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A playful young blonde in a flaming red dress gave an unexpected mix of sex appeal and comedy to the first regular-season night game played by the Cardinals.

kitty_burkeEighty years ago, on July 31, 1935, on a sultry evening in Cincinnati, Kitty Burke, 25, a nightclub entertainer, emerged from an overflow crowd at Crosley Field during a game between the Cardinals and Reds, grabbed a bat and stood at the plate, expecting a delivery from St. Louis pitcher Paul Dean.

Amazingly, with the approval of the plate umpire and with the commissioner of baseball watching from the stands, Dean tossed a soft pitch, Burke swung at it and connected with a groundball to the pitcher.

Satisfied, she departed back into the crowd and the game resumed.

Night baseball

Two months earlier, regular-season night baseball had debuted in the major leagues with a game between the Phillies and Reds at Crosley Field.

The Cardinals, who wouldn’t have lights at their home field, Sportsman’s Park, until 1940, were the defending World Series champions in 1935 with a lineup of colorful Gashouse Gang characters such as Dizzy Dean, Pepper Martin, Joe Medwick, Frankie Frisch and Leo Durocher. That made the Cardinals-Reds night game at Cincinnati a big draw, even on a Wednesday.

Crosley Field in 1935 seated 26,060 spectators. Thousands more than that turned out for the Cardinals-Reds game and were admitted. Many were in a partying mood.

Out of control

“A big part of the overflow came into the park shortly before game time on special trains from Dayton, Ohio _ and to say that a good many of these excursionists were feeling their oats is putting it mildly,” The Sporting News reported. “They had been hitting it up on the train and were out for a high time. When they found no seats for themselves at the park, they just leaped the field-box fences and made for the foul lines.”

Fans initially stood along both foul lines and in territory behind the plate. When some fans who were seated in box seats had their view of the playing field obstructed by those standing in foul territory, they left their seats and joined those on the grass. Eventually, the crowd swelled so much that spectators “completely encircled Crosley Field,” the Associated Press reported.

Wrote The Sporting News: “Fans were standing right against the base lines and so close behind the catcher that it was impossible for any player to catch a foul ball.”

Official attendance was listed as 30,000. The Sporting News estimated the crowd at 30,450. Among those in attendance were baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis and Reds president Powel Crosley, who stood together for most of the game “because they couldn’t see the field while seated in box seats,” The Sporting News reported.

In the fourth inning, “irate fans stormed the field, holding up the game for 10 minutes” because of mixups in the seating arrangements, according to International News Service.

Wrote the Associated Press: “Players were forced to shoulder their way through to the plate. The heat, too _ on Cincinnati’s hottest day of the year _ added to police troubles, a number of fans being ejected from the park for alleged disorderly conduct.”

Sizing up the boozy crowd, third-base umpire Cy Rigler ordered beer sales stopped in the fourth inning.

Kitty takes the stage

From her perch in a field-level seat, Kitty Burke was one of the patrons unable to see the playing field. Described by United Press as “a pretty young blonde wearing a flaming red dress,” Burke attracted attention when she left her seat and joined those standing near the field.

“I had a very good box seat and I figured I was entitled to see the game,” said Burke, “but it seems they oversold the park and about the sixth inning everybody started crowding in front of me … I just joined the crowd, which swarmed down on the field, and found places along the first-base line.”

The Cardinals had taken a 2-1 lead, with one of the runs being scored by Medwick. According to Burke, “The St. Louis players had been crowded out of their dugout by the mob and we were lined up behind them on the field.”

In the eighth inning, Burke found herself within shouting distance of Medwick and the two exchanged good-natured taunts.

Burke: “Medwick, you can’t hit anything.”

Medwick: “You can’t hit anything yourself.”

Burke: “I’d like to show you sometime.”

Medwick: “You can’t hit anything with an elephant.”

(Said Burke to United Press: “I think what he meant was you can’t hit an elephant.”)

Burke: “I’ll show you.”

Babe helps a babe

Burke looked toward the plate and saw a Reds player, Babe Herman.

