Baseball America Honors Peter O'Malley

Baseball America, on it's 25th anniversary, honored "25 For 25" of baseball's most influential, including former Dodger owner Peter O'Malley, at special ceremonies in Florida.

The others honored included: Sandy Alderson, Mark McGwire, Skip Bertman, Barry Bonds, Cal Ripken Jr., Scott Boras, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Larry Schmittou, Donald Fehr, John Schuerholz, Peter Gammons, Bud Selig, Pat Gillick, Paul Snyder, Bo Jackson, Joe Spear, Bill James, Mike Veeck, Andruw Jones, Robin Ventura, Omar Linares, Miles Wolff and Joe Mauer

As Baseball America reached their silver anniversary, they thought it was important to look outward, at the people who have shaped their universe over the last 25 years.

So doesn't include the 25 most powerful people in the game over the last quarter-century. Rather people who have played a significant role in shaping the game.

About O'Malley, the magazine noted, "For nearly half a century, the O'Malley family was synonymous with Dodgers baseball. And from the early 1980s to the time he sold the club to Fox in 1998, Peter O'Malley's Dodgers did more to highlight the impact of international talent than any other club.

"Of course, it's only fitting that the franchise that integrated the major leagues in 1947 would guide other clubs in the direction of new talent. The Dodgers' efforts in the Dominican Republic and later in the Pacific Rim put them at the forefront of international player development.

"Peter O'Malley's father Walter assumed control of the Dodgers, still in Brooklyn, in 1950 and presided over two of the most successful eras in franchise history. It was into this shadow that Peter O'Malley stepped in 1970 when he was named Dodgers president. The organization, then headed by general manager Al Campanis, was credited with devising the 20-80 scouting scale, but it was the Dodgers' innovative means of unearthing talent that gave them a true competitive advantage.

"Dodgers scouts Corito Verona and Mike Brito made the club's first international breakthrough while scouting in Mexico in 1978, when they discovered charismatic young lefthander Fernando Valenzuela. The Dodgers signed Valenzuela for $120,000, taught him a screwball and watched him quickly master the pitch and use it to record a rookie-record eight shutouts in '81, when he won rookie of the year and Cy Young awards and led the Dodgers to World Series victory.

"The club put a crowning touch on its international efforts in 1987 by opening Campo Las Palmas, a first-of-its-kind baseball academy situated on 75 acres in Guerra, Dominican Republic. The list of big leaguers developed at the camp includes Pedro and Ramon Martinez, Adrian Beltre, Duncan, Raul Mondesi, Pedro Astacio and Roger Cedeno.

"Looking to tap into Los Angeles' large Japanese-American population and to increase fan interest after the '94 strike, O'Malley's Dodgers signed righthander Hideo Nomo for $2 million sight unseen on Feb. 13, 1995. He became the first Japanese player to have success in the American majors.

"The Dodgers had debuted Korean righthander Chan Ho Park in 1994, but it was Nomo's success that led the Dodgers to intensify their search for talent in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, where they signed outfielder Chin-Feng Chen, lefthander Hong-Chih Kuo and shortstop Chin-Lung Hu. Chen, in 2002, became the first player from that country to debut in the majors. The same was true for Australia and shortstop Craig Shipley in 1986.

"O'Malley also played a key role in baseball gaining a visible role at the 1984 Olympics, where it debuted as a demonstration sport, by hosting international baseball leaders in Los Angeles in 1979. The group would later become the International Baseball Federation (IBAF).

"Perhaps nothing reaffirmed the Dodgers' commitment to internationalizing the game during O'Malley's 28-year tenure more, though, than the club's nine NL West titles, five pennants and two World Series wins."

Broadcaster's Wife Dies
The Dodger Family was saddened by the death of Margarita Yniguez, wife of Dodgers Spanish language broadcaster Pepe Yniguez.

Yniguez, 46, first became ill in September and died after a brief battle with cancer. The couple lived in La Habra.

"She was a wonderful woman and we are all very sad right now," said Jamie Jarrin, the Hall of Fame broadcaster who has been Yniguez's partner for nine seasons. "It is a very difficult time for Pepe, but he is doing as well as can be expected."

What Others are Saying:
Hardball Times Website published a wish for each MLB team and the Dodgers read:

"A front-office staffer who can convince Ned Colletti that former mentor Brian Sabean's strategy of giving away promising young players and signing old guys whose specialty is playing defense isn't necessarily a recipe for success.

"Sending Joel Guzman to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for a month of Julio Lugo made no sense, and the Juan Pierre signing has the potential to be even worse. Oh well, at least the Dodgers aren't trying to convince anyone that they represent the city of Anaheim."

SI.com's Jacob Luft pointed out concerning the Bonds signing and the Dodgers pickup of Schmidt.

"On the bright side, San Francisco now has somebody it can put on the media guide cover after Barry Bonds leaves.

"The Giants also get a younger replacement for the departed Jason Schmidt, who left for the Dodgers earlier this winter. In fact, their numbers are pretty similar when you adjust their 2006 stats to a neutralized run environment. In other words, taking out ballpark factors and league differences.

Schmidt's neutralized 2006 statistics: 14-9, 3.46 ERA; Zito's neutralized 2006 statistics: 14-10, 3.63 ERA."

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