Branch Rickey is well known for being the Dodgers general manager who broke baseball’s color barrier by bringing Jackie Robinson to the major leagues. What is less known is that Rickey was the Cardinals general manager who made Mike Gonzalez the first Cuban manager in the major leagues.

mike_gonzalezOn Dec. 17, 2014, President Obama announced that relations between the United States and Cuba would be reopened, ending more than 50 years of hostility between the two nations.

Long before that, Gonzalez, a Havana native, helped form a connection between the Cardinals and Cuba.

A catcher, Gonzalez had three stints with the Cardinals as a player: 1915-18, 1924-25 and 1931-32. He also played for the Braves, Reds, Giants and Cubs.

During his 17-year playing career in the majors, Gonzalez developed a reputation for his baseball savvy. It was while scouting for the Giants that Gonzalez wired a report to manager John McGraw about a prospect: “Good field, no hit.” The phrase became part of baseball’s lexicon.

Shrewd strategist

In 1934, Gonzalez became a coach on the staff of Cardinals manager Frankie Frisch. Four years later, when Frisch was fired on Sept. 11, 1938, Rickey named Gonzalez as manager of the Cardinals.

Though it was a stopgap measure _ most reports indicated Rickey would hire someone from within the minor-league system to manage the 1939 Cardinals _ the move was significant.

In reporting that Gonzalez, 47, was the first Cuban to manage in the big leagues, The Sporting News described him as “a shrewd diamond strategist, a keen judge of talent and a capable instructor.”

Frisch called Gonzalez “a great guy, loyal and true and one of the smartest birds I ever knew.”

Citing his stellar reputation as a coach for the Cardinals, The Sporting News wrote of Gonzalez, “The athletes who have played under his coaching direction have learned to respect his judgment and to take his orders implicitly.”

Gonzalez also had the ability to decode the signs flashed by opponents. “One year, the Cardinals won almost all their games with one of the second-division clubs, largely because Gonzalez was able to call virtually every pitch and tell exactly when the enemy was going to hit-and-run or try to steal,” The Sporting News reported.

Successful start

Gonzalez made his debut as Cardinals manager on Sept. 14, 1938, in the first game of a doubleheader at Philadelphia. Despite yielding nine runs and 13 hits, starter Max Macon pitched a complete game and got the win in a 12-9 Cardinals victory. Boxscore

The Cardinals swept the doubleheader, winning the second game, 3-2, behind starter Mort Cooper, who pitched a complete game three-hitter while walking eight in his big-league debut. Boxscore

Gonzalez led the Cardinals to wins in his first five games as manager, then lost six in a row. He finished with an 8-8 record.

Ray Blades became manager of the 1939 Cardinals and Gonzalez remained as a coach.

Second stint

In June 1940, Blades was fired and Gonzalez was named to his second stint as Cardinals manager. Again, it was an interim role. The Cardinals were 1-5 under Gonzalez. Billy Southworth took over as Cardinals manager and he kept Gonzalez as a coach.

The Cardinals would win two World Series titles and three pennants under Southworth, who would earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 1946, Southworth left the Cardinals to become manager of the Braves. He was replaced by Eddie Dyer, who maintained Gonzalez as a coach.

The 1946 season would be the 13th and final season for Gonzalez as a Cardinals coach. It ended memorably. In Game 7 of the 1946 World Series, Enos Slaughter scored the winning run on a mad dash from first base on a hit by Harry Walker. Slaughter ran through a stop sign from Gonzalez, who was coaching third, and later claimed he thought the Cuban had yelled “Go, go, go” instead of “No, no, no.”

Cuban managers

Gonzalez was the first of seven Cubans who managed in the majors, according to baseball-reference.com. The others:

_ Preston Gomez: 1969-72 Padres, 1974-75 Astros and 1980 Cubs.

_ Marty Martinez: 1986 Mariners (one game).

_ Cookie Rojas: 1988 Angels and 2001 Marlins (one game).

