Sports Commentary 7/30/13 : Boom-AH
In Milwaukee, where he played five seasons for the Brewers, George Scott was “The Boomer”, but in Boston, where he wrote the most memorable entries of his legacy, he was, is, and always will be effectionately known as “Boom-ah”. George Scott was 69 years old when he passed away this week at his home in Greenville, Mississippi. He spent 14 years in the major leaques after claiming an Eastern League triple crown in 1965, his final season in the minors. Statistically his best season came with the Brewers, in 1975, when he led the American League in home runs, with 36, and runs batted in, with 109, but in the hearts of New Englanders he will always be the first baseman of the Boston Red Sox, perhaps the greatest in their history, the man who, in two tours and eight seasons, played more games at first for the Sox than anyone in team history. He made his indelible mark on Red Sox Nation in 1967 as an invaluable member of the team that returned the baseball frenzy to a region that had been starved for 21 years. Carl Yastrzemski stole the show that year with, arguably, the greatest single season in Major League Baseball history, the “Year of the Yaz”. He was ably assisted by the pitcher with the movie star looks and the Cy Young arm, Jim Lonborg. Tony Conigliaro became the tragic figure of the piece when he was sent sprawling to the dirt in mid august by a Jack Hamilton fastball that ended his season and nearly his career. It was a team put together out of central casting to create a story even Hollywood screen writers would shy away from. It wouldn’t have been complete without George Scott. In just his second season in the majors, coming off a season in which he hit more home runs as a rookie than anyone in Red Sox history not named Ted Williams, 27, to go with 90 runs batted in, in a season in which every run for and every run against counted with equal importance, four teams going to the final weekend within two percentage points of the American League lead, the Sox a 100-1 long shot, George Scott was there putting them up for the Red Sox, and taking them down from opponents. At 6-2 and well over 200 pounds his frame belied his agility. With lightning reflexes he took the foul line out of play, no balls went by him to Fenway’s feared corner, and there were no bad throws from fellow infielders. Scott always found a way to get them into his glove with a leg stretch that often flattened out onto the infield skin. Most of all he loved to hit them “taters”. No one’s quite sure who first coined the term “taters” for home runs, or when, but it was George Scott who drew the distinction. There were “taters” and there were “long taters”, the ones he loved the most, 450 feet or more, and the Fenway fans called for them loud and long, with the unison cry heard from the Fens to the back bay, “Boom-ah, Boom-ah!” He hit 271 taters in his career and he won eight gold gloves. Later in life, after a failed attempt at managing in the Mexican League, hard times forced him to sell those gold gloves, a sad postscript for the man, who more than most, gave the Impossible Dreamers the personality of a bunch of loveable overachievers that endears them to generations of New Englanders to this day. George Scott is enshrined in the Red Sox Hall of Fame and will forever be enshrined in the hearts of Red Sox fans who will always remember him, not as “The Boomer”, but simply as “Boom-ah”. With love in my own heart for a Red Sox legend, I’m Scott Gray.