Frank M. “Wildfire” Schulte
Born: September 17, 1882 - Cochecton, NY
Died: October 2, 1949 - Oakland, CA
Career BA: .270
Chicago Cubs NL (September 17, 1882 - October 2, 1949)
Pittsburgh Pirates NL (1916–1917)
Philadelphia Phillies NL (1917)
Washington Senators AL (1918)
Frank “Wildfire” Schulte was a very solid player with a classic nickname. Some claim a star-struck Schulte saw Lillian Russell perform in the play “Wildfire” and teammates teased him with the nickname. Others maintain that he owned a racehorse with the same name, and it just carried over to Schulte. In any event, he was the complete player. Signed by the Cubs out of the New York State League, Schulte made an auspicious debut in September 1904, banging out three hits.
Among his banner years with the Cubs, Schulte lived up to his nickname in the 1911 season when he batted .300, led the league in RBI with 107, and assaulted National League pitching with 21 home runs, a remarkable feat during the Deadball Era. That year Schulte became the first player to top the 20 mark in doubles (30), triples (21), stolen bases (23), and home runs (21). Over the years only three other players have earned a place in the 20-20-20-20-club. The other three members? Willie Mays, Jimmy Rollins and Curtis Granderson. Schulte’s 1911 season was so spectacular that he won the Chalmers Award as MVP of the National League. The speedy Schulte also stole 233 bases over his stellar career.
A bit eccentric, Schulte refused to use the heavy bats of the era, favoring a thin-handled 40-ounce bat instead, and would typically break about 50 bats each season. He also believed that if he found a hairpin on the street, it would predict his batting success, and he was often seen searching the sidewalks for hairpins before a game. Wildfire Schulte had the distinction of leading the NL in home runs in 1910 and 1911, played on four NL pennant teams (1906, 1907, 1908, 1910) and two World Series Champions (1907, 1908). By the way, he owns a .321 batting average in the World Series. Not too shabby. As his career declined, he was dealt to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington, where he ended his Major League career with the Senators. Frank played and managed for another five years in the bushes until 1923. Three days before the World Series in 1949 Wildfire Schulte’s flame went out permanently. He was 67 years old.
– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players. For more information on their book and/or to order a copy at a special PSA discount, visit http://crackerjackplayers.com/PSA_order.html