MLB's oldest living player celebrates 100th birthday

Art Schallock pitched for the Yankees and Orioles in the 1950s

April 26th, 2024
Art Schallock celebrates his 100th birthday with friends and family.Lock Stone Media for Cogir on Napa Road

On Thursday, Major League Baseball’s oldest living player turned 100 years old.

Art Schallock, a left-hander who pitched in 58 games with the Yankees and Orioles over a five-year career in the 1950s, celebrated the milestone with family and friends at Cogir on Napa Road, the senior living facility in Sonoma, Calif., where he resides. Former manager Dusty Baker and Yankees assistant general manager Jean Afterman also attended the celebration.

Memorabilia from his playing career were on display, he signed some baseballs, and staff at the facility dressed up in Yankees gear, served a Yankees-themed cake and rolled out the literal red carpet.

Dusty Baker joins Art Schallock for his 100th birthday.Lock Stone Media for Cogir on Napa Road

“Those were some great times,” Schallock said of his time with the Yankees, which included three World Series championships. “Hard to believe I’m hitting 100, but looking back on my life, I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had.”

Schallock even heard from Commissioner Rob Manfred, who wrote the 100-year-old a letter to wish him a happy birthday.

"You were a part of the Greatest Generation as well as one of the most memorable dynasties in American sports history with the New York Yankees," Manfred wrote. "All of us at MLB are grateful for your service to the Navy during World War II. In the years that followed, you witnessed history on the diamond, and you were a teammate of my favorite player, Mickey Mantle. I thank you for being an ambassador for our National Pastime throughout your life."

Art Schallock shares the letter he received from Commissioner Rob Manfred.Lock Stone Media for Cogir on Napa Road

Schallock was born on April 25, 1924, in Mill Valley, Calif., about nine miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge -- which is 13 years younger than he is. After graduating from high school in 1942, Shallock registered for the military draft and joined the Navy. He spent time as a radio operator on the USS Coral Sea, earning 11 battle stars for action that included the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Representing the Yankees, Jean Afterman joins Art Schallock's 100th birthday celebration.Lock Stone Media for Cogir on Napa Road

“I was two weeks out of high school when they drafted me,” Schallock told SABR biographer Bill Nowlin. “I went in the Navy and I didn’t see a baseball for three years.”

Discharged in ’46, Schallock played semi-pro ball in San Francisco that summer before signing with the Dodgers. He spent Spring Training 1947 with the club in Havana, training with their Triple-A Montreal Royals affiliate alongside Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe.

Schallock pitched for Dodgers affiliates until 1951, when the Yankees, in need of a left-handed pitcher, purchased his contract. Following a rough stretch for its pitching staff, New York called up Schallock on July 12, 1951 – and sent down struggling 19-year-old rookie Mantle.

“They had to send someone down and it turned out to be Mickey Mantle,” Schallock told interviewer Ed Attanasio. “He came back quickly, but for many years Mickey and I would joke about it.”

Phil Rizzuto, Joe DiMaggio, Art Schallock and manager Casey Stengel in 1951.(AP)

Though Mantle was sent down, Schallock found himself getting close with another Hall of Famer when he learned who his roommate would be.

“I didn’t know who they would assign me to be with,” Schallock told Attanasio. “I figured it would be with another rookie or another young player, but when they told me it would be Yogi Berra, I was surprised. It was a great experience, because Yogi knew all of the batters in the American League at that time. He knew how to pitch to them and what their weaknesses were. Yogi never wrote anything down; it was all up there in his head. He knew his stuff and I learned a lot from him. People used to joke about Yogi being not that smart, but he was sharp as a tack and a wonderful guy.”

From 1951-54, Schallock appeared in 28 games (eight starts) with the Yankees, topping out at 11 in his rookie season. Placed on waivers in April 1955, Schallock went to the Orioles and was called upon 30 times that season, making six starts. He allowed 11 home runs in his career – and the last one was hit by Mantle.

Lock Stone Media for Cogir on Napa Road

“[W]hen I was pitching for the Orioles, he hit a monster home run against me and smiled all around the bases,” Schallock once said.

Schallock inherited the title of the oldest living player upon the death of George Elder in July 2022.

“Art loves to reminisce about his time with the Yankees and the other teams,” said Wendy Cornejo, executive director of the senior living community where Schallock resides. “He lights up when he’s talking about baseball. We hope to make his birthday a fitting celebration of his long life and exciting accomplishments.”