Former Red Sox first baseman George Scott passed away yesterday at the age of 61 (a report from a newspaper in his home state listed his age at 71, but national reports indicated he was 69). For anyone who’s 50 years old or older it was a sad day. “Boomer” was a beloved Red Sox player who was a huge part of the the watershed “Impossible Dream” year of 1967 and a player who helped to shape the resurgence of a team who had been on the skids for a long time.
Scott came up as a rookie in 1966 when the Red Sox were the dregs of the American League. Boston finished ninth among all AL teams with a record of 72 wins and 90 losses, 26 games behind the Baltimore Orioles. The season was a misery. Ted Williams had long since retired and the Old Towne Team was mired in an abysmal trough. Scott was no exception.
The big man hit .245 and struck out a career high 152 times. Little did the Fenway Faithful know that in his rookie season Scott would post career low numbers with Boston, only to roar into ascendance over the next five years.
1967 was magical. Tony Conigliaro, “Tony C “, would hit .287 and power the Red Sox engine until August 18 when the Red Sox were playing the California Angels at Fenway Park. Conigliaro, batting against Jack Hamilton, was hit by a pitch on his left cheekbone, ending his season. He sustained a linear fracture of the left cheekbone and a dislocated jaw with severe damage to the retina in his left eye (source Wikipedia). Conigliaro staged a comeback after he sat out the entire 1968 season but tragically was never the same thereafter.
Scott, along with Triple Crown Winner Carl Yastrzemski (.326/.418/.622/1.040, 44 homers and 121 RBI) powered the Sox from worst to first in 1967. The Red Sox lost the World Series in seven tense games to an excellent St. Louis Cardinals team led by Bob Gibson, who won three games and bagged the MVP award in an other-wordly series performance.
Boomer, so named because he was a Papi-esque big man – sometimes tipping the scales at 250 pounds during his “fat boy” period – was adored by Boston fans. He was a power hitting first baseman. At the end of the 1971 season Scott was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers where he remained productive through 1976 before returning to Boston and finishing his career in a diminished role through 1979.
Boomer finished his career with the Royals and Yankees, eventually retiring in 1979 after a memorable 14-year career.
Here’s to you Boomer. Hit a majestic drive into the heavens one last time.