Archive for the ‘Managers’ Category

An unhappy fan base and an unreliable pitching staff combined to create an unhealthy situation for Eddie Stanky and the 1955 Cardinals.

eddie_stanky2Unable to overcome those obstacles, Stanky was fired in his fourth season as Cardinals manager 60 years ago on May 28, 1955.

The Cardinals replaced Stanky with Harry Walker, who was managing their farm club at Rochester. Walker was more popular than Stanky but no better able to win with such poor pitching.

From foe to friend

A three-time all-star, Stanky was the second baseman on National League pennant winners with the 1947 Dodgers, 1948 Braves and 1951 Giants. His aggressive play earned him the reputation as a pest and led to him being a frequent target of boos when he played the Cardinals at St. Louis.

Imagine the surprise then of Cardinals fans when on Dec. 11, 1951, St. Louis acquired Stanky from the Giants for pitcher Max Lanier and outfielder Chuck Diering. The surprise turned to rancor when Stanky was named player-manager, replacing Marty Marion, who was fired by team owner Fred Saigh. Marion, the popular former shortstop, had guided the 1951 Cardinals to an 81-73 record and third-place finish in his lone season as manager.

Good start

In his first St. Louis season, Stanky, 36, led the 1952 Cardinals to an 88-66 record and third place in the NL. He was named manager of the year by The Sporting News.

In 1953, Saigh sold the Cardinals to Gussie Busch. Stanky, in his last season as a player, managed the 1953 Cardinals to an 83-71 record and another third-place finish.

Stanky’s career took a downturn in 1954. The low point occurred when he used stalling tactics in an attempt to avoid a loss. Umpires forfeited the game to the Phillies and, in a stunning rebuke of Stanky, Cardinals fans cheered the decision. Stanky was suspended. Humbled, he apologized for his actions. With a staff ERA of 4.50, the 1954 Cardinals finished sixth at 72-82.

Heightened expectations

Heading to spring training in 1955, expectations soared because of young standouts such as Ken Boyer, Wally Moon and Bill Virdon joining a lineup with Stan Musial and Red Schoendienst.

Bill Walsingham, a club vice president, told The Sporting News that the 1955 Cardinals “will run faster and throw better than players on the Cardinals champions of 1942.”

Stanky heightened the hope, telling Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that his everyday lineup “is the best _ the fastest and finest-fielding _ I’ve had. And, unless the kids fail to hit at all, it’s of championship caliber.”

The pitching, though, hadn’t improved.

On May 22, 1955, in the first game of a doubleheader at Cincinnati, the Reds rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth and won, 4-3. Stanky stormed into the clubhouse and smacked at mustard and mayonnaise jars on a food table, sending glass and goo flying.

Displaying a hand dripping with blood and condiments, Stanky said, “No, it’s not true I was trying to cut my throat.”

Time for a change

Four days later, on May 26, Cardinals general manager Dick Meyer met with Walker in Rochester and told him he would replace Stanky. Meyer instructed Walker to be in St. Louis on May 28 and to keep the news a secret.

Stunned, Walker said to Meyer, “Is this a joke?”

Replied Meyer: “We have been considering the change for some time.”

Walker, 38, had been a Cardinals outfielder and played for their World Series championship clubs of 1942 and ’46. He managed Cardinals farm clubs at Columbus (1951) and Rochester (1952-55).

His brother, Dixie Walker, was a coach on Stanky’s Cardinals staff.

At 8:15 on the morning of May 28, Stanky got a call from Meyer, who informed the manager he was fired. Meyer asked Stanky to attend a 2 p.m. press conference at Busch’s estate at Grant’s Farm. Stanky agreed.

Flanked by Stanky and Walker, Busch informed the media of the change, saying it had been contemplated for three weeks. The Cardinals’ record was 17-19.

The Sporting News offered that “Stanky’s unpopularity had reached a point regarded as alarming to an organization concerned with the goodwill of consumers as well as customers.”

Said Stanky: “Nothing in baseball shocks me any more and there’s no such word as malice in my vocabulary.”

