Reviews

I remember watching George "Boomer" Scott.  I remember him being a good hitter, not a great one.  I don't remember his fielding, but I'd been told over by the old timers who saw him play that the only modern first baseman who even came close in terms of glovework was Keith Hernandez.

And if you believe the prose of Ron Anderson's biography of Scott, and the people who it's attributed to, which runs the gamut from sportswriters to Hall of Famers, it's likely true.   Scott may have been one of the greatest glovemen at first base in the history of the game.  The fact he could hit, as the nickname "Boomer" and his long home runs attest, meant that he was a welcome addition to just about every team he ever played for.

 

long_taters
Title: Long Taters: A Baseball Biography of George “Boomer” Scott
Author: Ron Anderson
Pages: 294
Release Date: Nov. 25, 2011
Scott's story in many ways is a familiar one -- a poor boy from a tough background in the deep south making good and using baseball to escape from poverty and better not just his life but that of his family.

 

Achieving that goal made him take baseball seriously, very seriously.  It pushed George to be the consummate professional, to study hitting, to practice fielding and to push himself to win every day.   That seriousness, plus the racial divisions of the time, not to mention the contrast in personalities, led to a lot of conflict over Scott's 14 year career.

Despite his 271 career home runs, his eight Gold Gloves and three All-Star appearances, Scott's time in the game always seemed to have turbulence attached to it.  While this book glosses over the way that Scott may have contributed to that turbulence, there is a lot here that can be read between the lines, including unfortunately the legacy of racism in the game.

That said, Long Taters is a good read, though hardly a unique one.  Those who saw Scott play will no doubt enjoy it, and it will shed some light on this enigmatic slugger and the struggles he faced over his long career and then afterwards as he tried to find work in baseball as a coach, manager or even on the autograph/memorabilia market after bad investments took what he had earned in his major league career.

In some ways it's a depressing story with moments of elation mixed in.  However, Scott's story was one that many older ballplayers faced and some still face today.  Baseball's stars weren't always multimillionaires and even today some still struggle with bills the way that ordinary people do.

Give this book a solid 2 balls and take a peek into the past when racism and struggling for credibility was the norm for black ballplayers, be they Hall of Famers like Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron or just better than average players like George Scott.

AtHomePlate.com writes its book reviews with the following rating scale in mind:
Four Balls: An exceptional book that truly earns a walk straight to the local book store to get a copy.
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One Ball: This book has something to say but is nothing special.