Baseball's Last Great Scout


Baseball's Last Great Scout

The Life of Hugh Alexander

Dan Austin

200 pages
20 photographs


April 2013


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eBook (EPUB)
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August 2018


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eBook (PDF)
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April 2013


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About the Book

Late in 1937 Hugh Alexander, a kid fresh out of small-town Oklahoma, had just finished his second year playing outfield for the Cleveland Indians when an oil rig accident ripped off his left hand. Within three months he was back with the Indians, but this time as a scout—the youngest ever in Major League history. In the next six decades he signed more players who made it to the Majors than any other scout.

His story, Baseball’s Last Great Scout, reads like a backroom, bleacher-seat history of twentieth-century baseball—and a primer on what it takes to find a winner. It gives a gritty picture of learning the business on the road, from American Legion field to try-out camp to beer joint, and making the fine distinctions between “performance” and “tools of the trade” when checking out prospects. Over the years Alexander worked for the Indians, the White Sox, the LA Dodgers, the Phillies, and the Cubs—and signed the likes of Allie Reynolds, Don Sutton, and Marty Bystrom. This book, based on extensive interviews and Alexander’s journals, is filled with memorable characters, pithy lessons, snapshots of American life, and a big picture of America’s pastime from one of its great off-the-field players.

Author Bio

Dan Austin is professor emeritus of business at Nova Southeastern University. He has completed two oral history projects, one for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the other celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Negro Professional Baseball League in Kansas City, Missouri.


Baseball’s Last Great Scout was a great pleasure for me to read. Hugh Alexander was one of the most interesting and unique men I ever met. As far as baseball: his best quality was enthusiasm for the game along with confidence and desire to make his teams better. He was a great help to me and everyone else he worked with over the years.”—Jim Frey, former Major League Baseball coach and manager

“‘Uncle Hughie’ was truly an icon, a legend, and, as the book shows, a super scout. I’ve always felt the scouting profession in baseball has been underappreciated because so few fans really understand the trials and tribulations of the people who are the lifeblood of any organization. Dan’s book delves into one of the real old-time scout’s daily efforts to find the next Major League Baseball player. Hughie’s efforts played out in every change in scouting from true free agency to several changes in the draft rules. And because of his efforts and shrewdness in adapting to these changes, he helped all his teams get better. A fun read about a true character that I know you’ll enjoy.”—Dallas Green, senior advisor to the general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies

"Dan Austin's appreciation of Alexander provides baseball fans with a sense of how scouts discovered and cultivated players before the advent of the Major League Scouting Bureau."—Bill Littlefield, Only a Game

Table of Contents



1. A Stick of Dynamite

2. Enter Cy Slapnicka

3. On the Road Again and Again

4. Striking Gold in His Own Backyard

5. You Gotta Have a Plan

6. Scouting in Wartime

7. After the War, the Show Goes On

8. Watch, but Don't Pick

9. Miles Behind, Miles Ahead, but No U-turns

10. First Brooklyn, Then Dodging His Way to the West Coast

11. A Mythical Combination

12. A Three-Traffic-Light Town and Loads of Talent

13. Hondo Hits Them High and Deep

14. Getting a Twofer

15. He Made Me Keep Coming Back

16. From No Prospect to Future Hall of Famer

17. Where There's a Tryout Camp, There's Hope

18. Make Way for Tomorrow

19. Building a New Dream

20. Let's Get Real about Rebuilding This Club

21. Trading Who, and Trading When

22. You Can Lose If You Don't Know the Rules

23. Finally a Winner

24. Looking at Another Scoreboard

25. History Repeats Itself

26. Overcoming Pitfalls in Seeking Certainty

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