_ Tony Perez: 1993 Reds and 2001 Marlins.

_ Carlos Tosca: 2002-04 Blue Jays.

_ Fredi Gonzalez: 2007-10 Marlins and 2011-14 Braves.

Previously: Rift with Branch Rickey led Cardinals to oust Frankie Frisch

Previously: Baseball and romance: Cardinals’ Cuban adventures

Previously: The top 5 Cubans to play for the Cardinals

Seeking a starter to replace Woody Williams in the rotation, the Cardinals used a prospect, Dan Haren, to help land an ace, Mark Mulder. In retrospect, they would have done better to keep Haren.

mark_mulderTen years ago, on Dec. 18, 2004, the Cardinals acquired Mulder from the Athletics for Haren, reliever Kiko Calero and first baseman Daric Barton.

The Cardinals were praised for adding Mulder to a rotation of Chris Carpenter, Jason Marquis, Jeff Suppan and Matt Morris.

Haren, though, turned out to be more durable than Mulder.

Mulder had one strong season for the Cardinals, suffered shoulder ailments and pitched his final game for them in 2008 at age 31.

Haren, who was 6-10 over two seasons (2003-2004) for St. Louis, developed into one of the most consistent pitchers in the majors. Since leaving the Cardinals, Haren has had 10 seasons in a row of double-digit wins and has made 30 starts or more in each of those years. At 34, Haren has a career record of 142-122 in 12 big-league seasons. He is 136-112 since leaving St. Louis. The right-hander was traded by the Dodgers to the Marlins for the 2015 season.

After compiling an 81-42 record in five years with the Athletics, Mulder was 16-8 in 32 starts for the 2005 Cardinals. The left-hander then went a combined 6-10 for the Cardinals from 2006 to 2008.

Making a splash

By December 2004, four prominent free agents _ Woody Williams (11-8 in 2004), shortstop Edgar Renteria, catcher Mike Matheny and second baseman Tony Womack _ had departed the Cardinals since they faced the Red Sox in the World Series two months earlier.

Eager to make a splashy move to show that the Cardinals would fight to repeat as National League champions, general manager Walt Jocketty spoke with his Athletics counterpart, Billy Beane, about Mulder and fellow starting pitcher Tim Hudson.

On Dec. 16, 2004, the Athletics dealt Hudson to the Braves for pitchers Juan Cruz and Dan Meyer and outfielder Charles Thomas. Two days later, the Cardinals got Mulder.

Elite starter

“This is something we’ve been working on for two or three weeks,” Jocketty said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’ve been going back and forth between Hudson and Mulder and we felt like, in our case, we had control of Mulder for an extra year (on his contract) … Both are quality, top of the rotation starters.”

Bernie Miklasz, columnist for the Post-Dispatch, described Mulder as “an elite starting pitcher” and “a legitimate front-of-rotation starter.”

From 2001-2004, only Curt Schilling had more wins (74) than Mulder (72).

“He’s an intelligent guy, a great athlete, a great fit,” Jocketty said of Mulder.

Red flag

Miklasz and his colleague, reporter Derrick Goold, did note, however, that Mulder had faltered in the second half of the 2004 season after starting the All-Star Game for the American League. Mulder was winless in his last seven 2004 starts, posting an 0-4 record and 7.27 ERA. Overall, Mulder was 17-8 in 2004 but with a 4.43 ERA.

Wrote Miklasz: “Is he wearing down after averaging 212 innings over the past four seasons?”

Jocketty and Mulder denied that the pitcher was weakened or injured.

“We took our time and thoroughly researched this … As far as we’re concerned, he’s fine,” Jocketty said of Mulder. “There are no physical problems at all. We made sure.”

Said Mulder: “I wasn’t hurt at all … There was nothing wrong with me.”

Asked to explain why Mulder was ineffective in the second half of 2004, Jocketty replied, “He put a lot of pressure on himself … He tried to do too much.”

