Archive for the ‘Opponents’ Category

Whether facing a journeyman such as Barney Schultz or a fellow Hall of Famer like Steve Carlton, Cubs icon Ernie Banks produced some of his most spectacular performances against Cardinals pitching.

ernie_banksBanks, 83, died Jan. 23, 2015, a week before his 84th birthday.

In a 19-year playing career with the Cubs, Banks had 512 home runs, 1,636 RBI and 2,583 hits. Against the Cardinals, Banks batted .277 with 326 hits in 324 games, including 64 home runs.

“One thing that the fans never really knew about Ernie … is that he talked all of the time,” George Altman, an outfielder with the Cubs and Cardinals, wrote in his autobiography. “He talked to the opposing hitters when they reached first base. He talked to our infielders. He talked to us on the bench.”

All of that talking became too much for Cardinals ace and Hall of Famer Bob Gibson.

“Ernie Banks was a good example of a guy whom I probably would have enjoyed quite a bit if he had been on my side _ I don’t doubt that he was as nice a guy as everybody said _ but as it was he talked too damn much,” Gibson said in his book “Stranger to the Game.”

“He was always jabbering at me a day or two before I pitched against the Cubs, trying to get me off my game. One day at old Busch Stadium he came by during batting practice and said, ‘Hoot, you pitching tomorrow? We’re going to beat you. We’re going to beat your ass tomorrow.’ I said, ‘Ernie, you’d better leave me alone.’

“It wasn’t in his nature to do that, though, and the next day I answered him.”

Gibson drilled Banks in the ribs with a pitch. “He didn’t have much to say to me after that,” Gibson said.

That day, July 18, 1962, Gibson struck out Banks three times and held the Cubs to three hits in a 2-1 Cardinals victory. Boxscore

Banks had a career batting mark of .229 (24-for-105) against Gibson with three home runs and 13 RBI.

Some of Banks’ most memorable games versus the Cardinals:

Communication breakdown

Banks hit two home runs on April 16, 1955, but the Cardinals won, 12-11, in 14 innings at St. Louis.

In the second inning, Randy Jackson, Banks and Dee Fondy hit consecutive home runs off Tom Poholsky.

With the score at 9-9 in the 12th, Banks and Fondy connected for back-to-back homers off Schultz. The Cardinals tied the score in the bottom half of the inning on Wally Moon’s two-run homer with two outs off Bubba Church.

A misplay involving Banks ignited the winning rally in the 14th. Bill Sarni lifted a fly to short left. Banks, the shortstop, and left fielder Hank Sauer miscommunicated and the ball dropped in for a double. Moon followed with a single off Vicente Amor, making his big-league debut, scoring Sarni. Boxscore

Slugging shortstop

Three months later, on July 8, 1955, Banks again homered twice against the Cardinals. This time, the Cubs won, 6-4, in 11 innings.

Banks hit a solo home run off Floyd Wooldridge in the first. In the 11th, Banks broke a 4-4 tie with a two-run homer off Gordon Jones. Boxscore

The home runs gave Banks a season total of 23, most for a shortstop in one year since Glenn Wright slugged 22 for the 1930 Dodgers.

In a five-game stretch against St. Louis in July 1955, Banks hit .550 (10-for-18).

Perfect at plate

Banks produced five hits in a game for the only time in his major-league career on Sept. 29, 1957, against the Cardinals. He was 5-for-5 with a career-best three doubles and two singles in an 8-3 Cubs victory in the season finale. Boxscore

Lucky seven

Banks had a career-high seven RBI in a game three times. The second time was against the Cardinals at St. Louis on May 1, 1963. Banks hit a pair of three-run home runs _ in the first inning off Ray Sadecki and in the seventh off Harry Fanok _ and added an RBI-single in the eighth. The Cubs won, 13-8. Boxscore

Fit to be tied

Ten years after his 12th-inning home run off Schultz, Banks hit another dramatic shot against the Cardinals knuckleball pitcher.

On April 12, 1965, in the season opener at Chicago, the Cardinals carried a 9-6 lead into the bottom of the ninth. With two outs and none on, Tracy Stallard walked Ron Santo and Altman followed with a single.