Said Burke to United Press: “I yelled, ‘Hey, Babe, lend me your bat.’ ”

Herman said, “OK, Sis,” and handed the bat to the lady in red.

“Babe always is accommodating to his public,” The Sporting News slyly noted.

Said Burke: “So I took the bat up to the plate and made up my mind I was going to sock one if I had to stay there all night. (Dean) was on the mound when I came up, but was looking toward the outfield. You should have seen the dumb expression on his face when he turned around and saw me. He didn’t know what to do.”

The plate umpire, Bill Stewart, did nothing to stop Burke.

“The umpire was a good egg and yelled. ‘Play ball!’ ” Burke said.

Said The Sporting News: “How Stewart let her get away with it is beyond explanation. She would have had no chance pulling that on Bill Klem or some of the other umpires.”

Dean plays along

Dean, younger brother of Dizzy, was nicknamed Daffy. Burke yelled to him, “Hey, you hick, why don’t you go home and milk the cows?”

Said Burke: “That must have got him, because he started winding up to burn one in. I asked myself, ‘Should I get out of here?’ but just then Pepper Martin yells, ‘Take it easy, Daf.’ So, Daffy just grinned and lobbed one across.”

Dean made an underhanded toss.

Burke swung and hit a grounder to Dean.

Said Burke: “I smacked it … but Daffy was on first with the ball, waiting for me.”

Burke took a few steps up the line, then veered back toward the crowd.

“I saw that he had me beaten, so I stopped,” Burke said.

Before she departed, though, she gave a parting shot to Medwick.

“I said to Medwick, ‘I hit that one, didn’t I, big boy?” He was a good sport and said, ‘Yes.’ ”

When play resumed, the Reds scored two in the eighth to take the lead, the Cardinals rallied to tie the score, 3-3, in the ninth and the Reds rewarded their fans with a run in the 10th for a 4-3 victory. Boxscore

Previously: Why 1940 was year Cardinals saw the light

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Concerned he would become forgotten in their vast minor-league system, Ted Williams rejected an offer to begin his professional career with the Cardinals.

ted_williamsIf he would have signed with the Cardinals, Williams likely would have been in their organization at the same time as Stan Musial. It would have been possible then that the 1940s Cardinals could have had two of the game’s best left-handed hitters, Musial and Williams, in the same lineup.

Instead, Williams played two years with his hometown minor-league San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League before signing with the Red Sox. In his only World Series appearance, Williams opposed Musial and the Cardinals in 1946.

Meet me in St. Louis

In 1935, Williams was in his junior year at Herbert Hoover High School in San Diego. Playing mostly outfield and first base, he hit .588 in 15 games for the Hoover baseball team that season. He also pitched, posting a 4-2 record.

Herb Benninghoven, a scout for the Cardinals in San Diego, took notice of Williams, began attending his games and befriended him.

Often, after games, Benninghoven “might drive Ted home, and they’d talk baseball, or he’d invite the boy over to his house. His wife was always cooking and baking something good,” wrote Ben Bradlee Jr. in his book “The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams.”

On Aug. 6, 1935, the San Diego Evening Tribune reported that Williams had been invited to try out for the Cardinals in St. Louis. It was the first public indication that Williams was considered a professional baseball prospect.

“Ted Williams, slim Herbert Hoover High pitcher, with whom local diamond fans are well acquainted, has received an offer to try out with the St. Louis Cardinals of the National League,” the Evening Tribune wrote. “Herb Benninghoven … tendered the offer and informed Williams his expenses would be taken care of should he care to make the trip east for the trial.”

The newspaper added, “Doubt was expressed that Ted would accept, however, since he still has one more year of high school and should he go into organized baseball he would be declared ineligible for further high school competition.”

Williams still was 16 _ he would turn 17 a few weeks later on Aug. 30, 1935 _ and speculation was his parents didn’t want him to leave home yet.

He didn’t attend the Cardinals tryout and instead returned to high school for his senior year.