Swift start

Any concerns about Mulder were erased early in the 2005 season. He won seven of his first nine decisions for the Cardinals. After stumbling in June (2-3, 7.18 ERA), Mulder recovered and was a combined 7-3 over the last three months of the season. He was especially effective against left-handed batters, limiting them to a .191 average in 2005.

Haren, meanwhile, had 14 wins for the 2005 Athletics, posting a 3.73 ERA in 34 starts. Calero contributed four wins and a save in 58 relief appearances.

In 2006, Mulder won five of his first six decisions for St. Louis. Then the shoulder woes began. Mulder made just two starts after June 20 and finished the 2006 season at 6-7 with a 7.14 ERA. He was 0-3 with a 12.27 ERA for the 2007 Cardinals; 0-0 with a 10.80 for the 2008 Cardinals.

Previously: Why Mike Matheny ended his playing career as a Giant

Before Johnny Mize played a game for the Cardinals, they gave up on him and gave him away to the Reds.

Fortunately for the Cardinals, the Reds gave him back.

johnny_mize5During six seasons as the Cardinals’ first baseman, Mize would win a National League batting title (.349 in 1939), a RBI crown (137 in 1940) and twice would lead the league in home runs (28 in 1939 and 43 in 1940).

In three consecutive years (1938-40) with the Cardinals, Mize led the NL in slugging percentage and total bases. Nicknamed “The Big Cat,” Mize was a four-time all-star with St. Louis. He would be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The story of how Mize transformed into one of the Cardinals’ all-time sluggers is filled with a dizzying array of twists and turns.

Rich Reds

In 1934, Mize, 21, was with the Cardinals’ minor-league Rochester (N.Y.) affiliate. His season was cut short because of a groin injury. In 90 games, Mize hit .339 with 17 home runs.

Larry MacPhail, the Reds’ brash general manager, needed sluggers for a team that ranked last in the major leagues in runs scored (590) in 1934. MacPhail saw Mize as a cornerstone for that rebuilding project.

Jim Bottomley was the Reds’ first baseman. Bottomley, who would be elected to the Hall of Fame, had been a standout for the Cardinals, helping them win two World Series titles (1926 and 1931) and four pennants. He won the NL Most Valuable Player Award in 1928 when he produced 42 doubles, 20 triples, 31 home runs and 136 RBI. The Cardinals traded him to the Reds in December 1932.

Though he hit .284 with 31 doubles for the 1934 Reds, Bottomley, 34, had peaked as a run producer.

Powel Crosley, the Cincinnati radio manufacturer and broadcasting titan, had purchased the Reds in 1934 and was willing to spend money to revive a franchise that had finished in last place in the NL that year. In December 1934, MacPhail approached the Cardinals and offered $55,000 for Mize.

It was an astonishing sum at a time when the nation still was staggered by the economic hardships of the Great Depression. MacPhail’s offer topped the $50,000 the Yankees had paid the San Francisco Seals a month earlier for their highly touted prospect, outfielder Joe DiMaggio.

The Cardinals, who had won the 1934 World Series championship, were quite willing to accept such a large sum for a hobbled player who never had appeared in the big leagues.

Eighty years ago, on Dec. 13, 1934, the Cardinals sent Mize to the Reds.

String attached

“Whatever happens to the Reds (in 1935), it cannot be said (they) have not put plenty of cash and industry into their efforts,” The Sporting News reported. “The substantial sum of $55,000 was turned over to the Cards for (Mize) … There is ample reason for believing that Mize will prove well worth the expenditure. He is a strapping youngster … who puts a great deal of power into his swing.”

The deal came with one important condition. Wrote The Sporting News: “As for the injury, so confident are the Cardinals that it will not prove a hardship that they have guaranteed the first sacker will be sound for 1935, which means that if the injury still handicaps the player, the Reds need not keep him but instead may return him and get back the money paid for his services.”

