Arthur SchottBaseball Historian, 1930-2016
The following obituary was written by Peter Barrouquere for www.SportsNola.com on May 28, 2016. Reprinted by permission.
Arthur Schott’s love, knowledge of baseball was unsurpassed
When you rang the doorbell, you were serenaded by “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
Right there, you knew you’d arrived at Arthur Schott’s home in Lakeview, for that song seemed to serve as his personal anthem.
After being greeted at the door by Arthur and Mary, his wife of 68 years, you were confronted by a life-sized, life-like cardboard cutout of Babe Ruth, a sort gateway to “Cooperstown Jr.,” which Schott called his seemingly endless collection of baseball memorabilia, statistics and reference books, many older than Schott, who was 97 when he passed away Friday (May 27, 2016).
“Mr. Schott was a man that not only loved baseball, but recorded it,” Delgado Community College athletic director and baseball coach Joe Scheuermann and a life-long friend told sports director Ken Trahan on the “Three Tailgaters Show” on Saturday morning.
An understatement, if there ever was one!
“He was the first guy I met here,” said former New York Mets outfielder Ron Swoboda, now an analyst on New Orleans Zephyrs broadcasts. “I had never heard of anybody having a state baseball historian.”
That title was bestowed upon him by then-Gov. Edwin Edwards in 1973.
And, for good reason, as Swoboda soon learned.
“I started talking to him and realized he was everything that was baseball in this area. He was like a walk through baseball history, talking to him. He remembered everything.”
And everyone you talked to remembered Schott the person, maybe even more so than the historian.
“He was a true gentleman, as nice a person as you ever wanted to meet,” former University of New Orleans athletic director and baseball coach Ron Maestri said. “He was a great baseball historian. Louisiana was fortunate to have somebody like Arthur for a baseball historian.
“He is probably the most accomplished baseball historian this city ever had.””He was just a great, great friend who loved baseball,” said former Zephyrs general manager Jay Miller, like Schott a member of the New Orleans Professional Baseball Hall of Fame. “He was just a walking historian for baseball, a great man and a great friend.”
Schott’s love of baseball and its inner workings brought him every sort of honor and recognition.
He was a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, the Diamond Club of Greater New Orleans Hall of Fame and New Orleans Professional Baseball Hall of Fame. Schott served as president of the Diamond Club and was a founding member of the local chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research. He was awarded its Community Service Award for his efforts in preserving the history of baseball in New Orleans, and the Louisiana Sports Writers Association awarded him their Distinguished Service Award in sports journalism.
“I remember when the Zephyrs honored him in the (Professional) Hall of Fame,” Maestri said. “He was in a wheelchair by then, and they wheeled him in from left field. He was smiling and so honored and appreciative.”
And appreciated. A lot of media depended on Schott for help in researching baseball stories. He never refused and always came through.
“He was before the age of computers,” Chris Schott, one of his seven sons, said. “Now, you can Google everything you need, but all of his records were the old-fashioned kind, and you had to manually look them up. But he could find that information very quickly.”
He earned the respect and admiration of his peers, many of whom held him in awe.
Local historian Bob Remy’s first memories of Schott were of reading Arthur’s column, “A Schott From The Bleachers in the old New Orleans States, and later the States-Item.
“I first heard of him through his column and he was getting a lot of publicity on the Hap Glaudi Show in 1971,” Remy, like Schott an avid collector of memorabilia said. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to meet this guy.’ I joined the Diamond Club in 1971, and shared his love of baseball.
“I think of him more of a gentleman before I do as a baseball historian, a gentleman for the way he treated people. I can’t imagine anybody being more of a gentleman thank he was. I have such great memories of how he was as a person. I got a chance to introduce him into the (Louisiana) Hall of Fame, and it was a great honor.”
Schott’s love of baseball was matched only by that for his family and his Catholic faith.
“He was such a great guy and a great father,” said Chris Schott. “As a father, it was almost as if he was manager of a baseball team. But with with seven sons, he was two shy (of a team).”
Playing with his son was about Schott’s only career as a player because he was small in physical stature.
“He would hit balls to us, and when we would play a game, he would tell us he would only take one at-bat.” Chris Schott said. “My father was probably baseball’s first designated hitter.”
So Schott made his many contributions to baseball the best way he knew. He became friends with many of the players he read and a wrote about.
Not too many people in the country pursued the records and statistics as well as he did,” Chris Schott said. “He loved watching baseball and all the other stuff that went with it.”
All “that other stuff” played a large role when it came to putting a roof over the heads of his family.
“Any time we would like move to a new house, he made sure it had enough room for the kids, but also extra room for the baseball stuff,” Chris Schott said. “As time wore on and my brothers and I got married and moved out, he’d move our baseball stuff in our rooms.”
Schott was as passionate about his faith as baseball. Remy remembers when the Pelicans celebrated their 100th birthday with a cake.
“It was a really nice cake with delicious frosting,” Remy said, laughing. “They asked him to cut the cake and eat it. He said he couldn’t because it was Lent, and he couldn’t eat it until Easter.”