Born: August 15, 1926
Died: September 6, 2015
George Warren “Barney” Schultz was born on August 15, 1926 in Beverly. Barney was fascinated by baseball, especially when it came to pitching. A neighbor boy showed him how to throw a knuckleball and by the time he was pitching for Burlington High, he could make his pitches dance around the bats of opposing hitters. Barney used the knuckler to throw off the timing of enemy hitters. Mostly, he relied on a good fastball. With wartime pitching talent at a premium, Barney came to the attention of the Phillies. They signed him in 1944 before his 18th birthday.
Barney hurt his arm in the minors. Desperate to make good, he pitched through the pain, reducing the number of fastballs and relying more and more on off-speed deliveries, including the knuckler. Barney toiled in the minors for over a decade, at various times the property of the Phillies, Tigers, Braves and Pirates. Although he had some decent years as a starting pitcher, basically he was a roster-filler, a warm body.
Barney’s luck began to change in 1954, while pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals’ Class-AA team in Columbus, Ohio. His manager was Johnny Keane. Keane convinced Barney could make it to the majors as a relief specialist with his knuckleball. He filled this role for successfully and his team made the playoffs. More important, Barney received his long- awaited invitation to a major league spring training camp.
Barney made the Cardinals in 1955 at the age of 28. He split the year between St. Louis and the team’s farm club in Houston. In 1956 and 1957, Barney played for Keane again, at Class-AAA Tulsa. In 1958, the Cardinals traded Barney to the Senators, who then dealt him to the Tigers. He finally made it back to the majors in June of 1959 with Detroit. Barney appeared in 13 games before being sent back down.
The Tigers sold Barney to the Cubs and in 1961 he finally found a home in the big leagues at age 34. He became an important part of the Chicago bullpen, winning 7 and saving 7 more. The young Cubbies called Barney Mister Old Folks. He had another good year in 1962 in the same role, tying a record by appearing in nine consecutive games. In 1963, the Cubs traded him to the Cardinals in June. And he had another solid season as a middle reliever.
The Cardinals were a very good team and their bullpen was very crowded. As a result, Barney began 1964 pitching for the Class-AAA Jacksonville Suns. He was brilliant through the season’s first three months, sporting an ERA under 1.00. Meanwhile, the Cardinals were hanging in the pennant race by their fingernails. Their manager, Johnny Keane, needed a spark. He convinced the club to add Barney to the roster. Barney took no time making an impact. In a game against his old Cub teammates, he came into the game in the ninth inning with the bases loaded, two out, and Ernie Banks at the plate. He fanned Banks on three knuckleballs.
In August, the Cardinals hired another old minor-league pal of Barney’s, Bob Howsam, to be their GM. With Keane and Howsam in his corner, Barney soon found himself elevated to the team’s #1 reliever, or “closer” in modern parlance. The Cardinals made a magnificent September run and overtook the first-place Phillies to win the pennant. Barney appeared in 16 games during the final month. He won 1 and saved 8, including the final game of the season. When Barney got the final out, Tim McCarver jumped into his arms and the pair disappeared under a pile of Cardinals. Barney’s final record for 1964 was 1–3 with 14 saves in 30 appearances.
In the World Series against the Yankees, Barney closed out a Game 1 victory, but took the loss in Game 3 when he gave up a game-winning homer to Mickey Mantle on a knuckler that didn’t knuckle. He pitched again in Game 6 and didn’t get the job done, as the Yankees tied the series. Fortunately, the Cardinals won Game 7. Barney was warmed up, ready to relieve Bob Gibson in the ninth, but Keane let his ace finish what he started.
The Cardinals failed to repeat in 1965. The team had replaced Keane with Red Schoendienst, who used Barney differently. In August, when St. Louis needed to make room for young call-ups, Barney briefly returned to the minors. He returned for what would be his final days as a major leaguer. He went 2–2 with a pair of saves and a 3.83 ERA. The following year Barney, age 39, accepted a job with the club as a minor- league player-coach. He did a superb job in both roles and pitched Tulsa to the playoffs.
Late in 1967, he was promoted to the big leagues as strictly a coach, and earned another World Series ring when the Cardinals won another exciting seven-game series. Barney stayed with the organization as both a minor-league and major-league coach through 1975. He moved on to the Cubs after that, and then was a pitching coach in Japan for two seasons.
Barney finally retired in 1982 after 38 years in professional baseball. He moved back to South Jersey and lived for many years in Edgewater Park before passing away in 2015 at the age of 89.