“FENWAY'S BEST PLAYERS”


 
1966-1971
1977-1979
#3   GEORGE SCOTT   3B

George Scott's professional baseball career spanned 41 years beginning in Class D ball at Olean of the New York-Penn League in 1962.  His travels were highlighted by his 14 seasons in the majors, starting with the Boston Red Sox in 1966.Scott also played for Milwaukee 1972-1976, Boston 1977-1978, and split his final year between Boston, Kansas City, and the New York Yankees. He served in various professional baseball capacities after his major league career, notably in the Mexican and Independent Leagues, finishing as manager of the Berkshire Black Bears (Northern League) in 2002.

George Charles Scott Jr., was born March 23, 1944 in Greenville, Mississippi, the youngest of three children. When George was a young boy, he worked in the fields picking cotton. Scott played Little League baseball, but was actually thrown off the team temporarily because he was "too good."


George attended Coleman High School in Greenville, Mississippi where he was a three-sport high school star, lettering in baseball, basketball, and football. He quarterbacked the football team, and led both his football and basketball teams to state championships, but chose baseball.  Scott was discovered by major league scout Ed Scott (no relation) of Mobile, Alabama.  Ed Scott, along with Red Sox scout Milt Bolling, signed George as an amateur free agent for $8,000 bonus money right out of high school on May 28, 1962.  Ed, who had signed Hank Aaron to his first major league contract, described George as a better hitter when he graduated from high school than Aaron at the same age and stage of development.

George was assigned to Class D Olean of the New York-Penn League for 1962. In 1963, Olean's franchise and its players moved to Wellsville (Class A) which re-entered the NYP League. Scott stayed with the club, and batted a solid .293 that year with 15 home runs, 74 RBIs, and 200 total bases to his credit.  Scott mostly played shortstop, but in 1964 moved to third base at Winston-Salem (Single A Carolina League).

Despite the shortened season, in 1965 George Scott was promoted by the Red Sox to the newly-established Pittsfield Red Sox of the Double A Eastern League. 1965 was a banner year for both George and Pittsfield. Scott iced a 3-1 Pittsfield victory over Springfield on the season's final day with an eighth-inning homer that gave Pittsfield the championship. That homer also won him the home run title, and the Triple Crown. Pittsfield finished 85-55, one game ahead of second place Elmira. Scott finished with a .319 average, 25 homers, and 94 RBIs. He also led the league in total bases (290), hits (167), doubles (30), at-bats (523), and games played (140). He was named the Most Valuable Player and received a unanimous vote from the National Association of Baseball Writers that named him to the Double A All-East All-Star team.

The Red Sox picked up Scott's contract from Pittsfield at the end of the 1965 season. The Red Sox brass, including Manager Billy Herman, all believed that Joe Foy would replace departed veteran Frank Malzone. But Scott was determined to win a place on the team. George not only made the roster but opened the season at third base.  On April 19, 1966--Patriots' Day in Boston--Scott hit his first major league home run, off Joe Sparma of the Detroit Tigers.  A week into the season, Scott was switched to first base, replacing Tony Horton. Scottie would make his mark as one of the finest first baseman to play the game, winning eight Gold Gloves. On April 26 in New York, Scott hit a shot against the venerable Whitey Ford that may be remembered as one of the longest home runs in the history of the Stadium. Whitey later recalled that it was the longest home run he ever surrendered, and only Frank Howard and Walt Dropo had hit ones that traveled as far.

By mid-May 1966, George Scott was among the batting leaders, hitting .330, behind Tony Oliva and Baltimore's Robinson boys, Frank and Brooks. He was leading in home runs with 11, and was the talk around the league, many projecting him for Rookie of the Year.  Scott was the majority choice of his peers to start at first base in the 37th All-Star game on July 12th at Busch Memorial Stadium. He beat out Norm Cash of the Tigers, 141 to 62.

