The baseball scout often toils in obscurity, his compensation more about passion than pay.
The players get multiyear contracts and union-protected benefits.
The men who identified and projected their skills seldom receive similar security. The scout who achieves employment longevity is ultimately apt to be rejected by his organization, instead of rewarded.
"It's a shame," said Roland Hemond, scouting director, general manager and consultant to several clubs during more than 50 years in the game.
"The job of finding players, of projecting young talent, demands experience and sacrifice," the Chicago White Sox's executive advisor said. "Too often, now, clubs are tossing that away."
If budgets aren't taking a bite out of scouting staffs, computers are. A new breed of general manager tends to believe that a keyboard can be as discerning as a speed gun.
For the veteran scout who has traveled back roads and toted that gun into hundreds of ballparks, there is no guarantee of a silver commemorative, let alone a golden parachute.
Jimmy Dreyer lived with that long-term uncertainty while loving his work during more than 20 years of free-agent and professional scouting.
First, it was in a part-time role with the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies, then full time with the Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres.
Even as a starting defensive end on a national-championship football team at the University of Texas, baseball had been his passion.
An eye injury curtailed his playing career at Texas, but scouting provided an avenue.
Then, when the first of a series of illnesses hit in 2003, the game turned cold. For the father of five, the pay soon stopped, the medical coverage and savings soon evaporated.
"You can talk about downsizing, but you can only downsize so far," Dreyer said from his home in Keller, Texas. "We had nowhere to go."
Nowhere to go for help as an out-of-work scout, he meant, because there was a gap in baseball's assistance programs. There was nothing to assist grass-roots guys.
In the fall of 2003, Hemond and White Sox colleagues Dave Yoakum and Dennis Gilbert -- the Westside insurance man, community activist and former player agent is also an advisor to Chicago owner Jerry Reinsdorf -- decided to do something about it.
They formed the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation and funded it with a January banquet and memorabilia auction that netted about $285,000.
About $50,000 has already been distributed to Dreyer and other scouts in need, with a desk full of applications still to be processed.
Most are reluctant to talk about their situations. Dreyer doesn't let pride interfere.
"I see no reason to be embarrassed about it," he said. "The foundation has been a blessing for my family, and people should be aware of it. You have to face up to your situation and make the best of it."
Dreyer, 53, had a bone marrow transplant for aplastic anemia in April. He has been battling the complications since, including spinal meningitis and a condition called graft-versus-host disease, or GVHD. He has spent almost four months in intensive care at Baylor Medical Center during the last year, and still puts in a six- to eight-hour day several times a week, commuting to Baylor for outpatient treatment.
"It's tough to lose your job, have the keys to your car taken away, but the doctors say I have a good chance to be healthy again and that's where my focus is," Dreyer said.
"The foundation has helped pay our medical and utility bills, even our property taxes. The big thing is that it's relieved a lot of the mental stress. I couldn't be more grateful."
Dreyer has written a letter of appreciation that will be read at the foundation's second dinner and auction Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton.
Tom Lasorda will serve as master of ceremonies, and among those presenting and/or receiving awards will be Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Curt Schilling, Duke Snider, Pat Gillick, Jennie Finch, and Bob Boone and family, representing the late Ray Boone.
Dreyer won't be strong enough to make the trip from Texas, but his heart will be there.
He wrote, "A scout's passion for the game will never be matched with [his] modest salary or options. It is such a comforting feeling when you know there is an organization such as the PBSF, and the difference it can make for a baseball family."
For details on Saturday night's dinner/auction, contact Debbie Marks, (310) 858-1935.