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Archive for the ‘Executives’ Category

Blinded by his impatience, insecurity and inability to quell internal politics, Cardinals owner August “Gussie” Busch ousted the general manager who built the team that two months later would win the franchise’s first World Series championship in 18 years.

bing_devineFifty years ago, Aug. 17, 1964, Busch fired general manager Bing Devine.

“It was a travesty,” longtime St. Louis journalist Bob Broeg wrote in recalling the firing 40 years later. “And a lot of the players on the team felt the same way.”

Trades engineered by Devine had brought to the Cardinals core players on the championship club. They included outfielders Lou Brock and Curt Flood, infielders Bill White, Julian Javier and Dick Groat and pitchers Curt Simmons, Roger Craig, Ron Taylor and Barney Schultz.

Under Devine’s leadership, the minor-league system also had developed essential Cardinals such as pitchers Bob Gibson, Ray Sadecki and Ray Washburn as well as outfielder Mike Shannon and catcher Tim McCarver. In the pipeline were prospects such as pitchers Steve Carlton and Nelson Briles.

Still, Busch became convinced in August 1964 that the Cardinals needed to dump Devine (and replace manager Johnny Keane with Leo Durocher after the regular season) in order to produce a champion.

The Cardinals were 62-55 and in fifth place, nine behind the first-place Phillies, in the National League when Busch fired Devine. From there, the Cardinals went 31-14, finishing in first place at 93-69, one game ahead of both the Reds and Phillies.

In his book “October 1964″ (1994, Villard), author David Halberstam wrote, “Devine went quietly. It was something he had always expected. He had been dealing for the last seven years from a position of limited strength and the pressure to produce a winner had grown every year. Life under as volatile a man as Gussie Busch was like living on a precipice, he thought.”

(Departing along with Devine were business manager Art Routzong and player personnel director Eddie Stanky.)

The three key reasons why Busch fired Devine:

Impatience

The Cardinals hadn’t won a pennant since Busch took control of the club in February 1953. Devine had been general manager for much of that time, replacing Frank Lane in November 1957.

After the Cardinals placed second in 1963, Busch had high expectations for the following year. His frustration reached a boiling point in August 1964.

“I have been worried about the Cardinals for a long time,” Busch said to The Sporting News after firing Devine. “The club has not been making any progress.”

In his book “The Memoirs of Bing Devine” (2004, Sports Publishing), Devine wrote, “There’s no question in my mind that I got fired because Mr. Busch was frustrated. He’d always had success with Anheuser-Busch. He’d owned the Cardinals for 10 years and he was tired of not succeeding in this other business.”

Insecurity

A mid-season incident involving Groat hurt Devine’s relationship with Busch.

Keane had given Groat approval to call for the hit-and-run play when he saw an opportunity to execute it. Groat handled the bat well. But, in Keane’s view, Groat abused the privilege.

When Keane banned Groat from calling the hit-and-run, Groat groused openly and often. Devine learned of Groat’s unhappiness. The general manager informed Keane to address the issue by conducting a team meeting and confronting Groat. Keane did and the matter was resolved when Groat apologized to Keane and the team and stopped his complaining.

Devine didn’t inform Busch of the incident because he viewed such squabbles as commonplace in clubhouses. Besides, the problem wasn’t lingering.

Braves third baseman Eddie Mathews, though, was friendly with Groat and heard of Groat’s initial unhappiness. Mathews was dating Busch’s daughter, Elizabeth. Mathews told her of the conflict and she, in turn, told her father.

Busch was angry that Devine hadn’t informed him. He became suspicious, wondering what else Devine wasn’t telling him.

“Busch was upset,” Devine wrote. “And that may have affected his thinking about me.”

Halberstam wrote of Busch, “He was more than a little paranoid anyway; it seemed to go with the territory with a man who had so much power in, but knew so little about, the high-profile business of baseball.”

Internal politics

Busch had hired Branch Rickey, the former longtime Cardinals general manager, as a special consultant. Rickey, 82, and Devine clashed. Rickey meddled. He criticized Devine in talks with Busch.

Rickey had built the Cardinals minor-league system in the 1920s. His influence was evident in remarks Busch made after Devine was fired.

“I am concerned that we cannot trade our way to a pennant,” Busch said to The Sporting News in August 1964. “We must depend on production out of our own system and I have been disappointed with the operation of our farm department. There just seems to be a gap someplace between the signing of players, their development and their progress to the Cardinals as men ready to do a major-league job.”

