Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Executives’ Category

Five former Cardinals are among the 10 finalists on the Golden Era ballot under consideration for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

boyer_davisFormer Cardinals players Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Jim Kaat and Minnie Minoso and former Cardinals general manager Bob Howsam are being reviewed by a 16-person committee. The other five on the ballot are former players Gil Hodges, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant and Maury Wills.

A candidate must receive 75 percent of the votes (12 of 16) to earn election. Results of the voting will be announced Dec. 8, 2014. Induction ceremonies are scheduled for July 26, 2015, at Cooperstown, N.Y.

The Golden Era 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.

Tommy Davis, 75, and Jerry Reuss, 65, are two former long-time players qualified to offer first-hand insights into the Hall of Fame credentials of the Golden Era candidates. The Golden Era category considers performances from 1947-72.

Davis played 18 seasons in the big leagues (1959-76), primarily as an outfielder, and was the National League batting champion in both 1962 and 1963 with the Dodgers. No Dodgers player has led the league in hitting since. Overall, Davis hit .294 in his major-league career.

Reuss pitched 22 seasons in the big leagues (1969-90). His 220 wins rank 75th all-time and put Reuss ahead of several Hall of Famers, including Jesse Haines (210), Don Drysdale (209), Hal Newhouser (207) and Bob Lemon (207), and modern-day candidates such as Pedro Martinez (219), Curt Schilling (216) and John Smoltz (213).

During a visit on Nov. 11, 2014, to Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., I met Davis and Reuss and asked them to assess the players on the Golden Era ballot. Here is what they said about the four candidates who played for the Cardinals:

Dick Allen

Allen is on the Golden Era ballot for the first time.

Primarily a first baseman and third baseman, Allen was 1964 National League Rookie of the Year with the Phillies and 1972 American League Most Valuable Player with the White Sox. He led the American League in home runs in 1972 (37) and 1974 (32) and was a league leader in extra-base hits three times.

Dubbed “the bad boy of baseball,” Allen hit .292 with 1,848 hits, 351 home runs and 1,119 RBI in 15 major-league seasons (1963-77).

In 1970, his lone Cardinals season, Allen primarily played first base and hit .279 with 34 homers and 101 RBI in 122 games. Allen and Reuss were teammates that year.

_ Tommy Davis on Dick Allen: “Great hitter. He had a 40-ounce bat that he used. He couldn’t pull the ball, but he could go about 400 feet, 450, to right-center. Easily.”

_ Jerry Reuss on Dick Allen: “Tremendous power. Good teammate. Personally, I like him. Hall of Fame chances: No.”

Ken Boyer

Boyer received fewer than three votes when Golden Era candidates were first considered in 2011. The committee elected his counterpart, third baseman Ron Santo, even though Boyer was comparable to Santo in every way.

Boyer was the 1964 National League Most Valuable Player with the Cardinals and he won five Gold Gloves as a St. Louis third baseman. Boyer ranked in the top 10 in RBI in the NL seven times and in the top 10 in total bases six times.

In 15 major-league seasons (1955-69), Boyer batted .287 with 2,143 hits, 282 home runs and 1,141 RBI.

He played for the Cardinals for 11 years and hit .293 for them with 1,855 hits and 1,001 RBI in 1,667 games.

Boyer and Davis were teammates on the 1967 Mets and 1968 White Sox. Boyer coached the 1971 Cardinals team that included Reuss as a starting pitcher.

_ Tommy Davis on Ken Boyer: “He was consistent at third base. Good hitter. His defense was so good it was ridiculous.”

_ Jerry Reuss on Ken Boyer: “That’s a tough one. He had leadership capabilities. I don’t know how he stacked up against other third basemen. He’s a maybe, but more toward the no side.”

Jim Kaat

Kaat received 10 votes, just two shy of election, from the Golden Era committee in 2011.

A three-time 20-game winner, Kaat ranks 31st all-time in career wins (283). Only seven other left-handers have more. Kaat had 15 consecutive seasons (1962-76) with double-figure wins. He was the 1962 American League leader in shutouts (five) with the Twins and the 1966 AL leader in wins (25).

Kaat spent his last four big-league seasons (1980-83) with the Cardinals, winning 19, saving 10 and appearing in four of the seven games of the 1982 World Series.

