The following article is part of a series on the ballot paper for the 2022 Early Baseball Era Committee, which covers managers and long-retired players whose candidacies will be voted on December 5th. For Jay Jaffe’s introduction to the ballot paper, see here.
2022 Early Baseball Candidate: George “Tubby” Weight
|Source||H||HR||AVG / OBP / SLG||OPS +||WAR|
|Baseball Reference (Major Negro Leagues)||686||64||.319 / .421 / .509||147||22.3|
|Seamheads (All Black baseball)||897||71||.326 / .423 / .513||141||24.9|
Baseball reference data only covers games with teams in leagues recognized as majors in the period 1920-48. Seamheads data includes games with independent teams, but not within Latin leagues or exhibitions against white major leagues.
George “Tubby” Scales was a right-handed infielder and slugger. Considered one of the Negro League’s greatest basketball scorers, Scales struck for both average and power, and was also a versatile infielder who could play multiple positions. His nickname “Tubby” came from his impressive physical presence compared to other players at the time; The weights checked in at 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, but as is often the case with Negro League players, there is a certain inconsistency in the contemporary accounts of his height and weight (they do not even agree on his middle name). In 1928 New York Age tribute written after the Scales beat a particularly impressive home run in a showdown against the Cuban Stars, John F. Condon wrote:
“The baseball players from previous years and the eager players in the colored ranks discussed competitive advantages to different stars today when the author heard the name of George Scales mentioned.
It was my extreme pleasure to play against such colorful celebrities as the three Jacksons, White, Seldon, Clarence Williams, Roy Thomas Grant, Monroe and others of the same caliber in their prime, and I can safely say that as an all-a- the round man George Scales is the same age as any of them.
It is true that Monroe, Grant, McClellan, Harrison and Clarence Williams were teams “par excellence” in their respective positions, but George Scales as a general player is considered favorable when the deadly parallel about stars is drawn. “
Condon went on to say, “On Sunday, September 16, 1928, it is claimed that his home run against the Cuban Stars is the longest hit ever at the Protectory Oval.” It was just one of the many highlights Scales achieved during a 40-year professional career spent as a player and manager, and often both.
Scales was born in Talladega, Alabama, on August 16, 1900. Before signing as a shortstop with the Montgomery Gray Sox of the Negro Southern League in 1919, he attended high school at Talladega College for two years, where he played on the school team. As Condon noted in his tribute, Scales demonstrated his suitability in the field at an early age:
“[B]Before he was sixteen years old, he was chosen by the college there to cover the short garden, which he did to perfection, and surprised the talent and the wise beyond all conjecture or calculation.
Such lightning double play and quick perception on the part of Scales was recorded by the board of Montgomery, which the members placed in the “Capital” team along the Alabama River in his home country during 1919-20. ”
In 1920, he helped the Gray Sox win a pennant. In 1921, he was promoted to the St. Louis Giants in the first Negro National League. During his career, Scales played for the St. Louis Giants (1921), St. Louis Stars (1922-23), New York Lincoln Giants (1923-25, ’26 -29), Newark Stars (1926), Homestead Grays ( 1925, ’29 -31, ’35), New York Black Yankees (1932-34, ’36, ’39, ’45) and Baltimore Elite Giants (1938, ’40 -44, ’46). He also played for the Almendares of the Cuban Winter League (1927), and the Estrellas Orientales and the Santo Domingo Stars of the Dominican Republic (1937). In the 1930 season with the Grays – a team that also included Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston, among others – he led the team with an average of 0.398 and 0.496 at base and was second after Gibson in slugging (0.597) and OPS + (162); the club went 45-15-1 and finished first among the eastern independent clubs.
Scales bat was superlative. According to statistics at the Baseball Reference, which includes games with teams in leagues recognized as majors in the period 1920-48, he was a .319 / .421 / .509 career striker, with 64 home runs, 147 OPS + and 22.3 WAR, all while playing first, second, third, shortstop and in the field. He had 14 seasons in the major Negro leagues where he beat 0.300 or better, averaging over 0.400 in two of them.
Meanwhile, the Seamheads Negro Leagues database, which also includes Scales’ time spent on independent teams but not in Latin leagues or in leagues against major white leagues, gives him a career line of .326 / .423 / .513, 71 home runs and 24.9 WAR . The final number ranks 34th overall among Negro League players and 22nd among position players. Among the Negro League players in the Seamheads database who are not yet in the Hall of Fame, Scales’ WAR ranks 12th overall, sixth among position players and second among other basemen. He ranks ninth in his career extinction percentage among Negro leagues with at least 3,000 record appearances; the eight players in front of him – Gibson, Turkey Stearnes, Mule Suttles, Charleston, Jud Wilson, Willie Wells, Martín Dihigo and Cristóbal Torriente – are all in the Hall of Fame. Among Negro League position players with at least 3,000 PA who are not yet in the hall, he ranks first in stroke average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS +.
