Saturday, August 29, 2015

Schneider hit 5 HR in game, wound up in prison

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

In my posting on March 13, 2014, I presented the story of Nig Clarke's eight home-run game.

The next highest homers total in a single professional game is five. 

In the history of Organized Baseball, only four players -- all minor leaguers -- have hit five home runs in a game.

Only one of that quartet had his five-homer game in a league higher than Class A. Two of them played in the major leagues (one before and one after his feat). As far as I can tell, only one of the four can be found on a contemporary baseball card.

The principal subject of this posting is Pete Schneider, who hit five home runs in a Pacific Coast League game on May 11, 1923, when his Vernon Tigers traveled to Salt Lake City to play the Bees in a game won by Vernon 35-11.

The first of the "other" three minor leaguers to hit five homers in a game was Lou Frierson in 1934 with Paris, Tex., of the Class C West Dixie League. Two years later, Cecil "Dynamite" Dunn hit five with Alexandria, La., in the Class D Evangeline League. Most recently, the feat was performed by Dick Lane with Muskegon, Mich., in the Class A Central League in 1948. Lane appeared in a dozen games with the Chicago White Sox in 1949.

Schneider stands out because he not only hit five home runs in a game, but also because he began his pro career at age 16, pitched for six years in the major leagues and spent time in prison for manslaughter after killing a man who insulted his wife.

Rather than my rehashing work that has already been done by others, let me direct you to the Diamonds in the Dusk web site: Pete Schneider .

Schneider is the only player in this group who seems to have appeared on a career-contemporary baseball card. He was included in the Fleischmann Bakery set in 1916, the second of three seasons in a row which he lost 19 games.

There is a "Schneider" on the checklists of 1921-24 Zeenuts PCL card sets; I have no reason to believe this is not Pete Schneider, but I'd have to see the team designations on the cards to be sure.

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