January 16, 2010

Baseball and Apple Pie

There’s a little family owned restaurant in Long Beach that my wife Cheryl and I have been going to for many years called Jongewaard’s Bake n Broil. They were established in 1965 and have been serving up delicious “home cooked” meals ever since.

So, why am I writing about a restaurant in a baseball blog? It’s kind of a long story, so bear with me.

The restaurant was founded by the Jongewaard family and Roger Jongewaard is a noted baseball scout. Roger was honored this evening by the Professional Baseball Scout’s Foundation (PBSF) at their 7th annual “In the Spirit of the Game” Dinner/Auction Event. Roger, along with Larry Barton, Jr., Marty Keough, Gary Nickels, Charlie Silvera, and George Zuraw received the “Legends in Scouting Award” – which is the PBSF’s equivalent of the Hall of Fame.

Roger has worked in major league baseball or more than forty years. In 2005 he was hired by the Florida Marlins as a professional scout. He spent nearly 20 years with the Seattle Mariners holding a variety of positions including Vice President of Scouting and Player Development from 1989-2003.

So, you might be wondering how does a Scout get into the PBSF’s version of the Hall of Fame.

Well, consider this… In 1987, Roger was responsible for convincing the then owner of the Mariners; George Argyros, to draft Ken Griffey, Jr. – when Argyros really wanted to sign a younger pitcher from Cal-State Fullerton named Mike Harkey. Roger is also responsible for the Mariners signing Alex Rodriguez in 1993 – when some thought Darren Dreifort should have been the first overall pick.

Other players signed by Roger and/or by the staff he oversaw in Seattle include Tino Martinez, Jason Varitek, Jose Cruz Jr., and Gil Meche. Jongewaard also signed current Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane when he was a scout for the New York Mets, along with another player of note; Darryl Strawberry.

Roger is no stranger to awards. He’s received many honors, including being the recipient of the Baseball America Roland Hemond Award for Lifetime Achievement in Baseball in 2004. He was also honored in 1999 by the Topps Company for his Distinguished Service to Baseball; and was inducted into the R.B.I. Hall of Fame’s Los Angeles chapter in 1996.

To top it all off, he has a great restaurant to boot.

Over the years, Cheryl and I have become regulars at Bake n Broil and have gotten to know Roger’s son-in-law Andy Child, who is married to Roger’s daughter Kristin and helps manage the restaurant. Andy is a Dodger fan and despite our interests in different teams we have enjoyed getting to know each other (Andy even comes to Angels Stadium from time to time). Anyway, Andy had mentioned to me that his father-in-law was a baseball scout; something I thought was pretty cool, even though I never gave it a lot of thought.

Well, a couple years back I was reading the book “Money Ball” (yes, even though I hate the A’s) and came across Roger’s name. He was prominently mentioned as the scout who signed Beane out of high school. All of a sudden it hit me; that this Roger Jongewaard was Andy’s father-in-law. I mean how many scouts named Jongewaard could there be? Okay, I may have been slow on the uptake, but it eventually registered with me.

When I read about some of Roger’s accomplishments, I was very impressed. Andy had never let on what a “big deal” his father-in-law was. When I mentioned to Andy that I had read about Roger in “Money Ball” – Andy said, “Yeah, that’s him.”

Earlier this year Andy told me that Roger was being inducted in the PBSF’s version of the Hall of Fame and when Cheryl and I (along with her parents) were in the restaurant this evening, Andy mentioned that Roger would be receiving his award this evening.

When I got home this evening I couldn’t wait to go online and read about the PBSF. I also did a little research on Roger as well; thus this blog entry.

By the way, if you love home cooked styled meals at a very reasonable price (who doesn’t?) and/or great breakfasts, incredible desserts (like lemon lush pie or German chocolate cake); you owe it to yourself to visit Bake n Broil. They’re located at the corner of 37th and Atlantic in Long Beach. It’s one of our favorites and we go there at least a couple times a week.

How good are the desserts? Good enough for major leaguer Ian Kennedy’s (formerly of the Yankees, now of the Diamondbacks), who’s wedding cake came from the restaurant. You could say Bake n Broil is the home for baseball and apple pie.

Roger and his wife Carol eat there on occasion as well and I was told by Andy they stopped by the restaurant this evening before heading up to Los Angeles for the big night.

Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to write more about Roger Jongewaard in future posts. In the mean time, I’d like to wish Roger big congratulations for the prestigious honor he received tonight and to thank him for his wonderful restaurant.

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