Herman was irked over his team's failure to perform well on a western road trip. With Scott swinging at bad balls and without a home run for a month, Herman announced on July 19 that he would bench Scott. George's batting average had dropped to .263, and he had fallen off the leader boards.  Scott was not about to languish in misery; he took action, watched film, made adjustments to his stance, and often talked to teammate Lenny Green who helped him the most. He began to emerge from his slump. On July 29, he hit his 19th homer, and the following day his 20th. Although he would continue to hit for power--an attribute much favored by the Red Sox--he did not hit for the high average that had accompanied his slugging during the first half. He finished the year with 27 home runs and 90 RBIs, but batted a mere .245. He also led the league in strikeouts with 152, setting a rookie record in the process.

On September 9, 1966, Billy Herman was fired by the Red Sox. They wasted little time in replacing him with Dick Williams, manager of the club's Triple A Toronto affiliate, hiring Williams on September 28. During the off-season, the major league players, coaches, and managers honored George Scott with the most votes (532) in their selections for the eighth annual Topps All-Star rookie team, ranked the best of both leagues. Dick Williams, the sharp-tongued new Red Sox skipper, began posturing and making noises around Beantown right from the start. He announced he was stripping Yastrzemski of his position of team captain. 

The Red Sox were only six games into the 1967 season when Dick Williams took decisive action against three of his players, benching them for poor performance. He benched Scott first, on April 17, followed by Joe Foy and José Tartabull.  Tony Horton, who replaced Scott, failed to impress Williams, and Scott was reinstated nine days later. He began to hit again and raised his average to .271 by the end of May. Boston was in third place, four and one-half games out of first. In the third week of May, Scott put on a hitting display in a six-game span during a homestand, rapping out eight base hits in 23 at-bats, including two triples, and one mammoth home run off Sonny Siebert of Cleveland. For that he won "Player of the Week" honors. By the first week in August, he was hitting .294 and was among the American League batting leaders. The Red Sox were in second place, two and a half games behind Chicago.  The Red Sox went into the final days of the season neck and neck with Minnesota, Detroit, and Chicago. On September 28, Boston was tied for second with Detroit, trailing Minnesota by one game. Chicago trailed by one and one-half games. It came down to the final season-ending series against Minnesota, in Boston, on September 30 and October 1. The Red Sox beat the Twins in both games that were played in a well-fought and climactic "showdown" series. The Tigers double-header split on Sunday gave the Red Sox the pennant, their first since 1946. Scott was 2-for-8 in that series with a home run in the first game. He finished the regular season with a .303 average, 19 home runs and 82 RBIs.

The Red Sox went on to play in a memorable World Series against a strong St. Louis Cardinals ball club. Bob Gibson was the difference, winning three of the seven games. Gibson clinched the Series by making Scott his 10th strikeout victim of the game. Scott managed four hits off Gibson, including a double and triple. He had six hits in the Series, batting .231.  Scott was awarded his first Gold Glove, picked by better than a 2-to-1 margin over his nearest competitor. In this regard, Williams also gave him the ultimate compliment, describing Scott's fielding talents. "Until I saw George Scott, I thought Gil Hodges was the greatest defensive first baseman I ever saw. But Scott changed my mind."

Scott played and hit very well in the spring of '68. But as bright as the spring was for George, the opening of the regular season could not have been more miserable. At the end of the first month of play, the team was in sixth place, five games out of first. Scott had only nine hits in his first 81 at-bats, hitting an anemic .111. He was in a woeful slump from which he never recovered. Several times he was benched and was a study in dejection. Williams replaced him with Ken Harrelson at first, who proceeded to play well enough that year to make the All-Star team. Scott got closer to the end of the bench with each home run hit by Harrelson. Talk was brewing to trade Scott and keep Harrelson.

On September 8, while traveling in Anaheim, Dick Williams announced he would use Rico Petrocelli at first base that day, the eighth Red Sox first baseman of the season. Petrocelli was nursing an injury and had not played defensively in 18 days. Scott was humiliated and erupted in rage, ranting displeasure with his manager, claiming he would not play for him again, and asking for an audience with owner Tom Yawkey. The next night in Oakland, Scott, surprisingly, was back in the lineup. There was much speculation that either Yawkey or GM Dick O'Connell had stepped in, and that Williams was losing his grip on the team. Scott finished the 1968 year batting a woeful .171. He hit three home runs, none at Fenway Park. The Red Sox as a team finished the season in fourth place, with an 86-76 record, 17 games behind the Detroit Tigers. In spite of his poor year at the plate, Scott repeated with defensive honors, winning his second Gold Glove Award, despite playing just 112 games at first base. Scott went to the Puerto Rican league over the winter, playing for Santurce under Baltimore's Frank Robinson.  Because not only did Frank Robinson help him mentally, but he also helped him physically, and he became a better player.  Scott had a strong season in winter ball under Robinson, batting .295. He led his league in home runs with 14, and RBIs with 45, well ahead of his competition.