Red Schoendienst, in his debut as manager, replaced Stallard with Schultz. Banks greeted him with a three-run homer “into the teeth of a 20 mph wind,” according to the Associated Press, tying the score at 9-9.

After each team scored in the 11th, the game was ended because of darkness and declared a tie, with all statistics counting. Boxscore

“Stallard pitched like a son of a gun,” said Schoendienst. “But when Altman got that good, solid hit I … decided to take him out. Why not? Schultz was warmed up and nobody has touched him for anything in the spring games.”

Last hurrah

At 39, Banks hit a pair of two-run home runs off Carlton _ the first giving the Cubs a 4-3 lead in the sixth and the second snapping a 4-4 tie in the eighth _ but the Cardinals rallied and won, 8-6, at St. Louis on June 29, 1970.

The home runs were the 506th and 507th of Banks’ career and were the last he would hit against Cardinals pitching. Boxscore

Composer Burt Bacharach, Banks’ self-described No. 1 fan, was in St. Louis for a concert and was greeted by Banks outside the clubhouse after the game.

“You were making beautiful music out there,” Bacharach said to Banks.

Banks played against the Cardinals for the final time on Sept. 10, 1971, when he grounded out as a pinch-hitter against Don Shaw at Wrigley Field. Boxscore

Previously: Bob Gibson vs. Billy Williams: a classic duel

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For Cardinals pinch-hitter Gerald Perry, a controversial feat against a future ace salvaged an afternoon that began with a gaffe.

pedro_martinezOn April 13, 1993, Perry hit the first big-league home run yielded by Pedro Martinez, then a Dodgers rookie.

Twenty-two years later, on Jan. 6, 2015, Martinez was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot. In 18 seasons with the Dodgers, Expos, Red Sox, Mets and Phillies, Martinez produced a 219-100 record and 2.93 ERA with 3,154 strikeouts. He ranks sixth all-time in winning percentage.

In 1993, Martinez was 21, a relief pitcher in his first full big-league season with the Dodgers.

Perry, 32, was an 11-year big-league veteran, an established professional.

On this Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles, he made a rookie mistake.

Room service, please

Perry thought the Cardinals and Dodgers were playing a night game. Instead, it was a rare weekday afternoon starting time because the game was the Dodgers’ home opener.

According to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Perry “was resting at the Century Plaza Hotel, having room service and watching a movie (“The Bodyguard”) on television” when he got a call from Cardinals equipment manager Buddy Bates, informing him he was about 90 minutes late.

Perry took a cab to Dodger Stadium and arrived in the clubhouse about 45 minutes before the start of the game. “I was very embarrassed walking in,” Perry said.

The Dodgers led, 7-5, after six innings. Martinez, the Dodgers’ third pitcher of the game, had held St. Louis scoreless in the fifth and sixth. The right-hander was making his second appearance of the season and his fourth overall in the big leagues.

In the seventh, the Cardinals had two runners on base with two outs when manager Joe Torre called on Perry, a left-handed batter, to pinch-hit for reliever Les Lancaster.

Tom Lasorda, the Dodgers’ manager, stuck with Martinez.

Trouble if it’s fair

Perry swung at a high changeup and lined a deep drive down the right-field line.

As the ball carried toward the foul pole, Darryl Strawberry, the 6-foot-6 right fielder, “leaned over the waist-high wall” and reached for the ball, Hummel reported.

On KMOX radio, Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon told his audience, “Swing and a long one down the right-field line. It’s trouble if it stays fair … Well, we can’t tell.”

A fan with a glove caught the ball.

It landed just inside the foul line _ a three-run home run, giving the Cardinals an 8-7 lead.

Strawberry claimed the fan interfered.

“I would have had it,” said Strawberry. “I had it all the way. He just took it away.”

An inning after the home run, ushers escorted the fan from his seat. “Perhaps for his own safety,” Hummel wrote.

Cardinals catcher Hector Villanueva, who was in the bullpen, witnessed the fan being harassed by fellow spectators. “They were throwing stuff at him,” Villanueva said.

After viewing a video replay of Perry’s home run, Cardinals catcher Tom Pagnozzi opined, “There’s no way Strawberry would have caught that ball because the ball was already by him. What’s he whining about?”

