Archive for the ‘Managers’ Category

Tony La Russa and Joe Torre bring to 10 the number of managers in the National Baseball Hall of Fame who either played for or managed the Cardinals. Three of those 10 did both.

miller_hugginsLa Russa and Torre will be inducted into the Cooperstown, N.Y., shrine on July 27, 2014.

The 10 Hall of Fame managers who either played for or managed the Cardinals are, in alphabetical order: Walter Alston, Leo Durocher, Whitey Herzog, Miller Huggins, Tony La Russa, John McGraw, Bill McKechnie, Wilbert Robinson, Billy Southworth and Joe Torre.

Huggins, Southworth and Torre are the three Hall of Fame managers who both played for and managed the Cardinals.

Several other Hall of Famers _ such as Roger Bresnahan, Frankie Frisch, Rogers Hornsby and Red Schoendienst, to name a few _ managed the Cardinals, but were inducted at Cooperstown because of their stellar playing careers, not for managing.

Another Hall of Fame manager, Sparky Anderson, managed Cardinals farm teams, but didn’t manage the Cardinals and didn’t play for them.

Here is a look at the 10 Hall of Fame managers who either played for or managed the Cardinals:

Walter Alston

If general manager Branch Rickey hadn’t left St. Louis to join the Dodgers after the 1942 season, Alston eventually may have become Cardinals manager.

Instead, Rickey lured Alston from the Cardinals to the Dodgers. In 23 years as Dodgers manager, Alston had 2,040 wins, four World Series titles and seven National League pennants from 1954-76.

Alston played in the Cardinals’ minor-league system from 1935-44. He was a Cardinals minor-league player and manager at Class C Portsmouth (Ohio) in 1940 and at Class C Springfield (Ohio) in 1941 and 1942.

In the only major-league game in which he played, for the Cardinals against the Cubs in the season finale on Sept. 27, 1936, at St. Louis, Alston struck out against Lon Warneke in his lone at-bat and made an error in two fielding chances as a replacement for Johnny Mize at first base. Boxscore

Leo Durocher

After firing general manager Bing Devine in August 1964, the Cardinals planned to hire Durocher as their manager after the season. Instead, the Cardinals rallied to win the pennant and the World Series crown. When manager Johnny Keane resigned to join the Yankees, the Cardinals, looking for a popular replacement, changed course and hired Schoendienst rather than Durocher.

Durocher was the Cardinals’ shortstop from 1933-37. He started for the World Series champions in 1934. He was an all-star in 1936. He led National League shortstops in fielding percentage in 1933 and 1936.

In 24 years as a manager with the Dodgers, Giants, Cubs and Astros, Durocher had 2,008 wins, three pennants and a World Series championship.

Whitey Herzog

As Cardinals manager, Herzog won a World Series title and three pennants, reviving a franchise that had gone without a postseason appearance throughout the 1970s. Herzog had a record of 822-728 in 11 years with the Cardinals. He had 1,281 wins overall in 18 years as manager with the Rangers, Angels, Royals and Cardinals.

Miller Huggins

Like Torre, Huggins played for and managed the Cardinals, but earned his Hall of Fame credentials for his work with the Yankees.

Huggins was a Cardinals second baseman from 1910-16 and was their manager from 1913-17. He had a .402 on-base percentage and .270 batting average as a Cardinals player. He led the National League in on-base percentage at .432 in 1913.

His best season as Cardinals manager was 1917 when St. Louis finished in third place at 82-70. In five seasons as Cardinals manager, he was 346-415.

Huggins was the Yankees manager when Babe Ruth joined the team. He won three World Series crowns and six pennants with the Yankees. He was their manager when the Cardinals beat them in the 1926 World Series and when they beat the Cardinals in the 1928 World Series.

In 17 seasons as a big-league manager, Huggins had 1,413 wins, 1,067 with the Yankees.

Tony La Russa

His 1,408 wins with the Cardinals are the most by any manager in the franchise’s history. In 16 seasons with the Cardinals, La Russa earned two World Series titles, three pennants and nine postseason berths.

