Annual dinner honors, raises money for scouts

Annual dinner honors, raises money for scouts

Annual dinner honors, raises money for scouts
LOS ANGELES -- They're the unsung heroes of baseball.

They're the ones working behind the scenes, helping to discover and develop young talent, all while continuing to help the game of baseball grow and flourish.

They're baseball scouts, and while they generally don't get much recognition, they certainly got plenty of it at the eighth annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation Awards Dinner on Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.

It was quite a night with more than 1,200 people in attendance, including Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson, Tommy Lasorda, Dave Winfield, Joe Morgan, Tom Seaver and Robin Yount, as well as other baseball luminaries like Joe Garagiola Sr., Bobby Valentine, Jim Fregosi Sr., Paul Snyder, Ken Bracey, Pat Dougherty, Bob Harrison, Gail Henley, Grover "Deacon" Jones, Fred Uhlman Sr., Lou Fitzgerald, Tom Sherak and Rene, Bill and Marcel Lachemann.

It's all the creation of former agent and current White Sox advisor to the chairman Dennis Gilbert, who estimated the event raised more than $1 million and aided more than 50 scouts.

"It's remarkable," said Commissioner Bud Selig, who presented an award in his name to Garagiola for lifetime achievement in baseball. "Dennis has a done a great job, and scouts are the foundation of baseball, so I'm happy to be here. There are guys who labor in the vineyards all year long developing all the talent, and so I think it's just wonderful."

The event, now called "In the Spirit of the Game," was hosted by CNN's Larry King, along with former catcher and current Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker and actor/director Rob Reiner.

It featured plenty of entertainment and laughs, especially when Uecker was on onstage, but at its heart it helped an important cause. Money raised by the event will go toward aiding scouts who are out of work and without benefits.

"With the way things are going around the country today -- not just with scouts -- there are people out of work, so with this great organization, we take care of our own," Uecker said. "Where would a lot of us be without scouts?"

It was a statement echoed by Morgan, a two-time MVP while with the Reds, who said he owed his career to the scouts who helped discover him.

"You always want to go back and help the people who built the foundation we all stand on," Morgan said. "Without scouts, I wouldn't have made the Major Leagues, so it's great to give back."

The night began with a silent auction featuring hundreds of items to bid on from virtually every sport imaginable before the dinner and entertainment began at 7 p.m. PT, and lasted nearly four hours.

Many attendees were honored at the event, including Fregosi, who received the George Genovese Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in scouting; the Lachemanns, who received the "Ray Boone Family Award" for their contributions to baseball as a family; and Snyder, who was honored with the Legends in Scouting Award.

In addition, six other scouts received the Legends of Scouting Award: Mariners scout Harrison, former Dodgers and current Rays scout Henley, Orioles scouts Uhlman, Sr. and Jones, Dodgers special assistant to the general manager Bracey, Rockies special assistant to the general manager Daugherty and Fitzgerald, a former scout for the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros and Baltimore Orioles.

"It's a tremendous event, especially for someone who was an area scout like myself," said D-backs general manager Kevin Towers. "There are scouts, because of either health issues or [because they are] out of work, who have just fallen on hard times, and Dennis and the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation seem to be the first to step up to the plate and help out."

The foundation was created in 2002 by Gilbert after a friend of his passed away with no health care or benefits. The friend was considered a part-time scout despite 22 years on the job.

Lasorda played a major role in helping the event get off the ground -- the Hall of Fame manager and baseball ambassador was the first to donate to the cause.

"We couldn't do it without Tommy," Gilbert said. "When we founded the organization, the first person who wrote a check was Tommy Lasorda."

Lasorda, though, deflected the credit to Gilbert and said he deserves more attention for his work in helping scouts.

"We certainly appreciate what he's doing," Lasorda said. "I feel like he should be recognized. What he's doing with the scouts is unbelievable. He's helped a lot of scouts who are out of work or sick, so this is what it's all about."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.