Major League Baseball's new investigative unit has identified at least one baseball scout in its new inquiry into illegal gambling, and continuing investigation may yield names of more scouts, sources told SI.com.
Veteran Orioles scout Alan Marr was fired by his team sometime after his name was tied in some way to sports betting, and sources with knowledge of the investigation indicated that there could be a few other scouts linked, as well. Marr was a well-respected national crosschecker with the Orioles, a high position on the scouting totem pole that's just below the scouting director.
"A lot of people are sweating out there,'' one baseball executive said.
MLB's investigative unit -- formed this year in response to a recommendation from George Mitchell in his report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball -- is working with the FBI as part of an inquiry into illegal gambling, in addition to allegations that scouts have been skimming money from the signing bonuses of Latin-American prospects.
Baseball has a long history of coming down hard on personnel linked to gambling, from the 1919 Black Sox to Pete Rose, who was given a lifetime ban in 1989 for betting with bookmakers on professional sports, including baseball.
In terms of a possible punishment for those who have been found to bet on games, MLB's rule against gambling, 21d, draws a clear distinction between baseball people who have a "duty to perform" in games, such as players and managers, and those who do not. Those who have a "duty to perform" could be subject to a lifetime ban, whereas those who do not, such as scouts, could get off with a one-year ban. There is no indication that MLB's current gambling investigation into scouts has anything to do with fixing games.
Even so, infractions such as betting through bookmakers on pro games -- whether it be baseball or any other sport -- are considered serious by MLB. Signs in all major-league clubhouses spell out the sport's rules against gambling, and reminders of their seriousness are sent periodically to clubs.
That strong anti-gambling stance has been long held by MLB. It isn't known whether the new inquiry was in any way triggered by the NBA's scandal involving referee Tim Donaghy, which involved illegal betting on games that Donaghy officiated as well as the specter of game-fixing.
Marr's dismissal by the club was reported in the Baltimore Sun on July 4, though no reason for the firing was stated publicly. Sources indicate that his name was linked to a bookmaking operation, but those sources either couldn't or wouldn't say in what capacity.
Marr declined comment when reached at his home in Sarasota, Fla, on Friday.
It isn't known how Marr's name was discovered, and his dismissal surprised some of his fellow scouts. Marr once recommended Frank Falzarano for a scouting job, and Falzarano, who was a scout with the Washington Nationals as recently as 2006, was charged with two felonies in a large gambling bust in New York in October 2006. Falzarano was dismissed from the Nationals about the time of his arrest. Cops told the New York Post that he handled wagers at a rate of more than $8 million a year. (Falzarano pleaded guilty to "attempted enterprise corruption," a C felony, on March 6, 2007, and was sentenced to a "conditional discharge.")
Before coming to Baltimore, Marr was a scout for the San Francisco Giants. In 1995 he signed Joe Nathan, now the Twins' star closer, as an infielder out of Stony Brook University in New York. He was well-regarded in the industry and was reported to have been under consideration for the Tampa Bay GM job that went to Andrew Friedman in 2005.