La Russa ranks third all-time in wins (2,728) among big-league managers. In 33 years managing the White Sox, Athletics and Cardinals, La Russa won three World Series crowns and six pennants.

John McGraw

In 33 years managing the Orioles and Giants, McGraw had 2,763 wins. Only Connie Mack had more. McGraw won three World Series championships and 10 pennants with the Giants.

He played in 99 games as a third baseman for the 1900 Cardinals and led the National League that season in on-base percentage at .505. He also batted .344.

Bill McKechnie

In 1928, his first season as Cardinals manager, McKechnie won a pennant. He managed the Cardinals for part of the 1929 season before resigning and joining the Braves. In 25 years as manager with the Pirates, Cardinals, Braves and Reds, McKechnie had 1,896 wins, two World Series titles (with the 1925 Pirates and 1940 Reds) and four pennants.

Wilbert Robinson

Robinson won two pennants with the Dodgers, also known then as the Robins, and had 1,399 wins in 19 years as manager of the Orioles and Dodgers.

He was a backup catcher for the 1900 Cardinals, batting .248 in 60 games.

Billy Southworth

Like La Russa, Southworth won two World Series championships and three pennants as Cardinals manager. Southworth achieved the feat in three consecutive years (1942-44). He also won a pennant with the Braves. In 13 years as a manager with the Cardinals and Braves, Southworth had 1,044 wins.

He was a Cardinals outfielder in 1926, 1927 and 1929, compiling a .305 batting average. Southworth hit a three-run home run off Yankees starter Urban Shocker, helping the Cardinals to a Game 2 victory in the 1926 World Series. Boxscore

Joe Torre

A case could be made that Torre qualifies for the Hall of Fame as a player. In 18 seasons with the Braves, Cardinals and Mets, Torre hit .297 with 2,342 hits and 1,185 RBI.

He played third base, first base and catcher for the Cardinals from 1969-74 and batted a collective .308 with 1,062 hits. He earned the 1971 National League Most Valuable Player Award when he led the league in batting average (.363), hits (239) and RBI (137).

In 29 years as a manager with the Mets, Braves, Cardinals, Yankees and Dodgers, Torre had 2,326 wins (fifth all-time) and won four World Series titles and six pennants (all with the Yankees). He was 351-354 in six seasons as Cardinals manager.

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Performing in an era when two, not five, teams qualified for the postseason from the National League, the best Cardinals club produced by manager Joe Torre wasn’t a September contender, even though its record was similar to, or better than, future St. Louis champions.

joe_torre4On July 27, 2014, Torre and Tony La Russa, who had the most wins of any Cardinals manager, will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Torre primarily was elected for managing the Yankees to four World Series crowns and six American League pennants.

Torre was 351-354 as Cardinals manager from August 1990 until June 1995. His best St. Louis team, the 1993 Cardinals, had an 87-75 record but finished third in the National League East Division, 10 games behind the champion Phillies and seven behind the second-place Expos.

In 2014, the National League qualifies three division champions and two wild-card teams for the postseason. In 1993, only the champions of the East and West divisions advanced.

The 1993 Cardinals had the fifth-best record in the National League. Their 87 wins were one fewer than those posted by the 1996 Cardinals (who were Central Division champions) and the 2012 Cardinals (who qualified for the postseason as a wild-card with the fifth-best record in the league). The 1993 Cardinals had four more wins than the 2006 Cardinals, who were Central Division champions and proceeded to win the World Series title.

Jefferies delivers

First baseman Gregg Jefferies led a 1993 Cardinals lineup that ranked fourth in the National League in runs scored (758) and batted a collective .272, eight percentage points better than the league average. Jefferies batted .342 with 16 home runs, 83 RBI, 46 stolen bases and a .408 on-base percentage.

Joining Jefferies among the top producers were third baseman Todd Zeile (17 home runs, 103 RBI), right fielder Mark Whiten (25 home runs, 99 RBI), left fielder Bernard Gilkey (40 doubles, 16 home runs) and shortstop Ozzie Smith (.288 batting average, 21 stolen bases).

