Archive for the ‘Pitchers’ Category

Playing for a new manager, Vern Rapp, and with a core of young, highly regarded players, such as Keith Hernandez, Garry Templeton and John Denny, the Cardinals enjoyed a successful opening to the 1977 season.

keith_hernandez5On April 7, 1977, amid strong winds and a mix of rain and light snow, the Cardinals beat the Pirates, 12-6, at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.

That was the last of four season openers the Cardinals have played at Pittsburgh.

On April 3, 2016, the Cardinals are scheduled to start their season against the Pirates at Pittsburgh for the first time in 39 years.

The 2016 Cardinals will open the season at PNC Park as the defending National League Central Division champions. The 1977 Cardinals opened the season as a franchise looking to rebuild.

New approach

In 1976, the Cardinals finished 72-90. Red Schoendienst, who had managed the Cardinals since 1965, was fired after that 1976 debacle. He was replaced by Rapp, a St. Louis native who had played and managed in the Cardinals’ system but who never had reached the major leagues.

A disciplinarian, Rapp instructed Cardinals players during 1977 spring training to shave off their moustaches and beards and keep their hair trim.

In the opener at Pittsburgh, the Cardinals started Denny, 24, against Jerry Reuss, a St. Louis native who had began his career with his hometown team.

Along with established standouts such as left fielder Lou Brock and catcher Ted Simmons, the Cardinals’ lineup included Hernandez, 23, at first base and Garry Templeton, 21, at shortstop.

Denny and Templeton were making their first Opening Day starts in the big leagues.

Helped by three Pirates errors, the Cardinals scored four runs in the opening inning off Reuss. The Pirates’ sloppy start prompted “lusty boos from many of the 35,186 spectators,” the Associated Press reported.

The Cardinals never trailed. Denny held the Pirates to three runs in 5.2 innings and got the win. Templeton had two hits and scored three runs.

Hernandez, a left-handed batter, scored twice and had key hits against a pair of left-handed relievers. Hernandez hit a two-run double off Grant Jackson and a two-run home run (estimated at 425 feet) against Terry Forster. For Hernandez, it was his first four-RBI game in the big leagues.

Playing to win

“The thing about Vern Rapp is that he has us playing aggressive baseball, taking the extra base, playing at our maximum,” Hernandez said after the game. “We don’t have a lot of power, but we do have good hitting and exceptional speed and I think we’re going to make the most of it.”

Asked about playing without his signature moustache, Hernandez replied, “I’m here to play baseball. That’s what is important to me. I’ve got five months in the off-season to grow a moustache and long hair, but right now I want to help the Cardinals play winning baseball.” Boxscore

Behind stellars seasons by Hernandez (.291 batting average, 41 doubles, 91 RBI), Templeton (.322 batting average, 200 hits, 18 triples, 28 stolen bases), Simmons (.318 batting average, 21 home runs, 95 RBI) and pitcher Bob Forsch (20 wins), the 1977 Cardinals improved to 83-79.

Hernandez’s effective hitting against left-handers continued through the season. He batted .313 in 201 at-bats versus left-handers in 1977.

Here are the results of the other three Cardinals season openers played at Pittsburgh:

Cardinals comeback

With a three-run seventh inning off starter Bob Klinger, the Cardinals erased a 2-0 Pirates lead and won, 3-2, on April 18, 1939, at Forbes Field. Joe Medwick drove in two of the St. Louis runs and Johnny Mize knocked in the other.

Bob Weiland started for St. Louis and pitched six innings for the win. Clyde Shoun produced three shutout innings of relief for the save. Boxscore

Dickson delivers

On April 17, 1951, the Pirates beat the Cardinals, 5-4, at Forbes Field behind the pitching and hitting of Murry Dickson.

Acquired by the Pirates from the Cardinals, Dickson started and got the win, though he yielded seven walks and four hits in six innings.

In the fourth, Dickson broke a 3-3 tie with a solo home run off starter Tom Poholsky. It was Dickson’s first big-league home run and one of only three he would hit in 18 years in the majors.

