Gerry Schoen (Trading Card DB)

Gerry Schoen

This article was written by Richard Cuicchi

Gerry Schoen (Trading Card DB)Overcoming spinal meningitis as an eight-year-old, Gerry Schoen developed into a strapping 6-foot, 3-inch fireballer as a high school prep star in New Orleans. Despite his trajectory as a promising professional baseball player, Schoen ended up with only one major-league appearance, with the Washington Senators in 1968, when he was just 21. He was out of baseball altogether by age 24.

Schoen must have been encouraged by his early big-league callup in 1968 and placement on the Senators’ 40-man roster. However, he had only short spurts of excellence after that and was never able to establish himself for an entire season in the minors.

Born on January 20, 1947, Gerald Thomas Schoen (pronounced “SHANE”) was the son of native New Orleanians Lloyd and Luella (née Bergeron) Schoen. He was raised on State Street in the New Orleans Uptown neighborhood near Wisner Playground, where he developed his early baseball skills. His father worked for a 7-Up bottling company. Gerry’s siblings were brother Lloyd and sister Barbara.1

Schoen was a fan of the game at an early age. He acquired an autographed baseball signed by members of the hometown New Orleans Pelicans minor-league team, while he was bedridden with spinal meningitis.2

In its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, Wisner Playground was the classical neighborhood sports gathering spot. During summers, boys and girls hung out at the baseball and softball diamonds all day, practicing and playing in organized leagues, as well as informal pickup games often spanning multiple age groups. The playground produced two other future major-league players—Allan Montreuil and Frank Wills.3

At Wisner Schoen got his first taste of playing organized baseball. Throughout his amateur career in New Orleans, including Babe Ruth, high school, American Legion, and college ball, he was the beneficiary of some of the city’s best coaches. One of them was Ronnie Aucoin, a New Orleans Recreational Department (NORD) playground coach and supervisor at Wisner. Aucoin taught him the fundamentals of the game. Schoen’s 10-and-under and 12-and-under teams won city championships.4

During these formative years Schoen became a close friend of John Arthurs, who lived around the block from him. They played on the same teams at the playground and in high school and American Legion competition.5 Arthurs remembers Schoen making a remarkable impression in his playground days. “One of our leagues played five-inning games, and Gerry once struck out all 15 batters.” Arthurs added, “Everyone had a nickname in those days, and Gerry’s was the ‘White Whale,’ because he was a big, husky kid with light-colored hair.”6

As a 15-year-old, Schoen pitched for De La Salle High School’s entry in the city’s Babe Ruth League in 1962. He developed a reputation as a strikeout artist and was selected to play in the Louisiana state tourney with the city’s All-Star team, coached by Louis “Rags” Scheuermann.7 A legendary amateur and college coach in New Orleans, Scheuermann later played another role in Schoen’s career.

Schoen did not play for De La Salle’s varsity baseball team as a freshman or sophomore but became one of its standouts in his junior year in 1963. Gerry Burrage, long-time local high school and American Legion coach in the New Orleans area, recalls Schoen’s sensational season. “Gerry was a hard-throwing right-hander with great control. He was very dominant in his break-out season as a junior [1963].”8

Burrage was referring to Schoen’s five high school starts in which he allowed just 11 hits and one run. He was named to the Times-Picayune and States-Item All-Prep teams, as well as the All-State team selected by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.9 He followed with an 8-0-1 record in American Legion play that summer for the De La Salle-based team, earning him MVP honors for his district.10

In 1964 De La Salle captured the state high school championship, with Schoen pitching a three-hitter in the finals.11 The victory gave renowned head coach John Altobello his fourth state title with the school. He was instrumental in helping Schoen refine his pitching skills. By then, Schoen, a repeat All-State performer,12 was an imposing figure on the mound at 6-feet-3 and 215 pounds. Rags Scheuermann, then head coach at Loyola University in New Orleans, called Schoen “the best right-hander to come out of New Orleans since Al Jurisich,” a former major-league pitcher for the Cardinals and Phillies in the 1940s.13

Behind the pitching of Schoen, the De La Salle American Legion team won the state title and fought its way to the Little World Series, only to be eliminated after three games. One of Schoen’s losses in the Series came against future major-league pitcher Rich Folkers of the Waterloo, Iowa team, who was 18-0 coming into the series.14

Following the Legion season, Schoen signed a grant-in-aid scholarship to play baseball with Loyola University under his former Babe Ruth coach, Scheuermann. Schoen decided to attend Loyola since he would be allowed to play as a freshman. Plus he wanted to play again under Scheuermann’s tutelage. The coach told the States-Item, “We are real glad to get Gerry. He is definitely the No. 1 pitching prospect in the state.”15

Schoen had a promising debut as a freshman with Loyola in 1965. He recorded a strikeout for each of the first seven outs in a 3-0 win against Southwestern Louisiana. He went on to finish the season with a 6-0 record.16

After posting a 2-3 record with Loyola in 1966, Schoen was selected by the Washington Senators in the 25th round of the major leagues’ June amateur draft. Rather than continuing to play at Loyola, he decided to sign with the Senators for a bonus reported as being between $10,000 and $15,000.17 At the time Schoen said about his signing, “I was very anxious to try professional baseball. I started to wait until after the [summer] All-American tournament in Johnstown [Pennsylvania], but I felt that my chances of getting a bigger bonus weren’t that much and I felt that I needed to get a head start.”18

Only 19 years old, Schoen’s first minor-league assignment was at Geneva, New York in the Class A New York-Penn League in 1966.19 The best outing of his nine starts occurred on August 23, when he struck out 18 in nine innings. He finished with a 1-6 record, while recording a respectable 3.74 ERA.

