The passing last week of George Scott got me thinking about his second tenure in Pittsfield.
Scott, the former Boston Red Sox first baseman, won the Triple Crown playing for the Eastern League's Pittsfield Red Sox. But the second tenure of "Boomer" was not nearly as successful.
Scott was brought back to Pittsfield in 2002 to manage independent baseball's Berkshire Black Bears. Scott spent only one season with the team that won only 24 games and was the losingest professional team to inhabit Wahconah Park since pro baseball returned in 1985.
While it was at times painful to watch that first edition of the Black Bears play baseball, it was always a treat to interact with Boomer.
When you cover a big league team like the Red Sox, you usually get to the ballpark about four hours before the game. In Boston, Sox manager John Farrell usually meets with the media 31 2 hours before the first pitch.
With Scott, there was no press conference. It was me walking into the manager's office to find out the starting lineup, get tips on injuries or the pitching rotation, and notes that can be useful in covering a team.
Hearing old baseball stories, however, were the highlight of that summer for me. Scott had more stories -- about his minor and major league careers -- than any other manager I dealt with since starting to cover local pro baseball in 1991.
You want to hear about Carl Yastrzemski? Tony C? Dick Williams? Scott had a story or five about each one of them.
"Let me tell you something," Scott once said. "I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I'm the greatest manager who ever lived. I know one thing -- if you get good players, you're a good manager. If you get bad players, all of a sudden you're a bad manager."
So, the 24-65 record, by definition, made Scott a bad manager.
He had four guys who had played affiliated pro ball at Wahconah Park, either as a home player or as a visitor.
But his 2002 season started off as well as his Triple Crown season ended. The Black Bears opened their season 3-0, and optimism reigned at the old ballpark on Wahconah Street.
From that point, the wheels kind of fell off. In the middle of July, Scott released his team's best hitter. You don't normally do that if things are going well.
"I just believed the change had to be made," Scott said at the time.
Boomer said he was not opposed to players getting paid, but even a decade ago, he would not have given Alex Rodriguez that long-term contract the Yankees gave him.
"At some point it has to stop. I don't think a player should get a 10-year contract for $250 million," Scott said. "I want to see a guy make his money, but it doesn't take a guy [to get] $250 millon to have a good life."
As to the so-called Curse of the Bambino? Scott fell in with Pedro Martinez, who once said that if Babe Ruth was still playing, he'd hit him in the behind.
"I don't believe in any of that stuff. Everybody has to go out and play the game," Scott said. "Babe Ruth is dead and gone. You can't keep holding Babe Ruth responsible for your future.
"The Curse is a built-in excuse for failure."
Boomer, we're going to miss you.