Jose Alou remembers it like it was yesterday.
It was the beginning of the 1986 season, and he and his Florida Gators squad were at the University of Kentucky for an early Southeastern Conference battle. It was so cold, the native of the Dominican Republic was questioning his college decision, and being on the bench to start the game wasn’t helping matters. With his team down by two in the final frame, the bases full and the game on the line, Alou’s coach sent him to the plate.
“I was freezing,” Alou said. “I was thinking, ‘Mind over matter, see the ball, hit the ball.’ I might have worked the count to 3-2, and I was fouling off a lot of pitches, so maybe my hands were coming to life. I guess the guy didn’t want to walk me with the bases loaded, so he threw me a pretty good fastball right down the middle. I hit it out of the park for a grand slam. We ended up winning the game and the series. It was awesome.”
It was a moment like the ones Alou had envisioned when he and his little brother Moises were throwing an old rolled-up sock that had been taped together to each other, batting with a broomstick. There was no high school baseball for them to play in the Dominican Republic, and even when they joined Manny Mota’s league as teenagers, there were no practices. If it rained for a couple Saturdays in a row, they wouldn’t take the field for weeks.
But growing up with a dad (Felipe) and two uncles (Jesus and Matty) who had made an impact in the Majors, it was impossible to dream any other dream.
“When you’re born into the game, that’s where you want to be, that’s what you strive to be,” Alou said. “I wanted to be like my dad one day.”
After his time with the Gators, Alou joined the Montreal Expos organization and played under his father, who was managing in the Minors. Felipe Alou, who had a 17-year big league career, would later spend 14 seasons as a Major League manager.
Jose, hindered by injuries, stepped away from baseball after three Minor League seasons, but he wasn’t gone for long.
“I missed it all the time,” he said. “We grew up in the game. Baseball runs through the blood. That’s a cliché, but everybody pretty much in my family, most of the kids, are involved in baseball in one way or another.”
The next MLB Draft will be Jose's eighth as an area scout with San Francisco, the same organization for which his father and uncles got their start. His brother Moises also spent two of his 17 seasons playing for the Giants.
In his current role, Jose scouts for talent in southern Florida and assists with scouting in Latin America.
“We’ve been part of the Giants family, my family, for a long time,” he said. “The Giants and the game of baseball have been really good to our family, so I’m grateful for that and for the opportunity that I have now to represent them out in the baseball world.
“[I have] tough shoes to fill with the things that my dad accomplished, along with my two uncles, my brother, and now my brother Luis [Rojas] is a Major League manager [with the Mets]. My other brother Felipe is director of the academy in the Dominican for the Orioles. There are a lot of Alous in the game still, and we’ve got to keep passing the baton to the next generation.”
The scouting side of the game is one that Jose shares with a next-generation Alou, his nephew Moises Jr., who works in international scouting for the Dodgers in the Dominican Republic. After growing up in Santo Domingo, Moises Jr. left to train at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., when he was 17.
“I always wanted to go to college in the States; it was one of my dreams,” Moises Jr. said. “I wanted to be a college athlete. I think a lot of it had to do with knowing my dad went to college and was a second-overall pick [by the Pirates in 1986], so I wanted to see if I could one-up him and go first. But I wasn’t really in love with playing baseball. I wanted to play soccer.”
Though he ventured off to Florida with soccer in his sights, Moises Jr., after a six-year hiatus from baseball, returned to the diamond as an outfielder for his senior year of high school. He continued his baseball journey at San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College, then at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tenn. After enduring two labrum tears, continuing to play was out of the question. But even after graduating from Lynn University in Florida with a degree in sports management, he couldn’t escape a magnetic pull to the game.
“I grew up around baseball my whole life,” Moises Jr. said. “Until my dad stopped playing, I spent almost all my summers in a clubhouse, whenever I could. Before games, after games, I would bat boy, hang out with the guys, I would shag fly balls. I’ve always been around baseball. I didn’t know any different.”
So he wanted to give it a shot. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to work in a front office or scout, or even what his options were, but he knew he needed to better understand player evaluation. He spent a season doing a video internship with the Padres, and after graduation joined the Red Sox as an intern in baseball operations. He returned to Boston for a season in amateur scouting and attended the same scouting school hosted by MLB’s Scouting Bureau that his uncle completed years earlier. Two years ago he joined the Dodgers.
“It’s given me a pretty good background, a solid mix of different roles that happened organically,” Moises Jr. said. “I wasn’t pushing for anything specific, but I knew at the end of the day, I was going to have to be able to evaluate, and it all worked out.”
With Moises Jr. and Jose Alou now invested in scouting careers, the family’s reach across baseball has only widened. And there’s no telling which future Alou may be next to join them.
“It’s a dream job if you want to be in baseball,” Jose said. “I love every second that I’m on the field or I’m doing something related to baseball. But the unsung heroes are your scouting community in baseball. We go out every day and we’re like the post office -- rain, shine, we’re out there watching batting practice somewhere, writing down notes and taking video.”