Said Perry to the Orange County Register: “I was hoping and praying (Strawberry) wouldn’t catch it. Thanks to the fan, too.”

Martinez was lifted after completing the seventh. In the ninth, Pagnozzi hit a solo home run off Ricky Trlicek, extending the St. Louis lead to 9-7, and Lee Smith shut down the Dodgers in their half of the inning, earning his 358th save, then a major league record. Boxscore

When Perry got back to the clubhouse, he found a sign, created by his teammates, taped over his locker that informed him of the next Cardinals-Dodgers game. It read: “Night game, Rookie.”

Redbirds vs. Pedro

Martinez took the loss. Against the Cardinals in his career, he would finish 4-4 with a 3.62 ERA in 16 regular-season appearances, including 11 starts. He also earned a win against them with seven shutout innings in Game 3 of the 2004 World Series. Boxscore

Martinez gave up 10 career home runs versus the Cardinals. Six of those 10 occurred in three games.

_ John Mabry and Gary Gaetti connected for home runs against Martinez on July 28, 1996, in a 6-4 Cardinals victory over the Expos at St. Louis. Boxscore

_ Mark Grudzielanek and Abraham Nunez homered for the Cardinals against Martinez in a 7-6 St. Louis victory over the Mets on May 14, 2005, at New York. Boxscore

_ Troy Glaus and Rick Ankiel hit home runs off Martinez in an 8-7 Cardinals triumph over the Mets at St. Louis on July 2, 2008. Boxscore

Previously: How Joe Girardi became a member of Cardinals’ family

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(Updated Jan. 6, 2015)

The Cardinals were a tough opponent for Randy Johnson.

randy_johnsonThe 6-foot-10 left-hander had a 7-7 record and 4.17 ERA versus the Cardinals in 16 regular-season career starts. He also was 0-2 against St. Louis in two postseason starts.

Johnson, who has 303 wins, five Cy Young awards and ranks second all-time in strikeouts (4,875), was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Jan. 6, 2015.

Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols was a Johnson nemesis. Pujols has a career .458 batting average (11-for-24) against Johnson in the regular season, with five home runs and 13 RBI. He also hit a home run versus Johnson in the postseason.

Johnson has only three wins in eight regular-season career decisions at St. Louis. He was 2-4 at Busch Stadium II, which closed after the 2005 season; 1-1 at Busch Stadium III.

Here is a look at some memorable matchups between Johnson and the Cardinals:

Roughed up by Redbirds

Mike Matheny and Eli Marrero hit solo home runs on consecutive pitches off Johnson in the third inning and Edgar Renteria knocked him from the game with a three-run homer in the sixth, powering the Cardinals to a 9-4 victory over the Diamondbacks on April 8, 2001, at Phoenix.

Johnson yielded 11 hits and nine runs in 5.2 innings. He also walked two and hit two with pitches. Pujols, batting fourth for the first time in the big leagues, had a two-run double off Johnson and Fernando Vina contributed a two-run single. Rick Ankiel got the win, his last as a big-league starter. Boxscore

The nine earned runs were the most Johnson had yielded in a game since April 10, 1994, when the Blue Jays scored 10 in 2.1 innings against him.

“A game like this will stick with you a little while … I pitched real bad,” Johnson said to the Arizona Daily Star after the loss to the Cardinals.

Johnson, 38, recovered from the pounding and posted one of his best seasons. He was 21-6 with a National League-leading 2.49 ERA for the 2001 Diamondbacks. He struck out a career-best 372 and earned his third consecutive NL Cy Young Award.

Pujols delivers

In Game 2 of the NL Division Series at Phoenix on Oct. 10, 2001, Pujols hit his first postseason home run, a two-run shot off a high fastball from Johnson in the first inning, and sparked the Cardinals to a 4-1 victory over the Diamondbacks.

“I wish I could have that pitch back,” Johnson said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Said Pujols: “That was my pitch.”

Johnson also yielded a run in the third. Pitcher Woody Williams doubled, advanced to third on a bunt by Vina and scored on a sacrifice fly by Placido Polanco.

Johnson went eight innings, surrendering three runs on six hits and two walks. He struck out nine. Boxscore

“He made two mistakes the whole game, to Pujols and Woody Williams,” said Diamondbacks catcher Damian Miller. “The only two bad pitches.”