In hot pursuit

Meanwhile, the Yankees joined the Cardinals in pursuing Williams. The Yankees offered Williams a chance to play for their Oakland affiliate in the Pacific Coast League and, according to the Bradlee book, Williams and his family agreed in principle that Ted would sign with New York after he graduated from high school.

Still, the suitors kept arriving, most notably the Tigers and the Pacific Coast League Los Angeles Angels. Also, Benninghoven and the Cardinals hadn’t given up either.

In January 1936, in the middle of Williams’ senior year, San Diego was granted a franchise in the Pacific Coast League. The team was named the Padres.

Soon after, Benninghoven, looking to sign Williams before he graduated, invited him to attend a Cardinals tryout camp in Fullerton, Calif. This time, Williams accepted.

Branch Rickey, general manager of the Cardinals and originator of their farm system, was overseeing the tryout camp. The night before, Williams was hit by a pitch in the thigh during a game. At the tryout camp, his sore thigh hampered his mobility and Rickey was unimpressed by Williams, according to the Bradlee book.

Still, because of a strong endorsement from Benninghoven, the Cardinals offered Williams a contract.

He spurned the offer.

In his book “My Turn at Bat,” Williams said of the Cardinals, “They would have probably sent me to Oshkosh or Peoria or someplace, because they had a huge farm system and you could get lost.”

Bound for Boston

Money also may have been a factor in Williams’ decision to reject the Cardinals.

When Benninghoven died in January 1970, an obituary by the Associated Press reported, “He once said he missed signing Ted Williams out of high school when the St. Louis Cardinals refused an extra $1,000 which Williams demanded.”

Williams also turned his back on the Yankees and instead, with his parents urging him to stay home, signed with the Pacific Coast League Padres.

After two seasons with the Padres, Williams, 19, signed with the Red Sox in December 1937. After a year with minor-league Minneapolis, Williams joined the Red Sox in 1939 and embarked on a Hall of Fame career in which he would hit .344 with 521 home runs and 1,839 RBI in 19 years with Boston. In 1941, Williams hit .406, becoming the last big-league player to achieve a .400 batting average.

Two years after Williams first appeared with the Red Sox, Musial, who had converted from pitcher to outfielder, debuted with the 1941 Cardinals and launched his own Hall of Fame career in which he would hit .331 with 475 home runs and 1,951 RBI in 22 years with St. Louis.

In his book “Stan Musial: The Man’s Own Story,” Musial said of Williams: “Ted was a once-in-a-generation hitter, the best in our time. He knew his art and he knew his (opposing) pitchers. He had a keen appreciation of the strike zone, a great eye, quick hands and power.”

Previously: How Tony Gwynn tormented Dennis Eckersley, Cardinals

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Taking advantage of an unmotivated, jet-lagged team, Fernando Valenzuela pitched a no-hitter against the Cardinals. It was the second no-hitter pitched in the major leagues that night and the first versus the Cardinals in 12 years.

fernando_valenzuelaTwenty-five years ago, on June 29, 1990, Valenzuela pitched the only no-hitter of his career in a 6-0 Dodgers victory over the Cardinals at Los Angeles.

Earlier that night, Dave Stewart, Valenzuela’s former Dodgers teammate, pitched a no-hitter for manager Tony La Russa’s Athletics against the Blue Jays. It was the first time no-hitters had been pitched in both the American League and National League on the same day.

Valenzuela, 29, struck out seven and walked three. The Cardinals also had a runner reach on an error.

The Dodgers’ left-hander pitched the first no-hitter against the Cardinals since Tom Seaver of the Reds on June 16, 1978. Since Valenzuela’s gem, the only no-hitter pitched against the Cardinals was by Johan Santana of the Mets on June 1, 2012. Eight no-hitters have been pitched against the Cardinals.

Control, confidence

After beating the Pirates in a night game at St. Louis on June 28, the Cardinals stayed overnight at home and left the morning of June 29 for that night’s game against the Dodgers. The Cardinals arrived in Los Angeles about 12:30 in the afternoon Pacific Coast time.

