Walter Henry “Wally” Schang
Born: August 22, 1889 - South Wales, NY
Died: March 6, 1965 - St. Louis, MO
Career BA: .284
Philadelphia Athletics AL (1913–1917, 1930)
Boston Red Sox AL (1918–1920)
New York Yankees AL (1921–1925)
St. Louis Browns AL (1926–1929)
Detroit Tigers AL (1931)
From Bill Dickey to Yogi Berra to Gary Carter, there must be something about Hall of Fame catchers and the number eight. Wally Schang did not make it to Cooperstown, but his ability behind the plate over a 19-year career put him in that rarified air of baseball’s top catchers. Schang, whose brother Bobby was also a big-league catcher, recorded 5,202 putouts and 1,420 assists for the A’s, Red Sox, Yankees, Browns and Tigers.
An athletic catcher, Schang got a glove on many pitches that others would not have touched. For this reason, perhaps, he was often unfairly among the league leaders in errors and passed balls. Many baserunners tested the arm of Schang, and many failed as he whistled darts that nailed would-be base swipers. Schang did his job at the plate as well with a career batting average of .284 and 1,506 hits. Those, however, were not his only hits. Built like a steel barrel at 5-foot, 10-inches and 180 pounds, Schang presented a wide target for enemy hurlers. He was hit by pitches 107 times in his career and led the American League twice in that category. Between 1913 and 1917 alone, he was hit 51 times. Schang was a patient hitter who consistently walked more than he struck out. He is also the holder of a unique baseball first. In 1916, he became the first ever Major Leaguer to hit a home run from both sides of the plate in the same game.
In Philadelphia’s 1913 World Series win over the Giants, Schang hit .357 with seven RBI. With the Red Sox in 1918, he batted .444 in the Series win versus Chicago. In 1923, Schang sparked a dynasty hitting .318 against the Giants as the Yankees won their first ever World Series. Schang had some postseason clunkers as well, but overall, he batted .287 in six Fall Classics. In retirement, Schang played and managed in the minors until 1946, and coached in Cleveland where he mentored a young prospect named Bob Feller. A real gamer, Schang proudly wore that number eight, which in no coincidence, rhymes with great.
– 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