August 20 – Happy Birthday Pete Schneider

schneiderThere were no “Joba Rules” when today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant made his big league debut as an 18-year-old right-handed pitcher for the 1914 Cincinnati Reds. The team he joined at such a young age was horrible, finishing dead last in the National League, with a 60-94 record. Though Pete Schneider could only manage a 5-13 record that season, his 2.81 rookie year ERA was a better indicator of just how talented and advanced this Los Angeles native was on a pitching mound. During the next three seasons, he averaged close to 300 innings pitched per year and achieved an overall ERA of 2,40. Unfortunately, the Cincinnati offense provided him with pretty tepid run support and Schneider lost 19 games in each of those three seasons.

But he had also been able to win 20 games in 1917, after future Hall of Fame hurler Christy Matthewson had taken over as Reds’ skipper and Schneider’s future was looking much brighter. But those 300 innings pitched per year had taken a toll on the kid’s right arm and he went just 10-15 with a 3.83 ERA during the 1918 regular season. Yankee skipper, Miller Huggins was obviously hoping a change of scenery would revive Schneider when he had his Yankee front office purchase the pitcher’s contract from the Reds. Determined to pitch his sore arm back into shape, Schneider decided to pitch winter ball that offseason. It was a fateful decision. In his first winter ball start he blew out his arm. He would end up appearing in just seven games in pinstripes in 1919 and then would never again play in another big league game.

Instead he and his lame arm returned to his native California, where he decided to convert himself into a full-time outfielder. He actually did pretty darn good with that effort. During his first four years as a Pacific Coast League position player he hit in the mid .330’s and he averaged 16 home runs per season. On May 11, 1923 he gained national attention by putting on one of the greatest offensive performances in the history of professional baseball. In a game against the Salt Lake City Bees, Schneider belted five home runs and a double and drove in 14 runs. He continued playing minor league ball until 1928. Unfortunately, his life after baseball took a tragic turn. In 1935, he got into a bar fight, allegedly defending his wife’s honor and killed a guy. He was found guilty of manslaughter and served prison time in San Quentin, where he would become manager of the famed penal institution’s baseball team. He died in 1957 at the age of 61.

Schneider shares his August 20th birthday with this great former Yankee third baseman and this one time Yankee pitching prospect.

1919 NYY 0 1 .000 3.41 7 4 1 0 0 0 29.0 19 14 11 1 22 11 1.414
6 Yrs 59 86 .407 2.66 207 157 36 84 10 4 1274.0 1199 541 377 16 498 487 1.332
CIN (5 yrs) 59 85 .410 2.65 200 153 35 84 10 4 1245.0 1180 527 366 15 476 476 1.330
NYY (1 yr) 0 1 .000 3.41 7 4 1 0 0 0 29.0 19 14 11 1 22 11 1.414
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/19/2013.

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