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Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton appeared together in a regular-season game as Cardinals just three times. Two of those games represented milestones for Carlton: his big-league debut and his first major-league save.

jim_landisGibson and Carlton, both elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, played in a combined 718 regular-season games for St. Louis. In the three in which they pitched together, Gibson started and Carlton relieved. The Cardinals won just one of those.

Fit to be tied

The first time Gibson and Carlton appeared together in a Cardinals regular-season game was April 12, 1965, the season opener for the defending World Series champions against the Cubs at Chicago.

Gibson started and was lifted after yielding five runs in 3.1 innings.

In the 11th, with the score tied at 10-10, the Cubs had Ron Santo on second with one out. George Altman, a lefthanded-hitting slugger and former Cardinal, was up next.

Red Schoendienst, in his regular-season debut as Cardinals manager, lifted Barney Schultz, a right-hander, and brought in Carlton, a left-hander, to face Altman.

Carlton, 20, making his big-league debut, walked Altman.

Schoendienst then brought in Bob Purkey, who got out of the jam without allowing a run.

At that point, the game was called because of darkness, ending in a tie. All the statistics counted. Boxscore

Mopping up

Four months later, on Aug. 25, 1965, Gibson started against the Cubs at St. Louis. He gave up six runs in seven innings.

With the Cubs ahead, 6-1, Carlton relieved and pitched two scoreless innings. The Cubs won, 6-3.

Joey Amalfitano, a career .244 hitter, had a single off Gibson and a single off Carlton, becoming the first batter to get hits off both Cardinals in the same regular-season game. Boxscore

Carlton a closer

Entering the 1967 season, Schoendienst told The Sporting News, “We now have men like Dick Hughes, Steve Carlton and Nellie Briles, who can start or relieve. In fact, I’d say only Bob Gibson and Ray Washburn would have to be regarded strictly as starters.”

On April 16, 1967, Gibson started against the Astros at St. Louis against former teammate Mike Cuellar. Lou Brock hit a pair of solo home runs off Cuellar and the Cardinals built leads of 5-0 and 7-3. Gibson, though, wasn’t sharp.

“Gibson admitted he did not have anything today and that he was struggling throughout,” wrote Tom McNamara of the Edwardsville (Ill.) Intelligencer.

The Astros, paced by John Bateman’s two-run home run, scored four in the sixth off Gibson, tying the score at 7-7. The Cardinals regained the lead, 8-7, in the bottom half of the inning on an Orlando Cepeda home run off Carroll Sembera.

After Jim Landis led off the seventh with a double against Gibson, Schoendienst removed his ace and replaced him with Carlton, making his first appearance of the season.

Carlton retired Joe Morgan on a fly out and struck out Jimmy Wynn and Eddie Mathews, stranding Landis. Like Carlton, Morgan and Mathews were destined for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Cardinals scored three off Turk Farrell in the bottom of the seventh, extending their lead to 11-7.

In the eighth, Carlton struck out the first two batters, Bob Aspromonte and Aaron Pointer, giving him four consecutive strikeouts, before getting Bateman to ground out.

The Astros scored a run in the ninth off Carlton. The key hit in the inning was a Landis double.

Landis, a career .247 hitter, joined Amalfitano as the only batters to get hits off Gibson and Carlton in the same regular-season game.

Carlton earned the save for Gibson in an 11-8 Cardinals victory. Carlton’s line: 3 innings, 1 run, 1 hit, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts. Boxscore

Carlton would earn 329 big-league wins but only two saves. His second came 20 years after his first.

On April 9, 1987, in his first regular-season appearance for the Indians, Carlton, 42, got the save with four shutout innings in relief of Phil Niekro, 48, in a 14-3 Cleveland victory over the Blue Jays at Toronto. Boxscore

Previously: Lou Brock sizzled to start season much like Matt Kemp

Previously: How Chase Riddle got Steve Carlton for Cardinals

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The Cardinals thought so highly of Alex Johnson that they traded two all-star infielders, first baseman Bill White and shortstop Dick Groat, to acquire him and then told Lou Brock to shift outfield positions to accommodate the heralded newcomer.

alex_johnsonJohnson never fulfilled his potential with St. Louis. Instead of joining Brock and Curt Flood as an outfield regular, Johnson got demoted to the minors in his first Cardinals season and then backed up Roger Maris in his second and last year with St. Louis.

