BYU assistant softball coach Allie Hancock-Schneemann had just dropped off her husband, utility infielder Daniel Schneemann, at Huntington Park in downtown Columbus, Ohio, about six hours before the Clippers’ baseball game last month.

Then her phone rang. It was Daniel.

A jolt of adrenaline, mixed with some anxiety, swept through her body, as she checked to see if her baby, Kendall, was safe in the back seat. Did Daniel leave something in the car? Was the game still on?

“It was pretty special. I’m there on second base with this incredible feeling of gratitude, trying to keep it together.”

—  Daniel Schneemann on getting his first MLB hit

“Daniel said, ‘Hey, can you come back and get me?’ And I was like, ‘Why?’” Allie recalled on Monday while out recruiting the Denver area for the BYU softball team. “He was like, ‘Because we are going to Cleveland.’ I kinda froze up a little bit. The first thing I said was, ‘Are you serious?’ He was like, ‘Why would I joke about that?’”

That, of course, was the long-awaited call-up to the big leagues, after the 27-year-old Schneemann had toiled in the minors for the better part of six seasons since the Cleveland Indians (now Guardians) picked him out of BYU in the 33rd round of the 2018 Major League Baseball draft.

“After that, we both kinda got a little emotional, just because how awesome and crazy it was,” Allie said. “I think I was mostly in shock when he first called me. Not shocked that it had happened, but just shocked that it was finally his time.”

Schneemann said he had arrived for the Saturday game against Lehigh Valley “like any other day,” around 1 p.m., when manager Andy Tracy summoned him to his office.

“It was a special moment, that’s for sure,” Schneemann told the Deseret News last Friday before a game in Kansas City. “I had to pack up my stuff at the field, and then go back to my apartment to pack other stuff up, then we drove straight to Cleveland. It was kind of a blur.”

Before the young family hit Interstate 71 north for the shores of Lake Erie, however, they called their parents — Allie’s mom and dad in Gilbert, Arizona, and Daniel’s folks in Herriman, Utah, and many tears were shed, they both recalled.

‘You did it, son’

Daniel’s father, Patrick Schneemann, said his son — suddenly MLB’s version of the NFL’s Taysom Hill, also a BYU product — initially told him someone from the Guardians would be calling him and his wife, Hadley, shortly to arrange flights for them to be in Cleveland the following day.

“I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’” Patrick said. “Daniel said, ‘Yeah, you need to be in Cleveland tomorrow.’ Then he was quiet, and it dawned on me and I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ That’s when everything just kind of hit me, and I said, ‘You did it, son.’”

That was on June 1. On June 2, in a day game, Schneemann made his Major League debut, having made the two-hour, 15-minute drive from Columbus to Cleveland the previous night.

Both sets of parents were there at Progressive Field, along with four siblings and, of course, Allie and Kendall, who turns 2 in July.

Schneemann is believed to be the 27th former BYU baseball player to appear in a game in the major leagues. Former BYU pitcher Justin Sterner, also 27, also made his debut that weekend, throwing two scoreless innings for the Tampa Bay Rays on May 31.

Cleveland Guardians center fielder Daniel Schneemann attempts to make a catch at the fence against the Seattle Mariners Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Cleveland.
Cleveland Guardians center fielder Daniel Schneemann attempts to make a catch at the fence against the Seattle Mariners, Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Cleveland. | Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press

But to say Schneemann just made a “debut” does not do it justice. He lined the first pitch he saw down the right field line for a two-run double in the second inning, creating an unforgettable memory in what has now become a month full of them.

“That was probably my favorite moment so far,” Schneemann said. “It was pretty special. I’m there on second base with this incredible feeling of gratitude, trying to keep it together. … Calling my wife after I got called up was really emotional, and then getting to see my family after the game was also pretty special. There have been a lot of really big moments that I won’t forget, for sure.”

Since that big splash on the big stage, Schneemann has continued to pay off the Guardians for their belief in him. In his first 21 game appearances in June, Schneemann shined at the plate and in the field, playing six different positions in his first six games: second base, shortstop, third base and all three outfield spots.

He’s the first major leaguer to play six positions in his first six games since they started keeping track of such accomplishments in 1906.

In 60 at-bats through July 2, Schneemann recorded 16 hits for a .262 batting average, drove in 12 runs and scored eight runs. He’s hit two doubles, two triples, three home runs and stolen a base. Not bad for a prospect who was pick No. 1,003 of the 2018 draft.

“I’m loving all of it,” he said. “I get to play a game for a living, and my family has been able to share a lot of it with me. So it has been pretty great.”

