Profiles of Valor
Alfred “Red” Schoendienst was born into a baseball family in Germantown, Illinois in February of 1923. His father had played for a minor league team in the Clinton County League, and three of his five brothers played in various minor leagues. At the age of 16, Red dropped out of school, joined Civilian Conservation Corps in Greenville, Illinois, and played baseball there. He was the youngest player and starting shortstop on the team.
Following his time in the Civilian Conservation Corps, Schoendienst got his professional baseball career started in 1942 when he hitchhiked his way to an open tryout hosted by the St. Louis Cardinals. After a couple of successful seasons inthe Cardinals’ farm system, Schoendienst briefly left the Cardinals in 1944 because he was drafted into the United StatesArmy. After serving as a supply clerk in Scott Field in Belleville, Illinois, Schoendienst was transferred to Pine Camp, New York. There he built baseball fields for his fellow soldiers and played for the Camp’s baseball team. Schoendienst was medically discharged from the Army in 1945 due to impaired vision in his left eye and head trauma.
Schoendienst returned to baseball in the spring of 1945 and quickly caught on with the Cardinals’ big-league club. Many players were still in the service, so there were plenty of open positions. After a brief stint as a sub-par left fielder, Schoendienst moved to second base where he put together a hall of fame career. He posted a career batting average of .289 while recording 2,449 hits, 84 home runs, and 773 runs batted in while playing a stellar second base. Over the course of his eighteen-year career with the Cardinals, Braves, and Giants, Red was voted an All-Star ten times while leading his teams to five World Series championships. The St. Louis Cardinals honored Red by retiring his number in 1996 and inducting hum into their Hall of Fame in 2014. Schoendienst was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.
Red Schoendienst was a hero and a patriot not only for his contributions on the baseball field, but also for his service to his country.