Gary Johnson, Millennium Hall of Fame

November 03, 1999

For a professional baseball scout, Southern California and Arizona

are a little slice of heaven.

"This is really the best job in scouting, being an area scout in

Southern California," said Costa Mesa's Gary Johnson, celebrating his

30th year in the business this year.

"This is one of the most productive areas in the country. We have

great weather here and it's a good, long season, plus there are plenty of


good players to see and you never get bored."

Johnson, a former Orange Coast College slugger at first baseman and

basketball player under Coach Alan Sawyer, covers Orange, San Diego,

Riverside and Imperial counties, as well as the entire state of Arizona

for the Kansas City Royals.

After playing 11 years in the minor leagues, all in the Chicago White

Sox organization, Johnson thought his baseball future would be in

coaching or managing.

In 1968, Johnson was a player/coach, and in '69 he was hired as

manager of the Appleton, Wis., Class-A team, then took over a floundering

AA Evansville, Ind., club late in the season. "They thought I could help

them get out of the basement," Johnson said. "We did get out of the

basement, but then came that big decision about whether to take off the


Johnson was in line for the AAA managerial job the following season at

Indianapolis, where he'd played and gained a solid reputation, but

ownership had a chance to hire Hall of Famer Luke Appling, whose name

might sell tickets.

Glenn Miller, head of scouting and player development at the time for

the White Sox, mentioned scouting to Johnson, who had never thought about

it before, but had two young children at home and wasn't eager to

constantly move twice a year.

By Thanksgiving that fall, Johnson had his answer. "What I found out

was that nobody ever quit scouting," he said. "I thought it must be a

pretty good job if nobody quits."

Three decades later, Johnson, considered a company man by his peers,

has done it all in scouting. Minor leagues, high schools, colleges, major

leagues. He's been a scout at instructional ball in the autumn, a

national cross-checker, an evaluator of free agents. Johnson has beaten

bushes and traveled the big league circuit as an advance scout.

In the early 1970s, Johnson and Marty Keough launched the Scout League

in Southern California for top high schoolers, who play on Wednesday

nights and Sundays in the off-season.

Johnson, responsible for the Royals drafting and signing 1994 American

League Rookie of the Year Bob Hamelin (out of Rancho Santiago College),

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