The pitching staff featured closer Lee Smith (43 saves despite a 4.50 ERA) and three starters with winning records and double-figure wins: Bob Tewksbury (17 wins), Rene Arocha (11) and Donovan Osborne (10). But the staff was neither deep nor dominant and it produced a team ERA of 4.09, five percentage points above the league average.

A 20-7 June record put the Cardinals at 45-31 overall. After beating the Braves on July 19, the Cardinals were a season-high 18 wins over .500 at 55-37 and in second place, three games behind the Phillies and 6.5 ahead of the third-place Expos.

One month later, on Aug. 19, the Cardinals were holding steady, 17 wins above .500 at 69-52 and still in second place, but had lost ground to the Phillies, who were eight games ahead of them in the East.

Good group

As late as Sept. 19, the Cardinals were 15 wins above .500 at 82-67, but the Expos had moved past them and into second place. The Cardinals trailed the Expos by four games and the Phillies by eight.

“We have a good group,” Torre told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Sept. 19. “There’s a lot more offense out there than we’ve had for a while. We thought our pitching would carry us, and it did for a while, but we’re a much better team offensively than we thought at the beginning of the season.”

St. Louis then lost eight of its next 11, dashing any hopes of a postseason berth.

The Phillies won the division title at 97-65. The second-place Expos were 94-68.

“You’re happy it’s over because finishing third, when you thought you had a chance for more, it’s frustrating,” Torre said after the season finale.

Said Ozzie Smith: “We competed for a long time, but then we just sort of fell out. That’s the disappointing part.”

Energy drain

In an analysis of the Cardinals’ 1993 season, Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch wrote, “The season must be classified as a disappointment to everyone concerned. A team that should have contended didn’t contend long enough. And a team that most certainly should have finished second didn’t seem to care about that.”

Hummel gave Torre a grade of C-plus for his managing in 1993. “Torre thought he had a team that would be in it until the last few days, at the least … Try as he might, Torre couldn’t infuse enough energy into this team late in the season,” Hummel wrote.

In his three full seasons as Cardinals manager (1991-93), Torre’s teams had winning records. The 1991 Cardinals finished second in the East Division, but 14 games behind the Pirates. Here is a breakdown of Torre’s year-by-year records with the Cardinals:

_ 1990: 24-34. (Hired in August by general manager Dal Maxvill).

_ 1991: 84-78.

_ 1992: 83-79.

_ 1993: 87-75.

_ 1994: 53-61. (Players’ strike halted season in August).

_ 1995: 20-27. (Fired in June by general manager Walt Jocketty).

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Dennis Eckersley and Jason Isringhausen, the closers who contributed the most to helping Tony La Russa earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, also played prominent roles in his first win as Cardinals manager.

dennis_eckersley2On April 3, 1996, in La Russa’s second game as St. Louis manager, the Cardinals beat the Mets, 5-3, in New York. Eckersley earned a tension-filled four-out save; Isringhausen was the opposing starter, facing the Cardinals for the first time in his career.

The win was the first of a franchise-record 1,408 for La Russa in 16 years as Cardinals manager.

After successful stints managing the White Sox and Athletics, La Russa would secure his Hall of Fame status with his Cardinals career. He joined another Hall of Famer, Billy Southworth, as the only managers to win two World Series titles with the Cardinals. On July 27, 2014, La Russa and another former Cardinals manager, Joe Torre, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y.

Converted starters

At Oakland, La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan converted a reluctant Eckersley from a starter into a closer. The move transformed Eckersley into a Hall of Fame pitcher. He earned 386 of his 390 saves with La Russa as manager _ 320 in nine years with the Athletics and 66 in two years with the Cardinals.

Isringhausen, who also successfully converted from starter to closer, joined the Cardinals in 2002. Pitching for La Russa and Duncan, Isringhausen compiled a franchise-record 217 saves in seven seasons with the Cardinals and finished his big-league career with 300 saves.