Left fielder Wally Westlake added a solo home run in the sixth off Poholsky.

Bill Werle pitched three shutout innings in relief of Dickson. The Cardinals stranded 10 base runners. Boxscore

Shaky relief

The Cardinals led, 5-2, after seven innings behind starter Bob Gibson, but the Pirates rallied for five runs in the eighth and won, 7-5, on April 6, 1973, at Three Rivers Stadium.

After the Pirates loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, Schoendienst lifted Gibson and called on Diego Segui to preserve the three-run lead.

Segui struck out Bob Robertson for the second out of the inning. Then, Richie Hebner hit a two-run double, cutting the St. Louis lead to 5-4, and Gene Clines followed with a two-run triple, giving the Pirates a 6-5 lead. An error by rookie shortstop Ray Busse allowed another run to score for Pittsburgh.

Right fielder Bernie Carbo had two hits, a RBI and a run scored for St. Louis. Boxscore

Previously: Cardinals debut was dream come true for Keith Hernandez

Previously: Pete Vuckovich was fearless in great escape for Cardinals

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In 2005, Chris Carpenter had 21 wins, seven complete games and four shutouts for the Cardinals. No St. Louis pitcher has achieved even one of those totals in a season since.

chris_carpenter10Ten years ago, on Nov. 10, 2005, Carpenter joined Bob Gibson (a two-time winner, 1968 and 1970) as the only Cardinals pitchers to earn a Cy Young Award.

Displaying remarkable consistency, Carpenter, 30, was a dominant and durable force for the 2005 Cardinals.

His 2005 statistics: 21-5 record, 2.83 ERA, 33 games started, seven complete games, four shutouts, 241.2 innings pitched and 213 strikeouts.

Carpenter received 132 vote points and 19 first-place votes from the 32 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America who were allowed to take part in the balloting.

The runner-up was the Marlins’ Dontrelle Willis, who received 112 vote points and 11 first-place votes. Willis in 2005 was 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA, 34 games started, seven complete games, five shutouts, 236.1 innings pitched and 170 strikeouts.

Roger Clemens of the Astros was third in the balloting, receiving 40 vote points and two first-place votes. Clemens in 2005 was 13-8 with a 1.87 ERA, 32 games started, one complete game, no shutouts, 211.1 innings pitched and 185 strikeouts.

“It’s a great feeling and honor,” Carpenter said to the Associated Press after learning he had won the award. “A couple of years ago, I didn’t think I’d even play again.”

While with the Blue Jays, Carpenter had shoulder surgery in September 2002. He became a free agent, signed with the Cardinals and had shoulder surgery again in 2003.

After a successful comeback with the Cardinals in 2004 _ Carpenter was named winner of the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award _ Carpenter emerged as the Cardinals’ ace in 2005.

Carpenter “had from the first day of spring training (in 2005) that feel that he could energize our rotation,” manager Tony La Russa said to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Right from the beginning he was setting the tone for our rotation and for our ballclub. He just kept elevating his performance.”

After a loss to the Red Sox on June 8, 2005, Carpenter was 8-4 with a 3.49 ERA. After that, he was, well, Cy Young-like.

The Cardinals won 17 consecutive games Carpenter started from June 14 through Sept. 13. Carpenter was 13-0 with four no-decisions in that stretch.

Also during that period, Carpenter had 16 consecutive starts of at least seven innings per start and never allowing more than three earned runs.

The total of 241.2 innings pitched by Carpenter in 2005 hasn’t been topped by a Cardinals pitcher since, though Adam Wainwright equaled it in 2013.

The 2005 season was the only one in Carpenter’s 15-year big-league career with the Blue Jays and Cardinals that he achieved 20 wins and 200 strikeouts.

According to the Post-Dispatch, Carpenter in 2005 was:

_ Quickest Cardinal to 20 wins since Dizzy Dean did it in his 23rd start of the 1934 season.

_ First Cardinal to strike out 200 batters since Jose DeLeon in 1989.

_ First Cardinal to win 20 games since Matt Morris in 2001.