As spring training started in February 1935, Mize told reporters he was “entirely recovered” from the groin injury. The Sporting News speculated Bottomley would be traded to the Cubs or Giants.

After watching Mize perform, though, it became evident something was wrong with him. It later was determined spurs had developed on his pelvic bone, restricting his movement and causing pain.

Return to sender

On April 15, 1935, the Reds voided the deal, returning Mize to the Cardinals the day before the start of the season.

Assigned to Rochester, Mize played in 65 games and hit .317 with 12 home runs until the pain became too intense to continue. With his career in jeopardy, Mize agreed to surgery after the season.

In December 1935, The Sporting News reported, “Mize recently underwent an operation to correct a condition that interfered with the free action of his legs … The surgery (Mize) submitted to was for the removal of a growth on the pelvic arch and it has been pronounced a success.”

The report was accurate. Mize opened the 1936 season with the Cardinals and soon after took over from Rip Collins as the everyday first baseman. The rookie hit .329 with a team-leading 19 home runs and 93 RBI for the 1936 Cardinals.

In six seasons with St. Louis (1936-41), Mize batted .336 with 1,048 hits in 854 games. His .600 slugging percentage with the Cardinals ranks third all-time in franchise history and first among left-handed batters. The only players with higher career slugging percentages as Cardinals are Mark McGwire (.683) and Albert Pujols (.617).

Mize also ranks fifth all-time among Cardinals in career on-base percentage. At .419, Mize is just below Pujols (.420) and just ahead of Stan Musial (.417).

On Dec. 11, 1941, seven years after they sent him to the Reds, the Cardinals traded Mize to the Giants for catcher Ken O’Dea, first baseman Johnny McCarthy, pitcher Bill Lohrman and $50,000.

Previously: How Mark McGwire learned about Johnny Mize

Previously: Johnny Mize and his 4 three-homer games for Cardinals

In losing their closer and top run producer within a six-day stretch in December 1984, the Cardinals appeared to be a franchise in danger of decline.

george_hendrick2Instead, they became champions.

With Bruce Sutter (45 saves, 1.54 ERA) and George Hendrick (28 doubles and 69 RBI), the 1984 Cardinals achieved 84 wins and finished 12.5 games behind the champion Cubs in the National League East.

Without Sutter and Hendrick, the 1985 Cardinals achieved 101 wins and clinched the National League pennant.

On Dec. 7, 1984, Sutter, a free agent, signed with the Braves. Five days later, on Dec. 12, the Cardinals dealt Hendrick and minor-league third baseman Steve Barnard to the Pirates for Tudor and utility player Brian Harper.

Distraught by the trade of a player who had led the Cardinals in RBI for five consecutive years (1980-84) and in home runs for four seasons in a row (1980-83), second baseman Tommy Herr told the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, “It’s hard to understand. I think we’ve taken some serious steps backward. … I don’t know why they would trade George, especially to a team in our division. I don’t see how our lineup can withstand the loss of a guy like George.”

Strengthen rotation

Sutter’s departure had created an urgency for the Cardinals to find a No. 2 starter to join ace Joaquin Andujar as starters who could pitch deep into games. Without Sutter, the Cardinals are “going to have to have our starters go like hell and get us to the eighth inning,” manager Whitey Herzog told The Sporting News.

Hendrick, 35, was deemed expendable because the Cardinals believed they had candidates to replace him.

Cardinals general manager Joe McDonald told United Press International, “We are sorry to give up George Hendrick and wish him well, but young outfielders like Andy Van Slyke and, a little further into the future, Vince Coleman are deserving of their chances and I’m sure they’ll respond in a way St. Louis fans like.”

In his book “You’re Missin’ a Great Game,” Herzog said Hendrick “became one of the most respected players on my team. When I traded him to the Pirates, it was only out of baseball necessity.”

Tudor, 30, had a 12-11 record for the 1984 Pirates. McDonald noted, though, that the left-hander had yielded fewer hits (200) than innings pitched (217) and had 117 strikeouts compared with 56 walks. “What I like about him is his ratio of bases on balls to strikeouts,” said McDonald.

