Mike Scioscia: Former Italian / American Player & Manager:

Honoring Italian / American Ball Players
Michael Lorri Scioscia
was born on November 27, 1958, in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. His father Fred was a salesman for a beer distributor & his mother Florence a schoolteacher.

He went to high school in the Italian American neighborhood outside of Philadelphia near where Tommy Lasorda had grown up. 

In 1976 Lasorda was involved in helping to recruit the young 17-year-old catcher. After a scout spoke highly of him, Lasorda left a message for him to try out for the Dodgers while playing a road game in Philadelphia.

In 1976 he was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a first-round draft pick (19th overall). The six foot two, two-hundred-pound catcher batted left-handed but threw right-handed. 

MLB Career: After five minor league seasons, he made the Dodgers big league team by 1980. That year Steve Yeager & Joe Ferguson both got hurt & the club had released veteran Johnny Oates. Scioscia made his MLB debut on April 20th, 1980, in the 11th game of the season. He would play in 54 games that year. 

 Dodgers 1981 Championship Season: In that season he took over as the main catcher replacing veteran Steve Yeager.

Quotes: Tommy Lasorda: "When I made Mike the No. 1 catcher, the writers came to me and said, Yeager said you made Scioscia the No. 1 catcher because he's Italian." I said, "That's a lie. I made him the No. 1 catcher because I'm Italian."

Best at Blocking the Plate: Mike Scioscia was known for his great defense, and his incredible ability to block home plate. When blocking the plate, he would position himself on an angle down on both knees while making the tag with the ball in his catcher's glove, His approach was very different from the most catchers' style of that era. Mant runners ran into a brick wall when they tried to knock down Scioscia.

Three Home Plate Collisions: On May 4th in a game against the Expos, he was run into three time at home plate. First Warren Cromartie ran into Scioscia trying to score, he went down but held onto the ball for the out. He got up & threw out Chris Speier in a rundown play. 

During that play Rowland Office came barreling into Scioscia at home & was safe. Later in the game, he nailed Andre Dawson in another home plate collision.

By 1981 Fernando Valenzuela had stormed into baseball as "Fernandomania" raged in Southern
California. Scioscia went out & learned Spanish so he could communicate better with the new rookie phenom. 

The 1981 Dodgers consisting of the new guys; Scioscia, Valenzuela, & Pedro Guerrero as well as the old long time Dodger core veterans, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Dave Lopes, & Bill Russell. They went on to win a long-awaited Championship for Los Angeles, in that strike shortened season. The Dodgers had won three pennants in the 1970's but fell short in the World Series & had not won a championship since 1965.

In 93 games Scioscia hit .276 with 2 HRs & 29 RBIs.

1981 Post Season-NLDS: In Game #5 of the 1981 NLDS win over Houston, he singled off Nolan Ryan in the home 6th inning bringing in the second run of the 4-0 Dodger win.

1981 NLCS: In the NLCS, he & Pedro Guerrero hit back-to-back HRs off Montreal’s Jeff Reardon in Game #1 helping the Dodgers to a 5-1 win over the Expos. 

1981 World SeriesHe hit .250 in the World Series victory of the AL New York team, playing in
three of the six games. In the post season
overall, he was he went 5-32 with two RBIs.

After the Championship: In 1982 he batted just .219 & led the league in passed balls. The Dodgers fell to second place winning 88 games. In 1983 he tore his rotator cuff missing almost the entire season, playing in just 12 games.

Although he was awesome at blocking the plate & handling the pitchers, the Dodgers were unhappy with his overall defense & he was coached to improve. The durable catcher, recovered from his rotator cuff & would catch over 100 games for the Dodgers in each of the next ten seasons. In

In 1984 he threw out 40% of runners trying to steal. 
On May 5th he got injured in a collision at home & missed two weeks of action. 

Collision with Will Clark:
He was later knocked unconscious by the Cardinals Jack Clark but still held onto the ball for the out. He suffered a mild concussion & was carried off the field on a
stretcher. He returned to action the next night.

That year he raised his average to .273 & had eight game winning RBIs.

