Perspective From A Baseball Insider

By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

The following is an excerpt about credentials of what makes a ballplayer. It comes from a longtime baseball executive from the Bronx who played ball at the Allerton ball fields and attended Christopher Columbus High School.

Note the mention of talent from the Bronx who became successful MLB players with various teams including Bobby Bonilla out of Lehman High School.


The best pure hitter that I have seen in over 50 years of scouting was Manny Ramirez. I had Manny in my tryout camps when he was 15-16 years old. Ramirez was a BB rat and loved every second of playing baseball. He was always the last guy standing,

I’d have to chase him off the field. He would pack and carry all my gear. Manny attended George Washington HS in Northern Manhattan, NYC, on the Harlem River, near the Old Polo Grounds and walkable to Yankee Stadium. GWHS has produced 11 BL players including Rod Carew & George Lauzerique, who I played with growing up on the 16-18 Cavaliers in the Bronx sandlots.

Some noteworthy GWHS graduates included Buddy Kerr a former NY Giant player who I scouted with in my early days. Dodger executive and former player Al Campanis also was a Trojan. I saw grad RHS Arnie Portocarrero pitch for the KC Athletics and Baltimore Orioles in the 50’s. In the earlier years, Babe Young who went to Fordham University and then played with the NY Giants was a GWHS grad. Fresco Thompson another GWHS player went to Colombia University and played with Lou Gehrig there.

Gehrig also lived in the same Washington Heights neighborhood as GWHS, but Lou went to nearby Commerce HS. Fresco played for the Pirates, Phillies and NY Giants. I knew of Thompson growing up as an executive with the Dodgers, replacing the great Branch Rickey in Brooklyn and then following the club to LA.

I mention this to give some historical perspective because NYC was a hot bed of baseball during my youth. Ironically, Manny played sandlot baseball in Brooklyn for Youth Service, one of the many baseball teams that played at the Parade Grounds, which has produced a plethora of BL players. In fact, that 40 acres, 5 field complex that opened in 1869 has produced more BL players than any similar plot of land in the world including San Pedro de Macoris.

On any weekend in the summer, a scout would see a couple of first rounder’s and about 10 players overall, who would be drafted in the first 10 rounds. They were all playing simultaneously in 5 separate games.

Just from in my memory without looking it up, Phil Rizzuto, Sandy Koufax, Bob Aspromonte, Tommy Davis, the Torre brothers and Rico Petrocelli, through more current players Joe Pepitone, Shawon Dunston, Willie Randolph, Lee Mazilli, John Candelaria, John Franco and Delin Betances, among many others that played on those hallowed Parade Grounds fields. Unfortunately, those days have ended.

The Bronx was not far behind Brooklyn. My Bronx neighborhood produced Hank Greenberg, Bob Shaw, Frank Malzone, Moose Stubbing and Rocky Colavito, just before me. Kenny Singleton, Mike Nagy, and Ed Kranepool were also my teammates on that Cavaliers club in ’61-‘64.

Joey Foy & Ben Ogilvie also from the Bronx played on the Billikens an opposing team during that same time period. The league consisted of 12 competitive teams during that early 60’s period. A few years later Mike Epstein, Bobby Bonilla & Devon White, Ronnie Belliard, more recently Tom Koehler were others who came from those same Bronx roots.

Comment: Twitter @Ring786 Mancuso

Print Friendly, PDF & Email