Remembering Mr. Baseball: Arthur Schott
One by one, the Schott sons – and there are seven – thanked me for the kind words said about their father.
Arthur Schott, Louisiana’s official baseball historian, died on May 27, weeks before his 98th birthday.
On the following Saturday, on our “Three Tailgaters” radio show on 990-AM, Ken Trahan, Rick Gaille and I simply stated the facts: Not only did Arthur Schott know a lot about baseball, but he also was one of the best people we have ever known.
In July 2009, I did a television interview with Arthur as he celebrated his 91st birthday. He was sharp as ever. His lovely bride of 68 years, Mary, his incredible family, and, of course, baseball, kept him young into his 90s.
I never got tired of the routine. We would come to the front of his Lakeview home, and when we rang the doorbell, the ring tone was “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
Inside, Schott would ask me to sign his guestbook. Then, and now, all I could think was, what an honor.
Because of Schott, I learned that the Philadelphia Athletics trained in Lake Charles. I learned that the Yankees trained in New Orleans. And, I learned quickly, Schott was a huge fan of Babe Ruth. A poster of Ruth stood omnipresent in his office.
After Katrina, as the levees broke, I panicked. What happened to Arthur’s memorabilia? What happened to his countless books, artifacts and newspaper clippings? To have Katrina take those away would have been especially cruel.
Months later, when I relayed my concerns to Arthur, he laughed. “Don’t worry,” he said. “The good stuff went upstairs.”
Only a few inches of water invaded his home. Some wonderful items were saved.
I will save the great memories of my short time with this wonderful man. I remember going to a Metairie restaurant and visiting with a baseball group that Arthur organized regularly. Among those who attended were former Red Sox lefty and Pelicans manager Mel Parnell and former big league infielder Gene Freese.
Of course, Arthur Schott could tell you every last nuance of their big league careers. That his knowledge of the game was encyclopedic goes without saying. Long before Bill James and the “Baseball Prospectus,” long before Sabermetrics stormed baseball, Arthur was ahead of the curve.
This Father’s Day, the Schott sons will be without their dad for the first time. But, their day shouldn’t be one of sadness. They had an incredible role model for all those years, and for that, the Schott sons and many others should be especially grateful.