Archive for the ‘Prospects’ Category

Put at ease by management and welcomed by teammates, including those he might replace, Ray Lankford quickly felt at home with the Cardinals and delivered a stellar performance in his big-league debut.

ray_lankford6Twenty-five years ago, on Aug. 21, 1990, Lankford, 23, went 2-for-4 with a RBI, a run scored and a stolen base against future Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz of the Braves in his first game with the Cardinals.

Batting sixth and starting in center field, Lankford singled in his first at-bat _ a soft line drive to center in the second inning _ and swiped second base.

In the eighth, Lankford doubled into the right-field corner off Smoltz with two outs, driving in Todd Zeile from second, and scored on a single by Rex Hudler.

“I did a little bit of everything,” Lankford said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I’m happy. I couldn’t have asked for much more.” Boxscore

Top prospect

Lankford was selected by the Cardinals in the third round of the 1987 amateur draft. He and another well-regarded Cardinals outfield prospect, Bernard Gilkey, became friends and were road roommates with the 1990 Class AAA Louisville farm club.

With Willie McGee eligible to become a free agent after the 1990 season, speculation was rampant that Lankford would replace McGee as the St. Louis center fielder in 1991.

“When he plays hard, he’s awesome,” Gilkey said of Lankford to Mike Eisenbath of the Post-Dispatch. “… He reminds me of Kal Daniels of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he plays better defense and he runs better (than Daniels). His style is like Daniels and he’s built like Willie Mays.”

One of the few to cast doubts about Lankford was Whitey Herzog. After abruptly quitting as Cardinals manager in July 1990, Herzog remained with the club as a vice president.

“You can talk about prospects all you want, but if you and I are hitting .270 at Louisville … those aren’t good credentials to take Willie McGee’s job,” a cranky Herzog said of Lankford to Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch.

Herzog was sent in August to scout Cardinals prospects. The Post-Dispatch’s Dan O’Neill reported that Herzog said in a Louisville radio interview that his opinions on Cardinals prospects “might not be the same” as those of director of player development Ted Simmons. Herzog concluded Lankford could benefit from another season at Class AAA.

No war zone

Disregarding Herzog’s advice, the Cardinals called up Lankford on Aug. 20, 1990. He was batting .260 for Louisville, but he had a .362 on-base percentage, with 25 doubles, 72 RBI, 30 stolen bases, 72 walks and 123 hits in 132 games.

After reporting to Busch Stadium on Aug. 21, Lankford met with Simmons, manager Joe Torre and instructor George Kissell in Torre’s office.

“Teddy told him he wasn’t going to Vietnam,” Torre related. “This isn’t war here. Just go out and have a good time.”

Torre met with the Cardinals’ starting outfielders _ McGee, Vince Coleman and Milt Thompson _ and explained to them he would start Lankford in center and move McGee to right, putting Thompson (who was batting .219) on the bench.

Torre admitted he wanted Lankford to play center “in the event McGee’s not here next year. We want to get him used to the bigger outfield here (at Busch Stadium).”

One of the first to greet Lankford in the clubhouse was Thompson. “I just have to keep my head up and keep working hard,” Thompson said to the Post-Dispatch.

McGee and Coleman also were friendly to Lankford.

“Willie and Vince are both great players and I’m not here to take any jobs away,” Lankford said.

McGee said he hadn’t played right field since attending Diablo Valley College in California.

Asked his reaction to being moved from center to right, McGee said, “I’m the employee. I do what I’m told.”

Let loose

Lankford batted .400 (6-for-15) in his first four games for the Cardinals.

“We’ll baby Lankford a little bit, but we want to get a good read on him so we know what to expect,” Torre said.

Bernie Miklasz, Post-Dispatch columnist, endorsed the decision to play Lankford.

“The Cardinals need to turn Lankford loose, let him flail away at big-league pitching,” Miklasz wrote. “… Lankford can’t be held back. Stunting his progress at this stage is counterproductive.”