First NL pitcher to win 10 consecutive road starts since Gibson won 12 consecutive in 1970.

Previously: Nobody did it better than Chris Carpenter in 2005

Previously: Cardinals debut helped ease doubts about Chris Carpenter

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In September 1963, John Tsitouris helped end the National League pennant chances of the Cardinals. A year later, Tsitouris helped the Cardinals become champions.

john_tsitourisTsitouris, a Reds pitcher, forever will be linked with the Cardinals because of his role in the 1963 and 1964 pennant races. His story is recalled here as a tribute. Tsitouris, 79, died Oct. 22, 2015, in his hometown of Monroe, N.C.

In 11 seasons with the Tigers, Athletics and Reds, Tsitouris had a 34-38 record and 4.13 ERA. He was at his best against the Cardinals.

Tsitouris had a career record of 8-4 with a 2.36 ERA versus the Cardinals in 15 games, including 11 starts. The right-hander yielded 71 hits in 91.1 career innings against the Cardinals and had six complete games. Tsitouris had more wins versus the Cardinals than he had against any other club in his career.

September shutouts

John Tsitouris, son of a Greek immigrant father, was acquired by the Reds in a January 1961 trade that sent pitcher Joe Nuxhall to the Athletics.

In 1963, Tsitouris had his best big-league season, posting a 12-8 record that included a pair of September shutouts against the Cardinals.

The 1963 Cardinals had moved within a game of the first-place Dodgers entering a three-game series against them Sept. 16-18 at St. Louis. The Dodgers swept, moving four ahead of the Cardinals.

In desperate need of a win to keep alive their pennant hopes, the Cardinals opened a series against the Reds at Cincinnati on Sept. 20. Tsitouris started for the Reds against Ray Sadecki.

The Reds scored a run in the fourth _ on a two-out single by Ken Walters, a .200 hitter _ and that’s all Tsitouris needed. He shut out the Cardinals, holding them to three singles (including one by their 42-year-old left fielder, Stan Musial) and the Reds won, 1-0. Boxscore

The Cardinals’ loss, paired with a Dodgers victory that night over the Pirates, dropped St. Louis five games out of first with six to play.

“I realize the odds against us are monstrous,” Cardinals manager Johnny Keane said to the Associated Press, “but we must keep fighting as long as there is the slightest chance.”

(Regarding Musial, who had announced he would retire after the season, Keane observed, “Musial has astounded me these last 30 days … I kept playing him every day, although I knew he was bone tired, but I also knew if I took him out of the lineup I’d be hurting the club.”)

The Dodgers clinched the 1963 pennant on Sept. 24

Three days later, on Sept. 27, Tsitouris, matched again against Sadecki, pitched a two-hit shutout against the Cardinals at St. Louis.

The Reds broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the top of the ninth. In the bottom of the inning, with two outs, Dick Groat singled and Bill White walked before Tsitouris retired Ken Boyer on a groundout, sealing the Reds’ 3-0 victory. Boxscore

Wrote the Associated Press: “John Tsitouris has become even harder for the St. Louis Cardinals to hit than his name is to spell.”

Fateful Phillies

In 1964, Tsitouris continued to dominate the Cardinals. He was 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA against St. Louis in five starts, including a win on July 3 when he struck out 10 Cardinals. Boxscore

His success against the Cardinals might have kept them from winning the 1964 pennant if not for two September performances _ a win and a loss _ by Tsitouris versus the Phillies.

After play on Sept. 20, 1964, the Phillies were solidly in first place in the NL, holding a 6.5-game lead over the second-place Cardinals and Reds with 12 to play.

The next night, Sept. 21, the Reds opened a series against the Phillies at Philadelphia. Tsitouris was matched against Art Mahaffey in the opener.

In the sixth inning, with the game scoreless, Chico Ruiz was on third base, two outs and Reds cleanup batter Frank Robinson at the plate.

