San Quentin baseball dates almost to the beginning of the prison’s 167-year existence. During that long history, a laundry list of great pitchers have hurled on the Field of Dreams. One of those was Blackie Schwamb, one of “the greatest pitchers in prison history,” according to Crooks Tour.
Blackie Schwamb was a Los Angeles native who became enmeshed in a life of crime and ended up at San Quentin. As he grew up, he sprouted in height to a long 6’5”, towering over most of the people around him.
According to the article, Schwamb was a volatile drinker. He joined the Navy during WW2, but spent the majority of his time in the brig for going AWOL.
After the war he worked as an enforcer for the notorious mobster, Mickey Cohen, while he pitched semi-pro on the side. His pitching skills were good enough to attract the attention of a talent scout, and not long after that he was picked up by the St. Louis Browns.
Schwamb’s major-league career was eclipsed by his addiction to alcohol. The Browns cut him loose, and he went back to Los Angeles where he reconnected with a life of crime. Eventually, Schwamb was sentenced to life in prison for a beating that led to a death.
While doing his life sentence at San Quentin, Schwamb became the prison’s number one pitcher with 100-mph fastballs and wicked curve balls, said the article.
In his 10-year pitching career, Schwamb accumulated a record of 131 wins with only 35 losses. Most of the record was against professional competition. He even pitched no-hitters against a team that had 5 major leaguers on it.
Schwamb made parole in 1960, and had a short run with two baseball teams, until the smoke in his arm faded, ending his pitching career.
pitchers graced San Quentin’s Field of Dreams. The baseball field was refurbished by the San Francisco Giants more than 20 years ago, providing a stage for more recent fast-ballers to throw some no-hitters and strikes across home plate.
The prison has 3 official teams, the San Quentin Giants, the San Quentin A’s and the San Quentin Hardtimers. They competed against outside teams until COVID hit.
At the present time, the great pitchers of San Quentin’s baseball teams are not getting the practice that will keep the smoke in their pitching arms.
Recent greats tossing heat across home plate at the Q include Gary Townsend, Carrington “The Natural” Russelle, John James, Anthony “T-Tone” Denard, Jeffery “Dewey” Dumont, Mark “Solo” Wiley, Chris “Max” Hickson, Royce “Gator” Rose, and Michael “StoneyBoy” Stone.