Oldest Living Major League Baseball Legacy Art Schallock Turns 100

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Behold! San Francisco is abuzz. Art Schallock, the oldest living legacy of the major leagues, is turning 100. The former big leaguer started his day, whether at home or away, with an unusual ritual. Picture this – an elevator ride to the lobby, a handful of the day’s freshest comics, all for his roommate, the famed Yogi Berra.

Believe it or not, Mr. Schallock delighted in this peculiar chore, a memento of his early days in the fraternity. He joined the hallowed ranks in 1951, stepping in for Mickey Mantle, a future Hall of Famer, after the New York Yankees dispatched the 19-year-old to Triple-A. The then 27-year-old Schallock shared quarters with Berra, further tasked with collecting Berra’s share of ‘funnies.’

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His century-birthday is a cause for joy, resonating through the Bay Area and far beyond. His recollections of the baseball years still retain their freshness, their vitality undulled by the passage of time. As Schallock recites his tale over a video call, the excitement in his voice is palpable.

As a bay area local, his journey from Tamalpais High to College of Marin before claiming his life-number – the 10,823rd major league player to debut on July 16, 1951 – is an inspiring tale. He graced the field that day for the Yankees in Detroit, and exactly a month later, he claimed his first career victory in Washington.

The left-hander boasts three World Series rings from 1951-53, although his contribution was limited to the ‘53 Series. In a two-inning spell in Game 4, he managed to retire Jackie Robinson of Brooklyn’s fame. His record reads: 6-7 with a 4.02 ERA over five seasons in 58 games, including 14 starts with the Yankees and Orioles. He still sports one of those World Series rings on his pitching hand as an emblem of his devotion to the sport.

After all, as Schallock would tell you, what fairer a deal than being paid to play a beloved game. Although the figures resemble more modest sums – he signed with the Dodgers for $5,000, the love for the sport remains untarnished.

Recounting his early career, he says, “I played semi-pro in San Francisco and made a name for myself, and Brooklyn picked me up.” However, do not anticipate any age record-breaking spells. Others before him- Si Simmons of the 1926 New York Lincoln Giants reached 111 and ex-Yankee pitcher, Red Hoff made it to 107.

With a booze-filled wisdom, he credits his longevity to a few drinks before dinner and a few beers, courtesy of (Yankees manager) Casey Stengel. Relishing every opportunity for a scoop about baseball, he offers no extraordinary secrets, just the joy of the man who loves his game.

But life gave him some trying times as well. Enlisting in 1942, Schallock served the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during World War II. In a harrowing incident, he evaded mortal danger when a Japanese torpedo sank the neighboring aircraft carrier USS Liscome Bay in November 1943, leading to 644 deaths and inflicting a major dent in the Battle of Makin’s casualty statistics.

Yet, in spite of the war, his love for baseball remained steadfast, though he never believed he would return to the field. When he signed autographs on baseballs, leading up to his centenary celebration, his reminder of the Bay Area, full of semi-pro baseball in his heydays, held a sentimental tone.

Naturally, all this attention and fanfare raise the question: perhaps an agent is in order? A chuckle erupts. He laughs, “It’s too late. It’s too late.”