ALAMEDA -- Don Pries served in the Baltimore Orioles organization for less than a decade (1968-74), but the Alameda native -- inducted this summer into the Orioles Hall of Fame -- had a big role in the team's success.
Notable Orioles players signed at the urging of Pries included future Hall of Fame first baseman Eddie Murray and sure-handed second baseman Rich Dauer, each of whom made his biggest impact with the O's long after Pries had left the team.
Before his tenure in Baltimore, Pries scouted for the A's. Among his signings was former A's left fielder Joe Rudi, whose leaping catch against the wall in 1972 at Cincinnati remains one of the greatest plays in World Series history.
"Joe had what I would call a picture swing, strength and bat control," Pries said. "He showed agility as a shortstop, having me believe that he would become a quality outfielder."
Today, Pries stays in touch with baseball as a consultant for the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, a program he helped start in 1974.
Now 86, Pries first became involved with baseball as a youth, which evolved into a 68-year professional career. As with many in baseball, Pries first entered into baseball as a player. Though Pries never reached the major leagues, he came very close with the Portland Beavers of the AAA Pacific Coast League, a circuit that many on the West Coast considered a third major league.
"(The PCL) was the only thing we knew, the major leagues were far, far distant," Pries said. "It was like a family back then. The ballparks were in residential areas. It was easier to connect."
"I signed when I was 17 years of age with the Cleveland Indians," said Pries, who graduated from Alameda High School in 1945. "I played professionally for nine years, managed six years and scouted for 13."
For Pries, induction into the Orioles Hall of Fame was just the latest honor to come his way after having received a lifetime achievement award from the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation in 2012. In addition to his time with the A's and Orioles, Pries also scouted for the Cardinals and Indians. His career, however, took a major turn in 1974 when then-commissioner Bowie Kuhn wanted him to help design a computer scouting system for all of Major League Baseball.
"The commissioner's desire was to level the playing field," Pries said. "I gave the technicians the information that should be put in the computer."
Thus was born the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, for which Pries served as assistant director before becoming director in 1989. Pries was the director for 11 years before semi-retiring to consultant work.
During his full-time tenure with the bureau, Pries helped create the Scout Development Program under the auspices of 1980s commissioner Peter Ueberroth.
"It was a project to help front office people enhance their (scouting) skills," Pries said. "We have graduated some 1,500 students, 75 percent of them still working in the baseball industry."