July 1, 1987 - The Empire State Baseball League, which opens its inaugural season tomorrow at Hofstra, is destined to be remembered for its managers.
Three months since former Dodgers general manager Al Campanis said that blacks "may not have some of the necessities to be, let's say, a field manager or a general manager," the Empire State League looks like an oasis.
"I really believe baseball is fair," said Paul Blair, 43, the former
centerfielder for the Orioles, Yankees and Reds, who will manage the Sounds. "The Campanis thing is something that opened up doors. Most of us didn't really pursue [managing jobs] in the way we should have in order to knock down doors. I think I was not purposely overlooked because I was black. "
Blair coached Fordham to a 13-14 season in 1982 but could not find a professional managing job when he left the school in 1983.
"The bottom line of any owner is, `Can you win for us? ' It doesn't matter what color you are. There are just not enough of us in the minor leagues. "
Now, thanks to Jay Acton, Eric Margenau, Ann Margenau and Steve
Cooper, the principal owners of the league, there are four more.
"Baseball has been a white game for a long time," said Acton, who
like the other three owners is white. "It's time to mix the brew. " He
added that the league also will employ one black umpire and another umpire who is a woman.
"We didn't pick these people just because they were black," Acton
said. "We picked them because of their baseball skills. They were the four best managers we could put out there. "
Scott, 43, who hit 271 home runs during his 14-year major-league
career with the Red Sox, Brewers, Royals and Yankees, said he looks forward to displaying his managing skills in the United States after having managed five years in Mexico and one season each in Venezuela and Puerto Rico.
"It's a chance for me to show that I am a good baseball man," said
Scott, who will manage the Diggers. "I've told people in the past that I am a good baseball man. Now, I'll put my knowledge on the line. "
Scott's situation resembles that of Reapers manager Bernardo
Leonard, a longtime manager in Mexico, and the brother of Giants
outfielder Jeff Leonard. The only manager for whom the league does not represent a step in a lengthy battle for a pro managing job is Flood, 30, who planned to play in Venezuela or Italy this summer, but who will run the Whalers instead. Flood, the nephew of former major leaguer Curt Flood and a graduate of Commack South High School, has no managerial experience.
The approximately 80 players, who tried out at one of three
workouts held this month, will live in Hofstra's dormitories. Two
games are scheduled daily until Aug. 21. Acton, who along with Eric Margenau owns two other minor-league franchises, expects the level of play in this non-affiliated rookie league to equal that of the New York-Penn rookie league, where their Watertown Pirates play.
"The scouts can't possibly see all the people," said Acton, who
anticipates that major-league scouts will frequent the games. "Some are bound to slip through the cracks."