The Guardians had Monday off and were scheduled to begin a three-game set with the White Sox on Tuesday.

‘It has always been my dream to play at the highest level’

Schneemann loved baseball so much when he was a little boy that he would often sleep in his uniform the night before games, his father said. If he had a game after school growing up in San Diego, he would wear his uniform under his school clothes so he didn’t waste a minute getting ready.

“I think I was in love with the game of baseball since before I could walk,” he said. “It has always been my dream to play at the highest level of baseball.”

He grew up near a baseball field in Chula Vista, California, and would attend his older brother Patrick Jr.’s practices and games before he began playing T-ball at the age of 5.

A young Daniel Schneemann is all smiles as  9-year-old during his Little League days while growing up in California.
A young Daniel Schneemann is all smiles as a 9-year-old during his Little League days while growing up in California. | Schneemann family

Patrick Schneemann, who now lives in Herriman, Utah, said young Daniel was a “natural athlete” who excelled at every sport he played. He made the varsity basketball team at Bonita Vista High as a sophomore. He could run like a deer, and had a cannon for an arm — even in Little League.

While his older and younger brother needed to be “pushed” a little bit to work on their games, that wasn’t the case with Daniel, said Patrick, who played basketball for Southwestern College.

“We would go to the field after school every day. We had a bucket of balls, so I would hit him a ton of ground balls. Then I would throw pitches to him, dozens and dozens of pitches, because he loved to hit,” Patrick said. “We would always end with me hitting a bucket of fly balls to him in center field. Daniel credits that for helping him become a well-rounded player.”

Daniel was mostly a catcher in his preteen days, and pitched in high school in addition to playing all the infield positions, and a little outfield. Patrick predicts that if the Guardians ever get into a pitching bind, say, in a blowout, that Daniel could fill in on the mound.

“He has got a really strong arm,” Patrick said. “It could happen. But he could never stand for just playing once every three or four games. He loves to play too much.”

This BYU baseball alum was impressive during MLB spring training

Last Sunday, Schneemann’s versatility was on full display in a 6-2 loss to the Royals. He started in center field, then was moved to shortstop for one inning. After another double switch, he was moved to third, and finished there.

“That is a gift of his,” Patrick said. “He can adjust positions so quickly, it is remarkable. To do it in the same game is pretty unique.”

Schneemann said the Guardians talked to him a few years ago about getting “comfortable” playing in the outfield, mostly as a way to get on the field more and get more at-bats. The organization has had a logjam of quality middle infielders for years.

“That is just kinda my role now. I have really embraced it. I enjoy moving around. I really don’t care where I am at. I just want to help the team, whatever position I am playing in. So that is going to require me to continue to work a lot in the outfield and get better out there, while also maintaining all the work I did in the infield as well,” he said.

Backup plan? Baseball is also the backup plan

Despite being the 2015 Mesa League Player of the Year and an All-CIF San Diego Section selection, Schneemann only had two scholarship offers out of high school — from BYU and Loyola Marymount. He picked BYU, partly because it was “far less expensive” than LMU, but also because he really enjoyed being around then-BYU head coach Mike Littlewood and his assistants, Trent Pratt (now BYU’s head coach) and Brent Haring (now head coach at Nicholls State).

“Obviously I am glad I made the decision I did,” Schneemann said. “I met my wife at BYU and I enjoyed every second of my time at BYU.”

In three seasons in Provo, Schneemann batted .288 (163 for 566) with five home runs and 76 RBIs. After his junior season, he was taken by Cleveland in the draft. Fewer than 1% of players drafted after the 30th round make it to the major leagues, but Schneemann has beat the astronomical odds.

“He is an awesome teammate. He makes guys around him better. He loves the game of baseball and comes to the ballpark every day excited to be there,” Pratt said. “He can play any position. As a freshman at BYU, he started for us at third base, then later moved to shortstop. … I believe Schneemann is one of the best defensive shortstops ever at BYU, and we’ve had some great ones.”

Speaking of that first year, 2016-17, Schneemann spent a lot of time studying in BYU’s Student Athlete Building, which is required of freshman student-athletes. It was there that he met a softball player named Allie Hancock. After getting some advice from Pratt on how to go about this off-the-field mission, he eventually asked the star freshman who played first base on a date.

BYU's Allie Hancock takes swing during game against Southern Utah. Hancock met her future husband, BYU baseball player Daniel Schneemann, during their college days in Provo. | Tabitha Sumsion, BYU Photo

Allie says when they were just friends she asked him what he was studying.

“Baseball,” Schneemann said.

