RIP to Ted Schreiber, a New York native who spent his one season in the majors with the Mets. He died on September 8 at his home in Boynton Beach, Fla. He was 84 years old. Schreiber played 39 games for the 1963 New York Mets.
Theodore Henry Schreiber was born in Brooklyn on July 11, 1938. He had reached a height of 5’11” by the time he was a student at James Madison High School, which made him a natural for the basketball team. He was described in the Daily News as “a fast-breaking back-court man and a good rebounder” who led the team in scoring with 106 points through its first eight games. The News also noted that he was an excellent baseball player. The paper named him as a guard to the 1956 Brooklyn-Queens PSAL All-Star team, and he was in quite good company. The team’s center, Doug Moe, became an All-Star in the American Basketball Association and a Coach of the Year for the Denver Nuggets in 1988. One of the forwards, from Boys High School, was Tommy Davis.
After graduating high school, Schreiber attended St. John’s University in Queens. His primary sport shifted to baseball, and he was named to The Tablet‘s 1958 All-Collegiate Baseball First Team, as the second baseman. He hit .375 as a sophomore and beat out another future major-leaguer in Chuck Schilling, from Manhattan College, who was named to the Second Team. In August of 1958, the Boston Red Sox announced that the team had signed Schreiber to a contract and assigned him to Minneapolis of the American Association. The signing scout, Frank “Bots” Nekola, said, “We gave him the biggest bonus any New York City boy has ever received.” The contract was reported to be worth $50,000.
Schreiber reported to the Minneapolis Millers training camp in 1959, along with another impressive middle infielder, Carl Yastrzemski (who was a shortstop then). Yaz went on to Raleigh of the Class-B Carolina League, where he played second base. Schreiber started the year with the Class-A Allentown Red Sox of the Eastern League. In his first game as a starter, he went 5-for-5 with two singles, two doubles and a home run. He struggled after that and was eventually sent to Class-D Waterloo. Between the two teams, Schreiber batted .250 with 8 home runs. The second baseman spent most of 1960 back at Allentown, and he hit a career-best 13 home runs and 76 RBIs. He also spent time learning third base and the outfield, and he took to the additional positions well. Schreiber reached Triple-A for the first time in 1961 when he split the season with Class-A Johnstown and the Seattle Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League. He returned to the Rainiers in 1962 and hit .279, with 35 doubles, 11 triples and 5 home runs. He also turned 96 double plays at a second baseman, leading the league, and was named to the PCL All-Star Team.
Schreiber never reached the majors with the Red Sox, in part because the team had also signed Chuck Schilling, and he made it to Boston ahead of Schreiber. It wasn’t entirely for a lack of production; an inability to stay healthy also played a part. “I never got hurt in college,” Schreiber said in a 1962 interview. “But in 1959, a few months after I signed and was put on the Minneapolis roster, I broke my hand in spring training. In Waterloo, Iowa, that year, I broke a finger, had the flu in 1960 and in 1961 with Seattle I broke my wrist.”
That winter, the New York Mets rook a chance on Schreiber and selected him with the first pick of the minor-league draft. The 1962 Mets had weaknesses all over the field, but their middle infield was particularly bad. It was hoped that Schreiber could help solve at least part of that problem. “Ted Schreiber was our number one draft choice out of 400, which gives you a fine idea of what we think of this baby-faced, 24-year-old second baseman,” said Mets manager Casey Stengel, at least according to sportswriter Harry Grayson.
Schreiber made a good impression on the Mets in spring training. Coach Cookie Lavagetto noted that he had a good arm and good hands, and that he hit with surprising power. However, Larry Burright was named the Mets’ Opening Day second baseman in 1963. Schreiber finally got his chance to play, as a third baseman, in Milwaukee on April 14. He was 1-for-4 with a single off Braves starter Bob Hendley. He singled off Bob Shaw the next game in another 4 at-bats. As the Mets stumbled out of the gate with 8 straight losses, Stengel tried various lineups, and Charlie Neal and Cliff Cook were also tried at the position. Schreiber was lost in the shuffle and ended up with 3 hits and a .231 batting average over 6 games in April. When the rosters were reduced in May, Schreiber was sent to Buffalo.
Schreiber hit well for the Bisons, with 7 home runs and a .279 batting average, and the Mets brought him back to the majors in August and September. By then, the team’s lineup was a little more settled. Ron Hunt had secured the job of second baseman, and Al Moran was playing shortstop. Third base was still a problem (and would be a problem for the next couple of decades), with Neal and Jim Hickman getting most of the starts. Pumpsie Green was brought up to play third base in September, too. Schreiber was primarily used as a pinch-hitter and late-inning defensive replacement. He spent most of his time at third, but he also played a few innings at shortstop and third base, too. His defensive skills were as good as advertised. In 100-2/3 innings at third base, Schreiber committed just 1 error for a .977 fielding percentage, which was well above league average. He was flawless in 14-1/3 innings at shortstop, with 2 putouts and 12 assists. He also played 12 innings at second base and handled 2 chances there without a bobble. Unfortunately, Schreiber’s hitting never took off. He never played frequently enough to get into any kind of rhythm at the plate. He had 8 singles in 50 at-bats for a .160/.236/.160 slash line. He drove in 2 runs and scored once.
The last game ever played at the Polo Grounds came on September 18, 1963. The Mets lost to the Philadelphia Phillies 5-1 in front of a crowd of 1,752 fans. Chris Short shut down the Mets, allowing a solo homer by Hickman as the only run. In the ninth inning, Tim Harkness led off the Mets final inning with a fly to center. Then Rod Kenehl and Chico Fernandez singled to put two runners on base. Schreiber came into the game as a pinch-hitter for pitcher Larry Bearnarth and grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. They were the final outs ever recorded at the Polo Grounds. Shea Stadium opened in 1964, and the historic stadium was torn down in 1964 in favor of apartment buildings.
Schreiber was assigned to Buffalo in 1964, but he was late in starting the season. He had gone back to St. Johns and was determined to finish off the semester before resuming his baseball career. He earned his bachelor of arts degree as a history major that summer. “It took me eight years to earn it, and it was worth it,” he said. “Now I can play baseball for fun and forget the pressure.” Schreiber rejoined the Bisons in June but never got on track, with a .212 batting average. His contract was sold to Rochester in the summer of 1965, and he impressed in his brief time as a member of the Red Wings. Schreiber retired after that season, with a career .264 batting average in the minor leagues.
Schreiber jumped right into his second career. He moved back to Brooklyn and participated in baseball clinics, but his day job became a math and gym teacher at Charles Dewey Junior High School in Sunset Park. He was the coach of a Dewey softball team that won the city championship in 1974. Schreiber remained at the school for 27 years until his retirement.
Schreiber was married to his wife, Daisy, for 24 years. He is also survived by his children Neil, Bill and Teddy, and stepsons Alejandro and Eduardo. He was predeceased by a daughter, Louise.
For more information: Legacy.com