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12/04/07 10:35 PM ET

Cubs assistant GM Hughes honored

Exec earns Baseball America lifetime achievement award

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Gary Hughes, a special assistant to Cubs general manager Jim Hendry who has been involved in professional baseball more than 40 years, received a lifetime achievement award Tuesday from Baseball America.

"This is one of the biggest thrills of my life," Hughes said.

Hughes, who joined the Cubs in Oct. 2002, has worked for the Giants, Yankees, Expos, Marlins, Rockies, and Reds. He began his scouting career with the Giants in 1967. Among the players he has signed were John Elway, a promising two-sport star from Stanford, and Rex Hudler. While with Montreal, he discovered players such as Marquis Grissom, Cliff Floyd, Mark Grudzielanek, Ugueth Urbina, Carlos Perez and Delino DeShields.

Hughes was the Florida Marlins' first director of scouting and special assistant to the general manager, and gave Hendry his first professional job in the game.

"He's about as good as it gets, a real difference maker in the scouting profession," Hendry said. "He made a huge difference to the profession, not just in the acquisition department, but how scouts are treated, how scouts have been paid better over the years, getting the respect they deserve over the years.

"The things he's done for the game behind the scenes, you can't put into words," Hendry added. "The people he's helped, the things he's done for the game -- he should've been a general manager a long time ago.

"I might not have even gotten into professional baseball without him," Hendry said.

"It's like working for a brother," Hughes said of Hendry. "I want him to succeed so much -- and that's what keeps me going, too."

Hughes was never named a general manager, and Hendry said it's puzzling as to why not.

"Those of us who have worked with him over the years really couldn't give you an answer," Hendry said. "He should've had that type of job way before I did. He's tremendous, not only as a personnel man, but he has the ability to get human beings working on the same page and in the same direction. If you don't think he fits the modern day mode of coats and ties and paperwork aspect of it, he would've had the ability to get the top level people of expertise."

Hughes is not the type who is comfortable sitting behind a desk. Asked his favorite job in baseball, it's area scout. It may not pay well, but it's rewarding.

Has he wondered about being a general manager?

"I think I would've been pretty good at it," Hughes said. "If I've got any ability it's the ability to bring people together. But I don't wake up in the morning kicking myself because I didn't get a job."

The job has changed over the years.

"There's so many more tools involved -- it used to be the tools involved the players," Hughes said. "Now you talk about computers and readouts and all these companies sponsoring kid camps."

Winter Meetings

Scouts often are overlooked and underappreciated. The book "Moneyball" didn't help the profession at all. Hughes is doing what he can to help scouts in need, and is part of the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation, which raised $800,000 at its first banquet.

Hughes, White Sox executive Dennis Gilbert, Arizona Diamondbacks executive Roland Hemond, and MLB scouts Dave Yoakum and Harry Minor helped to create the PBSF.

"If there's a scouting Hall of Fame," Hendry said, "[Hughes] would be in there on the first ballot."

Also at the banquet, Cubs prospect Sam Fuld received the 2007 Arizona Fall League Joe Black Most Valuable Player Award. Fuld led the AFL in hits, doubles, total bases, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and was one of two .400 hitters in the league.

Fuld is the second Cubs prospect to receive the award. Outfielder Jason Dubois won the MVP award in 2003.

"It's been a long year, and I guess it proves a lot of perseverance and hard work can go a long way," Fuld said. "I can't think of all the ups and downs that have gone on since March. Baseball is an up and down game, but this has been a pretty special year."

Fuld will be competing next spring for a spot on the Cubs' 25-man roster.

"It's exciting to, at the very least, be in the picture and have some sort of chance," Fuld said. "It's something I'm looking forward to, and I'm going to work as hard as I can over the winter to battle for a spot."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.