Hugh Alexander, 83, a Scout For the Next Stars of Baseball
Hugh Alexander, who became a baseball scout at age 20 and went
on to sign
Baseball scout in 8 decades dies
By GREG AUMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 29, 2000
In 1937, back when professional baseball players needed off-season jobs, Hugh Alexander was working on an oil rig in his native Oklahoma when his left hand was severed in an accident.
The injury cut short a promising career that had allowed the 20-year-old just 11 at-bats with the Cleveland Indians. At the same time, it opened the door to another career.
Alexander spent the next 62 years as a major-league scout, and his longevity was matched only by his love of the sport. He was 83 when he died in Oklahoma City on Saturday morning after a relapse of cancer.
"He loved baseball," his sister, Edith Porter, said from Oklahoma City on Tuesday. "It was his life. It was all he ever knew."
Alexander lived in Hernando County from 1994 until May, when his sister convinced him to move back to Oklahoma City. He moved into the house across the street from her.
"He would call me every week (from Florida), but he wasn't eating right and was falling in the house, so I insisted," Porter said.
"I told him I would meet him at the airport, and I'm glad he could be with his family," she said. "We've gone here and there, everywhere together this year."
Two months before he left Florida, he scouted a spring training game at Clearwater's Jack Russell Stadium for the Chicago Cubs, meaning he put in time as a scout in eight decades.
"Hugh was one of the last living legends in the scouting profession," said former Cubs general manager Ed Lynch, now a scout for the team.
"I don't think anybody will ever again be able to say they'd scouted in eight decades. This is a great loss for baseball."
Alexander, known as "Uncle Hughie" to friends, roomed with Hall of Famer Bob Feller as a rookie, and the two remained friends long after Alexander left the Indians 14 years later.
"He didn't have an enemy in the world," Feller said Tuesday. "He must have loved scouting, because he did it for so long, and he was highly thought of all over the baseball world."
After working for Cleveland, Alexander had five seasons with the White Sox, 15 with the Dodgers, 16 with the Phillies and 13 with the Cubs. In 1987, the Cubs celebrated his 50th year of scouting with a day in his name at Wrigley Field, giving him a special ring bearing the logos of all five teams. Alexander willed the ring to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and following his wishes, he was cremated Sunday.
A memorial service will be held in Oklahoma on Dec. 7, the day before baseball's owners convene in Dallas for their annual winter meetings.
Texas and Oklahoma were Alexander's first scouting territory, and friends said he was on a first-name basis with Texas Gov. George W. Bush when he owned the Texas Rangers. The day before Alexander died, a plaque arrived at his sister's house, honoring his induction into the Texas Scouts Hall of Fame.
"Uncle Hughie was one of the most memorable and unique men I have ever known in baseball, or for that matter, the whole world," Phillies chairman Bill Giles said in a statement.
"He was one of the great examples of what makes baseball people so special, and that is the interesting people that work in the game. His storytelling was legendary. His judge of baseball talent was exceptional. His courage was remarkable. He should get a lot of credit for the Phillies' success on the field from 1976 to 1983."
Alexander moved to Hernando County from Palm Harbor, buying a ranch outside of Brooksville where he lived until he moved to Spring Hill in 1999.
Spring Hill's Mike Maurer, who lived with Alexander and helped out on the ranch for four years, said he had bought the property because his wife always had said she liked it whenever they passed it in their travels. She died before they could move in.
He lived alone in the Spring Hill home, and when news spread that his health was failing, former Phillies manager Dallas Green, a longtime friend of Alexander's, offered to let him move to his Pennsylvania home. He chose instead to return to his home state and his family.
"He always liked Florida because he preferred the climate there to Oklahoma's," his sister said. "He didn't want to leave, but I was glad he could be here with his family at the end."