This is the story of the star-crossed Cardinals career of Alex Johnson, who died Feb. 28, 2015, at age 72 in Detroit.

Phillies phenom

At 21, Johnson debuted in the big leagues with the 1964 Phillies. He hit .296 in two seasons with Philadelphia.

Bob Howsam, the Cardinals’ general manager, envisioned Johnson as an ideal fit to join Brock and Flood in forming a fleet, productive St. Louis outfield.

On Oct. 27, 1965, the Cardinals dealt White, Groat and catcher Bob Uecker to the Phillies for Johnson, catcher Pat Corrales and pitcher Art Mahaffey.

Howsam paid a hefty price. In eight years with the Cardinals, White was a five-time all-star who hit .298 and won the Gold Glove Award six times. In three years with St. Louis, Groat was a two-time all-star who batted .289. Both were key contributors to the Cardinals’ World Series championship season in 1964.

Power potential

“We expect Johnson to hit the long ball for us,” Howsam told The Sporting News. “Playing everyday instead of just against left-handed pitchers, he may even surpass White in long-ball hitting over the full season.”

Said Cardinals vice president Stan Musial, who was consulted by Howsam before the deal was made: “Over the long haul is what we’re thinking about. We’re trying to analyze our team better and it’s a switch to the youth system.”

The Cardinals believed Johnson would hit for a higher average and had more speed than Mike Shannon, who had been their right fielder in 1964 and 1965.

Johnson had hit .307 against left-handed pitching for the 1965 Phillies. He also hit .424 (14-for-33) in 11 games versus the Cardinals that season.

Move over, Lou

Soon after joining the Cardinals, Johnson reported to their Florida Instructional League camp at St. Petersburg and worked with manager Red Schoendienst and coach Dick Sisler.

“He has a better arm than I thought he did,” Schoendienst said. “His arm is adequate.”

The Cardinals decided to shift Brock from left to right and start Johnson in left, with Flood in center. Shannon was relegated to a reserve role.

“I know the Cardinals made a big deal to get Johnson, but all I want is a chance,” Shannon said. “… I think I can hit .300. I’m strong. I can run and I’ve got good power.”

Johnson hit .286 in spring training and opened the 1966 regular season as the everyday left fielder.

He flopped.

Overmatched

Johnson started each of the Cardinals’ first 20 games and hit .195. The Cardinals’ record was 8-12 and Johnson received part of the blame.

“It’s not the pitchers getting me out,” Johnson said. “I’ve been getting myself out. I’ve been going for the long taters.”

On May 8, 1966, the Cardinals played their final game at Busch Stadium, formerly Sportsman’s Park. Johnson had the last at-bat in the venerable ballpark, bouncing into a game-ending double play. Boxscore

Four days later, the Cardinals played their first game at the new Busch Stadium. Johnson started in left field and was 1-for-4 with a run scored. Boxscore

The Cardinals, though, had seen enough. On May 18, 1966, they sent Johnson to Class AAA Tulsa and called up outfielder Bobby Tolan. Brock returned to left field and Shannon took over in right.

In 25 games with the Cardinals, Johnson batted .186 with two home runs.

Wrote The Sporting News: “Something had to be done to divert attention from that White-Johnson deal … Johnson appeared overmatched in his first opportunity at a regular job. He has plenty of raw talent and good speed. There is considerable hope for him, especially if he can develop the ability to learn from coaches both in the minors and in the majors. He has not adapted well to instruction and he has been easy to pitch to.”

At Tulsa, Johnson prospered under manager Charlie Metro, batting .355 with 104 hits in 80 games.

Carlton to Cubs?

After the 1966 season, Howsam agreed to a proposed deal to send Johnson, Tolan and pitchers Steve Carlton and Nelson Briles to the Cubs for outfielder Billy Williams, The Sporting News reported. The trade was vetoed by Cardinals “super brass,” who presumably included Musial.

“We needed a lefthanded-hitting outfielder and we went after (Billy) Williams,” Musial confirmed.

After the proposed trade was nixed, Howsam dealt third baseman Charlie Smith to the Yankees for outfielder Roger Maris. Soon after, Howsam resigned to become general manager of the Reds and was replaced by Musial.

