Echoes of Ring Lardner

Harold Seymour’s proteges wrote to him when they entered organized baseball to tell their mentor about their exciting experiences, especially their successes, as young professionals. You can tell that these boys gloried in their chance to make it in the bigs. And if you’ve read Ring Lardner’s A Busher’s Letters and You Know Me Al, you’ll be amazed at the similarity between the way these fellows expressed themselves and Lardner’s supposed fiction.

Here are some quotes from a letter of George “Bucky” Schneidmuller, writing Harold Seymour from Statington, Pennsylvania, in 1937:

Dear Cy,

I hope your trip wasn’t too bad and you arrived in shape, remember your up for inspection too. You will have to impress just as I’ll have to. Just keep loose and dont press, you’ll make the grade. Keep hustling etc.

Well anyhow Cy, all has gone just fine so far I am enjoying every minute of the day. This is my kind of living. I pitched again today and sure showed plenty of hustle. I’m off that hill like a flash with these spikes and I must have impressed. My left shoe still fits a little tight & my big toe bothers me some. I was wondering if I should slit the shoe? The shoe with the toe-plate fits just perfectly. I had a good work-out today, I had plenty of zing on my fast one. We have a new catcher from Little Rock who is very good. He caught me today & asked if my ball always acted the way it did today. He said it was dipping all over the place & is tough as hell to catch. No-one was taking many toe holds on it either, I think I did all right. Curve ball went pretty good today too, first time I used it.

By the way Cy, all my expenses are being paid by the club which is just swell. We get an allowance of 35 cents to spend after every work-out for light lunch at about three o’clock in the afternoon. Geo Toporcer has been just swell so far, he is beginning to crack down on some of the regulars but thats to be expected. They are all a fine bunch of boys. Your room-mate Van Pelt was sent home today, the first cut. There may be a few pitchers cut to-morrow. He is going to have a practice game & the pitchers here on there own will pitch. All the white uniformed boys worked today (and me). I think there was only two pitchers that worked today that didn’t have white uniforms. I hope that is a good sign. I sure hustled plenty, the sweat just rolled off me, felt good though. I hope I work in a game this week-end.

Well Cy, Ill just close now and if anything new or important comes up I’ll drop you a line. If you have time drop me a line, if not just let it go, I know you’ll be plenty busy.

Your friend,

Schneidmuller wrote again a few days later from Hazleton.

Dear Cy,

Just a line to let you know we have changed the seat of our operations to Hazleton. We left Statington yesterday after the game. The score by the way was 20-6. I saw nothing at all sensational in the box for us either. The squad is down to thirty now, about half of which are pitchers.

I got a swell workout yesterday, and today I am off. About eight pitchers were left here in Hazleton, the rest of the squad went on to Syracuse. My fast one is working fine, but my curve still needs plenty of work. That is to be expected though, I always have to work on my curve for a week or so before it starts to break right.

This is sure the kind of a life to lead, the only thing bothering me is I miss my honey.

My weight is down to about 155 but my legs seem bigger than ever. Thats not so bad, I think I’ll be able to keep my weight up once I get settled. I’ll write again as soon as I have more news, & I hope it is good.

Your friend

Another of Harold Seymour’s proteges who made good in organized baseball is Bill “Wacky” Lohrman, who wrote his mentor from St. Louis in 1934.

Hello Cy,

Well here I am in good old St. Louis, but in a little while we will be packing and getting ready to leave for Cinn to-night. I am sorry Cy I did not write to you before. . . .

I am still hanging on with the club and to-day I got my first chance to pitch in the bit league’s. I went in to-day’s game and pitched one inning the third and retired the side in order on two pop ups and an infield grounder. In the first of the fourth we started a rally and the manager put Harvey Hendrick to bat for me, or else I would have stayed in there longer. I would have liked to stay out there longer it felt good out there. The manager told me that I looked good out there, and that made me feel a little good. He was catching the game at the time. To night we go to Cinn for four day’s and we play six game’s in the four day’s there so I might get a chance to pitch a couple of innings there, I am hoping so, I want to get in there as much as I can.

Well Cy there is nothing much more to write about now so I will close now. Give my regards to your folks and every one. I will write more later on. I will see you when we get to Brooklyn the 2nd and 3rd of July. I may be able to get some passes I’ll see.

Always your pitcher
Bill (Wacky)
I pitched to Collins, V. Davis and Orsatti