On an 0-and-1 count, Ruiz streaked down the third-base line as Mahaffey delivered a pitch. The throw was wide and wild, skipping past catcher Clay Dalrymple, and Ruiz stole home. Tsitouris did the rest, shutting out the Phillies on a six-hitter in a 1-0 Reds victory. Boxscore

“He surprised me,” Reds manager Dick Sisler said to The Sporting News of Ruiz’s daring dash. “I would never have called for the move.”

Said Ruiz: “I was hoping I’d be safe because I didn’t want to hear what the manager would say if I was out.”

The play did more than provide a win for the Reds. It triggered a momentum change that left the Phillies reeling. The Phillies lost 10 in a row, allowing the Cardinals and Reds to surpass them.

On the morning of Oct. 4, the final day of the regular season, the Cardinals and Reds were tied for first, a game ahead of the Phillies. The Cardinals closed with the Mets at St. Louis and the Reds were at home against the Phillies.

The Phillies started their ace, Jim Bunning. The Reds chose Tsitouris. Jim Maloney was the Reds’ ace, He had pitched 11 innings on Sept. 30 and Sisler thought starting him on three days rest was too risky.

The Phillies broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the third off Tsitouris, who was lifted after 2.1 innings. The Phillies cruised to a 10-0 victory. Boxscore

When the Cardinals beat the Mets, 11-5, St. Louis was the NL champion for the first time in 18 seasons. Boxscore

“I can’t agree with anyone who says I should have pitched Maloney,” Sisler said. “Percentages favored Tsitouris in this game.”

Previously: 20th win for Ray Sadecki put 1964 Cardinals into 1st place

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Like Terry Collins did with Matt Harvey, Johnny Keane made a commitment to the heart of Bob Gibson. For Keane and Gibson, the result was successful for the 1964 Cardinals. For Collins and Harvey, the outcome was a flop for the 2015 Mets.

cards_celebrateThough the circumstances weren’t the same, the ninth inning drama involving Collins and Harvey in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series brought to mind how Keane utilized Gibson in the ninth inning in Game 7 of the 1964 World Series.

Perhaps the biggest differences between the two scenarios:

_ Keane had decided to let Gibson start the ninth inning in the decisive game of the 1964 World Series; Collins had decided to let a reliever start the ninth in the decisive game of the 2015 World Series, then changed his mind and stayed with Harvey.

_ Gibson entered the ninth with a four-run lead; Harvey entered the ninth with a two-run lead.

Nonetheless, in each instance a manager was counting on a tiring ace to put his team’s title hopes on his right arm and deliver a victory.

Leave me in

On Nov. 1, 2015, the Mets needed to beat the Royals in Game 5 to avoid elimination in the best-of-seven series. Harvey, 26, had pitched eight scoreless innings and the Mets led, 2-0, entering the ninth at New York. Collins told Harvey that closer Jeurys Familia would pitch the ninth. Harvey objected.

“He just came over and said, ‘I want this game. I want it bad. You’ve got to leave me in,’ ” Collins said to Adam Rubin of ESPN.com. “I said, ‘Matt, you’ve got us exactly where we wanted to get.’ He said, ‘I want this game in the worst way.’

“So, obviously, I let my heart get in the way of my gut. I love my players. And I trust them. And so I said, ‘Go get ’em out.’ ”

Harvey walked the first batter and yielded a RBI-double to the second. Familia relieved and the Royals rallied to tie the score. In the 12th, the Royals scored five times and won, 7-2, clinching their first World Series title in 30 years. Boxscore

Don’t be cute

On Oct. 15, 1964, the Yankees and Cardinals played the decisive Game 7 at St. Louis. The Cardinals, behind Gibson, led, 7-3, entering the ninth.

Gibson, 28, had pitched eight innings in Game 2 and 10 innings in Game 5. He also had pitched eight innings in his final start of the regular season on Oct. 2 and, two days later, four innings of relief in the pennant-clinching season finale.

Keane never wavered in sending out Gibson to pitch the ninth inning of Game 7.

In his book, “Stranger to the Game,” Gibson said, “By this time, I was simply throwing as hard as I could on every pitch, grunting up my best frazzled-arm fastballs. Keane had sent me out there with the advice to throw nothing but fastballs, remarking that he didn’t think the Yankees could hit four home runs in one inning.”

