NEW YORK –- Dick Wiencek, one of the most successful scouts in Major League history, passed away in southern California from complications of a heart attack, his daughter, Susan Newell said on Sunday.
Wiencek signed 72 players, the most in baseball history, according to data provided by the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation. Among Wiencek’s discoveries are upcoming Hall of Fame inductee Bert Blyleven, Mark McGwire, Jim Kaat and Graig Nettles.
The well-liked and much-respected Wiencek began his baseball career as a player in the New York Giants system in 1947 and became a professional scout three years later. During his time in Major League Baseball, he was assistant general manager for the Angels from 1971-74 and director of scouting for the Oakland A’s from 1981-84. He retired in 2003 after working 56 years in organized baseball.
In 1976, Wiencek drafted and signed six Major League players in one year, still a Major League record, according to the Scouts Foundation. Those players were Steve Kemp, Alan Trammell, Dan Petry, Jack Morris, Dave Stedman and Steve Baker.
Trammell, Petry and Morris all went on to star for the 1984 Tigers, who defeated the Padres in five World Series games. Trammell, now the bench coach for the D-backs under manager Kirk Gibson, was MVP of that World Series.
Wiencek was born on Feb. 7, 1926, in Michigan City, Ind., and moved to Kalamazoo, Mich., as a toddler, living there for 33 years. He was a World War II veteran, serving in the U.S. Navy for 31 months before attending Western Michigan University from 1947 to 1949.
Wiencek moved to Claremont, Calif., due east of the Los Angeles area, in 1961 with his late wife, Miriam, and their six children, eventually settling a little further east in Rancho Mirage.
He won numerous “Scout of the Year” awards during his career and most recently was honored in 2005 with the George Genovese Lifetime Achievement Award by the Scouts Foundation, during their annual dinner in Los Angeles.