_ Tommy Davis on Jim Kaat: “He was sneaky. He knew how to pitch. He knew how to set you up. He was a tough left-hander.”

_ Jerry Reuss on Jim Kaat: “Yes for the Hall of Fame. He won 16 Gold Gloves. Enough said.”

Minnie Minoso

Minoso received strong support (nine votes) from the Golden Era committee in 2011.

The outfielder won three Gold Gloves (1957, 1959, 1960) and finished in the top 10 in the American League in hitting eight times. Minoso three times led the AL in triples and three times led the AL in stolen bases.

Playing primarily for the White Sox and Indians from 1951-64 (he appeared in nine games in 1949, three in 1976 and two, at age 54, in 1980), Minoso batted .298 with 1,963 hits, 186 home runs, 1,023 RBI and 205 stolen bases.

In 1962, his lone National League season, Minoso was plagued by injuries and hit .196 in 39 games for the Cardinals.

I didn’t ask Reuss about Minoso because the Cuban Comet’s last full big-league season was 1964 when Reuss was just 15.

_ Tommy Davis on Minnie Minoso: “Good outfielder. He could fly. He was already good when he got to the major leagues. He helped baseball as a pioneer for Cuban ballplayers and later as an ambassador for Chicago.”

Previously: Carlos Beltran follows a path first set by Richie Allen

Previously: If Ron Santo goes into Hall, Ken Boyer should, too

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

Previously: Minnie Minoso: Hall of Fame candidate, Cardinals flop

Read Full Post »

Jerry Reuss Banner

On Nov. 11, 2014, I visited the Dodgers Adult Baseball Camp at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., to seek out Jerry Reuss for an interview about his time as a pitcher with the Cardinals.

Dressed in a home white Dodgers uniform, Reuss, 65, was patient, thoughtful, articulate and polite.

He debuted with the Cardinals in September 1969 and pitched for them in 1970 and 1971, posting an overall 22-22 record before he was traded to the Astros in April 1972.

In a 22-year major-league career, primarily with the Dodgers (nine years) and Pirates (six years), Reuss was 220-191 with a 3.64 ERA. In 2014, he published a book “Bring in the Right-hander,” a delightful retrospective on his career. You can order an autographed copy at his Web site www.jerryreuss.com.

jerry_reuss2Q.: Two months after the Cardinals traded Steve Carlton, they traded you. It was first reported that you were traded because you were in a contract dispute with owner Gussie Busch. Later it comes out it was about your mustache. True?

Reuss: “It was about growing a mustache. Bob Broeg (a writer) had said something to that effect and I thought, ‘No, they wouldn’t be that concerned about that.’ I lived with that for 20 or 25 years.

“It wasn’t until the mid-90s when I was in St. Louis and I went to a ballgame and I saw Bing Devine, who was working as a scout. He had been the general manager of the Cardinals when I was traded. I said, ‘Bing, you got a minute?’ He said, ‘Yeah. Why don’t you sit down and we’ll talk.’ So I asked him about the deal. I figured enough time had passed that I could do that.

“He was more than happy to tell me. He said Mr. Busch at times would act on an impulse. This was one of those times. He insisted on me being traded because I had the mustache. Bing thought if given a little time he (Busch) would come to his senses and make a wise baseball decision rather than a personal decision.

“But he kept hammering about the mustache and would say, ‘Did you get rid of him yet? Why not?’ And the ultimatum was put like this: ‘If you don’t get rid of him, I’ll get rid of you and get somebody who will get rid of him.’ So when you’re faced with a situation like that, you do what has to be done.”

Q.: You still have a mustache and it has become something of a signature look for you…

Reuss: “Yeah. But when you look back about how that was the thinking in baseball in the early 70s and then just two or three years later baseball began to change with the times. Guys were coming in with long hair and beards. And you just wonder: What was the stink all about?

“So on the matter of just a little bit of facial hair _ you could barely see it _ people would ask, “Why didn’t you shave it?’ And I’d say, ‘There wasn’t a rule that the Cardinals had to be clean-shaven and be like a military situation. If it doesn’t bother anybody, if it’s not a rule, then what are we talking about here?’ “

Q.: Your last year with the Cardinals, 1971, was the year your teammate, Joe Torre, led the National League in hitting and RBI and won the MVP Award. Could you see then the leadership qualities that later would make him a Hall of Fame manager with the Yankees?

