The Detroit Tigers of the middle 1930s were loaded with talent—and more than a few colorful nicknames. Leon Goslin was “Goose.” Lynwood Rowe was “Schoolboy.” Mickey Cochrane was “Black Mike.” There also were “Hammerin’ Hank” Greenberg, Fred “Firpo” Marberry, Herman “Flea” Clifton, Joyner “Jo-Jo” White, Luke “Hot Potato” Hamlin, George “Icehouse” Wilson, Elon “Chief” Hogsett, and “The Mechanical Man,” Charlie Gehringer.
And, of course, “Kid Boots.”
That would be Heinie Schuble, whose real name, just to complicate things a bit more, actually was Henry. Ultimately, it didn’t really matter what name Schuble went by – –Henry, Heinie, or Kid Boots – –because he couldn’t catch the baseball no matter what you called him.
Schuble, born in Texas in 1906, was a small, speedy infielder who batted a collective .251 across seven big-league seasons, including five with Detroit. He first entered the bigs as a 20-year-old with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1927, taking over for the everyday shortstop, Tommy Thevenow, who had snapped an ankle. Schuble joined Detroit in 1929, just as the country was entering the Great Depression. “That’s when everybody lost everything,” Schuble recalled. “I didn’t make enough money to lose.”
Although he played just 92 games in 1929, his 47 errors were surpassed by only two other players in the league. His questionable glovework earned him the nickname “Kid Boots” and a ticket to the Tigers’ farm club in Beaumont, Texas for two seasons. He re-emerged as the Tigers’ starting third sacker in 1932. He had his most productive year, batting .271 in 102 games with five home runs. Oddly, he hit three of them off the Yankees’s Hall of Fame pitcher, Herb Pennock.
Schuble was paid $4,500 as the Tigers’ starting shortstop in 1929. “I took salary cuts three straight years,” Schuble said. “They could get away with stuff then.” To make ends meet, he worked part-time for the post office in the offseason. It would take Schuble another three seasons in the bigs before he got back up to his original salary.
Billy Rogell replaced Schuble as starting shortstop after 1932, but Heinie hung around as a utility infielder for the Tigers’ back-to-back pennants in 1934-35. But Henry was hardly a key cog on “The G-Men” — Schuble appeared in only 11 games each season. He never got off the bench in either World Series. The following year he appeared in a couple of games with the Cardinals before returning to the minors for good.
Schuble, who worked and played industrial ball for Exxon in Baytown, Texas until retiring, always laid claim to one historic “first.” In 1927, the 20-year-old Cardinals farmhand and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Agnes Shaw, were married in front of 5,000 fans at Soldiers Home Park in Danville, Illinois. Schuble maintained it was the first home plate wedding ceremony in baseball history, and in this case Kid Boots appears not to have made an error. He and Agnes enjoyed 63 years together before both died within three days of each other in 1990.