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Motas get scouts’ honor

Few couples have given more to professional baseball than Manny and Margarita Mota.

And we’re not talking simply about Manny’s 20-year playing career, in which he made an All-Star team and broke the record for most pinch-hits. Nor are we talking solely about Mota’s 30 seasons as a Dodgers coach, the longest tenure of any coach since the team moved to Los Angeles.

If anything, that was just the start.

Because the Motas have also given five of their six sons to the game, sending two to the major leagues. And three of them are still in baseball -- Jose as a broadcaster with the Angels, Tony as a Dodgers’ hitting instructor in the Dominican Summer League and Andy as an agent with the Los Angeles-based firm that represents the likes of Hanley Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, Nomar Garciaparra and Hideki Matsui.

It’s a track record that will be recognized Saturday night when the Motas are honored as baseball’s family of the year during the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation’s seventh annual awards gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.

“For the family it’s a great honor, a great privilege,” Manny Mota, 71, said by telephone from the Dominican Republic. “We’re very thankful and appreciative that the Scouts Foundation would select us to be part of this event. We’re very proud.”

The nonprofit foundation was founded in 2003 by Dennis Gilbert, a former minor league player and scout, to raise money for scouts in need. And Mota said the award is particularly meaningful because he loves scouts.

“If scouts didn’t exist, baseball wouldn’t exist,” said Mota, who still talks fondly of Horacio Martinez, the legendary New York Giants scout who signed him in 1957. “They work very hard and I recognize their efforts. I admire them.”

But if baseball has defined the Motas, it hasn’t consumed them. Before Manny had even reached the major leagues he had begun assisting the poor in his native Dominican Republic, work that continues today through the nonprofit Manny Mota International Foundation, one of the most active charities on the island.

“All their energy is focused on that from October to spring training,” Andy said of his parents. “Feeding people and giving things away and addressing problems. That’s what makes them go.”

And just as they did with baseball, the rest of the family is following Manny and Margarita into charity. Cecilia, the Motas’ oldest daughter, manages the foundation while 13-year-old granddaughter Alina has spent the last seven years on her own mission, collecting as many as 30 boxes of school uniforms for poor children in the Dominican each year.

As admirable as that may be, Gilbert said it’s the Motas’ contribution to the game that earned the family Saturday’s recognition.

“It’s just strictly baseball,” said Gilbert, co-owner of a Beverly Hills life insurance firm and special assistant to the chairman of the Chicago White Sox.

“Manny Mota is one of the nicest persons in the game, on or off the field.”

For the Motas, however, Saturday’s gala will be more than just an awards dinner. It’s also an excuse for a long-awaited family reunion.

“It’s going to be the first time we’re all together in 19 years,” Jose Mota said.

The Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation’s seventh annual “In the Spirit of the Game” benefit gala will take place Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel. For information or to purchase tickets, go to www.probaseballscouts.com or call 310-996-1188.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com


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