I uncovered a story that does an excellent job explaining what happened to the big league career of today’s Beantown Baseball Birthday celebrant. It was September of 1980 and a twenty year old catcher had just been called up for his first taste of the big leagues by the Boston Red Sox. He was so excited that his life long dream was about to be realized that he rushed to Fenway on the day of his first game, arrived in the clubhouse before any of his new teammates and proudly donned his Boston uniform. He then rushed straight to the dugout and onto the hallowed Fenway playing field to drink in the view he had worked so hard and waited so long to get to see. He was the only player in uniform on that field and sure enough within seconds an early arriving spectator equipped with a just-purchased scorecard shouted out “Hey Dave! Hey Dave Schmidt! Hey Schmidt, over here!”
You can imagine the chagrin of that fan and his resentment when the young catcher, who clearly heard the loud welcoming shout in the almost deserted ballpark, did not even attempt to turn his head to acknowledge the greeting. It wasn’t really the catcher’s fault because his name was not Dave Schmidt. The Red Sox scorecards had all been printed during spring training when many pundits were predicting the young Schmidt would be Boston’s catcher of the future. At that spring training, in February of 1980, Schmidt had been assigned uniform number 50. The guy wearing it that day, standing there by himself staring out at the Fenway playing field was Rich Gedman. It would be Gedman who became the primary reason why Dave Schmidt’s Boston Red Sox and big league playing career would last a total of just 15 games during the first two months of the 1981 season. It would be Gedman and not Schmidt who would become Boston’s catcher of the future but it is Schmidt and not Gedman who’s birthday we celebrate today. So just in case you run into Rich Gedman today, don’t wish him a Happy Birthday because as history proves, he will simply ignore you.