SAN DIEGO -- For close to four decades, the Scout of the Year Foundation has shined a spotlight on the tireless and under-appreciated efforts of scouts around the country. On Wednesday, the 38th Scouts of the Year Reception will take place with a new award added to the usual four.
As always, awards will be given for East, Midwest, West and International Scouts of the Year. And for the first time, there will also be the Roberta Mazur Distinguished Woman in Baseball Award. To be awarded annually going forward, the first edition of this award will be presented to the woman it is named for, Roberta Mazur, whose efforts in running and growing the Scouts of the Year Foundation cannot be overstated.
“It’s absolutely wonderful,” Mazur said. “I was very honored and pleased when the board of directors said they wanted to honor me. They surprised me.”
Mazur has spent a career in baseball and has helped build the Scouts of the Year Foundation into a formidable organization that helps make sure the game continues to recognize the scouts who continually find the next generation of stars.
“I’ve always wanted to do this program and make it better year after year,” Mazur said. "My love for the scouts, the profession and the game is why.”
Here’s more information on the other award recipients: Jack Bowen, Pirates (East); Steve Williams, Pirates (Midwest); Eric Kubota, A’s (West); Marco Paddy, White Sox (International). Additionally, Jesse Flores (retired) will be on hand to accept his 2021 West Coast Scout of the Year Award after not being able to attend the Foundation’s reception last January.
Jack Bowen (East)
Bowen, 63, officially began his scouting career in 1985 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he’s finishing up his scouting career back with the team he grew up around, now as a national crosschecker. He’s credited with signing Troy Brohawn, Tommy Gregg, Tommy Shields and Randy Tomlin while assisting in countless others in a variety of roles with the Pirates, Reds, Giants and Mets. It’s a family business, as his grandfather was the Pirates’ scouting director who signed Bill Mazeroski, among others, and his uncle Joe spent time in the same job with the Reds. So Bowen is the third in the family to have been a scouting director, and he remembers seeing his grandfather be honored with a Scout of the Year Award back in 1988 and can’t believe it’s his time now.
“Absolutely not,” Bowen said. “I was an area scout for the Pirates when my grandfather won the award in 1988 and thought how cool it was to see my grandfather win the award. He probably gave the shortest speech ever at the event.
“He walked up, said thank you and sat down next to me. I said, ‘Pop, that’s all you got?' He said, ‘That’s it.’ Should I do the same thing to honor him? It’s rolling around in my head.”
Steve Williams, Pirates (Midwest)
Williams, now the Pirates’ senior director of player personnel, began his scouting career as an area scout with the Twins back in 1988. Since then, he's served as an area scout with the Blue Jays, a regional crosschecker with the Tigers, an assistant scouting director with the Royals and has been working on the pro scouting side with the Pirates since Nov. 2009. He’s credited with signing Orlando Hudson, Mike Trombley and others and currently serves as the president of the Buck O’Neil Professional Baseball Scouts and Coaches Association. He turns 59 on Wednesday, the day of the reception.
“If you had told me in 1988, when I was an area scout, that I’d ever have a title above area scout, I didn’t see that,” Williams said. “I was happy to be in the game and not to have to work in an office setting every day. I was a baby when I started. Now I get to stand up there and be a veteran. No, I didn’t have any of that.
“I had people see things in me I didn’t see in myself. For me to be in the game this long, it took a lot of people who had a lot of faith and trust in me, in all the organizations I’ve been with. I didn’t even know what to say when Roberta called. Normally, I can talk. When you see your peers honor you this way, that leads me to believe I’m doing something right and leaving an impression on people. I’ve had a lot of mentors to a lot of people in my career and I’ve tried to do the same.”
Eric Kubota, A’s (West)
Listen to Kubota’s appearance on the Pipeline Podcast
Kubota, 58, didn’t have a traditional path to being the A’s scouting director, a role he’s held since Nov. 2001, making him the longest-tenured scouting director in the game. He started out with the A’s back in 1984, in media relations, before moving over to scouting in 1990. He’s served as assistant scouting director, Pacific Rim coordinator and international scouting supervisor before taking over the amateur scouting department over 20 years ago, overseeing Drafts that have brought scores of players to the big leagues like Nick Swisher, Andre Ethier, Huston Street, Matt Olson and Matt Chapman.
“I’m extremely honored,” Kubota said. “This is an award that all of my scouting heroes have gotten before me. It’s kind of humbling to join that list. I’m grateful and excited.
“Baseball has changed a lot since [I started]. The Oakland A’s were literally a mom-and-pop organization at that point. We had maybe 30 front office employees? There was one computer in the whole office. The opportunity for me was unbelievable. I was exposed to Bogey, Dick Bogard, it was like kismet. He needed someone to be his person in the office, and I happened to be there. It was the most fortunate meeting of two people, for me, that could have ever happened. It’s not an overstatement to say Dick Bogard is completely responsible for me being able to have a career in this game.”
Marco Paddy, White Sox (International)
Paddy’s scouting career started as an area scout with the Braves, the team that had drafted him as a player in 1988. It was the legendary Ralph Garr Sr. who both recommended him to be drafted and then to be signed on as a scout, and Paddy, 58, was able to learn from and work with baseball lifers like John Schuerholz, Stan Kasten, Dayton Moore, Chuck LaMar and Roy Clark. He’s worked on the domestic amateur side, in player development and internationally, running Latin American operations for the Braves and Blue Jays before serving as a special assistant overseeing international operations for the White Sox. Along the way, he’s helped sign stars like Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz with the Braves, Adeiny Hechavarria and Roberto Osuna with the Blue Jays and José Abreu, Luis Robert and Fernando Tatis Jr. with the White Sox.
“In all honesty, for me, it’s been more about opportunities, from the very first opportunity I got from the Atlanta Braves," he said. "I’m the result of opportunities and taking advantage of those opportunities, making sure that my work is the best possible work I can do, protecting my reputation but also the reputations of those who gave me those opportunities.”
Jesse Flores (West, 2021)
Flores, 66, pitched four seasons in the Blue Jays system and then coached at Sacramento (Calif.) CC and Sacramento State (his alma mater) before getting into scouting. He worked as an area scout for the Angels (1985-89) and Pirates (1990-92), a West Coast crosschecker for the Indians (1993-2001) and Pirates (2008-21) and also as a special assistant in Pittsburgh (2001-08). As a crosschecker, he signed six future big leaguers -- most notably future Phillies GM Ruben Amaro -- and was involved with Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow, CC Sabathia and Richie Sexson.
"If you get lucky enough to be around good people, you can learn a lot by listening," Flores said. "This is very overwhelming, because this is the highest honor you can get as a scout. To get selected by your peers, there is no greater honor."