Richard Schenck: The man who changed Aaron Judge’s career

Aaron Judge and Richard Schenck

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Aaron Judge was upset that he couldn’t hit his 62nd home run in five straight games. Even on October 2, the first game of a doubleheader in Texas ended for him with a 1-for-5 single. In a fit of frustration, Aaron Judge slammed his helmet into the dugout racks. Then the 30-year-old thought that something was wrong with the way he played. Soon after, he sent a text to Richard Schenck, and the rest is history. Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run in the first inning, setting the AL home run record.

According to Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated:

“Judge felt he was launching the ball too far toward his pull side, or up the middle; he needed to aim for the opposite field. Schenck calls it ‘attacking oppo’ and reminded Judge of a few cues to keep himself on time.”

“A few minutes later, Judge strode to the batter’s box. He took a four-seamer well above the zone for ball one. He took a slider down the middle for strike one. He got nearly the same pitch again. He pulled his bat backward and hit the ball forward. the rest became history.”

But who is Richard Schenck? Who is this man who turned Aaron Judge into the MLB’s best hitter?

The 67-year-old has never faced an MLB or minor league pitch in his life. He had never worked with someone in the big leagues. But the biggest hitter at the world’s top baseball league takes his guidance.

“Teacher” is what some people call him. He is called “Snap Man” by some. Richard Schenck has been a hit no matter what you call him.

Richard Schenck is a master of contradictions, in a way. He owns Teacher’s Billiards in St. Peters and now teaches some of baseball’s biggest stars, including Aaron Judge, in his spare time.

It’s not a bad job for a dad of three who never played baseball in college higher than Division II.

Richard Schenck has been a baseball fan for a long time. He owns a pool hall near St. Louis called Teachers Billiards. Though in his middle age, he became very interested in learning how to swing so he could teach his sons and help them hit better.

After watching clips of Barry Bonds, he was sure that the key to becoming a great hitter was to figure out how the outfielder hit the ball. Richard Schenck watched videos of Bonds’ swing every night for two years in his basement as he tried to copy it. He found his holy grail in September 2006.

Using this information, Richard Schenck gave advice online, found clients, and eventually became a well-known independent coach to Aaron Judge.

It was November 2016, and Aaron Judge had just spent a short time in the Major League. During that time, he showed a lot of power but also struck out a record number of times—50% of the time.

Aaron Judge needed help. Comes in Richard Schenck, who is going to try to make a 6-foot-7 power hitter with a lot of potential into a more dangerous and dynamic hitter.

David Matranga, a former player who is now an agent, used to train with Richard Schenck. When he took on Aaron Judge as a client, he asked him to spend five days with his former trainer. Schenck set up a tee drill where he and Judge, who was almost 40 years younger than him, would load up and then swing at the same time during their first hitting session.

Over time, Richard Schenck’s exercises helped Aaron Judge get the speed he needed. It worked, and it was the start of something great. Aaron Judge went from hitting .179 and not being sure of a spot on the team to having the most feared bat in the American League. This made Judge a very dangerous hitter in just one season.

And at the beginning of 2018, Aaron Judge thanked his coach on Twitter by saying that Richard Schenck “changed his career.”

Aaron Judge hit 21 of his 52 home runs to the right or right-center field. He also said that the path of his swing was more like a “Ferris Wheel” than a “merry-go-round.” Judge blasted an AL-best and rookie-record 52 home runs in just one summer under Richard Schenck’s instruction, winning the Rookie of the Year Award and finishing second in MVP voting.

During his record-breaking rookie season, Aaron Judge’s hitting techniques were markedly different. He was standing significantly further away from the plate, his leg kick was softer, and his head was moving less.

Aaron Judge had a secret midnight meeting with Richard Schenck on June 20, 2018. It came up even after he had a grueling four-hour game at Yankee Stadium against Seattle and another game was at 1 p.m. the next day.

Aaron Judge met Richard Schenck in a batting cage on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Despite coming off a Rookie of the Year season in which he hit 52 home runs, the Yankee right fielder felt he needed assistance with his swing.

The meeting was kept private, says Jared Diamond in his new book, “Swing Kings: The Inside Story of Baseball’s Home Run Revolution,” since Richard Schenck was not a member of the Yankees or Major League Baseball and it was also fairly contentious. But he was crucial to Aaron Judge.

Diamond wrote:

“Schenck pointed out issues with Judge’s swing mechanics. He wasn’t coiling one of his legs enough. The result was a swing driven by his arm rather than his lower body, where power is generated. Twelve hours later, Judge homered off Mariners ace James Paxton.”

Richard Schenck has 53 pros as clients right now, and many of them are PSI clients.

In 2016, Phillies infield prospect Scott Kingery, who is 5 feet 9 inches tall, hit five home runs. But after working with Schenck in 2017, he increased that number to 26. This year, he has a good chance of breaking the camp with the team.

Ian Happ, who isn’t represented by PSI, worked with Richard Schenck through Twitter. The two shared videos and worked together in person once during the offseason. In his first year with the Cubs, Happ hit 24 home runs.

Richard Schenck said this about Aaron Judge: “He gave me his full attention. He was kind to me and did what I asked. He also worked very hard. His skills are off the charts, and so is his character.

How much credit do you give to Richard Schenck for Aaron Judge’s record haul?

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