Feb. 9, 2018

Spending time with Max Schumacher is like taking an enjoyable trip down memory lane.

The 1950 Shortridge High School alumnus loves to reminisce about his days as an IPS student, and is a walking encyclopedia of baseball facts and trivia. For more than 60 years, Schumacher spent the majority of his professional career with the Indianapolis Indians in various capacities.

Schumacher

He recently stepped down as president of the minor league baseball organization but continues to serve as chairman emeritus.

Schumacher recently took a break from his busy schedule to talk about his days as an IPS student and his love for America’s greatest pastime.

Early life in Indianapolis …

I attended grade school at IPS 70 — beginning in first grade at age 5 and through eighth grade. School 70 was a wonderful grade school where I had very devoted teachers. It was a wonderful first stop for my primary years. One thing that was unique at school 70 is they had a singing program. Hellen Pollack, one of my school teachers, led the choral program. She suggested that I try out for the boys choir, which was an enjoyable experience.

As a teen, I had three paper routes and delivered The Indianapolis Times, Indianapolis News and Indianapolis Star. I was also very active in sports. Baseball was my favorite. My friends and I built a baseball field at 46th Street and College Avenue before graduating to a citywide program held in Indianapolis parks.  

Your experience at Shortridge High School …

I attended Shortridge from Grades 9-12. It was a very good school. I became interested in journalism as a sophomore. Jean Grubb was an excellent journalism teacher and mentor. I wrote for the school’s daily newspaper, The Echo, one of the first daily school newspapers published in the country. Miss Grubb encouraged me to write more articles, which led me to study journalism in college. Jerry Steiner, the baseball coach, was another mentor of mine. Shortridge did not have a baseball team until I went there. I played both my junior and senior years.

Fondest IPS memory as a student …

I enjoyed being part of The Echo newspaper and year book staff. The friends I made in high school are still friends today. Among them are former U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar, author Dan Wakefield and (Shortridge Class President) John Lauter.

My IPS education prepared me for …

My IPS education prepared me to be successful at Butler University and for life.

Higher education …

I went to Butler University, majored in journalism and graduated in 1954. I played baseball for sports legend Tony Hinkle, the coach of several sports at Butler.

My life since graduating …

After graduating from Butler, I was drafted into the Army where I enjoyed two years stationed in Missouri and Illinois. I was a personnel administrative specialist and handled personnel records, plus played baseball on the Fort Sheridan team. As part-time jobs, I refereed flag football and managed a local movie theater. The cost of living is so different now; I would get three dollars to referee a game or manage the theater for an evening. An interesting fact is the cost to go to the movies then was only 25 cents.

In the fall of 1956, I was about to leave the army and read an Indianapolis Star article that indicated the Indians’ ticket manager was leaving. I contacted J.R. Townsend Sr., who was the city’s director of parks and recreation and one of my mentors. He knew Frank McKinney Sr., who was chairman of the Indians’ board of directors. I asked Mr. Townsend to arrange an interview with Mr. McKinney and 15 minutes into the interview I was hired as ticket manager. Since then, I have worked for the Indians, serving various positions, and became general manager in 1961. When I retired, I was the president and CEO. Today I am 85 years old and serve as chairman emeritus of the Indians.

Family…

Both my mother, Virginia B., and father, William J., graduated from Shortridge. My two older sisters, now both deceased, also attended School 70 and Shortridge. I gave no thought to attending any school other than Shortridge because of the family connection and reputation as an excellent school.

My wife Judy attended IPS 45 through third grade. We met when she worked part-time in the Indians’ ticket office. We have been married for 59 years and have four children — a daughter and three sons. We also have five grandchildren – four granddaughters and one grandson. Our oldest son, Bruce, is the current CEO and chairman of the board for the Indians. Brian is a teacher and Karen recently retired from law enforcement in Florida. Mark is the Indians’ merchandise director. My wife and I enjoy the success of our grandchildren and we think they will continue to grow into responsible adults. We like to keep track of their activities and spend as much time as possible with our family. 

Proudest accomplishments …

I’m proud that my wife Judy and I have raised children who are dependable, law-abiding adults. I’m also proud of the successes the Indians have had over the years, including its strong financial position and the opportunity to lead the effort to build the “new” Victory Field.

Final quote …

Be honest and fair in all your dealings, pursue a career that is enjoyable and fulfilling and share success with others who have helped. – Max Schumacher