George Scales


"George Scales was one of the best right-handed hitters that ever lived, and one of the best curve ball hitters that ever lived.
"
--Double Duty Radcliffe
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Negro Leaguer of the Month
May, 2006

George "Tubby" Scales

Born: August 16, 1900 in Talladega, Alabama

Died: April 1976 in Los Angeles, CA
Ht:5'-11", Wt: 215
Batted right and threw right
Position: second base, third base, first base, outfield, manager
Years: 1919-1952
Teams: Montgomery Grey Sox, Pittsburgh Keystones, St. Louis Giants, St. Louis Stars, New York Lincoln Giants, Homestead Grays, Newark Stars, Baltimore Elite Giants, New York Black Yankees, Philadelphia Stars, Birmingham Black Barons

Very few players in the history of baseball actually preferred hitting curve balls over fastballs, but George Scales was one of those rare players. Even the great curve ball pitchers of the Negro Leagues (Hilton Smith, Ted Trent, Leon Day, Max Manning, Sug Cornelius) would think twice before throwing a curve ball to Scales in a clutch situation.

Scales grew up in the baseball hotbed of Alabama, and was playing for money at age 19 with the Montgomery Grey Sox, a team that Willie Mays would play for 25 years later.

Scales earned his nickname because of his heavy build, sometimes exceeding 225 pounds. He was, however, a fast base runner, and excelled as a second baseman. He was known to have a great arm, and was a wonder at turning double plays.

Scales played for many teams in his 30+ years in the Negro Leagues, but is remembered best as a member of the great Homestead Grays teams of the 1920s and 30s.

Scales fit right in with the 1931 Grays, thought to be the top Negro League team in history, because of his talent and willingness to fight. The Grays had several brawlers on the team: Scales, Ted Page, George Britt, Oscar Charleston and Jud Wilson. Scales and Page were roommates, and once got into a fistfight in which Page knocked out two of Scales' teeth. They slept in the same bed later that night, one armed with a gun, the other with a knife.

After the 1932 season, Double Duty Radcliffe was asked by the Chicago Defender newspaper to name who he thought were the top players in the Negro Leagues, and he chose Scales as his second baseman in an infield with Jud Wilson at third, Dick Lundy at shortstop, George Giles at first and Biz Mackey behind the plate. The team also included outfielders Cool Papa Bell, Fats Jenkins and Turkey Stearnes, pitchers Satchel Paige and Willie Foster, and manager Bingo DeMoss.

In his prime, Scales batted over .400 in league games, with good gap power, but he wasn't a big home run hitter. He usually batted in the .320-.350 range, similar in skill and style to the modern day's Edgar Martinez.

In 1938, Scales joined the Baltimore Elite Giants and took over as manager, replacing the popular Biz Mackey. Scales was not a terribly popular manager with the players because he was very demanding and had a quick temper (a Billy Martin type), but he knew the game and had everyone's respect.

Scales, like Pete Rose decades later, was always willing to change positions to help his teams, and he played more than 100 games at first base, third base, shortstop and outfield, besides his regular post at second.

Scales played 12 winters in Puerto Rico, and played in the Dominican Republic in 1937.

After retiring from baseball, Scales, who had attended college at Talladega College as a youngster, become a successful stockbroker in Los Angeles.

In 1996, Scales was inducted into the Puerto Rican Baseball Hall of Fame.

XXX

 


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