Born on February 2, 1923 in Germantown, IL, Albert Fred “Red” Schoendienst would become one of baseball’s most renowned players. Signed to a minor league contract by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1942 at the age of 19, Schoendienst played the 1943 season as a shortstop with Rochester of the Triple-A International League. A switch-hitter, he led the league that year in batting with a .337 average.
In 1944 Schoendienst stepped away from his budding baseball career to serve in the United States Army during World War II. He was discharged early in 1945 with an eye injury.
Entering the major leagues in 1945, Schoendienst became the left fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1946 he switched positions to second base, where he would later hold the record for fielding percentage in a single season. It was also in 1946 that he changed uniform numbers from #6 to #2 (which the Cardinals would later retire). The year would also bring Schoendienst the first of three World Series rings that he would win as a player. He also led the league that year in stolen bases with 26.
Schoendienst spent the next 10 years with the Cardinals, rooming on the road with future hall of fame member Stan Musial. In 1947 he led the National League in at-bats. In 1950 he did this again, this time leading in doubles as well. In 1953 he hit for a career high .342 batting average.
In 1956 Schoendienst was traded to the New York Giants. The following season he was traded to the Milwaukee Braves where he would earn his second and third World Series rings as a player in 1957 and 1958. He finished third in the voting for National League MVP in 1957.
Schoendienst missed most of the 1959 season as the result of a battle with tuberculosis. The disease forced him to have a portion of his lung removed. He returned to the Braves in 1960, but he no longer was a starter.
Schoendienst returned to the Cardinals in 1961 where he played out the remainder of his career. He led the National League in pinch hits in 1962 and retired the following season, finishing his career with a lifetime batting average of .289 with 773 RBI.
Schoendienst remained involved in baseball. He managed the Cardinals from 1965 to 1976 and again served as manager for short stints in 1980 and 1990. He led the team to a World Series victory in 1967 and a National League Championship in 1968.
Schoendienst was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989. In 1998 he was awarded a star on St. Louis’ Walk of Fame.
Nemec, David et al. Players Of Cooperstown Baseball's Hall Of Fame, Publications International Ltd., 1995.