Longtime MLB scout Genovese dies at 93

SAN FRANCISCO -- George Genovese, the scout who signed a veritable All-Star team of players for the San Francisco Giants, died Sunday in a Burbank, Calif., hospital. He was 93.

Genovese was widely considered to be baseball's most astute scout -- ever. Mining the mother lode of talented prospects that formerly proliferated across Southern California, Genovese either directly signed or prompted the drafting of more than 40 Major Leaguers during his 1964-95 tenure with the Giants.

Outfielder George Foster, the 1977 National League Most Valuable Player with Cincinnati who began his professional career in the Giants' system, was a Genovese signee. Genovese recommended the signing of outfielder Bobby Bonds, the first player to exceed 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a season five times. Other All-Stars signed by Genovese included third baseman Matt Williams, outfielder-first baseman Jack Clark, outfielders Gary Matthews and Chili Davis, slugger Dave Kingman and catcher Matt Nokes.

The list continues with recognizable performers such as center fielder Garry Maddox, who won eight Gold Glove Awards, right-handers Jim Barr, John D'Acquisto, Eric King and Randy Moffitt and outfielders Ken Henderson and Rob Deer.

"I always felt that each day I got in the car, I'd find somebody of interest," Genovese said in a 2012 interview with MLB.com.

Moreover, Genovese built relationships with many of his signees.

"Those players were part of his family for the rest of his life," longtime scout Gary Hughes, currently with the Red Sox, said Monday.

D'Acquisto confirmed this. "George was like a dad to me," D'Acquisto said. "He enabled us to live our dream because he had faith in us."

Said Henderson, "I can't think of anybody who loved the game of baseball more than George did."

Reflecting the respect Genovese commanded, the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation instituted the George Genovese Award for excellence in scouting 13 years ago. Genovese's counterparts admired his tireless approach.

"He'd run down any kind of a trail," Hughes said.

Henderson came to know Genovese intimately. His father, Joe, worked as an assistant with Genovese, covering the enormous Los Angeles-San Diego area. "George had his own way of doing things," Henderson said, recalling with amusement that Genovese sometimes hid behind fences, trees or concession stands to monitor a game if he didn't want rival scouts to know he was there.

The Giants issued a statement that praised Genovese's service to the organization. It concluded, "The entire Giants family is mourning his loss and George will be deeply missed by all of us who had the pleasure and privilege to know him."

Tributes to Genovese also poured in from the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom Genovese worked as a part-time scout after the Giants dismissed him.

"He was an exceptional man," former Dodgers manager and executive Tommy Lasorda said on Twitter. "I'm going to miss him."

Former Dodgers general manager Fred Claire, who hired Genovese, also relied on Twitter to call Genovese "a great man and a great scout who had a life-long passion for the game of baseball."

Genovese grew up in Staten Island, N.Y. An aspiring shortstop, he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals out of a tryout camp in 1940. World War II interrupted baseball endeavors for Genovese, who spent 3 1/2 years in the Air Force. After returning to the Minors in 1946, Genovese earned a three-game appearance with the Washington Senators in 1950. His next major move occurred in 1952, when Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Branch Rickey hired him to serve as player-manager of Batavia in the Class D Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League. "I learned a lot of baseball from that man," Genovese said.

Urged by his brother, Giants scout Frank "Chick" Genovese, George joined the San Francisco organization to manage Artesia in the Class D Sophomore League in 1960. Genovese switched to scouting after the 1963 season and embraced the role, largely because he identified with the prospects he met.

"When I would talk to a boy, I could tell whether he really, really wanted to be a ballplayer," Genovese said.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.