The Dodgers watched on the clubhouse television as Stewart completed his no-hitter at Toronto. Boxscore

Valenzuela turned to his teammates and said, “You’ve seen one on TV. Now come watch one live,” Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Valenzuela’s previous big-league best had been a two-hitter.

From the start, it was evident Valenzuela was in command. “Throughout the game, I had excellent control,” he told the Orange County Register. “I had a lot of confidence.”

Timely tip

In the ninth, Vince Coleman led off for the Cardinals. The speedster was the batter Valenzuela feared most in the St. Louis lineup. “Coleman makes a lot of contact and he can bunt,” Valenzuela said.

Coleman hit a shot down the third-base line, but it was foul. With the count 2-and-2, Coleman faked a bunt attempt and was called out on strikes by umpire Jerry Layne.

Willie McGee was up next and he walked.

That brought to the plate Pedro Guerrero, who had been Valenzuela’s Dodgers teammate from 1980-88. Guerrero was playing on his 34th birthday.

“When Willie got on,” Guerrero told Hummel, “I said, ‘I’m going to be the one that’s going to do it.’ “

Guerrero hit a groundball up the middle. As Valenzuela reached for the ball, it tipped his glove and was deflected to second baseman Juan Samuel, who stepped on second for the force on McGee and threw to first for the game-ending double play.

“Do you think if I don’t touch that ball, it goes through for a single? I think it does,” said Valenzuela. “I think if I don’t touch it, I’m in trouble.” Boxscore

Cardinals crusher

The loss was the fifth in six games for the Cardinals, dropping their record to 30-44.

“We’re pathetic,” said Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog.

Said Guerrero: “We didn’t look too good out there, but I think flying on game day had something to do with it.”

Stewart called the Dodgers clubhouse after the game to congratulate Valenzuela.

The no-hitter evened Valenzuela’s season record at 6-6 and lowered his ERA from 4.09 to 3.73.

A week later, Herzog resigned, saying he was embarrassed by the play of his team.

Previously: Willie Mays on Ray Washburn: ‘Never saw a better curve’

Previously: Like Johan Santana, Bob Forsch had disputed no-hitter

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The Cardinals twice have experienced back-to-back battery power.

rick_ankiel8Tom Pagnozzi and Omar Olivares in 1994 and Eli Marrero and Rick Ankiel in 2000 are the only Cardinals catcher-pitcher batteries to hit consecutive home runs, according to David Vincent of the Society for American Baseball Research.

The home run by Ankiel was the first of his big-league career.

Here is a look at those feats:

Magic in Miami

On Aug. 10, 1994, in the next-to-last Cardinals game before the players’ strike that shortened the season, Olivares and Pagnozzi led a 12-4 St. Louis rout of the Marlins in Miami.

Pagnozzi was 2-for-4 with a walk, three runs scored and two RBI. Olivares pitched seven innings and earned his third win of the season.

The highlights came in the sixth. With one on, one out and the Cardinals ahead, 4-2, Pagnozzi, batting eighth, hit a two-run home run off starter David Weathers. Olivares, batting ninth, followed with a solo shot, his third big-league homer.

“I just swing hard,” Olivares said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Boxscore

Dream come true

Six years later, on April 20, 2000, at St. Louis, Marrero and Ankiel matched the feat in a 14-1 Cardinals triumph over the Padres.

In the fifth, with the Cardinals ahead, 10-0, Vicente Palacios was pitching in relief for the Padres. Palacios, 36, was making his first big-league appearance since June 1995 when he was with the Cardinals.

Marrero, batting eighth, connected off Palacios for his second home run of the game, a 412-foot shot off the Stadium Club at Busch Stadium II. Ankiel, 20, followed with a 380-foot home run into the bullpen.

“That’s all I’ve got,” Ankiel said of his power stroke. “I didn’t know it was gone when I hit it … It was great. As a little kid, that’s what you dream of.”

Ankiel was 3-for-3 with a RBI and two runs scored. He pitched five shutout innings and earned his second win of the season, yielding two hits and seven walks and striking out four.

“None of those hits were accidents,” said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. “He’s almost as good a hitter as he is a pitcher.”

