Schechter: Send in the clown, Al Schacht

From SABR member Gabriel Schechter at The National Pastime Museum on June 28, 2013:

Alexander Schacht’s pretensions to greatness came naturally since he was born in 1892, the son of Russian immigrants, on the future site of left field at Yankee Stadium. As a kid, he sneaked into morning practice at the nearby Polo Grounds to hang around the players and became Christy Mathewson’s favorite fetcher of sandwiches. 

A 130-pound, right-handed pitching sensation in local amateur ranks while in high school, Schacht was accused by a rival coach of accepting money to play and responded by dropping out of school. “I deserted higher learning,” he wrote in one of his several memoirs, “and have been a successful ignoramus ever since.” In fact, he was quite intelligent and shrewd, capable of holding his own in repartee with close friend Moe Berg as well as promoting his talents into a million-dollar career.

Schacht’s aptitude for humor manifested itself early in his minor league career when he was playing in Newark. Scheduled to start the second game of a doubleheader, he hired a horse, assembled a costume and made a grand entrance astride the horse, wearing a “kiddy dress” with bright ribbons in his hair. The crowd went wild, but then he got knocked out in the third inning. He later claimed, “That day I discovered it was easier to make people laugh than it was to retire those hitters.”

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Originally published: June 29, 2013. Last Updated: June 29, 2013.