The Astros drafted first, and one of their scouts, based in Michigan, was exceptionally high on Michiganian Derek Jeter. The scout tried to convince his bosses that Derek Jeter was the best amateur player in the country. His bosses believed, as many bosses did, that Phil Nevin was the best in the land. We'll let Buster Olney pick up the story from there ...
The scout, who worked for the Houston Astros, got a phone call from his supervisor, Dan O'Brien, just before the '92 draft. O'Brien, then the scouting director for Houston, called to say the Astros planned to select Nevin with the first overall pick. ''It's an organizational decision,'' O'Brien said.
The scout -- Hal Newhouser -- was ''extremely disappointed,'' O'Brien recalled. Newhouser implored club officials to reconsider their decision. But the Astros drafted Nevin; Jeter fell into the hands of the Yankees, who had the sixth pick in the first round.
Newhouser began his baseball career in 1939 with the Detroit Tigers, at age 18, won 207 games and two most valuable player awards and was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and in more than 50 years in the game, he had distinct tastes. He did not like Albert Belle, he decided. ''I don't like his manners,'' he said once. ''I don't like his attitude. As far as I'm concerned, I wouldn't pay to see him play.''
He liked Derek Jeter, everything about him. After the Astros picked Nevin instead of Jeter, Newhouser -- nearing retirement, anyway -- quit baseball in disgust.
Newhouser lived long enough to see Derek Jeter win two World Series rings, in 1996 and '98. He'd also seen Nevin play for three different clubs, without ever earning a full-time job for long. It wasn't until 1999, with Newhouser passed, that Nevin became something of a star for a few years.
Of course, the Astros weren't the only club that missed in 1992. The first five picks:
This stuff is hard. And one wonders whom the Yankees would have chosen, had they drafted first.