In the wake of Joe Foy's departure to the Kansas City Royals in the expansion draft, Dick Williams announced that George Scott would be his third baseman in 1969, and Harrelson would move to first. Scott played the position with precision that spring and got his manager's attention. Scott had another excellent spring, batting well above .300, but once more flopped at the beginning of the regular season. He opened 1969 at third base, but at the end of May was hitting .193 with only four home runs. He was hot and cold throughout the year, finishing the season with a .253 batting average, 16 home runs, and 52 RBIs. He played 109 games at third base, but by the end of the season he was mainly back at first when Dalton Jones--who had been playing there--was not getting the job done. The Red Sox finished the year in third place with an 87-75 record, 22 games behind the Baltimore Orioles.

The platooning and constant juggling of lineups orchestrated by Williams, as well as discord that surfaced between him and his players led to his demise as Red Sox manager. On September 23, 1969 he was fired. On October 2, 1969 Eddie Kasko was named Red Sox manager.  Kasko was brought in to settle down the player ranks, vowing he had no plans to trade front-line players, and he would keep established players in their rightful positions. It was a message that worked for George Scott, who adjusted well to the new boss. The 1970 Red Sox were counting on rookie Luis Alvarado to handle third base and put Scott on first. Alvarado did not work out, so Scott was switched back to third, and Carl Yastrzemski was shifted to first. Both hit well, and Scott fell just short of hitting .300, at .296. It was a pleasant surprise for Kasko, thinking about 1971. Meanwhile the Red Sox finished third once more with an identical record to their previous year of 87-75. The trade of Tony Conigliaro allowed Yastrzemski and Scott to return to their natural positions, but 1971 proved to be another year of dissension for the Red Sox. Players squabbled, Kasko became a target, and Boston scribes were speculating once again that a Sox skipper was in trouble.

In the meantime, George was having a reasonably good year, finishing with a .263 average, 24 home runs, and 78 RBIs. The club finished third again with an 85-77 record. Scott won his third Gold Glove. On October 10, 1971 the Red Sox pulled off a major trade, sending Scott, Jim Lonborg, Joe Lahoud, Billy Conigliaro, Ken Brett, and Don Pavletich to the Milwaukee Brewers for Tommy Harper, Marty Pattin, Lew Krausse and a minor leaguer.

On December 6, 1976 Scott and Bernie Carbo were traded to the Boston Red Sox. Scott walked off with his eighth Gold Glove--which would be his last--for his 1976 fielding performance. He batted .274 with 18 home runs. But he said that returning to Boston was a mistake. "I was very excited about going back. I don't think the Red Sox were that excited about having me back."  George had a good year at the plate for Boston in '77--batting .269 and clouting 33 home runs--but an uncharacteristic year in the field, making 24 errors. In spite of that he was barely edged out for a ninth Gold Glove by Jim Spencer of the White Sox. The Red Sox finished tied with Baltimore for second with a 97-64 record. Scott placed third behind Rod Carew in the All-Star voting, which was a fan selection that year. American League All-Star manager Billy Martin picked Scott as a sub and played him at first later in the game. Scott hit a two-run home run off Goose Gossage. He had 25 home runs at the All-Star break, and just eight thereafter.

In 1978, injuries slowed George down. He was on the DL early in the season, missing 17 games due to back trouble. On May 15, he was back in the lineup at first-base but promptly broke a middle finger on his throwing hand chasing a pop-fly. The finger healed slowly, and he never got a foothold on the '78 season, finishing with a .233 batting average and hitting only 12 homers. The Sox tied the Yanks for first place in their division, but lost the one-game playoff. Scott was 2-for-4 in the playoff game, with a double. Scott started the 1979 season with the Red Sox but was traded to Kansas City on June 13.

Scott is member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.