“I was like, ‘OK, that’s awesome, but if that doesn’t work out, what’s your backup plan?’” Allie said. “He literally said, ‘I am just focusing on baseball. I don’t want to have a backup plan because I don’t want there to be a doubt in my mind that I can’t do it. I am going all-in on baseball.’ I said, ‘Well then, go for it.’”

From BYU to the bigs, after plenty of roadblocks

After he was the West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Schneemann could have returned to BYU for a final season of eligibility, but opted to join Cleveland’s organization after being picked in the 33rd round. He was not immediately impressive. He hit just .206 in the Arizona League in 2018.

He did better in 2019, but his career took a setback in 2020, due to the pandemic.

The 2020 season was lost to COVID-19 for minor leaguers, and in 2021 his season playing for High-A Lake County and Double-A Akron ended early due to a right-hand injury. His 2022 season was a bit better, splitting time between Akron and Columbus, but he did little to differentiate himself at either place.

Daniel Schneemann poses with family members and friends on the Guardians field in Cleveland earlier this summer.
Daniel Schneemann poses with family members and friends on the Guardians' field in Cleveland earlier this summer. | Schneemann family

He said that after the 2022 season, he rededicated himself to his craft, but also to his physical attributes. He finished the 2022 season weighing 176 pounds and started the 2023 season weighing 201 pounds, thanks to a rigorous offseason regimen of eating better and hitting the workout and weightlifting facilities at BYU on an almost daily basis.

“He added 25 pounds of muscle, and then had an incredible 2023,” Patrick said. “Good enough that the Guardians gave him an invite to spring training as a non-roster invitee, which was a really, really big deal.”

In 2023, Schneemann posted a .267 batting average with 13 homers and 60 RBIs, both career highs. He said he couldn’t have done it alone.

“I have had a lot of really good coaches in my life. First, my dad, obviously. Just growing up, he was taking me to the field every day, throwing me (batting practice), taking me to travel ball tournaments every single weekend, like taking me to Vegas, driving to San Clemente,” he said. “He was always getting me whatever bat I wanted, whatever glove I needed. So it definitely started with him.

“Then I had good coaches in high school (Vince Gervais) and college,” he continued. “Trent Pratt, Mike Littlewood and Brent Haring at BYU really helped me develop as a player, mentally and in every aspect of the game — offensively, defensively.

“Then in pro ball, I have had a lot of great coaches. I have been really blessed in that area. I don’t know if it is like that for everyone, but that’s what it has been for me.”

Grinding through the minors, but ‘never doubting’

At Columbus before he was called up, Schneemann hit .294 in 53 games and had 15 doubles and 10 home runs.

When Schneemann was called up, Guardians manager Stephen Vogt said the 27-year-old was “going to play a big role for us” and “he’s going to get a lot of playing time.”

For the Schneemans, it has been the culmination of what Allie called “definitely a grind for both of us. We spent a lot of time apart so he could live his dreams of playing baseball and so I could get to work and coach softball (at UVU and BYU).

“After having a kid, especially, it is super hard,” she continued. “It can be lonely at times. But I guess it makes it all worth it in the end. We knew it would be worth it.”

Allie, one of the best infielders in BYU history (2016-19) as well, has a goal of becoming a head collegiate softball coach. She said there were times after she had Kendall, who was born in July 2022, that she wondered if one of them should give up the dream. Summers are important recruiting months for college softball coaches.

Schneemann said they rarely saw each other between the months of February and July.

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“I never once brought it up to him that I would want him to quit, or anything like that,” Allie said. “But in my mind, low key, there were times when it was getting so hard, and I thought, I don’t know how much longer we can do it. But I never told him that, I never wanted to tell him that, because I just wanted him to keep going for it.”

Cleveland Guardians' Daniel Schneemann gestures from first base after his first Major League hit, a double, against the Washington Nationals Sunday, June 2, 2024, in Cleveland.
Cleveland Guardians' Daniel Schneemann gestures from base path after his first Major League hit, a double, against the Washington Nationals, Sunday, June 2, 2024, in Cleveland. | Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press

Schneemann says there were times when he doubted his ability to get to the majors, but the thought of giving up never entered his mind.

“I was never going to quit on my own,” he said. “I was always going to play until somebody wasn’t going to let me play. I have had some years when I didn’t play well. There were some times when I didn’t think I was going to make it, but I was still going to put in the work to try and do it, even if I didn’t believe it.

“But I have said this before — this Guardians organization has really given me a lot of opportunities,” he continued. “They have believed in me and so it has definitely helped me get here, for sure.”

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