Switch hitting Schoendienst went up fast. In a year's time he was playing for Pepper Martin at Rochester. At 20, he won the International League batting championship before going into the Army. His old eye injury cut short his military service and in 1945 he reported to Manager Billy South worth for his first full season with the Cardinals, a team he was to serve until Frank Lane traded him to the Giants last year.
Because the regular Cardinal outfield of Moore, Slaughter and Musial was still in service, Southworth used Red in left for almost the entire season, but next year he was moved to the infield to play second base, third base and shortstop until he finally settled down at his permanent berth at second. From that point on, he played with a kind of unostentatious near-perfection that people came to take almost for granted. There were the occasions of dazzling performance, as when Red hit eight doubles in three consecutive games and when he broke up the All-Star Game of 1950 with a home run in the 14th inning. But most of the time Red was just reassuringly there, spraying his line drives to all fields, making the double play that shouldn't really have been made at all, turning up in the outfield for pesky Texas Leaguers, sometimes—after a complicated scramble—appearing on third base which (as nobody else seemed to have noticed) was uncovered. He wasn't the big star; he was Schoendienst, 2b—as comforting to his manager as government bonds in a safety deposit box.
Now it was midafternoon of that day during the 1957 stretch. In the living room of the flat on Martha Washington Drive in Milwaukee, Red Schoendienst, the $35,000-a-year star who had devoted most of the morning to preparing a pot of vegetable soup, lounged in slacks and sports shirt. Across the room sat Mary Eileen O'Reilly Schoendienst, dressed in suit and blouse for a "personal appearance" she was to make with other wives of players that evening. The baby, Eileen, was napping, Colleen was off visiting a friend and Cathleen and a neighbor's child were playing on the front lawn.
The atmosphere was relaxed against the crucial (they were all crucial now) game at County Stadium that night. The Schoendiensts made small talk with a visitor who wondered, since Mickey Mantle had a motel and Stan Musial had a restaurant and Sal Maglie had a liquor store and Terry Moore had a bowling alley, if Red had any long-range plans for the future.
"Well," said Red, "I'd like to play as long as I can and then I'd like to stay in baseball. I'd like to be a coach if I could—or maybe an umpire."
"You'd be an umpire?" said the visitor, incredulously.
"Yes," said Red. "I'd like to be an umpire."
"Then you should start working," said Mary (without whom Red signs no player contracts), "on a pension plan for umpires."
Red said: "I'll get a pension as a player, Mary."
"Even so," said Mary. She turned to the visitor. "You know, the World Series is going to be televised in color. Won't Red look wonderful in color?"