Selig, Ripken headline scouts dinner

Selig, Ripken feted at scouts dinner

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- They came to honor Commissioner Bud Selig, Cal Ripken Jr. and Mike Scioscia on Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. But they were only the headliners at the fourth annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation dinner. The gems to bring in a crowd of over 1,000 that included baseball officials, family, friends and fans.

The real honorees were the scouts. Those down in the trenches, mud-on-the-boots baseball men, who traverse what now are the world's byways to uncover the stars of tomorrow.

"One of the things I miss most about running a team is that I loved being with the scouts, talking baseball every day," Selig, the former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers told in an interview prior to the affair. "It's something that when you're the Commissioner, you're isolated and you don't get to do that as much as you like.

"While it might sound trite to some people, the scouts are the lifeblood of the sport."

Selig was honored with an executive leadership award that will continue to carry his name for future winners.

Ripken, the great Baltimore Orioles shortstop and third baseman, who is on the threshold of being elected on Tuesday to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, was given the player Lifetime Achievement Award. Scioscia, the longtime Angels manager, was named the winner of the Tommy Lasorda Manager's Award, presented by Lasorda himself.

Ripken, whose late father, Cal Sr., spent much of his career managing in Baltimore's Minor League system, also echoed the Commissioner's sentiment.

"I want to thank the foundation for the great work it does," Ripken said in his remarks near the end of the dinner. "The scouts are the lifeblood of baseball. My father very briefly worked in the big leagues, but he devoted the first 14 years of my career working in development in the Minor Leagues, with the scouts and with a number of different people. Baseball is truly a great community and a great family."

There were laughs, gags and an auction of sports memorabilia. And by the time Ripken was introduced about three hours into the program, the crowd was definitely thinning, although Selig hung on gamely to the end, flanked by Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball's president and chief operation officer, and Jimmy Lee Solomon, MLB's vice president of baseball operations.

The annual dinner was a rousing success, playing to an overflow crowd and was expected to generate about $300,000 for the foundation, which offers grants to needy scouts, who are down on their luck, out of a job or need help paying medical bills.

The organization was the brainchild of Dennis Gilbert, the former player, scout, agent and now an advisor to chairman Jerry Reinsdorf of the Chicago White Sox.

"The scouts are the most unsung people in all of sports," said Reinsdorf, who also introduced Selig to the crowd.

They are also among the lowest paid, an area scout earning in the neighborhood of about $42,000 a year, said Bill "Chief" Gayton, the director of scouting for the San Diego Padres and a former member of the foundation's board of directors.

The modern day scout uses computers, the Internet and good-old-fashioned guts when he recommends that his Major League team draft or sign a young player.

But their jobs are done almost in complete anonymity.

Lasorda, for his part, continued to campaign for scouts to be elected to the Hall of Fame, an honor that currently is not extended to that branch of the baseball fraternity. Lasorda said so during his remarks at the dinner and was awarded with a huge round of applause.

And when Selig was asked his opinion on the matter, he agreed.

"Yes, of course scouts should be in the Hall of Fame," said Selig, who is also a member of the Hall of Fame's board of directors.

"My respect and admiration for scouts is enormous," Selig said. "That's something we all have to work on. Scouts often are taken for granted and not treated with the respect and admiration that they should. When you think about it, the success of an organization really comes down to scouting. When I think back to the 1970s and a struggling Brewers franchise, a scout found Robin Yount, a scout found Paul Molitor.

"They came through our system and were found by an extraordinary group of scouts, who got little credit, but should have gotten all of the credit."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.