There is a smattering of applause from the hometown Mexico City crowd as George Scott steps into the batter's box, looking as big and fearsome as he did in those far-off days when he was called the Boomer and first base was indisputably his bag. It's the evening of July 21 past. The occasion is the first inning of the 1981 Mexican League All-Star Game. Some 10,000 fans have assembled under the lights of El Parque del Seguro Social (Social Security Park) to watch the Northern Zone play the Southern Zone. Scott is the first baseman for the Mexico City Tigers—Los Tigres of the Western Division of the Southern Zone in the 16-team Mexican League—and for the four months since the season began he has been tanning hide at the plate. Scott is 37 now, but he has been playing baseball with rediscovered fire and performing to cries of "�Arriba King Kong!"—his new appellation. He is loving it again, to be sure, playing the game for fun.
At the plate he waves his bat, plants his feet and strikes that familiar stance. He hunches over as the pitcher throws. It's a fastball sinking, and it cuts across the outside of the plate. Scott reaches out slightly and swings. At the crack of the bat, the ball lifts in a high arc over the first baseman, curving toward the line. Scott gallops toward first, like a timber horse advancing on a fence. The ball drops inside the line, just fair, and scoots off toward the corner. Scott rounds first, his arms pumping, and glances right. Some of the fans are on their feet, holding their tacos and beer, and as he slides into second, they cheer. Safe! Scott rises, dusting his pants, and the electric scoreboard displays the message, one that Boomer never dreamed he'd ever see: DOBLETE DE KING KONG.
Doblete de King Kong, indeed. So this is what has become of old Boomer, the man who hit all those "taters" in the American League—271 home runs in all; who had 1,051 RBIs in his major league career; who appeared in three All-Star Games and one World Series; who won eight Gold Gloves at first base; who used to sit in the Fenway clubhouse after a game, his forearms propped on a table, eating a mile a minute, a meal a moment, his gold teeth flashing and his laugh booming. Before Manager Don Zimmer finally lowered the boom on the Boomer in 1979, Scott had collected his most vivid memories with Boston. But Scott also owns several copies of a baseball card that shows him in the New York Yankee uniform he had wanted to wear since he was a kid. One card sits in a shoe box at his home on Cape Cod, another he keeps in his Mexico City hotel room. And he still has that piece of gold, the letter "B" fashioned in script, fastened to his right front tooth. Every time he brushes his teeth a mirror reminds him he was once the Boomer.
"Nobody could have ever told me I'd end up in the Mexican League," Scott says. "Somebody had told me that, I would have knocked him out."
But there he is. Gone are the days of the $250,000-a-year salary, the fast trips by jet from major league city to major league city, the spacious clubhouses, the well-lit, well-kept playing fields, the big hotels and fancy restaurants on the road—the life he came to know in the bigs. After being dumped by both the Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals, he finished the 1979 season with the Yankees, hitting .318 in 16 games, and all at once found that his 14-year career as a major-leaguer was over. Today he makes $6,000 a month, frequently travels by bus, plays on rough, dim fields, lives in less commodious hotels and eats in towns where the water, more than the opposing pitchers, is the hazard. Where once he played in Boston, Chicago and New York, he now hits the high spots of Campeche, Chihuahua and Coatzacoalcos, the kind of places where restive fans are said to have thrown rattlesnakes into the visitors' dugout.
Scott had been a stranger in places before, but never so strange a stranger as he has found himself to be in parts of Mexico. In the city of Campeche not long ago, while taking a stroll with teammate Carlos Rios, he noticed that a small girl kept running around behind him and looking at the seat of his pants, as if they were split. Scott asked Rios what she was looking for. "Probably your tail," he said.
Scott still laughs about it. He finds that comes easier these days, looking back and laughing, for not only has he come to terms with what happened to him—on the field and off—but also feels he has begun to fashion from the drift and confusion of the last few years a sense of place and a permanence in his life.
The Mexican League is designated Triple A, but it seems closer to Double A ball. Scott abides it and the rigors of the summer heat—not in the hope of returning to the majors, an old dream he regards now as remote, but rather to make enough to live on while earning a chance to manage Los Tigres one day. The president and field manager of the team, Chito Garcia, plans to move up to the front office at the end of the season, and he and the team's owner, Mexico City businessman Alejo Peralta, have said they are considering Scott for the manager's job. "He looks like a possible leader," says Garcia, 57. "He's trying to help my boys. He's been an example for the team. People know him and respect him."
Scott lives at the Hotel California in a spacious $32-a-day suite that overlooks an adjacent wall—"I'm going to try to move and get a view of the park"—and includes two beds, a television set and a telephone, which rings frequently. It's ringing now, just as the maid knocks on the door.
"�Bomo! �Bomo!" Boomer bellows mysteriously to the maid, who is carrying fresh sheets. Asked what "bomo" means, he says, "Come in." The maid bomos, sees that he's on the phone, giggles and leaves. On the phone, Scott is talking to a Mexican friend in a language he sort of invents as he goes along, an amalgam of English, Spanish and Italian that he speaks in the accent of his boyhood days in Greenville, Miss. It has plenty of "porques" and "buts" and even an occasional "mio," as in O S�le Mio. The hotel operator had failed to inform Scott that the friend called earlier, and Scott is heroically trying to explain why he never returned the call: "�S�? El operator no se mio el tel�fono. �S�! But no...give...it to me. No habla con mio. She no tell mio!"