Dixie Walker was named Rochester manager, replacing his brother.

Different styles

Among media reactions to the dismissal of Stanky:

_ The Sporting News: “The move perhaps was inevitable because of the disappointing start of the young, highly regarded team and the mounting fan clamor for a change.”

_ J. Roy Stockton, Post-Dispatch: “Eddie showed major-league courage and acumen in the rebuilding of the Redbirds. All the club needs now to make a serious bid for the pennant is good pitching.”

_ Lloyd Larson, Milwaukee Sentinel: “Eddie Stanky undoubtedly knows baseball … So where did he fall down? The answer, I believe, rests in his handling of people _ the key to successful management in many fields.”

New boss, same results

A few hours after the press conference announcing his promotion, Walker made his Cardinals managerial debut that night against the Reds at St. Louis. Jackie Collum, a former Cardinal, spoiled the festivities, pitching a four-hitter in a 5-1 Reds triumph.

The 1955 Cardinals were 51-67 under Walker and finished seventh at 68-86 overall. The staff ERA of 4.56 was the worst in the NL.

After the season, the Cardinals replaced Walker with Fred Hutchinson, former Tigers manager. Walker went back to managing in the Cardinals’ farm system. He would return to the big leagues as manager of the Pirates (1965-67) and Astros (1968-72).

Stanky managed the Giants’ farm club at Minneapolis in 1956. His roster included future Cardinals players Bill White and Eddie Bressoud and future Cardinals manager Vern Rapp.

After serving as an Indians coach in 1957 and ’58, Stanky rejoined the Cardinals in 1959 as player development director under general manager Bing Devine. Stanky served in that role until he, along with Devine, was fired again by Busch in August 1964.

Previously: Cardinals fans cheered when 1954 game was forfeited to Phillies

Previously: Bill White interviewed about autobiography

Read Full Post »

Whether mentoring a future Hall of Famer or helping a prospect change positions, George Kissell compiled a string of impressive successes as a minor-league manager in the Cardinals system.

george_kissellOn May 4, 2015, Kissell was elected to the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame, along with outfielder Curt Flood, pitcher Bob Forsch and catcher Ted Simmons.

Kissell worked in the Cardinals organization from 1940 (when he started as a player in Class D) until his death at 88 in 2008. He was a Cardinals coach from 1969-75 and a longtime instructor. He also managed Cardinals minor-league clubs from 1948-57 and 1961-68.

The top 5 most interesting facts about George Kissell as a manager in the St. Louis system:

Educating Earl

Earl Weaver, the St. Louis native who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame after managing the Orioles to four American League pennants and a World Series championship, played three seasons for Kissell in the Cardinals’ organization.

A second baseman, Weaver, 19, hit .276 with 20 doubles in 127 games for a 1950 Winston-Salem team managed by Kissell. Winston-Salem won the Carolina League championship with a 106-47 record, finishing 19 games ahead of runner-up Danville.

In 1951, Kissell managed Weaver at Omaha. Weaver hit .279 with 35 doubles in 142 games. Omaha won the Western League title with a 90-64 mark and Weaver was named to the league’s all-star team.

Kissell and Weaver returned to Omaha in 1952. Weaver hit .278 with 15 doubles in 97 games. Omaha finished 86-68 under Kissell.

Weaver played in the Cardinals’ system from 1948-53. With three consecutive seasons playing for Kissell, it’s reasonable to assume the lessons and fundamentals Weaver learned from Kissell helped him become one of the game’s best managers.

Pitcher to third

Ken Boyer began his first two minor-league seasons, 1949-50, as a pitcher in the Cardinals’ organization. During the 1950 season, he converted to a third baseman.

In 1951, Boyer, 20, played his first full season as a third baseman for an Omaha club managed by Kissell. Boyer hit .306 with 28 doubles and 14 homers in 151 games, launching him on a path that would lead to him winning five Gold Glove Awards and a 1964 National League Most Valuable Player Award with the Cardinals.

