(Photo NY Daily News)
Didn't want Black History Month to pass without paying tribute and what better way of doing so than speaking with Bob Scott? Now 79 years old, Bob, a pitcher/first baseman for the New York Black Yankees, was kind enough to join me this weekend on both my Sirius XM and WFAN-Radio shows. Bob joined the club in 1946 and was paid $175 a month. This was the same year that the color barrier had finally been broken as Jackie Robinson spent that season apprenticing for his Hall of Fame career in Brooklyn with their farm club, the Montreal Royals. Ironically, the signing of Robinson by Branch Rickey of the Dodgers signaled the beginning of the end for the Negro Leagues. And yet, the greats played on. Scott faced the great Buck Leonard, still active in his early 40s, a guy who, even at that advanced age, repeatedly ate his lunch. He also pitched and batted against Satchel Paige, who, by most acccounts, would be 40 years old in 1946. The highlight of his career was being selected by Jackie Robinson to a barnstorming all-star team that afforded him the opportunity to pitch in his hometown of Macon, Georgia. Bob Scott won 35 games in the Negro Leagues and had a career batting average of .278. Bob said those playing in the Negro Leagues never felt excluded from Major League Baseball. Rather, he said, they felt they were the superior league. When you look at what passed for major league teams yearly in Washington and in St. Louis with the Browns, who is to argue? Years ago, the great Buck O'Neill honored by television show with an guest appearance. When I asked him if he and his contemporaries felt left out, he smiled that electric smile of his, looked at me and said, "What's to say we weren't the better league?" To this day, Bob Feller, who barnstromed in the off-season with and against the best ever in the Negro Leagues, would agree. Bob Scott is side by side with Buck O'Neil. "I had all the talent in the world, but I don't live in regret." His exploits and herosim should never be forgotten or taken for granted from that shameful period in our history. With all due respect to Ruth, Gehrig, Mathewson, Foxx and all the others, for me, baseball didn't begin until April 15, 1947, the day Jackie Robinson began his one-man freedom ride down the highway to make us a better people.