LOS ANGELES — Mike Brito, the legendary Los Angeles Dodgers international scout who discovered Fernando Valenzuela and Julio Urias, among many others, died Thursday afternoon, the team announced. He was 87 years old.
Brito — a distinctive presence with his Panama hat, thick mustache, dark sunglasses, long cigar and bulky radar gun — has spent the past 44 years in the employ of the Dodgers, helping bring in star players who have resonated over several generations.
“I learned a lot from him talking about the players and seeing the game,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It didn’t matter where on the map there was a baseball game – if there was a potential prospect, Mike was going to be there and put his eyes on it.”
In total, Brito signed more than 30 players who played in the major leagues, including Urias, Yasiel Puig, Ismael Valdez, Antonio Osuna, Juan Castro, Dennys Reyes and, most notably, Valenzuela, who captivated the region as a Mexican. -born pitcher who won a Cy Young Award and led the Dodgers to the championship in 1981.
“My heart is very heavy today,” Valenzuela said in a statement. “Mike was a great man and contributed to my success as a baseball player on and off the field. No one loved the Dodger organization more than Mike, and we will all miss him dearly.”
“I have no words. You changed my life Mike Brito. You and your white hat sir. #legend #RIP,” Puig wrote in a tweet Thursday evening.
Brito is survived by his wife, Rosario, two daughters, Diana and Minerva, and four granddaughters. Funeral services are on hold, the Dodgers said.
Born in Cuba, Brito played in the Washington Senators minor league system and later played professionally in Mexico in the 1960s. He moved to Los Angeles in 1968, bonded with the Dodgers as a scout the Mexican League and was hired full-time by then-general manager Al Campanis in 1978, the start of a run that spanned six decades.
Brito was elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005 and was named International Scout of the Year at the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings in 2014. The publication Baseball America honored his contributions with a life in sport by presenting him with his Tony Gwynn Award last year. .