We’re contacted by Relative of the Great Dead Ball Era Catcher, Wally Schang!

We’re contacted by Relative of the Great Dead Ball Era Catcher, Wally Schang!

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We’re contacted by Relative of the Great Dead Ball Era Catcher, Wally Schang!

“The only thing Wally Schang’s career lacked is the recognition he deserved” -Unknown Sportswriter

As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, we love it when we’re contacted by relatives of former players. And it’s always nice if they can also share a family anecdote or two about their relation.

Quite often the player has been long forgotten over the passage of time. So we’re always glad to shine the spotlight on him for a brief moment. In this instance, the player may have been forgotten; but in his day, Wally Schang was quite a star!

Awhile back one of our readers, Chris Schang, contacted us asking if we were familiar with his family relation, Wally Schang, his great-great uncle. I immediately responded: “I sure am!” I was well aware that Wally Schang was one of the best all-around Dead Ball Era catchers.

In doing a little research, I learned that Wally Schang came from a baseball family. His older brother Bobby, who was Chris’ great grandfather, played 82 games in the majors. Another brother, Frank was a pitcher and an outstanding hitter but didn’t make it to the Big Show. A younger brother, Quiron, played for 20 years as a semipro catcher. 

In the featured photo above, we see a beautiful colorization of Wally Schang by our resident baseball artist, Don Stokes. Check out those gnarled fingers…That’s evidence we’re looking at a major league catcher! 

Chris related a couple interesting stories about Wally Schang that came via his father. Supposedly, Wally and Babe Ruth didn’t particularly like each other. One time Ruth came late to the team train and was dead drunk. Sure enough, he woke everybody up. Wally was mad about it and there was a confrontation. After an argument with the soused Ruth, Wally actually tossed the Babe down the aisle! Would love to have seen that! Another story goes that Ty Cobb didn’t like sliding into Wally, saying on multiple occasions: “That guy’s as tough as I am!”

Chris can be rightly proud of his family relation. Wally played 19 seasons (1913-1931) in the majors. Although he’s mainly remembered for his years with Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics from 1913–1917, including the 1913 World Series championship and the ’14 pennant, he also played for the Red Sox, Yankees, Browns, and Tigers.

A case can be made that Wally Schang belongs in the Hall of Fame. Over his career, he hit .284, with 769 runs, 59 home runs, 710 RBIs, 1506 hits, and a remarkable .393 on-base percentage, second only to Mickey Cochrane all-time among catchers. He batted over .300 six times and caught for an amazing seven different pennant winners.

A switch hitter with an outstanding eye at the plate, Schang could also hit for power. When he wasn’t catching, his managers often played him in the outfield or third base to keep his potent bat in the lineup. In 1916 he became the first major leaguer to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game. In 32 World Series games, Schang hit .287, including a .444 mark for the victorious Red Sox in 1918. Schang was the Yankees’ starting catcher for three straight pennant winners (1921-23), including their first championship in 1923. He started the string of great Yankee catchers, which included Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard and Thurman Munson.

After his major league career ended in 1931, Schang played and managed in the minor leagues. In 1945, he retired to a farm he operated at Dixon, Missouri. He passed away on March 5, 1965 following complications from surgery.

Gary Livacari

Photo Credits: Featured photo colorized by Don Stokes::https://www.facebook.com/Don-Stokes-Old-Time-Baseball-Colorizations-923346241033508/ ; Others from Google search

Information: Excerpts edited from the Wally Schang Wikipedia page; and from SABR biography of Wally Schang by Don Geiszler: https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/629ca705Stats from Baseball Reference.com

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I'm a baseball historian who also loves to write. My forte is identifying ballplayers in old photos, and my specail interest is the Dead Ball Era.

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