On Aug. 29, 1990, the Cardinals traded McGee to the Athletics for outfielder Felix Jose, infielder Stan Royer and minor-league pitcher Daryl Green.

In 39 games with the 1990 Cardinals, Lankford hit .286 with 10 doubles, eight stolen bases and a .353 on-base percentage.

After getting the chance to see Lankford, Gilkey and Jose play in the big leagues in September 1990, the Cardinals made that trio their regular outfield in 1991.

Previously: Ray Lankford did what Mays, Mantle could not

Previously: Ray Lankford found redemption in 5-strikeout game

Previously: How Ray Lankford made a surprise Cardinals comeback

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Joe DiFabio had the credentials one would expect from an elite Cardinals prospect.

joe_difabioIn high school, he was mentored by a coach who would become one of the best in his profession. In college, DiFabio sharpened his skills playing for a coach who had excelled as a pitcher in the big leagues.

As a professional, though, DiFabio wasn’t quite good enough to pitch for the Cardinals.

Fifty years ago, on June 8, 1965, in the first amateur draft held by big-league baseball, the Cardinals made DiFabio their original No. 1 pick.

A right-handed pitcher, DiFabio achieved success at multiple levels of the Cardinals’ minor-league system, but never pitched a game in the majors.

Impressive resume

DiFabio developed into a standout pitcher at Cranford High School in New Jersey. His coach was Hubie Brown, who also was the assistant basketball coach. After leaving Cranford, Brown built a long career in basketball. He twice was named NBA Coach of the Year and was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

After graduating from high school, DiFabio continued his baseball career at Delta State in Mississippi. Boo Ferriss was the baseball coach there. Ferriss had pitched for the Red Sox. In 1946, he had a 25-6 record for Boston and was the winning pitcher in Game 3 of the World Series against the Cardinals.

In 1965, his junior year at Delta State, DiFabio was 7-0 with an 0.55 ERA. He struck out 97 in 65 innings. He pitched three one-hitters and yielded 28 hits all season.

Buddy Lewis, a former third baseman and outfielder for the Senators, scouted DiFabio for the Cardinals. Lewis knew what it took to play in the majors. He recommended DiFabio to the Cardinals.

First choice

Until 1965, an amateur player could sign with any big-league organization that made an offer. That changed when Major League Baseball started a draft of amateur players.

As defending champions, the Cardinals chose last among the 20 big-league clubs in the first round. Several teams had shown interest in DiFabio. When he was available at the end of the first round, the Cardinals took him.

Signed at the end of June, DiFabio, 20, was sent by the Cardinals to their Class AA Tulsa team in the Texas League. Playing for manager Vern Rapp, DiFabio made seven appearances and was 0-2 with a 7.88 ERA. The Cardinals ordered him to improve his physical conditioning before the 1966 season.

“He’s about 5-foot-10 and weighed over 220,” Chief Bender, the Cardinals’ farm director, told The Sporting News.

DiFabio got his weight down to about 197 pounds in 1966, Bender said. Pitching for Class A Cedar Rapids of the Midwest League, DiFabio was 11-3 with a 1.86 ERA in 17 starts for manager Ron Plaza.

“He had a good year at Cedar Rapids after he was unable to get in shape in 1965,” Bender said.

In 1968, DiFabio had another good year. At Class AA Arkansas of the Texas League, he was 13-6 with a 2.17 ERA in 24 starts for Rapp.

At a crossroads

Meanwhile, pitchers such as Steve Carlton, Nellie Briles and Larry Jaster _ all of whom had been signed by the Cardinals as amateur free agents in the years before a draft  _ were advancing through the organization and receiving promotions to St. Louis.

Major League Baseball expanded from 20 to 24 teams in 1969, opening opportunities for more players to get into the big leagues, but no one chose DiFabio.

