The Obit For Howie Schultz

Former Hamline standout played pro baseball and basketball

The St. Paul Central graduate, 87, played for three major league clubs before being part of two Minneapolis Lakers championship teams.


October 30, 2009 - 11:02 PM

St. Paul's Howie Schultz, one of the first athletes nationally to play Major League Baseball and in the NBA, died early Friday morning at age 87 after a four-month battle with cancer.

Schultz, who was a standout basketball player at St. Paul Central High School and Hamline University, had lived in Stillwater for 20 years before moving to Eden Prairie in the past year to be closer to family.

Schultz was offered a job playing baseball for Grand Forks in the Northern League the summer before enrolling at Hamline in 1941. Schultz played four years of basketball at Hamline -- helping the Pipers win their first national title in 1942 -- and professional baseball every summer, moving up to the Class AAA St. Paul Saints in 1942.

Schultz's contract was purchased by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1943, and with World War II taking many of the top major league players, he became the Dodgers' starting first baseman. Schultz at the time was declared 4-F by the military draft board because his 6-6 1/8 height was one-eighth of an inch over being draftable.

Schultz saw regular duty for the Dodgers until the start of the 1947 season, when Brooklyn sold his contract to the Philadelphia Phillies to make room for Jackie Robinson.

"His first year, Jackie played first base,'' Schultz said in a 2004 interview with the Star Tribune. "I'm a footnote in history -- the guy who was benched to allow baseball to be integrated.''

Schultz had a .241 batting average with 24 homers and 208 RBI in 470 major league games from 1943 to '48 with Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Cincinnati.