Wednesday, March 13, 2013

#514 - Paul Schaal

There are a few things to like about this action shot. Yes, it’s blurry. But it’s also the final card of Paul Schaal’s career and I always like when Topps sends guys out with an action shot. It also looks like Paul is adjusting mid-swing to a pitch in Comiskey, and it’s always good to see a pro being resourceful. Lastly, I believe that’s Chicago manager Chuck Tanner in the background on the step of the dugout. Chuck’s got his hands on his head, as if he’s saying “Geez, you just threw him THAT pitch?” Makes me wonder what the outcome of this at bat was. The outcome of a lot of at bats for Paul in ’73 was pretty good as he raised his average 60 points from the prior year. Unfortunately for Paul, the biggest event of his season career-wise may have been when, after a couple weeks trying to play himself back in the line-up after he hurt his ankle, the Royals put him on the disabled list in early August and called up a kid from Omaha. That kid turned out to be George Brett and though Paul hit over .300 on his return, the stars were sort of aligned against him. But before and after then he was a lot better than a trivia answer so let’s flesh him out.

Paul Schaal – yeah, it rhymes – was born in Pittsburgh but played high school ball and hoops in Compton, which means he either played with or against Roy White of the Yankees. His senior year he hit .405 while leading his team to the state championship. Still, he wasn’t signed until after a summer of American Legion ball put him on the Angels’ radar and they gave him a $4,000 bonus. His first season of ’62 he had a good year in D ball, hitting .278 with 73 RBI’s and a .400 OBA. Paul would have a knack for getting on base that would follow him to the majors. In ’63 he moved up to A ball, hit .328, and ironed out his fielding a bit. In ’64 he moved all the way to Triple A, hit .271 with 53 RBI’s, and put more games in at second base than at third. In his few late season looks in LA that season he put in time at both positions as well.

In 1965 the Angels moved from LA to Anaheim and they took a new third baseman with them. Schaal got in the line-up on his defense and stayed there on that and some timely hits. His rookie year he came in third in assists and fielding percentage for AL third basemen and provided enough offense to get named to the Topps Rookie team that year. In ’66 he upped his average 20 points and, in putting up a nice reversal in his BB to K ratio, his OBA by over 50 points. But with California suffering a power drought – Bobby Knoop led the team in RBI’s – Paul’s RBI numbers were pretty miniscule. In ’67 Paul’s offense tumbled hard and in an attempt to fix things offensively at the position he returned to Double A where he hit .311 with a .408 OBA in a bit over a month. In the meantime the Angels tried a bunch of other guys at the position including Aurelio Rodriguez, Johnny Werhas, and catcher Tom Satriano. But none of those guys added any real value so when ’68 opened Paul was back at his spot. By June he was playing every day, was having a great defensive year, and while hitting only .212 he seemed to be recovering his stroke. But in a game against Boston he got nailed right above the ear by a Jose Santiago fastball, collapsed, and was taken to the hospital. He had a skull fracture and while damage wasn’t as bad as initially feared he lost some hearing in his left ear and had some serious balance issues as a result. He attempted to come back during the year but just getting to first base made him dizzy. After the season he was left unprotected and he was selected by Kansas City in the expansion draft.

When the Royals did their draft they also grabbed Joe Foy of Boston and with Foy's bigger stats to that point there was little doubt as to who the starting third baseman would be. So Schaal spent ’69 shuttling between Kansas City and Triple A. He had a bang-up season in the minors - .374 with a .468 OBA, 40 RBI’s, and nine stolen bases in 222 at bats – and upstairs had a nice bounce in his average. His power was a bit iffy because he was still feeling the effects of the beaning which also continued into ’70. Prior to that season Foy was dealt to the Mets for Amos Otis and Paul got the starting gig, giving some time away to Bob Oliver and Billy Sorrell. In ’71 he had his biggest year, playing every game and posting by far his biggest offensive season, including an OBA of .387. ‘72 was a big downer as his average tumbled and by the end of the year he was giving away starts to Kurt Bevacqua. After his nice bounce in ’73 got interrupted by his injury a slow start to the ’74 season got him traded back to California for former Royal Richie Scheinblum. While Paul upped his average a bunch in Anaheim and put in more time than anyone at third, he was released at the end of the season, ending his time in baseball. He hit .244 for his career with a .341 OBA. In the minors he hit .297 with a .392 OBA.

While Schaal left baseball after playing he did not walk away from a physically active career. After initially continuing working in real estate, which he did while he was playing, he moved into chiropractic care. He returned to the KC area where he has run his own wellness center for nearly thirty years.

’62 was a big year in the minors for Paul. In ’66 he hit an inside-the-park home run. He was quite skilled at pool and according to one report was considering  it as a potential career choice after baseball.

It’s about time for another easy one:

1. Schaal and Jim Campanis ’69 to ’70 Royals.

No comments:

Post a Comment