Author David Halberstam, in his book “October 1964,” wrote, “Rarely had Bob Gibson wanted anything so badly as to finish this game. Johnny Keane, who knew (Gibson) was tired and knew he was wearing down, came over to Gibson and told him he was going to stay with him.”

Said Keane to Gibson: “Bob, I’m going with you in the ninth. Just throw it over the plate. Don’t be cute. Don’t go for the corners. Just get it over.”

Strikeouts and homers

The first batter, Tom Tresh, struck out. The next, No. 8 batter Clete Boyer, “jumped on the fastball he knew was coming,” Gibson said, and hit a home run over the left-field wall, making the score, 7-4.

Gibson struck out Johnny Blanchard, pinch-hitting for reliever Pete Mikkelsen.

With one more out, the Cardinals would be World Series champions.

Phil Linz, a shortstop who had hit five home runs during the regular season, stepped to the plate.

Linz homered over the left-field wall.

The score was 7-5. Bobby Richardson was up next. He had produced 13 hits in this World Series. If Richardson reached base, slugger Roger Maris would follow, then Mickey Mantle.

“I looked over to the dugout at Keane,” Gibson said, “wondering if perhaps he had overestimated my speed and underestimated the Yankees’ power.”

Lots of heart

Ray Sadecki, a left-hander who had started Games 1 and 4 of the World Series, was loosening in the bullpen. Keane had decided he would bring in Sadecki to face the left-handed Maris if Richardson got on base.

Gibson worked the count to 1-and-1 on Richardson. Keane went to the mound to talk with his pitcher. Catcher Tim McCarver “did not go all the way out because he knew Gibson hated it when the catcher came out _ and, besides, there was nothing to say,” Halberstam wrote.

The next pitch from Gibson was a fastball. Richardson swung and hit a pop-up to second baseman Dal Maxvill, who made the catch.

The Cardinals were World Series champions for the first time in 18 years.

Asked by reporters why he had stayed with a tiring Gibson in the ninth, Keane replied, “He didn’t pitch only with his arm. He pitched with his heart. He’s got lots of heart … I went all the way with him because I was committed to this fellow’s heart.” Boxscore

Privately, a proud Keane said to Gibson after the game, “You’re on your way.”

In the New York Daily News, Phil Pepe wrote, “The story of the Cardinals’ world championship is the story of Johnny Keane and yesterday it was the story of Bob Gibson. It is the story of faith … of John Keane’s faith in Bob Gibson and of Bob Gibson’s faith in himself.”

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

Previously: Johnny Keane to Gussie Busch: Take this job and shove it

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Phil Regan was the premier relief pitcher in the National League with the Dodgers and Cubs in the late 1960s. He twice led the league in saves, with 21 in 1966 and 25 in 1968.

phil_reganRegan’s best season was 1966, his first in the NL after the Dodgers acquired him from the Tigers. Closing games in support of a starting rotation that featured Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Don Sutton and Claude Osteen, Regan posted a 14-1 record and 1.62 ERA, helping the Dodgers win the pennant.

After his 13-year career as a big-league pitcher ended in 1972 with the White Sox, Regan built a commendable reputation as an instructor. He has been a pitching coach with the Mariners, Indians and Cubs. In 1995, he managed the Orioles.

In 2015, Regan, 78, completed his seventh season as pitching coach of the Class A minor-league St. Lucie Mets. He mentored most of the pitchers on the staff of the 2015 NL champion New York Mets.

On Oct. 28, 2015, I interviewed Regan near the Mets’ training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Richard Stone, who organizes a sports card show in Sebastian, Fla., helped arrange the interview.

After Regan shared details about his career and his role instructing Mets pitchers, I asked him if he’d answer questions about his recollections of Cardinals. Regan generously agreed and thoughtfully provided his insights.

Here is a segment of that interview:

Q.: From 1963 through 1968, the Dodgers and Cardinals were the only clubs to win NL pennants. The Dodgers won in 1963, 1965 and 1966. The Cardinals won in 1964, 1967 and 1968. What was that rivalry like from your perspective with the Dodgers?

