In students’ minds, teachers are like robots, constantly wearing a suit and tie, even to bed. They don’t communicate with the outside world. After all, no time is available for free time. Their to-do list consists of grading papers and getting lesson plans done for the next day. The duties are then repeated 180 times until the school year ends. Sadly, teenagers are mistaken.
These are the true stories that explain what those robots are actually doing when they’re done lecturing and grading papers. This is “Inside the Lives of Teachers.”
“Do you know what you’re about to do? You’re making history. You’ll always be the first Lancaster Barnstormer.”
The original manager of the Lancaster Barnstormers, Tommy Herr, said those exact words to a current teacher at Penn Manor High School by the name of Matthew Scheuing.
Scheuing was, indeed, the first player to ever sign with the Barnstormers where he went 6-6 pitching in their inaugural season.
After graduating from Millersville where he pitched undefeated in his freshmen year, Scheuing became part of the initial Barnstormers team, all the while looking to be drafted into Major League Baseball.
But the most important body part of his baseball career – his arm – held him back at the time. Yet Scheuing wasn’t going to quit trying to achieve his ultimate goal: to be drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies.
“I wasn’t a standout by any means,” said Scheuing of his early years playing ball.
Things weren’t looking too great to start off his baseball career.
By six years old, Scheuing was playing the game of baseball in the West End Organization and Safe Harbor. By the end of high school, his range of sports enhanced and gained variety.
“I played a lot of sports,” Scheuing said. “To be honest, I liked basketball more. Soccer and cross country conditioned me for baseball and basketball.”
His first momentous decision was choosing between baseball and basketball.
“In the end, I’m left-handed,” Scheuing said, “and left handers are rare (in baseball), especially in terms of pitchers.” He also added, “6 (feet) 3 (inches) in college is not that tall for legitimate basketball.”
“I ultimately chose baseball.”
With his first decision out of the way, Scheuing had to prove himself on the field at Millersville University.
Having a zero in his loss column in his first year sure helped with his cause.
In his freshman year, Scheuing went undefeated as a starter in Division Two baseball. The team, overall, went 45-14.
“We were a run away from getting to the college world series,” Scheuing said, looking back.
In his sophomore year, he finished as “one of the top pitchers in (his) conference,” Scheuing noted, accumulating only two losses. This caused some stir in the MLB and talk of Scheuing getting drafted started fluttering around.
In fact, one of Scheuing’s teammates did get drafted into the Phillies’ organization, and while scouts were there focusing on that player, Scheuing got a chance to show off some of his talent.
“I impressed some people,” Scheuing said.
At that point, he was unfortunately unable to get drafted because of his age.
“You have to be a junior or 21 years old to be eligible,” Scheuing said. The 20-year old sophomore was still just a bit too young.
Despite the letdown, Scheuing kept on rolling toward his goal, counting down the days until he turned 21.
In his junior year, Scheuing journeyed to Germantown, Maryland to play in the Clark Griffith League where college students of all ages would flaunt their skill. To be exact, the current history teacher played against guys all around the nation from colleges including Virginia and Florida State.
They were “top, top line,” said Scheuing.
There, Scheuing led the team in wins, a now common trend in his baseball career.
Virginia seemed to be Scheuing’s favorite place when he went down again to play with the Peninsula Pilots.
“(There), I finished just ahead of a guy named Justin Verlander in terms of ERA,” Scheuing said with a smirk.
Verlander would later become a Major League level player with the Detroit Tigers, winning the American League Rookie of the Year in 2006. He also has thrown a no-hitter once in his career. Adding to his accolades, Verlander has finished 7th, 5th and 3rd in the American League Cy Young voting.
Not only had he finished ahead, statistically, of Verlander, in ERA, when Scheuing played for the Virginia team, he also had another neat experience while with the Pilots.
Before a game, Scheuing was practicing on the field, not expecting anything out of the ordinary to happen. That’s exactly what happened, though.
“All of a sudden, a guy got out from an Escalade, takes my glove and asks me to play catch,” Scheuing recalled.
Guess who? Philadelphia Eagles’ superstar and MVP contender, Michael Vick, was the surprise guest.
“I started to create some buzz,” he said.
Buzz? If leading a college-level team in wins is creating buzz, then what would coming out victorious against the Phillies’ minor league team which included studs like Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz be? Full-out vibration? Yep.
In the summer after Millersville’s baseball season was finished, Scheuing and his teammates would go down to Clearwater, Virginia to compete against the Phillies’ minor league system. In 2003, Scheuing started against Cole Hamels, a future World Series MVP. By the end of that game, Scheuing retained something that he could gloat about for the rest of his life. He beat the Phillies’ minor league squad with Hamels at their helm, 6-1. Millersville became the first ever college team to beat those future major league-ers.
“It’s interesting looking back,” Scheuing said. “I had Phillies greats congratulating me.”