In 1985 he hit a career best .296 second on the club. It was the highest average for a Dodger catcher since Roy Campanella batted .318 in 1955. Mike collected 127 hits, 26 doubles 7 HRs & 53 RBIs. He drew 62 walks as well to post a career high 407 on base % & .826 OPS. The Dodgers won the West winning 95 games, as Scioscia went to his second post season.

1985 Post Season- NLCS: In Game #2 of the NLCS he threw out both Vince Coleman & Willie
McGee in the 1st inning. In that game he also had an RBI single off John Tudor in the 4-1 Dodger win in L.A. But in Game #3 he threw the ball away after a pitch out, when he had Vince Coleman stranded between bases. Coleman went to third on the error.

The Dodgers won the first two games, then lost four straight including Ozzie Smith's famous walk off HR in Game #5 in St. Louis.

After the Western Title: The next two years the Dodgers finished fifth & fourth respectively. In the first week of the 1986 season, he was involved in five home plate collisions. It included in what he described as the worst collision of his career he & the Giants Chili Davis were both knocked out cold, in a brutal home plate incident. 

Quotes- Mike Scioscia:
When asked if he had a signal to his wife that he was ok after one of his collisions he said "Yea, if I'm carried off on a stretcher I'm hurt. If I stay in the game, I'm ok".

After the 1987 season he had arthroscopic surgery to remove Cartlidge on his knee. 

Dodger Championship Season: Over the next two seasons, he would lead the league in throwing out base runners & caught stealing. He batted .257 with 18 doubles 3 HRs & 38 RBIs in the Dodgers surprising 1988 Championship season. He played in 130 games, suffering a few injury bouts again. In September he & John Kruk collided at home plate, Scioscia missed five games & Kruk was out for the rest of the season.

The Dodgers won 94 games & won the West by seven games over the Reds. It was the year of Orel Hershiser & Kirk Gibson in Los Angeles. Mike Scioscia added some post season heroics as well.

1988 NLCS: The Dodgers faced the Mets in the NLCS & were big underdogs. The might Mets
had been World Champs just two seasons before & had beaten the Dodgers in ten of eleven games during the regular season. 

In Game #1 Scioscia doubled off Dwight Gooden in the 7th inning & scored on Alfredo Griffin's single. The Dodgers blew a 2-0 lead in the 9th inning on RBI hits from Darryl Strawberry & Gary Carter.

In Game #4 at Shea Stadium, the Dodgers were down 2-1 in the series as well as 4-2 in the game going into the 9th inning. A Mets win would give them a commanding 3-1 series lead. In the 9th inning, John Shelby led off with a walk. 

Then Scioscia hit the biggest HR of his life, as he took Dwight Gooden deep tying up the game, silencing the Shea crowd. 
The Dodgers would go on to win the game when Kirk Gibson hit his 12th inning HR off Roger McDowell. Although New York took it to a Game seven, they could never recover from Scioscia's HR. In Game #7 they were shut out by Orel Hershiser. 

Trivia: It was a nightmare for Mets fans. As the Mets of that era did not make another post season & it took the organization another eleven years to get there.

He was involved in a collision at home plate with Kevin McReynolds in Game #1 & McReynolds was actually safe barreling over Scioscia. Scioscia hit .364 in that Series going 8-24 with a HR & three RBIs, as his team advanced to the World Series.

1988 World Series:
The A's were still underdog to the mighty Oakland A's in the World Series, featuring the Bash Brothers of Mark McGwire & Jose Canseco, as well as the pitching of Dave Stewart & Dennis Eckersley.

The Dodgers went on to an incredible five game World Series win of the A's with Orel Hershiser winning two games & Kirk Gibson hitting his famous walk off HR off Eckersley in Game #1. In that Game #1 Scioscia hit an RBI single off Dave Stewart in the 6th inning, getting the Dodgers to within a run. In Game #4 he attempted to steal a base & injured his knee having to leave the game & miss Game 35.

After the Championship: Mike Scioscia would enter the 1989 season as the Dodgers old man. That year he made his first All-Star team & was signed to a three-year deal play four more seasons in Los Angeles just as the Mike Piazza era was about to begin. 

