A Really Big Schu

News item:  The Washington Nationals fired hitting coach Rick Eckstein and replaced him with organizational hitting coordinator (and Shlabotnik favorite) Rick Schu.

Before I get started:  My apologies to Mr. Schu for the subject line and what’s about to follow.

1990 Donruss Rick Schu

I’ve already talked about my fondness for Rick Schu here, but I can’t resist another opportunity to highlight my Rick Schu PC… So right now I’m going to share with you my top 10 songs which have something in the title which sounds like “Schu” (starting with the favorite, roughly speaking, and working down):

1. Shoehorn With Teeth – They Might Be Giants
I freakin’ love this song, it’s catchy, cheesy, goofy and just plain ol’ bizarre, all rolled into 1  minute and 13 seconds… How the heck can you resist a song where one of the verses is “Tour the world in a Heavy Metal band, but they run out of gas – the plane can never land”.

2. Old Brown Shoe – The Beatles
Beatles. ‘Nuff said.

3. Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes – Paul Simon
1987 Topps Rick Schu

4. (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes – Elvis Costello & the Attractions
There’s a group called Hem which does a really interesting version of this song.

5. Shoe Box – Barenaked Ladies
BNL used to be one of my favorite bands, but that was at least 6 studio albums ago. Sorry, guys, but you lost me with “Everything To Everyone”.

6. Blue Suede Schubert – The Rutles
The Rutles are a parody of The Beatles, as done by Eric Idle of Monty Python and Neil Innes, who was sort of “The 7th Python”… or maybe the 8th, you could make a good argument that Carol Cleveland was “the 7th Python”. Anyway, there was a very funny TV special called “The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash” which featured Idle, Innes and had cameos from an amazing bunch of people: Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, half the original cast of Saturday Night Live, even George Harrison.

7. Shoo Be Doo – The Cars
More of a link than a song. Too bad. It’s my list and “Shoo Be Doo” is cool.

8. Blue Suede Shoes – Carl Perkins
Elvis? Elvis who? Carl Perkins was much better.

9. Goody Two Shoes – Adam Ant
1987 Fleer Rick Schu

10. Wing Tip Shoes – Henry Lee Summer
I saw Henry Lee Summer open for Chicago years ago. Chicago was OK, but Henry Lee put them to shame.  Pity there’s no commercially-available version of this song which does it justice.

1994 BBM Rick Schu

This is the second time I’ve featured this card, but it’s too awesome of a card to not post again.

Hey, I Know That Dude! 1979 TCMA Masanuri Murakami

I’ve been neglecting the Japanese cards lately, so let’s kick it back in beginning with a name from the 1960’s which many of you are familiar with….
1979 TCMA Japanese Masanori MurakamiMasanori Murakami was the first Japanese-born player in the Major Leagues, having pitched for the San Francisco Giants in 1964 and 1965. He made his Major League debut at Shea Stadium, pitching a scoreless inning against the Mets. Over his brief MLB career, he pitched 89.1 innings and had a 5-1 record with a 3.43 ERA, 0.985 WHIP and 9 unofficial saves. He returned to Japan in 1966 and pitched for the Nankai Hawks, Hanshin Tigers and Nippon Ham Fighters.

When I first became aware of Japanese baseball, I didn’t know what to make of “Nippon Ham Fighters”, and I wasn’t aware that the teams were named after their corporate owners… So rather than the “Fighters” owned by Nippon Ham, I thought they were the “Ham Fighters” of Nippon.

…Hey, I was a kid.  I liked to think that a Ham Fighter was some sort of Japanese warrior… Samurai, Ronin, Shogun, Ham Fighter.

My parents owned a couple of James Clavell novels with names like “Shogun” and “Noble House”, and even though I never read any of them, I wouldn’t be surprised if I that played some role in the misunderstanding.

Part of me is still a tiny bit disappointed that I was wrong about the name.

Murakami did make it on to a 1965 Topps card… one that, I’m slightly ashamed to say, I don’t own.

…Yet.

1965 Topps #282 - Rookie Stars/Dick Estelle RC (Rookie Card)/Masanori Murakami RC (Rookie Card) [Good to VG‑EX] - Courtesy of COMC.com

1965 Topps #282 – Rookie Stars/Dick Estelle RC (Rookie Card)/Masanori Murakami RC (Rookie Card) [Good to VG‑EX] – Courtesy of COMC.com

Happy Birthday, Rick Schu!

Former Phillie, Oriole, Tiger, Angel, Expo and Nippon Ham Fighter Rick Schu turns 51 today.

Back in the 80’s, minor league baseball was a novelty to me as I only saw a game or two in any given year. Only a handful of guys from those games established themselves in the majors, and I latched on to each and every one of them as a favorite, along the lines of “I saw him back when…”

Rick Schu is one of those guys.

He came up through the Phillies system and was well-regarded enough that he took over at third base when the Phillies moved Mike Schmidt over to 1st base in 1985. This lasted just one season before Schmidt was moved back to third, a move which seemed to be more about Schmidt’s comfort (and knees) than an indictment on Schu’s performance.
1988 Score Rick Schu Autographed

Rick was traded to the Orioles and started at third for much of 1988, but ended up bouncing around the Majors for a few years.
1988 Big Baseball Rick Schu

He then played two years in Japan with the Fighters, then came back stateside and played one year with the Expos.
1994 BBM Rick Schu
I got this card at the 2010 National; I love this action shot, and I would’ve gotten this card even if I didn’t collect Rick Schu.

Schu was the D-Backs hitting coach for two years, and was recently considered for the Red Sox hitting coach position. He’s currently an organizational hitting instructor with the Nationals.