Busch insisted Rickey didn’t trigger his decision to fire Devine. “Rickey had nothing to do with it,” he said. “I did not consult him until I’d made up my mind.”

Few bought that explanation. “He (Rickey) was undercutting Bing,” wrote Broeg. “We all knew that.”

Wrote Halberstam, “Rickey gradually increased the tempo of his drive against Devine … The veteran players, who liked Devine, and who did not think the team needed two general managers, were not amused. They knew that the more senior they were, the more likely Rickey was to get rid of them at the end of the season.”

In his book “Stranger to the Game” (1994, Viking), Gibson wrote, “The players were hurt by Devine’s firing, but we decided that instead of packing it in for the year, we would dedicate ourselves to redeeming Devine with a strong finish.”

According to the book “The Spirit of St. Louis” (2000, Avon), Busch asked broadcaster Harry Caray to become general manager. Caray declined and suggested Busch hire former St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck. But Veeck demanded a controlling interest of the stock in the Cardinals.

On Rickey’s suggestion, Bob Howsam, who had joined Rickey in a failed attempt to start a third major league, the Continental League, was named general manager.

“Howsam did nothing to win the pennant after he became GM,” Broeg wrote. “He led the league in cheers.”

After the Cardinals won the World Series title against the Yankees, Keane resigned, rather than accept a contract extension, in protest of Devine’s dismissal. Keane then accepted an offer to manage the Yankees.

Humiliated, Busch ordered Howsam to fire Rickey. He did so.

Devine joined the Mets front office.

Howsam lasted with the Cardinals for two years, then went to the Reds. Stan Musial replaced him.

When Musial resigned in triumph after the Cardinals won the 1967 World Series title, Devine was rehired by Busch to be the Cardinals general manager.

Previously: How Bing Devine helped Stan Musial plan retirement

Previously: How Bing Devine was forced to fire Fred Hutchinson

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Cardinals manager Mike Matheny possesses excellent leadership skills, but needs to continue to show progress on his ability to make strategic decisions during games, his boss, general manager John Mozeliak, told Cardinals bloggers.

Mozeliak and Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III were among those who addressed bloggers and answered their questions during the club’s 2014 Blogger Event on June 22 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Asked to assess Matheny, the Cardinals’ third-year manager, Mozeliak cited Matheny’s leadership, saying the manager “understands people, relates very well.”

As for game management, Mozeliak said of Matheny, “That’s the evolution we are watching.”

In summary, Mozeliak said of  Matheny, “There’s no one else we’d rather see” as Cardinals manager.

Other newsworthy highlights of the session:

BALLPARK VILLAGE

DeWitt said revenue generated from the entertainment complex next to Busch Stadium “mostly goes to pay for that investment.”

Asked whether revenue from Ballpark Village would be reinvested in baseball operations, DeWitt said, “It’s too early to tell.”

DeWitt said expansion of Ballpark Village could include options such as a residential tower, office tower, hotel or retail complex.

OSCAR TAVERAS

Mozeliak said he told Matheny that if Taveras is with the Cardinals “you have to play him.”

Taveras, the outfield phenom, was sent to Class AAA Memphis after a short stint with the Cardinals.

Said Mozeliak: “He is an amazing player. He is going to hit. I imagine next time he’s here, he’s here for good.”

JULY 31 TRADE  DEADLINE

Mozeliak: “What we don’t want to do is make irrational decisions … July 31 is when irrational decisions are at their height.”

2014 CARDINALS SEASON

Mozeliak: “It hasn’t gone as planned … We thought it was going to be an offensive club.”

MEDIA GUIDE

Ron Watermon, Cardinals vice president of communications, said the franchise soon will debut a digital version of its media guide that will include a video of the Cardinal Way. He said the Cardinals will seek feedback from bloggers about the usefulness of the digital guide.

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Whitey Herzog and Tony La Russa both ended their Hall of Fame managing careers as Cardinals. Both decided to extend their baseball careers as executives with other teams.

whitey_herzog4Herzog’s effort largely was a bust.

La Russa should learn from it.

On May 17, 2014, La Russa was named chief baseball officer of the Diamondbacks. In this newly created position, La Russa, who will report to Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall, will oversee the entire baseball operation, according to published reports. La Russa planned to begin his job by traveling to minor-league games and evaluating prospects.

La Russa joined the Diamondbacks three years after his last season as Cardinals manager. He had led the Cardinals to three National League pennants and two World Series titles, retiring after winning the second crown in 2011.

