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Jim King spent five years in the Cardinals organization, learning from the likes of George Kissell and Johnny Keane, but he twice departed the Redbirds and never got much of a chance to make an impact with them at the big-league level.

jim_kingKing, an outfielder who started in the first big-league game played in California and who spent 11 seasons in the majors, primarily with the Senators, died Feb. 23, 2015, in his native Arkansas. He was 82.

The Cardinals prepared King for the big leagues.

After making his professional debut at 17 in 1950 with the independent Vernon Dusters of the Class D Longhorn League, King was signed by the Cardinals. He played in the St. Louis minor-league system from 1951-54, including two stints with Omaha clubs managed by Kissell, the franchise’s iconic instructor.

In 1954, King had his best season in the Cardinals organization, hitting .314 with 31 doubles and 25 home runs for an Omaha team managed by former St. Louis catcher Ferrell Anderson. King, who had a strong arm, also contributed 19 outfield assists.

Courted by Cubs

King caught the attention of Wid Matthews, director of personnel for the Cubs. On Nov. 22, 1954, the Cubs claimed King from the Cardinals in the minor-league draft.

King made his major-league debut with the Cubs in 1955 and played for them for two seasons.

In 1957, Cubs general manager John Holland was seeking to overhaul the roster. Cardinals general manager Frank Lane was seeking a left-handed pull hitter who could benefit from the Busch Stadium I dimensions. The distance along the right field line from home plate to the outfield at the former Sportsman’s Park was an enticing 310 feet.

Holland made a special trip to Memphis to talk with Lane as the Cardinals headed north from spring training. Their talks continued in the Busch Stadium press box lounge when the Cubs and Cardinals played in St. Louis during the first week of the 1957 regular season, The Sporting News reported.

Second chance

On April 20, 1957, the Cardinals reacquired King from the Cubs for outfielder Bobby Del Greco and pitcher Ed Mayer.

“The deal for King was completed within 48 hours, culminating a lengthy series of conversations between Lane and Holland,” St. Louis writer Bob Broeg reported.

Broeg described King as “a pull hitter for whom the Busch Stadium dimensions are tailored” and declared that the Cardinals were “stronger and deeper” with King on the roster.

Said Lane: “He’s got the knack of pulling, an asset especially with our short right field, and he won’t be handicapped in St. Louis by the wind blowing in as it does so often off the lake in Chicago, making hitting tough for left-handers.”

The Cardinals issued uniform No. 9 to King. It was the number worn by Cardinals standout Enos Slaughter (and later by Roger Maris, Joe Torre and Terry Pendleton) before it was retired by the club.

King was used primarily as a pinch-hitter. On May 15, 1957, less than a month after he was acquired, the Cardinals sent King to Class AAA Omaha in order to get their roster to the mandated 25-player limit.

Wrote Broeg in The Sporting News: “Entirely unexpected was the decision to send down King rather than Tom Alston, the good-field, no-hit first baseman … Although mum was the word around the club, it was apparent that owner Gussie Busch … had requested that Alston be given another chance or, at least, a longer look.”

At Omaha, King played for manager Johnny Keane (who, seven years later, would lead the Cardinals to a World Series title) and hit 20 home runs in 116 games before being called back to the Cardinals in September.

In 22 games overall for the 1957 Cardinals, King hit .314 (11-for-35). All his hits were singles.

California connection

King appeared poised to earn a spot on the 1958 Cardinals. However, the Cardinals were seeking catching help. The Giants needed a lefthanded-hitting outfielder to replace Don Mueller. On April 2, 1958, the Cardinals traded King to the Giants for catcher Ray Katt.

