Dave Schneck: 1973 N.L. Champion Mets Top Prospect (1972 - 1974)

David Lee Schneck was born on June 18, 1949, in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The five ten left-handed Schneck was a star pitcher during high school years in the Lehigh Valley. He was 20-2 as a pitcher, winning three school titles in his four years there.

In his senior year Schneck was developing into a better hitter, batting .362 at the plate. He was then drafted by the New York Mets in the 38th round of the 1967 draft.  

In 1968 Schneck made it to Mets Spring Training, Still listed as a pitcher but then injured his collarbone. When he returned, he & farm director Whitey Herzog agreed he should convert to an outfielder. 

Schneck was hitting well enough to get promoted to the AA Texas League, before breaking his wrist. 

In 1969 he got married to Suzanne (Moran) in the off season. The day after his honeymoon, got his draft notice getting drafted to into the Vietnam War. 

Military Service: He spent 14 months in Vietnam, enduring a horrible conflict where he lost half his platoon in battle.  

In 1971 after returning from Vietnam, Schneck returned to the Mets system with an invitation to Spring Training.

He was sent to the A ball Visalia Mets of the California League, a hitter’s paradise where the Mets had six of the League’s top ten HR hitters. Schneck hit 26 HRs there getting promoted to AA Memphis where he hit another 8 HRs but only batted .200 in 57 games. 

By 1972 he had earned the reputation as a good power hitter, hitting another 24 HRs that season, two behind league leader Gorman Thomas, while batting .304.  

MLB Career: The Mets called him up in July 1972 and his career started out great. On July 14th, in his first game Schneck batted clean-up, between Willie Mays and Rusty Staub at San Diego in a game against the Padres.

First Career HR: After going 0-2, he came up in the 6th inning & hit his first career HR, a two-run shot off pitcher Steve Arlin, the runs ended up being the difference in the 3-2 win. 

The next day he made a great game saving catch on a late inning Jerry Morales fly ball preserving the Mets 2-1 win for Gary Gentry. 

In his third game, he went 3-4 hitting his second HR, a solo shot off the Padres Mike Corkins. He also hit a double, driving in his third run in his first three games. 

Schneck hit safely in his first six games & ten of his first 12 games.
The press began to compare him with Willie Mays & of course that was the kiss of death. He went into a slump from there, not hitting another HR for almost three months & by mid-August he fell under the .200 mark.

On October 3rd in the first game of a twin bill at Montreal, he hit his third HR, a three-run shot off former Mets prospect Steve Renko, leading to the Mets 5-3 win.

Schneck played in 37 games collecting 23 hits, with three HRs three doubles two triples & 10 RBIs while batting .184. 

1973 Mets Pennant Season: Schneck spent most of 1973 at AAA Tidewater, hitting 12 HRs with 71 RBIs & batting .240.

Schneck was called up on September 11th, as the Mets were tied up in a tight pennant race, three games out of first in a five-team race. During the Mets pennant run Dave batted .194 (7-36). On September 21st, the night the Mets took over first place, Schneck drew a walk & scored a run in the 10-2 win over Pittsburgh.

On September 30th, he played in the first game of a double header in the final series at Wrigley Field, with the Mets playing to win the NL East title. Schneck got one hit going 1-4 in the first game loss. The Mets won the second game & clinched the division with a win the next day. 

1973 Post Season:1 Dave was not eligible for the post season roster, but he did get to throw batting practice for the team during the 1973 World Series.  

After the Pennant: In 1974, Willie Mays had retired, Don Hahn showed he was not a power hitter, so Schneck was penciled in as the teams main center fielder. 

He started out the year hitting well. In his first game, the Mets second game of the year he collected two hits off the Phillies Jim Lonborg in a 9-2 win. His first four games were multi-hit games.

Four Hit Game: On April 14th, Schneck collected four singles in a 2-1 eleven inning loss to the Phillies for his only four hit game.

Multi-HR Games: On April 17th, he hit his first two HRs of the year, coming off the Expos Steve Rogers in a 7-4 loss at Montreal. On April 28th in San Francisco, he had another multi-HR game with a pair of HRs off the Giants Tom Bradley in a 6-0 John Matlack four hit shutout. In both games, Schneck had four RBIs.

By the middle of April, he was batting over .400, second in the NL in batting but he slowly faded from there. 

On May he hit a HR at Wrigley Field having a three-hit day, driving in two runs in a 7-2 Mets win. But it was the last HR he would hit all season. By the end of May his average fell to .248. In June he hit just .140 for the month as his season average fell to .217

On July 5th he had a pair of RBI singles off the Giants Jim Baar, driving in two of the Mets three runs helping Jerry Koosman in his 3-2 complete game victory win at Shea Stadium.

Later that week his 4th inning sac fly was the games winning run in a 2-1 victory over the Padres at Shea. By August 1st, he was batting .205 & was sent to down AAA Tidewater losing his centerfield job to Don Hahn.

He returned when the rosters expanded in September. On September 9th, he broke a 4th inning 1-1 tie at Shea with a two-run single off Dennis Blair in a 7-1 win over the Expos.

Record Number at Bats in A Game: On September 11, 1974, Schneck went into the MLB record books. In an epic 25 inning game against the St Louis Cardinals, Dave tied a record by getting 11 at-bats in a game. He went 2-11 collecting two doubles. He also struck out three times.

On the 1974 season, he appeared in 92 games, batting .205 with 5 HRs 11 doubles a triples 25 RBIs & 23 runs scored. He stole four bases in five attempts, with a .254 on base % & .569 OPS.

In the outfield he had five assists & posted a .974 fielding percentage.  

Japan Tour: That winter he toured Japan with the Mets team, earning a $5000 check for spending money.

Traded from New York: In 1975, he was involved in the Tug McGraw trade going to Philadelphia with McGraw & Don Hahn in exchange for John Stearns, Del Unser and Mac Scarce. 

Post Mets Career: In 1975, Schneck played poorly at AAA Toledo, batting just .217 with six HRs. In August 1975 he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for John Vukovich.  In 1976 at AAA Indianapolis, he showed some power hitting 19 homers. In 1977 he was traded to the Cubs in exchange for Champ Summers. At AAA Wichita he hit 14 HRs, batting .240.

Schneck would never make it back up to the majors, finishing a brief three season MLB career batting .199 with 82 hits 8 HRs 14 doubles 4 triples 35 RBIs & 32 runs scored. He struck out 73 times with 27 walks a .251 on base % & .560 OPS in 143 career games. 

As an outfielder he posted a .979 fielding % with eight assists.  

Retirement: After baseball, Schneck ran a waterproofing company in Whitehall, Pennsylvania. He also set up an amusement park & batting cage center there as well.

Family: Dave & his wife Suzanne were married for 53 years until her passing in 2022. Together they had three children & six grandchildren.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Where did you learn all this information about Schneck... The Vietnam battle? The waterproofing company?
Anonymous said…
Schneck was a beast! He can hit the heck out of a golf ball too....
He drove the green on #4 at Woodstone

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