Jaywalking: Boomer memory
Watching George Scott play first base for the Boston Red Sox was for many years a thing of beauty.
The man known as “Boomer” was everything a true baseball fan wanted. He could hit for power, leading the American League in home runs in 1975 with 36, and finishing with 271 career bombs, but he may have been even better known for his glove work, winning eight gold gloves wearing a glove he named “black beauty.” That led to him being named an all-star three times, and in 2006 he was inducted into the Red Sox Baseball Hall of Fame.
While I’m far down the list of people who should be talking about Scott — his career ended in 1979, three years before I was born — the reason I mention him, other than the fact that he died last week, is because he did have an interesting local connection while serving as the head coach at Roxbury Community College.
This past Tuesday I traveled to Leominster to watch the Greenfield Post 81 American Legion baseball team take on Palmer in the playoffs. The game took place at Pin Cannavino Field, which is located in McLauglin Park, a rather nice baseball facility that houses the town’s Babe Ruth Baseball League as well. Upon arrival, I headed into the Post 81 dugout to jot down the lineups, and found sitting there Post 81 chairman Bill Phelps, who’s love of the game of baseball may be unmatched.
Phelps brought up Scott, who had passed away just three days prior at the age of 69. He said he not only had the chance to meet Scott but also coached against him.
“It was in 1995 when he coached at Roxbury Community College,” Phelps said. “If you look back in the Recorder archives, they did a nice write up. John Hall pitched that game for us and we won 4-2.”
I took him up on the challenge. On Sunday night, I went digging through The Recorder microfilm before heading home to watch the start of Shark Week. I was tasked with looking up stories about the Greenfield Community College baseball team. Yes, you read that correctly, 20 years ago the local community college did have its own baseball team. In fact, the team first took the field in 1969, and wouldn’t you know that Phelps was the captain that season. Then, in 1995, he was coaching the squad in what would be the school’s final season with a baseball team
So I began scanning stories in May of 1995 and found it in the fourth date scanned. On May 3, 1995, Hall did in fact pitch GCC to a 4-2 win over Roxbury Community College, just as Phelps recalled. The story appeared in the May 4 edition accompanied by the headline, “Hall, GCC slip past ‘Boomer,’ Roxbury.”
The lead paragraph is also worth quoting: Roxbury Community College had the most imposing presence in the game with former Boston Red Sox first baseman George “Boomer” Scott as its coach. But the burly former major leaguer doesn’t play anymore so he couldn’t stop John Hall.
Phelps recalled two things from that day. The first was that Scott, who had put on weight after his playing days, came sauntering out of the dugout on two occasions to argue calls. The first was mentioned in the story. The play in question came when Mike Sokoloski hit a triple to score Mike Kostanski with the first run of the game in the first inning. Scott came out and appealed the play, claiming Sokoloski had not touched second base. The umpires voted in favor of Scott, ruling Sokoloski out after a single but allowing the run to stand. The second discussion with the umps came later in the game on a ball that was hit down one of the foul lines and, according to Phelps, was clearly fair. Scott hollered out to the umpires, “That’s a foul ball,” but this time did not get his way.
“He was a perfect gentleman,” Phelps said. “He didn’t do anything that any coach wouldn’t have done.”
And Phelps did get a chance to have a short one-on-one conversation with Scott. That season, Phelps recalled that Scott’s son George Scott III had been drafted by the Boston Red Sox. Phelps asked his coaching counterpart if Scott III could field a ball anywhere near as good as his father. Scott, who hailed from Greenville, Miss., responded in his southern drawl.
“That’d be a tall order,” Phelps said while doing his best to impersonate Scott’s voice.
The 1995 season would be the final season for the GCC team. That spring, the team went 12-4 but was disbanded when GCC got rid of its sports programs. It was also the final season that Scott coached at Roxbury after holding the position since 1991. Scott’s final managerial job (he held several during his lifetime) came in Pittsfield where he managed the Berkshire Black Bears in 2002.
I realized on Monday that I had left out a couple of things from my article on the 30th Greenfield Lightlife Triathlon.
At the end of the article, I mentioned all those locals who finished among the top three in their respective divisions but left out the Athena, Clydesdale and team winners.
There were no Clydesdale winners from the area, but in the Athena Division in the Sprint, Northfield’s Jenna Dickerman finished first with a time of 1:48:18.
As for the team divisions, I wrote a story about the Bell family but somehow failed to mention that three members of the family won the International Team competition with Becca Bell, Michael Bell and Peter Bell finishing in a time of 2:18:13. In the Team Sprint Division, results were unavailable.
I’m headed to Shelburne Falls Saturday morning for the 35th running of the Bridge of Flowers 10K.
The event, one of the highlights of the summer as it always seems to be a picturesque day in beautiful downtown Shelburne Falls, will attract all sorts of people. I ask anyone with an interesting story they might like to share to contact me.
Jason Butynski is a Greenfield native and Recorder sportswriter. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.