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Great Scotts left indelible mark on St. Charles sports

Tanner Cook • May 9, 2020 at 2:30 PM

ST. CHARLES — When studying the sports history of St. Charles High School, one family name continually pops up.

The Scotts have been synonymous with athletic success in Lee County and the family left its mark on St. Charles before it closed in 1970.

The baseball team in particular was a powerhouse in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Two players — both outstanding left-handed pitchers nicknamed “Lefty” — helped spark a sports dynasty in the heart of the county.

Hobart “Lefty” Scott began his career on the St. Charles diamond in the late 1920s. Frank “Lefty” Scott came along in the late 1950s and drew attention from major league scouts from as far away as St. Louis.

The Scotts that followed Frank in the early 1960s helped keep alive St. Charles’ string of success to the end.

HOBART, THE TRAVELING MAN

One of eight children, Hobart and his six brothers often played baseball on the St. Charles field while others filled in the remaining two positions.

He received a lot of attention from major league scouts, who noted that he threw hard and had good command of his pitches for such a young player.

He was a free spirit off the field, but people highly positioned in baseball liked what they saw.

In 1934, Hobart signed with the Boston Red Sox, who assigned him to the Knoxville Smokies in Class A. He played two seasons in Knoxville and started a third before going to the Gastonia Baseball Club.

Gastonia was a member of the Carolina “Outlaw” League, an independent league that frequently allowed players to leave their contracts to play for teams in other leagues.

One of the reasons Hobart did this was the opportunity to make more money — about $200 per month — than he would playing in Knoxville.

But the league folded after the 1938 season, leaving him to look for work elsewhere. Knoxville wanted him back, but the league’s commissioner said otherwise.

After some disputes saying he left for “the temptation of more money,” he was reinstated to the South Atlantic League in August 1939.

Though Hobart signed a contract with Southeastern League Anniston in 1940, he returned to Lee County and pitched part of the season for the Pennington Miners of the Appalachian League.

Hobart pitched his last season for the Appy League’s Erwin Aces in 1943. He returned to St. Charles and lived there for the reminder of his days.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, Hobart pitched 333 innings over 61 games and had a 15-22 record with a 3.62 ERA.

Hobart was the uncle to the Scott clan that played baseball for St. Charles.

“I remember that my uncle’s hands were so big that he could practically make the ball disappear,” nephew Jerry said. “He was the one that really got Frank interested in baseball. Frank was my brother that was 11 years older than me. He had big hands like Hobart and my uncle kind of showed him the ropes.”

FRANK, THE PRODIGY

Frank was arguably the best baseball player of all the Scotts.

To start his sophomore campaign in 1956 at St. Charles High School, Frank pitched five consecutive shutouts and one no-hitter.

The following summer, between his sophomore and junior years in high school, he pitched the St. Charles Miners to the Mountain States League championship. The MSL was one of the independent predecessors to the modern Appy League, which was rebooted in 1957.

His junior and senior years — and with pro scouts watching nearly every game — his high school team rode Frank’s powerful left arm to back-to-back county championships.

In 1958, he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals, who assigned him to Albany of the Georgia-Florida League.

Following a full season with the Hobbs Cardinals of the Sophomore League, Frank compiled his best season in the minors in 1960. He went 11-7 for Dothan of the Alabama-Florida League with a 3.25 ERA. He was ready to move up and the organization wanted to do so.

Bu suddenly, the promising 21-year-old lefty gave up on his pursuit of the majors despite being sought after by St. Louis.

“From what I understand, Frank wanted to be a family man,” Jerry said. “He had a new baby, a young wife and was away from home a lot. The club really did want to move him. He’d tell you that if he was alive today. There was an agreement with St. Louis that he had five years before he could sign another contract and there was some pushback from the club about him quitting. After the contract was up, I think Pittsburgh talked to him, but he never went back.

“I had actually never seen my brother pitch because I was so much younger than him. When he came back and I started running around with him, that’s really when I started to love baseball.”

The career of arguably the best pitcher to come out of Lee County was at an end.

EARL, THE LEADER

St. Charles High School was something to watch in the early 1960s.

Among the names on the 1960 and 1961 teams were Alan Hammons, Freddie Sprinkle, Bill Johnson, Wayne Dean, David Rogers, Don Roop, Larry Kirk, Verlin Martin, Ronnie Thomas, Roy Marlow, Oscar Turner, Darrell Sorah and William “Satch” Roberts.

Plus there were three Scotts: James, Charles and Earl.

James was a pitcher but mostly played in the infield. Charles was a starter in center field known for his plate awareness and sneakiness on the bases.

Earl was, by all accounts, the leader of the team, taking the mound in all but three games his last two years. He compiled a 9-6 record and a 1.12 ERA, pitching 103 2/3 innings with 146 strikeouts, in those seasons. He was dominant though still not thought of as highly as his cousin before him.

Earl led St. Charles to back-to-back winning seasons and to the county championship game once, but St. Charles lost the deciding third game in 1961 to Jonesville.

In a ’61 game against Keokee, St. Charles got down 2-0 after the first inning but battled back behind Earl’s eight-strikeout, complete-game performance. Among the players on that Keokee team was Roger Morris, who went on to Cumberland College and later signed with the California Angels, playing two years in the majors.

JERRY, MR. DO-IT-ALL

Jerry had his own run of success after graduating in 1969, but he was quick to give a lot of the credit to his teammates.

“I really didn’t excel much in any particular sport, but I just loved being around the guys I had grown up,” Jerry said. “The sports at St. Charles really kept me going because all of those guys that I played with those four years were outstanding men both on and off the field. It felt pretty good to get that championship for Coach Charlie James. He coached everything and St. Charles meant so much to him.”

Probably few athletes in Lee County have lettered in as many sports as Jerry did at St. Charles. He was part of four district championship teams and the 1969 county title team.

His final performance on the diamond was an eight-inning complete game in which he allowed three hits and fanned 14 in a 2-1 win over Thomas Walker for the county championship. That was the school’s last title before it shut the doors.

“We had grown up playing those guys all four years and sometimes, they would tag me and rough me up when I was pitching. They didn’t do much that day, though,” Jerry said. “I sat them down and it was so gratifying to win that championship with that group of guys. It meant so much more to win the championship at St. Charles because we were small and the competition was big time back then.

“That trophy is still sitting in my garage and it’s not going anywhere.”

Jerry earned 15 letters total in high school, including twice getting five in one year.

St. Charles won three consecutive district cross country championships and Jerry, in 10th place, was the top finisher in 1967.

St. Charles won the district football title in 1967 and 1968 with Jerry earning first team all-district honors as a utility player. He totaled 42 points in one season on five touchdowns, nine extra points and one field goal.

Jerry was one of the basketball team’s leading scorers. He and Gary Collingsworth each averaged over 14 points in the 1968-69 season.

OTHER SCOTT STANDOUTS

Elijah also was a multisport athlete, lettering in football, track, cross country and baseball in his junior year. He was the team’s winningest pitcher in 1967. He pulled a Sam Malone one time, pitching the last four innings of a combined no-hitter with Jim Salyers against Flatwoods after throwing the earlier game when he relieved first cousin Jerry in the sixth.

Lois, Becky and Fay all played basketball for St. Charles. Fay played all four years plus threw the discus in track. All three were good scorers for St. Charles back when the game was 6-on-6 for girls.

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