Herzog joined the Angels one year after his last season as Cardinals manager. He had led the Cardinals to three National League pennants and one World Series title, quitting in midseason with the team mired in last place in July 1990.

Job confusion

In September 1991, Herzog was named senior vice president and director of player personnel of the Angels.

Herzog believed he, like La Russa with the Diamondbacks, was overseeing the entire Angels baseball operation.

Instead, he found himself in a power struggle.

Dan O’Brien was the Angels’ senior vice president for baseball operations when Herzog was hired.

Herzog thought O’Brien primarily would be his assistant, handling paperwork.

In his book “You’re Missin’ a Great Game” (1999, Simon & Schuster), Herzog wrote, “I made sure I worked out every detail in advance … I’d be in complete charge of baseball operations: the minor-league system, the hiring and firing of coaches and scouts, the ballclub’s trades and drafts.”

O’Brien thought Herzog primarily would be evaluating players, leaving O’Brien to direct most of the baseball operations, including approval of trades and free-agent signings.

Herzog won the battle _ O’Brien eventually was fired _ but lost the war, resigning before the Angels could become contenders.

Work from home

His friends, Angels owners Gene and Jackie Autry, hired Herzog with the goal of bringing the franchise its first American League pennant and World Series title.

Herzog was given an apartment in Anaheim, but he kept his residence in the St. Louis area and did most of his work from that home. He didn’t have an office at the Angels ballpark.

“Whitey doesn’t want to be an office person and he doesn’t have to be,” Angels president Richard Brown told the Los Angeles Times. “My exact words to him were, ‘If I see you in Anaheim in the office, you’re not doing your job.’ He has to be on the road a lot. I’m going to be relying on him constantly to evaluate our young players, and I don’t want him reading scouting reports. I want him evaluating what he saw.”

O’Brien did have an office at the Angels ballpark.

In a March 1992 interview, six months after Herzog was hired, O’Brien told the Los Angeles Times, “You can’t do things in this business in 1992 as you did in 1990 because it’s in a constant state of change. Contracts, more than anything else, keep getting in the way. The talent is probably now one of the easier things to analyze.”

In 1992, Herzog’s first full season with the team, the Angels finished 72-90 and ranked last in the American League in hitting and runs scored.

The next year wasn’t much better. The 1993 Angels finished 71-91. Herzog and O’Brien remained at odds. Bob Nightengale of the Los Angeles Times described the working relationship of the two senior vice presidents as “deteriorated beyond repair.”

O’Brien ouster

In mid-September 1993, Brown convinced the Autrys to fire O’Brien. Bill Bavasi, the Angels’ farm director, was promoted to general manager, reporting to Herzog. Bavasi was to handle administrative duties. Herzog was given the title of vice president in charge of baseball operations and was allowed to continue to work primarily from his suburban St. Louis home.

Wrote Nightengale, “The Herzog-O’Brien conflict was set in motion by the Angels two years ago when they appointed Herzog as vice president in charge of player personnel. Herzog was told that he would be in charge of all baseball operations, but O’Brien carried the title of vice president in charge of baseball operations and never relented in his duties, creating the impression within baseball that no one was in charge.”

Said Angels manager Buck Rodgers: “It was doomed from Day 1 … They are two good baseball men, but it’s hard to succeed when you don’t have one guy in control. You have to have a No. 1 guy.”

(A year later, in a November 1994 interview with Nightengale, O’Brien said he was surprised by his firing. “The thing that I find funny is that people kept saying that Whitey and I never got along,” O’Brien said. “That wasn’t true. I mean, Whitey was never around. He did things his way and I did things my way. All I know is that I was there every day in the office.”)

In his book, Herzog wrote, “They never told (O’Brien) what my duties were until I’d arrived. He got protective of his job, cut me out of meetings and fought my authority for two years.”

Old-school dropout

With O’Brien gone, Herzog gave an ill-advised multi-year contract to pitcher Joe Magrane, the former Cardinal. (Magrane would have elbow surgery 12 days before spring training began.) Herzog also created a stir by exploring the possibility of acquiring another former Cardinal, outfielder Vince Coleman, who had flopped with the Mets. (It didn’t happen.)

Herzog’s old-school tactics backfired with some players or their agents. He also may have felt restricted by a reduced player payroll. In January 1994, four months after O’Brien was fired, Herzog resigned, stunning the Angels. Bavasi replaced him.