In 1990 he became the first Dodger catcher since Roy Campanella to start in All Star Game. He had career highs in HRs (12) & RBIs (66) while batting .264 & catching 132 games at age 32. That year he was behind the plate for Fernando Valenzuela's no hitter & would catch Kevin Gross' 1992 no hitter as well.

In 1991 the Dodgers picked up former Met Gary Carter to back up Scioscia behind the plate. The two split their playing time to ease up some of the catcher's wear & tear. In 1992 he had another infamous home plate collision at home plate with Dion Sanders, the Sporting News reported it was the 125th time he had stopped a runner at him plate.

After the season the Dodgers did not want to offer him a two-year deal. He signed a one-year deal with the San Diego Padres but never played at the major league level again.

Scioscia played a 13-year career, having to retire due to injuries taking their toll on him by the age of 34. He caught 1395 games behind the plate, catching 500 runners trying to steal (64th all time) allowing 952 steals (41st all time) throwing out 34% of would-be base stealers.

He would throw out over 40% of would-be base stealers twice in his career with over 35% seven times. He led all catchers in put outs three times, assists & passed balls twice each. 

Overall, he played in 1441 games batted .259 with 1131 hits 198 doubles 12 triples 68 HRs & 446 RBIs. 

Retirement-Managing Career:  It was clear during his playing career, he was one of the games smartest players, the first to get to the ballpark & the last to leave. Many saw him as a future manager.

After his playing days he coached for the Dodgers organization. In 2000 he was hired by the Los Angeles Angels as their manager.

With Scioscia at the helm the Angels had their most successful period in their history, winning five AL West titles.

World Championship:
In 2002 he led them to their first World Series. 

At one point during the season the Angels were ten games back, but Scioscia's unselfish, hard nose approach rubbed off on his team. The team finished with the best batting average in the AL & least strike outs.

Scioscia won the Manager of the Year Award that season becoming the 17th person to win a World Series as both Player & Manager. He would win the award again in 2009.

He was the first manager to reach the post season in six of his first ten seasons. He became the Angels all-time leader in victories. 

On May 8, 2011 Scioscia became the 56th manager to win 1,000 or more games and just the 23rd to have all 1,000 or more victories with a single team.

In 2012, Angels GM Jerry DiPoto fired Scioscia's hitting coach & former Dodger teammate Mickey Hatcher. The two did not get along well & tensions mounted over the next two seasons until DiPoto eventually resigned.

In 2013 his team played under .500 but rebounded in 2014 as he came in second in the Manager of the Year Award. The Angels won 98 games (98-64) the third highest number of wins in his career as manager.

After winning the AL West his team was upset in a three-game sweep by the Kansas City Royals. Although the Angels won 85 games in 2015, they finished third not making the post season.

In 2016 Scioscia's team finished under .500 for just the fifth time in his 17 years as manager. 

Going into 2017 he was the major league's longest tenured manager. After 19 seasons as manager, he stepped down after the 2018 season. He was 1650-1428 as manager.

Honors: In 2007 he was inducted into the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.

He was on hand for the Angels Championship 20th Anniversary in 2022.

In his early career he spent off seasons studying a Penn State University earning a degree in computer science.

TV appearances: Scioscia has made two famous appearances on the Simpsons cartoon. He also is known in Southern California as a celebrity endorser for a Superstore Chain.

Family: He met his wife Anne while she was bringing him cookies at Dodger Stadium.

Together they have two children & live in Westlake Village, California.

His son Matt Scioscia was drafted in the 45th round of the 2011 draft by the Angels. 


Popular posts from this blog

Former Mets Broadcaster: Fran Healy ( 1984-2005)

Remembering Mets History: (1977) The Felix Millan / Ed Ott Brawl In Pittsburgh

Remembering Bobby Ojeda's Tragic Boating Accident (1993)

The 1970's Oakland A's Ball Girls- (MLB's First)

Remembering Vixen Founder / Guitarist; Jan Kuehnemund (1961-2013)