SABR

Heinie Schuble

This article was written by Rodney Johnson.

Henry George “Heinie” Schuble Jr. was the second of four children born to H.G. and Mattie Schuble in Houston, Texas, on November 1, 1906. Heinie first made it to the big leagues in July 1927 with the St. Louis Cardinals after their regular shortstop, Tommy Thevenow, broke his ankle. Just a month earlier, Schuble and his bride, model Agnes Shaw, were married at a home plate ceremony at Soldiers Home Park in Danville, Illinois, in front of 5,000 fans. At the time, it was the biggest crowd ever for a Danville (Three I League) home game. Equally if not more important, Heinie and Agnes believed they were the first couple ever to be married in a home plate ceremony in an Organized Baseball setting.

Schuble had started his baseball career in 1926 playing with D League teams in Texas. He played well enough to attract the attention of the Cardinals, who signed him for their Houston club after the Texas Association folded. Heinie batted .341 for Houston and was assigned to Danville in 1927. When Thevenow was injured, St. Louis looked to Schuble to fill the void. With the Cardinals, the 20-year-old filled in adequately at the plate, batting .257, 4 HR and 28 RBI. Joining the team in Boston, he knocked a double in his first big league start. On July 10, in the first game of a double header against the Giants in the Polo Grounds, Schuble hit an inside-the-park homer off Burleigh Grimes. His fielding was another story, however, as he committed 29 errors in 65 games. One lasting impression of his time with the Cardinals was his admiration for Grover Cleveland Alexander. “He was the best pitcher to ever play the game,” recalled Schuble in a 1977 interview. “If I had one game to play as a manager, I’d put Grover Cleveland Alexander out there on the mound.”  Heinie was back in the minors in 1928. He batted .286 for Houston of the Texas League but had 53 errors.

On August 31, the Tigers purchased Schuble’s contract from Houston for $50,000. New Tiger manger Bucky Harris handed him the regular shortstop job for 1929. In spring training camp in Phoenix, Harris was impressed with Schuble’s hitting but disappointed in his glove work. Harris threatened to put himself in the lineup at second base and move Charlie Gehringer to shortstop. Although he carried out the threat for a couple of spring games, when the season started Schuble was the regular shortstop.  His fielding continued to be erratic as he committed 46 errors in 86 games at shortstop and threw in another error in one of his three games at third base. At the plate he connected for just a .233 average and was back in the minors in 1930. Schuble responded with his best professional season by batting at a .320 clip with 18 home runs for Beaumont of the Texas League. Once again he had problems in the field with 55 errors and a .904 fielding percentage. Back with Beaumont in 1931, Schuble was shifted to third base, where his errors dropped to 43.

 The Tigers gave him another chance in 1932, this time as a third baseman. He played in 102 games, 76 at third base, and had his best big league season with a .271 average and 52 RBI. His fielding improved, too, as he made just 19 errors. Four of Schuble’s five home runs came against the Yankees. He connected three times off Hall of Famer Herb Pennock, including two blasts in one game in Detroit on June 10. Ironically, although he wasn’t much of a hitter, Schuble hit four of his career total of 11 homers off Hall of Fame pitchers (Grimes and Pennock) and three more off 200-game winners Freddie Fitzsimmons, Charlie Root, and Sad Sam Jones. As a Tiger, Schuble was on a name-calling basis with Babe Ruth. “He called me weasel and I called him hippo,” recalled Schuble.  Despite having just turned in his best season, Heinie’s size was against him. At 5’9”, 152 pounds, he wasn’t considered big enough or durable enough. He was replaced by Marv Owen in the lineup in 1933. Relegated to the bench, Schuble played in 49 games but batted just .219. It was back to the minors in 1934. He played in just 24 more big league games over the next three seasons, finishing in 1936 by playing in two games with the Cardinals before being returned to the minors. He finished his career that year with Houston and Rochester.   

Heinie went on to play semi-pro baseball in Houston with the Grand Prairie Brewers before moving to Baytown in 1948 to work at the Exxon refinery. There, he was the third baseman on the Humble Oilers, the company industrial league team. He retired from Exxon in 1971 and spent his retirement shrimping and fishing in Trinity Bay. In 1977 Heinie and Agnes celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by attending a game at the Houston Astrodome. Their only child, Henry George “Chick” Schuble III, was born in Detroit in 1932. He played baseball at Baylor University; served in the Army; became a prominent Pasadena, Texas, attorney; and went on to serve as a District Court Judge. Heinie Schuble died in Baytown on October 2, 1990, the day his beloved wife of 63 years Agnes was buried. The Schubles are buried in Forest Park of Lawndale in Houston.  His namesake son died in 2008. Their name lives on with Heinie’s grandson, Henry George Schuble IV.

Sources

Johnson, Rodney. “More Than Practice: A History of the Cactus League,” unpublished, ©2009.

Lee, Bill. The Baseball Necrology. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2003.

Mann, Mike. “Schubles Celebrating Golden Anniversary;” Baytown Sun, June 5, 1977.

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