Following from Microsoft Baseball
Germany Schaefer, a funny baseball player
There really was a player who stole first base. The problem was that he was on second base when the play started.
Infielder Herman “Germany” Schaefer had already established a reputation as one of the game’s most outlandish characters when he executed that stunt sometime between 1906 and 1908. Oddly enough, there was method in his madness.
Schaefer, then with Detroit, was playing against Cleveland. He was on first, and teammate Davy Jones was the runner on third. Schaefer proceeded to steal second. Standing on that bag, he shouted to Jones, “Let’s try it again!” With that he headed straight for first, hoping to draw a throw from the catcher that would allow Jones to steal home.
The catcher, however, simply stood there dumbfounded at what Schaefer was attempting. Jones didn’t move either. In fact, everyone was too startled to move. An argument ensued regarding the legality of what had just occurred. There didn’t seem to be any rule against it, so the matter stood. When play resumed, Schaefer took off again—this time in the right direction—for second base. The catcher threw to second, Jones broke for the plate, and both runners were safe. Mission accomplished.
Another time Schaefer pulled off an equally flamboyant stunt. The Tigers were playing the White Sox and were losing, 2-1, with one on and two out in the bottom of the ninth inning. Germany Schaefer, who had sliced his thumb while opening a beer bottle, was coaching at third.
Suddenly, he was called on to pinch hit. He grabbed a bat and stepped to the plate, grandly announcing, “Ladies and gentlemen, permit me to introduce to you Germany Schaefer, the world champion batsman who will now give you a demonstration of his batting ability.”
With that, the small crowd booed Schaefer mercilessly. He then proceeded to wallop a game-winning home run over the fence. Circling the bases, Schaefer slid wildly into first, yelling, “Schaefer leads at the quarter by a half.” Then he stood up and when he got to second slid again, hollering, “At the half, it’s Schaefer by a head.” At third he announced, “Schaefer leads by a mile.” Arriving at home he slid once more, dusted himself off, and announced to the patrons, “This, ladies and gentlemen, concludes this afternoon’s performance.”
Germany Schaefer began his career on Chicago area semipro teams. In 1898 he signed on with Sioux Falls before moving on to Kansas City and St. Paul, reaching the majors with the Cubs in 1901. Following his two-year stay with Chicago, he played with Milwaukee of the American Association until returning to the majors with Detroit in 1905.
Never a great hitter (.257 lifetime), his versatility and good humor kept him in the majors for many years. Prior to the 1907 World Series between Schaefer’s Tigers and the Chicago Cubs, Schaefer lobbied to have receipts from a tie game go towards the players’ share of the gate. When the first game of the Series ended in a 12-inning tie, Schaefer’s gambit considerably enriched his fellow players.
When he was too old to play, Germany Schaefer teamed for several years with former White Sox pitcher Nick Altrock in a comedy coaching routine for Washington. Following that, he scouted for the Giants. He was invited to join the 1917 White Sox–Giants world tour, and his performances along the way added to the popularity of the enterprise. At one point Germany Schaefer went into vaudeville with Detroit shortstop Charley O’Leary, but they were given the hook when their teammates pelted the duo with an assortment of fresh produce.
After the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, Schaefer requested that he no longer be referred to as “Germany.” Instead he asked to be called “Dutch.” In 1919 Schaefer, who had been in ill health, had a heart attack and died while aboard a train near Saranac Lake, New York.
© 1994 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Germany Schaefer, Chicago Orphans, raising both hands to catch a fly ball in the outfield].
CREATED/PUBLISHED Chicago Daily News courtsey Chicago Historical Society
Action portrait of Germany Schaefer, Chicago Orphans, National League, raising both hands to catch a fly ball, standing in the outfield at the West Side Grounds. The ballpark was located between West Polk Street, South Wolcott Avenue (formerly Lincoln Street), West Taylor Street, and South Wood Street, in the Near West Side community area of Chicago, Illinois.