Scioscia is the ultimate team leader

Scioscia is the ultimate team leader

It was 10 years ago that Bill Stoneman, then the general manager of the Angels, called me and asked about Mike Scioscia, who was under consideration for the team's managerial opening.

"I can give you the long answer or the short answer," I replied to Stoneman when he asked about Scioscia as a potential manager for the Angels. "The short answer is that if you hire Mike, you will never regret it as long as you live."

I know there were other people who spoke in support of Scioscia, including former Los Angeles Dodger scout Gary Sutherland, who had moved over to the Angels.

I was just one voice, but I was happy and honored to provide my support.

Ten years ago Wednesday, Scioscia was announced as the manager of the Angels.

He celebrated his 10th anniversary by being selected as the American League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Scioscia's response to the award tells you everything you need to know about him as a manager, and as a person.

"I don't look at this award as a 'one-guy' award," said Scioscia. "I think this is recognition for a whole organization, and I think we're proud and honored to have our whole organization recognized by this award this year."

It was so typical of Scioscia -- the ultimate team player, and now the ultimate team leader.

I've known Scioscia since his first days with the Dodgers, and I felt sure he would one day become the manager of the Dodgers.

It didn't happen that way because Dodgers ownership changed, executives changed, a philosophy of promoting from within an organization changed and, finally, Scioscia changed from Dodger Blue to the red of the Angels.

When Scioscia formed his first coaching staff with the Angels a decade ago he took with him two members of the Dodgers' Minor League staff -- Ron Roenicke and Mickey Hatcher -- along with former Dodgers teammates Alfredo Griffin and Orlando Mercado.

The other coaches on Scioscia's first staff were Joe Maddon, Bud Black and Bobby Ramos.

Scioscia understood the importance of continuity from his days as with the Dodgers, and the only people who have left his initial staff are Maddon, Black and Ramos. Maddon (Tampa Bay) and Black (San Diego) left to become Major League managers, and Ramos departed to join Maddon's staff.

If you want to look at the influence of Scioscia on his staff, you can see the results by the fact that Maddon was the winner of the AL Manager of the Year Award last year and Black received votes for the NL honor this season.

Furthermore, Don Wakamatsu worked with Scioscia in important player development positions with the Angels prior to receiving the opportunity to manage Seattle this year.

Wakamatsu led the Mariners to a major turnaround this season and tied for fourth in the AL Manager of the Year voting. He credits Scioscia as an important mentor.

Scioscia's 10 years with the Angels have been the best decade in the team's history, and he is now a two-time winner of the Manager of the Year Award.

Scioscia, 50, is the first manager in MLB history to guide his team to the postseason six times in his first 10 seasons. On the final day of the regular season, Scioscia earned his 900th career win, and his .556 winning percentage ties him with Bobby Cox of Atlanta and Joe Girardi of the New York Yankees for the top mark among current managers.

As the general manager of the Dodgers during most of Scioscia's career with the team, I only encountered one problem with the great catcher: There were times when it was obvious that Scioscia was hurting during a game due to knee problems and I would go to the clubhouse to see how he was feeling. As Scioscia would see me coming and notice the concerned look on my face, he would always want to get in the first word, declaring "Fred, I'm not going on the disabled list, so let's not even talk about that."

Scioscia almost always won these exchanges. He played, and he often played hurt. He seldom went on the disabled list. He is, however, headed to another list that he would never want to talk about today -- he is headed to the Hall of Fame as a manager.

Fred Claire was a member off the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1969-98, serving the team as executive vice-president and general manager. He is the author of "Fred Claire: My 30 Years in Dodger Blue" This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.