Entering the 1970 season, his sixth in the Cardinals’ system, DiFabio, 25, told The Sporting News, “I know I can win in the Texas League, but I’ve got to find out if I can pitch in the majors … I’ll have to make it to the big leagues soon or get out of baseball.”

Assigned to Arkansas in 1970, DiFabio was 10-7 with a 3.26 ERA in 26 games for manager Ken Boyer. Still, the Cardinals didn’t call.

After the 1970 season, DiFabio and the Cardinals parted ways. He signed with the Reds organization. In 1971, pitching for Rapp at Class AAA Indianapolis, DiFabio was 0-2 with a 15.00 ERA in two starts. He was finished as a professional ballplayer.

In seven minor-league seasons (1965-71), DiFabio was 45-34 with a 3.28 ERA.

Impressively, DiFabio had continued his education in the off-seasons, earning a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Delta State.

Dandies and duds

Of the 20 selections in the first round of the 1965 draft, seven didn’t play in the major leagues.

The Cardinals chose 60 players in the 1965 draft. Six reached the major leagues and just one of those _ pitcher Harry Parker, a fourth-round pick _ played for the Cardinals.

The other five Cardinals 1965 draft picks who got to the big leagues: pitcher Dan McGinn, 21st round; pitcher Jerry Robertson, 27th round; shortstop Rich Hacker, 39th round; pitcher Pete Hamm, 41st round; and second baseman John Sipin, 55th round. Hacker also was a Cardinals coach on the staff of manager Whitey Herzog from 1986-90.

Like DiFabio, neither the Cardinals’ 1965 second-round choice, first baseman Terry Milani, nor their third-round selection, outfielder Billy Wolff, played in the big leagues.

Previously: Harry Parker: Best selection of Cardinals first draft

Previously: The story of how Ted Simmons became a Cardinal

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Before he played a game for the Cardinals, Ken Boyer was hyped as their best third baseman all-time. Then, in his debut, he heightened expectations, hitting a home run against a Cardinals nemesis.

ken_boyer9Sixty years ago, on April 12, 1955, Boyer appeared in his first big-league game, playing third and batting sixth in the Cardinals’ season opener against the Cubs at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.

In the eighth inning, with two outs, Red Schoendienst on first and the Cubs ahead, 14-2, Boyer slugged a home run off starter Paul Minner. The blast launched Boyer into a productive rookie season and a standout Cardinals career.

The Natural

After hitting .319 with 42 doubles, 21 home runs, 116 RBI and 29 stolen bases for the Cardinals’ minor-league Houston affiliate in 1954, Boyer was assured a spot with the 1955 Cardinals. In December 1954, the Cardinals traded their starting third baseman, Ray Jablonski, to the Reds, making Boyer the heir apparent at that position entering spring training.

In an interview with The Sporting News, Art Routzong, Houston’s general manager, said of Boyer, “He is the best prospect I’ve seen in 17 years in baseball.”

In a preview to spring training, St. Louis writer Bob Broeg opined, “If looks didn’t deceive, the Cardinals would have their greatest third baseman ever in Kenton Lloyd Boyer. It does seem possible _ it would be daring to say ‘probable’ _ that the rookie will become the Redbirds’ best at their most vexing position.”

Broeg’s colleague, J. Roy Stockton, added that Boyer “would be the Cardinals’ first complete infielder since Red Schoendienst.”

Solid spring

In spring training, Boyer played well at both third base and shortstop. In a poll of baseball correspondents for The Sporting News, Boyer and Indians pitcher Herb Score were selected the best rookies entering the 1955 season.

Scout Tony Kaufmann compared Boyer with a Hall of Famer, saying the rookie could become “another Pie Traynor.”

“He’s deadly efficient and with no apparent weakness,” Cardinals manager Eddie Stanky said of Boyer.

Wrote Broeg: “He can run fast, throw hard, field well and hit with power.”