When Boyer missed a few games with Omaha because of an injury, Kissell, 30, filled in for him at third base.

Power prospect

Playing for Kissell with the 1957 Winston-Salem team, Gene Oliver, 22, established himself as a Cardinals power-hitting prospect. Oliver, a first baseman and catcher, hit 30 home runs, breaking the Winston-Salem club record held by Steve Bilko.

Two years later, Oliver was called up by the Cardinals. beginning a 10-year career in the major leagues, including four seasons with St. Louis.

Comeback trail

In February 1963, the Giants released minor-league third baseman Coco Laboy. The Cardinals signed him. Playing for Kissell at Raleigh that year, Laboy, 23, revived his career, hitting .340 with 29 doubles and 24 home runs in 112 games.

Chosen by the Expos in the 1968 expansion draft, Laboy was the starting third baseman for Montreal in its first two NL seasons, 1969 and 1970.

Prized potential

In 1967, Kissell managed a pair of teenagers in their first year as professional players: Simmons, 17, and pitcher Jerry Reuss, 18. Simmons was selected by the Cardinals in the first round of the June 1967 draft; Reuss was a second-round choice.

The first place the Cardinals sent them was to their Gulf Coast League club managed by Kissell.

Simmons hit .350 in six games for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. He would go on to a 21-year big-league career, collecting 2,472 hits and 1,389 RBI.

Reuss was 0-0 with a 5.14 ERA in two appearances for Kissell’s team. Reuss would go on to a 22-year big-league career, earning 220 wins.

Previously: Cardinals spring lineup had Stan Musial, Earl Weaver

Previously: The story of how Ted Simmons became a Cardinal

Read Full Post »

In the last classic pitchers duel at Busch Stadium II, Mark Mulder gave the best performance of his Cardinals career, tossing 10 shutout innings and beating Roger Clemens and the Astros.

mark_mulder2Ten years ago, on April 23, 2005, in the Cardinals’ final season at the ballpark that had been their home since 1966, Mulder pitched a masterpiece in a 1-0 St. Louis victory.

Mulder, a left-hander, threw an efficient 101 pitches and faced 33 batters, three more than the minimum for 10 innings. He induced 17 ground outs. Each of the Astros’ five hits was a single.

Clemens, 42, winner of seven Cy Young awards, was as good as expected, holding the Cardinals scoreless on four hits in seven innings before being relieved by Chad Qualls.

Mulder, 27, making his fourth Cardinals start after coming to St. Louis from the Athletics in a December 2004 trade, was better.

In a ballpark that had been the site of gems by Cardinals pitchers such as Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Bob Forsch, Joaquin Andujar and John Tudor, Mulder’s performance ranked among the best. It was the last 1-0 game played at Busch Stadium II.

“Somewhere, Bob Gibson was smiling,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz wrote. “This was Gibby’s kind of hardball.”

Throwing strikes

Mulder became:

_ The first Cardinals starter to pitch an extra-inning shutout win since John Tudor did so on Sept. 11, 1985, in a 1-0 St. Louis victory over the Mets.

_ The first Cardinals starter to go 10 innings since Jose DeLeon went 11 against the Reds in a 2-0 Cincinnati victory on Aug. 30, 1989.

_ The first Cardinals starter to go 10 innings and win since Greg Mathews did so against the Mets in a 3-1 St. Louis victory on Aug. 16, 1986.

_ The first major-league starter to pitch a 10-inning shutout win since Roy Halladay of the Blue Jays did so against the Tigers in a 1-0 Toronto victory on Sept. 6, 2003.

“Any time it’s a 0-0 game or 1-0 game or 1-1, I love that,” Mulder told Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch. “It makes me focus … I’m throwing strike one. I’m getting ahead. It’s enabling me to do a lot more things as far as working both sides of the plate.”

Said Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan: “He’s really changed his delivery, which has allowed him to repeat pitches better.”

