Wes Schulmerich – Oregon State’s First “Big Leaguer”

In 1923 Wesley “Wes” Schulmerich came to Oregon State (then OAC) as a decorated high school athlete from Columbia Prep school in Portland where he had been offered a scholarship by Knute Rockne to play for Notre Dame but he turned it down to play football, baseball, and run track for the Beavers.  The 5’11 200 pound “Ironhorse,” as he was nicknamed on the football field, was a man among boys on both the football and baseball fields.  Upon graduation in 1927, Schulmerich turned down a $100 signing bonus to play football in the NFL, deciding to play semi-pro baseball for the Clarks club in the Butte Mining League.  Schulmerich, a second baseman and leadoff hitter, was quickly noticed and moved up to the Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels, just a step below the Major Leagues.  Wes dominated the PCL for the better part of his four PCL seasons and in 1931 he made his debut in the Major Leagues for the Boston Braves, making him the first player in Oregon State history to reach the Majors.  After four seasons in the Majors with three different teams, he spent another six or seven years playing in the minors and in other independent leagues, then he spent 1942-1945 as a lieutenant commander in the Navy during WWII. In his later years Wes was known for being an adamant OSU supporter, rarely missing a sporting event of any kind, until he died in 1985 at the age of 83.  Schulmerich is a member of both the OSU and Oregon Sports Hall of Fames.

The following pictures are of Wes during his playing days at Oregon State and playing in the Major Leagues for the Braves.  And lastly, these two bats were original bats used by Schulmerich during his Major League days and both have his name burned into the barrel! The first was made by the Hanna Batrite company in the early 1930’s and the second is a Spalding bat.  These two bats are a couple of my favorite pieces of OSU baseball history!

Schulmerich OAC 1928  Schulmerich Boston Braves  Baseball CardschulmerichSpalding 1935

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1917 OAC Student Poster – “Rooks Beware” & 1919 Rook Bible

Having been through it back in my days at OSU, it’s good to know that even back in 1917 some students went through some good natured hazing by their older classmates!  In 1917 this 11×18 poster was hung up around campus by the “’20 Vigilance Committee,” likely the sophomore class, and was directed to the “Rooks” – the freshman on campus at that time.  A couple of my favorite rules are that the Rooks “shall support athletic activities by your presence at the games” and they “must not fuss at any of the athletic contests”!  Boy how times have changed!

Also, note the first paragraph that says the Rooks “shall provide yourselves with one green cap of accepted pattern…” Now I’m not really sure where the green came into play, as orange had been adopted as the school color with black as the background in the early 1900’s, but it obviously had some meaning… and my bet is the green hats simply identified the freshman so everyone on campus knew who they were and could “greet” them appropriately!  The second picture below is a green cap with an orange O that those “Rooks” would have been seen wearing around campus!

Lastly, I came across this “Rook Bible” from OSU, dated January 1, 1919, which no doubt elaborates on those same rules listed in the poster.  It’s funny to see this Bible was approved by the Student Council and I love how it says Rooks must “Have this book with you AT ALL TIMES”!   Published by the class following the one who made the poster, this Bible shows the same “Rook” hazing at Oregon State must have taken place for at least a couple years and was passed down from class to class!

1917 Rooks Beware

1919 Rook Bible

Green OSU Rook Cap