot Nixon.
"I was told this a long time ago: You see with your eye, you think with your brain and you rely on your gut to tell you where to go," said McCullough, whose son Clayton manages in the Blue Jays system. "I've enjoyed scouting. It's a great pleasure for me to give young men the opportunity to play professional baseball. It's still a challenge to me and still quite an honor to be part of the scouting community."
Kearns is still an active Major League scout for the Mariners at age 92. He lied about his age to enlist in the Navy during World War II, then signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers as a shortstop in 1948.
Kearns completed his college degree at Tufts during the offseasons, became a Minor League manager and moved into scouting in 1957. He worked for the White Sox (1961-68) and Royals (1969-72) before running Kansas City's progressive Baseball Academy in 1972 and 1973.
Kearns joined the expansion Mariners in 1976 and never left. During his days as an area scout, he signed Billy Swift and Dave Valle, as well as Al Chambers, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1979 Draft, who played briefly in the Majors.
"I have no regrets when I think of all the time I've spent in this great game," Kearns said. "I'll cherish all the friends I've made, as well as this lovely award."