I’ve been bit preoccupied lately, and cards haven’t been at the forefront of my mind. That’s not to say I haven’t been thinking of baseball. Hell, I’ve been dreaming of it, and I’m not talking about spring training either.
Last weekend, my wife told me about her great-grandfather, and how he played semi-pro baseball when he was younger. Rumor has it that he also once played in a game with Babe Ruth, during one of the Bambino’s barnstorming tours, and had the signed baseball to prove it. I know… I know… every baseball loving family has a story about a Ruth autograph that was tragically thrown out, and that’s how this one goes too. I was a bit skeptical myself, but there are still a few living relatives who have sworn they saw it at one time or another. Rumor also has it that he faced Ruth in this game, and struck him out.
His name was Donald “Dutch” Schneider (German + Pennsylvania somehow = Dutch), and he was a pitcher. For what team, I don’t know. What I do know is that he grew up in the Williamsport Pennsylvania area, and as of 1920 was still living there. Historical records (aka da internetz) say that Babe Ruth was in Williamsport in October of 1923, for a game against the Williamsport Grays of the NY-Penn League. Unfortunately, the online archives of Williamsport’s newspaper, the Gazette and Bulletin, only go back to 1924, which is just one year shy of Ruth’s visit.
I really wasn’t given a ton of information to go on, and there’s still quite a bit of research to be done, but hopefully, I will be able to find some proof that Dutch Schneider was at least a baseball player. It is unknown at this time what team, or league, he even played for. Baseball was booming in the 20’s, and there were local leagues all over the country. In one issue of the Gazette and Bulletin from 1923, I stumbled upon a brief write-up and box score for a game between the Pennsylvania Railroad, and the Dye Works. This means that Dutch could have played for a very small team that may only have fleeting mentions in local papers of the time.
It dawned on me that rather than keep researching a relative who I, and my wife, know very little about, that it may be easier (and more fun) way to go about this. The decision was made to trace Babe Ruth’s barnstorming trip from the one year I know he was in the area where Dutch Schneider grew up, 1923.
Google has a very extensive news archives search function that allows you to seek out old local newspaper articles for a custom date range. So far I’ve only found a handful of articles, but here is the first one, from Hornwell, NY on 10/19/23.
I think it’ll be fun to post my findings, and I hope you’ll enjoy not only my search for Donald “Dutch” Schneider, as we follow the Bambino across PA in the year of our lord, Matt Weiters, nineteen and twenty-three.
This is the first in a series of posts documenting my attempts to not only track Babe Ruth’s barnstorming trip of 1923, but to also track down my wife’s great-grandfather, who is believed to have played against him in a game that year.CLICK HERE for Part 1, CLICK HERE for Part 2, and CLICK HERE for Part 3.