Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Trades’ Category

Seeking a starter to replace Woody Williams in the rotation, the Cardinals used a prospect, Dan Haren, to help land an ace, Mark Mulder. In retrospect, they would have done better to keep Haren.

mark_mulderTen years ago, on Dec. 18, 2004, the Cardinals acquired Mulder from the Athletics for Haren, reliever Kiko Calero and first baseman Daric Barton.

The Cardinals were praised for adding Mulder to a rotation of Chris Carpenter, Jason Marquis, Jeff Suppan and Matt Morris.

Haren, though, turned out to be more durable than Mulder.

Mulder had one strong season for the Cardinals, suffered shoulder ailments and pitched his final game for them in 2008 at age 31.

Haren, who was 6-10 over two seasons (2003-2004) for St. Louis, developed into one of the most consistent pitchers in the majors. Since leaving the Cardinals, Haren has had 10 seasons in a row of double-digit wins and has made 30 starts or more in each of those years. At 34, Haren has a career record of 142-122 in 12 big-league seasons. He is 136-112 since leaving St. Louis. The right-hander was traded by the Dodgers to the Marlins for the 2015 season.

After compiling an 81-42 record in five years with the Athletics, Mulder was 16-8 in 32 starts for the 2005 Cardinals. The left-hander then went a combined 6-10 for the Cardinals from 2006 to 2008.

Making a splash

By December 2004, four prominent free agents _ Woody Williams (11-8 in 2004), shortstop Edgar Renteria, catcher Mike Matheny and second baseman Tony Womack _ had departed the Cardinals since they faced the Red Sox in the World Series two months earlier.

Eager to make a splashy move to show that the Cardinals would fight to repeat as National League champions, general manager Walt Jocketty spoke with his Athletics counterpart, Billy Beane, about Mulder and fellow starting pitcher Tim Hudson.

On Dec. 16, 2004, the Athletics dealt Hudson to the Braves for pitchers Juan Cruz and Dan Meyer and outfielder Charles Thomas. Two days later, the Cardinals got Mulder.

Elite starter

“This is something we’ve been working on for two or three weeks,” Jocketty said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’ve been going back and forth between Hudson and Mulder and we felt like, in our case, we had control of Mulder for an extra year (on his contract) … Both are quality, top of the rotation starters.”

Bernie Miklasz, columnist for the Post-Dispatch, described Mulder as “an elite starting pitcher” and “a legitimate front-of-rotation starter.”

From 2001-2004, only Curt Schilling had more wins (74) than Mulder (72).

“He’s an intelligent guy, a great athlete, a great fit,” Jocketty said of Mulder.

Red flag

Miklasz and his colleague, reporter Derrick Goold, did note, however, that Mulder had faltered in the second half of the 2004 season after starting the All-Star Game for the American League. Mulder was winless in his last seven 2004 starts, posting an 0-4 record and 7.27 ERA. Overall, Mulder was 17-8 in 2004 but with a 4.43 ERA.

Wrote Miklasz: “Is he wearing down after averaging 212 innings over the past four seasons?”

Jocketty and Mulder denied that the pitcher was weakened or injured.

“We took our time and thoroughly researched this … As far as we’re concerned, he’s fine,” Jocketty said of Mulder. “There are no physical problems at all. We made sure.”

Said Mulder: “I wasn’t hurt at all … There was nothing wrong with me.”

Asked to explain why Mulder was ineffective in the second half of 2004, Jocketty replied, “He put a lot of pressure on himself … He tried to do too much.”

Swift start

Any concerns about Mulder were erased early in the 2005 season. He won seven of his first nine decisions for the Cardinals. After stumbling in June (2-3, 7.18 ERA), Mulder recovered and was a combined 7-3 over the last three months of the season. He was especially effective against left-handed batters, limiting them to a .191 average in 2005.

Haren, meanwhile, had 14 wins for the 2005 Athletics, posting a 3.73 ERA in 34 starts. Calero contributed four wins and a save in 58 relief appearances.

