Once just a set of notes scribbled on a cocktail napkin, 10 years later the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation has raised 4 million.
The organization -- founded by White Sox front office members Dennis Gilbert and Dave Yoakum, ex-Sox general manager Roland Hemond and the New York Mets Harry Minor -- has a simple goal: aide scouts in need.
The foundations mission statement is to take care of veteran scouts who have fallen on hard time because of job loss, illness, retirement or other setbacks.
Gilbert -- a former minor league player and sports agent who is a special assistant to White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf -- is set to host the organizations 10th annual dinner on Saturday night at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.
He said his reason for the countless hours spent organizing the dinner is simple: All I wanted to do was to avoid some of the tragic things that happen, Gilbert said. I was around a (scout) who got changed from full-time to part-time and lost benefits because he couldnt afford to pay Cobra. (Family members) were having a hard time just putting him in the ground. Theres stories all over. There were. There arent any more.
Yoakum, who just completed his 21st season as a Sox special assistant to the GM, remembers he was fired up for the initial discussion between himself, Hemond and White Sox GM Rick Hahn at the GM meetings in Tucson, Ariz. in 2002. With a paradigm shift in the front offices of many teams, older GMs were being fired in favor of younger regimes, which in many cases left longtime scouts out of work.
Gilbert missed the first meeting to attend the funeral of a scout but sat down with Hemond, Yoakum and Minor a month later at the winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn and devised a plan with Gilbert writing notes on a napkin.
Lets take care of the insurance for these guys and go from there, Yoakum said. Three weeks later Dennis called and said Were a charitable organization. Dennis has been just fantastic. I would hesitate to think where wed be without Dennis; he took a simplistic approach and turned it into something phenomenal.
Now scouts in need of financial assistance can apply to the organization for anything and everything.
Weve helped people from everything from funeral expenses to unpaid hospital bills to hospice to taking care of widows, Gilbert said. Heres a guy working for you for 30 years and they live month to month.
While scouts pay 85 to attend the dinner, Gilbert said the minimum seat for anyone else is 300 and some tables sell for as high as 50,000. This years event features Academy Award winning actor Harrison Ford and will honor former players Jim Palmer, Ferguson Jenkins and Don Mattingly. Dodgers announcer Vin Scully will receive an executive leadership award.
Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner will receive a humanitarian award while the Hairston family -- Jerry Sr., Jerry Jr. and Scott -- will receive the Bob Boone Family award for contributions to the sport. Minnesota Twins GM Terry Ryan and former player, scout and MLB executive Larry Doby will receive lifetime achievement awards for scouting.
Scouts Mike Arbuckle, Wayne Britton, Doug Gassaway, Larry Hines and Gary Johnson, who recently passed away, will also be honored as legends of scouting.
And then there are the silent and live auctions.
I remember our very first dinner, Yoakum said. The first item (auctioned) for 30,000. I got chills. I couldnt believe this had actually come to fruition. Its been quite a journey.