Positive Pirates

The Pirates, who had finished in last place in the six-team NL East in 1984, were confident Hendrick would produce runs and excite the fan base. “It was a deal that general manager Pete Peterson needed to convince Pittsburgh fans that there is a desire to improve the club,” wrote The Sporting News.

Said Peterson: “I think Hendrick can hit 20 home runs and drive in 80 runs … I rate him as one of the best clutch hitters in the game.”

Pirates third baseman Bill Madlock said Hendrick “will take pressure off our hitters.”

Eight days later, on Dec. 20, the Pirates acquired another run-producing outfielder, Steve Kemp, from the Yankees.

The deals, however, were busts for the Pirates and a boon for the Cardinals.

Terrific Tudor

Tudor was both the winner and the workhorse McDonald and Herzog had hoped he would be for the 1985 Cardinals. After losing seven of his first eight decisions, Tudor won 20 of his last 21. He and Andujar each had 21 wins for the 1985 Cardinals. In 36 starts, Tudor pitched 275 innings and recorded 10 shutouts. His ERA was 1.93.

In his book, Herzog said Tudor “never threw a ball over 85 mph in his life.” Herzog credited a “now-you-see-it changeup” for Tudor’s turnaround.

“John Tudor was the most amazing pitcher I ever saw,” Herzog wrote.

Van Slyke, 24, adequately replaced Hendrick in right field. Van Slyke had 25 doubles and his 13 home runs ranked second on the club.

Coleman, 23, was promoted from the minors in mid-April and became the everyday left fielder, igniting the offense with 170 hits and 110 steals.

First baseman Jack Clark, acquired from the Giants two months after Hendrick was traded, delivered 22 home runs and 87 RBI.

Herzog deftly handled a closer committee of Jeff Lahti, Ken Dayley, Bill Campbell and Neil Allen until rookie Todd Worrell became the stopper in September.

Danny Cox (18 wins) joined Andujar and Tudor in creating a formidable rotation that also included Kurt Kepshire (10 wins) and Bob Forsch (nine wins).

Meanwhile, the Pirates regressed. They were 57-104, finishing 43.5 games behind the 1985 Cardinals. Hendrick hit .230 with two home runs and 25 RBI in 69 games. Kemp hit .250 with two home runs and 21 RBI in 92 games.

Previously: Down to last strike, George Hendrick spoiled Reds no-hit bid

Previously: George Hendrick influenced hitting style of John Mabry

Tracy Stallard had a reputation for being a victim. The Cardinals gave him a chance to be a victor. The right-handed pitcher took advantage of the opportunity.

tracy_stallardFifty years ago, on Dec. 7, 1964, in one of Bob Howsam’s first deals as Cardinals general manager, St. Louis traded outfielder Johnny Lewis and pitcher Gordon Richardson to the Mets for Stallard and shortstop Elio Chacon.

The trade energized Stallard, who went from the last-place club in the National League to the newly crowned World Series champions. Stallard rewarded the Cardinals by producing the best season of his big-league career in 1965.

Until then, Stallard largely had been associated with setbacks. Most notable:

_ Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single-season record when he hit his 61st home run in the 1961 season finale against Stallard at Yankee Stadium. It accounted for the lone run in a 1-0 Yankees triumph over the Red Sox. Maris accomplished one of the most memorable and controversial baseball feats. Stallard became the answer to a trivia question. Boxscore

_ Stallard posted a 6-17 record for the 1963 Mets. He followed that with a 10-20 mark for the 1964 Mets and led the major leagues in losses that season.

Seeking a starter

Though Stallard was 1-3 against the 1964 Cardinals, he yielded just 20 hits (and no home runs) to them in 22 innings and had a 3.27 ERA.

