Venezuelan Bust, Baseball Boom: Andraes Reiner and Scouting on the New Frontier

By Milton H. Jamail | Go to book overview

3
The Astros Go South:
Scouting in Latin America

The Astros’ Venezuelan scouting venture in the late 1980s did not occur in a vacuum. Major league organizations have long searched for players in the Caribbean region, and the Houston franchise was one of the pioneers in the market. There is little continuity, however, in any organization’s scouting efforts in Latin America. The level of involvement depends on the philosophy of the owner, the general manager, and the scouting director, and over the years there has been and will continue to be a great deal of turnover in these positions. Houston is no exception, but the franchise is unique in that current Astros president of baseball operations, Tal Smith, was there in the beginning. No one knows more about the history of the Houston organization than Smith, who started his baseball career with the Cincinnati Reds in 1958 and went to Houston when Reds gm Gabe Paul was selected to put together the Colt .45s expansion team.

On November 1, 1960, before John F. Kennedy was elected president of the United States, Smith began his job as assistant to the general manager of the new National League franchise that would not play its first game until April 1962. But after less than six months, the general manager he was assisting, Gabe Paul, left the Colt .45s in a dispute with Houston owner Judge Roy Hofheinz. In April 1961 then under new general manager Paul Richards, Smith was placed in charge of the Colt .45s minor league system. By 1965 Smith had become the Astros’ vice president and director of player personnel. At the end of 1973 he left the Houston organization and was named executive vice president of the New York Yankees.

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