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Archive for the ‘Trades’ Category

Having achieved unprecedented personal success while falling short of the ultimate team goal, Joe Torre’s six-year stay with the Cardinals came to an unsatisfying, though not unexpected, end.

joe_torre5Forty years ago, on Oct. 13, 1974, the Cardinals traded Torre to the Mets for pitchers Ray Sadecki and Tommy Moore.

Popular and productive, Torre hit .308 with 1,062 hits in 918 games for the Cardinals from 1969-74. His on-base percentage during that time was .382, nearly 20 points better than his career mark.

Though a multi-time all-star who regularly ranked among baseball’s top hitters, Torre exceeded all expectations in 1971 when he led the National League in hits (230), RBI (137) and batting average (.363) and was awarded the NL Most Valuable Player honor over Willie Stargell of the World Series champion Pirates.

Time for change

After the 1974 season, however, the Cardinals were ready to make Keith Hernandez, 21, their everyday first baseman. In an interview with United Press International, Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst said of Hernandez: “He looks like a tremendous prospect. We had to make room for him.”

Though Torre also played third base and catcher, the Cardinals were set at those positions with Ken Reitz and Ted Simmons.

At 34 and with a yearly salary of $150,000, Torre was deemed expendable.

Wrote the Associated Press: “His ample salary and his age may have been factors in arranging the deal. He was one of a half dozen Cardinals players earning more than $100,000.”

Torre, too, was expecting a departure. In his book “Chasing the Dream” (1997, Bantam), Torre wrote, “I knew I wasn’t going to be back with the Cardinals. They had brought up a young first baseman from the minor leagues named Keith Hernandez and made him eligible for the playoffs if we won the East.”

Falling short

The Cardinals, though, finished in second place in the National League East Division in 1974 for the second consecutive year and for the third time in four seasons. They never qualified for the postseason during Torre’s time with the club.

Torre in 1974 hit .312 for the Cardinals in July and .320 in August. Then he slumped to a .200 batting mark with 22 strikeouts in September. It wasn’t until after the season that The Sporting News reported Torre had played the last month of the season with a cracked thumb.

“He’ll play anywhere,” Schoendienst said of Torre. “And he’ll play hurt.”

When Torre was acquired by the Cardinals from the Braves for slugger Orlando Cepeda in March 1969, the Cardinals were a premier team, the two-time defending National League champions. “Torre did a heck of a job for us,” Cardinals general manager Bing Devine told The Sporting News. “I’m sincere when I say he took me off the spot by doing so well for us after we traded Cepeda for him.”

Meet the Mets

The Braves almost had dealt Torre to the Mets instead of to the Cardinals. United Press International reported, “The Mets thought they had him before the 1969 season and Gil Hodges, who was then their manager, went so far as to tell Torre during spring training that, ‘You’ll be with us in a couple of days.’ But that deal fell through because the Mets refused to part with Amos Otis, then a red-hot prospect to play center field for New York.”

Six years later, the Mets finally got their man. It was the first trade for Mets general manager Joe McDonald, who would become general manager of the Cardinals from 1982-84.

“We’ve needed another right-handed hitter in our lineup and Torre gives us that,” Mets manager Yogi Berra said.

Said Torre, a Brooklyn native: “If I had to be traded anywhere, I’m glad I’m going to New York.”

Devine said Torre didn’t want to be a Cardinals reserve and that his first choice among teams to be dealt to was the Mets.

But, in his book, Torre revealed, “I was going to a team whose season had just ended with 91 losses. That was a very fragile time for me. On top of being unhappy with my marriage, I hit rock bottom in the big leagues with a losing team. And to make matters worse, I became a part-time player. I hated it _ and it showed.”

Aftermath of the deal

Though Torre was the Mets’ starting third baseman on Opening Day in 1975, he eventually was platooned that season at first base with Ed Kranepool and at third base with Wayne Garrett. Torre hit .247 in 114 games for the 1975 Mets.

“In 1975, for the first time in my life, I dreaded going to the ballpark,” Torre wrote. “Baseball felt like work. I thought maybe it was time to quit.”

