The date of Dec. 7, 1963 will go down in history as the first time instant
replay was used in sports (during the annual Army-Navy football game) and the
first film clip of The Beatles was shown on American TV during a report on the
CBS Evening News. On that same day inside Huntsville Hospital, the Tillery
family was celebrating the birth of a newcomer who would grow up to become
one of the best 3-sport athletes in the history of Huntsville and Madison County.
Scott Tillery came onto the scene destined to make his way to superstardom at
Grissom High and later as a 4-year letterman on the Auburn University baseball team.
Tillery graduated from Auburn with a degree in chemical engineering, which led to
his employment with NASA and the Marshall Space Flight Center. Today, at age 53,
Tillery remains with NASA as lead engineer at MSFC and will celebrate 30 years with
the nation’s space agency this July.
“I remember as a small boy growing up in South Huntsville, a neighbor would have
all of the guys in our neighborhood go to Logan Park and we would hit and catch baseballs, and that was my introduction
to the sport," said Tillery.
At Grissom High School, he lettered in baseball, football, and basketball, earning accolades for his play as a quarterback
in football and pitcher in baseball. He won All-State honors as the signal caller for the Tigers and All-City awards for both
offense and defense. In baseball, his 4-year won-loss record was 22-4, including an 11-1 record – with 116 strikeouts in
85 innings and a dazzling 0.82 ERA – his senior season. He also played in the prestigious East-West All-Star Game and
received the Hertz No. 1 Award for Alabama.
“My fondest memories of my play in high school were good and bad," stated Tillery. “In basketball we made the Elite
Eight in my senior year, in football we lost in the state playoff semifinals in my junior year, and as a senior we also lost in
baseball at the state semifinals."
While becoming known as one of the best athletes to make their way through local schools, Tillery turned down an
appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Instead, he chose to sign with Auburn to play football, but switched
to baseball after his freshman football season, playing for head coach Paul Nix and later for Hal Baird. Once on board with
the Tigers, he went from being a starting pitcher to a closer his final three seasons on The Plains. In 1983 he was named
one of Auburn’s Top 10 Scholar-Athletes.
“God just gave me athletic talents that others did not have," said Tillery. Tillery and his wife, Lori, and their two children,
Scott and Sarah Ann, remain close to home base living in Huntsville. His post-college, working-world, weekend-warrior
status has included winning the Men’s Club Golf Championship at The Links on Redstone Arsenal in both 2007 and 2008.
He has also excelled as an amateur tennis player. His work career has been hugely successful as he won NASA’s 2002
Silver Snoopy Award and the Director’s Commendation Honor Award for MSFC in 2014.
Considering his dedicated work with NASA, it’s only fitting to know the final manned mission to the moon aboard Apollo
17 was launched – yes, you guessed it – on Dec. 7, 1972. His birth numbers of 12, 7, 1963 reveal his Path number in life is
11. His birthdate horoscope is, “You have potential to be a source of inspiration and illumination for people."
Tillery is more or less a miracle athletic success story. He was born pigeon-toed (intoeing) and was placed in casts to
help straighten his feet. He wore corrective shoes, which featured a medal bar connecting his feet. He was also fitted with
leg braces he wore until age 6.
“The most influential person in my athletic career was my dad," said Tillerey. “He used to joke that I was the second best
athlete in the family next to him. From him, I inherited my competitive nature and my love for sports. He recognized my desire
to compete, so he always made sure I had every opportunity to do so through every sport. His guidance, encouragement,
support, and prayers were signifi cant factors in my development as a young man and athlete.”
As a 2017 inductee into the Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame, it’s easy to see many great things began
on Dec. 7 … including one who took his first breaths at Huntsville Hospital.
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