When the Dodgers faced the Giants on April 15, 1958, at San Francisco’s Seals Stadium in the first regular-season major-league game played in California, King was in the starting lineup, playing left field and batting second, just ahead of Willie Mays. King was 2-for-3 with two walks, a run scored and a RBI-single off Don Drysdale. Boxscore

King had his best seasons with the 1963 Senators (24 home runs) and 1964 Senators (18 home runs). He broke Mickey Vernon’s Senators single-season record of 20 home runs by a left-handed batter. On June 8, 1964, King hit three solo home runs in a game at Washington against the Athletics. Boxscore

In a big-league career spanning 1955 to 1967 with the Cubs, Cardinals, Giants, Senators, White Sox and Indians, King hit .240 with 117 home runs. After his baseball career, he worked for 24 years for the White River Telephone and Alltel Telephone companies before retiring.

Previously: How Cardinals nearly traded Bob Gibson to Senators

As a rookie, Carlos Villanueva almost kept the 2006 Cardinals from qualifying for the postseason and winning their first World Series title in 24 years.

carlos_villanuevaNine years later, Villanueva is competing in spring training for a spot on the pitching staff of the 2015 Cardinals.

On Oct. 1, 2006, the Cardinals entered the final day of the regular season needing a win over the Brewers at St. Louis or an Astros loss to the Braves in Atlanta to clinch outright the National League Central Division title. If the Cardinals lost and the Astros won, the Cardinals would need to win a regular-season makeup game against the Giants to clinch the division title and avoid a one-game playoff with the Astros to advance to the National League Division Series against the Padres.

Rookie starters

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa gambled and started rookie Anthony Reyes against the Brewers on only three days of rest, choosing to hold back Chris Carpenter in the hope St. Louis would clinch the division crown versus Milwaukee and have their ace available for Game 1 of the NL Division Series.

Brewers manager Ned Yost chose Villanueva as his starter. In his fourth big-league start, Villanueva had faced the Cardinals for the first time on Sept. 20 at Milwaukee and pitched seven scoreless innings in a 1-0 Brewers victory. Boxscore

Reyes flopped. The Brewers scored four in the first on a two-run home run by Prince Fielder, a solo home run by Geoff Jenkins and a RBI-single by David Bell (who is the bench coach for the 2015 Cardinals). Reyes was lifted before he could complete the opening inning.

Keep me in, coach

Given a 4-0 lead, Villanueva first faced Cardinals leadoff batter Aaron Miles. who “smacked a sharp one-hopper off Villanueva’s pitching hand,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

“It felt bad,” Villanueva said.

Yost went to the mound and asked his right-hander, “How are you doing?”

“Of course, I said, ‘I’m doing great,’ ” Villanueva said.

In truth, the hand throbbed.

Said Yost: “I came close to taking him out. He couldn’t even swing a bat. I kept an eye on him and if I noticed a drop-off in effectiveness I would have taken him out. But I didn’t see it.”

Villanueva baffled the Cardinals. With each inning, their hopes of beating the Brewers dimmed.

Bailout by Braves

Then, in the fifth, Ronnie Belliard stepped to the plate for St. Louis and a roar erupted from the Busch Stadium crowd as the final from Atlanta was posted: Braves 3, Astros 1. The Braves had prevailed behind six shutout innings from starter John Smoltz and a home run by Jeff Francoeur. Boxscore

The loss by the Astros meant the Cardinals had clinched the division title, regardless of the outcome of their game with the Brewers.

As fans cheered in appreciation, Villanueva stepped off the mound and Belliard stepped away from the plate. Derryl Cousins, the home plate umpire, motioned for the game to resume, but Villanueva lingered, letting “the celebration last a few more seconds,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

“I wanted to give them their moment,” Villanueva said. “I knew what was going on.”

Drama in ninth

Villanueva shut out the Cardinals through eight innings, extending his scoreless streak against them to 15 innings over two starts.

In the bottom of the ninth, with the Brewers ahead, 5-0, Villanueva got Miles to fly out to right. Then, the Cardinals thundered to life. Chris Duncan launched a 414-foot home run. Albert Pujols followed with a 424-foot shot.

Francisco Cordero relieved and struck out Preston Wilson, but Scott Spiezio followed with a home run, cutting the deficit to two. Cordero then ended the drama _ and the regular season _ by striking out Juan Encarnacion, preserving a 5-3 victory for Villanueva and the Brewers. Boxscore

Unfazed, the Cardinals regrouped and beat the Padres in the NL Division Series, the Mets in the NL Championship Series and the Tigers in the World Series.