Two years later, Torre became Mets player-manager. He would manage the Mets, Braves, Cardinals, Yankees and Dodgers _ winning four World Series titles with the Yankees _ and earning induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.

Meanwhile, the pitchers the Cardinals got from the Mets for Torre, had short stays with St. Louis.

Moore, 26, was 0-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 10 relief appearances for the Cardinals before he was traded in June with shortstop Ed Brinkman to the Rangers for outfielder Willie Davis.

Sadecki, 34, was in his second stint with St. Louis. He had been a 20-game winner for the 1964 Cardinals and got the win in Game 1 of the World Series that year, beating Whitey Ford and the Yankees. In 1975, Sadecki was 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA in eight relief appearances for the Cardinals before being traded in May with pitcher Elias Sosa to the Braves for pitcher Ron Reed and outfielder Wayne Nordhagen.

Nine years earlier, in May 1966, the Cardinals had traded Sadecki to the Giants for Cepeda.

In proving the adage that “what goes around, comes around,” the Cardinals dealt Sadecki for Cepeda, who later was traded to the Braves for Torre, who eventually was traded to the Mets for Sadecki.

Previously: Joe Torre, Nolan Ryan and the April streak

Previously: Joe Torre erased Felix Millan with 4 double plays

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Being discarded by the Cardinals was tough on Tim McCarver the first time it happened. The second time was worse.

tim_mccarver4Forty years ago, Sept. 1, 1974, the Cardinals sold the contract of McCarver to the Red Sox.

At the time of the transaction, the Cardinals were in second place in the National League East, 2.5 games behind the Pirates.

It hurt McCarver that the Cardinals saw him as a liability rather than an asset in their late-season bid for a division championship.

McCarver, 32, was in his second stint with the Cardinals in 1974. He had debuted with them as a 17-year-old catcher in 1959. A two-time all-star who finished runner-up to teammate Orlando Cepeda in voting for the 1967 Most Valuable Player Award, McCarver was an integral part of a Cardinals club that won three National League pennants and two World Series titles in the 1960s. His leadership skills and special bond with pitching ace Bob Gibson also were important.

Feeling the hurt

In October 1969, the Cardinals dealt McCarver, center fielder Curt Flood, pitcher Joe Hoerner and outfielder Byron Browne to the Phillies for slugger Richie Allen, infielder Cookie Rojas and pitcher Jerry Johnson.

In his book “Oh, Baby, I Love It” (1987, Villard), McCarver recalled, “When general manager Bing Devine broke the news to me about my going to Philly, he said it hurt him to do it. That’s like a father dangling a razor strap in front of his 4-year-old son and saying, ‘This is going to hurt me more than it’ll hurt you.’ Bull. Since St. Louis had been my baseball home since my rookie year in 1959, it had to hurt me more than a little, too.”

Reacquired by St. Louis in a November 1972 trade with the Expos for outfielder Jorge Roque, McCarver batted .266 with 49 RBI as a utility player for the 1973 Cardinals.

In 1974, McCarver’s role primarily was to be the Cardinals’ top pinch-hitter, although he also filled in at catcher and at first base. He struggled, hitting .179 (7-for-39) as a pinch-hitter and .217 (23-for-106) overall. He produced just one extra-base hit.

Bound for Beantown

On Aug. 29, as the Cardinals left San Diego to open a series in San Francisco, Bob Kennedy, Cardinals player personnel director, informed McCarver he likely would be dealt to the Athletics, who were atop the American League West and headed to their third consecutive World Series championship. The Athletics were seeking a veteran backup to catcher Ray Fosse.

“I thought I was being traded to Oakland,” McCarver said in his book. “When the Cards took a flight to San Francisco, I went with them, fully expecting to transfer across the bay.”

After arriving at San Francisco, McCarver called his wife, Anne, at their home in Memphis and said, “I need you.”

Said McCarver: “I was pretty depressed about leaving the Cards, who had a shot at the pennant that year. Anne flew from Memphis to San Francisco and we had dinner that Friday night. The next morning, I got word that I was heading to (Boston).”

