After two years as a minor league baseball manager in the Carolina League, sometime Hyattsville resident Mike Toomey made a professional move for the 1982 season.
He became a scout for the San Francisco Giants and scoured the Mid-Atlantic region as he evaluated high school and college players for the annual June draft. His area covered Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
"It was very hectic,” he said. “I was working for Bob Fontaine, Sr. at the time. He wanted to sign every player for a thousand dollars.”
Toomey grew up in Hyattsville and has been a resident of Gaithersburg for 12 years.
"That was very challenging,” he said. “That would never work today. What I tried to really do was dig out athletes. When you have seven or eight states, there is no way you can cover that well. But it helped me meet people."
Nearly three decades later, after staying at $35 a night hotels in the 1980s, Toomey is an assistant to Dayton Moore, general manager of the Kansas City Royals. Toomey has been a pro and amateur scout for nearly 30 years but his role with the Royals involves mostly monitoring professional players with other big league clubs in case Kansas City wants to make a trade. He estimates that he spends nearly 200 nights a year on the road.
His roots as a scout, which also include stints with the Giants, Rangers, Indians, Mets and Expos/Nationals, will be honored at the fourth annual Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame Night on May 20 at the home of the Charleston RiverDogs.
"It really took me by surprise. It is really nice," Toomey, one of four scouts who will be honored at four minor league parks, told Patch in a telephone interview from Florida while scouting for spring training.
The Goldklang Group's Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame will also honor Jim Howard (Orioles), Jack Gillis (Rockies) and Terry Reynolds (Reds).
Toomey was a scout for the Indians in 1992 when he was named the top scout in the mid-Atlantic region.
One of the first players Toomey signed as a scout for the Giants, in 1986, was Kirt Manwaring, who played in college at Coastal Carolina and eventually made it to the big leagues as a catcher with the Giants the next year. Toomey also signed Gregg Ritchie (in 1986), who played in high school in Stafford, VA and at George Washington University.
So what does Toomey say makes a good baseball scout?
"I think the bottom line is this: a lot of people ask, “Who did you sign?” If you talk to a scouting director, the most telling characteristic of an amateur scout is when draft time comes (in June), if your players are taken in the order that it said on your list," he said. "I think the biggest attribute is on your draft list having a player exactly in the round you thought they would go in. That is the most telling thing for a scouting director.”
Toomey, who has been with the Royals for five years, moved to Hyattsville with his family in the 1950s when his father, Frank, took a job as an assistant football coach at the University of Maryland. The younger Toomey attended before going to St. John's Catholic High School in the District. He played at Montgomery College in Rockville and was then at GWU, where he was also a coach before becoming the manager of the Alexandria (VA) Dukes in the early 1980s. One of his players in Alexandria was Mike Quade, now the manager of the Chicago Cubs.
Toomey has been inducted into the GW athletic Hall of Fame and the Mid Atlantic Major League Scouts Hall of Fame. Today he lives near Quince Orchard High School in the Orchard Knolls section of Gaithersburg.
Other players that Toomey signed who made the majors include Mike Venafro, Ryan Glynn, Larry Carter, Jim McNamara, Corey Lee, and Jamie Brewington.
Baseball and scouting has taken Toomey around the world, with stops from Italy to Japan to the Dominican Republic to Mexico.
"I have been a lucky guy to have experiences like that. The most rewarding thing for me is the people I have met along the way," Toomey said. "The coaches, the families and the players."
In the off-season Toomey is an instructor for young players and is a regular visitor to Woody's Dugout in Gaithersburg. Toomey has also started to scout and give clinics in the South American country of Colombia.
"I have enjoyed helping young kids,” he said. “It is our responsibility as representatives of Major League Baseball to work with kids and share good information and be a positive role model.”