Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Interview Part 3: Donnie Scott, Curtain Call

Madison manager Donnie Scott chats with a fan before an August 2014 game at Kalamazoo. Scott gave fans a curtain call in April 1985 after hitting two home runs in a game. (G21D Photo)
Part 1: Down the Road | Part 2: So Neat
Part 3: Curtain Call | Part 4: Did Humble

Donnie Scott had already tied this April 1985 game in the ninth with a home run.

In the 10th, facing the Brewers' Ray Searage, Scott won it. He did it on his second home run of the game.

"He threw one fastball by me and I said, 'Please, throw that again,'" Scott recalled to The Greatest 21 Days in August, "and he put it in the same spot. I got fortunate enough to connect."

On top of it all, the switch-hitting Scott hit the two home runs from opposite sides of the plate.

"That was probably the highlight of my career, that's for sure," Scott said. "It was a neat feeling. The fans were great. I ended up having a curtain call and all that. I never got to do anything like that again or anything like that.

"But that night was very, very special."

The Greatest 21 Days caught up with Scott in August in Kalamazoo, Mich. That's where Scott's Madison Mallards were taking on the Kalamazoo Growlers in collegiate Northwoods League action.
Madison manager Donnie Scott walking along the first base line at Kalamazoo in August 2014. (G21D Photo)
From the visitor's clubhouse at Kalamazoo's Homer Stryker Field, Scott recounted his career, starting with growing up learning to switch-hit in Florida. His major league career was one that spanned nine years, but one where he saw time in just four individual seasons.

Scott then went on to his long minor league managerial career with the Reds. Since then, though, he's found a home coaching college kids in the summer, in the Northwoods League. This past summer was his second with Madison. In 2011, he coached Battle Creek and won league Manager of the Year honors.

Scott joined the Mariners for 1985, traded there from the Rangers just before the season's start for Orlando Mercado. (Mercado Interview)

Scott had played 81 games for the Rangers in 1984, hitting .221, with three home runs. On the final day of the season, though, Scott couldn't get a hit. Nobody else on the Rangers could, either.

On the final day of the season, Scott and the Rangers faced the Angels and Mike Witt. Witt ended up throwing a perfect game in a 1-0 California win.

Scott figured in the Angels' only run. In the top of the seventh, Doug DeCinces hit a single. Scott thought he'd try to pick DeCinces off with a throw to first.

Instead, Scott didn't even catch the Charlie Hough pitch.
Madison Mallards manager Donnie Scott, No. 3, behind home plate just before an August 2014 game at Kalamazoo. (G21D Photo)
"That mitt, it was just so big," Scott recalled. "I had no business trying to do it and I forced it and let that thing go by."

A ground out sent DeCinces to third and then a fielder's choice brought the run home.

Scott went 0 for 2. He recalled seeing seven total pitches from Witt, all curveballs. Scott struck out both times.

"I don't think anybody was going to hit him that day," Scott said of Witt. "He was on."

Traded to the Mariners for 1985, Scott debuted with his new club April 26. Scott got a hit that day and one in his third game two days later. His fourth game was April 29, against Milwaukee.

He actually started that game as a goat. A couple passed balls from the catcher led to an earlier run.

By the bottom of ninth inning, Scott's Mariners were down by one. Scott was due up first against future Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers.

Scott recalled hearing the story later from Chuck Cottier that the original plan was for Scott to not hit at all. Cottier wanted to send someone else to bat.

"I was already starting to the plate," Scott recalled of the account. "He said,'aw, just let him (hit).'"
Madison manager Donnie Scott, top right, in the dugout at Kalamazoo in August 2014. (G21D Photo)
And Scott did.

"A split-finger, 0-2 pitch," Scott recalled. "He hung it and I hit that out."

He tied the game. He then won it one inning later.

Scott went on to play in 80 games for the Mariners that year. He also hit just two other home runs. He never played every day, something Scott recalled was difficult.

"Believe me, I got my opportunities," Scott said. "But that would have been something to see what could have happened to play every day. But you've got to earn that right.

"It didn't happen," Scott added, "and I ended up going back to AAA for a while."

For Scott, a while ended up being six seasons. His patience was rewarded with one final call up to the majors - and a post-playing career as a manager in the minors. (Go to Part 4)

Part 1: Down the Road | Part 2: So Neat
Part 3: Curtain Call | Part 4: Did Humble

Go to Part 4: Donnie Scott, Did Humble

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