After La Russa left the Athletics to become manager of the 1996 Cardinals, Eckersley was acquired in a trade for pitcher Steve Montgomery and, at 41, became the St. Louis closer.

On April 1, 1996, in La Russa’s debut as Cardinals manager, the Mets overcame a four-run deficit and won, 7-6. Eckersley didn’t appear in that game. Boxscore

Seeking a win

Isringhausen, 23, got the start for the Mets in the season’s second game. He had posted a 9-2 record as a Mets rookie in 1995. A native of Brighton, Ill., near St. Louis, Isringhausen acknowledged that facing the Cardinals was special. “I had more butterflies (than usual),” Isringhausen said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Isringhausen pitched six innings, yielding three runs to the Cardinals. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter, with the Cardinals leading, 3-0. Then, Bernard Gilkey, a former Cardinal, clubbed a three-run home run off starter Todd Stottlemyre in the bottom of the sixth, tying the score at 3-3.

The Cardinals scored a run in the seventh off Robert Person and another run in the eighth against Jerry DiPoto, taking a 5-3 lead. In the bottom of the eighth, the Mets had runners on first and second with two outs when La Russa replaced Stottlemyre with Eckersley.

“No matter how much experience you have, you’re a little uptight when you come into the game,” Eckersley later said to the Post-Dispatch. “I felt very uncomfortable, like I’d never been in a game before.”

Solid swing

The first batter Eckersley faced in his Cardinals debut was Butch Huskey, the Mets’ cleanup batter.

With the count 1-and-2, Eckersley threw a fastball. Huskey swung and launched a drive toward center field. He knew he had made solid contact. “I thought it had a chance to go (over the wall),” Huskey said to the New York Daily News.

Center fielder Ray Lankford raced toward the wall while tracking the path of the ball. “I thought I could tell by the look on (Lankford’s) face that he was going to catch it,” Eckersley said.

The ball carried farther than Eckersley thought. As Lankford neared the 396-foot sign, he leaped, extended his glove and caught the ball, ending the inning and preserving the lead.

“Most definitely, I was robbed,” Huskey told the Post-Dispatch. “The ball jumped off my bat. I thought it was going out.”

In the bottom of the ninth, with the Cardinals still ahead by two, Eckersley retired the first two batters. Then, Jose Vizcaino and Kevin Roberson each singled. Edgardo Alfonzo was up next, representing the potential go-ahead run.

Eckersley struck him out. earning his first National League save and preserving La Russa’s first National League win.

“In this league, it’s hard to get a hit or a save or a win,” La Russa said. “I don’t think there are any ugly ones.” Boxscore

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In 14 seasons as a big-league manager, Don Zimmer was at his best in 1989. He won a division title with the Cubs and earned the admiration of his Cardinals counterpart, Whitey Herzog.

don_zimmerA longtime player, coach and manager, Zimmer, 83, died June 4, 2014, at Dunedin, Fla.

In his book “You’re Missin’ a Great Game” (1999, Simon & Schuster), Herzog wrote of Zimmer:

“The best year of managing I ever saw was Don Zimmer with the Cubs in 1989. Zim’s a great baseball man. For that one year, he could do no wrong. He tried everything _ and everything he tried worked. He called the hit-and-run, he ran squeezes, he pitched out, he ran double steals. He pitched guys on two, three days of rest … People say, ‘Don’t you think he was just lucky?’ It’s like I always say: It’s amazing how lucky you are when you’re good.”

Cardinals-Cubs showdown

Zimmer’s best effort that season may have occurred during a pivotal three-game series between the Cardinals and Cubs in early September at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.

After erasing a 7-2 deficit and winning, 11-8, in the series opener on Sept. 8, the Cardinals moved to within a half-game of the first-place Cubs in the National League East. A win over the Cubs the next day would put the Cardinals in first place for the first time since May 12.

The momentum appeared to be with the Cardinals when they took a 2-1 lead into the eighth inning of the second game of the series on Sept. 9. Then, the game _ as well as the Cardinals’ season _ turned on what transpired in that inning.