In 2006, Mulder won five of his first six decisions for St. Louis. Then the shoulder woes began. Mulder made just two starts after June 20 and finished the 2006 season at 6-7 with a 7.14 ERA. He was 0-3 with a 12.27 ERA for the 2007 Cardinals; 0-0 with a 10.80 for the 2008 Cardinals.

Previously: Why Mike Matheny ended his playing career as a Giant

Read Full Post »

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

Fortunately for the Cardinals, the Reds gave him back.

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

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

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

Rich Reds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

String attached

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

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

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

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

Return to sender

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previously: How Mark McGwire learned about Johnny Mize

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

Read Full Post »

In losing their closer and top run producer within a six-day stretch in December 1984, the Cardinals appeared to be a franchise in danger of decline.

george_hendrick2Instead, they became champions.

With Bruce Sutter (45 saves, 1.54 ERA) and George Hendrick (28 doubles and 69 RBI), the 1984 Cardinals achieved 84 wins and finished 12.5 games behind the champion Cubs in the National League East.

Without Sutter and Hendrick, the 1985 Cardinals achieved 101 wins and clinched the National League pennant.

On Dec. 7, 1984, Sutter, a free agent, signed with the Braves. Five days later, on Dec. 12, the Cardinals dealt Hendrick and minor-league third baseman Steve Barnard to the Pirates for Tudor and utility player Brian Harper.

Distraught by the trade of a player who had led the Cardinals in RBI for five consecutive years (1980-84) and in home runs for four seasons in a row (1980-83), second baseman Tommy Herr told the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, “It’s hard to understand. I think we’ve taken some serious steps backward. … I don’t know why they would trade George, especially to a team in our division. I don’t see how our lineup can withstand the loss of a guy like George.”

Strengthen rotation

Sutter’s departure had created an urgency for the Cardinals to find a No. 2 starter to join ace Joaquin Andujar as starters who could pitch deep into games. Without Sutter, the Cardinals are “going to have to have our starters go like hell and get us to the eighth inning,” manager Whitey Herzog told The Sporting News.

Hendrick, 35, was deemed expendable because the Cardinals believed they had candidates to replace him.

Cardinals general manager Joe McDonald told United Press International, “We are sorry to give up George Hendrick and wish him well, but young outfielders like Andy Van Slyke and, a little further into the future, Vince Coleman are deserving of their chances and I’m sure they’ll respond in a way St. Louis fans like.”

In his book “You’re Missin’ a Great Game,” Herzog said Hendrick “became one of the most respected players on my team. When I traded him to the Pirates, it was only out of baseball necessity.”

Tudor, 30, had a 12-11 record for the 1984 Pirates. McDonald noted, though, that the left-hander had yielded fewer hits (200) than innings pitched (217) and had 117 strikeouts compared with 56 walks. “What I like about him is his ratio of bases on balls to strikeouts,” said McDonald.

Positive Pirates

The Pirates, who had finished in last place in the six-team NL East in 1984, were confident Hendrick would produce runs and excite the fan base. “It was a deal that general manager Pete Peterson needed to convince Pittsburgh fans that there is a desire to improve the club,” wrote The Sporting News.

Said Peterson: “I think Hendrick can hit 20 home runs and drive in 80 runs … I rate him as one of the best clutch hitters in the game.”

Pirates third baseman Bill Madlock said Hendrick “will take pressure off our hitters.”

Eight days later, on Dec. 20, the Pirates acquired another run-producing outfielder, Steve Kemp, from the Yankees.

The deals, however, were busts for the Pirates and a boon for the Cardinals.

Terrific Tudor

Tudor was both the winner and the workhorse McDonald and Herzog had hoped he would be for the 1985 Cardinals. After losing seven of his first eight decisions, Tudor won 20 of his last 21. He and Andujar each had 21 wins for the 1985 Cardinals. In 36 starts, Tudor pitched 275 innings and recorded 10 shutouts. His ERA was 1.93.

