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Card Corner: Paul Schaal and the No. 9


This week’s “Card Corner” has no connection to the Yankees. In fact, this man may be the most obscure player ever profiled in this feature. But he was important to us as kids in 1974, if only because he had such a weird name. And he has become a record-breaker among major league players.

As young fans growing up in Westchester County, we found it both foolishly fun and humorously cruel to repeat the quirky names of certain ballplayers over and over. One of those players was Paul Schaal (pronounced PAWL SHAWL), one of the few big leaguers whose last name rhymed with his first. Along with Lu Blue, Mark Clark, Don Hahn and Greg Legg, Schaal must have taken his share of verbal abuse about that as a child.

A couple of other intriguing facts come to mind when thinking about Paul Schaal. He was the Kansas City Royals’ last regular third baseman before a fellow named George Brett burst onto the major league scene. A certified Hall of Famer and the owner of the most attractive batting swing of the late 20th century—I’ll put him just ahead of Ken Griffey, Jr. in that regard—Brett made most Royals fans forget all about Schaal. Still, Schaal was not a bad ballplayer. Schaal was certainly a better player than most of the third sackers the Yankees were trotting out at the time, an illustrious group that included Bobby Cox and Jerry Kenney. While with the LA and California Angels in the mid-1960s, Schaal established a reputation as one of the game’s finest fielding third baseman. One member of the Angels even called Schaal the equal of Brooks Robinson, generally regarded as baseball’s most divine defensive third baseman of all-time.

Offensively, Schaal showed promise as a youngster, until he was hit in the head by a pitched ball during the 1968 season. The injury left the Angels understandably worried about his future, so they left him exposed in the expansion draft that winter. As one of four new teams entering the major leagues, the Royals snapped up Schaal, hoping that he would recover fully from the beanball incident.

After initially clashing with Royals skipper Charlie Metro, Schaal settled in nicely as KC’s cornerman. In 1971, he used remarkable patience at the plate, walking 103 times to formulate a .387 on-base percentage, while playing in every Royals game that season. He slumped to a .228 average in 1972 before rebounding to hit .288 with eight home runs the following season. Unfortunately, Schaal’s game fall off badly in 1974, prompting a trade back to California, where he finished out his career with the Halos. In the meantime, Mr. Brett staked permanent claim to Kansas City’s “hot corner.”

While Schaal never achieved much more than temporary stardom with the Royals, he has managed to become one of the most successful of ex-ballplayers in his post-playing days. After owning a chain of pizza shops, Schaal went into the unrelated field of chiropractics. (From pizza to ‘practics.) Schaal became Dr. Schaal, which sounds an awful lot like Dr. Scholl, the foot doctor. But it’s Dr. Schaal, practicing back specialist. The good doctor now runs the Schaal Health & Wellness Center in Overland Park, Kansas, and is considered an expert in network spinal analysis. As the doctor’s website points out, “At Schaal Health Center, we use Young Living Essential Oils daily to diffuse the air with their therapeutic aromas.” As a child of the seventies, that sounds pretty good to me.

Here’s something else that you might find interesting about Paul Schaal. He has been married nine times. (That’s got to be a record for a major leaguer. Nine times!) It would be most appropriate for Paul Schaal to be interviewed on CNN by Larry King. How great would that be?


1 The Mick536   ~  Apr 28, 2009 1:06 pm

Boyer left in 1966, which was also Roger Maris's last year. Yankees went to the unforgettable Charlie Smith before Cox. Roy White even played a few games there. How about one of my favorite Yankees, Mike Ferraro? Not memorable as a keystoner, hit Mendoza numbers but coached the club and managed two others. Kenney hangs on for a while, replaced by the trio of Celerino Sanchez, Bernie Allen, and Hal Lanier. Nettles arrives in 1973. Cody Ransom and Angel Berroa could not hold a candle to any of them.

I keep reminding Yankee and Red Sox fans how we stayed loyal during those years. Some pretty quirky baseball going on at the time.

2 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Apr 28, 2009 1:53 pm

Remember when the Cubs and Mets seemed like they could never find a long-term third baseman? How things have changed. Those teams' longest-tenured starters are now Aramis Ramirez and David Wright.

3 PJ   ~  Apr 28, 2009 2:21 pm

[1] My wife and I loved Clete Boyer, and met him through his lifelong friend Grady Thrasher III (G-3 to his friends), an Atlanta attorney of the highest standing, who also did some work for him up to his death. We socialized with both of them often. The "40 ounce Brown Paper Bag" stories are all true! Every time he went "out on the town," he always had that bag, filled with all of his rings, at the ready for anyone who wanted to see them and try them on. I can't tell you how many times Grady had to keep track of it. He was as good at that as Clete was with the glove. Like Murcer, Boyer is truly and sorely missed within the Yankees Extended Family...

Man, could Clete play! He never got the credit he deserved for his ability to teach the game. He was one of the most brilliant instructors at any level. And he always had the best stories, and never the same one twice, unless he was very inebriated, and Grady was "left holding the bag."

: )

4 thelarmis   ~  Apr 28, 2009 4:49 pm

to me, nobody - from any era - has/had a more attractive swing than ken griffey, jr. nobody!

5 thelarmis   ~  Apr 28, 2009 4:51 pm

No Po in today's lineup... Johnny's back, however...

6 PJ   ~  Apr 28, 2009 6:25 pm

[5] "No Po in today's lineup."

I think Burnett had a meeting with Girardi the day after his start in Fenway, as Joe always does reviewing his starters' performances. They talked about "pitch selection," specifically the first pitch FB Po called for during the Varitek bases loaded AB, which he promptly hit out. Follow that up with Ellsbury stealing home the very next day and I come to the following conclusions:

Either Posada is hurt, or I believe his catching days are just about over, especially since Molina does a much better job behind the dish.

Perhaps that explains Jorge's "lack of hustle" down the line last night in his pinch hit DP. The writing is on the wall. I wager Po's future catching duties will consist of Pettitte exclusively, if at all.

I'm just sayin'.

Remember, you heard it here first...

: /

7 PJ   ~  Apr 28, 2009 6:38 pm


Posada has a "sore hamstring" and is available to catch if needed.

I would get used to that job description if I were Yankees Universe...

: /

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