The position player representative from the 1995 Philadelphia Phillies in this ongoing ‘Phillies 50’ series of most random 1971-2019 players is one of the few local products to be featured.
Gene Schall was born in Abington, Pennsylvania and played his high school ball at LaSalle College High School in Wyndmoor.
A member of the 1991 College Baseball All-America Team as a Designated Hitter, Schall was chosen by the Phillies in the fourth round of that year’s MLB Amateur Draft out of Villanova University.
Schall would spend four years rising incrementally through the Phillies farm system. Reaching the Triple-A level at Scranton-Wilkes Barre in the 1994 season he hit .285 with 19 homers and 76 RBIs that year as the starting first baseman.
In June 1995 at age 25, Schall received his first big-league promotion. On June 16, 1995 at Veterans Stadium in a game against the Florida Marlins, manager Jim Fregosi inserted Schall into his starting lineup at first base.
Schall went 1-2 with a walk in that first opportunity before being lifted for pinch-hitter Tony Longmire in the bottom of the 8th inning with the Phillies trailing 2-1 and runners at second and third with two outs. Longmire was intentionally walked to load the bases, Gary Varsho grounded out to end the threat, and the Fish went on to win by that same score.
Earlier in the ball game, Schall came to the plate for the first time in Major League Baseball to face right-hander Pat Rapp. With two outs and a man on in the bottom of the 2nd inning, Schall laced a single past third baseman Terry Pendleton.
After spending 10 days with the big club during which he made three starts at first base, Schall was returned to Triple-A. He was recalled in September when rosters expanded and appeared in 14 games that month. Over the last couple weeks of the 1995 season, Schall took over as the Phillies everyday starting first baseman.
Over a total of 24 games in that 1995 campaign, Schall slashed .231/.306/.262 with no home runs, a pair of doubles, five RBIs, and two runs scored.
Schall would appear in 28 games during the 1996 season, nine in April and the rest after late August. And that would be it for his big-league career.
In September of that 1996 season, Schall blasted the only two home runs of his MLB career. His first came at Wrigley Field on September 13, 1996 off the “human rain delay”, Chicago Cubs righty Steve Trachsel. The second came exactly a week later on September 20, 1996 at Veterans Stadium when he went deep off New York Mets right-hander Paul Wilson.
In January 1997 the Phillies dealt Schall away to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Mike Robertson. A similary 1B/LF type player, Robertson also made our series as the 1997 Phillies position player representative after appearing in his only 22 games with the club that year.
Schall played the 1997 season at Triple-A Nashville in the Chisox system, then moved on to Richmond in the Atlanta Braves system for the 1998-99 seasons. He then returned to the Phillies in 2000, playing three final seasons through age 33 back with Scranton-Wilkes Barre but never getting another big-league opportunity.
After his playing career, Schall returned to Villanova and received his B.S. in Business with a Psychology minor.
In 2008, Schall moved into the scouting realm after being contacted by Mike Arbuckle, who was then the Phillies assistant GM in charge of scouting and player development.
“I was, but told Mike I didn’t want to be in uniform as I had enough of that and I didn’t want an office job,” Schall said per Larry Shenk back in 2016. “Mike replied, ‘That makes you a scout.'”
Schall has been with the Phillies scouting department ever since and has served as a Regional Supervisor since 2008.
“It’s much easier than being a player riding buses and then having to play a game,” Schall told Shenk before stating his current travel schedule can still be difficult.
“Sometimes I wake up in a hotel and don’t know where I am. I’ve returned car rentals to the wrong company. Many times I arrive at an airport with tickets for three different destinations. It depends if a certain player is going to play, pitching rotations and weather conditions. The airline people think I’m crazy.”
At the time of Shenk’s piece, for instance, the Phillies were coming off the selection of Cornelius Randolph with their pick at 10th overall in the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft. Randolph was scouted and recommended out of Schall’s area of responsibility.
“Cornelius had been on our radar for two years of high school baseball and summer leagues,” Schall told Shenk. “Aaron (Jersild, a scout working under Schall) pegged him as a high pick right from the beginning. All of us saw him play multiple times. I probably saw him 25-30 times. We all agreed he was the most comfortable high school hitter in the country. Many high school players are question marks when it comes to hitting, inconsistency. This guy hit everywhere we saw him.”
Schall, Jersild, and the Phillies really blew it there. And you really cannot afford to miss very often with a top ten draft pick.
Gene Schall didn’t leave much of a legacy as a player over parts of two seasons. And though he has been with the organization for more than a decade in scouting, it’s tough to find a productive legacy there either.