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Jeweler shines with ball players

In trying to help my friend Si “Lam” Huynh promote his Arcadia business, Prince Jewelers, I’ve been telling him he needs to get out more and meet people. Lam just works, works, works.

Larry Stewart

Larry Stewart

But I got him to go to the recent Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation fundraiser at the Century Plaza Hotel, an affair that attracted Commissioner Bud Selig and many, many baseball dignitaries. We each had to pay $300 for tickets (and those were for the cheap seats), but the affair was well worth the price. Another Arcadia resident, Pete Bonfils, the longtime Dodger batting practice pitcher, went with us. Pete was our designated driver, mainly because he has a brand new SUV. Although Lam is a huge Laker fan, he doesn’t know much about baseball. When I spotted Dodger owner Frank McCourt, I had to explain to Lam who he was and why it was surprising that he was there.

Arcadia's Lam "Si" Huynh and Frank McCourt

As most people know, McCourt has become somewhat of a recluse because of the highly publicized divorce that he and his wife Jamie are going through. It was out of respect for Dennis Gilbert, the organizer of the fundraiser, and his respect for scouts that he showed up. McCourt declined most picture requests and vehemently declined to talk with Los Angeles Timescolumnist T.J. Simers, who showed up in a baseball cap, jeans and running shoes. Simers said to McCourt, “Let’s have a chat.” Replied McCourt: “In your f***ing dreams.” But when I asked McCourt to pose with Lam, he gladly agreed. This was the eighth annual fundraiser for the foundation that Gilbert has put on. It benefits scouts who too often are the overlooked and forgotten servants of baseball. The event generates between $300,000 and $400,000 each year. Gilbert, a highly successful Beverly Hills life insurance agent, is a former baseball super agent and now is the special assistant to White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, although Gilbert still lives in Southern California.

I got involved with the foundation because of a longtime friendship with Gilbert. He was the centerfielder for the Class-A Visalia Mets of the California League in 1969 when I was a sportswriter for the Visalia Times-Delta. Gilbert was recently involved in an attempt to purchase the Texas Rangers and has been rumored as a possible owner of the Dodgers if McCourt is forced to sell. Gilbert, as chairman of both the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation and its annual fundraiser, has put in countless hours and over the years has contributed hundreds of thousands of his own money toward its cause of helping scouts in need. “Dennis is one of the great guys in baseball,” said former Dodger manager Tom Lasorda, another attendee at the recent dinner. “Dennis played the game and he loves the game. He realizes what can happen to these scouts, and has done something about it. We take off our hat to congratulate Dennis and the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation.”

This month’s event featured the likes of Brooks Robinson, Tom Seaver, Joe Garagiola, Bobby Valentine, Robin Yount, Larry King, Bob Uecker and Rob Reiner, to name a few. And it opened Lam to a whole new world of customers. However, it is doubtful Tommy Lasorda will be visiting his Arcadia store anytime soon. When I told the former Dodgers manager about Lam’s prowess as a jewelry designer, I suggested he might what to buy his wife Jo a nice piece of jewelry. Lasorda, famous, or infamous, for never picking up a dinner tab, said: “I bought her a nice piece of jewelry 60 years ago. That was enough.”

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