The Orioles are mourning the loss of longtime scout Bruce Kison.
Kison, 68, passed away Friday night after battling a brief illness. The former Major Leaguer served as Baltimore’s pitching coach in 1999 and then as a scout until his retirement in December 2017. He played 15 MLB seasons — spending time with the Pittsburgh Pirates (who drafted him), California Angels and the Boston Red Sox.
A longtime Oriole employee, Kison actually pitched against the Orioles in the 1971 and 1979 World Series, when he won rings with the Pirates.
“He was a really good scout. His reports were always to the point, painted a picture,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said about Kison on Saturday. “And he was very good at pointing out the intangibles that separated good players. … He had a lot of contacts in the game. He didn’t make many mistakes. We’re going to miss him.”
The Orioles front office also issued statements.
Managing Partner Peter Angelos: “Our entire family is deeply saddened to learn of Bruce Kison’s passing. For nearly two decades, Bruce played an integral role in all aspects of our organization as a pitching coach, a scout and a trusted advisor. Bruce will be remembered for his tremendous work ethic, professionalism, and personality, as well as his dedication to the Orioles. Our thoughts are with Bruce’s wife, Anna Marie, as well as his family, loved ones, and many friends and colleagues throughout our game.”
Executive Vice President Dan Duquette: “Bruce was an integral part of the Orioles for many years, working exceptionally hard on behalf of the organization. We will fondly remember Bruce for his mental toughness as a competitor on the field; his scouting insight and integrity, especially for pitchers; his folksy and dry sense of humor; and his personal humility. We send our sincerest condolences to his wife, Anna Marie, as well as his family and loved ones.”
Britton closing in on return
All-star closer Zach Britton may be nearing the end of his rehab outings.
Last night, he pitched for Double-A Bowie, throwing an eight-pitch scoreless inning. And, starting this week, the lefty closer will pitch for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.
Showalter said today that Britton will throw on Tuesday and Thursday in Columbus against the Clippers — the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. He is also planned to throw back-to-back games the following week (Monday and Tuesday) as the Tides host Atlanta Braves’ affiliate Gwinnett.
“We’ll see where we are about possibly being activated or used more, we’ve got it built in both ways,” the skipper added.
Showalter said that Britton, who has missed the season so far due to right Achilles surgery in December, could possibly be activated as early as June 14.
Connolly’s thoughts on Kison’s passing
Bruce Kison was definitely an old-school, tough guy – the man hit 68 batters in his career, including 11 in one season. He didn’t have much fear on the mound or off it.
But he also had a good sense of humor and great insight into the game, which he shared once he became comfortable with people. It was always a treat to eat dinner with him in the Orioles’ press lounge on occasion over the years.
My favorite Kison story – and I have to admit some of the specific details are a little foggy — had more to do with his luggage than Kison himself.
Instead of a leather briefcase or backpack, Kison would lug his reports and other essential scouting information around in a silver, stainless-steel case.
Well, one day in the early 2000s he accidentally left it on a top of a trash can outside the Orioles’ spring training offices at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. Someone reported the unattended case as suspicious and so the police were called. And, to the best of my memory, I believe a bomb squad representative was summoned to inspect the case.
As this was unfolding, Kison was in the shower in the old clubhouse when word got back to him that he had left his briefcase outside. So he asked Butch Burnett, the club’s longtime and unique clubhouse attendant, to fetch it for him – not realizing the concern the case had generated.
And Butchie didn’t know either — or didn’t care. As club legend has it, Butch walked past the law-enforcement officials, grabbed the case and began loudly exclaiming, “It’s Kison’s, it’s Kison’s” as the police grew near. Eventually, Butch and Kison’s briefcase were returned to the home clubhouse unharmed.
I once asked Kison about the story and he verified it, laughing throughout the tale.
Kison was a well-respected baseball man and a heck of a scout. He’ll be missed.