Scouts dinner an event like none other in baseball

Scouts dinner an event like none other in baseball

Published Jan. 14, 2012 1:34 p.m. ET

CENTURY CITY, CA --Baseball's biggest event of the off-season takes place Saturday night at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel, as the 9th Annual "In The Spirit of the Game" dinner takes center stage.

The idea for the combination awards ceremony and dinner was conceived a decade ago by Dennis Gilbert, the former super-agent and now Special Assistant to Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Gilbert has also been mentioned as a possible bidder for the Dodgers franchise when the sale process commences.

A former minor league player, Gilbert's passion for baseball and philanthropy merged when he was looking for a way to help major league scouts who were either released from their jobs or had health issues that forced them into retirement. He decided on the dinner/awards show and has raised well over a million dollars to benefit the qualifying members of the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation, an organization he founded along with long-time baseball executive Roland Hemond and scouts Dave Yoakum (White Sox) and Harry Minor (Mets).

"Scouts are many of the most important people in baseball," Gilbert said, "because players don't get signed if they're not seen. Some scouts go to two or three games a day looking for talent, yet sometimes people forget about their importance.

"That's why we started this dinner—to make sure scouts who are out of work are taken care of. We help with insurance payments, and if the scout passes away we help their family with their bills. We've seen remarkable growth every year. We're sold out again this year, and MLB-TV will be broadcasting the show. It has become the off-season event that everyone in baseball wants to attend, and it's for a great cause as well."

For those not familiar with Gilbert, this kind of caring is typical.

He has donated millions of dollars of his own money to various causes, including over a million dollars to build a sparkling new baseball facility at Los Angeles Southwest College, near the city of Gardena where Gilbert grew up. Baseball people know that if they have a charity event going on, they can count on Dennis not only to help out, but to jump on a plane and attend the function. He's also a managing partner in the Gilbert-Krupin Life Insurance and Estate Planning company, which lists many of the movers and shakers of the business and entertainments worlds as long-time clients.

Gilbert—who you can see sitting behind home plate at every Dodger game--is such a well-respected figure in baseball that Comissioner Bud Selig is a regular attendee of the fundraiser. As is Reinsdorf, most team owners and many of the current Angel and Dodger players along with management personnel. And of course, the hundreds of scouts who participate.

"If you know Dennis, you're not surprised he's created such a worthwhile event," said Minor, who recently retired from full-time scouting. "He such a great guy and he really cares about people. And believe me, the scouts and their families who have benefitted from this are forever grateful."

The list of honorees is a baseball fan's dream, with Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Frank Robinson and Al Rosen receiving awards. Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland will receive the Tommy Lasorda award, presented by Lasorda, and Dr. Frank Jobe will be recognized for his medical innovation in coming up with the Tommy John surgery, which has undoubtedly saved the careers of hundred of players. And in what is sure to be a touching moment, John will be on hand to present Jobe.

Scouts Don Pries, Bill Livesay, Moose Stubing, Jack Bloomfield, Joe McDonald, Gib Bodet, Carl Lowenstine and Bill Clark will also receive special awards for their dedication to the game of baseball. And the awards presenters include the Dodgers' Matt Kemp, Selig, Larry King and actors Joe Montegna, Rob Reiner and Bo Derek.

Of course, Gilbert has been mentioned prominently as a potential Dodger owner. He chooses to stay in the background and let the process take place, but he did say "I know most of the other bidders, and they're good guys. I really like them.

"But I like me better."

So do all the people who benefit from Gilbert's continuing generosity.