Obituary: Dick Scott (1933-2020)

RIP to Dick Scott, who had two cups of coffee in the major leagues in the 1960s. The Georgia resident died on February 10 at the age of 86. Scott was a left-handed pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers (1963) and Chicago Cubs (1964).

Richard Scott was born on March 15, 1933, in Portsmouth, N.H. He was a four-sport athlete while attending Traip Academy in Kittery, Maine. He lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track before graduating in 1953. Scott signed with the Dodgers after graduation, but he didn’t make his professional baseball debut until 1956 because of military service in the U.S. Army. According to his obituary, he once struck out 19 batters in a game while pitching in the Panama Armed Forces League.

Dick Scott, as a member of the Spokane Indians. Source: Spokane Chronicle, July 9, 1958.

From 1956 through 1960, Scott became one of the most well-traveled minor-leaguers around, as he played for at least two and sometimes three different teams each year. In 1956, he started in Georgia with the Thomasville Dodgers, where he won 15 games with a stellar 2.13 ERA. He closed out the season with the Class-C Great Falls Electrics, where he made 2 appearances. He came back to Portsmouth in the offseason with a trophy, having been named the Georgia-Florida League’s Most Valuable Pitcher.

That trip to Thomasville also led to something more important than a trophy. Scott met his wife, Johnnie Mae Law, there. The two were married for 62 years until his death and had two sons and two daughters. He would move there and spend his offseasons golfing, fishing and working in the city’s meat-packing plant.

In 1957, Scott pitched for the St. Paul Saints and the Pueblo Dodgers, and he struggled in the higher-level leagues. He won 4 games and lost 11. He was made into a reliever in 1958 while pitching for the Saints and the Spokane Indians. He made a good impression on Indians’ skipper Bobby Bragan when he threw 3-1/3 innings of 1-hit relief against the Phoenix Giants on July 8, 1958.

In 1959 he pitched in Spokane, Victoria (Texas) and Macon, and in 1960 it was Montreal, Atlanta and Macon. Scott’s most successful stop was with the Atlanta Crackers in 1960, when he went 8-1 as a starter, with a 2.27 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 83-1/3 innings.

Scott didn’t seem to be exhausted by the dizzying travel. “I’ve been in every state in the United States and a lot of foreign countries, too,” he said in 1963, “and it has all been playing baseball. Yes, baseball has been good to me, and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to play the game. And as long as I can pitch, I’ll stay in it.”

Dick Scott, his wife Johnnie Mae and daughter Terry report to 1959 spring training. Source: Spokane Chronicle, April 13, 1959.

Mercifully, Scott was able to spend all of 1961 with one team, the AAA Omaha Dodgers of the American Association. His record was a rough 9-16 with a 4.57 ERA, and he was sent back to Spokane in 1962 It wasn’t until 1963 when the 30-year-old Scott got the attention of the Dodgers’ big-league club. He got off to a brilliant start, allowing just 2 runs in his first 3 starts, spanning 25-1/3 innings. The Dodgers brought him up to the majors for the first time, in his eighth season with the team.

Scott threw 2 scoreless innings in his MLB debut against the Cardinals on May 8, 1963, allowing only a double to Ken Boyer. He earned the save in an 11-5 win. His next appearance was the very next day, and the Cardinals were ready for him. His first pitch in relief of Pete Richert was knocked over the fence for a grand slam by Bill White. He later gave up a homer to Gene Oliver before getting out of the 5th inning, having allowed 4 runs on 5 hits. He made scattered performances through late July, finishing with a 6.75 ERA in 9 games, including 2 saves. He finished the year with Spokane again, where he ended up with a 2.28 ERA.

That December, the Dodgers traded Scott to the Cubs for pitcher Jim Brewer and catcher Cuno Barragan. Barragan never played for the Dodgers, but Brewer would have a nice career with the team as a reliever.

Scott with the Salt Lake City Bees. Source: The Ogden Standard, June 20, 1964.

Scott started 1964 with the AAA Salt Lake City Bees, and he started off slowly due to some arm problems. He eventually got back on track and was the Bees’ most effective pitcher when he was recalled to the majors on June 24. His first game was a hitless 3-inning appearance against the Reds, where the only baserunner was by a base on balls. More than a week later, he pitched in San Francisco against the Giants, and it went badly. Scott lasted 1/3 of an inning on July 9 while giving up 5 hits and 3 runs, including a 2-run bomb by Willie McCovey. He went back to the mound the very next day with almost the exact same result: 1 inning, 5 hits, 3 runs allowed, including a solo homer by Jesus Alou. The two shellackings by the Giants left him with a 12.46 ERA, and he was sent back to Salt Lake City.

It took some time for Scott to shake off his rough go-round with the Cubs, but he regained his effectiveness by the end of the year. Still, he ended the ’64 season for the Bees with a 5-11 record and 4.19 ERA. It ended up being his last year of professional baseball. He retired after the season at the age of 31.

In a total of 12 appearances in the major leagues, Scott recorded 2 saves and had an ERA of 8.27. In 16-1/3 innings, he allowed 15 earned runs on 27 hits, 8 home runs and 4 walks. He also struck out 7 batters.

Scott and his family, as mentioned, settled in Thomasville, where he worked at Davis Water and Waste Industries for 33 years. He became a top-notch bowler and was inducted into the Thomasville Bowling Association Hall of Fame, as well as the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992.

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