Quick adjustment

Boyer’s performance in his debut game affirmed his skills and his ability to adapt.

Minner, a left-hander, often baffled the Cardinals. In a 10-year career with the Dodgers and Cubs, Minner was 21-8 versus St. Louis. He was 48-76 against the rest of the National League. In 1955, when he finished 9-9, Minner was 5-0 against the Cardinals.

In his first big-league at-bat in the season opener, Boyer flied out to right. In his next two at-bats, Boyer struck out against Minner, both times with a pair of runners on base.

In the eighth, Schoendienst singled with two outs. Boyer followed with his home run. Boxscore

(A month later, May 30, 1955, Boyer hit two home runs in a game against Minner, including a two-run, two-out shot in the bottom of the ninth that tied the score.)

Strong season

Boyer had a successful rookie year. He hit .264 with 27 doubles, 18 home runs and 22 stolen bases. Boyer was one of four National League players to achieve double figures in home runs and steals in 1955. The others: Willie Mays of the Giants (51 homers, 24 steals), Sandy Amoros of the Dodgers (10 homers, 10 steals) and Boyer’s teammate, Wally Moon (19 homers, 11 steals).

Among NL third basemen in 1955, Boyer ranked second in double plays turned (24), third in assists (253) and third in fielding percentage (.952).

Yet, Boyer’s teammate, outfielder Bill Virdon, won the 1955 NL Rookie of the Year Award. Virdon hit .281 with 18 doubles and 17 home runs.

As predicted, Boyer developed into the all-time best Cardinals third baseman. In 11 years with St. Louis, he hit .293 with 255 home runs and 1,001 RBI. Boyer also won five Gold Glove awards and the 1964 NL Most Valuable Player Award with the Cardinals.

Previously: 1964 effort supports Ken Boyer Hall of Fame case

Previously: With Ron Santo in Hall, Ken Boyer should be there, too

Previously: Ken Boyer converted from infield to center

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The Cardinals acquired Jose Oquendo with the notion he would become the eventual replacement for Ozzie Smith at shortstop. Instead, Oquendo became their second baseman and paired with Smith in forming a quality keystone combination for St. Louis.

jose_oquendo5Thirty years ago, on April 2, 1985, the Cardinals got Oquendo from the Mets in the first trade engineered by Dal Maxvill, who had become St. Louis general manager two months earlier.

Maxvill knew what it took to play shortstop, having been the starter for the Cardinals at that position on pennant-winning clubs in 1967 and 1968.

Like Maxvill, Smith was a Gold Glove Award winner. Like Maxvill in 1967, Smith helped the 1982 Cardinals to a pennant and World Series title.

The Cardinals wanted Smith to remain their shortstop. He was eligible to become a free agent, though, after the 1985 season. If Smith and the Cardinals were unable to negotiate a contract extension, Maxvill was prepared to trade him.

Shoring up shortstop

A headline in an April 1985 edition of The Sporting News declared, “Cardinals Admit Ozzie May Be Dealt.”

“If we can’t sign him, there’s got to be some thought about trading him,” said Fred Kuhlmann, Cardinals chief operating officer.

Said Smith: “A trade is a possibility.”

The Cardinals, though, had no suitable replacement for Smith.

That’s when Maxvill went to work.

The Cardinals dealt shortstop Angel Salazar, whom they had acquired from the Expos three months earlier, and minor-league pitcher John Young to the Mets for Oquendo and minor-league pitcher Mark Davis. Four days later, April 6, 1985, the Cardinals got veteran shortstop Ivan De Jesus and reliever Bill Campbell from the Phillies for reliever Dave Rucker.

Maxvill saw De Jesus, 32, as the stopgap and Oquendo, 21, as the long-term answer at shortstop if Smith was traded or became injured.

“You have to prepare yourself for any eventuality,” Maxvill said. “I looked in our system and there was nothing there at shortstop. You have to backstop yourself whether (Smith) is here or not.”

