Paul Schaal, a former Royals third baseman known for his post-career stints as a Kansas City area pizza restauranteur and chiropractor, died Friday at his home in Waikoloa, Hawaii, after a lengthy battle with cancer, his family confirmed to The Star. He was 74.
Schaal, who played for the Royals from their inaugural season in 1969 to 1974, was perhaps best known for being the man replaced by Hall of Famer George Brett, who debuted in 1973 before becoming a full-time starter in 1974. Years after his playing career concluded, Schaal retained a keen sense of humor about his place in baseball history.
“I use it to my benefit now,” Schaal told The Star in an interview in 2013. “I tell everybody it took a Hall of Famer to take my job from me.”
Schaal remained in Kansas City when his playing career ended in 1974, making a living first as owner of Paul Schaal’s Pizza and Pub and then as a local chiropractor. In 2010, he relocated to Hawaii with his wife, Monica, his son-in-law, Fred Hess, told The Star by phone on Saturday. Schaal was surrounded by his family, including Monica and daughter, Cheryl, as he died peacefully on Friday morning.
Schaal, who graduated from Compton (Calif.) High School, signed with the Los Angeles Angels before the 1962 season and made his major-league debut in 1964. He played five seasons for the Angels, surviving a scary beaning from Red Sox pitcher Jose Santiago at Fenway Park in 1968. Schaal was drafted by the Royals the following offseason in the expansion draft. He batted .263 with 32 homers while playing parts of six seasons in Kansas City, including the best season of his career in 1971 when he batted .274 with a .387 on-base percentage and 11 homers.
Schaal was traded back to the Angels in exchange for outfielder Richie Scheinblum on April 30, 1974, clearing the way for Brett. The season would mark Schaal’s last in the major leagues. Yet he remained the answer to a simple trivia question, maintaining a link to Brett and the glorious seasons in the late 1970s and 80s.
Years later, Schaal would treat Brett at his chiropractic clinic, joking about their connection and his intent to get even. But by then, he said, he felt at peace with how his career ended.
“I have no regrets,” he told The Star in 2013. “Let’s put it that way.”
In the final years of his life, Hess said, Schaal still received baseball cards from old fans. He would sign the card and mail it back, then see another one soon thereafter. In the final months, the family contacted the Royals and asked for old footage, Hess said. The sight of him playing third base in a blue and white uniform put Schaal in a good mood.