Good game plan

Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen each hit a two-run home run off Johnson, leading the Cardinals to a 12-2 triumph against the Diamondbacks in Game 1 of the 2002 NL Division Series on Oct. 1 at Phoenix. Matheny contributed a RBI-single and a double against Johnson.

In six innings, Johnson allowed 10 hits, six runs and two walks. Boxscore

The Cardinals benefitted from a disciplined approach, laying off sliders and waiting for fastballs, according to Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch.

“We did a great job of sticking to our game plan,” said Edmonds. “We made him pitch and tried to hit strikes instead of being overaggressive and trying to match his power.”

Said Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly: “It appeared to me that he was rushing a little bit. When he does that, his velocity drops (and) his slider is not quite as sharp as it usually is. They were a very unforgiving team to him.”

Escape act

The Cardinals hit four home runs off Johnson, but he escaped with a no-decision in an 8-6 Diamondbacks victory on Sept. 1, 2008, at Phoenix.

Pujols hit a two-run home run and Yadier Molina, Joe Mather and Felipe Lopez each hit solo shots against Johnson. He gave up six hits and five runs in 3.2 innings. Eight of the 11 outs Johnson recorded were on strikeouts. Boxscore

Last win

In his last career appearance against the Cardinals, Johnson gave up two home runs to Pujols but earned the win _ the last of his big-league career _ in a 6-3 Giants victory on June 30, 2009, at St. Louis.

Johnson gave up four hits, four walks and three runs in 5.1 innings. Pujols hit a solo home run in the fourth and a two-run shot in the sixth. Ryan Ludwick accounted for the other two hits off Johnson: a double and a triple. Boxscore

The first home run by Pujols carried an estimated 445 feet. “I didn’t make the pitch I wanted to make,” Johnson said to the San Jose Mercury News. “I think it will probably be landing sometime shortly.”

Johnson has the most career strikeouts of any left-hander. Only right-hander Nolan Ryan (5,714) has more. Johnson and Steve Carlton (4,136) are the only left-handers with more than 3,000 strikeouts.

Johnson ranks fifth all-time among left-handers in wins, trailing Warren Spahn (363), Carlton (329), Eddie Plank (326) and Tom Glavine (305).

Previously: Rick Ankiel and his last hurrah as a pitcher

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Ten years ago, the Angels gave the Cardinals a perfect Christmas gift.

david_ecksteinOn Dec. 21, 2004, the Angels opted not to re-sign their shortstop, David Eckstein, making him a free agent.

The Cardinals, desperate to replace shortstop Edgar Renteria, who had become a free agent and signed with the Red Sox, hardly could believe their good fortune.

Eckstein was one player who filled two needs. He could replace Renteria at shortstop and he also could bat leadoff. Like Renteria, Tony Womack, who batted leadoff for the 2004 Cardinals, had become a free agent. Womack signed with the Yankees.

Pouncing on the opportunity to acquire a player described by general manager Walt Jocketty as “a perfect fit,” the Cardinals signed Eckstein on Dec. 23, two days after he became available.

It was a move they’d never regret, one that felt right from the very moment it occurred.

Eckstein ignited the Cardinals with his hustle, heart and smarts, leading them to two postseason appearances and a 2006 World Series championship.

Shortstop roulette

Though Eckstein had sparked the Angels to their only World Series title in 2002 and had led American League shortstops in fielding percentage in 2004, the Angels sought an upgrade, citing Eckstein’s lack of arm strength as a liability.

Meanwhile, Renteria, a three-time all-star with the Cardinals, had bolted to the Red Sox, who gave him a four-year, $40 million contract.

With Renteria joining Boston, Orlando Cabrera, the shortstop who helped the Red Sox sweep the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series, declared for free agency. The Angels pursued him, offering a four-year, $32 million deal. When Cabrera accepted, Eckstein became expendable.

According to the Associated Press, the Cardinals, unable to find a suitable replacement for Renteria, were considering signing shortstop Barry Larkin, 40, who had become a free agent after 19 seasons with the Reds. When Eckstein became available, the Cardinals called with a three-year, $10.2 million offer.

Eckstein, 29, accepted. It was a bargain for the Cardinals.