In a blistering column, Mike Penner of the Los Angeles Times opined, “Herzog was baseball’s first absentee general manager _ he ran a ballclub based in Anaheim from his den in St. Louis _ and the best thing he generally managed from there was his leisure time.”

Said Herzog: “I don’t really want to be traveling all over and going back and forth to California or anywhere else.”

Wrote Nightengale, “Herzog was told that the Angels’ budget would have to be slashed to about $19 million, and instead of acquiring players in the free-agent market, he couldn’t even secure his own. He alienated several of his players in negotiations with his brash, sometimes abusive, style. He screamed at starter Mark Langston in a closed-door session. He slammed the phone in reliever Steve Frey’s ear. He bullied agents.”

“He had a great deal of respect and recognition among his peers, but the reality now is that this is a different era, and he hasn’t crossed that bridge,” said Steve Comte, Frey’s agent.

Said Arn Tellem, Langston’s agent: “Whitey’s strengths were finding and evaluating players, but not in the art of diplomacy dealing with lawyers and agents.”

In his book, Herzog took credit for identifying Angels minor leaguers Garret Anderson, Tim Salmon, Jim Edmonds and Gary DiSarcina as prospects and for preparing them to advance to the majors.

Wrote Herzog, “When I finally handed the reins over to Billy Bavasi in ’94 _ I’d been grooming him to replace me _ he said, ‘Man, you’re leaving at the wrong time. You’re the guy who put this together and it’s ready to blossom.’ I knew it was, but I didn’t need any credit.”

Previously: Why Whitey Herzog saw Pedro Guerrero like Lana Turner

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In 33 years as a major-league manager, Tony La Russa was fired once. The man who replaced him was Jim Fregosi. A key factor why the White Sox chose Fregosi to succeed La Russa was because of the work Fregosi did in mentoring Cardinals prospects. One of those prospects, Jose Oquendo, became a Cardinals coach for La Russa on his staff in St. Louis and together they won three National League pennants and two World Series titles.

jim_fregosiHow’s that for connecting the dots?

Fregosi, who died Feb. 14, 2014, managed the Cardinals’ Class AAA Louisville club from 1983 until he replaced La Russa as White Sox manager in June 1986. Among the prospects managed by Fregosi at Louisville were Vince Coleman, Danny Cox, Ken Dayley, Ricky Horton, Tito Landrum, Greg Mathews, Oquendo, Terry Pendleton, Andy Van Slyke and Todd Worrell. Seventeen of the players on the 1985 National League championship Cardinals club played for Fregosi at Louisville.

Path to the majors

A six-time all-star shortstop for the Angels in the 1960s, Fregosi managed the Angels from 1978-81, leading them to their first division title in 1979, before he was fired and replaced by Gene Mauch. After sitting out the 1982 season while running a food brokerage business, Fregosi became Louisville manager in 1983. (Lee Thomas, the Cardinals’ director of player development, had been an Angels teammate of Fregosi and was instrumental in bringing him into the St. Louis organization.)

Louisville won back-to-back American Association championships (1984-85) under Fregosi. But, with Whitey Herzog entrenched as Cardinals manager, Fregosi’s best hope of managing again in the major leagues was with another organization. The Mariners had contacted him, but Fregosi was seeking an opportunity with a franchise that gave him a chance to win.

In June 1986, White Sox general manager Ken “Hawk” Harrelson fired La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan. The White Sox were 26-38 and Harrelson had been clashing often with La Russa and Duncan. “The record is not indicative of the talent involved,” Harrelson told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Fregosi was Harrelson’s first choice. Harrelson had sent scouts to Louisville and their reports on Fregosi were glowing, the Sun-Times reported.

Tireless teacher

Here is what others said about Fregosi’s work in the Cardinals system:

_ Rick Bozich, columnist, Louisville Courier-Journal: “When you roll the highlights films of what Fregosi has accomplished in Louisville, the two American Association championships won’t even make the top 10. No, the lingering images will be of the consistently long hours he worked developing the young players who carried the St. Louis Cardinals to the 1985 National League pennant and the wonderfully tranquil clubhouses he presided over. There was never a reason to check Fregosi’s time card. He reported to Cardinal Stadium at 2 every afternoon. One day he’d be in the cage convincing Vince Coleman he could make millions chopping down on the ball; the next day you could find him in the bullpen tinkering with Todd Worrell’s fastball grip.”

