For 20-plus years, lefty Susquehanna League catcher has proven he has right stuff to excel
There’s always seemed to be a bias against left-handed catchers.
“They can’t throw as well as a right-handed catcher when throwing to third base with a right-handed hitter in the box.”
“They have more issues fielding bunts on the left side of the pitcher’s mound.”
The list goes on.
Against all of that, however, East Prospect veteran backstop Mark Schauren has continued to prove the doubters wrong.
Throughout a successful 20-plus-year career, Schauren has stood out both offensively and defensively, even as he’s surpassed the age of 40.
Those who know Schauren, however, are not surprised.
“Mark has always been a great leader,” said Steve Kline, a former teammate and coach of Schauren’s at East Prospect. “And he’s had to overcome that stigma of a lefty catcher. He’s one of the top players I’ve ever seen.”
Strong numbers: Schauren is not one to dwell on his stats, but they certainly speak volumes.
Playing 14 years with his hometown Columbia in the Susquehanna League before suiting up the past nine seasons at East Prospect, Schauren has a .332 lifetime average with 76 home runs and 461 RBIs, while tallying over 700 career hits.
His numbers this year have even surpassed those. Entering Thursday's action, according to EP's GameChanger page, Schauren is hitting .467 with a homer and a team-best 15 RBIs. He has a .529 on-base percentage, a .600 slugging percentage and a 1.129 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage).
Not bad for one the most senior players in the league.
“He’s one of the reasons that we have been able to win games early this season when some of our guys still haven’t returned back from college,” East Prospect teammate Jeremy Mohr said.
Schauren has helped EP to an 11-3 start entering Thursday's action.
Dealing with a stigma: The stigma against left-handed catchers has never been easy for Schauren to deal with.
He’s pretty sure it derailed his chances to compete at higher levels of the college game.
“I’ve heard more people make excuses,” he said. “When I played in Legion ball, I competed against Jon Shehan, who used to coach at Millersville and played some pro ball. And I had better numbers than him in high school, but they always put him over me because he was right-handed. And they flat-out told me that’s why.”
Instead of just giving up and playing a different position, such as first base that is thought to be more suited for left-handed throwers, Schauren refused to relent. Catching is something that he flat out enjoys.
“Even though I knew from the get-go that I wasn’t going to make it to the next round, I stuck it out,” he said. “My pop time was better, and I’d hit a home run or a triple, and it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter how I performed, and that was frustrating to know, but I love catching and I still love catching and I’ll probably still be catching until I’m done playing baseball.”
Enjoying winning with the Pistons: While Schauren could care less about his own stats, he has grown appreciative of the success he and his EP teammates have enjoyed since he joined the Pistons organization in 2013.
During his time with Columbia, Schauren only enjoyed one winning season, while EP has never posted a losing record since he came aboard.
“I always wanted to win,” Schauren said. “When I was at Columbia we did win some big games where we beat the better teams and we would celebrate like we just won the league title. And that was fun because we knew we were underdogs every single game. Everybody wants to win.
“Now at East Prospect it’s different. We won one (title) and then two and then three and, I don’t want to say it gets old, but I can say that I appreciate them more.”
Winners of the past three York County Championship Series, as well as the past four Susquehanna League regular-season titles, the Pistons have definitely given Schauren a lot to appreciate in terms of victories. And if EP is to extend its SL streak to five, the Pistons can certainly give thanks to their left-handed hitting and throwing catcher.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.