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The Curious Case of Schwartz, Alabama’s Mystery 1906 Baseball Coach

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The mystery you probably didn’t even know existed.

Schwartz is #8

I was told about this mystery on reddit recently. Alabama’s baseball team first played on July 1, 1892 (a win). In the program’s history, the 1906 season stands out among them all. The squad went 4-16-1 (.216), the absolute worst season in Alabama baseball history. That would be the only season a man named Schwartz coached Alabama.

The official Alabama records list a first (or at least a nickname) and last name for every single coach in Crimson Tide history, except for the 1906 coach. Schwartz is, simply, Schwartz.

Why? Who is he? How is such a notable coach in our program’s history known in the official records by just his last name? I had to find out and unravel this mystery.

And I did.

Charles Schwartz was hired as the baseball coach likely in January, 1906. The earliest record I found was from this January 18, 1906 edition of The Montgomery Advertiser.

Charlie Schwartz is to coach the baseball team of the University of Alabama, reporting there some time next month, and it is probable that he will not be in Montgomery before May 1st.

There you have it.

Charlie Schwartz played minor league and independent league baseball for 10 years from 1899-1908. You can see his (incomplete) stats on Baseball Reference here.

Schwartz got around. Early on, he played almost exclusively on the West Coast, in both the United States and Canada. Some of his stops included Seattle, Oakland, and Sacramento. That will be important later, so just make a note of it.

In 1904, Schwartz made a big move to the South and joined the Montgomery Senators (who are actually now the Birmingham Barons) as their second baseman. He had two solid years at the plate and newspaper clippings generally described him as a great fielder.

On to 1906.

As I mentioned above, Schwartz was likely hired by Alabama in January 1906. He was replacing Thomas Stouch, who went 49-25-1 (.660) over the previous five years. Stouch was also the first multi-year coach in school history. The team had declined in Stouch’s last two seasons, however, dropping from 15-3 in 1903 to 12-10 and then 6-8-1.

Despite the disappointing end to Stouch’s tenure, Schwartz had big shoes to fill; but he was a veteran player who had been the captain of at least one of his teams before and was well-liked in Montgomery, at least according to the Advertiser.

Optimism was abundant.

In a letter received yesterday from Charlie Schwartz he speaks in the most enthusiastic terms of his reception at the University of Alabama and of the prospects in general for the 1906 baseball team.

The campus he says is the prettiest he ever saw. There is great enthusiasm among the University boys, twenty-eight of them turning out for practice.

Outsiders were enthusiastic as well, as Montgomery continued to publish bits about Schwartz.

A local traveling man who was in Tuscaloosa last week says that the people at the University say that Charlie Schwartz is the greatest coach they have ever had there, and the work of his team is proving it.

Yeah...

Alabama baseball already had suffered four losing seasons in its 14 year existence, but this was on a new level. Granted, it was the longest season in the program’s history; but the 16 losses wasn’t matched again until 1922 when the team played four more games than the 1906 squad did. It would take until 1967 for Alabama baseball to top 16 losses; the 1967 team played 44 games and went 23-21.

I don’t know if Schwartz was fired or if he had only been hired for one season. Regardless, he was not back for the 1907 season. That team went 21-7 in J.W.H. Pollard’s first season; he compiled a 66-22-1 record (.747, 3rd best among Alabama coaches who were around for at least two seasons). In addition to his duties as the baseball coach, Pollard also put together a 21-5-4 record (.783) as the football team’s coach.

Schwartz went back to the Montgomery Senators, but he wasn’t there for long. I’m not sure when he rejoined the Senators; but, by July 28, he had been cut.

Charlie Schwartz received his unconditional release last night and is no longer a member of the Montgomery wheer (sic) he has always conducted himself as a perfect gentleman, and his friends will be sorry to see him leave Montgomery.

The Senators were 6-4 at this point, but they were in 5th place in the Southern Association/League.

After his release, Schwartz was signed by the 1906 Altoona Mountaineers of the independent Tri-State League. He didn’t have much success there either. After playing 120 games for the Mountaineers in 1907, Schwartz went back to his old stomping grounds out west to play for the Vancouver Canucks in the Northwestern League, which featured teams on both sides of the border. He finished the year out there.

In 1908, his last recorded year of play, he crossed the continent again and went back east, playing for the Providence (Rhode Island) Grays (though I don’t see any games logged), the Worcester (Massachusetts) Busters, and the good ol’ Altoona Mountaineers.

Now, what happened to Schwartz after?

I had told you earlier to remember that he played out west and was the captain of at least one team. It appears that Schwartz wanted to return to the West Coast for the 1909 season.

A probable successor to Ole Snyder for third base on the local baseball team (this clipping is from the Vancouver Daily World), who was formerly the captain of the Seattle team. Schwartz would like to come to Vancouver and Manager Dickson would like to have him.

Manager Dickson isn’t sure of landing the crack infielder (told you they liked his fielding), but Schwartz says that if he can purchase his release from the Worcester, Mass. club he will sign with Vancouver. There the matter rests.

Apparently that’s where the matter ended. Baseball Reference, while not infallible, is an excellent resource. It doesn’t have any records of him playing after the 1908 season, so I’m inclined to trust them. =

Anyway, fast forward to the 1930s.

A Charles Schwartz died in Seattle on either July 3 or July 4.

Funeral services for Charles Schwartz, 60, manager of the Seattle Indians in 1901 and 1902, after ten years of professional baseball with San Francisco and Oakland, will be held here tomorrow.

He died Friday night after a six months’ illness. He was an optometrist in recent years.

Schwartz is listed as playing for Seattle, San Francisco, and Oakland; and he played for 10 years according to Baseball Reference. All of that matches up with this obituary.

So, I quite confident that Alabama’s mystery Schwartz is Charlie Schwartz, the 2B from the Montgomery Senators, and that these are all the same Charles Schwartz.

After emailing the University of Alabama baseball department, I was told by a staffer that they would update their records before next season.

Thank you for your research. It is greatly appreciated and very useful in ensuring that our Alabama Baseball records are as accurate as possible. I will be sure to get the updates made throughout all of our printed materials to give Coach Schwartz his due. Roll Tide!