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Historic Tiger Baseball #17--Boss Schmidt

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--Boss Schmidt--

(1906-1911)

(click on name for statistics)

By Brad Smith 1998

http://www.people.virginia.edu/~pw7e/tigershistory/catchers.html

In 1906, the Tigers introduced a 26 year-old rookie catcher from Coal Hill, Arkansas, with the wonderful name of Boss Schmidt. Schmidt is an important player, less for Tiger history than for baseball history. In the Baseball Encyclopedia, Bill James attempted to isolate the first incidence of true platooning - that is, using lefty/righty splits, not just alternating players - in baseball history. The earliest example he found was the 1906 Tigers' catchers, Boss Schmidt, Freddy Payne, and Jack Warner. Schmidt, who is listed in the Baseball Encyclopedia as a switch hitter, played only against RHPs, while Payne played against all lefties. Warner, a left-handed batter, was the third catcher. This arrangement continued over the next 4 years, with Schmidt platooning with Payne in 1907, Ira Thomas in 1908 and Oscar Stanage in 1909-10.

Schmidt is a guy who a deserves a place in Tiger annals for two other reasons. Foremost, as the lefty half of the platoon, he was the Tigers #1 catcher on the first great Tiger teams, the 1907-09 pennant winners. Secondly, he helped set the mode of durable Tiger catchers. He caught a league high 104 games in 1907. Then, in 1908, Giants Hall of Famer Roger Bresnahan introduced shin guards and the padded face mask, and caught 139 games. Moreover, Pittsburgh catcher George Gibson, also using Bresnahan's new gear, caught 140 games. These were amazing totals at the time. Whether Boss Schmidt adopted Bresnahan's inventions I've not been able to discover (I suspect he didn't, or it would be prominently mentioned), but Schmidt in 1908 caught 122 games, an American league record at the time. Perhaps the wear was too much; while Gibson caught 150 and 143 games the next two seasons, Bresnahan never caught 90 games in a season again, and Schmidt dropped to 84 games in 1909 and 71 in 1910. He finished his career by playing in 28 games for the 1911 Tigers, 18 of them as a pinch hitter. Schmidt's younger brother, Walter, also had a 10 year career as a ML catcher.

By Jeff Fox

http://www.deadball.com/schmidt.htm

Was Boss Schmidt 5'11" or 6'4"? It's hard to tell as he was alternately listed with both heights on various bios. As a young man, Charley worked the coal mines near his home town and because of this grueling work he developed a muscular and powerful physique and could take care of himself with his 'granite fists'.

According to the Detroit Tigers information office, as a teammate of legendary Hall of Famer, Ty Cobb, Boss has the distinction of whipping "The Georgia Peach" in two fist fights. In the second fight, Boss knocked Cobb unconscious but admired Ty's never-say-die resiliency while fighting and stayed to revive Cobb as he lay motionless on the Tiger dressing room floor. In another instance, Boss saved Ty's neck in a fistic melee and gained Ty's respect and loyalty from then on.

His fighting skills were so pronounced that he even fought an exhibition match with the heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson. He once felt that he was the best fighting baseball player in the league and challenged all baseball players to a match.

As a catcher, Schmidt never wore shinguards. He could force nails into the floor with his bare fists. He once visited a local carnival with some of his teammates and wrestled and pinned a live bear.

How was Boss as a backstop? He had average skills but was surrounded by a lot of talent and played in three World Series. Boss's career in in the majors was shortened due to numerous fractures sustained over the years of his thumb and fingers. After he left baseball, Boss returned to the coal mines for a while but could not stay away from the game. He returned to the minors and eventually coached and managed. Boss was a hard worker at anything he would undertake. In later years, Schmidt criticized younger players for loafing and not dedicating themselves to staying in shape and playing the game hard. Ironically, one might think he was describing today's players but in actuality, Boss was describing players of baseball's 'golden age'.

http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/S/Schmidt_Boss.stm

http://www.thedeadballera.com/Obits/Schmidt.Charlie.Obit.html

http://www.qualitycards.com/pictures/30787803.jpg

http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d179/IdahoBert/1CharlesSchmidt.jpg

http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d179/IdahoBert/1CharlesSchmidtback.jpg

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In 1907, he had 34 errors and 16 passed balls in 103 games as a catcher. I can't imagine catching without proper equipment.

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In 1907, he had 34 errors and 16 passed balls in 103 games as a catcher. I can't imagine catching without proper equipment.

Boss Schmidt has the record of committing five errors and allowing 16 stolen bases during a World Series (1909), both records which still stand today.

But he wrestled bears and yes, he wore his socks very high!:classic:

By the way, these history posts are going to slow down as my work load increases but I'll still try to post two or three a week.

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Billy Bad*****, no wonder he was Named Boss. Thansk for these Bert, very cool!
By the way, I think you had a birthday recently and I neglected to wish you a good one...so HBD--belated.:classic:

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His fielding percentage was lower than league average most seasons but I wasn't pointing those numbers out as being bad. If it was me, the totals would be 100+ each because I'd be jumping out of the way most of the time. :classic:

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But he wrestled bears and yes, he wore his socks very high!:classic:

General rule of thumb: If you kick Ty Cobb's *** and wrestle bears, you need not wear your socks high if you so choose.

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General rule of thumb: If you kick Ty Cobb's *** and wrestle bears, you need not wear your socks high if you so choose.
Agree, but it does add to the mystique.:classic:

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By the way, I think you had a birthday recently and I neglected to wish you a good one...so HBD--belated.:classic:

I did, and thank you!

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