I recently moved and last week I was unpacking boxes for my home office. This is the first time I’ve had actual man-space in my home, so I was sifting through old memorabilia trying to find the right mix for my walls. In an old folder I came across an old black and white picture of a baby-faced George “Boomer” Scott, a former Red Sox first baseman. Boomer stood arms at his sides smiling with the Winter Haven spring training facility as his backdrop.
Boomer was one of my heroes when I was a kid. In the 1970s, Boomer was our Big Papi – a larger than life, smiling, power hitter. Born and raised in rural Mississippi, Boomer was a remarkably quick man for his size and his agility helped him earn 8 gold glove awards at first base. But it was his power to hit “taters,” his Mississippi term for the long ball that captured the hearts of Boston Fans.
I quickly found a frame for the old 8×10 of George Scott. Sure, my office isn’t huge – but there certainly had to be room for my old friend.
This past Saturday night, I was sitting in my office and I took notice of that old photo of George Scott. There he was smiling on the wall opposite my desk. I let my mind travel back to the 1970’s; to the days when the Red Sox were a loveable, heart-breaking, working-class team. There was Yaz, Freddy Lynn, Jim Rice, Pudge Fisk and Boomer Scott wearing the classic 1970s Sox uniforms – white pull overs, red hats with blue brims.
And then I said it out loud: “Boomer and the Crunch Bunch!” I could remember an article in Sports Illustrated with that title that I had read as a kid. I wondered if I could find that article. I did a quick internet search and sure enough it led me to the July 4th 1977 Sports Illustrated (the one with Ted Turner on the cover for his America’s Cup yacht racing exploits).
What a summer 1977 was! It remains to this day one of my favorite Red Sox teams and I was thrilled as I recalled the amazing stretch where Boomer and the Crunch Bunch launched 30 home runs in just 10 games; one of the most terrifying exhibitions of power in baseball history.
I did another search for George Scott and found his personal website. There was boomer – older and a little heavy but still the guy who flashed incredible leather at the friendly confines of Fenway Park. Boomer was advertising his autobiography aptly titled “Taters.” Then I noticed the CONTACT button and I figured – what the heck?
So I wrote this note to George Scott this past Saturday Night:
I just want to thank you for all the great memories of baseball you provided to me and many other Red Sox fans. Your exploits in the 1970s – especially 1977 with Boomer and the Crunch Bunch remain some of my favorite sports memories. Thanks for playing the game the right way.
The day after I sent that note, on Sunday, George Scott passed away at age 69. It is unlikely he ever got my note.
Now that I am in my 40’s I am never surprised when a childhood hero dies – it is after all the nature of life. But as I write this I am looking at a black and white photo of Boomer Scott hanging in my office and I am smiling too. There is something glorious about our childhood connection to athletes that never really leaves us.
And for a moment I am standing in Toabe’s Hardware store in Pembroke Massachusetts. I am 12 years old. I am trying to convince my father to buy me a first baseman’s mitt – the George Scott model.
Dad: “Christian, why do you want to play first base? You are too small to play first base.”
Me: “But Dad, Boomer and the Crunch Bunch!”
Dad: [Sighing] “alright.”
Copyright © 2013 cjcheetham