Dodging trouble

In the fourth inning, Mulder escaped serious injury. Mike Lamb’s bat shattered when he hit a ground ball to second. The barrel of the bat struck Mulder on the ankle and he doubled over in pain. “It hit me right in a spot where it made my whole foot go numb,” Mulder said to MLB.com.

Feeling quickly returned to the ankle, though, and Mulder was able to continue.

Before sending Mulder to pitch the 10th, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa consulted with the pitcher. “He said he was OK to go,” La Russa said.

After setting down the Astros in the top half of the extra inning, Mulder was scheduled to lead off the bottom of the 10th. La Russa sent Reggie Sanders to hit for Mulder against Qualls. Sanders produced an infield single. “It was a swinging bunt that feels just as good as a ringing line drive,” Sanders told the Associated Press.

Walker walkoff

On a hit-and-run, David Eckstein grounded out, with Sanders advancing to second.

Up next for St. Louis was Larry Walker. Astros manager Phil Garner replaced Qualls with Brad Lidge. Walker lined a hit into the right-center gap, scoring Sanders with the lone run. Boxscore

“It was a fastball, down and away, and he reached for it,” Lidge said. “I’m not upset about the pitch at all.”

Said Walker: “To put the ball in play off (Lidge) is tough to do … He’s got phenomenal stuff.”

The victory gave La Russa 2,125 career wins as a major-league manager, moving him into a tie for fifth place with Hall of Famer Joe McCarthy. “You win with great organizations and great players,” La Russa said. “I’ve been lucky enough to have had both.”

Previously: Dan Haren proved more durable than Mark Mulder

Read Full Post »

When the 1945 Cardinals reported to spring training at Cairo, Ill., they found the outfield better suited for fishing than for chasing fly balls. Unable to have fielding or batting practice because of flooding at Cotter Field, the Cardinals abandoned the Illinois river town and conducted spring training at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis.

whitey_kurowskiSeventy years ago, in March 1945, the defending World Series champion Cardinals planned to hold spring training in Cairo for the third consecutive year. St. Petersburg, Fla., was the Cardinals’ spring training base, but the Redbirds, like all big-league clubs, trained at sites closer to home from 1943-45 in order to conserve resources through reduced travel during World War II.

Training at Cairo worked well for the Cardinals in 1943 and 1944. They had more than 100 wins and earned a National League pennant in each of those years, including a World Series title in 1944.

River runs through it

Cairo is located on the southern tip of Illinois, where the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi River. In March 1945, rain swelled the rivers. Even with walls and levees protecting the town, water seeped into the ballpark used by the Cardinals.

The stages of the rivers were 10 feet above the level of the ballpark, according to the Associated Press. Under orders from club owner Sam Breadon, Cardinals traveling secretary Leo Ward searched throughout Cairo for an alternative spot to conduct batting and fielding practice, “but he mired in mud and returned gloomily to the hotel.”

“There was talk of moving the training camp back to St. Louis as early as March 13, the second day the players were in camp,” The Sporting News reported. “However, Breadon gave the Cairo people a few days more to get their park in shape.”

Losing battle

Cairo Mayor E.A. Smith and city fire and street departments “did everything they knew to get the field in shape. They dug draining ditches and put the fire pumps to work in the outfield, but each morning a new film of seepage water covered the infield,” The Sporting News wrote.

In a story filed on March 19, 1945, the Associated Press reported, “The outfield of the practice diamond was under four feet of water and it appeared doubtful that the park would be useable for baseball during the two weeks the team will be in town.”

Among those in camp for the Cardinals were pitchers Max Lanier, Blix Donnelly and Bud Byerly, first baseman Ray Sanders, second baseman Emil Verban, third baseman Whitey Kurowski, outfielder Debs Garms and rookie Red Schoendienst.

A picture in The Sporting News showed Kurowski, Lanier and Sanders casting fishing lines in the outfield water.

Ohio option

Coach Mike Gonzalez was running the club while manager Billy Southworth was at home in Sunbury, Ohio, after spending weeks in New York while joining in a mission to search for his son, who was killed in a crash of a B-29 he was piloting.