“They were very aggressive,” Eckstein said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “They were pretty much the first team to call … It was clear that this was a good fit. The best fit.”

John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ assistant general manager, told the Associated Press, “David was the player we focused on right away after Cabrera signed.”

Said Jocketty to Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch: “We felt this was the guy, the perfect fit for our club for a lot of reasons. For his personality, for the way he goes about playing the game. He’s a gamer through and through. He’s the kind of player St. Louis will embrace. I think he will become a cult hero with our fans. He’s a hustler.”

Angels players and media were disappointed Eckstein departed.

Wrote San Bernardino Sun columnist Paul Oberjuerge: “The Angels just shot Bambi.”

Said Angels first baseman Darin Erstad to MLB.com: “He’s been the heart and soul of the team, an inspiration for all of us.”

Size doesn’t matter

Eckstein, 5 feet 6, 170 pounds, had 156 hits in 142 games for the 2004 Angels. He struck out just 49 times in 637 plate appearances. He made only six errors in 138 games at shortstop.

In the 2002 World Series against the Giants, Eckstein batted .310 with nine hits, three walks and six runs scored for the Angels.

Wrote Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz, “Eckstein is the kind of old-school player who commands such great respect and appreciation in St. Louis, a traditional baseball town.”

Rex Hudler, an Angels broadcaster who had been a hustling utilityman for the Cardinals from 1990-92, told Miklasz that he had named his son, David, in honor of Eckstein.

“He’s going to be revered as the new Huckleberry Finn of St. Louis and Missouri,” Hudler said of Eckstein.

Hudler said his 8-year-old daughter cried when she learned Eckstein was leaving the Angels. “Kids are his biggest fans,” Hudler said. “The children look up to him and relate to him because he’s so small … He inspires all of those kids who have been told they aren’t good enough.”

Asked about Eckstein’s subpar arm, Hudler replied, “He’s so smart. Extremely intelligent. He studies the hitters. He positions himself perfectly. He’s always in the right place. The ball comes right to him. I’ve never seen him make a mental mistake.”

Said Eckstein: “I don’t really look like your typical pro athlete. It means I always have to prove myself … I don’t want to lose that edge.”

St. Louis sparkplug

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was delighted by the acquisition, calling Eckstein “a winning player.”

After speaking with La Russa, Eckstein told the Associated Press, “Mr. La Russa just said to play my game, be a pest at the plate and play solid defense.”

That’s exactly what Eckstein did for the Cardinals.

In three seasons (2005-07) as the St. Louis shortstop, Eckstein twice was named an all-star. He batted .297 with 465 hits in 398 career games for the Cardinals. He had a .357 on-base percentage with them. In 2005, Eckstein ranked second among National League shortstops in both assists (517) and double plays turned (123).

His crowning achievement came in 2006 when he was named winner of the World Series Most Valuable Player Award. Eckstein hit .364 (8-for-22) in the five-game series versus the Tigers, with four RBI and three runs scored.

Previously: 4 Series aces for Cards: Gibson, Porter, Eckstein, Freese

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Before Johnny Mize played a game for the Cardinals, they gave up on him and gave him away to the Reds.

Fortunately for the Cardinals, the Reds gave him back.

johnny_mize5During six seasons as the Cardinals’ first baseman, Mize would win a National League batting title (.349 in 1939), a RBI crown (137 in 1940) and twice would lead the league in home runs (28 in 1939 and 43 in 1940).

In three consecutive years (1938-40) with the Cardinals, Mize led the NL in slugging percentage and total bases. Nicknamed “The Big Cat,” Mize was a four-time all-star with St. Louis. He would be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The story of how Mize transformed into one of the Cardinals’ all-time sluggers is filled with a dizzying array of twists and turns.

Rich Reds

In 1934, Mize, 21, was with the Cardinals’ minor-league Rochester (N.Y.) affiliate. His season was cut short because of a groin injury. In 90 games, Mize hit .339 with 17 home runs.

Larry MacPhail, the Reds’ brash general manager, needed sluggers for a team that ranked last in the major leagues in runs scored (590) in 1934. MacPhail saw Mize as a cornerstone for that rebuilding project.

