Having just finished one of the most successful campaigns in Chicago baseball history, the Maroons have plenty to look forward to in the coming years. This season’s squad finished with a 25-6 record and narrowly missed becoming the first U of C baseball team to ever make the NCAA Division III postseason. While a strong core of third-years will undoubtedly lead Chicago on to further success in 2004, the Maroons will sorely miss the absence of their two graduating captains George Schade and J.P. Bauman. Working as Chicago’s featured battery of pitcher and catcher since their first year, Schade and Bauman have led their team on and off the field through the most successful four-year stretch in Maroon baseball history. While both players dominated the stat-lines throughout their careers, the tandem may be missed most for their leadership abilities and lead-by-example work ethics that helped their entire team to play at its highest level.
Quiet, unassuming, and thin as a rail, Schade looks like the last person who would be dominating opposing hitters and inspiring greatness in others. But it is precisely this intense seriousness that has allowed him to awe opponents and teammates alike. “When I think of George, the first word that comes to mind is respect,” said head coach Brian Baldea. “Myself and all the guys on this team have a great amount of respect for George and the poise and character that he brings to the table.” These attributes of consistency and hard work allowed Schade to compile a career record of 16-9, placing him second on the Chicago all-time wins list. Schade ends his tenure as the Maroons’ ace with a solid 5.13 ERA, 96 strikeouts, and 11 complete games.
Throughout his four years as starting catcher, Bauman has brought a different brand of leadership to the table. “Jay’s an intense player,” Schade said. “His intensity does a lot to get the team up to play hard every day.” A fiery leader and full-throttle player, Bauman did more than just talk others up during his four years in the Windy City. Bauman ends his playing career as one of the most successful offensive contributors in Chicago history. His career numbers stand at an astounding .362 average and .538 on-base percentage, with 113 hits, 128 runs, 74 runs batted in, and 89 walks with only 47 strikeouts.
Both captains hail from the Midwest, and tough high-school competition allowed them to make seamless transitions into the Maroon starting lineup as first-years.
Schade comes from Geneva, Illinois where he attended Geneva High School. For him, the reasons for coming to the U of C were simple. “It was all about the academics,” Schade said, “but the fact that I could play ball was an enormous plus.” Schade, a biology concentrator, has continued his academic intensity while in college and will remain at the U of C as a student in the Pritzker School of Medicine.
While Schade played a variety of positions in high school, it was clear from the beginning of his career at Chicago that he would survey the field from a perch 10 inches higher than the rest of his teammates. Featuring a sharp curve and accurate fastball, Schade was able to dominate as a first-year. He finished the season with a 6-2 record while striking out 21.
Bauman also came to Chicago in pursuit of a fine academic environment. After finishing his career at Saint Philip Catholic School in Battle Creek, Michigan, Bauman was offered roster spots by several Division I schools. “Academics were a top priority,” Bauman said. “It ultimately came down to the people I met here and the emphasis on academics.” An economics concentrator, Bauman will take part in the Bank One Scholar Program following graduation, in which he will work while also attending the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.
A winner of two high school All-State awards at multiple positions, Bauman settled in at catcher immediately upon arriving at the U of C. At this position he was able to terrorize opposing runners, altering the dynamic of countless games. Bauman’s arm and quick release allowed him to throw out 36 would-be base-stealers over the course of his career at an incredible rate of 35 percent.
In his first year, Bauman was equally effective at the plate. He hit .368, scoring 31 times and collecting 42 total bases. With the help of Bauman and Schade, the 2000 squad posted a solid 19-13 mark.
The following year, Schade and Bauman both displayed an exceptional level of play, spurring the Maroons on to one of the team’s most successful seasons ever. Chicago compiled a record of 26-8 and narrowly missed its first ever playoff berth. Bauman enjoyed one the best seasons ever put together by a Maroons batsman as he developed into a more patient and devastating hitter. He led the team with a .402 average, a .586 on-base percentage, and set the all-time U of C mark with 51 runs.
Bauman reveled in the excitement of playing on a playoff contender down the stretch. “There was some pressure, but that’s what made it fun,” Bauman recalled. Schade too played some of his best baseball in 2001. He compiled a spotless 5-0 record and a solid 4.27 ERA while striking out 34 batters and walking only 19.
After setting the Chicago record for wins in 2001, the team experienced a letdown in the following year, finishing with a 14-14 mark. “Guys came into that season expecting to romp people,” Schade said, “and we didn’t put in the work necessary to win.” This over-confidence shaped the way Schade and Bauman would approach their roles as captains the next year, and trigger the best season in recent Maroon history.
In the down season of 2002 Bauman was plagued by tendonitis problems that limited him to 52 at-bats. While the injury hurt his play and contributed to a paltry .250 batting average, Bauman’s confidence and patience at the plate still showed through with his .494 on-base percentage. Schade also experienced a sub-par year on the mound, posting a 2-4 record and 5.10 ERA.
At the end of the 2002 season the team voted in Schade and Bauman as captains and they set about working to regain their previous form. Both captains emphasized work ethic over the long off-season, something that would payoff substantially in the 2003 campaign. “Being captain is definitely something I liked, and something I took pride in,” Bauman said. “I felt that it was an extremely important position.”
Fully recovered from his injuries, Bauman was able to lead by example in 2003. He slugged his way to a .382 average, while compiling 29 runs, 26 RBIs, and 12 extra-base hits. Hitting out of the three spot, it seems as if he was always on base for others to drive in. With the experience of 2001 under his belt, Bauman was also able to provide a great deal of leadership as the team vied for a playoff berth. “I told the guys to just play one game at a time and take a simple approach,” Bauman said. “There was some sense of urgency, but we were a little bit more relaxed [than in 2001].”
After suffering tendonitis in his throwing shoulder last fall, Schade wasn’t sure whether he would be able to play at all this season. But after rehabbing all winter, Schade’s arm recovered and he was able to contribute consistently during the 2003 run. He led the team to a blistering start, winning two games during the early-season Florida trip. Although some of his arm problems reemerged mid-season, Schade battled through them in order to post a record of 3-3 and a 5.36 ERA.
By stressing teamwork and practice, Schade and Bauman led a team that this season posted a winning percentage of .806, the best by a U of C team since 1897. The foundation of success that they laid in their four years in U of C Maroon will remain as an integral base from which Chicago baseball will be able to grow in the future.