Villanueva went on to pitch for nine big-league seasons with the Brewers, Blue Jays and Cubs. He never pitched a complete game and only once matched the 8.1 innings he pitched against the Cardinals.

Previously: 2006 was critical to Tony La Russa earning Hall of Fame status

With the 2015 Cardinals, John Lackey is hoping to become the 16th big-leaguer to play for three different franchises in World Series championship seasons.

john_lackeyLackey pitched for the 2002 Angels and 2013 Red Sox clubs that won World Series titles.

Only three players _ pitchers Lew Burdette and Steve Carlton and outfielder Lonnie Smith _ can count the Cardinals as one of three franchises they played for in World Series championship years.

Lackey, entering his first full season with St. Louis after being acquired from the Red Sox on July 31, 2014, would join them if the Cardinals win the 2015 World Series title.

After posting a 3-3 record and 4.30 ERA in 10 starts for the 2014 Cardinals, Lackey, 36, is expected to be one of the five starters for the 2015 Cardinals.

As a rookie with the 2002 Angels, Lackey was 9-4 with a 3.66 ERA in 18 starts. He was the starting and winning pitcher in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series versus the Giants. Boxscore

Eleven years later, Lackey was 10-13 with a 3.52 ERA in 29 starts for the 2013 Red Sox. He was the starting and winning pitcher in the decisive Game 6 of the 2013 World Series versus the Cardinals. Boxscore (The Cardinals beat him in Game 2.)

A look at the trio that played for three different franchises, including the Cardinals, in World Series championship years:

Lew Burdette

_ 1950 Yankees: As a rookie, Burdette, 23, pitched in two games for the 1950 Yankees but didn’t play in the World Series. The Yankees swept the Phillies.

_ 1957 Braves: Burdette was 17-9 with a 3.72 ERA for the 1957 Braves. In the World Series against the Yankees, he was 3-0 with an 0.67 ERA, yielding two earned runs in 27 innings. Burdette pitched shutouts in Games 5 and 7.

_ 1964 Cardinals: Burdette, 37, made eight relief appearances for St. Louis, posting a 1-0 record and 1.80 ERA, before being dealt to the Cubs for pitcher Glen Hobbie on June 2, 1964. Burdette’s lone win was important to the Cardinals, who finished a game ahead of both the Phillies and Reds before winning the World Series championship in seven games against the Yankees.

Steve Carlton

_ 1967 Cardinals: In his first full Cardinals season, Carlton, 22, was 14-9 with a 2.98 ERA. In his only appearance in the 1967 World Series versus the Red Sox, he was the losing pitcher in Game 5, even though he yielded just three hits and an unearned run in six innings. The Cardinals won the championship in seven games.

_ 1980 Phillies: Carlton won the 1980 Cy Young Award, with a 24-9 record and 2.34 ERA. In the 1980 World Series versus the Royals, Carlton was 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA. He won Game 2 and the decisive Game 6.

_ 1987 Twins: On July 31, 1987, Carlton, 42, was traded by the Indians to the Twins for minor-league pitcher and former Cardinals prospect Jeff Perry. Carlton was 1-5 with a 6.70 ERA for the Twins and didn’t pitch in the postseason. Still, he earned a World Series ring when the Twins beat the Cardinals in seven games.

Lonnie Smith

_ 1980 Phillies: In his first full big-league season, Smith hit .339 and had 33 stolen bases in 100 games for the 1980 Phillies. He batted .263 in the World Series. The Phillies won in six games versus the Royals.

_ 1982 Cardinals: Traded by the Phillies to the Cardinals as part of a three-way deal with the Indians on Nov. 20, 1981 (St. Louis sent pitchers Lary Sorensen and Silvio Martinez to Cleveland), Smith ignited the Cardinals’ offense in 1982, batting .307 with 182 hits in 156 games, scoring 120 runs and stealing 68 bases.

