From Unremarkable To Exceptional
Schmidt was born on September 27, 1949, in Dayton, Ohio, one of two children of Jack and Lois Schmidt. He was an athletic child who had interests ranging from tree climbing to more organized sports such as football, basketball, and baseball. He also learned how to play golf from his father. Eventually he gave up tree climbing and opted to concentrate on baseball and basketball.
Schmidt's high school and early college years in baseball were unremarkable. He attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, playing basketball and baseball. Unlike many players who look forward to a career in sports, Schmidt did not win any scholarships for his participation. A knee injury forced Schmidt to quit basketball, and it was then that he began to focus on baseball.
During the summer before his sophomore year of college, Schmidt took a more serious approach to the game. He played for the Dayton Summer League team after approaching the coach several times. His persistence paid off, and coach Ted Mills brought him in at shortstop. His fielding and hitting impressed Mills so much that he called the Ohio University baseball coach, Bob Wren, and told him about it. He also wrote the California Angels about Schmidt's abilities.
When Schmidt returned to play for Ohio University, his batting average had gone from .260 to .310. During his college career, Schmidt was twice named All-American Shortstop. He helped his team win the NCAA District 4 title, and place fourth in the College World Series in 1970. By the time he graduated, Schmidt had a batting average of .330 and had hit a total of twenty-seven home runs.