Late, great scout Genovese eulogized in LA

January 16th, 2016
George Genovese's career in baseball began in 1940 and ended 75 years later with his death. (Getty)

LOS ANGELES -- The late super scout George Genovese helped sign 44 big league players, who hit 3,344 homers, in Genovese's long career for the Giants and Dodgers. Ten of his signees became All-Stars. 

Genovese, 93, was eulogized in a stirring 60-minute memorial service at the stadium club down the right-field line in Dodger Stadium on Saturday. A native of Los Angeles, Genovese died this past Nov. 15 at Providence St. Joseph's Medical Center in Burbank, Calif., shortly after a visit from Mike Lieberthal, the catcher and Genovese signee who finished his career in 2007 with the Dodgers.

The speakers Saturday included former GM Dan Evans, Garry Matthews, Lieberthal and Dan Taylor, who co-wrote Genovese's memoir, "A Scout's Report: My 70 Years in Baseball." 

"When scouts are eventually [able to be] elected to the Hall of Fame, he should be the first one in," said Evans, although it should be noted that scouts have no avenue right now to being enshrined in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Evans hired Genovese for the Dodgers after the latter's more than 30-year tenure with the Giants ended. Among the Giants Genovese was responsible for signing were Bobby Bonds, Matthews, Dave Kingman, Chili Davis, Jack Clark and Matt Williams. There were a few games in the 1970s in which seven of the nine players on the field for San Francisco were Genovese signees. 

Saturday's memorial was attended by hundreds, including fellow scouts, other players who Genovese helped get to the Major Leagues, his daughter, two granddaughters and Giants GM Bobby Evans. Dodger Stadium provided a multicolored backdrop through glass panels behind the podium from which many spoke with love and affection about their friend and mentor. 

Genovese was a shortstop, Minor League manager and scout, whose professional career began in 1940 and ended 75 years later with his death.

He was spoken of glowingly as a man who cared about the kids he scouted as people, not simply players. He was a fixture around the ball fields of Los Angeles and Orange Counties, running youth-league teams and watching high school games. He signed 250 players, getting to know their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.

Lieberthal said he was only 13 years old when his father insisted he introduce himself to Genovese after a youth-league game. It was the beginning of a life-long friendship. Lieberthal was a slight second baseman with little foot speed who Genovese turned into a catcher.

Because of that, Lieberthal enjoyed a 14-year Major League career, the first 13 of them with the Phillies.

Lieberthal said his father was tough on him, often yelling at him from the stands at games.

"George was a special man. He was like a grandfather to me," Lieberthal said. "George was almost like my protector. He would protect me from my dad, who'd be yelling at me all the time when I was on the field. George would just say, 'Hey, leave him alone. He's going to be all right.'"

Genovese was the kind of guy who never left a game until the last pitch was thrown. You never know, he often said, you might miss something. He uncovered a number of jewels when other scouts left in the final innings. 

He continued to work for the Dodgers and attended their games until the very end. His last game at Dodger Stadium was Game 5 of the National League Division Series this past Oct. 9, a 3-2 loss to the Mets that ended the Dodgers' season.

Genovese wasn't so disappointed about the loss. Rather, he mourned the end of another season.

"And just like that, there's no baseball," he said as he walked out of the stadium.

Despite revamping their scouting and player-development departments, the Dodgers still renewed Genovese's contract, sending it to him in early November. He signed it on Nov. 8, a week before he passed.