Schoen started out the 1967 season with the Burlington (North Carolina) Senators in the Class A Carolina League. He posted a 7-2 record and 2.59 ERA before being activated in July for six months of military service in the Army National Guard.20 (Many professional baseball players chose the military reserve route to fulfill their military service obligation during the Vietnam War years, rather than being drafted into service and having to serve two years of active duty.)

Over the winter the Senators thought enough of Schoen to offer him a minimum major-league salary contract. The organization’s scouts thought he had the best fastball of their prospects. Having fulfilled his active-duty requirement for six months, he reported for his first major-league spring training.21 While in camp at Pompano Beach, Florida, Schoen and several of his teammates were able to fulfill their ongoing military reserve commitments in nearby Fort Lauderdale.

He started the 1968 season with Double-A Savannah in the Southern League. Despite a 3-9 record in 19 starts, he posted a 3.20 ERA and struck out 95 in 118 innings. Washington’s Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo acquired him for four games, and he posted a record of 2-1 before the big-league Senators called him up in September.

Schoen’s only appearance at the top level came on September 14 against the New York Yankees at D. C. Stadium. He started the game and struck out the first batter he faced, Horace Clarke, in a perfect inning. He appeared to be locked in, facing only three batters in the second, with the aid of a double play. With runners on first and third after two singles to lead off the third inning, Schoen gave up his first run on a groundout double play by his counterpart, Al Downing. Yankees catcher Jake Gibbs led off the fourth inning with a single. Following a flyout by Joe Pepitone, Schoen gave up a two-run homer to Roy White. He induced a popout for the second out, but after he served up two more singles that inning, Senators manager Jim Lemon yanked him for reliever Jim Miles. The Yankees went on to win, 4-1. In 3 2/3 innings, Schoen gave up three earned runs on six hits and a walk. The game turned out to be the only major-league action of his career.22

The American League held an expansion draft in October for the new Seattle Pilots and Kansas City Royals franchises that would begin play in 1969. Schoen was picked in the second round by the Pilots, who concentrated on acquiring pitchers. He was the 20th overall selection of the draft.23 The move to Seattle seemed to offer Schoen the opportunity to land a spot on a major-league roster. A 1969 publication, The Baseball Rating Handbook, observed, “Some of the [Pilots’] best young arms belong to Buzz Stephen and Gerry Schoen.”24

As it developed, neither prospect ever pitched for the Pilots or for any other big-league team after 1968. Seattle sent them both to triple-A Vancouver.25 There Schoen pitched in only three games before he was involved in a five-player deal between the Pilots and the Baltimore Orioles on April 30, 1969. Schoen and infielder Mike Ferraro were swapped for pitchers John O’Donoghue, Tom Fisher, and Lloyd Fourroux. It’s interesting to note that Fourroux, a career minor-leaguer in the Orioles organization, had attended the same high school in New Orleans as Schoen several years earlier.

The Orioles assigned Schoen to Dallas-Fort Worth in the double-A Texas League. His four wins and 2.19 ERA by early June were a significant contribution to the team’s lead in the Texas League’s western division. When triple-A Rochester’s manager Cal Ripken Sr. needed pitching help, Schoen was assigned on June 9 to help shore up his staff.26 Schoen was used in both starter and reliever roles for the first time. His season was interrupted for three weeks in August by active-duty commitments with the National Guard in New Orleans.27

Schoen returned to Rochester to start the 1970 season. But after only limited use, with no decisions in six appearances, he was sold to triple-A Syracuse, an affiliate of the New York Yankees, in early June.28 Schoen was put back into a starter’s role, and his 5-2 record helped Syracuse win its first minor-league pennant in 73 years. He got a victory over American Association champion Omaha as Syracuse won the Junior World Series.29

Rochester acquired Schoen again at the beginning of spring training in 1971, but he was cut before making a regular season appearance. Syracuse claimed him again, but he didn’t have the same impact on the mound as he did the year before. He posted a 3-5 record with a 6.43 ERA, and Syracuse released him at the end of June. In his last appearance with the Chiefs on June 23, he experienced a bit of déjà vu when he squared off against Tidewater pitcher Rich Folkers. The outcome was the same as seven years earlier in the American Legion World Series—Folkers prevailed as the winning pitcher.30

Following his release from Syracuse, Schoen signed with double-A Charlotte in the Minnesota Twins organization, but he appeared in only one game.