The Red Sox, who led the American League East, were seeking help for catcher Bob Montgomery, who was filling in for an injured Carlton Fisk.

“When the Red Sox picked me up, I hadn’t the slightest notion they had any interest in me,” McCarver said.

Trust issues

The transaction caught many by surprise.

In The Sporting News, Peter Gammons reported this exchange with Red Sox manager Darrell Johnson: “On Aug. 30, Johnson was asked if the Sox were interested in Tim McCarver. ‘No,’ he answered, but McCarver was bought the next day.”

Wrote St. Louis reporter Neal Russo: “It’s usually the custom to add a few veterans for a club’s final push, but the Cardinals dropped one.”

With McCarver gone, the Cardinals called up prospects Marc Hill to back up catcher Ted Simmons and Keith Hernandez to back up first baseman Joe Torre.

In the end, neither the Cardinals nor the Red Sox qualified for the postseason. The Cardinals finished in second place, 1.5 games behind the Pirates, and Boston placed third, seven behind the first-place Orioles.

Previously: How Tim McCarver became a Cardinal at 17

Previously: Tim McCarver challenged Bob Gibson for World Series MVP

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Larry Walker wasn’t looking to leave Colorado. In 2004, he generally was considered the best to have played for the Rockies. At 37, he was comfortable. Then, the Cardinals came calling.

larry_walker2Ten years ago, on Aug. 6, 2004, Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty performed a heist, acquiring Walker from the Rockies for three prospects.

Walker, a three-time National League batting champion and seven-time Gold Glove Award winner, joined an outfield of Jim Edmonds and Reggie Sanders and helped the Cardinals win their first pennant in 17 years.

The Rockies had approached Walker about trading him either to the Rangers or the Marlins. Because Walker was a 10-year veteran who had spent five of those years with the same team, his approval was needed before a deal could be made. He rejected the proposed trades to Texas and Florida.

Players make pitch

The Cardinals, though, appealed to his competitive spirit. In a bid to seal the deal, Cardinals players Edmonds and Scott Rolen called Walker, urging him to help them get to the World Series by accepting a trade to St. Louis.

Rolen offered to drop a spot in the batting order in case manager Tony La Russa wanted to bat Walker in the cleanup position Rolen had held.

Inspired, Walker gave his OK to the Rockies to complete a trade with the Cardinals.

“I think there were some people in Colorado who weren’t certain he would come,” Jocketty said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He weighed everything and it didn’t take him long. I think he’ll be energized to come here and play with us and I think he’ll energize our club.”

The Rockies, looking to free payroll in order to rebuild a team around players such as their rookie outfielder, Matt Holliday, agreed to a package of minor leaguers: pitchers Jason Burch, Luis Martinez and Chris Narveson. None would ever appear in a big-league game for the Rockies.

MVP caliber

Walker joined Edmonds, Rolen, Edgar Renteria and Mike Matheny in giving the 2004 Cardinals Gold Glove winners at five of the nine fielding positions.

“We put an MVP in the lineup … This was a real impact move,” Rolen said of the deal for Walker.

Said Sanders: “You look at this lineup and you wonder, ‘How can it get any better?’ And it did.”

The Cardinals were in first place in the National League Central, 10.5 games ahead of the Cubs, on the day of the trade.

La Russa said, “I love the message that the people on top are sending to the players. I think they recognize how hard we’ve been playing and we have the chance to do something really special.”

What a welcome

Walker arrived in St. Louis during the Cardinals’ game with the Mets on Aug. 7. In the seventh, with two runners on base, one out and the score tied at 1-1, La Russa sent Walker to pinch-hit for Matheny against Mets starter Kris Benson. Cardinals fans welcomed Walker with a standing ovation.

“One of the most nervous at-bats I’ve had in my career was today,” Walker said.

He struck out.

As he returned to the dugout, Walker received another standing ovation.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Walker said. “I thought maybe I should go back and ask if I could have another strike.” Boxscore

Walker would hit .280 with 11 home runs and 27 RBI in 44 games for the 2004 Cardinals, who won the division title by 13 games over the runner-up Astros.

