BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- The Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation annual awards dinner and fundraiser aids scouts in need, but Saturday night’s edition also served as a reminder that baseball needs scouts, even if the traditional talent evaluator’s role has been disrupted by analytics.
“You guys mean so much to baseball,” Jeff Bagwell said as he accepted the "A Scout’s Dream" Award. “In a world we live in, we talk about spin rates, we talk about launch angle, we talk about exit velocity, we talk about 'I don’t care, I want hits.' But I will say this, because of you guys, the scouts, even though we have all those things, I have never seen a computer know somebody’s heart.”
Bagwell, introduced by former teammate Brad Ausmus, was one of numerous Hall of Famers participating in the event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, the 17th annual gala for the organization founded by Chicago White Sox executive and former player agent Dennis Gilbert.
Hall of Famer Jim Thome presented the Legends in Scouting Awards to Grady Fuson of Oakland, RJ Harrison of Tampa Bay, Brad Sloan of Boston, Marti Wolever of Miami and Jerry Walker, who retired from Cincinnati in 2016.
The George Genovese Lifetime Achievement Award in Scouting went to Bill “Chief” Gayton of the D-backs and Charley Kerfeld of the Phillies.
Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig, also a Hall of Famer, presented the Executive Leadership Award named after him to Phillies president Andy MacPhail, a third-generation baseball executive whose father, Lee, and grandfather, Larry, are the only father/son Hall of Famers.
Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda’s Managerial Achievement Award was presented by Oakland A’s general manager David Forst to his manager, Bob Melvin.
“As a kid, I was in awe of Tommy,” said Forst, who grew up a Dodgers fan. “He was larger than life, beloved by his players and fans, he was what a Major League manager was supposed to be. After nine seasons working along tonight’s recipient of this award, I can confidently say Bob Melvin also is what a manager is supposed to be.”
Hall of Famer Don Sutton received the Player Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Chicago White Sox All-Star and Los Angeles resident Lucas Giolito and accepted by Sutton’s longtime Dodgers teammate, Tommy John.
“I had his surgery,” Giolito said of John, “and I highly recommend it.”
Award-winning journalist Peter Gammons, also honored by the Hall of Fame in 2005, received the In the Spirit of the Game Award, presented by longtime television host Larry King.
“He didn’t interview. He connected,” King said of Gammons. “He learned how players thought and was able to share with us their exploits on the field.”
Nancy Davis, whose Race to Erase MS foundation has raised $47 million to fight multiple sclerosis, received the Humanitarian Award named after Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, who made the presentation.