Renowned as the greatest hitting catcher of the Deadball Era, Wally Schang had a long and illustrious career. Schang suited up for 5 teams during 19 major league seasons.
He broke in with Connie Mack’s pennant-winning Philadelphia Athletics in 1913, posting a .392 on-base percentage and a 138 OPS+ in 76 games. In the World Series Schang hit .358, leading the victorious A’s in homers, RBI and walks.
In 1916, the switch-hitting Schang became the first player in big league history to hit a homer from both sides of the plate in a game. By the time Schang was traded to the Red Sox in December of 1917, he had a career 135 OPS+.
The catcher’s first season in Boston resulted in his second World Series triumph. This time in the Fall Classic Schang hit .444 with a .554 on-base percentage.
Schang spent three seasons in Boston before being dealt to the New York Yankees. A native of South Wales, New York, Schang helped the Yankees win the pennant in each of his first three seasons with the club.
When Schang and the Yankees won it all in 1923, he and teammate Bullet Joe Bush became the first players in MLB history to earn rings with three different franchises. The two teamed up previously in the ’13 and ’18 for the championship Athletics and Red Sox teams. He also played on the 1930 champion Athletics but did not appear in the Fall Classic.
No player has ever earned World Series rings with four different teams.
Schang closed out his career with four years with the St. Louis Browns, a single-season return to Philadelphia, and his final campaign in 1931 with the Tigers.
Schang received support in MVP balloting in 1913 and ’14 with the Athletics, in 1922 and ’24 with the Yankees, and in 1927 with the Browns.
Some believe Schang deserves a look from the Veterans Committee.
His 47.9 career WAR compares favorably to Hall of Fame backstops Roger Bresnahan (42.0) Ernie Lombardi (37.9), Ray Schalk (33.2) and Rick Ferrell (30.8). It’s also higher than Cooperstown hopefuls Thurman Munson (46.1), Buster Posey (44.9), and Jorge Posada (42.7).
The catcher finished with 1,506 hits, a .284 average and a .393 on-base percentage. Only Mickey Cochrane’s .419 OBP is higher among men with at least 1,000 games caught.
Though getting a plaque is a longshot, Schang remains his era’s finest hitter at his position.
In the collection is this letter from Red Sox owner Harry Frazee to Schang. Here he informs the catcher of his release to the New York club. Dated December 20, 1920, the letter is signed by the Boston owner at the bottom.