Deni Pacini would sit in the stands directly behind home plate. His radar gun at the ready, he concentrated on the delivery, velocity and movement of a possible future major league pitcher. Later in the game he would be watching a batter’s swing and clocking them from home to first. He filled out a report on each player he scouted.
That would be just the first game of a major college tournament and he would spend the remaining day and into the night doing the same for numerous players during many games. From certain pitchers, to players hitting batting practice, he might cover parts of two-dozen games in a single day for a major league team. Finally, at the end of the tournament, he would head home to Margie, his wife of 57 years now.
Deni Pacini had no idea he would become a scout for Major League Baseball when he was working his vineyards near Kerman from the early 1950s onward. But he knew he loved the game. He excelled in baseball, basketball and football at Kerman High School before graduating in 1950. However, despite being an all-star third baseman, he declined a chance to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, choosing to stay home to be with his ailing father and take care of the family farm.
Still it didn’t keep him from the diamond. A year later, he started playing fast-pitch softball, rising early in the morning and working late at night while squeezing in games in the interim. He made it to the semi-pro level and played against some of the most talented players in the United State competing in the Softball World Series...