Said Cardinals hitting coach Mike Easler of Ankiel: “What it took me 10 years in the minors leagues to learn, he’s learned at 20 years old.” Boxscore

Unable to control his pitches and set back by injuries, Ankiel quit pitching in spring training 2005, learned to play outfield in the minors and returned to the Cardinals as an outfielder in 2007. He hit 76 career home runs in the big leagues, with two as a pitcher and the rest as an outfielder or pinch-hitter.

Previously: How Rick Ankiel made happy return to St. Louis as pitcher

Previously: Rick Ankiel and the decision that altered his career

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Twenty years ago, in June 1995, the Cardinals were a franchise in disarray. The depth of their dysfunction was revealed on one dismal day, June 16, when they fired their manager, Joe Torre, and traded their cleanup hitter, Todd Zeile.

todd_zeileRather than signal an inspiring beginning, the moves had the feel of surrender.

The termination of Torre largely was viewed as a lame effort to deflect attention from management’s shortcomings.

The trading of Zeile largely was viewed as spiteful.

A bad team

After being named Cardinals manager in August 1990, Torre led the Cardinals to winning seasons each year from 1991 through 1993. His best record was 87-75 in 1993. When the Cardinals fell to 53-61 in strike-shortened 1994, Torre’s friend, general manager Dal Maxvill, was fired and replaced by Walt Jocketty.

By then, the Anheuser-Busch ownership of the Cardinals seemed more interested in minimizing expense to enhance profitability than it did in investing in the team.

The 1995 Cardinals split their first 18 games, then lost 10 of their next 13 and sunk to 12-19.

“This is a bad team and someone must pay the price,” columnist Bob Nightengale wrote in The Sporting News. “They don’t have a marquee power hitter. They’re awful defensively. They have no speed.”

Published reports indicated Cardinals president Mark Lamping was pressuring a reluctant Jocketty to appease a restless fan base by changing managers.

Cheap PR move

On the morning of June 16, with the Cardinals’ record at 20-27, Jocketty went to Torre’s home and informed the manager he was fired.

“It didn’t surprise me,” Torre told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

His overall record as Cardinals manager: 351-354.

“We worked hard and we did a lot of things,” Torre said. “We just didn’t win enough.”

Said Jocketty: “We will not stand pat and let things keep going as they were.”

Unimpressed, Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz wrote that the Cardinals “dumped a classy guy, Torre, to feed the wolfpack.”

“All I see is a cheap PR move.” Miklasz wrote. “All I see is a twitch reflex from a panic attack.”

Change the dynamics

After considering Cardinals coaches Chris Chambliss and Gaylen Pitts as candidates to replace Torre, Jocketty chose director of player development Mike Jorgensen.

“He is an intense guy … He’ll bring a little fire to the clubhouse as well as to the field,” Cardinals pitcher Tom Urbani said of Jorgensen.

Said Jocketty: “I wanted to bring in someone who could change the dynamics a little.”

Jocketty, though, wasn’t done for the day. Next, he dealt Zeile.

Deal or no deal

Zeile was batting .291 with five home runs and 22 RBI as the first baseman and cleanup hitter for the 1995 Cardinals. In June that year, he revealed that the Cardinals had reneged on a three-year, $12 million handshake agreement he said they made in April.

Lamping was furious. “There never was a deal with Todd Zeile,” Lamping said to Hummel.

Jocketty traded Zeile, 29, to the Cubs for pitcher Mike Morgan, 35, and a pair of minor-league players, first baseman Paul Torres and catcher Francisco Morales.

“We’re not happy with the chemistry and the focus of this team,” Jocketty said. “If you saw Todd Zeile play, you could see he’s not a real aggressive person in his approach to the game. He was kind of at one gait.

“Todd Zeile was not happy here. Todd Zeile asked to be traded … We didn’t want someone here who wasn’t happy.”

In seven seasons with St. Louis, Zeile started at three positions _ catcher, third base and first base _ and batted .267 with 75 home runs.

