Walter Henry (Wally) Schang (August 22, 1889 – March 6, 1965) was a catcher in Major League Baseball. From 1913 through 1931, he played for the Philadelphia Athletics (1913–17, 1930), Boston Red Sox (1918–20), New York Yankees (1921–25), St. Louis Browns (1926–29) and Detroit Tigers (1931). Schang was a switch-hitter and threw right-handed. He was born in South Wales, New York.
|Born: August 22, 1889|
South Wales, New York
|Died: March 6, 1965 (aged 75)|
St. Louis, Missouri
|May 9, 1913, for the Philadelphia Athletics|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 22, 1931, for the Detroit Tigers|
|Runs batted in||710|
|Career highlights and awards|
Most baseball historians agree that Wally Schang was the greatest offensive catcher of the deadball (pre-1920) era. When Schang was not catching, his managers usually played him in center field, right, or at third base, in order to keep his bat in the lineup. Schang's defensive work was also regarded as outstanding, although he holds the American League career record for most errors by a catcher, with 223.
Schang was discovered by George Stallings in 1912, when he played in the sandlots of upstate New York for the Buffalo Pullmans. Schang started his major league career with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1913, who won the World Series in five games against the New York Giants and returned the next year, only to be swept by the 1914 Miracle Braves, who were managed by Schang's mentor, George Stallings.
After Connie Mack sold many of his players following the 1914 Series, Schang played for three last-place Athletics teams in 1915–1917, until being sold to the Boston Red Sox before the 1918 season. Schang was the regular catcher for that club, the last Red Sox team to win the title until 2004. Soon afterwards, Boston owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Schang followed Ruth in 1921, becoming the first in the great string of Yankee catchers, including Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard and Thurman Munson.
Schang served as the Yankees' regular catcher for three straight American League pennants and was a member of the 1923 World Champion team. Three years later Schang moved again, this time to the St. Louis Browns, hitting a career-high .330 in his first season with St. Louis, as the team improved greatly, managing first-division finishes in 1928 and 1929. The following year, Schang returned to Philadelphia as a backup for Mickey Cochrane. The Athletics of 1930 were coming off a World Championship and repeated that year. It was the fourth title for Schang in his career, which ended the next season with the Detroit Tigers.
Following his major league career, Schang played for several seasons with Western Association and Canadian clubs, and then turned to managing in minor leagues. In 1945, he retired to a farm he operated at Dixon, Missouri, in the Ozark Mountains.
Schang died in St Louis at age 75.
- 6-time hit .300 or more
- 8-time appeared in 100 or more games (including 134 in 1921)
- 4-time appeared in the Hall of Fame BBWAA voting (1950, 1956, 1958, 1960)
- Had a 20-game hitting streak (1916)
- First player to hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game (September 9, 1916)
- Holds an American League game-record for catchers throwing out six potential base stealers (May 12, 1915)
- Holds an AL record for catchers with eight assists in a game (May 12, 1920)
- Was the regular catcher of the leading AL pitchers of his time, including future Hall of Famers Chief Bender, Lefty Grove, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, Eddie Plank and Babe Ruth.
- Through 2005, Schang ranks seventh on the all-time list of Most Career Stolen Bases by a Catcher (121), behind Roger Bresnahan (212), Ray Schalk (177), Jason Kendall (148), Red Dooin (133), Carlton Fisk (128) and Johnny Kling (123), and over John Wathan (105) and Iván Rodríguez (104).
- In the early 20th century, when players with facial hair became a rarity in baseball, Wally Schang became the last major leaguer to sport a moustache, in 1914. After that, is reported that the first players to sport moustaches during the regular season were Dick Allen (St. Louis Cardinals) and Felipe Alou (Oakland Athletics), both in 1970.
- Hill, David. "Athletics History: Wally Schang First Player to Homer from Both Sides". calltothepen.com. Retrieved 26 April 2019.