Bracey Made His Mark

Long-time scout, executive left his impact on San Diego

Ken Bracey was baseball's E.F. Hutton.

"When you were in a meeting discussing a player, when Brace spoke, you listened," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who knew Bracey from Bochy's days as a player, coach and manager with the Padres.

"He'd sit over there off to the side and a player would be brought up and he would say, 'He can't play,' and shake his head," Bochy said.

Would he be wrong?

"No," Bochy said.

And if he liked a player?

"He wasn't wrong then, either," Bochy said.

At the age of 80, Bracey passed away on Dec. 12, the victim of pancreatic and liver cancer, which was discovered just two weeks before his death.

He was the ultimate baseball lifer. Signed by the Yankees at age 19, he spent one year pitching in their minor league system, and then seven with Giants' minor league teams. He compiled a 52-40, 3.41 record in 331 minor league appearances, 313 out of the bullpen, in an eight-year playing career in which he never pitched above Double-A.

When he hung up the uniform, he picked up the clipboard, radar gun and stopwatch and began a scouting career that was highlighted by 38 years with the Padres before being hired by then-Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti and spending his final seven years with Los Angeles.

Kevin Towers was a Bracey disciple, having met him as a player after being a 1982 first-round pick of the Padres out of Brigham Young in the old June secondary phase of the draft. Towers was mentored by Bracey as a young area scout, counseled by him as a scouting director and then embraced when Towers was the GM of the Padres from 1995 to 2009.

"He was a veteran guy, and as a young scout he wasn't going to pamper you," Towers said. "He was going to make you better. And when I was a general manager, he was one of the best scouts I could have ever had.

"When he didn't like a guy, and there were a lot of them, you knew they weren't guys you should like," Towers said, "and when was solidly on an individual, you knew he could play. He wasn't worried about what everybody thought. He was going to tell you what he thought, and he wasn't wrong on much.

"He wasn't a guy who would waffle and wait to see what he thought you wanted to hear. You would look at him and he would have that smile on his face and nod yes, and you knew that was what you needed to do."

Bracey was extremely loyal. Towers said there were occasions over the years, before he finally went to the Dodgers, that Bracey had chances to go to another organization, but after Towers would grant permission and Bracey would interview it was always easy to address concerns and keep Bracey with the Padres.

"He wasn't a leverage guy, looking to bounce around," Towers said. "He liked to a part of an organization and I liked having him as a part of (the Padres) organization. I don't remember a deal I made when I didn't lean on him to get his opinion. He was a special person."

He will be missed by everyone whose path he crossed in his lifetime in baseball.

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