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Today’s obscure Cub: Hank Schenz

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A blast from the past.

Believe it or not, I don't know backstories of many Cubs from before the 1960s. When I clicked on the 1947 roster, I knew nothing at all about Hank Schenz, who appeared in a few games that season. I chose him before I realized he played quite a bit more in 1948. Nonetheless, Schenz it is.

Born in New Richmond, Ohio, a Kentucky river town downriver of Cincinnati, Schenz tore up the D Level Virginia League for Salem-Roanoke in 1939 and the 1940 Coastal Plain League with Tarboro. 1941 saw him acquired by the Cubs and sent to Portsmouth in the Piedmont League, and his numbers were decidedly more average. (Minor league teams were often independent, then.) Schenz has no records on his page the next few years, presumably due to military service.

1946 saw him mainly in Double-A Tulsa, where he had a good season. Good enough to reach Triple-A Los Angeles and a cup of coffee in Chicago. Schenz replaced Stan Hack at third for a day, and went hitless. Check out the attendance in the Polo Grounds that day.

After minimal duty at the MLB level in 1947, as well, Schenz played in over half the Cubs games in 1948, having over half his plate appearances that season. In all, he drove in 14 runs in 1948, and his time dropped to minimal in 1949.

The Cubs traded Schenz to the Dodgers in what looks to have been an astute trade that season. The incoming Bob Ramazzotti played a bit for the second-division Cubs the next few years, and Schenz was moved to Pittsburgh for 1950. Schenz stayed with Pittsburgh through the end of June 1951 when he was claimed on waivers by the Giants. If you have an awareness of 1951 and the Giants, you might guess his next/final MLB stop was a fun one. He played in only seven regular season games with the Giants, neither recording an at-bat or playing defense. He served as a pinch runner every time he was used by them. As a send-off, here is a recap of the game in which he scored a run.

Warren Spahn started for the Braves, and Jim Hearn for the Giants. It was tied at seven after three, and eight after four. The Braves scored two in the sixth, and it was 10-8 to the home eighth. Eddie Stanky walked, and was forced at second by Alvin Dark. Willie Mays, the tying run, was intentionally walked with a runner at first. (Yikes.)

Monte Irvin singled, with Mays reaching third and Irvin second on the throw. Catcher Wes Westrum intentionally walked, Schenz sprung to action. In all but one case with the Giants, he would run for a catcher. A single by eventual Cub Bobby Thomson plated two, and a Hank Thompson single scored Schenz. The Giants won 12-10. In the 1951 World Series, Schenz made his last MLB appearance. As a pinch-runner. For Westrum. He didn't score, and the Yankees won in six games.

Schenz would kick around in the Pacific Coast League, then with an Open classification, until 1955, when he returned to Double-A Tulsa, now an Indians affiliate. That team had a right-fielder who notched a bit over 100 plate trips, hitting one homer. Six years hence, Roger Maris would do a bit better in MLB. Schenz died in Cincinnati in 1988, and was buried in New Richmond.