Mets prospect

Oquendo was 15 when he signed with the Mets as an amateur free agent in 1979 and made his professional debut that year with their Class A affiliate, the Grays Harbor Loggers of Aberdeen, Wash., in the Northwest League. He made 40 errors in 63 games at shortstop that season.

Four years later, Oquendo, 19, became the starting shortstop for the 1983 Mets under manager George Bamberger.

By April 1985, though, the Mets were managed by Davey Johnson. He saw Rafael Santana, a former Cardinal, and Ron Gardenhire as shortstop options.

“Johnson felt Oquendo had to be a better hitter,” The Sporting News wrote. “He also was less enamored of Oquendo’s fielding than that of other shortstops in the organization.”

Smith stays

Maxvill saw Oquendo as the shortstop prospect the Cardinals needed. (After the deal was made, Johnson learned Gardenhire had back problems. “If I had known about this,” said Johnson, “Jose Oquendo might still be here.”)

The Cardinals assigned Oquendo to Class AAA Louisville.

“You can look for the Wizard to pack his bags any day now,” Bill Conlin, a columnist for The Sporting News, wrote of Smith after the Cardinals got Oquendo and De Jesus.

Instead, on April 15, hours before the Cardinals played their 1985 home opener that night against the Expos, Smith agreed to a four-year contract extension to remain with St. Louis.

The deal was worth $8.7 million. Smith received a $700,000 signing bonus and salaries of $1.8 million a year in 1986 and 1987 and $2.2 million a year in 1988 and 1989, The Sporting News reported. Also, the Cardinals provided Smith a $500,000 loan at 10 percent interest and Anheuser-Busch promised him consideration for a wholesale beer distributorship.

Smith would play for the Cardinals through the 1996 season before retiring.

Shift to second

Oquendo spent the 1985 season with Louisville. His manager was Jim Fregosi, who had been an all-star shortstop with the Angels. Oquendo hit .211 in 133 games for Louisville and made 23 errors at shortstop.

In 1986, Oquendo stuck with the Cardinals as a backup to Smith at shortstop and to Tommy Herr at second base. He hit .297 in 76 games, establishing himself as a valuable utility player.

After Herr was traded to the Twins in 1988, Oquendo became the Cardinals’ starter in 1989. He led National League second basemen in fielding percentage in 1989 (.994) and 1990 (.996).

In 10 seasons with the Cardinals (1986-1995), Oquendo hit .264 with an on-base percentage of .359. In 1989, he was eighth in the NL in batting at .291.

A Cardinals instructor in 1997 and a minor-league manager in 1998, Oquendo has been a big-league coach for St. Louis under managers Tony La Russa and Mike Matheny each year from 1999 through 2015.

Previously: How Jose Oquendo became a Cardinals catcher

Previously: Why Jose Oquendo, not Ozzie Smith, opened at shortstop

Previously: How Andy Van Slyke amazed Jose Oquendo

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Jim King spent five years in the Cardinals organization, learning from the likes of George Kissell and Johnny Keane, but he twice departed the Redbirds and never got much of a chance to make an impact with them at the big-league level.

jim_kingKing, an outfielder who started in the first big-league game played in California and who spent 11 seasons in the majors, primarily with the Senators, died Feb. 23, 2015, in his native Arkansas. He was 82.

The Cardinals prepared King for the big leagues.

After making his professional debut at 17 in 1950 with the independent Vernon Dusters of the Class D Longhorn League, King was signed by the Cardinals. He played in the St. Louis minor-league system from 1951-54, including two stints with Omaha clubs managed by Kissell, the franchise’s iconic instructor.

In 1954, King had his best season in the Cardinals organization, hitting .314 with 31 doubles and 25 home runs for an Omaha team managed by former St. Louis catcher Ferrell Anderson. King, who had a strong arm, also contributed 19 outfield assists.

