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Scouts awards dinner salutes game's 'lifeblood'

MLB.com @kengurnick

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- A glittering array of the game's elite saluted baseball's unsung heroes Saturday night at the 16th annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation Awards Dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The PBSF, launched by Chicago White Sox executive and former player agent Dennis Gilbert, was established to help baseball scouts who have fallen on hard times due to job loss, illness, retirement or other setbacks. It relies solely on donations, contributions and the success of the annual awards dinner and memorabilia auction.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- A glittering array of the game's elite saluted baseball's unsung heroes Saturday night at the 16th annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation Awards Dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The PBSF, launched by Chicago White Sox executive and former player agent Dennis Gilbert, was established to help baseball scouts who have fallen on hard times due to job loss, illness, retirement or other setbacks. It relies solely on donations, contributions and the success of the annual awards dinner and memorabilia auction.

"There's no event anywhere during the year that attracts more baseball people than this one," said Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa. "The Foundation does great work for the scouts, who are the lifeblood of our game."

The night was dedicated to the memory of former general manager and scout Kevin Towers, who died of cancer two weeks after last year's Scouts Dinner. He was eulogized by Emmy-winning actor and close friend Mark Harmon.

"I was very aware of the high value K.T. placed on the art of scouting and his true affection for the people who practiced it," said Harmon, a former UCLA quarterback and son of Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon. "I thank all of you for honoring my friend by dedicating this night in his honor."

National League MVP Award winner Christian Yelich presented the Legends in Scouting Awards to John Barr of the Giants; Ken Compton of the Twins; Jim Hendry of the Yankees; Bill Schmidt of the Rockies; Logan White of the Padres; and Tim Wilken of the D-backs.

The George Genovese Lifetime Achievement Awards went to Gary Hughes of the Red Sox (presented by Hughes' son, Sam, a scout for the Cubs) and to Damon Oppenheimer of the Yankees, presented by their general manager, Brian Cashman.

"If I can suggest one thing to people in this room in positions of authority, please answer your mail, your messages, your texts," said Hughes. "It's a common courtesy."

"The reason I've held this position for 22 years," said Cashman, "is because I've got great scouts, the God's honest truth. Damon's been our scouting director since 2005. He survived George Steinbrenner. And he learned from one of the all-time greats, his mom, Priscilla, who worked for 30 years with the San Diego Padres."

Hall of Famers Jim Thome and Frank Thomas received the Player Lifetime Achievement and A Scout's Dream awards, respectively, presented by White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and scouting executive Al Goldis.

"Scouts don't get the attention they should, probably because they are too busy laying low and flying under the radar," Thome said in a video message. "They're good at making themselves invisible, but make no mistake, they are the unsung heroes of our game. That is why this award means so much to me."

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner presented the Pioneer Award to Dodgers Hall of Fame Spanish-language broadcaster Jaime Jarrin, who is entering his 61st year in the booth.

"When you get an award with the word pioneer in it, it means you've been around for a long time," said Jarrin.

Arizona manager Torey Lovullo received the Tommy Lasorda Managerial Achievement Award, presented by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. Tommy John and Jamie Moyer shared the Iron Man Award, presented by Hall of Fame executive Pat Gillick.

"I have over 300 wins, because I won a lot of ballgames in fantasy camps," said John, who finished with 288 wins in 26 seasons.

Moyer, who played 25 seasons, thanked John for paving the way for 40-something pitchers and cautioned game leaders from relying so much on technology.

"It takes something away from the game," said Moyer. "When I was a rookie, the game was all about feel. Now it's all about power. Power has very little to do with feel. One of the last bastions of feel is in this room tonight. You scouts still have the feel when someone or something is right and you don't ned 52 spreadsheets to tell you so."

Paul Beeston received the Bud Selig Executive Leadership Award from the Hall of Fame Commissioner Emeritus. Local philanthropist Mickey Segal received the Dave Winfield Humanitarian Award.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.