In the 1982 World Series versus the Brewers, Smith hit .321 (9-for-28) with four doubles and six runs scored. The Cardinals won the title in seven games.

_ 1985 Royals: To make room for rookie Vince Coleman in left field, the Cardinals traded Smith to the Royals for outfielder John Morris on May 17, 1985. Smith hit .257 with 40 stolen bases for the Royals.

In the 1985 World Series against the Cardinals, Smith batted .333 (9-for-27) and had four RBI. The Royals beat the Cardinals in seven games.

Smith played for a fourth franchise, the Braves, in the 1991 and 1992 World Series, but the Twins and Blue Jays won the championships in those years.

3 rings, 3 franchises

Here, in alphabetical order, are the 12 others joining Burdette, Carlton and Smith in playing for three different franchises in World Series championship years:

_ Nick Altrock, pitcher: 1903 Red Sox, 1906 White Sox, 1924 Senators.

_ George Burns, first baseman: 1920 Indians, 1928 Yankees, 1929 Athletics.

_ Joe Bush, pitcher: 1913 Athletics, 1918 Red Sox, 1923 Yankees.

_ Jay Johnstone, outfielder: 1973 Athletics, 1978 Yankees, 1981 Dodgers.

_ Mike Lowell, third baseman: 1998 Yankees, 2003 Marlins, 2007 Red Sox.

_ Dolf Luque, pitcher: 1914 Braves, 1919 Reds, 1933 Giants.

_ Stuffy McInnis, first baseman: 1910-11-13 Athletics, 1918 Red Sox, 1925 Pirates.

_ Jack Morris, pitcher: 1984 Tigers, 1991 Twins, 1992-93 Blue Jays.

_ Herb Pennock, pitcher: 1913 Athletics, 1915-16 Red Sox, 1923-27-28-32 Yankees.

_ Luis Polonia, outfielder: 1989 Athletics, 1995 Braves, 2000 Yankees.

_ Wally Schang, catcher: 1913-30 Athletics, 1918 Red Sox, 1923 Yankees.

_ Dave Stewart, pitcher: 1981 Dodgers, 1989 Athletics, 1993 Blue Jays.

Previously: How Lonnie Smith came clean with the Cardinals

As an infielder who struggled to hit, Dal Maxvill overcame the odds and started in 21 World Series games for the Cardinals. As a coach with no experience as a baseball executive, Maxvill again overcame the odds and became general manager of the Cardinals.

dal_maxvill3Thirty years ago, on Feb. 25, 1985, Maxvill was the surprise choice of the Cardinals to replace Joe McDonald as general manager. Maxvill was a coach with the Atlanta Braves when the Cardinals approached him about becoming their top baseball executive.

“It seemed a rather sizeable leap to go from third-base coach to general manager,” Rick Hummel wrote in The Sporting News.

In his book “White Rat: A Life in Baseball,” Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog said, “I had my doubts about him when he was hired … He’d never made a trade, never negotiated a contract and I wondered what the hell was going through their minds when they hired him.”

Baseball and business

Maxvill, 46, said he hadn’t applied for the job and was approached by club officials. Team owner Gussie Busch said he was seeking a candidate who knew both baseball and the Cardinals organization and also had business experience.

Busch believed Maxvill met the criteria.

Maxvill had played for the Cardinals from 1962-72. Replacing the injured Julian Javier, he started seven games at second base in the 1964 World Series. He started seven games at shortstop in the 1967 World Series and again in the 1968 World Series. Maxvill won a Gold Glove Award in 1968. He hit .220 in his Cardinals career.

Maxvill was a Cardinals coach from 1979-80 and an instructor in 1981. He and former Cardinals reliever Joe Hoerner were co-owners of a St. Louis travel agency.

The Cardinals offered Maxvill a one-year contract.

“Of all the people we considered, myself and the other members of the executive committee unanimously agreed that Dal Maxvill has the qualifications we were looking for in a general manager,” Busch told the Associated Press.

Fred Kuhlmann, chief operating officer of the Cardinals, said Tal Smith, a consultant hired to lead the search for a general manager, gave Maxvill “as enthusiastic a recommendation as there could be.”

