Don Welke, the man who discovered such talents as Dave Stieb, Pat Hentgen, John Olerud, Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus, has died, the San Diego Padres announced Thursday.
Welke died Wednesday, two days before his 76th birthday, the club said.
A veteran of more than 50 seasons with Major League Baseball, Welke joined the Padres in 2014 as the vice president of scouting operations. Before that, he spent eight seasons at the Rangers front office.
“He was a legend in the baseball world and an invaluable member of the Padres front office,” Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler and general partner Peter Seidler said in a statement. “Don was a super scout and a super guy, and we will miss him greatly.”
Welke started his career with the Cincinnati Reds in 1965. Since then he’s had stints with the Royals, Blue Jays, Orioles, Dodgers and Phillies.
“Don had a tremendous career in baseball, both as a talent evaluator and in the relationships that he built,” Padres general manager A.J. Preller said in a statement. “He was a visionary who knew and loved baseball, and he shared that knowledge and passion with me and countless other scouts throughout his five decades in the game. Beyond his accomplishments, Don was a loyal and generous friend. Everyone whose lives he touched was better for having known him.”
Welke was named Midwest Scout of the Year in 2102 and received the Legends in Scouting Award from the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation in 2011.
He also worked as an advance scout for Team USA at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and the 2003 Olympic qualifier in Panama. The Rangers organization’s Scout of the Year Award is named after Welke, the inaugural winner of the award in 2011.
An Illinois native, Welke played baseball and basketball at Carthage College in Wisconsin and was named to the school’s hall of fame as well as the hall of fame for his high school in Harvard, Ill.
Welke also received a degree from Eastern Michigan University. He is survived by his three children,