Jim Bottomley was the Reds’ first baseman. Bottomley, who would be elected to the Hall of Fame, had been a standout for the Cardinals, helping them win two World Series titles (1926 and 1931) and four pennants. He won the NL Most Valuable Player Award in 1928 when he produced 42 doubles, 20 triples, 31 home runs and 136 RBI. The Cardinals traded him to the Reds in December 1932.

Though he hit .284 with 31 doubles for the 1934 Reds, Bottomley, 34, had peaked as a run producer.

Powel Crosley, the Cincinnati radio manufacturer and broadcasting titan, had purchased the Reds in 1934 and was willing to spend money to revive a franchise that had finished in last place in the NL that year. In December 1934, MacPhail approached the Cardinals and offered $55,000 for Mize.

It was an astonishing sum at a time when the nation still was staggered by the economic hardships of the Great Depression. MacPhail’s offer topped the $50,000 the Yankees had paid the San Francisco Seals a month earlier for their highly touted prospect, outfielder Joe DiMaggio.

The Cardinals, who had won the 1934 World Series championship, were quite willing to accept such a large sum for a hobbled player who never had appeared in the big leagues.

Eighty years ago, on Dec. 13, 1934, the Cardinals sent Mize to the Reds.

String attached

“Whatever happens to the Reds (in 1935), it cannot be said (they) have not put plenty of cash and industry into their efforts,” The Sporting News reported. “The substantial sum of $55,000 was turned over to the Cards for (Mize) … There is ample reason for believing that Mize will prove well worth the expenditure. He is a strapping youngster … who puts a great deal of power into his swing.”

The deal came with one important condition. Wrote The Sporting News: “As for the injury, so confident are the Cardinals that it will not prove a hardship that they have guaranteed the first sacker will be sound for 1935, which means that if the injury still handicaps the player, the Reds need not keep him but instead may return him and get back the money paid for his services.”

As spring training started in February 1935, Mize told reporters he was “entirely recovered” from the groin injury. The Sporting News speculated Bottomley would be traded to the Cubs or Giants.

After watching Mize perform, though, it became evident something was wrong with him. It later was determined spurs had developed on his pelvic bone, restricting his movement and causing pain.

Return to sender

On April 15, 1935, the Reds voided the deal, returning Mize to the Cardinals the day before the start of the season.

Assigned to Rochester, Mize played in 65 games and hit .317 with 12 home runs until the pain became too intense to continue. With his career in jeopardy, Mize agreed to surgery after the season.

In December 1935, The Sporting News reported, “Mize recently underwent an operation to correct a condition that interfered with the free action of his legs … The surgery (Mize) submitted to was for the removal of a growth on the pelvic arch and it has been pronounced a success.”

The report was accurate. Mize opened the 1936 season with the Cardinals and soon after took over from Rip Collins as the everyday first baseman. The rookie hit .329 with a team-leading 19 home runs and 93 RBI for the 1936 Cardinals.

In six seasons with St. Louis (1936-41), Mize batted .336 with 1,048 hits in 854 games. His .600 slugging percentage with the Cardinals ranks third all-time in franchise history and first among left-handed batters. The only players with higher career slugging percentages as Cardinals are Mark McGwire (.683) and Albert Pujols (.617).

Mize also ranks fifth all-time among Cardinals in career on-base percentage. At .419, Mize is just below Pujols (.420) and just ahead of Stan Musial (.417).

On Dec. 11, 1941, seven years after they sent him to the Reds, the Cardinals traded Mize to the Giants for catcher Ken O’Dea, first baseman Johnny McCarthy, pitcher Bill Lohrman and $50,000.

Previously: How Mark McGwire learned about Johnny Mize

Previously: Johnny Mize and his 4 three-homer games for Cardinals

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(Updated Dec. 8, 2014)

Jim Kaat is a candidate for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame because of his pitching and fielding achievements. He also accomplished base running and hitting feats for the Cardinals that enhance his status as a special baseball player.

jim_kaat4Kaat, one of 10 finalists on the Golden Era ballot for election to the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., was 41 when he stole a base and hit a home run in separate games for the 1980 Cardinals.

At an age when most players are retired, Kaat still pitched effectively and remained a complete ballplayer.