Cardinals connections

Two other former Cardinals players _ broadcasters Tim McCarver and Joe Torre _ were considered before Maxvill was offered the position, The Sporting News reported.

“I’ve been a Cardinals fan since I was 3,” said Maxvill, a native of Granite City, Ill. “My mother and father took me to see Enos Slaughter, Terry Moore and Red Schoendienst.”

Schoendienst, a Cardinals coach in 1985, was Maxvill’s manager from 1965-72.

“Once, I was his boss,” Schoendienst said. “Now, he’s mine.”

Good deal

On April 2, 1985, Maxvill made his first trade, acquiring infielder Jose Oquendo from the Mets for infielder Angel Salazar and minor-league pitcher John Young. Oquendo played for the Cardinals from 1986-95. In 2015, he entered his 17th season as a Cardinals coach.

The Cardinals won two pennants, 1985 and 1987, with Maxvill as general manager.

“He turned out to be a hell of a baseball executive,” Herzog said of Maxvill. “… Maxie is smart and he caught on fast.”

Maxvill was Cardinals general manager from 1985-94 until he was fired by team president Mark Lamping and replaced by Walt Jocketty.

Previously: How ouster of Joe McDonald put Whitey Herzog in peril

ray_hathawayAs a minor-league manager and pitching instructor for the Cardinals, Ray Hathaway worked closely with fellow teacher and Branch Rickey protégé George Kissell in helping prospects learn the fundamentals.

However, unlike Kissell, who devoted his career to the Cardinals, Hathaway left the organization amid a swirl of controversy.

This story is about the Cardinals career of Ray Hathaway, who died at 98 on Feb. 11, 2015, at Asheville, N.C.

Discovered by Dodgers

Hathaway, a right-handed pitcher, began his professional playing career in the Dodgers’ organization in 1939. His big-league career consisted of four appearances for the 1945 Dodgers. “My greatest thrill was walking into (Brooklyn’s) Ebbets Field for the first time,” Hathaway told the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Rickey, the Dodgers’ general manager, was impressed by Hathaway, a World War II veteran who served with the Navy in the Battle of Guadacanal, earning a Bronze Star.

As Cardinals general manager from 1925-42, Rickey built a minor-league system that emphasized instruction based on an organizational philosophy. Rickey brought the same approach to the Dodgers. He saw Hathaway as someone who understood the system and could teach it.

In 1947, Rickey named Hathaway manager of the Dodgers’ farm club in Santa Barbara, Calif. It was the first of Hathaway’s 25 seasons as a minor-league manager.

“If I were starting a major-league franchise, I would have Ray Hathaway as my manager,” Bob Terrell, longtime sports editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times, said, according to the Web site MiLB.com. “He had the unique ability to get the most out of his players and was a master of baseball strategy.”

Joining the Cardinals

Hathaway was managing in the Pirates’ system when the Cardinals made him an offer after the 1964 season. He accepted and was named manager of the Cardinals’ Class A affiliate at Raleigh, N.C., in 1965.

Among those Hathaway mentored at Raleigh were future Cardinals pitchers Mike Torrez, Wayne Granger and Sal Campisi. Hathaway, 48, also pitched in a game for Raleigh, giving him 20 seasons as a minor-league player.

In 1966, Hathaway was the Cardinals’ minor-league pitching instructor. Among those also teaching Cardinals prospects then were Kissell, Sparky Anderson, Charlie Metro, Vern Rapp and Ron Plaza. Anderson, Metro and Rapp would manage in the majors.

Kissell, like Hathaway, devoted his career to teaching. Kissell joined the Cardinals’ organization under Rickey as a minor-league prospect in 1940 and worked for the Cardinals until his death at 88 in 2008.

Rookie welcome

After managing the Cardinals’ Class A Lewiston (Idaho) club in 1967, Hathaway replaced Kissell as manager of the Gulf Coast Cardinals rookie league team in 1968, enabling Kissell to become a roving instructor in the minor-league system.