In his book, Herzog said Tudor “never threw a ball over 85 mph in his life.” Herzog credited a “now-you-see-it changeup” for Tudor’s turnaround.

“John Tudor was the most amazing pitcher I ever saw,” Herzog wrote.

Van Slyke, 24, adequately replaced Hendrick in right field. Van Slyke had 25 doubles and his 13 home runs ranked second on the club.

Coleman, 23, was promoted from the minors in mid-April and became the everyday left fielder, igniting the offense with 170 hits and 110 steals.

First baseman Jack Clark, acquired from the Giants two months after Hendrick was traded, delivered 22 home runs and 87 RBI.

Herzog deftly handled a closer committee of Jeff Lahti, Ken Dayley, Bill Campbell and Neil Allen until rookie Todd Worrell became the stopper in September.

Danny Cox (18 wins) joined Andujar and Tudor in creating a formidable rotation that also included Kurt Kepshire (10 wins) and Bob Forsch (nine wins).

Meanwhile, the Pirates regressed. They were 57-104, finishing 43.5 games behind the 1985 Cardinals. Hendrick hit .230 with two home runs and 25 RBI in 69 games. Kemp hit .250 with two home runs and 21 RBI in 92 games.

Previously: Down to last strike, George Hendrick spoiled Reds no-hit bid

Previously: George Hendrick influenced hitting style of John Mabry

Read Full Post »

Tracy Stallard had a reputation for being a victim. The Cardinals gave him a chance to be a victor. The right-handed pitcher took advantage of the opportunity.

tracy_stallardFifty years ago, on Dec. 7, 1964, in one of Bob Howsam’s first deals as Cardinals general manager, St. Louis traded outfielder Johnny Lewis and pitcher Gordon Richardson to the Mets for Stallard and shortstop Elio Chacon.

The trade energized Stallard, who went from the last-place club in the National League to the newly crowned World Series champions. Stallard rewarded the Cardinals by producing the best season of his big-league career in 1965.

Until then, Stallard largely had been associated with setbacks. Most notable:

_ Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single-season record when he hit his 61st home run in the 1961 season finale against Stallard at Yankee Stadium. It accounted for the lone run in a 1-0 Yankees triumph over the Red Sox. Maris accomplished one of the most memorable and controversial baseball feats. Stallard became the answer to a trivia question. Boxscore

_ Stallard posted a 6-17 record for the 1963 Mets. He followed that with a 10-20 mark for the 1964 Mets and led the major leagues in losses that season.

Seeking a starter

Though Stallard was 1-3 against the 1964 Cardinals, he yielded just 20 hits (and no home runs) to them in 22 innings and had a 3.27 ERA.

Uncertain whether Ray Washburn would recover from a shoulder injury, Howsam sought a starter to join a rotation of Bob Gibson, Ray Sadecki and Curt Simmons.

The Mets were seeking an outfielder. Lewis, a rookie, began the 1964 season as one of the Cardinals’ regulars. He started 28 games in right field, but batted .234 with two home runs and seven RBI. In June, slowed by an ankle injury, the Cardinals sent Lewis to Class AAA Jacksonville.

Mike Shannon became the Cardinals’ right fielder and Lou Brock, acquired by the Cardinals in June 1964 from the Cubs, became the left fielder.

Bing Devine, the Cardinals general manager who engineered the deal for Brock before being fired in August 1964, had joined the Mets as an assistant to team president George Weiss. Devine recommended Lewis, 25, to the Mets. Weiss and his vice president, Johnny Murphy, negotiated with Howsam on the trade. “Devine stayed out of the picture,” The Sporting News reported.

Asked his opinion of the swap, Devine replied, “With Brock and Shannon having come along and with Washburn still a big question mark, I can see why the Cardinals went for pitching and were willing to give up a promising young outfielder like Lewis. You can never have too much pitching.”

Said Howsam: “We can’t tear our club apart _ we don’t dare. It’s tough when you can offer only young players. You have to deal mostly with clubs like the Mets that are building and can use the young players every day.”