Regan: “It was like two organizations that were almost the same. Both of them were speed, pitching, good defense and playing the fundamentals very well.”

Q.: How did the Dodgers try to beat the Cardinals?

Regan: “We always felt that if we could get to Bob Gibson early _ get him in the first inning, because we didn’t get any runs off him after that _ we could hold on and win with our pitching.”

Q.: The 1967 and ’68 champion Cardinals had Lou Brock. Was he the batter in that lineup that pitchers needed to focus on?

Regan: “He was one of them … When I was with the Cubs, he would bunt on (first baseman) Ernie Banks. Ernie wasn’t very fast. Ernie couldn’t field the bunts. Brock would beat it out every time.”

Q.: Who else in that Cardinals lineup?

Regan: “Another guy who helped them was Roger Maris.”

Q.: Maris batted .077 (2-for-26) with no home runs against you in his career. How did you do it?

Regan: “I’ll tell you why. When I was with Detroit, I roomed with (pitcher) Frank Lary. And Lary would tell me, ‘Maris has his swing grooved. Anything inside, he’ll hit.’

“So, I threw him nothing but sinkers down and away and let him try to pull the ball. And I got him out.

“I threw him one slider inside in Detroit and he hit it foul, a bullet, and I said I’m going to stay with sinkers away. He was geared to pull everything. He geared his swing to hit home runs, but it took away the outer part of the plate, which is where I pitched him.”

Q.: What else do you recall about those 1967 and ’68 Cardinals?

Regan: “I came in to pitch at St. Louis (on Aug. 9, 1967) and loaded the bases with no outs. Wes Parker was playing first base and Jimmy Campanis was catching.

“I’m thinking, ‘How can I get out of this situation?’ The next hitter (Eddie Bressoud) pops up to first base, to Wes Parker, a great fielder, near the bag.

“(Mike Shannon) is on third base and he fakes like he’s going home after the catch. Wes Parker takes the ball and lobs it toward home plate. I’m backing up the play, near the fence.

“The ball hits in front of Campanis and scoots under his leg and goes halfway between the catcher and me _ and (Shannon) scores the winning run.”

(Here is the boxscore from that game. Shannon told the Associated Press, “I hesitated when I saw the ball roll away. I couldn’t tell how far it was going … but it just kept rolling, so I went.”)

Q.: As a successful instructor, you’re like the Mets’ version of the Cardinals’ George Kissell. Did you have any interaction with Kissell?

Regan: “I got a lot of his notes. He’s got a little book out, a handbook for managers on all phases of the game. Throughout it are his sayings.

“He told pitchers they should try to strike out 13 hitters a game. Now, that’s a lot. He’d say, ‘You strike out the first hitter of every inning _ that’s nine times _ and the pitcher four times.’

“Really, what he was saying was that the most important man in the inning to get out is that first hitter. Be ready to pitch to him. If you get him out, it stops everything.

“I use it all the time. If you get the first hitter out, you can load the bases and get out of the inning with one pitch. If you don’t get the first hitter out, he’ll score 80 percent of the time. I follow a lot of his stuff.”

Q.: A George Kissell disciple who came up through the Cardinals system was Jim Riggleman. In 1997 and ’98, Riggleman managed the Cubs and you were their pitching coach. How was that?

Regan: “I love Jim Riggleman. He was one of the best young managers. In 1997, we weren’t a very good club (68-94 and last place in the NL Central). In 1998, the general manager called us in and said, ‘I’m going to have to hold you guys responsible if you don’t turn it around.’ We went on to win a one-game playoff with the Giants and got into the postseason (with a 90-73 record).”

Q.: In 1994, when you were pitching coach for the Indians, one of the pitchers on your staff was Derek Lilliquist. Today, he’s the Cardinals’ pitching coach. Did you see then his potential to become an instructor?