Courted by Cubs

King caught the attention of Wid Matthews, director of personnel for the Cubs. On Nov. 22, 1954, the Cubs claimed King from the Cardinals in the minor-league draft.

King made his major-league debut with the Cubs in 1955 and played for them for two seasons.

In 1957, Cubs general manager John Holland was seeking to overhaul the roster. Cardinals general manager Frank Lane was seeking a left-handed pull hitter who could benefit from the Busch Stadium I dimensions. The distance along the right field line from home plate to the outfield at the former Sportsman’s Park was an enticing 310 feet.

Holland made a special trip to Memphis to talk with Lane as the Cardinals headed north from spring training. Their talks continued in the Busch Stadium press box lounge when the Cubs and Cardinals played in St. Louis during the first week of the 1957 regular season, The Sporting News reported.

Second chance

On April 20, 1957, the Cardinals reacquired King from the Cubs for outfielder Bobby Del Greco and pitcher Ed Mayer.

“The deal for King was completed within 48 hours, culminating a lengthy series of conversations between Lane and Holland,” St. Louis writer Bob Broeg reported.

Broeg described King as “a pull hitter for whom the Busch Stadium dimensions are tailored” and declared that the Cardinals were “stronger and deeper” with King on the roster.

Said Lane: “He’s got the knack of pulling, an asset especially with our short right field, and he won’t be handicapped in St. Louis by the wind blowing in as it does so often off the lake in Chicago, making hitting tough for left-handers.”

The Cardinals issued uniform No. 9 to King. It was the number worn by Cardinals standout Enos Slaughter (and later by Roger Maris, Joe Torre and Terry Pendleton) before it was retired by the club.

King was used primarily as a pinch-hitter. On May 15, 1957, less than a month after he was acquired, the Cardinals sent King to Class AAA Omaha in order to get their roster to the mandated 25-player limit.

Wrote Broeg in The Sporting News: “Entirely unexpected was the decision to send down King rather than Tom Alston, the good-field, no-hit first baseman … Although mum was the word around the club, it was apparent that owner Gussie Busch … had requested that Alston be given another chance or, at least, a longer look.”

At Omaha, King played for manager Johnny Keane (who, seven years later, would lead the Cardinals to a World Series title) and hit 20 home runs in 116 games before being called back to the Cardinals in September.

In 22 games overall for the 1957 Cardinals, King hit .314 (11-for-35). All his hits were singles.

California connection

King appeared poised to earn a spot on the 1958 Cardinals. However, the Cardinals were seeking catching help. The Giants needed a lefthanded-hitting outfielder to replace Don Mueller. On April 2, 1958, the Cardinals traded King to the Giants for catcher Ray Katt.

When the Dodgers faced the Giants on April 15, 1958, at San Francisco’s Seals Stadium in the first regular-season major-league game played in California, King was in the starting lineup, playing left field and batting second, just ahead of Willie Mays. King was 2-for-3 with two walks, a run scored and a RBI-single off Don Drysdale. Boxscore

King had his best seasons with the 1963 Senators (24 home runs) and 1964 Senators (18 home runs). He broke Mickey Vernon’s Senators single-season record of 20 home runs by a left-handed batter. On June 8, 1964, King hit three solo home runs in a game at Washington against the Athletics. Boxscore

In a big-league career spanning 1955 to 1967 with the Cubs, Cardinals, Giants, Senators, White Sox and Indians, King hit .240 with 117 home runs. After his baseball career, he worked for 24 years for the White River Telephone and Alltel Telephone companies before retiring.

Previously: How Cardinals nearly traded Bob Gibson to Senators

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

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

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

Discovered by Dodgers

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

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

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

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

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

Joining the Cardinals

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

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

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

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

Rookie welcome

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

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

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

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

Thank you, teacher

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

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

Trouble at Arkansas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previously: Cardinals boosted managing career of Sparky Anderson

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