Mount Rushmore of White Sox catchers: Ray Schalk
Ray Schalk was born in central Illinois in 1892 and it was his play on one of the many town teams in existence in the early 20th century that eventually pushed his career path from printing to baseball. Still a teenager, Schalk signed in 1911 with Taylorville in the Class-D Illinois-Missouri League before getting bumped up to the American Association’s Milwaukee Brewers.
In 1912, the Chicago White Sox noticed Schalk — getting attention for his aggressive approach behind the plate and his on-field leadership — and paid the Brewers $10,000 and sent them two players to get the kid.
The day before his 20th birthday in August 1912, he made his big-league debut and spent the next 17 seasons with the White Sox. He was 5-for-19 in their World Series win over the New York Giants in 1917 and went 7-for-23 with two RBI in the infamous 1919 World Series loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
Schalk finished third in the MVP voting in 1922, hitting a career-high four homers and driving in 60 runs while hitting .281 for a team that finished a surprising 77-77 just a year removed from having seven of its top players banned for life for their alleged roles in the conspiracy to fix the 1919 World Series.
His playing time diminished in 1926 and he was a player-manager for the next two seasons before he was forced to resign in July 1928 because owner Charles Comiskey was not enamored of his lenient managerial style.
Schalk coached with the New York Giants in 1929 and with the Chicago Cubs in 1930-31 before managing at Buffalo in the International League from 1932-37. His professional baseball days ended after a stint managing his old Milwaukee team in 1940.
He spent 18 years as an assistant coach at Purdue University before retiring in 1965 and helped found a group called Baseball Anonymous to assist indigent former players.
In 17 seasons with the White Sox, Schalk hit .254 with a .656 OPS in 1,757 games and 6,242 plate appearances, with 199 doubles, 49 triples, 11 homers and 593 RBI while scoring 579 runs and stealing 177 bases. He threw out 52%of would-be basestealers during his career, three times leading the American League in that category.
He was named to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1955. He died in May 1970 from cancer at age 77.