Stallard’s reaction to joining the Cardinals: “It’s wonderful.”

Cardinals contributor

In a story headlined “Tracy Ticketed For Starter Job On Cards Staff,” St. Louis manager Red Schoendienst told The Sporting News, “Stallard is a tough competitor and he ought to do a lot better for us because our club can score some runs for him. His best pitches are a slider and a fastball.”

Said Howsam: “We wanted a fourth starter and we think we’ve got him.”

A week later, though, Howsam acquired another starting pitcher, Bob Purkey, from the Reds for outfielder Charlie James and pitcher Roger Craig.

Stallard, 27, began the 1965 season in the Cardinals’ bullpen. He lost his first start April 24 to the Reds, then won his next three decisions as a starter, beating the Pirates twice and the Dodgers. After a win over the Phillies July 18, Stallard was 7-3 with a 2.80 ERA.

His best game for the 1965 Cardinals came on Sept. 1, a day after his 28th birthday, when Stallard pitched a three-hit shutout in a 9-0 victory over the Cubs at Chicago. Stallard struck out eight and yielded only a double by Don Kessinger and singles by Joe Amalfitano and Ernie Banks. Boxscore

Stallard finished second on the 1965 Cardinals in wins (11) and third in innings pitched (194.1). His 3.38 ERA was better than the team average of 3.77. His 11-8 record was the only time in seven big-league seasons that he posted a winning mark.

In 1966, Stallard was 1-5 for the Cardinals, who demoted him to the minor leagues. He never returned to the majors. His big-league career totals: 30-57 record, 3.91 ERA.

Previously: Why 22-game loser Roger Craig appealed to Cardinals

Previously: Cubs knew Lou Brock was on verge of stardom in 1964

Read Full Post »

A central figure in a trade unpopular with many Cardinals loyalists, Al Dark responded with a hitting display that endeared him to St. Louis fans and gained him satisfaction against his former team.

al_darkThis post is dedicated to Alvin Ralph Dark, who died on Nov. 13, 2014, at 92.

A three-time all-star shortstop with the Giants and 1948 National League Rookie of the Year with the Braves, Dark played for 14 seasons in the major leagues. He hit a combined .323 in 16 World Series games for the Braves (1948) and Giants (1951 and 1954). Dark also managed four big-league clubs, winning a pennant with the 1962 Giants and a World Series championship with the 1974 Athletics.

Daring deal

On June 14, 1956, St. Louis general manager Frank Lane upset Cardinals fans when he traded popular second baseman Red Schoendienst, a nine-time all-star, to the Giants. The key player the Cardinals received in return was Dark.

The full trade was Schoendienst, outfielder Jackie Brandt, catcher Bill Sarni and pitchers Dick Littlefield and Gordon Jones to the Giants for Dark, outfielder Whitey Lockman, catcher Ray Katt and pitcher Don Liddle.

Lane made the trade because Don Blasingame, out of position at shortstop, was better suited for second base. To open a spot for Blasingame at second, Lane decided to deal Schoendienst and acquire a shortstop in return. Lane had been trying since the previous winter to convince the Giants to deal Dark to the Cardinals.

“The Giants wanted a second baseman, the Cardinals a shortstop and everybody was pleased except the Cardinals fans, who, understandably, loved Red. He was the finest second baseman in the game,” Dark said in his book “When in Doubt, Fire the Manager.”

Said Lane to The Sporting News: “We let Schoendienst go with great reluctance, naturally, but to get a star like Dark you’ve got to give a star.”

Cardinals fans swiftly expressed their displeasure. “The switchboard at Busch Stadium lighted up like a Christmas tree and stayed that way for more than two hours June 14,” wrote The Sporting News.

Let there be light

Fortunately for Lane and the Cardinals, Dark, 34, had a torrid start to his Cardinals career, hitting .366 in his first 28 games for St. Louis.

On July 12, the Giants visited St. Louis for the first time since the trade and opened a three-game series with the Cardinals.