Southworth was trying to find a training site for the Cardinals in Ohio. “Breadon announced Southworth is looking for a place and that the squad will leave (Cairo) if satisfactory arrangements can be made,” the Associated Press reported.

The Sporting News revealed Southworth wanted to bring the Cardinals to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where the minor-league Columbus and Rochester teams were training.

“Miami University officials hustled around to find living quarters for the Cardinals and a series of games among the three clubs was being worked up,” The Sporting News wrote. “Manager Billy Southworth … believed the arrangement was set, but owner Sam Breadon vetoed the move to Oxford.”

Homeward bound

Breadon ordered the team instead to return to St. Louis. The last time the Cardinals had spent spring training at home was in 1919. The reason then was lack of finances.

Wrote The Sporting News of the deteriorating conditions in Cairo: “For a week, the Redbirds had no real baseball work. They indulged in pepper games on a hard cinder footing, did some throwing, running and calisthenics but had no batting practice or real infield workout … A soggy infield, no batting practice for five days and fishing in the outfield quickly convinced (Breadon) that he had to act quickly.”

Said Breadon: “Oh for a return to good old St. Petersburg.”

The Cardinals began workouts at Sportsman’s Park on March 26, 1945, and opened the season on April 17 at Chicago.

The disrupted spring training didn’t appear to hurt them much. The 1945 Cardinals had 95 wins and finished in second place, three games behind the Cubs.

Previously: Why the Cardinals chose Cairo, Ill., for spring training

Previously: Why Billy Southworth managed Cardinals with heavy heart

Read Full Post »

Instead of working with established big-leaguers such as Donovan Osborne or Mark Petkovsek, Bob Gibson spent the spring training of 1995 teaching basic grips to pitchers who normally would have had no chance to be in a Cardinals camp.

joe_torre6Twenty years ago, spring training was an odd, depressing experience _ rather than a time of renewal and hope _ for the Cardinals and the other big-league teams because of the labor dispute between players and owners.

The players’ strike that began in August 1994 carried into spring training 1995. None of the players on the Cardinals’ big-league roster reported to camp at St. Petersburg, Fla. Instead, the Cardinals, like other clubs, brought in replacement players.

Hall of Fame helper

Manager Joe Torre and his staff were required to train the replacement players, with the intent of having them ready to open the regular season on April 3.

Gibson, the Hall of Fame pitcher who had carried the Cardinals to two World Series championships, had been hired by Torre to be a Cardinals coach for the first (and only) time in his career.

Replacement player Paul Anderson, 26, a right-hander who was a combined 4-6 with a 6.65 ERA for two Cardinals farm clubs in 1994, asked Gibson for assistance in learning the proper grip to throw a slider.

“I was doing it wrong, so I did it the way he taught me,” Anderson told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I like it a lot better. I’m learning from the best.”

Scribe and rejects

The 55-player Cardinals replacement team at training camp had no one who had appeared in a major-league game.

In the Cardinals’ exhibition opener against the Indians on March 4 at St. Petersburg, Mike Hinkle started and pitched three scoreless innings for St. Louis. Hinkle, 29, had last played professional baseball in Italy in 1993.

Outfielder Doug Radziewicz, 25, an aspiring journalist who was filing reports from camp for his hometown newspaper in Somerville, N.J., drove in the winning run with a pinch-hit single in the eighth, lifting the Cardinals to a 4-2 victory.

“You can’t judge baseball from one day, but it was well-played,” Torre said after the game. “The thing you’re concerned with is that playing for the first time they’re a little in awe.”

Walt Jocketty, hired in October 1994 to replace Dal Maxvill as general manager, was asked what it was like to watch replacement players instead of big-leaguers in his first Cardinals spring training game. “As long as I’ve got Joe (Torre) here, we can hold hands and go through this together,” Jocketty said.

Wrote Hummel: “There were no pickets, as the striking players earlier had advertised, which was good because the minor leaguers were nervous enough as it was. The clubhouse was very quiet before the game.”

