Saturday, June 19, 2010

Local resident, Red Sox Hall of Famer Scott responds to baseball ban

GREENVILLE – Thursday’s decision by the Greenville School District to suspend six high school sports was a wake up call for the community, confirming the fears that most had suspected for weeks. Soft-pitch softball, soccer, tennis, golf, power-lifting and baseball were all “suspended” by the district, due to a crushing $163,000 cut in the athletic budget.
Now one legendary area athlete, who catapulted from Coleman High School to a three-time MLB All-Star and Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer, wants the community to come together to save baseball and other sports from extinction.
“This is going to be devastating if (students) don’t have high school baseball to look forward to,” said George Scott, a Greenville native and 14-year MLB veteran, who last played in 1979.
“Because baseball has not been doing well for a while, I think that’s one of the reasons they’re getting rid of baseball,” he continued. “(Eliminating baseball) would be as huge a mistake as when they made Coleman High a junior high school. People are still haunted today because of that.”
Scott said despite recent reports, Thursday was the first he had heard of the athletic cuts. In order for baseball and the five other sports to be renewed, the community will have to play a larger role in athletics, he explained.
“When we played (high school sports) in my day the community came to our games. Not only did mom and father attend the game, but brother, sister and cousin came because they wanted to support their child,” said the 1962 Coleman High graduate, who played quarterback for coach Davis Weathersby.
“It was about developing a support system,” he continued. “If I didn’t have a support system (in high school), I wouldn’t have ever played pro ball.
“But nowadays when you go the (football stadium) on a Friday night, it’s empty.”
Despite Scott’s pleas to save baseball, tough decisions must be made to educate the district’s students, said Superintendent Dr. Harvey Franklin
“Educating our kids is our No. 1 priority,” Franklin said after Thursday’s open budget meeting. Franklin also said that the sports could only be continued if the community rallies together to financially support the programs.
Scott said he is willing to do anything to keep the sport alive that brought him national recognition during his career.
“My knees hurt right now, but I will still give my help,” he said. “I will sit in a chair and help players. Anything I can do to help, I’m willing to do it.”
Sports that were not included in Thursday’s budget cuts were basketball, football, track and field, cross country and fast-pitch softball.
The demise of high school baseball will cause a domino effect to the sport in the area, Scott said.
“Once you take out high school baseball, the rest of the programs will die,” he said. “Little league will be gone too. Kids will stop playing because they don’t have anything to look forward to.”
Scott, a eight-time Gold Glove Award winner, who still lives in the city where his baseball career began, said if the community doesn’t rise up to the challenge, it would be a forceful blow to the education system.
“Everybody says don’t leave a child behind. That’s been the logo for a while,” said Scott. “Well, take a long look at that. This is leaving a lot of children behind.
“If you’re intention is to lose a lot of children, then you’re going about it the right way.”

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