Uncertain whether Ray Washburn would recover from a shoulder injury, Howsam sought a starter to join a rotation of Bob Gibson, Ray Sadecki and Curt Simmons.

The Mets were seeking an outfielder. Lewis, a rookie, began the 1964 season as one of the Cardinals’ regulars. He started 28 games in right field, but batted .234 with two home runs and seven RBI. In June, slowed by an ankle injury, the Cardinals sent Lewis to Class AAA Jacksonville.

Mike Shannon became the Cardinals’ right fielder and Lou Brock, acquired by the Cardinals in June 1964 from the Cubs, became the left fielder.

Bing Devine, the Cardinals general manager who engineered the deal for Brock before being fired in August 1964, had joined the Mets as an assistant to team president George Weiss. Devine recommended Lewis, 25, to the Mets. Weiss and his vice president, Johnny Murphy, negotiated with Howsam on the trade. “Devine stayed out of the picture,” The Sporting News reported.

Asked his opinion of the swap, Devine replied, “With Brock and Shannon having come along and with Washburn still a big question mark, I can see why the Cardinals went for pitching and were willing to give up a promising young outfielder like Lewis. You can never have too much pitching.”

Said Howsam: “We can’t tear our club apart _ we don’t dare. It’s tough when you can offer only young players. You have to deal mostly with clubs like the Mets that are building and can use the young players every day.”

Stallard’s reaction to joining the Cardinals: “It’s wonderful.”

Cardinals contributor

In a story headlined “Tracy Ticketed For Starter Job On Cards Staff,” St. Louis manager Red Schoendienst told The Sporting News, “Stallard is a tough competitor and he ought to do a lot better for us because our club can score some runs for him. His best pitches are a slider and a fastball.”

Said Howsam: “We wanted a fourth starter and we think we’ve got him.”

A week later, though, Howsam acquired another starting pitcher, Bob Purkey, from the Reds for outfielder Charlie James and pitcher Roger Craig.

Stallard, 27, began the 1965 season in the Cardinals’ bullpen. He lost his first start April 24 to the Reds, then won his next three decisions as a starter, beating the Pirates twice and the Dodgers. After a win over the Phillies July 18, Stallard was 7-3 with a 2.80 ERA.

His best game for the 1965 Cardinals came on Sept. 1, a day after his 28th birthday, when Stallard pitched a three-hit shutout in a 9-0 victory over the Cubs at Chicago. Stallard struck out eight and yielded only a double by Don Kessinger and singles by Joe Amalfitano and Ernie Banks. Boxscore

Stallard finished second on the 1965 Cardinals in wins (11) and third in innings pitched (194.1). His 3.38 ERA was better than the team average of 3.77. His 11-8 record was the only time in seven big-league seasons that he posted a winning mark.

In 1966, Stallard was 1-5 for the Cardinals, who demoted him to the minor leagues. He never returned to the majors. His big-league career totals: 30-57 record, 3.91 ERA.

Previously: Why 22-game loser Roger Craig appealed to Cardinals

Previously: Cubs knew Lou Brock was on verge of stardom in 1964

(Updated Dec. 8, 2014)

Jim Kaat is a candidate for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame because of his pitching and fielding achievements. He also accomplished base running and hitting feats for the Cardinals that enhance his status as a special baseball player.

jim_kaat4Kaat, one of 10 finalists on the Golden Era ballot for election to the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., was 41 when he stole a base and hit a home run in separate games for the 1980 Cardinals.

At an age when most players are retired, Kaat still pitched effectively and remained a complete ballplayer.

Speed demon

On June 23, 1980, two months after he had been acquired from the Yankees, Kaat earned the win and pitched a complete game for the Cardinals in their 6-1 victory over the Pirates at St. Louis. Kaat didn’t allow a walk or an extra-base hit. He held the Pirates scoreless over the last seven innings and earned his 266th career win, tying Hall of Famer Bob Feller.

In the seventh, he stole a base.