Still struggling

In spring training, the 1967 Cardinals assigned hitting instructor Joe Medwick to work with Johnson. “I told him, ‘The only guy who is keeping you down is yourself. You’ve got all the equipment,’ ” Medwick said. “Alex was pulling too many pitches.”

Some thought Johnson and Maris would platoon in right field for the 1967 Cardinals. Maris, though, won the job outright, with Shannon replacing Smith at third base and Johnson taking a reserve outfield role.

In May 1967, The Sporting News reported that Johnson was “swinging at too many bad balls and fouling off too many good ones.”

According to the magazine, Musial “had tried hard to deal Johnson to an American League club, but there were no takers.”

Johnson hit .223 with one home run in 81 games for the 1967 Cardinals, who won the National League pennant. He didn’t appear in the World Series against the Red Sox.

After the Cardinals won the championship, Musial resigned in triumph and was replaced by Bing Devine, in his second stint as St. Louis general manager. Devine’s first trade was to send Johnson to the Reds for outfielder Dick Simpson.

In two seasons with the Cardinals, Johnson hit .211 in 106 games with three home runs, 18 RBI and a dismal .258 on-base percentage.

“Alex just might put everything together one of these days and become quite a ballplayer,” Schoendienst said after the trade.

Red was right

Reunited with Howsam and Metro (who had become a Reds scout), Johnson blossomed. He hit .313 with 146 RBI in two seasons with Cincinnati.

Traded to the Angels, Johnson was the 1970 American League batting champion, hitting .329.

Still, his career continued to be marred by controversy and accusations of an indifferent attitude.

Said Cardinals coach Dick Sisler: “The tag on Johnson is that he will not accept advice from a manager or a competent coach. He easily could have become a great Cardinal player, but he showed no interest.”

In 13 years with the Phillies, Cardinals, Reds, Angels, Indians, Rangers, Yankees and Tigers, Johnson batted .288 with 1,331 hits.

Previously: Here’s how Mike Shannon became a Cardinals catcher

Previously: Bill White: We thought Lou Brock deal was nuts

Previously: How Charlie Metro miffed Stan Musial

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

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

The Cardinals prepared King for the big leagues.

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

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

Courted by Cubs

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

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

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

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

Second chance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

California connection

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

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

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

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

Previously: How Cardinals nearly traded Bob Gibson to Senators

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

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

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

Rookie starters

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

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

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

Keep me in, coach

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

“It felt bad,” Villanueva said.

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

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

In truth, the hand throbbed.

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

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

Bailout by Braves

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

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

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

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

Drama in ninth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lew Burdette

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

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

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

Steve Carlton

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

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

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

Lonnie Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 rings, 3 franchises

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previously: How Lonnie Smith came clean with the Cardinals

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Imagine Pete Rose in a Cardinals lineup with Ted Simmons, Keith Hernandez, George Hendrick and Garry Templeton. The Cardinals did. They tried to make it happen.

brock_roseThe catch: Rose likely would have been brought in to replace Lou Brock, relegating the popular Cardinals standout to a reserve role.

In November 1978, Rose left the Reds, his hometown team and the only one for whom he had played since entering the majors in 1963, and became a free agent. Five clubs _ Cardinals, Phillies, Braves, Pirates and Royals _ were finalists in bidding to sign him.

Rose chose the Phillies, even though the Cardinals and the others made more lucrative offers.

On Feb. 5, 2015, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN Radio he planned to discuss the possibility of reinstating Rose, who was banned from baseball in 1989 for misconduct related to gambling. In 2004, Rose admitted to betting on games during his tenure as Reds manager.

This is the story of how the Cardinals, determined to become contenders after finishing 24 games under .500 in 1978, wanted Rose, 37, to bring his hitting, hustle and hubris to St. Louis.

Sorely needed

Before the December 1978 baseball winter meetings began in Orlando, Rose met with Cardinals owner Gussie Busch, general manager John Claiborne and manager Ken Boyer in St. Louis “with the hope the Cardinals might be able to land a man who certainly would fit the type of offensive player so sorely needed by the Redbirds,” The Sporting News reported.