Among the players on the 1968 Gulf Coast Cardinals was Bob Forsch, then a third baseman. In his book, “Tales from the Cardinals Dugout,” Forsch, who would become a standout Cardinals pitcher, recalled his first encounter with Hathaway on the day he joined the team in Sarasota, Fla., after traveling from his home in Sacramento, Calif.

“I hadn’t slept in almost two days, coming in from Sacramento, so I went up to my room and I overslept,” said Forsch. “I woke up at a quarter to five and I just jumped in a cab. I got to the complex … and ran to the bus. It was leaving right at five for the ballpark where we played the big night games.

“And Ray Hathaway, the manager, came up to me when I was getting on the bus. And the only thing he said to me was, ‘Don’t ever be late.’ That was it.”

Thank you, teacher

In 1969, the Cardinals promoted Hathaway, naming him manager of the Class AA Arkansas Travelers. Among the prospects on that team were future Cardinals outfielders Jose Cruz and Luis Melendez and pitchers Al Hrabosky and Reggie Cleveland.

According to his biography at SABR.org, Cleveland credited Hathaway and Cardinals coach Billy Muffett with teaching him how to pitch at the professional level. Cleveland had pitched for Hathaway at Lewiston and posted a 2.90 ERA with 11 complete games in 19 starts. He was the ace of Hathaway’s Arkansas club, compiling a 15-6 record with 13 complete games and a 3.39 ERA in 23 starts.

Trouble at Arkansas

The 1969 Arkansas team was 66-69 under Hathaway, finishing second to Memphis in the Eastern Division of the Texas League. After the season, Hathaway resigned and stunned the Cardinals by publicly ripping the Arkansas front office headed by team president Max Moses and general manager Carl Sawatski.

“Ray Hathaway has tossed in the towel as manager of the Arkansas Travelers, firing an angry salvo at the front office as he departed,” The Sporting News reported. “It appears from a statement by Hathaway that in resigning he might have beaten management to the punch.”

Said Hathaway: “The Little Rock club has expressed its desire of not rehiring me as your manager for 1970. This request was made two days before I had planned on making the identical request to (Cardinals farm director) George Silvey. My decision is the result of a great number of problems our players have endured. They are too numerous and insulting to mention …

“Mr. Silvey and the entire (Cardinals) organization exerted themselves to help us succeed in producing a contending club, which we definitely were. This has been done without appreciation from anyone connected with the Little Rock club.”

Arkansas officials referred all comment to Silvey, who said: “It’s unfortunate Ray made a public statement of his grievances. We’re sorry this happened. He’s forthright and outspoken. That’s obvious. I had no idea he was planning anything like this.”

Ken Boyer replaced Hathaway as Arkansas manager. Hathaway spent the next three seasons managing teams in the Indians organization. His final season as a manager was 1973 with Wilson, N.C., an independent team in the Carolina League.

Previously: Ron Plaza was mentor to Steve Carlton, Jose Cruz

Previously: Cardinals boosted managing career of Sparky Anderson

Four months after reaching the pinnacle of his managerial career with the Cardinals, Billy Southworth was dealt a devastating setback by the tragic death of his son.

southworthSeventy years ago, on Feb. 15, 1945, Major Billy Southworth Jr., son of the Cardinals manager, was killed when the B-29 Superfortress plane he was piloting crashed into Flushing Bay in New York.

The death of Billy Jr., 27, occurred four months after his father had managed the Cardinals to their third consecutive National League pennant and second World Series championship in three years.

Baseball to bombers

Like his father, who was an outfielder for five big-league teams, including the Cardinals, Billy Jr. played professional baseball. He was a minor-league outfielder for five seasons, including three in the Cardinals’ system.

In September 1940, while with the Phillies’ Toronto affiliate, Billy Jr., 23, enlisted as a flying cadet in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He went overseas in October 1942. His first B-17 was nicknamed “Bad Check” because, he told the Sporting News, it always bounced back.

Billy Jr. piloted his B-17 on raids of U-boats and other enemy targets over occupied France and Germany. During his 25 combat missions, he wore a Cardinals cap given to him as a gift by his father.