_ Mo Mozzali, Cardinals scout: “As fantastic as Jimmy has been for baseball in Louisville, he’s done even more for the players in the Cardinals organization. I’ve never seen anybody better working with young players.”

_ Dyar Miller, Louisville pitching coach: “Jim is a great teacher. He works on the field for three or four hours before every game, on theories of hitting, turning the double play, getting ready to pitch in the bullpen, whatever.”

_ Tony La Russa to the Sun-Times after learning Fregosi had replaced him: “When Jim Fregosi was in this league (as Angels manager), I thought he did an outstanding job. He’s been ready to manage in the big leagues for several years.”

Tales from Tony

White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said La Russa told him, “If you have to fire me, hire Jim (Fregosi) or Jim Leyland … Fregosi is a good manager. I like him.”

La Russa went to the Athletics and won three American League pennants and a World Series title before joining the Cardinals and completing a managerial career that has earned him election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Fregosi managed the White Sox from 1986-88, then had stints as manager of the Phillies (1991-96) and Blue Jays (1999-2000). He won a National League pennant with the 1993 Phillies.

In 1996, La Russa’s first season as Cardinals manager, he was asked by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about Fregosi during a series with the Phillies in St. Louis.

La Russa replied, “The old line had me asking, ‘What does Fregosi have that I don’t have?’ The answer was, ‘Your job.’ “

Previously: Dyar Miller gets justly rewarded for loyalty to Cardinals

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Desperate for revenue and suspicious of new technology, the Cardinals once joined the Browns in banning radio broadcasts of their games.

sam_breadon2Eighty years ago, Feb. 3, 1934, the National League Cardinals and American League Browns declared that radio broadcasts were having a negative impact on attendance at their games at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis.

In 1933, with America reeling from the Great Depression, the Cardinals drew just 256,171 in 77 home games, even though the Cardinals had a winning record (82-71) and were just two years removed from a World Series championship. That was their lowest home attendance since moving to Sportsman’s Park from Robison Field in 1920.

The 1933 Browns, a last-place finisher at 55-96, attracted only 88,113 in 77 home games.

Radio broadcasts of Cardinals and Browns games had been carried since 1926, five years after the first broadcast of a major-league game, the Phillies vs. the Pirates, on Pittsburgh station KDKA in 1921.

Under the headline “St. Louis Clubs Sign Off on Radio,” The Sporting News reported in its Feb. 8, 1934, edition that “this decision was reached with dramatic suddenness by Sam Breadon, president of the Cardinals, and Louis B. von Weise, who holds a similar title with the Browns.”

“There, no doubt, was a time when the microphones did us some good,” Breadon said. “That was in the high times. But now we are at a point where we are willing to experiment a season without the mikes.”

Strong reactions

St. Louis radio executives were stunned and disappointed.

“We feel that it was a service the public appreciated and that radiocasting of the games helps more than it damages attendance,” said Jack Van Valkenburg, president of KMOX.

Added Thomas Patrick Convey of St. Louis station KWK: “Nobody has worked harder than myself to try to get people out to the ballpark.”

In an editorial, The Sporting News supported the right of the St. Louis clubs to choose whether to permit radio broadcasts of games. “Like other sports, baseball long has been in doubt as to the value of broadcasts,” The Sporting News wrote. “… The opinion has been growing stronger within the past two years that, whatever good the radio may have done the game in the past, conditions now have changed and its tendency to cause the fan to sit in front of the loudspeaker instead of in the stands is beginning to outweigh all its advantages.”

Most of the mail Breadon received in reaction to the decision opposed the radio ban.

Business and marketing

Breadon, a native New Yorker, may have been influenced by the decisions of all three New York clubs _ the American League Yankees and the National League Dodgers and Giants _ to ban radio broadcasts of their games.

However, the teams in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati and Detroit were continuing game broadcasts. Walgreens paid Chicago radio station WGN $45,000 to sponsor game broadcasts for the 1934 season, The Sporting News reported.

Meanwhile, radio magnate Powel Crosley had purchased the Reds, with the notion of using radio to promote his team and using the broadcasts as an advertising revenue generator for his stations.

Without the broadcasts, home attendance of the Cardinals and Browns increased in 1934. The Cardinals, who won the National League pennant and World Series championship that year, drew 325,056 in 77 home games, an increase of almost 70,000. The Browns, who placed sixth at 67-85 in 1934, attracted 115,305, a spike of 27,000.

