Brian Schneider, erstwhile Phillies backup catcher and infamous Viking pillager, has announced his retirement from professional baseball after 18 seasons. We expect to continue plundering and pillaging Saxon villages for many more seasons to come.
After eight years with the Montreal Expos Montrashingon Expotionals and two more with the Mets; Brian Schneider came to Philadelphia in full battle regalia, with the wind at his back and two skulls of mead. Initially signed for a 2/$1.375M deal in 2010, Schneider began his Phillies career largely under the radar, a valuable skill when sailing up the English coast. After a trip to the DL in early 2010, he struggled mightily, at one point boasting a triple-slash line (BA/OBP/SLG) of .143/.250/.143.
His stock began to climb, and quickly, especially after the June 23 game against Cleveland. After absolutely destroying Frank Herrman's first pitch for a solo homerun in the 7th, Schneider returned to the plate, leading off the bottom of the ninth, the Phillies trailing 5-6. Facing the still-imposing Kerry Wood in a lengthy at-bat, Schneider drew a walk, and was pinch-ran for. One out later, Jimmy Rollins walked them off with a two-run homerun.
The best was yet to come. On July 8, hosting the Reds, Schneider started in place of an injured Carlos Ruiz. After three unimpressive at-bats, Schneider walked up in the bottom of the 10th, the score tied three-all; and absolutely blasted a pitch to the deepest part of center field. It, literally, was "too high."
All was not yet lost, however. Nelson Figuerora held the Reds scoreless for two more innings, giving Schneider one more chance.
This blast also led to one of the most memorable images ever to grace the internets:
By the end of the season, Schneider's stock was on fire. Not only was he a "proven veteran," long beloved by fans and coaches alike, he played a slick defense and was acclaimed by the Phillies' staff for his game-calling. Adding to that a .240/.345/.384 line with four (all relatively important) homeruns, Schneider was perhaps the best backup catcher in the league. SO beloved was he among TheGoodPhight staff, he was fondly compared to the Simpson's Baby with One Eyebrow
Returning in 2011, Schneider was due for a regression to his career norms, and it hit hard. His first two hits of the season were homeruns, but bright spots were otherwise rare. Schneider finished the season with a rather dismal .176/.246/.256 line, and the same pair of homeruns he held on April 27. That performance, coupled with his expert axe-handling and seamanship, was enough to cement his status as the Viking Chief of Philadelphia.
When he was re-signed for the 2012 season, our own Remember the Phitans wrote about Schneider's '11 campaign, Vikings, throughout much of history, were winners. So is Brian. He wins." Truer words were never spoken. Or written. To prove his statement, rather than bore us with pithy numbers, he provided this photographic evidence:
Brian Schneider, seen in his ceremonial victory garb via cdn3.sbnation.com
His 2012 performance was marginally improved, as he finished with a .225/.289/.348 line in just under 100 PAs, despite the dismal Phlop that was the Phillies. Schneider was never an All-Star, he never won any awards; but he did finish his career with 5.5 rWAR. He was a solid-to-outstanding defensive catcher: with 992 career games wearing the tools, he twice threw out more than 50% of attempted base stealers; and his career fielding percentage of .994 ranks 16th all time among catchers. He was behind the plate when Barry Bonds hit his 756th homerun, which probably feels like being Vic Wertz.
Schneider was last seen heading northeast, sailing for his native Vinland, leading a band of Norsemen on one last great raid. We wish him all the best.