Founded back in 1984 by a trio of veteran scouts – Tony Pacheco, Jim Russo and Hugh “Uncle Hughie” Alexander – the Scout of the Year award is presented every year at the Winter Meetings to a trio (or, on occasion, quartet) of evaluators who have been chosen in a vote of their peers for their dedication and professionalism to the craft of scouting over their careers.
The Scout of the Year award was created, more specifically, “to bring positive recognition to the profession of scouting, to honor scouts who have devoted time and energy, and have shown professionalism in the field, to bring attention to the importance of quality scouting in the development of a successful baseball organization, and to respectfully recognize and admit scouts in the Hall of Fame.”
Each year, scouting directors from all 30 major league clubs submit nominations for the award. The criteria for nomination is simple: any active scouting personnel who have accumulated 25 years or more experience in a full-time scouting capacity is eligible.
The number of deserving candidates each year is impressive. Nominees often include area scouts, scouting supervisors, advance scouts, special assistants to general managers, and other positions.
The event is one that is always an annual highlight for those in scouting and player development, and special notice was given before the acceptance speeches to the tireless and terrific Roberta Mazur, the executive director of the Scout of the Year award and an individual who is as deserving of an award as anyone for the devotion and dedication she exerts year-round in putting the event together, and making sure that scouting professionals get the props they are so deserving of.
Here are this years winners:
Bove was introduced by Toronto’s general manager Ross Atkins, who lauded him for his personality, work ethic and commitment.
After thanking Mazur, whom he referred to accurately as a “guardian angel for scouts,” and his family, especially his wife Sandy and his Blue Jays family, Bove thanked the unsung hero in his life, his mother Helen, who raised three kids as a single mom and encouraged him to chase his dream. He gave plaudits to former coworkers and colleagues such as Omar Minaya, Dana Brown and Alex Anthopoulos, the latter being the former general manager in Toronto who is now in a similar position with the Atlanta Braves. He credited the player sign he calls his “favorite player ever,” Ian Desmond (LF, Rockies).
He reminded everyone in the room that what unites everyone who was there is “love for the game…baseball unites us all” and also gave a shout-out to anyone in the room who might be in a position to make a hire for their front office or scouting staff: “Think about hiring some of these scouts.”
A native New Yorker who played his high school baseball at Christ the King High School in Queens, earning All-Queens honors in 1968 as he won his school’s Most Valuable Baseball Player award that spring, Bove moved on to play his college ball not far from home, starring at St. John’s University, where he won MVP honors in 1971 and was a team co-captain in 1972.
Bove joined the scouting world in 1983 when he became an area scout for the Major League Scouting Bureau, which operated under the eye of the Commissioner’s Office to provide service to every MLB club. He remained with the Buraeu until 1992 before moving on to join the Milwaukee Brewers as a major league scout, moving up to East Coast Supervisor and then Southeastern Supervisor.
He remained with the Brewers until 2003, spending a year with the Montreal Expos in 2004 before joining the New York Mets in 2005, first as director of amateur scouting and then as a major league scout.
In 2011, Bove moved on to the Blue Jays, where he’s flourished as a special assignment scout.
The list of players that Bove has brought into his respective clubs’ fold is as impressive as it is long, helping to explain why he has won Topps Scout of the Month honors no less than nine times. It includes such names as Desmond, Steve Woodard (RHP, four teams, 1997-2003), Ben Sheets (RHP, three teams, 2001-2012), Mike Pelfrey (RHP, White Sox), Jonathon Niese (LHP, Mets, Pirates, 2008-2016), and Bill Hall (3B, multiple teams, 2002-2012).
While many scouts have been with many organizations over the year, Thomas’ introduction was brief because he has spent his entire professional life, as player and scout, with the Giants.
“This is so cool,” marveled Thomas. “Ever since I started scouting, I thought Scout of the Year was so cool.”
He acknowledged that while he was accepting what was treated as an individual award, in fact it was truly a team effort. He recognized the loyalty of the Giants staff (“I know I’m a dinosaur,” he joked) and then emphasized that scouting is “all about relationships” – with parents, with kids, and with other scouts. He thanked those in the Giants’ system who first drafted him as a player for believing in him and giving him a chance, but also admitting that “I became a scout pretty quickly”.
After honing his skills in the great Northwest as a three-time all-conference star in baseball and basketball in Redmond, Oregon, and then moving on to earn All-Pac 10 Conference honors twice while at Oregon State University, Thomas was selected by the Giants in the 31st round of the 1983 MLB draft.
A utility player in the Giants’ farm system for five years, he then spent the next three decades as a scout, covering the country and to find players such as Mike Myers (LHP, multiple teams, 1995-2007), Bill Mueller (2B/3B, multiple teams, 1995-2006), Juan Perez (LF, Giants, 2013-2015), Brandon Belt (1B, Giants, 2011-present), Kyle Crick (RHP, Giants, 2017-present) and Kelby Tomlinson (2B, Giants, 2015-present), just to name but a few.
Over the years he has won an array of scouting honors and awards, including being inducted into the Midwest Scouts Association Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Texas Scouts Hall of Fame in 2012.
Fuson, has been with Oakland A’s for 27 of his 36 years in professional baseball. “Say what you want about the As,” he joked, “we’re loyal.”
Fuson became just the second Oakland scout to be honored with a Scout of the Year award n the 34-year history of the event, following in the footsteps of the late Dick Bogard, who won the award in 2001.
Fuson was busy on the “honors and accolades” front at this year’s Winter Meetings as he not only was honored as West Coast Scout of the Year but was also the recipient of the 10th annual
Sheldon “Chief” Bender Award. Named in memory of one of baseball’s great scouts, the award is given annually for distinguished service in the area of player development.
Fuson began his work in baseball in 1980 as an assistant coach at the University of Puget Sound, his alma mater, and became their head coach in 1981.
He joined the Athletics in 1982 as a scout and also served as hitting coach at Idaho Falls that summer as well as in 1983. He moved up to Modesto as a hitting coach in 1984 then headed to Medford in 1985 as manager. After working as an instructor for the system in Arizona, he returned to manage Medford from 1989-1991.
As a scout, the role for which he is best known, he’s served as an area scout, a national cross-checker and the Athletics’ scouting director from 1995-2001, a period during which he contributed to the signing of such players as Scott Brosius (3B, Athletics, Yankees, 1993-2001), Darren Lewis (OF, multiple teams, 1990-2002), Scott Chiamparino (RHP, Rangers, 1990-1992), Tim Hudson (RHP, three trams, 1999-2015, Barry Zito (LHP, Athletics, Giants, 2000-2015), Bobby Crosby (SS, three teams, 2003-2010), and current defending World Series champion Astros manager A.J. Hinch.
In 2002, Fuson moved on, for the first time, to another organization when he joined the Texas Rangers as assistant general manager of scouting and player development, where he remained through 2004, and then the San Diego Padres as vice president of scouting and player development, where he served from 2005-2009. During this period, he contributed to the acquisition and development of such players as John Danks (LHP, White Sox, 2007-2016), David Freese (3B, three teams, 2009-present), Mat Latos (RHP, multiple teams, 2009-2017), and Rich Harden (RHP, three teams, 2003-2011). But he returned to Oakland in 2010, coming back “home” to serve as special assistant to the general manager under general manager Billy Beane.