But the business models in Chicago and Cincinnati may have convinced the St. Louis clubs to end the ban. In 1935, the broadcasts of Cardinals and Browns games were restored.

Capitalizing on their status as reigning World Series champions, Cardinals home attendance jumped to 506,084 in 1935. But the Browns, who fell back to seventh place in 1935, drew only 80,922 to 76 home games that year, including 300 to a Friday afternoon game on May 10 against the Athletics. Boxscore

Previously: Top 5 reasons Sam Breadon should be in Hall of Fame

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If general manager Dal Maxvill had been willing to part with pitcher Joe Magrane, Don Mattingly might have been a first baseman for the Cardinals instead of spending his entire playing career with the Yankees.

don_mattinglyMattingly is managing the Dodgers against the Cardinals in the 2013 National League Championship Series.

In 1988, Mattingly, at the peak of his all-star playing career, was feuding publicly with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. That fueled media speculation that the Yankees were willing to trade Mattingly, who expressed interest in the Cardinals because of the proximity of St. Louis to his hometown of Evansville, Ind.

The Cardinals admitted interest in pursuing a deal. Media reports suggested the Yankees would want shortstop Ozzie Smith or center fielder Willie McGee in return. But the player New York apparently wanted most was Magrane, who at the time was St. Louis’ prized pitching phenom.

No respect

In August 1988, Mattingly, 27, already was a five-time all-star who had earned an American League Most Valuable Player Award, one batting title and three Gold Glove awards. But he became disgruntled with the way he believed Steinbrenner was treating Yankees players.

“The players get no respect around here,” Mattingly said to the Associated Press. “They (management) give you money, that’s it. Not respect. Money is not respect.”

Reports spread quickly that an angry Steinbrenner intended to trade Mattingly. The Cardinals, who had just acquired first baseman Pedro Guerrero from the Dodgers, were willing to move Guerrero to left field and open the job at first base for Mattingly.

“I see where Mattingly wants to go to St. Louis,” Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “That takes care of us. Steinbrenner sure wouldn’t trade him where he wants to go. You know what I mean? He’d say, ‘I’ll show him. I’ll trade him to Seattle.’ “

Still, baseball writers produced a stream of reports that speculated on a deal between the Yankees and Cardinals.

On Sept. 4, 1988, Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch wrote, “The Cardinals have some players in which the Yankees would seem interested. Certainly the Yankees would want a starting pitcher. Joe Magrane probably is unavailable. But Greg Mathews, if he shows he has recovered from elbow surgery, might be.”

Hummel suggested several possible packages to land Mattingly, including Mathews, McGee and catcher Tony Pena, or Mathews and Ozzie Smith.

About a month later, under the Post-Dispatch headline, “Maxvill Says He’ll Pursue Mattingly,” the general manager told Hummel, “I definitely want to talk to them.”

Wizard a Yankee?

Two days later, in a column that rocked Cardinals Nation, Tom Wheatley of the Post-Dispatch opined, “Ozzie Smith must go. And if the Wizard of Oz can be used as bait to land a whopper such as Don Mattingly, all the better.”

Maxvill said he made more inquiries about acquiring Mattingly, but he told Hummel, ‘I don’t think they’re interested in moving him as much as everybody thinks. That’s what I thought before and it’s been reinforced to me.”

Just when it appeared the possibility of a trade had waned, Murray Chass of the New York Times, citing an anonymous American League club executive, reported that the Cardinals, Cubs, Padres or Giants were close to making a deal for Mattingly.

Wrote Chass: “If the Cardinals, for example, were really serious about the pursuit of Mattingly, they would have to offer the Yankees Joe Magrane … The Cardinals, however, will not offer Magrane; therefore, no deal.”

Magrane, 24, was the National League earned-run average leader (2.18) in 1988, his second season with St. Louis.

In December 1988, the Post-Dispatch reported why a deal for Mattingly appeared dead: “Maxvill said the New York Yankees never had asked seriously about acquiring (Ozzie) Smith in a Don Mattingly deal. Pitcher Joe Magrane’s name, on the other hand, did come up in discussions with the Yankees. But Maxvill said the Cardinals would be highly reluctant to part with him.”

Magrane achieved a career-high 18 wins for the 1989 Cardinals. Mattingly stayed with the Yankees and completed his 14-season big-league career with them in 1995. He finished with a .307 career batting mark and 2,153 hits.

Previously: George Hendrick influenced hitting style of John Mabry

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