The alphabet places many people near the bottom of a list but Ray Schalk earned a place near the top in baseball.
Many players have had illustrious seasons, but Ray established records in many categories for years. His record of 151 games in one season still stands. During two years he caught 140 or more games. He caught more than 100 games in each of 11 consecutive seasons.
This “iron man” who caught so many games was not huge. He was 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, but he made up for it with drive and the spirit to win.
Not only could he catch, backstopping four no-hitters, but he set a record for fielding percentage and the major league record for double plays by a catcher. He held the American League record for assists. He set the record with 30 stolen bases by a catcher in 1916, which stood for 66 years. Ray was the first catcher to back up plays at first and third bases.
Ray’s accomplishments go on and on. He played in an unbelievable total of 1760 games during his career, which spanned from 1912 to 1929.
Ray’s dark spot was being a player on the infamous “Black Sox” team of 1919, but he refused to be a part of that travesty. He was always honored and respected by fans and fellow players.
Schalk was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.
In retirement Ray continued in baseball by helping youth in Chicago. He married Lavina Graham in 1916. He died in Chicago on May 19, 1970.