Speaking of greats, he once sent Howard, a Major League Baseball All Star, Home Run Derby and World Series Champion, back to the bench dumbfounded as he went down on strikes. That strikeout was not only with two outs, but with the bases loaded no less. Talk about pressure… Maybe that’s the reason why he was “vibrating.”
“(That) may have been one of the scariest moments of my life,” he said.
By that time, the 22-year old was thinking he was right on track toward his goal.
“I assumed I was getting drafted,” Scheuing said – then the worst situation that any athlete can think of came out of his mouth – “but then I got hurt.”
“I overused my arm,” he said. Practicing too much came back to bite him in the rear and his hopes of playing professional baseball slowly withered away.
“The Phillies already came by when I was hurt,” Scheuing said. He was classified as a “red flag” because of his arm’s condition. The chance to display his talent to the Phillies’ organization blew right by him.
A visit to Penn Orthopedic, hand and elbow doctors couldn’t change the fact that Scheuing may never get that chance again.
“It seems very easy to get injured,” he said. “(It was) frustrating. I had a career set up. I was alright,” he added.
“I could have given up,” Scheuing said. “(But) when I have a goal, I work as hard as I can to achieve it. My family (also) had me keep pursuing.”
And that he did.
In 2003 and 2004, he played with the Bangor Lumberjacks in Maine.
“It was outdoorsmen’s paradise,” Scheuing said. “Not my kind of thing.”
By the time Scheuing was done with his baseball career, he had been to a variety of places like Kentucky, New Jersey, Maryland, Quebec and Florida.
There’s one place missing from that list, and that is Scheuing’s home, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Herr, a former MLB All Star with the St. Louis Cardinals back in ’85, was starting a team in Lancaster and called Scheuing up to invite him to join the team in 2004. Scheuing was the first ever player to sign with the Lancaster Barnstormers – just in time for the new year. Scheuing was now playing professional baseball. His goal was finally accomplished.
“It felt great to be back home,” he said. “There was a ton of attention.”
In the ‘Stormers inaugural season, Scheuing had a 6-6 starting record.
“I thought I threw pretty well,” he said.
On the road ahead before signing a contract extension for the 2006 season, Scheuing had a roadblock.
On the side, Scheuing had adopted the career of teaching, but that summer, the two pathways collided.
“Spring training and student teaching overlapped each other,” he said.
A step back to look over the two subjects was taken by the 25-year-old.
“Lancaster could not guarantee I remain on the roster,” said Scheuing.
He also added, “If I missed three days of student teaching, I would have to start over, failing, forfeiting the semester.”
Another choice was laid out in front of Scheuing. He would have to choose from what he’d worked for all of his life or to what he just recently, at that time, had aspired.
“The closer to 25, if you’re not into the minor leagues, chances of getting in (the MLB) become slim,” Scheuing admitted.
“(The decision) was extremely hard,” he said, but two minuscule words swayed him toward the career of teaching.
“You can’t play baseball forever, but you can work forever,” he said.
Scheuing then skipped out on spring training with the Barnstormers and focused on his teaching career.
Later, he “got that call from Lancaster,” Scheuing said, saying that he was being released for not showing up. His baseball career seemed to be over.
“I still wanted to play baseball,” he said. “As long as I got a place to play at this point, I’m pretty happy.”
The Pennsylvania Road Warriors was his next stop. Scheuing continued playing the game he loves up until 2007.
“I was physically getting worn out,” he said.
The next stage of Scheuing’s life consisted of coaching and beginning his teaching career.
Scheuing coached Millersville’s baseball team and has been Franklin and Marshall College’s pitching coach since 2006, winning the conference title in his first year. He is currently in his sixth year at F&M.
“You’re just playing and having fun: the root cause of playing sports,” Scheuing said about college level baseball.
As Lampeter-Strasburg’s coach, he also won the state title in 2005.
His teaching career began to look promising when an empty spot came up at Penn Manor High School. Buckling in and riding through a wild weekend was his next step.
“I pitched in Newark on Thursday, interviewed (for Penn Manor teaching job) Friday, drove to Bridgeport the same day, interviewed on the phone again from Holiday Inn parking lot, hired Saturday, drove back to Lancaster, started teaching that Monday and pitched again Tuesday.”
Take a minute and read over that again if you’d like. Maybe even a third time.
In the span of six days, Scheuing interviewed for the job twice, drove to play baseball three times, got the job and started teaching – possibly the busiest and most hectic weekend of his life.
“I can roll with whatever is thrown at me,” he said. “I was able to handle that,” while making sure he added, “not to say it wasn’t stressful.”
Just as his stress level was at an all time high, Scheuing had the honor of watching his former team, the Barnstormers, win the Atlantic League Championship in 2006 – without him, of course.
“Watching that was quite tough,” he said. “I missed out on a ring!” he said with mixed emotions showing on his face.
Up to 2010, in his fifth year teaching, regrets are one thing he doesn’t have any of.
“I love U.S. II (United States History); I love coaching; I love teaching,” he said.
“All in all, did I make the right decision? Yes.”
By Alex Geli
Jake Shiner also contributed to this story.