(Updated Sept. 3, 2014)
Only four Cardinals pitchers have won a Gold Glove Award for fielding. Bobby Shantz, the first pitcher to earn a Gold Glove in each league, won two while with the Cardinals. Shantz was the first Cardinals pitcher to earn the award.
In 2012, Mark Buehrle of the Marlins became just the third pitcher to win a Gold Glove in each league. He joined fellow left-handers Shantz and Jim Kaat in achieving the feat, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Buehrle won a Gold Glove three times (2009-2011) with the American League White Sox before joining the National League Marlins in 2012.
Kaat won the award in 16 consecutive seasons (1962-77). His first 14 Gold Glove honors were achieved in the American League (with the Twins and White Sox) and his last two were won with the National League Phillies. Kaat pitched for the Cardinals from 1980-83 but didn’t receive a Gold Glove during that time.
Shantz, who stood 5-foot-6 and weighed less than 140 pounds, was the favorite player of Kaat and his father during the early 1950s. In his book “Still Pitching” (2003, Triumph), Kaat wrote that as a boy he imitated the pitching motion of Shantz. Wrote Kaat:
If there was a game on the radio and Shantz was pitching, I would listen intently as the announcers described his delivery _ finishing square to the plate on the balls of his feet and taking a small hop toward home after delivering so as to be in perfect position to field a ball hit back to the mound. The next day, I would be outside … trying to finish in the same position as Bobby Shantz. Shantz was probably the greatest fielding pitcher of all time, quick as a cat and always on balance when he finished his delivery.
The Gold Glove Award first was given in 1957. One Gold Glove was awarded at each of the nine positions in the major leagues that year. Shantz, then with the Yankees, won his first of eight in a row in 1957. The next year, a Gold Glove was given at each position in each league. Shantz earned four in the American League (with the Yankees) and one with the National League Pirates.
In 1962, Shantz, 36, began the season with the National League expansion Houston Colt .45s. On May 6, Houston traded him to the Cardinals for outfielder Carl Warwick and pitcher John Anderson. St. Louis general manager Bing Devine had been trying to acquire Shantz for more than two years, The Sporting News reported.
Shantz bolstered the Cardinals’ bullpen. He also lived up to his reputation as a fielder. Reporting on a May 21, 1962, game between the Phillies and Cardinals in which Shantz earned his first St. Louis save, The Sporting News wrote: After Bobby Shantz made a brilliant stab of a hot liner and flipped perfectly to third for a rally-stopping double play, manager Johnny Keane called the little guy the best-fielding pitcher in the league.
“With Bob Gibson, I feel we have the two best-fielding pitchers in the league,” Keane said.
Shantz and Cardinals first baseman Bill White each won a Gold Glove in 1962. In those years, big-league players voted for the Gold Glove winners. Players could vote for anyone in their league except teammates. Shantz received 89 votes. Pirates left-hander Harvey Haddix was second at 70 and Gibson was third with 23. Shantz made one error in 22 chances for St. Louis that year and, including his errorless stint with Houston, had an overall .972 fielding percentage in 1962. Shantz also had a 5-3 record, four saves and a 2.18 ERA in 28 games for St. Louis.
In 1963, Shantz was one of four Cardinals who earned Gold Glove honors. Joining White, third baseman Ken Boyer and outfielder Curt Flood, Shantz received votes from 113 players. Gibson placed second with 23 again. Shantz commited one error in 32 chances for the 1963 Cardinals. His record was 6-4 with 11 saves and a 2.61 ERA in 55 games.
Shantz became a largely forgotten part of one of the most famous trades in baseball history in 1964. Fielding flawlessly and sporting a 1-3 record with a 3.12 ERA in 16 games, Shantz was packaged with starter Ernie Broglio and outfielder Doug Clemens in the deal that brought outfielder Lou Brock (and pitchers Jack Spring and Paul Toth) to the Cardinals from the Cubs on June 15, 1964.
Two months later, the Cubs sent Shantz to the Phillies, who were in first place in the National League. With a significant boost from Brock, the Cardinals overtook the Phillies in late September, won the pennant and beat the Yankees in the World Series.
Shantz won the last of his Gold Glove awards in 1964. He got 111 votes from the players. Gibson again was second, with 30. Shantz had an overall fielding percentage with the Cardinals, Cubs and Phillies that year of .971 (one error in 35 chances).
The next year, Gibson won the first of his nine consecutive Gold Glove awards (1964-73) with the Cardinals. Since then, the only two Cardinals pitchers to earn a Gold Glove are Joaquin Andujar (1984) and Adam Wainwright (2009 and 2013).