August 22 – Happy Birthday Wally Schang

Wally Schang was one of baseball’s premier catchers for close to two decades beginning in 1913 and he was also the first of the long line of star players who started behind the plate for baseball’s most successful franchise. The son of a western New York State farmer, he signed with Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s team in 1913, when the club was in the middle of its first dynasty. He won his first World Series ring in his rookie season and then became the team’s starting catcher the following year. In 1915, he set a big league record by throwing out six would-be base stealers in a single game. A switch-hitter, in 1916 he became the first player in history to hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game. In addition to great defensive skills and above-average power, Schang had an outstanding batting eye. During his 19 seasons in the big leagues he averaged .284 lifetime but his career on-base percentage was a hefty .393.

In 1918, Mack made a trade with the Red Sox that sent Schang to Boston just in time to win his second World Series ring. He would spend three total seasons as starting catcher in Beantown before following his Red Sox batterymate, Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1921.

Again blessed with good timing, Schang was Miller Huggins’ starting catcher on the 1921, ’22 and ’23 AL Pennant winners and won his third World Series ring on that 1923 Yankee squad, the first World Championship team in franchise history.

During his five seasons as New York’s signal-caller, Schang hit .297 and threw out just less than half the runners who attempted to steal against him. He hit .316 during his first season in pinstripes and .319 in his second. By the 1925 season, he had reached 35 years of age and was losing playing time to the younger Benny Benough. Just before the 1926 Yankee spring training camp opened, New York traded Schang to the Browns for pitcher George Mogridge and cash.

Determined to prove he could still play the game, Schang hit .330 during his first season in St. Louis and caught there for an additional three seasons. His last big league season was 1931 with Detroit, when he was 41 years-old. The depression made it impossible for him to return to  farming, so he kept playing and then coaching in the minor leagues. As one of the Game’s best catchers of his era, Schang deserved a lot more attention in Hall-of-Fame voting than he ever received. He died in 1965 at the age of 75.

Schang shares his birthday with this former Yankee pitcher and this current Yankee reliever.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1921 NYY 134 516 424 77 134 30 5 6 55 7 78 35 .316 .428 .453 .881
1922 NYY 124 492 408 46 130 21 7 1 53 12 53 36 .319 .405 .412 .816
1923 NYY 84 315 272 39 75 8 2 2 29 5 27 17 .276 .360 .342 .702
1924 NYY 114 421 356 46 104 19 7 5 52 2 48 43 .292 .382 .427 .809
1925 NYY 73 191 167 17 40 8 1 2 24 2 17 9 .240 .310 .335 .645
19 Yrs 1842 6431 5307 769 1506 264 90 59 711 121 849 573 .284 .393 .401 .794
PHA (6 yrs) 575 1943 1619 238 428 69 40 18 202 49 216 207 .264 .369 .390 .759
NYY (5 yrs) 529 1935 1627 225 483 86 22 16 213 28 223 140 .297 .390 .406 .796
SLB (4 yrs) 385 1302 1043 160 307 54 17 21 168 17 215 101 .294 .423 .439 .862
BOS (3 yrs) 323 1160 942 137 274 53 11 4 126 26 181 114 .291 .412 .383 .796
DET (1 yr) 30 91 76 9 14 2 0 0 2 1 14 11 .184 .311 .211 .522
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/22/2013.

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