In the top half, the Cardinals, with runners on first and second and one out, looked poised to build their lead. Terry Pendleton, a switch-hitter, was the batter. In 1989, Pendleton hit 25 points higher against left-handed pitchers than he did versus right-handers. Still, Zimmer lifted right-hander Les Lancaster and brought in Steve Wilson, a left-hander, to face Pendleton.

Pendleton popped out to second base.

Next up for the Cardinals was right-handed slugger Tom Brunansky. Zimmer pulled Wilson for Jeff Pico, a right-handed reliever.

Brunansky struck out, ending the threat.

Against all odds

In the Cubs’ half of the inning, they got a runner to third base with two outs. A right-handed batter, Luis Salazar was at the plate. The Cardinals pitcher was Dan Quisenberry, a right-hander. Herzog figured Zimmer would send a left-handed batter to pinch hit for Salazar. Herzog was prepared to counter with a left-handed reliever, Ken Dayley.

“He (Zimmer) has got to take a shot. He’s got to force me to make a move and get Dayley in the game,” Herzog said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Instead, Zimmer stuck with Salazar.

Said Zimmer: “I called him down and said, ‘Have you ever faced Quisenberry before?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I’ve had good luck with him.’ I took his word for it. You don’t know. I’ll probably look it up and find out he’d never even faced him before.”

Salazar rewarded Zimmer’s confidence by singling to left, driving in the runner, Dwight Smith, from third and tying the score at 2-2.

Said Herzog: “Quiz threw a terrible pitch.”

(Salazar was 3-for-8 in his career versus Quisenberry. He was 1-for-5 against him in 1985 and 2-for-3 in 1989.)

In the 10th, Salazar doubled off Dayley, scoring Andre Dawson from first and giving the Cubs a 3-2 victory. Boxscore

“Yes, Zimmer can manage,” wrote Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz. “… He used four relief pitchers and the parade limited the Cardinals to one hit in three innings. Zimmer inserted Luis Salazar at third base in the late innings and Salazar drove in the tying and winning runs.”

Said Zimmer: “This was almost like a World Series and October atmosphere.”

What the heck

Instead of moving into first, the Cardinals dropped 1.5 games behind the Cubs.

In the series finale the next day, Sept. 10, right-hander Greg Maddux was scheduled to start for the Cubs. That morning, Zimmer decided instead to start Wilson, even though the left-hander had pitched in relief the previous day. Maddux was 0-1 with a 7.15 ERA in two starts versus the 1989 Cardinals. Zimmer informed Maddux he would start the following day against the Expos.

Said Zimmer: “I looked at the pitching chart and I said, ‘I know Greg Maddux pitches better against Montreal than St. Louis.’ I feel like a left-hander has a little better chance against St. Louis anyway. I said, ‘The heck with it’ and I changed it around.”

Wilson struck out 10 in five innings and limited the Cardinals to a run. Three relievers combined to hold the Cardinals scoreless, striking out eight. The Cubs won, 4-1. Boxscore

Zimmer used seven relievers in the final two games of the series and they didn’t allow a run.

Reeling, the Cardinals lost their next four in a row and slipped out of contention. They finished in third place. The Cubs won the division title, finishing six games ahead of the runner-up Mets.

Zimmer received the 1989 National League Manager of the Year Award.

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Each motivated to protect his players by standing up to intimidation, managers Tony La Russa of the Cardinals and Lloyd McClendon of the Pirates engaged in a nose-to-nose public showdown, creating hard feelings among the clubs that lasted deep into the following season.

tony_larussa13Such macho posturing may be necessary for managers to keep the respect of players, but that kind of leadership style doesn’t win the approval of baseball’s corporate executives. Both La Russa and McClendon were suspended for their actions.

Ten years ago, on June 3, 2004, the Cardinals and Pirates were playing the last of a four-game series at Pittsburgh. The Cardinals had won the first three and were leading, 4-2, in the ninth inning of the finale.

