SALT LAKE CITY — Dave Schuler, a pitcher on the last Salt Lake team to win a Pacific Coast League championship, is back at work on the corner of 1300 South and West Temple after a 32-year absence.
The right-hander, who played for the Triple-A Gulls from 1978-81, is now the pitching coach for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. They’re in town for a four-game series against the Salt Lake Bees at Spring Mobile Ballpark.
“It’s a very nice field. There’s no question about it,” said Schuler, who helped the Gulls win the PCL title in 1979. “It’s a lot better than what we had, but we had some great times.”
Schuler, 59, has fond memories of his time in Salt Lake City and at Derks Field.
“We had so much fun here and everything that we did here was enjoyable,” said Schuler, who remembers owner Art Teece and how nice the grounds crew kept the field.
That championship season was especially memorable. So much so, in fact, that Schuler still keeps the ring around for good luck.
“We came on so strong at the end in ’79,” he recalled, noting that Salt Lake had to win four straight games in Albuquerque to clinch the second-half crown in order to reach the PCL finals. The Dukes were loaded with players like Pedro Guerrero, Mickey Hatcher, Dave Stewart and Mike Scioscia on their roster.
“We wound up sweeping them,” Schuler said. “Coming back here we knew we were going to win it playing Hawaii. It was like anti-climatic.”
The Gulls won all three games against the Islanders to take the PCL championship series.
“It was really a great team,” Schuler added.
Last winter, Schuler caught up with ex-Salt Lake manager Jimy Williams at a baseball convention in Connecticut.
Schuler had another reunion earlier this week when he went to lunch with former team broadcaster Mark Kelly in Utah. After eating, they drove drove around Murray looking for Schuler’s old apartment building, but it was no longer around.
Other than that, he noted, things didn’t seem all that different to him.
“The whole atmosphere here is just grandiose,” Schuler said. “The streets are big, the mountain range, the ballpark’s nice and the people here are all so friendly. So it really makes a difference.”
Schuler, who made major league appearances for the California Angels (1979-80) and Atlanta Braves (1985), had a 25-14 record during his tenure with Salt Lake.