Speed demon

On June 23, 1980, two months after he had been acquired from the Yankees, Kaat earned the win and pitched a complete game for the Cardinals in their 6-1 victory over the Pirates at St. Louis. Kaat didn’t allow a walk or an extra-base hit. He held the Pirates scoreless over the last seven innings and earned his 266th career win, tying Hall of Famer Bob Feller.

In the seventh, he stole a base.

Bobby Bonds was at the plate when Kaat dashed for second. Bonds took a pitch from Enrique Romo. Catcher Steve Nicosia gunned a throw to Phil Garner, covering second. Kaat beat the peg.

The fans at Busch Stadium rewarded him with a standing ovation.

In its account of the game, the Associated Press wrote, “It was the aging hurler’s speed that brought the customers to their feet … The accomplishment nearly overshadowed his hurling.”

Said Kaat: “It was the element of surprise. I had a good lead. It was worth it.” Boxscore

The steal was Kaat’s first in nine years. He was 32 when he swiped a base for the Twins against Yankees pitcher Stan Bahnsen and catcher Thurman Munson on July 30, 1971.

His stolen base for the Cardinals was Kaat’s fifth and last in a 25-year career (1959-83) in the majors.

Sultan of swat

Two months after his steal for the Cardinals, Kaat hit a home run for them.

On Aug. 26, 1980, Kaat homered off the Astros’ Joe Niekro at St. Louis.

“He hit a knuckleball up,” Niekro said to the Associated Press. “He’s a pretty good hitter. I’ve got a brother (Phil) who is 41 and he hits home runs. It’s not the first time I gave up one to a pitcher and it probably won’t be the last.” Boxscore

The home run was the last of 16 hit by Kaat. He slugged his first 18 years earlier on June 19, 1962, off Dom Zanni of the White Sox.

(The oldest player to hit a big-league home run was Mets first baseman Julio Franco, 48, against Randy Johnson of the Diamondbacks on May 4, 2007. Franco was three months shy of his 49th birthday.)

Going strong

Exactly one year after his home run, Kaat, 42, got his last big-league hit, a single for the Cardinals against 25-year-old Giants rookie Bob Tufts on Aug. 26, 1981. Boxscore

The next year, Kaat, 43, appeared in 62 regular-season games for the Cardinals (earning five wins and two saves) and pitched in four games of the 1982 World Series against the Brewers.

He pitched his last game at 44, tossing 1.1 scoreless innings in relief of Joaquin Andujar for the Cardinals against the Pirates on July 1, 1983, at Pittsburgh. Boxscore

Kaat was 19-16 with 10 saves in four seasons (1980-83) with the Cardinals.

He’s a Hall of Fame candidate primarily because his 283 career wins rank eighth all-time among left-handers and because he won 16 Gold Glove awards for fielding. He has more career wins than several Hall of Famers, including Jim Palmer (268), Carl Hubbell (253), Bob Gibson (251) and Juan Marichal (243).

Kaat and three other former Cardinals players _ Dick Allen, Ken Boyer and Minnie Minoso _ and former Cardinals general manager Bob Howsam are being reviewed by a 16-person Golden Era committee for Hall of Fame consideration. The other five on the ballot are former players Gil Hodges, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant and Maury Wills.

The Golden Era covers the period of 1947 to 1972. A Golden Era candidate must receive 75 percent of the votes (12 of 16) to earn election. Kaat received 10 votes when Golden Era candidates were considered in 2011.

Results will be announced Dec. 8, 2014. (Update: None of the 10 finalists was elected. Allen and Oliva each received 11 votes. Kaat got 10. Wills got nine. Minoso got eight. Receiving three or fewer votes were Boyer, Hodges, Howsam, Pierce and Tiant.)

Committee members are Hall of Famers Jim Bunning, Rod Carew, Pat Gillick, Ferguson Jenkins, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, Ozzie Smith and Don Sutton; baseball executives Jim Frey, David Glass, Roland Hemond and Bob Watson; and media members Steve Hirdt, Dick Kaegel, Phil Pepe and Tracy Ringolsby.

Kaat was a teammate of Carew (Twins), Smith (Cardinals) and Watson (Yankees). Pepe co-wrote a book with Kaat.

Previously: Jim Kaat revived both his career and the Cardinals

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

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