In the postseason, Walker hit six home runs _ two each in the Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series.

Walker returned to the Cardinals in 2005, his final big-league season, and hit .289 with 15 home runs and 52 RBI in 100 games.

Previously: Cardinals Canadian club: Tom Burgess to Larry Walker

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After the Cardinals acquired Jim Brosnan from the Cubs in 1958, they thought they had a premier reliever. What they didn’t know was they had a premier author.

jim_brosnanBrosnan, who pitched for the Cardinals from 1958-59 and wrote baseball books such as “The Long Season,” “Pennant Race” and “The Ted Simmons Story,” died on June 28, 2014. He was 84.

“The Long Season” (1960, Harper & Brothers) chronicled Brosnan’s 1959 season with the Cardinals and Reds. “Pennant Race” (1962, Harper & Brothers) was a diary about Brosnan’s season with the 1961 National League champion Reds. Both books rank among the best and most influential written about baseball. Brosnan, nicknamed “Professor” during his playing days, wrote with sly wit and intelligence.

I discovered “Pennant Race” at a public library while in grade school in the 1960s. The book was so compelling that I spent the better part of the day with it there in a library chair.

“The Ted Simmons Story,” written while the all-star catcher was at the height of his Cardinals career, is a gem, a perfect pairing of author and subject. Brosnan and Simmons are two of the smartest, original thinkers to play the game.

Scholar joins St. Louis

Traded by the Cubs for shortstop Al Dark on May 20, 1958, Brosnan, 28, was put into the Cardinals starting rotation. He earned wins in his first three Cardinals starts, including a complete game in an 8-1 St. Louis victory over the Giants on May 30. Boxscore

Cardinals manager Fred Hutchinson discovered, though, that Brosnan was more effective as a reliever. In 21 relief appearances for the 1958 Cardinals, Brosnan was 4-1 with 7 saves and a 1.67 ERA.

Oscar Kahan of The Sporting News wrote, “The scholarly, bespectacled right-hander … developed into one of the sharpest bullpen men in the National League.”

In 12 starts for the 1958 Cardinals, Brosnan was 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA. His overall numbers for the 1958 Cardinals: 8-4, 3.44 ERA, in 33 games.

Japanese journal

The Cardinals embarked on an exhibition tour of Japan after the 1958 season. Brosnan filed articles about the trip for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In describing their arrival during a stopover in Hawaii, Brosnan wrote that the team was greeted “by girls with leis who did their celebrated walk forward, placed the garlands around each blushing player’s neck and whispered ‘Aloha’ while nuzzling the right cheek.”

Aloha, Brosnan informed his St. Louis readers, “is used to say hello, to say goodbye and even just to be friendly when having nothing else to say.”

In “The Long Season,” Brosnan wrote how his Cardinals teammates, Don Blasingame and Joe Cunningham, were out to “see everything and do everything” during the Japan trip.

Wrote Brosnan, “The Japanese bath is an unusual custom for an Occidental to enjoy, but it is an easy habit to get into. If it’s not the first thing to do after you land in Japan, it may well be the last before you leave … Cunningham and Blasingame, in their anxiety to do the right thing by the Japanese as well as themselves, absorbed a maximum of Oriental culture on the last day and night of our stay in Tokyo. The rising sun found them padding quietly and contentedly through the lobby of the Imperial Hotel. Sleepless, perhaps, but loose as a goose, like they say.”

St. Louis stumble

Solly Hemus replaced Hutchinson as manager, but Brosnan remained firmly in the Cardinals’ bullpen plans for 1959.

He experienced a disastrous Opening Day against the Giants at St. Louis.

With the Cardinals ahead 4-3, Hemus lifted starter Larry Jackson after seven innings and brought in Brosnan. The Giants scored twice against him in the eighth (Willie Kirkland homered and Andre Rodgers hit a RBI-triple) for a 5-4 lead.

In the bottom half of the inning, Alex Grammas had a RBI-single, tying the score at 5-5. Hemus could have removed Brosnan for a pinch-hitter, but allowed him to remain in the game to pitch the ninth.

