Baseball lost a legend Saturday in longtime scout and front office advisor Gary Hughes, as big a figure as any player during his 54 years in the game.
Hughes, who spent 10 years as a special assistant and senior executive for the Cubs under general manager Jim Hendry, was as respected and beloved throughout the game for his generosity of spirit as for an eye for baseball talent that helped build contenders as a scouting director in Montreal and Miami before joining the Cubs in 2002.
“He was a great man,” said Hendry, who got his start in the major leagues when Hughes hired him into the Marlins scouting department out of the college coaching ranks. “He helped the game and scouting profession in so many ways. A great baseball man and even better human being.”
The Cubs paid tribute to Hughes on the left-field video board early during Saturday night’s game against the Twins. He died after a months-long battle with cancer. He was 79.
“Heaven took another great man back home,” former Cubs manager Dusty Baker told Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Hughes, voted one of baseball’s top 10 scouts of the 20th century by Baseball America, was a special assistant to Dave Dombrowski in Boston after leaving the Cubs, reuniting with his former Marlins GM, and most recently was a special assistant in the Diamondbacks front office.
One of the founders of the Professional Baseball Scouting Foundation to assist scouts who have lost jobs and their families, Hughes was part of five World Series champions during a career that also included scouting for the Giants, Mets, Mariners and Yankees, and assistant GM jobs with the Rockies and Reds.
His son Sam is one of the most respected names in scouting circles today, now with the Yankees after a run with the Cubs’ scouting department that spanned three front office regimes and included a decade as the Cubs' national cross-checker until the Yankees hired him after last season.
Another son, Rock Hughes, is the visiting clubhouse manager for the Marlins, one of that franchise’s first employees.