Obit of the Day: Finding Ryno and Doc
Besides both spending time with the Phillies organization, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg and two-time Cy Young Award-winner Roy Halladay have one other thing in common: “Moose” Johnson. Mr. Johnson was a baseball scout for thirty-five years working with the Phillies, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the San Diego Padres.
Johnson, who earned his nickname during eight seasons of minor league baseball, would spend up to 230 days a year on the road watching high school, semi-pro, and company teams in the hopes of finding potential major leaguers. And seeing that in all those days over three-and-a-half decades Johnson found two stars, is a testament to how difficult it is to find talent. (Even with the popularity ofMoneyballby Michael Lewis, the methods of finding talent have changed but the odds stay the same.)
Johnson found Sandberg in Spokane, Washington. And even with the support of “Moose,” Ryne wasn’t drafted until the 20th round of the baseball draft in 1978. (The Phillies would trade Sandberg and Larry Bowa to the Cubs in January 1982 for Ivan DeJesus. It doesn’t make up for the Cubs trading Lou Brock to the Cardinals in 1964 but it worked out pretty well.) Sandberg was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.
Seventeen years later, “Moose” found a tall, dominating righty a little closer to home in Arvada, Colorado. Roy Halladay would be drafted by the Blue Jays, on Johnson’s recommendation, in the first round of the 1995 draft with the 17th pick. Halladay would go on to win a Cy Young Award with the Blue Jays in 2003, and after being traded to the Phillies in 2009 he would win another Cy Young in 2010. Halladay is well on his way to becoming Moose Johnson’s second Hall of Famer.
Johnson, who died at the age of 82, was inducted into the Professional Baseball Scout Foundation Hall of Fame in 2009.
(Image of Sandberg is courtesy of gameuseduniverse.com. Image of Halladay in a Syracuse SkyChiefs uniform - the Chiefs were the Blue Jays AAA affiliate - circa 1997-2001 is courtesy of the SkyChiefs.)