Brosnan walked the leadoff batter and, one out later, Jackie Brandt hit a RBI-double. The Giants won, 6-5. Brosnan got the loss and was booed. Boxscore

In “The Long Season,” Brosnan wrote, “It doesn’t take very long, really, to lose your confidence. To embarrass yourself, jeopardize your position, maybe lose your job. Hemus went a long way with me. He could have taken me out. He should have taken me out.”

Heading to hometown

Brosnan allowed eight runs in six relief appearances from May 1 to May 10. In The Sporting News, Ralph Ray wrote, “From one of the best relief men in the NL a year ago … Brosnan turned into a dud as a fireman.”

Hoping a change in routine would help, Hemus gave Brosnan a start against the Phillies on June 7 at Philadelphia. It was a bust. Brosnan gave up four runs before he was yanked with one out in the first. The Phillies won, 11-9. Boxscore

The next day, back in St. Louis, Brosnan and his wife dined at Stan Musial’s restaurant. When they returned to the George Washington Hotel, where Brosnan resided during the season, a desk clerk called to Brosnan as he crossed the lobby.

“Solly Hemus was here just a while ago, Mr. Brosnan,” the clerk said. “He left this letter.”

Brosnan wrote that he waited to open the envelope until he got to his room. The letter, from general manager Bing Devine, informed Brosnan he had been traded to the Reds for pitcher Hal Jeffcoat.

“I sat back on the couch, half-breathing as I waited for the indignation to flush good red blood to my head,” Brosnan wrote. “Nothing happened. I took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly. It’s true. The second time you’re sold you don’t feel a thing.”

Brosnan was 1-3 with 2 saves and a 4.91 ERA in 20 games for the 1959 Cardinals.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, he regained his form with the Reds and was a prominent member of their pennant-winning staff in 1961. Brosnan was 10-4 with 16 saves and a 3.04 ERA in 53 appearances for the National League champions, who were managed by Hutchinson.

In a nine-year major-league career with the Cubs, Cardinals, Reds and White Sox, Brosnan was 55-47 with 67 saves and a 3.54 ERA.

Previously: How Stan Musial helped Cardinal rookie Howie Nunn

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His name, perfect for a young, hard thrower, seemed the kind a novelist or screenwriter would conjure. Yet, Billy McCool was real, a left-hander who broke into the majors with the Reds as a teenager and for two years was among the top relievers in the National League.

bill_mccoolThe Cardinals found McCool nearly untouchable in 1966, when he was a National League all-star.

McCool battled the Cardinals for six seasons, 1964-69. He pitched more innings and had more strikeouts versus the Cardinals than he did against any other big-league opponent.

In 1970, the Cardinals acquired McCool from the Padres. By then, McCool, 26, was struggling. He made 18 appearances for the 1970 Cardinals and was 0-3 with a 6.23 ERA and a save.

This post is dedicated to McCool, 69, who died June 8, 2014, in Summerfield, Fla.

Reds rookie

A standout athlete at Lawrenceburg, Ind., McCool was signed by the Reds as an amateur free agent in 1963. McCool, 19, made his big-league debut with the 1964 Reds. He was a prominent pitcher for a club that fought the Cardinals and Phillies for the pennant through the final day of the season.

McCool posted 6 wins and 7 saves with a 2.42 ERA for the 1964 Reds. The Sporting News named him its National League Rookie Pitcher of the Year.

Against the Cardinals that season, McCool was 0-2 with a save in 6 appearances. On Sept. 19, the Reds beat Bob Gibson and the Cardinals in the first game of a doubleheader at Cincinnati. McCool got his first big-league start (after 34 relief appearances) in the second game.

Matched against Ray Sadecki, McCool was good, yielding two runs, striking out seven and issuing no walks in eight innings. Sadecki was better. He pitched eight scoreless innings and combined with closer Barney Schultz for the shutout in a 2-0 triumph for the Cardinals. Boxscore

After the season, McCool and his brother-in-law, a pharmacist, bought a drug store in Lawrenceburg. Wrote The Sporting News: “Billy McCool not only throws aspirin tablets, he sells them.”

