June 14, 2012

Remembering Roger Jongewaard

This has been a tough week. Monday night I learned that Roger Jongewaard (long time baseball executive) passed away from a heart attack. This news came on the eve of the two year anniversary of my wife’s dad’s passing – Charles. Charles never met Roger Jongewaard, but he was a big fan of Jongewaard’s Bake ‘N Broil’s boysenberry pie.

The news and anniversary both took place while the Angels were playing the Dodgers – which is oddly coincidental because when Charles passed away two years ago – the same two teams were facing off. What makes it even stranger is that five years ago, when my own dad passed away – the Dodgers and Angels were playing then too.

Needless to say, whenever the Angels and the Dodgers hook up – our minds tend to go back to the death of our dads. And now to have the death of Roger Jongewaard to boot; well, it’s beyond words.

I had the privilege of interviewing Roger Jongewaard in 2010 and let me tell you it was as close as I’ve ever come to baseball royalty. This is a man who was a giant in the baseball scouting world – but even more importantly – he was a man who was beloved by so many people.

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times called Jongewaard “a seminal figure” and went on to write that “everyone in the game knew and revered him.”

Scott Miller of CBS Sports wrote “Jongewaard was an old-school gentleman, both well-respected and well-liked by colleagues. With him goes an era.”

Rick Rizz a Mariners’ broadcaster said "The thing that stands out is that for his first 12 years every one of his first-round picks made it to the major leagues..."  "He was a dedicated baseball man. Baseball was his life. He knew talent, and to have a guy like this in the organization for that long of time was absolutely wonderful for this organization at that point."

Rizz went on to say "It is a sad loss, not only for the Mariners but for baseball. He knew everybody," Rizz said. "A sad, sad day." Indeed.

Mariners’ President Chuck Armstrong had this to say… "You look at our success during that period of time in the drafts and players we brought in. He was really a scout's scout. I used to laugh with him that he could tell you who each prospect's mom went to senior prom with. His mind was a mental computer and talent evaluation was the best I've ever run across in this game. We were lucky to have him for those years."

USA Today's Bob Nightengale published this obituary.

Per Nightengale: "You go back and look at his track record, it was amazing," said Minnesota Twins veteran scout Ken Compton, who was hired by Jongewaard and spent 18 years together with the Mariners. "His baseball exploits are deep and long, but he really cared about his employees."

And this…"He was everything you'd want to be in a man," says Boston Red Sox special assistant Gary Hughes, a longtime associate of Jongewaard's. "He was quiet, humble and unbelievably efficient. The best at what he did for a long, long time."

Ryan Divish wrote this in the News Tribune “In the often cutthroat and back-biting world of Major League Baseball, Jongewaard was a gentlemen first, baseball scout second. He was beloved and, more important, respected by his co-workers, colleagues and adversaries.”

Tuesday night, I received a call from Roger’s son-in-law Andy who called me to make sure I had heard the news (which I had). Andy knew I really cherished my interview with Roger and wanted to make sure I had heard. Andy didn’t have to do that, but that’s the kind of man Andy is and that’s the kind of family Roger was a part of - always thinking of others.

Roger had a great many accomplishments and if you read the articles I’ve linked to above, you’ll get a sense of what a great baseball man Roger was. Clearly, you will also get the sense that he was even a greater person.

Roger is survived by his wife, Carol, and four children -- Terry, Janice, Kristin (Andy’s wife) and Don - and 12 grandchildren. Sadly, his daughter Dyan preceded him in death in February after battling cancer.

More about Roger Jongewaard: HERE


  1. It is sad that we don't still have guys like Roger in the front office. He really knew his stuff, and brought us many good players. It was a sad day here in Seattle indeed when we found out we lost him.

    I hope that his family makes it through this rough time and they find peace in the good memories.

  2. I tried to post two days ago...I guess my comments didn't make it..I had the privelege of spending ONE of the MOST PERFECT Days..last Sunday..June 10, 2012 @ Roger and Carol's beautiful home..with my brother, one of Rogers draftees for the New York Mets..in the late 70's...we bbqed. swam, played softball..it was the PERFECT DAY! Mr. Baseball is what I called Roger, he was baseball, everything about him was baseball. He loved his family , friends, and he loved sharing. On that Pefect Day, Roger sat and watched my brother, his two girls, Rogers daughter Janice and his grandson play softball in his yard. I watched Roger from the jacuzzi and he was enjoying himself so much. That was the last game of baseball/softball that will forever be implanted in my mind. My Mom and his wife Carol were in the home looking at her beautiful decorating and the following day, the plans they had, and how Roger wanted to go with them. That was the day we lost a GREAT Man, Father, Husband, and most of ALL friend! He was so good to my Mom after my father passed away 6 years ago, they wound up living near one another again..from Long Beach to Temecula/Fallbrook. I will be forever grateful to the Jongewaard Family for all that they are, all that they have given, and want to thank them once again for that PERFECT DAY, June 10, 2012. Goodbye , Mr. Baseball, there WILL NEVER be another man a REAL man of dignity, humbleness, and kindness like him. Next to my Awesome Father, who I MISS dearly, he will be MISSED JUST as much..