At only 24 years old, Schoen decided to end his career. He had been bounced around by several teams and became discouraged when he did not see a path back to the majors.31

Following his baseball career, Gerry Schoen was employed for many years as a salesman for Budweiser in Louisiana and Arizona. He died in Tullahoma, Tennessee, on May 5, 2021, although he was living in Lynchburg, Tennessee, at the time of his death. He and his wife Suzanne had two sons, Adam and Matthew.32



This article was reviewed by Rory Costello and Rick Zucker and checked for accuracy by members of SABR’s fact-checking team.



In addition to the sources listed in the Notes, the author consulted:

Whittlesey, Merrell. “Yanks Streak Hits Nine as Senators Succumb 4-1,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), September 15, 1968, G1.

Zimmerman, Hy, “Pilots Pick CalAngels’ Mincher, Tigers’ Oyler,” Seattle Times, October 15, 1968, 32.



1 Email to the author from Gerry’s wife, Suzanne Schoen, October 1, 2023.

2 N. Charles Wicker, “What’s What,” Times-Picayune, December 31, 1963: Section 2, 4.

3 Richard Cuicchi, “Turn Back the Clock: Wisner Playground fostered a lifestyle in Uptown neighborhood,” Crescent City Sports. Accessed February 11, 2024.

4 Author’s interview with John Arthurs, December 1, 2023.

5 Arthurs, a basketball and baseball standout at Tulane University, was drafted in 1969 by the Milwaukee Bucks and played part of the 1969-70 NBA season with them, along with fellow rookie Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

6 Author’s interview with John Arthurs, December 1, 2023.

7 N. Charles Wicker, “Two All-Star Nines Named in Babe Ruth,” Times-Picayune, July 1, 1962: Section 6, 7.

8 Author’s Interview with Gerry Burrage, November 1, 2023.

9 Charles Gaudin, “HC, EJ Top 1963 All-Prep,” States Item (New Orleans), June 1, 1963: 12; N. Charles Wicker, “East Jefferson Dominates T-P All-Prep Team,” Times-Picayune, May 25, 1963: Section 6, 7; “Istrouma, Baton Rouge High Put Two Each on All-State Team,” State-Times (Baton Rouge), June 8, 1963: 3-B.

10 Charles Gaudin, “Schoen is All-Legion MVP,” States-Item (New Orleans), July 20, 1963: 10.

11 Ted Castillo, “De La Salle Tops Istrouma, 3 to 1,” Advocate (Baton Rouge), May 28, 1964: 2-F.

12 Ben Thomas, “Seven Local Preppers on All-State,” States-Item, May 28, 1964: 25.

13 N. Charles Wicker, “It’s Play Ball Time for Legion,” Times-Picayune, May 31, 1964: Section 6, 8.

14 Buddy Diliberto, “Lakeside to Face Ace Waterloo Lefty Tonight,” Times-Picayune, August 24, 1964: Section 2, 10.

15 “Schoen Signs Baseball Grant with Loyola,” States-Item, September 4, 1964: 22.

16 “Loyola Opens Baseball Year,” States-Item, March 18, 1966: 22.

17 “Schoen Signs with Washington,” States-Item, June 27, 1966: 30.

18 Pete Barrouquere, “Sens Sign LU’s Schoen,” Times-Picayune, June 26, 1966: Section 6: 1.

19 “Geneva Takes Double Win,” Evening Tribune (Hornell, New York), August 24, 1966: 18.

20 Bill Hunter, “Nats Rap Yanks To 2nd Spot, Win 5-3,” Times-News (Burlington, North Carolina), July 13, 1967:2-B.

21 Bob Addie, “Casanova, Pascual Among Early Birds Top Pen Nats’ Pacts,” The Sporting News, February 10. 1968: 32.

22 On the same day Schoen had a disappointing major-league debut, Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain won his 30th game of the season, becoming the first 30-game winner since Dizzy Dean in 1934.

23 Merrell Whittlesey, “Senators Lose Jones, Schoen in Draft,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), October 15, 1968: A-16.

24 Robert Kalich, The Baseball Rating Handbook (New York: A.S. Barnes and Company, 1969), 68.

25 Vancouver had a shared affiliation with Seattle and Montreal, both new franchises in 1969.

26 Jim Castor, “Wings Flash SOS to O’s,” Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York), July 1, 1969: D-1.

27 Larry Bump, “Wings Go in Pair Tonight, Democrat and Chronicle, July 26, 1969: 2D.

28 Jim Castor, “Colonels Hand Wings Sixth Straight Loss,” Democrat and Chronicle, June 3, 1970:1D.

29 “Chiefs Need 1 for Title,” Democrat and Chronicle, September 19, 1970: 2D.

30 “Tides Homers Clip Chiefs,” Democrat and Chronicle, June 24, 1971: 3D.

31 Email to the author from Suzanne Schoen, October 1, 2023.

32 Gerry Schoen obituary.–T-Schoen?obId=21042749. Accessed January 31, 2024.

Full Name

Gerald Thomas Schoen


January 15, 1947 at New Orleans, LA (USA)


May 5, 2021 at Tullahoma, TN (USA)

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