Tensions had run high since the series’ second game when the Cardinals’ Scott Rolen was hit in the head by a pitch from Ryan Vogelsong. Cardinals starter Jeff Suppan retaliated by plunking Daryle Ward in the at-bat after Ward had slugged a home run.

In the finale (in which catcher Yadier Molina got the start in his major-league debut), the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols was struck in the leg by an Oliver Perez delivery in the sixth inning. Jason Kendall, the Pirates’ first batter in the bottom half of the inning, got nailed by a Woody Williams pitch.

Bring it on

With two outs and none on in the ninth, Cardinals batter Tony Womack barely avoided a high, tight pitch from Mike Gonzalez.

From the dugout, La Russa yelled at Gonzalez.

Kendall, the catcher, yelled back at La Russa.

La Russa barked at Kendall, telling him to keep the pitches down.

Angered, McClendon charged onto the field and headed directly toward the Cardinals dugout.

Umpires Brian Gorman and Dale Scott tried to restrain McClendon, who called out La Russa.

Accepting the challenge, La Russa entered the field. As both benches and bullpens emptied, La Russa and McClendon stood toe to toe and exchanged heated words along the first-base line.

“As angry as the two were,” wrote Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cook, “it’s surprising no punches were thrown.”

Gorman ejected both managers.

Crime and punishment

“I did what I feel I had to do,” McClendon said to the Post-Gazette. “He (La Russa) crossed the line by yelling at my players. If I don’t do anything there, I lose respect. I lose my team.”

Said La Russa to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “I can’t read anybody’s mind, but the way (Gonzalez) was looking and prancing, I was very suspicious (of his intent). That just doesn’t belong. If you’re going to pitch inside, get the ball below the shoulder.”

When the game resumed, Jason Isringhausen closed out the Pirates in the ninth and the Cardinals completed the sweep. Boxscore

The next day, Bob Watson, vice president of on-field operations for Major League Baseball, suspended each manager for two games and imposed fines.

La Russa and McClendon agreed that the matter should be settled on the field.

“I think it’s really bad business,” La Russa said to the Associated Press. “But I also think Major League Baseball is not really attacking the problem _ of pitches up and in _ in the best way that they should.”

Said McClendon: “I guess what you’re supposed to do now … is when the opposing manager berates your players you should just sit there and not say a thing and allow your team to lose respect for you and for them to know that you’re not going to fight for them and stand up for them.”

Plot thickens

The story didn’t end there.

Two months later, in August 2004, McClendon asked umpires to check the cap of Cardinals pitcher Julian Tavarez for a foreign substance. The umpires found something suspicious and ejected Tavarez, who was suspended for 10 games.

In an interview with the Post-Dispatch, La Russa accused McClendon of “gamesmanship.”

Tavarez said McClendon “was trying to get back at Tony more than doing anything to me.”

Said McClendon to MLB.com: “Why would I hate the Cardinals? I don’t hate Tony … I respect them.”

A year later, however, in August 2005, McClendon and Pirates hitting coach Gerald Perry, a former Cardinals player, got into an altercation with Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan during batting practice. Perry may have struck Duncan in the jaw, according to published reports. Afterward, in discussing the incident with the media, Duncan labeled McClendon “an idiot.”

One month after that, the Pirates fired McClendon. He became a Tigers coach on manager Jim Leyland’s staff before being named manager of the 2014 Mariners.

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Their given names were John and George.

Their baseball names were Sonny and Sparky.

sonny_rubertoTogether, they contributed to a standard of teaching that has become a hallmark of the Cardinals.

Sonny Ruberto, mentored by Sparky Anderson in the Cardinals organization, influenced St. Louis players and prospects from 1977-81 as a big-league coach and minor-league manager.

Ruberto, 68, died March 24, 2014, near Naples, Fla.

Two of his pupils in the Cardinals system, Jim Riggleman and John Stuper, carry on with reputations as first-rate instructors. Riggleman, who managed four big-league teams, is manager of the Reds’ Class AAA Louisville club. Stuper, who started and won Game 6 of the 1982 World Series for the Cardinals, is head coach of the Yale University baseball team.