Bobby Bonds was at the plate when Kaat dashed for second. Bonds took a pitch from Enrique Romo. Catcher Steve Nicosia gunned a throw to Phil Garner, covering second. Kaat beat the peg.

The fans at Busch Stadium rewarded him with a standing ovation.

In its account of the game, the Associated Press wrote, “It was the aging hurler’s speed that brought the customers to their feet … The accomplishment nearly overshadowed his hurling.”

Said Kaat: “It was the element of surprise. I had a good lead. It was worth it.” Boxscore

The steal was Kaat’s first in nine years. He was 32 when he swiped a base for the Twins against Yankees pitcher Stan Bahnsen and catcher Thurman Munson on July 30, 1971.

His stolen base for the Cardinals was Kaat’s fifth and last in a 25-year career (1959-83) in the majors.

Sultan of swat

Two months after his steal for the Cardinals, Kaat hit a home run for them.

On Aug. 26, 1980, Kaat homered off the Astros’ Joe Niekro at St. Louis.

“He hit a knuckleball up,” Niekro said to the Associated Press. “He’s a pretty good hitter. I’ve got a brother (Phil) who is 41 and he hits home runs. It’s not the first time I gave up one to a pitcher and it probably won’t be the last.” Boxscore

The home run was the last of 16 hit by Kaat. He slugged his first 18 years earlier on June 19, 1962, off Dom Zanni of the White Sox.

(The oldest player to hit a big-league home run was Mets first baseman Julio Franco, 48, against Randy Johnson of the Diamondbacks on May 4, 2007. Franco was three months shy of his 49th birthday.)

Going strong

Exactly one year after his home run, Kaat, 42, got his last big-league hit, a single for the Cardinals against 25-year-old Giants rookie Bob Tufts on Aug. 26, 1981. Boxscore

The next year, Kaat, 43, appeared in 62 regular-season games for the Cardinals (earning five wins and two saves) and pitched in four games of the 1982 World Series against the Brewers.

He pitched his last game at 44, tossing 1.1 scoreless innings in relief of Joaquin Andujar for the Cardinals against the Pirates on July 1, 1983, at Pittsburgh. Boxscore

Kaat was 19-16 with 10 saves in four seasons (1980-83) with the Cardinals.

He’s a Hall of Fame candidate primarily because his 283 career wins rank eighth all-time among left-handers and because he won 16 Gold Glove awards for fielding. He has more career wins than several Hall of Famers, including Jim Palmer (268), Carl Hubbell (253), Bob Gibson (251) and Juan Marichal (243).

Kaat and three other former Cardinals players _ Dick Allen, Ken Boyer and Minnie Minoso _ and former Cardinals general manager Bob Howsam are being reviewed by a 16-person Golden Era committee for Hall of Fame consideration. The other five on the ballot are former players Gil Hodges, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant and Maury Wills.

The Golden Era covers the period of 1947 to 1972. A Golden Era candidate must receive 75 percent of the votes (12 of 16) to earn election. Kaat received 10 votes when Golden Era candidates were considered in 2011.

Results will be announced Dec. 8, 2014. (Update: None of the 10 finalists was elected. Allen and Oliva each received 11 votes. Kaat got 10. Wills got nine. Minoso got eight. Receiving three or fewer votes were Boyer, Hodges, Howsam, Pierce and Tiant.)

Committee members are Hall of Famers Jim Bunning, Rod Carew, Pat Gillick, Ferguson Jenkins, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, Ozzie Smith and Don Sutton; baseball executives Jim Frey, David Glass, Roland Hemond and Bob Watson; and media members Steve Hirdt, Dick Kaegel, Phil Pepe and Tracy Ringolsby.

Kaat was a teammate of Carew (Twins), Smith (Cardinals) and Watson (Yankees). Pepe co-wrote a book with Kaat.

Previously: Jim Kaat revived both his career and the Cardinals

Previously: Jim Kaat interview: 1982 Cardinals were most close-knit club


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45 other followers