The Obit For Poochie Hartsfield

Hartsfield Succumbs to Kidney Failure

From Kay Powell, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 25th, 1999

  Baseball was "Poochie" Hartsfield's life, and he spent his life in baseball.

  When a knee injury took him off the playing field in 1963, Robert Milton Hartsfield, 67, of Woodstock became a baseball scout, reaching the top of his profession as scouting coordinator for the San Francisco Giants.

  "He was one of those fortunate people able to spend his entire life doing what he loved most," said Billy Bowles of Sandy Springs, his friend since childhood.

  "He rose to the very top of the profession, the very top, as coordinator of scouting for the Giants," he said. "That is one of the top jobs in baseball."

  The memorial service for Mr. Hartsfield was held at Ray-Thomas Memorial Presbyterian Church. He died Monday Jan. 25 of kidney failure at North Fulton Regional Hospital. The body was cremated. Woodstock Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

  Mr. Hartsfield grew up in Riverside, a baseball-playing neighborhood in Fulton County near Bolton Road. "The kids played on any vacant field from the time you take your heavy coat off in the spring until you put it on," said Mr. Bowles.

  Former Chicago Cubs and Dodgers pitcher Ernest P. "Tiny" Osborne Sr. lived on the block, and nearby Whittier Mill had a terrific team in the Atlanta Textile League, he said. Many neighborhood boys went on to play AAA ball, and Larry Osborne played for the Detroit Tigers and Washington Senators.

  Mr. Hartsfield played for West Fulton High School's baseball champions and joined a minor league team in Landis, N.C., the day he graduated.

  An infielder, his tenacity defined him. "Poochie was a marginal talent who honed his talent," said Mr. Bowles, noting that at one time he batted barely .200. "He was a good baseball player but made himself better through determination."

  He started pro ball at 16 . For the next 51 years, he played in every league from D to AAA and was a manager and scout.

  Usually a second baseman, he played every position in the infield except first base. He played for the Atlanta Crackers and was with the Boston Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers for 11 years. Even his 1953-55 Army career was spent playing baseball at Fort McPherson.

  "The commanding general loved baseball and made sure all the best players in the 3rd Army area got to Fort Mac," said Mr. Bowles. On that Army championship team, Mr. Hartsfield played with Wilmer "Vinegar Ben" Mizell, the Cardinals pitcher who became a North Carolina congressman; Taylor Phillips, who pitched for the Chicago Cubs; and Norm Siebern, a Yankees outfielder and teammate of Mickey Mantle.

  He also refereed basketball for 25 years, including three NCAA tournaments.

  Among the many players he signed were Deion Sanders for the Yankees and Bill Mueller and Russell Ortiz for the Giants.

  Survivors include his wife, Sandra Hartsfield; two stepdaughters, Lisa Singleton of Rochester, N.Y., and Robyn Lenk of Geneva, N.Y.; a stepson, Dana Millard of Dunwoody; a brother, Roy Hartsfield of Ellijay; and two step-grandchildren.