Regan: “I didn’t know he would become the pitching coach that he is today. He loved the game. He was quite a jokester. A lot of times, I’d back up the pitcher when we were taking batting practice. One day, in Toronto, we noticed none of the balls were coming in from the outfield. He was the ringleader of this. I said, ‘Where are the balls?’ All of a sudden, they threw about 100 balls at me at the same time.

“He had fun playing the game. That’s one of the things that makes you a good coach. You can laugh and have a good time and yet they know when you’re serious, too.”

Q.: Any other Cardinals recollection to share?

Regan: “(In 1982), I got a call from an agent (Jack Childers) in Chicago, who said, ‘Phil, I remember when you played here with the Cubs. You had a good sinker. I have a player who has lost his fastball. I represent him. I need him to learn a sinker. Would you be willing to work with him?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I will. Who is it?’ He said, ‘Al Hrabosky, the Mad Hungarian.’ (Hrabosky had been released by the Braves.)

“I said, ‘We’re in our fall program at Grand Valley State (where Regan was head baseball coach). If he wants to come up here, I’ll work with him.’ So he came up and spent four days with us and worked on a sinker. He had lost his fastball. When he left, he said, ‘I’m going to Venezuela (winter league) to work on this sinker. Would you mind calling some people (in the big leagues) and telling them where I am and what I’m working on?’

“I called Jim Campbell with the Tigers and Roland Hemond with the White Sox. Then I read an article that said Seattle was looking for a left-handed reliever. I didn’t know anybody there. So, I called and got hold of the general manager, Dan O’Brien.”

After talking with Regan, O’Brien gave him a job as Mariners advance scout, returning him to the big leagues for the first time since his pitching career ended. Hemond invited Hrabosky to spring training for a tryout with White Sox manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan.

Previously: Denny McLain on Dizzy Dean, Bob Gibson, ’68 Cards

Previously: Al Hrabosky’s last stand tested Dave Duncan, Tony La Russa

Previously: Phil Regan: Pitching professor for Mets

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When the Cardinals traded half of their all-star infield to the Phillies, the all-star they got in return no longer had the skills to be a consistent starter.

art_mahaffeyFifty years ago, on Oct. 27, 1965, the Cardinals traded first baseman Bill White, shortstop Dick Groat and catcher Bob Uecker to the Phillies for pitcher Art Mahaffey, outfielder Alex Johnson and catcher Pat Corrales.

Two years earlier, four Cardinals _ White, Groat, second baseman Julian Javier and third baseman Ken Boyer _ formed the starting infield for the 1963 National League all-star team.

After White and Groat were traded, only Javier remained with the Cardinals from that infield. Boyer had been traded by the Cardinals to the Mets a week before White and Groat were sent to the Phillies.

Mahaffey, a hard-throwing right-hander, had been an all-star with the 1961 and 1962 Phillies. He earned 19 wins in 1962 and was second in the NL that season in complete games (20) and fourth in innings pitched (274).

Though limited by an arm ailment to 71 innings pitched while posting a 2-5 record for the 1965 Phillies, the Cardinals saw Mahaffey, 27, as a candidate to bolster their rotation.

In addition to a starting pitcher, Cardinals general manager Bob Howsam also believed he had acquired a starting left fielder (Johnson) and an upgrade at backup catcher (Corrales) from the Phillies.

Feuding Phillies

During the 1965 season, Mahaffey had fallen into disfavor with Phillies manager Gene Mauch. Mahaffey didn’t make a start after July 5 and appeared just twice in relief after Sept. 1.

Mahaffey and Mauch “have not seen eye to eye for quite a while,” The Sporting News reported.

Published reports speculated the Phillies would trade Mahaffey to an American League club. The Senators expressed keen interest.

“I was waiting to get traded, but I had no idea I would go to the Cardinals,” Mahaffey said after the deal was made.

“All I need to do is start. I’m a starting pitcher, not a reliever. I can’t pitch in relief … because I have to warm up longer since I had the arm trouble a couple of years ago. My arm is all right now, however.”

Rotation depth

Agreeing to a request from Howsam, Mahaffey went to the Cardinals’ Florida Instructional League club at St. Petersburg in November 1965 with the goal of developing a slider.

