Edward C. Liberatore, 87, baseball scout

April 26, 2001|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Edward C. Liberatore, a retired Major League Baseball scout, died Saturday of congestive heart failure after surgery at St. Joseph Medical Center. He was 87 and lived at Oak Crest Village in Parkville.

A scout for the Washington Senators, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers and the Orioles, he began his career in baseball in the 1930s as a second baseman in the Philadelphia Athletics farm system. After an injury at the end of his second season, he began a 55-year scouting career.

"His life was baseball," said Chuck Thompson, longtime Orioles broadcaster. "He never changed and was always a gentleman. He was probably one of the most respected scouts in the business."

Mr. Liberatore started scouting as a $25-a-week bird-dogger - an assistant scout who pointed out new talent - for the Senators, under lead scout Joe Cambria.

After World War II, during which he worked for Lavelle Aircraft in Newtown, Pa., Mr. Liberatore scouted part time for the Cincinnati Reds. He became a full-time regional scout with the Reds organization in the 1950s.

In the early 1960s, he joined the Dodgers, later working closely with manager Tommy Lasorda and general manager Al Campanis on player-personnel decisions.

"For many years, he traveled with Joe DiMaggio on the road when Joe made appearances," said his son, Robert Liberatore of Washington. "My father would interact with the outside world so Joe wouldn't have to."

Mr. Liberatore ended his career in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the Orioles as a special adviser to Roland Hemond, then the Orioles general manager.

In 1998, Sun columnist John Steadman asked Mr. Liberatore who was the most courageous player he ever saw. "Jackie Robinson," he said. "A great talent and wonderful instincts. The best baserunner I ever saw. What he was subjected to made it a miracle he lived through it."

In the same interview, Mr. Liberatore recalled that he was the middleman when Pete Rose was named Cincinnati manager. As a scout, he recommended Mr. Rose to team management when it was looking for new leadership.

Born in Parkersburg, W. Va., Mr. Liberatore was raised in the Clifton Park section of Northeast Baltimore. He was a 1931 City College graduate. As a young man, he played sandlot and industrial league ball in Baltimore.

In 1947, he married DeSales Callahan, who survives him.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. today at the Oak Crest Village Chapel, 8800 Walther Blvd.

He also is survived by a daughter, Mary Ann Liberatore of Elkins Park, Pa.; a brother, Allen Liberatore of Joppatowne; and two stepgrandsons.

Memorial donations may be made to Baseball Assistance Team for Former Players in Need, Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, 245 Park Ave., New York, N.Y. 10067.

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