Zeile told Hummel he would depart “with a lot more fond memories than negative,” but added, “Unfortunately, this situation turned kind of ugly at the end. I think it will be better in the long run to go somewhere where I’ll be embraced.”

Miklasz blasted Lamping and Jocketty, saying the Cardinals executives “smeared Zeile, suggesting he was responsible for poor team chemistry. Zeile wasn’t any more at fault than any of the other veterans on the team. Why single him out as the villain?”

Noting the decisions by Jocketty to acquire underperforming third baseman Scott Cooper and pitcher Danny Jackson, Miklasz wrote: “Jocketty traded for Cooper and he’s a nervous wreck. Jocketty signed Jackson and he’s a physical wreck.”

The aftermath

Getting fired by the Cardinals turned out to be a blessing for Torre. He was hired to manage the Yankees and led them to four World Series titles and six American League pennants. Torre was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.

Jorgensen managed the Cardinals to a 42-54 record and returned to the front office after the season. He was replaced as manager by La Russa, who would lead St. Louis to two World Series championships and three National League pennants and would be inducted into the Hall of Fame with Torre.

Rookie John Mabry replaced Zeile as the Cardinals’ first baseman.

Zeile was a bust with the 1995 Cubs, hitting .227. After leaving the Cardinals, Zeile played for 10 teams: Cubs, Phillies, Orioles, Dodgers, Marlins, Rangers, Mets, Rockies, Yankees and Expos. He had 2,004 hits and 1,110 RBI in 16 seasons in the majors.

Morgan made 17 starts for the 1995 Cardinals and was 5-6 with a 3.88 ERA. The next year, he was 4-8 with a 5.24 ERA for St. Louis before he was released.

The two minor-league players acquired with Morgan from the Cubs never reached the big leagues.

Previously: George Kissell, Cardinals inspired Joe Torre to be manager

Previously: Why the best Joe Torre Cardinals club was not good enough

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Joe Medwick was a special hitter for the Cardinals. He also was expensive and high maintenance. When his popularity waned, the Cardinals decided the value Medwick could bring them in a trade was greater than what he could produce for them in the lineup.

joe_medwick3Seventy-five years ago, on June 12, 1940, the Cardinals traded Medwick and pitcher Curt Davis to the Dodgers for $125,000 and four undistinguished players, or, as one writer described them, “a few ham sandwiches.”

Cardinals owner Sam Breadon and general manager Branch Rickey got exactly what they wanted. With attendance sagging and the Cardinals out of contention, Breadon and Rickey were seeking cash.

As The Sporting News noted, the Cardinals traded Medwick “while he had high market value.”

Medwick, a hitter of Hall of Fame skills, had sulked about being lifted in the late innings for a defensive replacement. When he fell into a hitting funk, Cardinals fans taunted him from the Sportsman’s Park bleachers. Witnessing this, Breadon realized there wouldn’t be a public relations backlash if he traded the club’s standout hitter. That’s when he instructed Rickey to pursue a deal.

“The tide had turned,” wrote columnist Dan Daniel. “The fans would not shout against the departure of (Medwick).”

Remarkable hitter

A right-handed batter who swung at pitches outside the strike zone with savage aggressiveness, Medwick, 20, debuted with the Cardinals in September 1932 and became their starting left fielder in 1933.

Among his many remarkable hitting feats with the Cardinals, Medwick:

_ Achieved the Triple Crown in 1937, leading the National League in batting average (.374), home runs (31) and RBI (154). Medwick is the last NL player to accomplish the feat.

_ Won the NL Most Valuable Player Award in 1937. He also led the NL that season in runs (111), hits (237), doubles (56), slugging percentage (.641) and total bases (406).

_ Led the NL in hits in 1936 (223).

_ Led the NL in doubles in 1936 (64) and 1938 (47).

_ Led the NL in RBI in 1936 (138) and 1938 (122).

_ Hit .379 (11-for-29) with five RBI in the 1934 World Series vs. the Tigers.

Medwick remains the Cardinals’ all-time single-season leader in doubles (64) and RBI (154).