Rose, who started at third base for the 1978 Reds, likely would have played left field for the 1979 Cardinals, joining an outfield of Hendrick in right and Tony Scott in center. Simmons was the St. Louis catcher. The infield for the 1979 Cardinals was Hernandez at first, Ken Oberkfell at second, Templeton at shortstop and Ken Reitz at third.

Brock, the stolen base champion and future Hall of Famer who had sparked the Cardinals to three National League pennants and two World Series titles, had experienced a miserable 1978 season, batting .221 with no home runs and 12 RBI. He would turn 40 in 1979 and there were doubts whether he could be an effective everyday player.

In a 2014 interview with the Web site of Boston radio station WEEI, Rose recalled, “I went to St. Louis to talk with Gussie Busch, who offered me a Budweiser distributorship. I liked that, but he wanted me to replace Lou Brock and I didn’t want to get in that situation.”

(Brock remained the Cardinals’ regular left fielder in 1979 and rebounded strongly, hitting .304 in his final big-league season.)

In the book “The Lords of the Realm,” author John Helyar wrote that Busch talked with Rose about being a Budweiser spokesman and also discussed a distributorship. The meeting occurred at a St. Louis hospital, where Busch was preparing for hernia surgery.

“I probably would have had a hernia, too, if I had to carry all the money he was offering me,” Rose said.

In the Jan. 13, 1979, edition of The Sporting News, Claiborne denied Rose was offered a distributorship from Anheuser-Busch, though he confirmed the Cardinals “had made a very strong pitch for Rose.”

Treated like son

Indeed, Rose said the Phillies’ offer was lower than the bids of the Cardinals, Braves, Pirates and Royals.

“There were five bids and I took the lowest one,” Rose said. “Being conservative, I could have gotten at least another million and a half.

“I wish I could have played a year for each of the other four owners. They treated me like a son. But I had to analyze where I’d be the happiest. And the Phillies’ revised offer was enough that I didn’t have to worry about the money.”

The Phillies initially offered Rose a three-year, $2.1 million contract _ an average of $700,000 per year. When they sweetened the deal to $3.2 million for four years _ an average of $800,000 per year _ Rose accepted. He said his friendship with Phillies players Larry Bowa, Greg Luzinski and Mike Schmidt also persuaded him.

(The book “Pete Rose: A Biography” reports the breakdown of the Phillies deal as $905,00 the first year, $805,000 the second, $705,000 the third and $565,000 the fourth, with a $245,000 bonus if Rose played in 125 games.)

Chasing The Man

Royals owner Ewing Kauffman had made an aggressive bid, “but Rose has insisted all along he is a National Leaguer and what he lusts after most is Stan Musial’s record for hits in that league,” The Sporting News reported.

(Rose would surpass Musial’s NL record of 3,630 hits and then move ahead of Ty Cobb for the all-time mark. Cobb had 4,189 hits. Rose finished with 4,256.)

If Rose had selected the 1979 Royals, he would have played that season for manager Whitey Herzog.

The Braves thought Rose would pick them. Team owner Ted Turner offered Rose $1 million per year for “three years, four years, five years, whatever you want,” Sports Illustrated reported.

“A major network and a wire service columnist reported Rose was headed for the Braves,” wrote The Sporting News. “Team officials in Orlando for the winter meetings had Rose’s statistics printed upon the club’s letterhead and another member of the front office staff flew from Atlanta to Orlando with a Braves jersey and cap for Rose to wear at the signing.”

The contract Rose got from the Phillies made him baseball’s highest-paid player. “$3.2 million for a leadoff man, ye gods!” wrote Atlanta columnist Furman Bisher.

Phillies vs. Cardinals

Rose made his Phillies debut on Opening Day, April 6, 1979, against the Cardinals at St. Louis. Playing first base and batting leadoff a week before his 38th birthday, Rose was 1-for-3 with a walk against John Denny, who pitched a five-hitter in an 8-1 Cardinals triumph. Boxscore

The Cardinals would finish ahead of the Phillies in the NL East in 1979. The Cardinals were third at 86-76 and the Phillies were fourth at 84-78.

Rose had a spectacular 1979 season, collecting 208 hits and batting .331. He finished second to Hernandez (.344) for the NL batting title. Rose led the league in on-base percentage (.418), edging Hernandez (.417).

Previously: How Cardinals’ mystery man nearly derailed 1980 Phillies’ title run

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