The pen turned out to be mightier than the baseball bat for Russ Schneider, retired Plain Dealer sports writer and columnist.
Once an aspiring Major League Baseball player, Schneider, of Seven Hills, played for the Indians’ minor-league system in its 1949 season, but his real claim to fame came as the Indians columnist for the Plain Dealer and later as its Browns writer.
Retirement, however, doesn’t quite capture Schneider’s life after newspapers. He’s written 14 sports-related books, including a 630-page encyclopedia of the Tribe’s top players called “Cleveland Indians Legends,” published in 2013.
Schneider believes he covered the Indians at a time when sports writing was most exciting. “It was so much more fun then. The players were more receptive to us.”
“I was not a member of their family, but they were my friends,” Schneider says of the players. “We would go out to dinner and visit a couple of bars.”
All that changed, he says, when players began earning much larger salaries and Major League Baseball tightened its grip on players and the way they interact with the press. Instead of casual one-on-one talks over drinks, team management keeps players at arm’s length, Schneider says. Nowadays sports writers meet with players and ask questions in a group setting, lessening the chance for an exclusive story.