Fans, though, missed seeing the big-league players. Hummel reported the Cardinals were averaging 1,470 tickets sold per exhibition game instead of the usual 5,000. In March, 54 percent of respondents to a Post-Dispatch poll said they probably or absolutely wouldn’t pay to see a game played by replacements.

Chasing a dream

Still, the Cardinals broke camp with a roster of 32 replacement players, intending to open the season with them.

Anderson, Hinkle and Radziewicz were on the Opening Day roster. In a late move, the Cardinals also had acquired Glenn Sutko, a catcher who had a hit in 10 at-bats for the 1991 Reds.

Among other replacement Cardinals on the Opening Day roster:

_ Ty Griffin, second baseman. A No. 1 pick of the Cubs in the 1988 amateur draft, Griffin also had played for the U.S. Olympic baseball team. He flopped in the Cubs system and spent the 1994 season with a pair of independent league teams.

_ Larry Shikles, starting pitcher. In eight seasons in the minor league systems of the Red Sox and Athletics, the right-hander compiled a 70-68 record.

_ Howard Prager, first baseman. He hit .239 for the Cardinals’ Class AAA Louisville club in 1994.

_ John “Skeets” Thomas, outfielder. He slugged 17 home runs for Louisville in 1994.

_ Tony Diggs, outfielder. A sixth-round draft choice of the Brewers in 1989, Diggs hit .215 for the Cardinals’ Class AA Arkansas team in 1994.

_ Anthony Lewis, outfielder. An eighth-round draft pick of the Cardinals in 1989, Lewis hit a combined .230 for two St. Louis farm clubs in 1994.

“We went with the players on the morning side of the mountain rather than the twilight side of the hill,” Torre said, explaining why the Cardinals (with the exception of Sutko) chose players without big-league experience.

On April 2, 1995, the day before the season was to open, the 234-day strike ended. The season opener was moved to April 26; spring training was re-opened for players on big-league rosters. The replacement players either were assigned to the minors or released.

Said Torre: “It feels weird starting all over again.”

Previously: Ted Simmons helped put pal Joe Torre on path to Hall of Fame

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

Previously: Jerry Reuss on Joe Torre: He managed Cardinals on field

Read Full Post »

ray_hathawayAs a minor-league manager and pitching instructor for the Cardinals, Ray Hathaway worked closely with fellow teacher and Branch Rickey protégé George Kissell in helping prospects learn the fundamentals.

However, unlike Kissell, who devoted his career to the Cardinals, Hathaway left the organization amid a swirl of controversy.

This story is about the Cardinals career of Ray Hathaway, who died at 98 on Feb. 11, 2015, at Asheville, N.C.

Discovered by Dodgers

Hathaway, a right-handed pitcher, began his professional playing career in the Dodgers’ organization in 1939. His big-league career consisted of four appearances for the 1945 Dodgers. “My greatest thrill was walking into (Brooklyn’s) Ebbets Field for the first time,” Hathaway told the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Rickey, the Dodgers’ general manager, was impressed by Hathaway, a World War II veteran who served with the Navy in the Battle of Guadacanal, earning a Bronze Star.

As Cardinals general manager from 1925-42, Rickey built a minor-league system that emphasized instruction based on an organizational philosophy. Rickey brought the same approach to the Dodgers. He saw Hathaway as someone who understood the system and could teach it.

In 1947, Rickey named Hathaway manager of the Dodgers’ farm club in Santa Barbara, Calif. It was the first of Hathaway’s 25 seasons as a minor-league manager.

“If I were starting a major-league franchise, I would have Ray Hathaway as my manager,” Bob Terrell, longtime sports editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times, said, according to the Web site MiLB.com. “He had the unique ability to get the most out of his players and was a master of baseball strategy.”

Joining the Cardinals

Hathaway was managing in the Pirates’ system when the Cardinals made him an offer after the 1964 season. He accepted and was named manager of the Cardinals’ Class A affiliate at Raleigh, N.C., in 1965.