Reuss: “Oh, sure. Lights out. At that early age, I just wondered whether there were guys like that on every team.

“He was managing the club on the field. Red (manager Schoendienst) just stepped back and said, ‘Joe, you have a grasp of it. You take care of it. When you’re on the field, you see things that I don’t.’ And Joe, being wise enough and knowing his boundaries, would go to Red and say, ‘Would you consider this or would you consider that?’

“Sometimes there was a lineup that was put out and Joe would go to Red and say, ‘This player won’t say it to you but he’ll say it to me. You might want to give him a day off.’ And Red would say, ‘All right. Let’s do that.’ He’d make the lineup change. Joe was able to get those things from players and he did it only because it helped the club. It wasn’t anything personal with the player.

“You could see the leadership. I’ve never come across another player who was like him. There were a couple that had some of those qualities _ I understand Cincinnati had a few. (Johnny) Bench was one of those guys _ that when he spoke, everybody just said, ‘Let’s reconsider this.’ Joe was that way all the time. Joe was more far-reaching. You knew he would to be a manager.”

Q,: After leaving the Cardinals, you played for seven big-league teams. As a St. Louis native who began his career with the hometown team, did you ever hope to return to the Cardinals?

Reuss: “I never gave it a whole lot of thought. Once I got to Los Angeles (in 1979), I said, ‘This is home. This is where I want to be.’ It’s where I always wanted to play.

“Back in those days, it was one of the few grass fields. Lots of artificial turf then. My knees were feeling it. And then I became a ground ball pitcher and the infield I had behind me was particularly adept at playing at Dodger Stadium on the lawn.

“As a result, I had a good defensive ball club become a great defensive ball club. They got a lot of ground balls. That’s where my success was and that’s where I wanted to stay. When I was ready to change teams, I was past my prime. Rather than a lot of teams coming to me, I was going to them and just hoping for a chance.”

Q.: The player who had the most at-bats against you was

Reuss: “Pete Rose. Did you see what he hit against me?”

Q.: .244 in the regular season. (29-for-119).

Reuss: “I couldn’t believe that.”

Q.: What was your secret?

Reuss: “There was no secret. Pete hit me the same way he hit everybody else. It’s just that, when he hit the ball against me, more often it was right at somebody. Did you see the number of times he struck out against me? (9) He was making contact. He came up there swinging.”

Part 1: Jerry Reuss on Bob Gibson as a teammate: He was tough

Read Full Post »

With the Cardinals in need of a public relations boost, Stan Musial went to bat for Red Schoendienst.

red_schoendienst8As usual, Musial delivered.

Fifty years ago, on Oct. 20, 1964, the Cardinals hired the popular Schoendienst to replace Johnny Keane as their manager. Four days earlier, Keane had stunned the Cardinals by resigning less than 24 hours after leading St. Louis to a World Series championship.

Schoendiesnt, 41, a former all-star second baseman who was a coach on Keane’s staff, had no managerial experience. “I never had really thought about managing,” Schoendienst said in his book “Red: A Baseball Life.”

According to broadcaster Harry Caray, in his book “Holy Cow,” the Cardinals had told Schoendienst that summer they wanted him to get experience managing in the minor leagues. Schoendienst said he told the Cardinals he had no desire to manage and would prefer to remain a major league coach for the next 25 years.

Fan favorite

Keane quit because Cardinals owner Gussie Busch had fired general manager Bing Devine in August and plotted to replace Keane with former St. Louis shortstop Leo Durocher after the season. Even though Busch changed his mind about firing Keane after the Cardinals rallied to win the National League pennant and World Series crown, Keane refused to stay. His surprise departure triggered a firestorm of criticism against Busch and general manager Bob Howsam.

Desperate to repair the damage, Busch ordered Howsam to fire consultant Branch Rickey, who had advocated for Devine’s dismissal and for Durocher to replace Keane, and he formed a six-person executive committee to seek a replacement for Keane.

Musial, in his first year as Cardinals vice president after a stellar playing career, and Howsam were the key members of the committee. Joining them were Busch, club executive Dick Meyer and Cardinals board of directors members Jim Conzelman and Mark Eagleton.

According to multiple sources, Howsam favored hiring either White Sox scout Charlie Metro, who had managed for Howsam in the minor leagues at Denver, or former Giants manager Al Dark, a one-time Cardinals shortstop.

