George Zuraw is quick to tell you that professional baseball was "very good to me" during his half-century career as a scout and Major League executive.
Zuraw, a Charleroi native, recently was honored by the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation at its seventh annual awards dinner.
The event, now called the In the Spirit of the Game, was held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles and drew more than 1,500 guests while raising funds for baseball scouts in need of financial assistance.
"It was very thrilling to be thought of in that light," Zuraw said from his home in Englewood, Fla.
"Obviously I was very happy to be recognized this way and at the same quite humbled to be included in this year's group of outstanding honorees. To be recognized by your peers, others who have contributed so much to professional baseball, is really something."
Others receiving Legends In Scouting awards were Larry Barton Jr., Roger Jongewaard, Marty Keough, Gary Nickels and Charlie Silvera.
"Wonderful guys and great baseball scouts," Zuraw said. "And they're all good friends."
Also highlighting the event was the presentation of In the Spirit of the Game honors to Brooks Robinson, Tony La Russa and Bob Feller, among others.
"That's pretty good company to be in," Zuraw said.
Zuraw played baseball with minor league affiliates of the Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1949 to 1956.
He served two years in the Navy during the Korean War and returned to Charleroi in 1956 to accept a job in the display advertising and sports departments with The Charleroi Mail. He also attended California State College at the time.
"John Bunardzya was very helpful to me at The Mail," Zuraw, 79, said of the longtime sports editor of the Charleroi newspaper.
Zuraw accepted a full-time scouting supervisor position with the Pirates in 1959 in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. In 1968 he moved to a similar position with the Cincinnati Reds and helped develop the legendary "Big Red Machine" under General Manager Bob Howsam.
Zuraw said that he has "been very fortunate" to be part of three World Championship teams in the major leagues in Pittsburgh in 1960 and Cincinnati in 1975 and 1976.
He's also pleased that eight of his associate scouts and other close friends he …