I'll bet you never guess the nationality of today's subject.
What's that? German? How did you ever guess?
While his parents did in fact hail from the Motherland, Herman A. Schaefer was born right here in Chicago, IL back in nineteen-aught-two. I'd want to go by another name too if my name was Herman.
Germany made his debut in the Major Leagues with his hometown club, the Chicago Orphans, a.k.a. the Cubs, in 1901. The feisty infielder earned his call-up based on his swift base stealing speed and his solid glovework.
However, his coming up coincided with the formation of the famous "Tinker to Evers to Chance" infield and thus there was no space for the German. His .196 batting average over 81 games and 323 PA's in 1902 certainly didn't help his case either. He found himself back in the minors for the next two seasons.
Germany was a good middle infielder, but not good better than these guys
He did offer a glimpse of his speed though by stealing 12 bases in that time.
The Tigers came-a-callin' in 1905, purchasing him from the old Milwaukee Brewers and immediately plugged him into their starting lineup at 2nd base. For the next 4.5 seasons, Germany average a .250 BA and totaled 123 stolen bags (including 40 in 1908).
However, he and his Tigers were unable to extract revenge against his former club, falling to the Cubs in the World Series in '07 and '08.
Given regular playing time, Schaefer quickly garnered a reputation as a trickster.
It was during his time in Detroit that former teammate Davy Jones claimed Schaefer used his plus speed to steal first base.
While trying to employ a double steal to distract the enemy pitcher, Davy broke from first and successfully took 2nd. Seeing that the distraction did not have the desired effect, on the next pitch he broke back to first in order that he could try AGAIN on the next play.
Davy Jones' (maybe) saw Germany's stunt firsthand
The validity of this particular claim is foggy, as no verifiable evidence exists to back up Jones. However, there is no doubt that he successfully attempted the same stunt yet again while playing for Washington against the White Sox on August 4th, 1911.
Allegedly due to his antics, MLB instituted rule 7.08i in 1920 which states that a player is out if "After he has acquired legal possession of a base, he runs the bases in reverse order for the purpose of confusing the defense or making a travesty of the game. The umpire shall immediately call 'Time' and declare the runner out."
Germany was quite the unorthodox individual.
Germany loved to showoff for the camera and, apparently, operate it too
In addition, while his moniker of "Germany" would have become controversial upon the US declaring war on Germany in 1917, he immediately bestowed a new nickname upon himself: "Liberty." It seems that "Liberty" was always one step ahead of the opposition.
Germany may have been quite the personality, but he was no slouch as a ballplayer; after all, his career lasted 15 seasons, finally retiring for good in 1918 after brief stints in the Federal League, the Yankees & Indians.
So, next time you're at your little brother's t-ball game and you see a child run the wrong direction around the bases, don't assume they're just an overexcited kid. Maybe they're the next Germany Schaefer, trying to gain a competitive advantage any way they can.
Either that or picking dandelions in the outfield wasn't exciting enough by itself.
One of the two.