Musial advocated for Schoendienst, who was Musial’s friend and road roommate during their playing days together for St. Louis.

“I knew Red needed experience _ we all did _ but we felt he was the best man for the job,” Musial said, according to George Vecsey’s 2011 biography of the Cardinals icon.

Said Schoendienst: “With Musial leading my support, it came down to as much a public relations decision as a baseball one and that’s where I had the advantage … The prevailing thought was the new manager needed to be someone who was a favorite of the fans.”

Quick decision

Schoendienst got tipped off by a Busch relative, Ollie Von Gontard, that the committee was considering him as a serious candidate.

Caray told Schoendienst, “Red, if you keep your nose clean with all the craziness that’s going on here, you’re going to wind up being manager of this club.”

Schoendienst said Busch called and asked to meet at the ballpark. Schoendienst said he met with Busch and Howsam. After Howsam quizzed Schoendienst about game strategies and player personnel evaluations, Schoendienst said the general manager “suddenly jumped up from his chair and asked how I would like to manage. I said that would be great and he said, ‘You’re my new manager.’ It happened so quickly I really didn’t have time to think about it.”

Said Schoendienst: “I felt comfortable that I could do the job and was ready to put my full-time energy and devotion into the post.”

Take my advice

Cardinals players, who respected and supported Keane, were tolerant of Schoendienst, who wisely avoided micro-managing while learning on the job.

In his book “Stranger to the Game,” pitcher Bob Gibson said, “The only problem I had with Schoendienst was that he wasn’t Johnny Keane. But he was a good man and a good man for us … Schoendienst, like Keane, respected our intelligence and our professionalism. His only rules were ‘Run everything out’ and ‘Be in by 12.’ Somehow, we got the words tangled up and lived instead by the motto ‘Run everything in and be out by 12.’ “

Schoendienst also listened to his players. Said Gibson: “Red was uncertain of himself in the beginning, a fact which the ballplayers were well aware.”

Gibson said he and catcher Tim McCarver would sit on either side of Schoendienst in the dugout and offer suggestions to one another about game strategy. “We never actually told him to make a move; we were just there as birdies in the ear, now and then providing the information he needed to make his decision,” Gibson said.

Center fielder Curt Flood, in his book “The Way It Is,” said of Schoendienst, “When he was required to think two or three moves ahead, as in choosing pinch-hitters or replacing pitchers, he accepted advice readily. And it was given matter-of-factly, with every consideration for Red’s position.”

Outfielder Carl Warwick told author Peter Golenbock for the book “The Spirit of St. Louis” that Schoendienst was a popular choice with the players. “You couldn’t help but love Red,” Warwick said. “You knew he was going to be on your side all the time … Red was available to help anybody any time.”

The Cardinals finished seventh and sixth in Schoendienst’s first two years as manager, then won two consecutive pennants and a World Series title. He managed the Cardinals from 1965-76 and for parts of 1980 and 1990. His 1,041 wins rank second only to Tony La Russa (1,408 wins) among Cardinals managers all-time.

Previously: Red Schoendienst: ‘Lover of hot ballgames and cold beers’

Previously: How Red Schoendienst survived Cardinals’ 5-20 start in 1973

Previously: Big 3: Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herzog, Tony La Russa

Previously: Why Gussie Busch fired Bing Devine in championship year

Previously: Johnny Keane to Gussie Busch: Take this job and shove it

Read Full Post »

Gussie Busch broke Johnny Keane’s cardinal rule. Keane couldn’t forgive him.

johnny_keane2Fifty years ago, on Oct. 16, 1964, just 19 hours after St. Louis had won the World Series championship, Keane resigned as Cardinals manager, stunning Busch, the Cardinals owner, who had expected to sign Keane to a contract extension that day.

Loyalty was sacrosanct to Keane. He had been loyal to the Cardinals, serving the franchise for 35 years. When Busch became disloyal to him, Keane’s personal code of conduct required he take action: He quit.

Surprising news

In the celebration that immediately followed the Cardinals’ World Series Game 7 victory over the Yankees on Oct. 15, Busch announced he would hold a news conference at the Anheuser-Busch brewery the next morning. Word leaked that Busch intended to present Keane with a three-year contract extension, reportedly for $50,000 per year.