George “Sparky” Anderson, who built a Hall of Fame career as manager of the Reds and Tigers, was 30 when he began his managerial career with Class AAA Toronto in 1964. A year later, he became a manager in the Cardinals system.

John “Sonny” Ruberto was 24 when he began his managerial career with the Padres’ Class A Lodi club in 1970. At 31, he became the youngest coach in the major leagues when he joined the staff of first-year Cardinals manager Vern Rapp in 1977.

Cardinals prospect

A standout catcher at Curtis High School in Staten Island, N.Y., where he played with other future major leaguers such as Terry Crowley and Frank Fernandez, Ruberto signed with the Cardinals as an amateur free agent in 1964. Two years later, he was on a Class A St. Petersburg team managed by Anderson.

In a 1966 game that began on June 14 and ended at 2:30 a.m. on June 15, the visiting Miami Marlins beat St. Petersburg, 4-3, in 29 innings. “It was the darndest thing I’ve ever seen,” Anderson told The Sporting News.

Ruberto played all 29 innings _ the first nine as catcher and the last 20 at shortstop. He had two hits in 10 at-bats and scored a run.

Ruberto hit .283 in 88 games for St. Petersburg. The next year, he played for the Cardinals’ Class A Modesto club, managed by Anderson.

On May 22, 1969, the Cardinals traded Ruberto and second baseman John Sipin to the Padres for infielder Jerry DaVanon and first baseman Bill Davis. Ruberto made his big-league debut as a player with the Padres that month.

Big Red Machine

After a season managing Lodi, Ruberto in 1971 joined the Reds organization, where he was reunited with two key figures from his Cardinals days: Anderson (the Reds’ manager) and Bob Howsam, the former Cardinals general manager who took over the same role with Cincinnati.

Ruberto resumed his playing career and was sent to Class AAA Indianapolis. His manager there for the next five years, 1971 through 1975, was Rapp. As catcher, Ruberto was credited with helping the progress of several Reds pitching prospects, including Joaquin Andujar, Ross Grimsley, Tom Hume, Milt Wilcox and Pat Zachry.

“I feel I had something to do with their development,” Ruberto told The Sporting News.

When Rapp was named Cardinals manager, replacing Red Schoendienst, for the 1977 season, he selected Ruberto to be the first-base coach.

Wrote The Sporting News: “Like Rapp, Ruberto had been a career Triple-A catcher highly regarded for his ability to handle pitchers. Ruberto even has some ideas on helping Ted Simmons improve his backstopping duties.”

Rapp was brought to the Cardinals to instill discipline. At spring training in 1977, The Sporting News reported, “Rapp sized up his charges to make sure that the regulation baseball uniforms were worn properly. He had coach Sonny Ruberto demonstrate how he wanted the uniforms worn.”

At the helm

Rapp was fired in April 1978 and replaced by Ken Boyer. After the season, two of the coaches Boyer had inherited, Ruberto and Mo Mazzali, were replaced by Schoendienst and Dal Maxvill.

The Cardinals, though, kept Ruberto in the organization, naming him manager of the 1979 St. Petersburg club, succeeding Hal Lanier, who was promoted to Class AAA Springfield.

“What kind of manager will I be?” Ruberto said in response to a question from the St. Petersburg Times. “Well, a little of Vern Rapp, a little of Sparky Anderson, a little of Billy Martin and a lot of Sonny Ruberto.”

St. Petersburg finished 64-71, but the Cardinals were pleased with how their prospects, such as Stuper and fellow starting pitcher Andy Rincon, developed under Ruberto.

In 1980, Ruberto managed the Cardinals’ Class AA Arkansas team to an 81-55 record and a Texas League championship. Stuper had a 7-2 record for Arkansas. Riggleman, a third baseman, hit .295 with 21 home runs and 90 RBI in 127 games.

Ruberto managed the Cardinals’ Class A Erie team to a 44-30 record in 1981.

He operated a photography business in St. Louis and resided there with his family for 26 years.

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