Ken Bracey was baseball's EF Hutton."When you were in a meeting, discussing a player, when Brace spoke, you listened," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who knew Bracey from Bochy's days as a player, coach and manager with the Padres at the big league and Minor League levels."He'd sit over there
Ken Bracey was baseball's EF Hutton.
"When you were in a meeting, discussing a player, when Brace spoke, you listened," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who knew Bracey from Bochy's days as a player, coach and manager with the Padres at the big league and Minor League levels.
"He'd sit over there off to the side and a player would be brought up and he would say, 'He can't play,' and shake his head," said Bochy.
Would he be wrong?
"No," said Bochy.
And if Bracey liked a player?
"He wasn't wrong then, either," said Bochy.
Bracey passed away Tuesday at the age of 80, the victim of pancreatic and liver cancer, which was discovered just two weeks ago.
Bracey was a baseball lifer. Signed by the Yankees at the age of 19, he spent one year pitching in their Minor League system and then eight in the Giants' system. Bracey compiled a 52-40 record with a 3.51 ERA in 331 Minor League appearances, 313 out of the bullpen, in a nine-year playing career in which he never pitched a game above the Double-A level.
And when Bracey hung up the uniform, he picked up the clipboard, radar gun and stopwatch and began a scouting career that was highlighted by 38 years with the Padres before being hired by then-Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti and spending his final seven years with Los Angeles.
Kevin Towers was a Bracey disciple, having met him as a player after being a first-round Draft choice of the Padres out of BYU in the first round of what was the June secondary draft in 1982. Towers was mentored by Bracey as a young area scout, counseled as a scouting director and then embraced by him as the general manager of the Padres.
"He was a veteran guy, and as a young scout, he wasn't going to pamper you," said Towers. "He was going to make you better. And when I was a general manager, he was one of the best scouts I could have ever had.
"When he didn't like a guy, and there were a lot of them, you knew they weren't guys you should like," said Towers, "and when he was solidly on an individual, you knew he could play. He wasn't worried about what everybody thought. He was going to tell you what he thought, and he wasn't wrong on much.
"He wasn't a guy who would waffle and wait to see what he thought you wanted to hear. You would look at him and he would have that smile on his face and nod yes, and you knew that was what you needed to do."
Bracey was, however, extremely loyal. Towers said there were occasions over the years, before he finally went to the Dodgers, that Bracey had chances to go with another organization, but after Towers would grant permission and Bracey would interview, it was always easy to address concerns and keep Bracey with the Padres.
"He wasn't a leverage guy, looking to bounce around," said Towers. "He liked to be a part of an organization and I liked having him as a part of [the Padres] organization. I don't remember a deal I made when I didn't lean on him to get his opinion. He was a special person."
Bracey will be missed by everyone whose path he crossed in his lifetime in baseball.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.