Billy the Kid

McCool sought a pay raise from the Reds for 1965. According to The Sporting News, contract talks between McCool and assistant general manager Phil Seghi included this exchange:

Seghi: “Billy, you’re just a kid yet. You’re asking for too much money.”

McCool: “If I’m only a kid, why do they give me a man’s job to do?”

Appearing in 62 games, including 2 starts, in 1965, McCool compiled 9 wins and 21 saves for the Reds. He ranked second in the league in saves, behind the Cubs’ Ted Abernathy. McCool was 1-1 with 4 saves versus the Cardinals that season.

Used exclusively in relief in 1966, McCool had 8 wins, 18 saves and a 2.48 ERA. He again ranked second in the league in saves, behind the Dodgers’ Phil Regan. In 7 games against the 1966 Cardinals, McCool was 2-1 with 3 saves and a 1.04 ERA. He struck out 23 Cardinals in 17.1 innings and yielded 2 earned runs.

In the July 2, 1966, edition of The Sporting News, Mets second baseman Chuck Hiller said of McCool’s fastball, “It looks about the size of a Ping-Pong ball when it comes up to the plate.”

Said Mets third baseman and former Cardinals standout Ken Boyer: “That slider he’s throwing now is the best I’ve ever seen a left-hander have.”

McCool made 11 starts in 31 appearances in 1967 and 4 starts in 30 appearances in 1968.

Battles with Brock

He had two significant games against the 1968 Cardinals.

On April 23, 1968, the Reds led the Cardinals, 2-0, through eight innings at St. Louis. In the ninth, the Cardinals scored twice off starter George Culver, tying the score. In the 10th, Lou Brock hit a two-run walkoff home run against McCool, giving the Cardinals a 4-2 victory. Boxscore

Two months later, on June 14, McCool got a start at St. Louis. He held the Cardinals scoreless in six innings and limited them to two hits _ singles by Julian Javier and Tim McCarver _ and got the win in a 7-0 Reds triumph. Boxscore It was McCool’s last major-league win as a starter.

(Brock hit .147, 5-for-34, with 12 strikeouts against McCool in his career. Another Cardinals hitter who struggled versus McCool was Mike Shannon. He hit .100, 2-for-20, with 7 strikeouts. The Cardinals who hit McCool best: Javier at .400, 8-for-20, and Curt Flood at .292, 7-for-24.)

The Reds made McCool, 24, available in the expansion draft after the 1968 season and he was selected by the Padres. “McCool could help San Diego,” Reds manager Dave Bristol said. “There’s nothing wrong with his arm.”

In 4 appearances for the Padres against the 1969 Cardinals, McCool was 2-1 with a 4.15 ERA.

On Aug. 6, 1969, at San Diego, McCool relieved Clay Kirby in the ninth with the score tied at 2-2 and retired the Cardinals in order. When ex-Cardinal Ed Spiezio opened the Padres’ ninth with a home run off Steve Carlton, lifting San Diego to a 3-2 victory, McCool got the win, his last in the big leagues. Boxscore

Save for St. Louis

In April 1970, the Cardinals acquired McCool from the Padres for infielder Steve Huntz. After a stint at Class AAA Tulsa, McCool was promoted to the Cardinals in May.

In his third appearance, May 15, 1970, McCool earned a save with two scoreless innings in relief of Mike Torrez in a 1-0 victory over the Cubs at St. Louis. McCool retired Don Kessinger, Glenn Beckert and Billy Williams on ground balls in the eighth. In the ninth, after getting ground outs from Jim Hickman and Johnny Callison, McCool walked Ron Santo before retiring Cleo James on a fly ball. Boxscore

That was McCool’s highlight as a Cardinal. In July, he was demoted to Tulsa. After the season, the Cardinals traded him to the Red Sox for pitcher Bill Landis. McCool never returned to the major leagues.

