January 15, 1947: Gerry Schoen
Born in New Orleans shortly after the end of World War II, on this day 73 years ago today, Gerry Schoen ascended to professional baseball at just 19 years old. His first pro season was spent in the New York-Pennsylvania League with the Geneva Senators where he pitched in 10 games (nine starts) and posted a 1-6 record despite a 3.74 ERA.
The 1967 season saw him move on to the Burlington Senators of the Carolina League where he was impressive, going 7-2 with a 2.59 ERA in 12 starts. That earned him a call up to Double-A Savannah and later Triple-A Buffalo the following year. He continued to cruise at those two stops and earned himself a call up all the way to the big club by late in the season.
Washington was already well out of the pennant chase and they needed to see what they had in Schoen, who seemed to be a promising young prospect, still just 21 years old at the time of his call up. On September 14, a Saturday afternoon, Schoen got his shot in front of just 4,000 fans at D.C. Stadium as he prepared to face a Yankees team fresh off another dynastic run.
Out for the top of the first, Schoen trotted and as quickly as he got to the mound, he was already headed back to the dugout. He struck out Horace Clarke to start the frame, followed that by coaxing a lineout from Jake Gibbs and getting Joe Peppitone to pop out to the catcher in foul territory. He once again faced the minimum in the second. After walking Roy White to lead off the inning, Tom Tresh grounded into a double play and Bill Robinson grounded out to third to end the inning.
However, he allowed back-to-back singles to Andy Kosco and Mike Ferraro and Kosco scored on a double play ground out by Al Downing. New York led 1-0. Clarke flew out to get Schoen out of the third and he was sent back for the fourth inning. That was where things fell apart. White tagged him for a two-run homer and Schoen was replaced shortly after. He stepped off the mound for the final time with a 7.36 ERA after a very solid first three innings of work.
Based on one start, the Senators didn't see what they needed to in order to give Schoen a long-term chance. He spent the next three seasons playing for seven different teams in Double-A and Triple-A in the Orioles, Yankees, and Twins organizations, but he never again got that much-desired call up. Schoen retired after the 1971 season at just 24 years old after having lived out his dream briefly and taking several steps back as far as performance. Schoen turns 73 today and still has the memory that so few have: that of walking out to the mound to pitch in a major-league game.