Billy Sr. recalled his son completed those missions in Europe “without ever getting a scratch,” International News Service reported.

“I was just another Joe, occupying a lucky seat with a fine crew,” Billy Jr. said. “I tried to manage ‘em like Dad manages his Cardinals.”

Billy Sr. managed the Cardinals to 105 wins or more each season from 1942-44. The Cardinals won the 1942 World Series title versus the Yankees and the 1944 World Series title versus the Browns.

Home front

After serving his full quota of missions in Europe and earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal, Billy Jr. returned to the United States and was assigned to training. He met a Hollywood movie producer, Hunt Stromberg, who signed the major to a contract and urged him to pursue a film career after his military service was completed.

In November 1944, Billy Jr. visited his father and stepmother, Mabel, at their home in Sunbury, Ohio.

It would be the last time they’d see their son.

Final mission

Three months later, Billy Jr., with eight crew members and one civilian onboard, took off from Mitchel Field in Long Island on a routine training flight of a B-29 to Miami.

The warplane was near La Guardia Field in New York when Major W.L. Anken, an observer aboard the B-29, noticed heavy smoke from one of the engines. He informed Billy Jr. over the intercom. The pilot replied, “Keep an eye on it.”

Billy Jr. radioed to the La Guardia Field control tower that he would try an emergency landing.

“Witnesses said the bomber’s left outboard motor had stopped when the landing was attempted,” the Associated Press reported. “The pilot nosed the Superfortress up to circle the field.”

The runway was short for such a huge aircraft.

“He was unable to bank on one side because of the disabled engine and the location of the airport tower prevented him from turning the other way,” wrote The Sporting News.

The plane overshot the runway and headed straight toward the icy waters of Flushing Bay.

“The left wing clipped and struck the water,” wrote the Associated Press. “The plane somersaulted and crashed” into the bay, then exploded.

The front section of the plane broke off and sunk into 30 feet of water. Billy Jr. and four crew members were killed. Their bodies could not be found.

There were five survivors: four crew members (including Major Anken) and the civilian, a technical expert for the Bendix Corporation of South Bend, Ind. All were seated in the back of the plane and saved by rescuers who fought through fire to reach them.

On the scene

At his home, Billy Sr., 51, received news of the tragedy. He and Mabel immediately prepared to head to New York.

In the book “Billy Southworth: A Biography of the Hall of Fame Manager,” author John C. Skipper wrote, “When they arrived at Flushing Bay, Billy, speaking in a cracked voice, asked someone to point out where the plane had gone down. He gazed at the site, said nothing, and became overcome with emotion.”

Billy Sr. and his wife joined daily search parties on barges in Flushing Bay. Billy Sr. still was in New York when the Cardinals opened spring training. He eventually joined the defending champions in training camp and was managing the club when the 1945 season began.

Closure

On Aug. 4, 1945, after the Cardinals defeated the Pirates in Pittsburgh, Billy Sr. got a call to come to New York. The body of his son had been recovered off Silver Beach in the Bronx on Aug. 3 by a New York Police Department launch.

“As grim as the situation is, my days, weeks and months of waiting have not been in vain,” Billy Sr. told The Sporting News.

From New York, Billy Sr. accompanied his son’s body to Ohio. Billy Jr. was buried with military honors at Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus on Aug. 7, 1945. Among those attending the service was Casey Stengel, a friend and former teammate of Billy Sr., and then the manager of the minor-league Kansas City Blues.

Billy Sr. rejoined the Cardinals in New York on Aug. 9. He managed the Cardinals to 95 wins and a second-place finish. After the season, he accepted a more lucrative offer to manage the Braves.

Wrote Skipper: “For Billy Sr. there was a gaping wound to his soul that would never completely heal. He had lost his son, his pal, his best friend on earth. He would struggle with those thoughts for most of the rest of his life.”

Previously: Mike Matheny, Eddie Dyer share rare rookie achievement

Previously: How a B-17 nearly clipped Cardinals in World Series

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