Baseball was a year-round occupation for Scales. He played and managed in both the United States and the Caribbean. In 1937, he was part of a group of Negro League ball players who made history – both for their game and their willingness to act contrary to the Negro National League teams that employed them. Together with Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson and others, Scales jumped off the contract to play for more money in the Dominican Republic (Paige is said to have recruited some black baseball stars without the permission of their team owners). Players who left their Negro National League teams to play in the Caribbean were suspended or boycotted by the “Negro organized ball”. Scales played for Estrellas Orientales, while Bell, Gibson and Paige played for Ciudad Trujillo, named after the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo; it was considered one of the largest Negro teams ever assembled. As the legend would have it, “Paige set up for life” under the threat of death from Trujillo’s men.
When they returned, the players formed Trujillos All-Stars and stormed around the United States with Scales as player manager. They also played under the names Satchel Paige All-Stars, Dominican All-Stars and Negro League All-Stars. Their US children’s touring tour included playing in and winning the prestigious Denver Post Tournament, with an 11-2 score in their final match in the championship series. The tournament, which featured the 16 best semi-pro and independent teams in the country, pitted the Trujillo squad against teams such as Grover Cleveland Alexander’s McVittes Restaurant team (Springfield, IL), “Slingin ‘Sammy Baughs Pampa Oilers (TX) club, Roger Hornsbys Denver Bay Refiners, and Oliver “The Ghost” Marcelle play third base for the otherwise “all-white” Goalstone Brothers Jewelers team from Denver.
Trujillo’s All-Stars was just one of Scale’s many stints as a player manager; In fact, he is often remembered as much for his leadership qualities as a bat. When the New York Black Yankees organized in 1932, the Scales franchise became the first manager. From 1921-43 he was involved in several Negro League teams as both player and player manager. He was the player manager of the New York Black Yankees (1932-34, ’39, ’45), Santo Domingo Stars (1937) and Baltimore Elite Giants (1938, ’43); he also managed the Giants after he finished playing in 1947. In 1939, Tom Wilson, president of the Negro National League, selected the Scales to lead the East squad in both of the very popular East-West All-Star games at Chicago’s Comiskey Park . Although the Easterners lost the first match 4-2, they beat the West in the second match three weeks later 10-2.
He also had one successful leadership career in the Puerto Rican Winter League, first with Aguadilla Tiburones (1939) and then Ponce Leones (1940-49, ’58, ’59) and Santurce Cangrejeros (1950-51). Scales won six pennants in Puerto Rico, including five championships in six seasons from 1941-47 with Ponce Leones; he was named Manager of the Year four times.
Because of his tendency to discriminate against referees, the legendary baseball writer Wendell Smith once asked that George Scales be banned from baseball forever. In his column “The Sports Beat” in Pittsburgh Courier in 1945 Smith wrote:
“The match in Newark on Sunday was called because George Scales cursed the referees so loudly and for a long time that there was nothing else to do. If he had been put out of the match, he probably would have called his team off the field anyway … so the referees denied him that joy by rejecting the whole thing. Scales held a similar demonstration in Pittsburgh this year. He disagreed with a decision given by Judge Bill Harris. His insulting language could be heard by women and children in the stands. He kept the ball game up for fifteen minutes while arguing about a decision that was based solely on judgment. He is not the only manager who resorts to swearing, but he is certainly the most consistent. ”
Two weeks before the incident to which Smith referred, Scales contested a conversation so vehemently that he pulled the Black Yankees off the field in the fifth inning; the game was lost to the Philadelphia Stars. After Smith’s column was published, the Memphis competition was not only lost, but the team was fined $ 500. The Negro National League called for the dismissal of Scales and he was replaced, even though he joined the team as a player.
Despite being incredibly (and controversially) confrontational as a manager, Scales was a mentor. He is credited with guidance Roy Campanella, then a 16-year-old backup catcher for the Scales-managed Baltimore Elite Giants. Scales returned to the Elite Giants in 1946, his last season with the team, as a coach. That was when he taught future major leaguer Jim “Junior” Gilliam how to play both second base and switch-hit. In an interview with John B. Holway a few years before his death, Scales said: “I want to be a teacher. I can see many mistakes. I see them on TV, a lot of it: in their punching position, the way they throw, the way they pose. They go off on the wrong foot on the baseline, they hit the base with the wrong foot, they can not turn, they run too far out of the baseline. ”
Although he never managed it himself, Scale’s influence and influence came to the Major Leagues through the players he coached. After the Negro National League unfolded, he served as travel secretary for the Elites after they became part of the Negro American League. Scales returned to the Ponce Lions in 1958 and ’59 to end his career; he was inducted into the Puerto Rican Baseball Hall of Fame as manager in 1996. After retiring from baseball, Scales worked as a stockbroker. He died on April 15, 1976. He was one of the 39 candidates on the final ballot that was considered by the Hall of Fame’s special committee for the Negro leagues in 2006, but was not introduced.
Although he never came to Major League Baseball, Scales was a pioneer, a decorated manager, and as Roy Campanella told Ted Page in Pittsburgh Courier in 1963, “when it came to hitting, I’m convinced that no one in organized baseball today could hit a basket ball better than George Scales, big, graceful, powerful, smart.” It’s about as Hall of Fame worthy as it gets.