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Remembering former Dodgers scouts Calvin Jones & John Sanders

MLB: SEP 18 Rockies at Dodgers Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A pair of former Dodgers scouts have died in February. Calvin Jones and John Sanders both played large roles in two of the most memorable transactions this century for the franchise.

Calvin Jones was a pitcher born in Compton and drafted out of Chafey College in the January phase in 1984 by the Mariners. He made the majors for parts of two seasons with Seattle, putting up a 4.33 ERA in 108 innings in 1991-92.

But before that, Jones was a teammate in the Mariners system with Logan White, also a pitcher, for a pair of Class-A teams — Wausau in the Midwest League in 1985, and Salinas in the California League in 1986. Those two came together again two decades later, when White as the Dodgers farm director hired Jones as a scout in 2003.

A few years later, Jones moved to Texas, and among his coverage area was the northern part of the state, plus Oklahoma and Arkansas. In 2006, he paid particular attention to a high school left-hander from Highland Park, who the Dodgers hoped would be available at the seventh pick.

Clayton Kershaw was that pitcher, and in 2016 Scott Miller at Bleacher Report wrote a wonderful profile of just how the franchise icon came to the Dodgers. Come for the picture of Kershaw signing his first pro contract in his living room, along with his mother and Jones, the signing scout; then stay for the great stories within, like this, from Miller:

In Los Angeles for meetings the week of the draft, Jones made his pitch to all who would listen, including a certain Dodgers Hall of Famer.

“What makes you think we should take your guy over the others?” Tommy Lasorda (then a special adviser with the team) demanded. “This is one of the highest draft picks the Dodgers have ever had.”

“Well, Tommy,” Jones said. “I’ve played with and seen the best. I played with Randy Johnson. I’ve seen Nolan Ryan. I’ve seen Roger Clemens. I’ve seen Greg Maddux. I’ve played with or against all of these guys. And Tommy, this is the best arm I’ve ever seen.’”

“You really think so?”

“Yeah. He has a major league curveball right now.”

Jones was 58. Bill Plunkett at the Orange County Register has more.


Sanders coached baseball at the University of Nebraska from 1978-1997, the longest-tenured manager in school history. He passed away after a battle with cancer, per Evan Bland of the Omaha World-Herald.

An outfielder in the Kansas City Athletics system, Sanders got called up at age 19 in 1965. He appeared in one game for the A’s, entering as a pinch runner in the seventh inning against the Tigers on April 13 in Kansas City. Sanders was stranded on first base, then subbed out of the game, and never played in another major league game.

He’s one of 109 non-pitchers in MLB’s modern era to play in the majors but not bat.

Sanders after his time at Nebraska managed rookie ball in the Red Sox system, and later became a pro scout with the Dodgers. Sanders played a key role when those two teams came together for a megatrade in 2012.

From Gordon Edes at ESPN:

The Dodgers dispatched scout John Sanders, who previously had worked in the minors for the Red Sox and knew their baseball operations people well, to sit on the Sox for days. Sanders scouted Josh Beckett, but even there, the Dodgers’ interest was predicated on Gonzalez as being a part of any deal.

Sanders was inducted into the Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.