Long before baseball fans, especially those on the North Side of Chicago, were singing the praises of rookie slugger Kyle Schwarber, he was a member of his high school show choir.
Schwarber, who graduated from Middletown High School in 2011, was a standout linebacker on the football team and catcher on the baseball team. He also sang and danced as a member of the school’s show choir, Purple Pizzazz.
In a Middletown Journal article in 2011, Schwarber was featured as one of the 22 graduating seniors of the 40 members in the group. Schwarber, a barrel-chested guy, stood out in the newspaper photo, not because he was standing in the front, but because of his size, typically not seen on stage.
“I was the guy who was struggling to pick up the dance steps — I couldn’t really sing,” Schwarber said of his initial experiences with the group.
But he eventually found his stride.
“I wouldn’t take it back,” he said at the time. “It’s probably one of the better experiences of being in high school.”
After high school, Schwarber signed to continue his baseball career Indiana University, coached by Middletown native Tracy Smith. Schwarber played for the Hoosiers for three seasons, leading them to their first-ever College World Series and its first outright Big Ten Conference regular-season title in 81 years in 2013. He ranked third in NCAA Division I with a school-record 18 homers .
After his junior year, Schwarber surprisingly was drafted No. 4, the first position player, taken in the Major League Baseball draft. He signed with the Cubs in June 2014, and one year later, made his Major League debut at Wrigley Field. During his rookie season, he hit 16 homers in 69 games as a 22-year-old and three more in his first five playoff contests.
As a bonus, Chicago was able to sign Schwarber for $3,125,000 because he wasn’t a consensus top-10 prospect. That savings of nearly $1.5 million compared to his assigned pool value helped the team pay seven-figure bonuses to highly regarded high school arms Carson Sands, Justin Steele and Dylan Cease in rounds four through six.
In the Cubs’ Game 4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, Schwarber hit a mammoth homer to right that landed on top of the Wrigley Field scoreboard. That ball has since been encased in glass and will remain there until the Cubs are eliminated from the playoffs, or they win their first World Series since 1908.
If that happens, they may write a song about Schwarber.