The Black Sox scandal that resulted in eight big leaguers losing their jobs didn’t touch catcher Ray Schalk, who finished his career and was later elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
However, a newly uncovered photo from 1920 seems to show the stress that no doubt enveloped the Sox as the investigation played out in the months that followed the Series. Our 5x 6 ¾” Photo of the Day, a portrait image of Schalk by Underwood & Underwood is among more than 300 historic images being offered by RMY Auctions this month. Bidding continues through Sunday.
Schalk was one of the game’s best defensive catchers, drawing praise from the likes of Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth who once said Schalk “got more out of his pitchers than any other catcher in history.” While several other players accepted an offer from gamblers to throw the Series, Schalk was never among them. He hit .304 and clearly played to win. He later told investigators he suspected something was amiss when Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams ignored the pitches he’d called for.
The year this image was taken, the Sox were still together. The banishment of Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver and others would not come until that fall. Despite his small stature, Schalk caught 151 of the team’s 154 games that season, a record that stood for 24 years. He’d play for ten more seasons after the Black Sox were banned and still holds the major league career record for double plays (217) and the American League career assist record as well.
Schalk wasn’t elected to the Hall by the Veterans Committee for his offense. In fact, his batting average is the lowest of any Hall of Famer, but he is considered to be the best defensive catcher of his era and one of the best of all-time. Historians have given him credit as the first catcher to back up infield throws to first base and outfield throws to third.
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