“The slider should make a big difference for me,” Mahaffey said. “On days when my fastball isn’t as good as it should be, I could use my slider on left-handed hitters.”

Entering spring training in February 1966, the Cardinals had nine prime candidates for the five starting rotation spots.

Joining Mahaffey among the right-handers were Bob Gibson, Ray Washburn, Tracy Stallard and Nellie Briles. The left-handers were Ray Sadecki, Curt Simmons, Al Jackson and Larry Jaster.

“Our pitching depth is much, much better than it was at this time last year,” Howsam said.

In a sign of the confidence they had in Mahaffey, the Cardinals issued him the uniform No. 14 that had been worn by Boyer.

Mahaffey “is one of the hardest workers in the Cardinals camp. He has a mission,” The Sporting News reported.

Said Mahaffey: ” I want to make a good impression. I think I can win and win big. I’m healthy, my arm is sound.”

Mahaffey sealed a spot on the Opening Day roster by pitching four scoreless innings in an exhibition start against the Reds on March 22, 1966, at St. Petersburg.

Unhappy beginning

The Cardinals opened the 1966 season with 13 pitchers. Needing only four starters early in the season, Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst and pitching coach Joe Becker chose Gibson, Washburn, Jaster and Briles.

Simmons, Stallard, Sadecki and Mahaffey complained about lack of work.

“We’re rusting and our market value is going down,” Simmons said.

Mahaffey, who switched to uniform No. 30, was the last of the 13 pitchers to appear in a game, making his Cardinals debut with four innings of shutout relief against the Astros on April 28. Boxscore

“I can’t understand it,” Mahaffey said. “I was assured when I was traded that I would be a starting pitcher.

“Bob Howsam wanted me to get off to a quick start this season, so I agreed to go to the winter league for a month. I had to drop my winter jobs and that cost me a couple of thousand dollars. So this is how I get repaid.”

Shaky starts

On May 7, 1966, Mahaffey got his first Cardinals start _ and it was a dud. Facing the Giants in the next-to-last game played at Busch Stadium I (formerly known as Sportsman’s Park), Mahaffey pitched two scoreless innings before yielding seven runs in the third. Four were scored on a grand slam by Orlando Cepeda. Boxscore

(The next day, Cepeda was traded for Sadecki.)

Mahaffey made five starts for the Cardinals and won one _ against the Braves Boxscore _ and was returned to the bullpen. He earned a save _ the only one of his big-league career _ against the Mets. Boxscore

Overall, Mahaffey was 1-4 with a 6.43 ERA in 12 appearances for the Cardinals before he was demoted to Tulsa in mid-July. Mahaffey was 4-4 with a 5.05 ERA in 11 starts for the Class AAA club.

After the 1966 season, the Cardinals retained the rights to Mahaffey but gave him permission to make his own deal with another club. The Giants invited him to spring training at Arizona in 1967 as a non-roster pitcher.

Mahaffey pitched for the Giants in spring training, but they were unimpressed and returned him to the Cardinals. On April 1, 1967, Stan Musial, who had replaced Howsam, traded Mahaffey and infielders Jerry Buchek and Tony Martinez to the Mets for infielder Eddie Bressoud, outfielder Danny Napoleon and cash.

The Mets assigned Mahaffey to their Class AAA Jacksonville club, managed by former Cardinals outfielder Bill Virdon. Mahaffey was 1-1 with a 5.50 ERA before he was released.

Mahaffey signed with Dallas-Fort Worth, the Class AA affiliate of the Cubs, and joined a staff that included his former Cardinals teammate, Stallard, and Don Larsen, 38, who had pitched a perfect game in the World Series for the Yankees 11 years earlier.

After posting a 2-7 record and 6.00 ERA in 16 games for the Class AA club, Mahaffey, 29, was finished as a professional pitcher.

Previously: 1963 NL all-stars started all-Cardinals infield

Previously: The stormy, unfulfilled Cards career of Alex Johnson

Previously: Bill White on being traded from Cardinals to Phillies

Previously: George Kernek: Cardinals’ choice to replace Bill White

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