Teams: Chicago White Sox, 1912-1928; New York Giants, 1929
Manager: Chicago White Sox, 1927-1928
Managerial Record: 102-125
When Ray Schalk retired in 1929, he
held the major-league records for most
games caught (1,726) and putouts
Ray Schalk’s career batting average of .253 is the lowest of any position player in the Hall of Fame. That he was selected for enshrinement in 1955 is largely a tribute to his outstanding defensive skills. Schalk’s one claim to fame from an offensive standpoint is that in 1915 he stole 30 bases, a record for an American League receiver until it was broken in 1982 by John Wathan.
Born in Harvel, Illinois, Raymond William Schalk (1892-1970) played semipro ball in 1911 after leaving high school until a minor-league team offered him $65 a month to sign. He hit well in the low minors, but he was not a superb batsman thereafter in the high minor leagues.
After a two-and-one-half-year training period in the minors, Schalk joined the Chicago White Sox in August 1912. He was promoted solely on his catching skills, but many in the ChiSox organization (including Charles Comiskey himself) were skeptical that Ray would stick around the Windy City for long. Except for a five-game stint with the New York Giants in 1929, his last major-league season, Ray never played for any other team.
The White Sox regular backstopper from nearly the day he arrived in Chicago until 1927, he caught 100 or more games for 11 straight seasons at one point in his career, at the time a major-league record.
When Schalk retired, he held the mark for most games played behind the plate with 1,726. Though all his longevity records have since been broken, his 176 career stolen bases are still the most by a catcher.
Ray was on pennant-winning teams in 1917 and in 1919. The latter club, considered to be the best in White Sox history, is infamous for having had eight players who conspired to throw the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. Schalk, second baseman Eddie Collins, and right fielder Nemo Leibold were the only regulars who were not part of the Black Sox cabal.
Ray had a fine World Series in 1919, hitting .304 while catching in all eight games, and tried valiantly to the thwart the fixers. He knew something was amiss because Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams, the club’s two mound aces who were both part of the conspiracy, continually crossed him up on pitches.
In 1927, with Schalk’s playing career nearing its end, the White Sox named him player-manager. He lasted on the job only a season and a half. Ray remained one of the White Sox’ most loyal supporters until his death in Chicago from cancer on May 19, 1970.
Here are Ray Schalk's major league totals:
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