Interest from Dodgers

Larry MacPhail, Dodgers president, had offered the Cardinals $200,000 for Medwick in 1939, The Sporting News reported. In contention then, the Cardinals rejected the offer.

In 1940, the Cardinals started poorly, losing 20 of their first 32 games. On June 3, Medwick was hitting .297 _ good for most but subpar for him.

Medwick felt disrespected by Breadon and Rickey. After his Triple Crown and MVP season in 1937, the Cardinals rewarded Medwick with a salary of $20,000 in 1938. When he followed his .374 batting average of 1937 with a .322 mark in 1938, the Cardinals cut his pay to $18,000 in 1939. After hitting .332 in 1939, Medwick demanded a $20,000 salary in 1940. Instead, the Cardinals gave him $18,000.

Recalling MacPhail’s interest in Medwick, Rickey contacted the Dodgers in June 1940. “Rickey telephoned and said that the Cardinals were in the mood to do some trading,” MacPhail told The Sporting News.

The ensuing conversation:

MacPhail: “Who will you trade?”

Rickey: “Anybody.”

MacPhail: “Does that go for Medwick, too?”

Rickey: “Yes.”

MacPhail took a flight to St. Louis and closed the deal.

Finances a factor

In exchange for Medwick and Davis (who had 22 wins for the 1939 Cardinals), the Dodgers sent the cash, plus pitchers Carl Doyle and Sam Nahem, outfielder Ernie Koy and third baseman Bert Haas. The Cardinals assigned Nahem and Haas to the minor leagues.

“St. Louis believes the passing of Medwick and the development of a better feeling on the club, minus Joe and his $18,000 salary, will lift the (Cardinals),” Daniel wrote.

Said Breadon: “The Cardinals were going no place with Medwick and Davis on the job _ and they certainly couldn’t be any worse without them.”

The reduction in salaries paired with the infusion of cash helped the Cardinals overcome a drop in attendance. After drawing 400,245 paid customers in 1939, the Cardinals had a total home attendance of 324,078 in 1940. According to columnist Dick Farrington, Breadon was facing “the specter of a financial loss on the season.”

Hit by pitch

In joining the Dodgers, Medwick was reunited with his pal, manager Leo Durocher. They had been Cardinals teammates from 1933-37, when Durocher was the St. Louis shortstop. They played golf together almost daily in the off-season.

Said MacPhail: “Frankly, the Medwick deal surprised me more than anyone else. If you’d have told me a week before that we’d come up with Medwick, I’d have said you were crazy. A month ago, I put out a feeler for him and was told there wasn’t a chance.”

On June 18, in his sixth game for the Dodgers, Medwick faced the Cardinals at Brooklyn. In the first inning, a fastball from Bob Bowman struck Medwick behind the left ear, knocking him unconscious. As Medwick was carried on a stretcher to the clubhouse, MacPhail “stormed over to the Cardinals dugout and challenged the players, individually and collectively,” The Sporting News reported.

All of the Cardinals stood but none made a move. “Take it easy,” Cardinals outfielder Pepper Martin said to MacPhail.

Medwick was taken to a hospital and diagnosed with a concussion.

Bowman said he didn’t intend to hit him. “Medwick was looking for a curveball, expecting the ball to break,” Bowman said.

After the game, Bowman was being escorted from the ballpark by two detectives when MacPhail approached and “sent a wild swing at him,” according to The Sporting News.

The Cardinals visited Medwick in the hospital. Manager Billy Southworth, the only member of the contingent admitted to the room, expressed regrets for the injury. Medwick absolved the Cardinals, calling the incident “just one of those things.” Boxscore

Medwick was released from the hospital on June 21. He hit .300 in 106 games for the 1940 Dodgers. In 1941, he helped them win the pennant, hitting .318 with 18 home runs and 88 RBI.

Medwick returned to the Cardinals in 1947 and finished his playing career with them in 1948. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1968.

Previously: Joe Medwick set a doubles pace that is hard to beat

Previously: Joe Medwick, Stan Musial: Double trouble for pitchers

 

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