Padres' Towers appreciates scouting staff

San Diego Padres' general manager Kevin Towers began his trek up the chain as a scout. It is safe to say he has an affinity for those who spend most of their time on the road doing the dirty work and not receiving much credit.

Towers entered his post-playing career as an area scout for the Padres in Texas and Louisiana from 1989-1991.

"Probably some of my favorite years in the early 90's" Towers said. "I had a company car and lived in a small, small apartment. I spent all my time on the road. I learned more about the game in those two or three years than I did as a player and as a general manager."

During the summers of 1989 and 1990, he also served as pitching coach for the organization's short-season Single-A affiliate in Spokane. The club won Northwest League championships in both seasons, the first with Bruce Bochy as manager.

After two years with the Pirates—first as a regional cross-checker, then as a national cross-checker—Towers returned to the Padres as Director of Scouting in August 1993.

A native of Medford, Oregon, Towers originally joined the Padre organization when he was selected in the first round of the 1982 First-Year Player Draft after earning All-Western Athletic Conference honors as a right-handed pitcher for Brigham Young University.

Being so highly regarded, Towers knows a thing or two about quality scouts.

"You need those people that are down at the grass roots, finding these players, watching these players in high school, watching them in college," Towers explained. "It is sad to know some of these players go into the Hall of Fame and you never hear about (the scouts) who gave them their first opportunity."

A Texas League All-Star in 1984, he pitched seven seasons in San Diego's farm system before a series of arm operations ended his playing career at Triple-A, where at Las Vegas in 1988, his catcher was current Padres' skipper, Bruce Bochy.

Two years after being named Director of Scouting, on November 17, 1995, he was signed by the Padres as their general manager.

Now he relies on his scouts to direct him through the process of drafting players and looking for talent. As an example, one scout found Travis Chick last year, arguably the best arm in the Padres' system, and Towers traded Ismael Valdez for him.

"You are only as good as the people underneath you. I certainly wouldn't be having this job right now if it wasn't for some of those guys who helped me make very tough decisions. They are a very strong support staff that I value greatly.

"Without scouts you don't have baseball players. People forget that they spend endless hours away from their homes and families looking for that diamond in the rough in far away places. Without those guys we don't have the game we have today.

"Scouts will always be around. There are organizations that are going away from the old school type of scouting. Scouts will always survive in this game."

And that is why Towers and many others in the baseball and entertainment industry met in Beverly Hills to benefit the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation, which provides support to professional baseball scouts who have fallen on hard times due to job loss, illness and other financial hardships.

The guest list included former players Bret Saberhagen, Tommy Davis, Don Newcombe, Reggie Jackson and Maury Wills along with managers and executives Bill Stoneman, Bill Bavasi, Bobby Cox and Towers. Barry Zito and his girlfriend, Alyssa Milano, also were on hand, as was Curt Schilling.

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