Cards on the Table: I'm Not Mike Schmidt, Stop Trying To Make Me Be Him


For 153 games toward the end of his career, Mike Schmidt was a first baseman.

Yes, the Phillies took one of the best defensive third basemen in the history of baseball, put a weird-looking glove on his hand, and told him to go play first base.

Why?

Rick Schu, baby. THAT’S why.

Rick Schu, doing his level best to look as Mike Schmidtty as possible. (1984 Topps)

Yes, the Rick Schu era was supposed to usher in a time of transition for the Phillies in 1985, and boy were the Phillies giddy about ‘ol Rickey Schu for a while there.

In 1984, Schu hit .301/.350/.480 with 12 HRs and 82 RBIs for the Phils’ AAA affiliate in Portland. Clearly superstar numbers.

They were so excited about Schu’s 1984 season that they pushed Schmidty over to first to make room for the mustachioed Schu.

Amazingly, Schu did not quite perform up to the standards of the greatest third baseman in the history of Major League Baseball, and Schmidt was quickly transferred back to third base for 1986, while Schu became a bench player. Who could’ve guessed that?

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
1984 22 PHI NL 17 36 29 12 8 2 1 2 5 0 0 6 6 .276 .389 .621 1.010 178
1985 23 PHI NL 112 457 416 54 105 21 4 7 24 8 6 38 78 .252 .318 .373 .691 91
1986 24 PHI NL 92 233 208 32 57 10 1 8 25 2 2 18 44 .274 .335 .447 .782 112
1987 25 PHI NL 92 219 196 24 46 6 3 7 23 0 2 20 36 .235 .311 .403 .714 86
1988 26 BAL AL 89 294 270 22 69 9 4 4 20 6 4 21 49 .256 .316 .363 .679 93
1989 27 TOT AL 99 293 266 25 57 11 0 7 21 1 2 24 37 .214 .278 .335 .613 74
1989 27 BAL AL 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1989 27 DET AL 98 293 266 25 57 11 0 7 21 1 2 24 37 .214 .278 .335 .613 74
1990 28 CAL AL 61 169 157 19 42 8 0 6 14 0 0 11 25 .268 .314 .433 .747 110
1991 29 PHI NL 17 24 22 1 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 7 .091 .125 .091 .216 -38
1996 34 MON NL 1 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100
9 Yrs 580 1729 1568 189 386 67 13 41 134 17 16 139 282 .246 .310 .384 .694 92
PHI (5 yrs) 330 969 871 123 218 39 9 24 79 10 10 83 171 .250 .318 .398 .717 94
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/7/2012.

Hey, there’s no shame in not being Mike Schmidt. I’m not Mike Schmidt and I’m totally fine with it.

Schu’s problem was that, just like every other much-talked about minor league prospect in the Phils’ organization in the 1980s, he turned out to be nothing more than a replacement-level player.

In fact, he was a lot like Matt Damon’s gaming commission character in “Ocean’s 11″ that stole Andy Garcia’s codes to the vault elevator. He seemed decent and likeable enough, but you forgot about him as soon as he was gone.

One thing you can say about Rick Schu, however, is that he loved his high school.

In fact, Schu recently spoke to the faculty, students and alumni of Del Campo High School in California through a very personal YouTube video.

Dude, he is STILL making that mustache look GOOD.

One other item of note about Rick Schu that everyone will find particularly… well… it’s something, anyway…

That would be Kenneth Schu, who pitched in the Chicago White Sox minor league system in 1955, going 1-1 in just three games. That’s not even a cup of coffee. That’s barely a dry coffee bean.

Schu’s greatest legacy lives on as one of the greatest minor league players in Phillies history. He is especially remembered in Scranton-Wilkes Barre, as the Scranton Times Tribune noted back in 2011

Rick Schu was one of the most productive minor league players the Phillies have had in the last 30 years. But when he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in 1988 in a package that brought outfielder Mike Young – who would play 75 games and hit .226 – to the Phillies, he was out of the organization by the time the Red Barons started play in 1989.

But after hitting .268 with six homers and 14 RBIs in 61 games for the California Angels in 1990, the Phillies signed him as a free agent and assigned him to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He hit .321 with 14 homers and 57 RBIs that season, but he was certainly best known for what he did in 1992.

Manager Lee Elia‘s Red Barons went 84-58 that season – the first time the franchise experienced a winning record, never mind a playoff berth. They’d come three outs shy of winning the Governor’s Cup in a classic final against Columbus, of course, but Schu led the team in hitting (.310), was second in RBIs (49) and fourth in home runs (10), a force in the middle of the batting order.

Wow, a Lee Elia reference. I wasn’t expecting THAT this morning!

Happily, Schu is still in baseball. He was hitting coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks from July of 2007 to May of 2009, and spent some time with the Washington Nationals organization as their minor-league hitting coordinator. He has since moved to the Toronto Blue Jays where he serves in the same capacity.

If you’re a fan of the mid-to-late ’80s Phillies baseball, chances are you watched a lot of Rick Schu.

And, chances are, you were spellbound by a guy that looked a lot like Mike Schmidt, but hit more like Mike Easler.

Tags: Philadelphia Phillies