When Keane arrived at the brewery, he handed Busch a resignation letter 30 minutes before the news conference. Busch, in a hurry to begin the event, gave the letter to an assistant without reading it, according to the book “October 1964.” The assistant read the letter and insisted the owner do the same.

Flanked by Keane and general manager Bob Howsam, Busch, visibly shaken, announced Keane’s resignation to the surprised gathering, who were expecting a celebratory contract signing.

“This really has shocked me,” Busch said. “I didn’t know a thing about it until I saw Johnny this morning. All I can say is that I’m damned sorry to lose Johnny.”

Said Keane: “I told Mr. Busch not to make any offer. I handed him my resignation and said my decision was firm _ that I didn’t want to embarrass him _ but that no offer would be acceptable.”

In his book “Uppity,” Cardinals first baseman Bill White wrote, “I wasn’t there, but I was told Busch and Howsam looked as if Johnny had just kicked them in the teeth _ which, in effect, he had.”

The resignation letter was dated Sept. 28 _ the day after the Cardinals had completed a five-game sweep of the Pirates, with six games remaining in the regular season.

The decision had been made 10 days before then.

Higher calling

Keane, a St. Louis native, briefly had studied for the priesthood at St. Louis Prepatory Seminary. At 18, he signed a Cardinals contract and was assigned to the minor leagues.

“I’ve been asked about that often,” Keane told The Sporting News. “Did I give up the priesthood for baseball? The answer is no. I knew after consultation with the priests at the seminary that the life was not for me.”

Keane was a baseball lifer. More specifically, a Cardinals lifer, or so it seemed.

He was an infielder in the St. Louis organization from 1930 until becoming a Cardinals minor league player-manager in 1938. He spent 21 seasons as a manager in the St. Louis farm system and had winning records in 17 of those years.

In 1959, Keane made it to the major leagues for the first time as a coach on the staff of Cardinals manager Solly Hemus. Keane replaced Hemus as St. Louis manager in July 1961.

Matter of principle

In August 1964, Busch, thinking the fifth-place Cardinals were out of contention, fired general manager Bing Devine, business manager Art Routzong and player personnel director Eddie Stanky. All were friends of Keane.

Though Keane remained manager, published reports indicated Busch planned to replace Keane after the season with Dodgers coach and former Cardinals shortstop Leo Durocher.

Keane felt betrayed.

On Sept. 18, with the Cardinals 6.5 games behind the first-place Phillies, Keane and his wife agreed that Keane would resign after the Cardinals’ final game. They kept their agreement private.

Ten days later, Keane wrote his resignation letter and put it aside.

Hold that letter

The Cardinals then won four of their final six games, including a sweep of the Phillies, and clinched the pennant on the last day of the regular season.

Carl Warwick, a Cardinals reserve outfielder, said of Keane, “He was as nearly perfect as any manager I ever saw. He didn’t panic.”

In the World Series, the Cardinals won four of seven against the Yankees, clinching their first title in 18 years.

At the news conference the next day, Keane told reporters a series of “little things” led to his resignation. Pressed for details, Keane admitted Devine’s firing and Busch’s open flirtation with Durocher were factors that caused him to depart.

Devine and Keane had become friends in 1949 when Devine was general manager of the Cardinals’ minor league club at Rochester and Keane was the manager.

In his book “The Memoirs of Bing Devine,” Devine wrote, “As a person, Keane impressed me as Stan Musial did … I’m talking about basic traits as a person.

“I didn’t think he needed to _ or should have _ quit the Cardinals because of me. But Johnny Keane was a loyal guy _ and that’s how he felt.”

Players react

Most Cardinals players said Keane’s resignation surprised them. But Cardinals pitcher Roger Craig told United Press International he had predicted Keane’s decision in August when it became known Busch wanted Durocher as manager. “Knowing the pride he has,” Craig said of Keane, “I knew this would happen.”

In his book “Stranger to the Game,” Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson wrote, “My anger toward the ballclub _ and it was tangible _ stemmed largely from the needless nature of Keane’s departure … I stayed mad through the winter.”

Hours after Keane’s resignation became public, the Yankees fired manager Yogi Berra. Three days later, Keane was hired to replace him.

Previously: Why Gussie Busch fired Bing Devine in championship year

Previously: 5-game sweep of Pirates positioned Cardinals for pennant

Read Full Post »

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, 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

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45 other followers