Vandalia Guaranteed Air Freight ace Alan Meinhart does not mince words when discussing a man he loved playing with as much as he hated pitching against.
‘For years, I regarded Dave Scott as one of the most challenging and worthy opposing hitters that I had a chance to pitch against,’ Meinhart said. ‘Simply put, he was regarded by most as the best leadoff hitter in the state for over a decade.’
The American Softball Association recognized this commonly held belief recently by announcing Scott will be inducted into its hall of fame next month.
Scott will be among the six individuals and four teams honored during formal induction ceremonies, to be held Saturday, March 15, at the Decatur Hotel and Convention Center.
The Brownstown native said he could never have foreseen the honor coming along so soon after diabetes forced him to retire after the 2003 season.
‘I was glad it happened,’ Scott said ‘I thought I had a good shot, but I figured it’d be five or 10 years down the road.
‘It’s kind of a crowning achievement for all the years I put in it – and my body still feels from it,’ added Scott with a laugh.
Scott piled up an extensive list of team and individual accolades during a career spanning 26 years.
The versatile first baseman/outfielder/designated player earned eight ASA all-state selections, including five in a row between 1989 and 1993.
In the 17 seasons in which statistics are available, Scott compiled an eye-popping .430 batting average and 376 stolen bases. In 14 of those seasons, Scott finished with a batting average above .400.
As impressive as those individual numbers are, Scott’s teams achieved even greater success thanks in large part to his leadership skills.
‘For the 10 years I played with Scotty, I regarded him as teammate of the year every season,’ Meinhart said. ‘Since then, I regard him as a good friend who is more than worthy of this honor and one former teammate I miss the most.’
Scott made a similar impression on Ramsey High School principal Nick Casey in the one season they played together with the Freight.
‘His play was excellent,’ Casey said. ‘But the biggest contribution to our team was the leadership that he provided to the younger players on the team. Dave was a great player and even a better teammate.’
Scott helped three Class A teams – Tate’s Farm Equipment (1989), Nokomis Bud Light (2001) and the Freight (2003) – win Class A ASA state championships.
He also helped two other teams to second-place finishes at state in Class A, while 10 of his teams finished second in the state in Class 2A.
All told, Scott played in 13 ASA National Tournaments in his 26 seasons, suiting up for various area teams, including: Altamont Blue Mound Tavern, Tate’s Farm Equipment, Bloomington Hearts, Bonnutti Softball Club, Nokomis Bud Light and the Vandalia Freight.
He lists the many relationships he developed with those various team’s players as one of his biggest career highlights.
‘It was just the competition and camaraderie,’ said Scott, when asked about the fondest memories of his career. ‘And I was lucky to always be on good teams.’
One of those good teams was the 2003 Freight, which Scott helped lead to state title. But one of Scott’s more memorable career highlights was followed by his biggest disappointment, as diabetes forced him to hang up his spikes prematurely.
‘I wish I’d been able to play more years with Rich and those guys in Vandalia,’ Scott said.
Casey felt fortunate to play one summer with Scott, however.
‘When I played against him, it seemed he was involved in every key play in the game, and his performance was a factor,’ Casey said.
Scott’s leadership skills also translated well in the dugout during his six seasons as a player/manager, as he compiled a 277-91 record in heading up Bonnutti Softball Club and Nokomis Bud Light.
Family has also been a big part of Scott’s fast-pitch success story. Scott tagged along with his father’s team when he was a youth, bringing his glove with him to every game, hoping for a chance to play.
That chance finally came along when he was in high school. A few years later, Scott found himself playing alongside his brother, Troy, as well.
‘Probably the top moment I had was when I had a chance to play with my brother and dad (Jack) at Altamont,’ Scott said. ‘We even hit 1-2-3 in the order a few times.’
Scott, who has also enjoyed a long and successful career as an educator/administrator, is now the superintendent at Grayville and the principal at Wells Elementary School.
His fellow 2008 ASA Hall of Fame inductees are: Richard Tillett (Murphysboro), Tony Romolo (Peoria), Fran Prochaska (Rock Island), Barry Pepper (Wyoming) and Leo Sassatelli (Taylorville).
The Macomb Magic (women’s fast-pitch), Wood River Phonemasters (men’s slo-pitch), Taylorville Blues (boys team) and Decatur Oxygen (men’s slo-pitch) will also be inducted.