Among those Hathaway mentored at Raleigh were future Cardinals pitchers Mike Torrez, Wayne Granger and Sal Campisi. Hathaway, 48, also pitched in a game for Raleigh, giving him 20 seasons as a minor-league player.

In 1966, Hathaway was the Cardinals’ minor-league pitching instructor. Among those also teaching Cardinals prospects then were Kissell, Sparky Anderson, Charlie Metro, Vern Rapp and Ron Plaza. Anderson, Metro and Rapp would manage in the majors.

Kissell, like Hathaway, devoted his career to teaching. Kissell joined the Cardinals’ organization under Rickey as a minor-league prospect in 1940 and worked for the Cardinals until his death at 88 in 2008.

Rookie welcome

After managing the Cardinals’ Class A Lewiston (Idaho) club in 1967, Hathaway replaced Kissell as manager of the Gulf Coast Cardinals rookie league team in 1968, enabling Kissell to become a roving instructor in the minor-league system.

Among the players on the 1968 Gulf Coast Cardinals was Bob Forsch, then a third baseman. In his book, “Tales from the Cardinals Dugout,” Forsch, who would become a standout Cardinals pitcher, recalled his first encounter with Hathaway on the day he joined the team in Sarasota, Fla., after traveling from his home in Sacramento, Calif.

“I hadn’t slept in almost two days, coming in from Sacramento, so I went up to my room and I overslept,” said Forsch. “I woke up at a quarter to five and I just jumped in a cab. I got to the complex … and ran to the bus. It was leaving right at five for the ballpark where we played the big night games.

“And Ray Hathaway, the manager, came up to me when I was getting on the bus. And the only thing he said to me was, ‘Don’t ever be late.’ That was it.”

Thank you, teacher

In 1969, the Cardinals promoted Hathaway, naming him manager of the Class AA Arkansas Travelers. Among the prospects on that team were future Cardinals outfielders Jose Cruz and Luis Melendez and pitchers Al Hrabosky and Reggie Cleveland.

According to his biography at SABR.org, Cleveland credited Hathaway and Cardinals coach Billy Muffett with teaching him how to pitch at the professional level. Cleveland had pitched for Hathaway at Lewiston and posted a 2.90 ERA with 11 complete games in 19 starts. He was the ace of Hathaway’s Arkansas club, compiling a 15-6 record with 13 complete games and a 3.39 ERA in 23 starts.

Trouble at Arkansas

The 1969 Arkansas team was 66-69 under Hathaway, finishing second to Memphis in the Eastern Division of the Texas League. After the season, Hathaway resigned and stunned the Cardinals by publicly ripping the Arkansas front office headed by team president Max Moses and general manager Carl Sawatski.

“Ray Hathaway has tossed in the towel as manager of the Arkansas Travelers, firing an angry salvo at the front office as he departed,” The Sporting News reported. “It appears from a statement by Hathaway that in resigning he might have beaten management to the punch.”

Said Hathaway: “The Little Rock club has expressed its desire of not rehiring me as your manager for 1970. This request was made two days before I had planned on making the identical request to (Cardinals farm director) George Silvey. My decision is the result of a great number of problems our players have endured. They are too numerous and insulting to mention …

“Mr. Silvey and the entire (Cardinals) organization exerted themselves to help us succeed in producing a contending club, which we definitely were. This has been done without appreciation from anyone connected with the Little Rock club.”

Arkansas officials referred all comment to Silvey, who said: “It’s unfortunate Ray made a public statement of his grievances. We’re sorry this happened. He’s forthright and outspoken. That’s obvious. I had no idea he was planning anything like this.”

Ken Boyer replaced Hathaway as Arkansas manager. Hathaway spent the next three seasons managing teams in the Indians organization. His final season as a manager was 1973 with Wilson, N.C., an independent team in the Carolina League.

Previously: Ron Plaza was mentor to Steve Carlton, Jose Cruz

Previously: Cardinals boosted managing career of Sparky Anderson

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 49 other followers