LA Angels News

LA Angels manager Mike Scioscia has close link to Cal League Commissioner

By David Rice
SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 13: Manager Mike Scioscia (L) and bench coach Ron Roenicke (C) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim look on during the MLB spring training game against the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium on March 13, 2010 in Surprise, Arizona. The Royals defeated the Angels 12-3. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 13: Manager Mike Scioscia (L) and bench coach Ron Roenicke (C) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim look on during the MLB spring training game against the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium on March 13, 2010 in Surprise, Arizona. The Royals defeated the Angels 12-3. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

As many people know LA Angels manager Mike Scioscia played his entire career for the LA Dodgers. However, what you probably don’t know is the man who first gave Scioscia a chance to coach was California League commissioner Charlie Blaney.

When the LA Angels hired manager Mike Scioscia in the winter of 1999 the organization was in a major transistion as original owner Gene Autry had stepped aside a few years early due to poor health, and the Disney Corporation had bought the team.  Attendance was down and the team was floundering at or near the bottom of the AL West.  Enter Mike Scioscia.

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Mike Scioscia had been taught how to win as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and was a key part of two World Series winning teams in 1981 and 1988.  However when his playing career was coming to an end in 1994 he was looking for a path to possibly continue his baseball career as a coach.  Charlie Blaney, who was then the Vice President of the Los Angeles Dodgers Minor League Operations, gave Scioscia a shot naming him the minor league catching coordinator in 1995 for the Dodgers.

Under Blaney’s watch Scioscia advanced up the ranks. In1997 Scioscia was named the Dodgers bench coach under then manager Bill Russell, a position Scioscia held until 1999 when FOX bought the Dodgers and Russell and his staff were not retained including Scioscia. Scioscia would then get hired in 2000 to manage the Angels a position he still holds to this day.

Blaney also gave other Angel coaches such as Ron Roenicke (who has been hired by Boston to be their bench coach in 2018), Mickey Hatcher (Angels hitting coach from 2000-2012) , and current Angel third base coach Dino Ebel were all given their first coaching jobs thanks to Blaney. With that being said Charlie Blaney had a major impact on building the coaching staff that would guide the Angels to their first and only World Championship team in 2002.

“I always had my eye on him (Mike Scioscia) as I thought he would make a great coach or manager one day,” Blaney said in a recent interview I did with him in San Bernardino. “So when he retired as a player I called him up and asked him if he would like to be the Dodgers’ roving minor league catching instructor. He took it and the rest is history.”

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Blaney was very pleased when he saw the Angels win the World Series in 2002 under Scioscia’s guidance.

“I was very proud of Mike (Scioscia) and his staff which included a lot of former Dodgers coaches I worked with Ron Roenicke, Mickey Hatcher, and Alfredo Griffin,” Blaney said of the 2002 World Championship Angels team. “When you’re working in the minor leagues it really makes you happy to see former players, managers, and coaches move up to the major leagues achieve success. The reason I have done this for so many years is to help guys reach the major league level.”

In total Charlie Blaney has worked in baseball for 52 years since taking his first job with the Dodgers in 1966. He served as a general manager of Dodger minor league affiliates in Single-A all the way through to Triple-A where he twice won Minor League Executive of the Year Awards in 1969 and 1974.  Blaney then was named Director of Dodgertown in Vero Beach, the Dodgers long-time Spring Training home, a position he held from 1974-1987.  Blaney last 11 years with the Dodgers was spent as Vice President of Minor League Operations from 1987-1998.

“I was a California boy, loved the Dodgers and was fortunate enough to get a job with the Dodgers 52 years ago. I died and went to heaven,” Blaney said of the opportunity to work for the Dodgers. “Winning two World Series in 1981 and 1988 were the biggest highlights of my time with the Dodgers. That’s why we were in this business was to win championships.”

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During his time with the Dodgers Blaney worked with names like Walter Alston, Tommy Lasorda, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Fernando Valenzuela, Mike Piazza, Orel Hershisher, and many others.  While he served as Vice President of Minor League Operations Blaney saw the Dodgers do something no organization had done or has done since and that was win five straight Rookie of the Year Awards.

From 1992-1996 Eric Karros, Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi, Hideo Nomo, and Todd Hollandsworth won the award for the Dodgers all of which were players that were developed in the Dodgers’ minor league system under Blaney’s watch.

“It was great to work for the Dodger organization because of the O’Malley family.  They treated everyone in the organization like family,” Blaney said. “I went to work every day and had to pinch myself as this was a dream job. It was great working with Tommy (Lasorda) and all the players.  It was a wonderful career and I was blessed to have that opportunity.”

When asked about who were some of his favorite players to work with Blaney answered very emphatically. “Sandy Koufax was a great player to work with, he is a class act,” Blaney said. ” Working with guys like Eric Karros, Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi, Hideo Nomo, and Todd Hollandsworth was also fun.”

Unfortunately for Blaney just like Angel manager Mike Scioscia he was a victim of a major shakeup in the Dodgers system that took place when FOX bought the Dodgers at the end of the 1998 season. Blaney was dismissed just like many other Dodger executives.  From there, Blaney held various positions in baseball for the next 12 years until being hired as the commissioner of the Single-A California League a position he has held since 2010.

“It was tough. Anytime you work for an organization for 32 years it is difficult to leave, but its part of the game,” Blaney said of his dismissal from the Dodgers front office. “Whenever new ownership comes in they have the right to do what they want to so you move on. I feel very fortunate now to have the position I do for the California League.”

Since beginning his tenure as California League Commissioner in 2010 Blaney has had the opportunity to work with many current MLB stars while they were playing in the California League.  Most notably Blaney watched Mike Trout come up through the California League in 2010 and also Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel (2010) and shortstop Carlos Correa (2014).

Blaney said that he was very impressed with MIke Trout right from the start when he played for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.

“When he came up in the second half of 2010 as an 18-year old kid he was pretty impressive to watch,” Blaney said. “Mike (Trout) is pure class.  He is a hard worker and gives all of himself to the fans, to the game, and to his teammates. I’m glad to see him being the face of game now. He is a tremendous individual as well as being a great ball player.”

As for why he keeps working in baseball Blaney said the answer is simple.

“I love watching the guys who have gone through the league make it to the major league level,.  I hope to keep doing this for a few more years as long as they will have me,” Blaney said with a laugh. “You get a chance to see future major league players play tonight. That’s what makes it rewarding.”

Next: In case you didn't know already, Mike Trout is good.

Charlie Blaney talked about Mike Trout being a class act as well the O’Malley family who owned the Dodgers for all 32 he worked for the organization.  Well I believe that class knows class, and Blaney has as much class as anyone in baseball I have had the chance to meet.  The California League is in good hands with Charlie Blaney leading the way.