In 7 big-league seasons, he posted a 32-42 record with 58 saves and a 3.59 ERA. In 33 games against the Cardinals, McCool was 6-6 with 8 saves, a 3.26 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 66.1 innings.

Previously: Cardinals vs. Reds: rich tradition of July 4 showdowns

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Nearly 70 years after his brief stint with the Cardinals, Eddie Morgan still was being linked with events related to the 2014 team.

eddie_morganOn May 31, 2014, Oscar Taveras became the youngest Cardinals player to hit a home run in his debut game since Morgan did so on April 14, 1936. Each achieved the feat at age 21.

Taveras hit his home run in his second big-league at-bat. Boxscore

Morgan hit his on the first pitch he saw in the majors.

While the 2014 Cardinals see Taveras as having a long-term future with the franchise, the 1936 Cardinals saw Morgan as trade bait.

Even before Morgan began his big-league career with a home run, Dodgers manager Casey Stengel had interest in acquiring the rookie after seeing him in spring training games.

Good outfield group

The 1936 Cardinals opened the season with a stellar starting outfield of Joe Medwick in left, Terry Moore in center and Pepper Martin in right. They also had three rookie outfielders _ Lynn King, Lou Scoffic and Morgan _ on the Opening Day roster.

“One thing I don’t have to worry about is my outfield,” Cardinals manager Frankie Frisch said to The Sporting News. “I’ve really got three fine-looking kids in Lou Scoffic, Lynn King and Ed Morgan. The only difficult thing about the outfield situation will be to decide which one of the three we’ll send back to the minors. That’s how good they all are.”

Dizzy Dean, the Cardinals’ ace, got raked for nine runs in six innings in the season opener against the defending National League champion Cubs at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis. With the Cubs ahead, 12-3, in the seventh, Frisch tabbed Morgan to make his big-league debut as a pinch-hitter for reliever Bill McGee.

A left-handed batter, Morgan swung at the first pitch he saw from starter Lon Warneke and yanked it over the right-field wall for a two-run home run. Boxscore

Soon after, Stengel and the Dodgers approached Cardinals general manager Branch Rickey about a proposed trade. The Cardinals wanted third baseman Joe Stripp. When Stengel asked for Morgan, Rickey declined and the talks ended without a deal.

Morgan, 5 feet 10, 160 pounds, appeared in eight games for the Cardinals, hitting .278 (5-for-18, with four singles and the home run). Unlikely to get much playing time with St. Louis, Morgan was sent to Class AA Columbus (Ohio) on May 9.

In his first at-bat for Columbus on May 10, Morgan hit a home run off Milwaukee’s Joe Heving.

Let’s make a deal

By July, the Cardinals were seeking pitching. The Dodgers still wanted Morgan. When the Dodgers offered George Earnshaw, 36, a right-hander in his last big-league season, the Cardinals accepted, with both clubs agreeing that Morgan would report to the Dodgers after the conclusion of the Columbus season.

In reporting the trade, The Sporting News called Morgan a “hard-hitting farmhand” and “a left-handed pull hitter of the type the Dodgers need to caress that short right-field wall at Ebbets Field.”

Throughout the summer, Stengel spoke enthusiastically about his plans to play Morgan in September games with the Dodgers, who were out of contention and heading for a seventh-place finish.

Morgan hit .299 in 118 games for Columbus. But, just before the minor-league season ended, he fractured a bone in his lower leg, preventing him from joining the Dodgers in September.

After the 1936 season, Stengel was replaced as manager by Burleigh Grimes, the former Cardinals spitball pitcher. Grimes had managed Morgan with the 1935 Bloomington (Ill.) Bloomers. Morgan had batted .347 in 112 games for that Cardinals Class B minor-league club.

Expectations were for Morgan to compete for a starting outfield job with the 1937 Dodgers. But he hit .188 in 39 games for them and was returned to the minors in July. He never played in the big leagues again. His lone major-league home run was the one he hit in his first at-bat.

Morgan played in the minor leagues until 1950. In 17 minor-league seasons, he had a .313 batting average and hit 172 home runs.

Previously: How Matt Adams links with Frenchy Bordagaray

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