Saturday, January 28, 2006

January 28th, 1982

Paul Schreiber Dies

Generally when I'm researching blog topics every few days I come upon a player who prompts a "What the hell...?" kind-of reaction from me. Sometimes it's guys who accomplished a fair amount but I've never heard of them (such was the case with Bill Madlock) but more often than not it's just something that makes, without any context, no sense. Such is Paul Schreiber. As his BaseballReference page shows, Schreiber pitched a grand total of twenty and a third innings, divided up among three seasons: 1922, 1923 and 1945. So...what the hell?

As you might've guessed, there is a story here. Schreiber was a not-very-good Major League pitcher and his sixteen inning, two year cup of coffee with Brooklyn in 1922-23 was apparently enough to keep him chugging away in the minors until 1931 but that still leaves us with fourteen years unaccounted for until Schreiber suddenly reappears pitching for, of all people, the Yankees. The story is that at some point in those fourteen years, apparently towards the beginning, Schreiber gained employment as the Yankees' batting practice pitcher and a coach.

Cut to 1945, and the Yankees (who would finish in fourth place that year, the last of Joe McCarthy's tenure) were being creamed by the Tigers late in the season. Deciding that rather than waste one of his actual hurlers in a lost cause, and taking advantage of the rather looser enforcement of roster rules in that period, McCarthy called upon his long-time batting practice pitcher to finish up the game. Perhaps on talent, but more likely on account of the Tigers' indifference in a blow out, Schreiber wouldn't surrender any runs in his stint. McCarthy tried the trick again later the season, with less success and Schreiber would not appear in a Major League game again. But for now, mystery solved, Paul Schreiber gone from "What the hell?" to "Oh, I guess that makes sense."

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