Legendary scout Mike Brito dies at 87

July 8th, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- His trademark Panama hat and cigar made him a larger-than-life persona, but his ability to recognize baseball talent is what made him one of the most legendary scouts in baseball history.

Mike Brito, who worked in the Dodgers’ organization for 45 years, died at the age of 87 on Thursday evening, the team announced.

After his playing days in the Washington Senators’ Minor League system, Brito moved to Los Angeles to become the Dodgers’ Mexican League scout. In 1978, general manager Al Campanis hired Brito full time. The first player Brito signed was former Dodgers pitcher Bobby Castillo.

Brito's splendid work continued in 1979, when he convinced Campanis to sign a Mexican left-hander by the name of Fernando Valenzuela, who went on to become one of the most recognizable pitchers in Dodgers history.

“My heart is very heavy today,” Valenzuela said in a release. “Mike was a great man and instrumental in my success as a baseball player on and off the field. No one loved the Dodger organization more than Mike, and we will all miss him very much. My prayers go out to his wife, Rosario, and all of his family and friends.”

Brito’s stellar eye for talent didn’t stop with Valenzuela. Not even close. Brito helped sign 32 Major Leaguers, including Valenzuela, Julio Urías, Yasiel Puig, Ismael Valdez, Joakim Soria and Victor González. Before Brito signed Valenzuela, fewer than 40 Mexican-born players had appeared in MLB.

Brito, who focused on hosting tryouts in small towns in Mexico, was particularly instrumental in the signing of Urías, who was born with a benign mass in his left eye and later underwent several procedures.

“I was impressed, but I was confident that the eye was something that could be corrected and taken care of,” Brito told Telemundo in October 2020. “The first thing the Dodgers did when they signed [Urías] was send him to a doctor. They performed the surgery, and he was fine. The rest is history."

Brito was born in Cuba in 1934, and he was inducted into the Cuban Hall of Fame in 2005. In '14, he was named the International Scout of the Year at the Winter Meetings in San Diego. Last year, Brito was named Baseball America’s 2021 Tony Gwynn Award recipient for his lifetime of contributions to the game.

Brito is survived by his wife, Rosario, his two daughters, Diana and Minerva, and four granddaughters.

“Mike was a baseball lifer, and I considered him a friend," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "My heart goes out to him and his family. He impacted the Dodgers' organization for decades. I learned a lot from him talking about players and just seeing the game, and it doesn’t matter where on the map there was a baseball game, if there was a potential prospect, Mike was willing to be there and put his eyes on him. He lived a great life, and he’s certainly going to be missed.”