Dark was spectacular. He had nine hits in 11 at-bats in the three games. He drove in seven runs in the series and sparked St. Louis to a sweep.

Schoendienst, in his first Giants appearance in St. Louis, had three hits in 11 at-bats and walked twice.

Despite their continued affection for Schoendienst, Cardinals fans responded warmly to Dark’s performance, wrote St. Louis journalist Bob Broeg. “Dark, since his acquisition by the Cardinals, has played inspirationally and spectacularly,” Broeg reported.

Super series

In the first game of the Giants-Cardinals series on July 12, Dark drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly off reliever Marv Grissom in the seventh, snapping a 3-3 tie in a game the Cardinals would win, 5-3. Dark was 2-for-3 and scored a run. Boxscore

Dark drove in the winning run again in Game 2 of the series on July 13. With the score tied at 5-5 in the eighth, Dark hit a two-run double off reliever Hoyt Wilhelm, lifting the Cardinals to a 7-5 victory. Dark was 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and three RBI. He got his four hits against four different pitchers. Boxscore

In the series finale on July 14, Dark was 3-for-3 with three RBI against starter Al Worthington in the Cardinals’ 5-2 triumph. Boxscore

Dark had seven hits in his last seven at-bats of the series.

“He’s a polished professional, a real leader who leads without being ostentatious,” Lane said of Dark.

Dark delivers

Dark hit .286 in 100 games for the 1956 Cardinals.

In 1957, his only full season with St. Louis, Dark batted .290 in 140 games, including 134 starts at shortstop. One of his best performances that season occurred on July 24 when he tripled twice _ first, off Sal Maglie, and then off Sandy Koufax _ and scored twice in a 3-0 Cardinals victory over the Dodgers. Boxscore

By 1958, Dark, 36, still could hit consistently but had lost fielding range. The Cardinals had a replacement, shortstop Eddie Kasko, on the roster. Dark hit .297 in 18 games for the 1958 Cardinals before he was traded to the Cubs on May 20 for pitcher Jim Brosnan.

Dark had 306 hits in 258 games over three seasons for the Cardinals and batted .289. He produced four hits in a game seven times for St. Louis.

Previously: Kolten Wong, Don Blasingame: Similar St. Louis 2nd sackers

Previously: Ken Boyer converted from infield to center field

Read Full Post »

Jerry Reuss Banner

On Nov. 11, 2014, I visited the Dodgers Adult Baseball Camp at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., to seek out Jerry Reuss for an interview about his time as a pitcher with the Cardinals.

Dressed in a home white Dodgers uniform, Reuss, 65, was patient, thoughtful, articulate and polite.

He debuted with the Cardinals in September 1969 and pitched for them in 1970 and 1971, posting an overall 22-22 record before he was traded to the Astros in April 1972.

In a 22-year major-league career, primarily with the Dodgers (nine years) and Pirates (six years), Reuss was 220-191 with a 3.64 ERA. In 2014, he published a book “Bring in the Right-hander,” a delightful retrospective on his career. You can order an autographed copy at his Web site www.jerryreuss.com.

jerry_reuss2Q.: Two months after the Cardinals traded Steve Carlton, they traded you. It was first reported that you were traded because you were in a contract dispute with owner Gussie Busch. Later it comes out it was about your mustache. True?

Reuss: “It was about growing a mustache. Bob Broeg (a writer) had said something to that effect and I thought, ‘No, they wouldn’t be that concerned about that.’ I lived with that for 20 or 25 years.

“It wasn’t until the mid-90s when I was in St. Louis and I went to a ballgame and I saw Bing Devine, who was working as a scout. He had been the general manager of the Cardinals when I was traded. I said, ‘Bing, you got a minute?’ He said, ‘Yeah. Why don’t you sit down and we’ll talk.’ So I asked him about the deal. I figured enough time had passed that I could do that.

“He was more than happy to tell me. He said Mr. Busch at times would act on an impulse. This was one of those times. He insisted on me being traded because I had the mustache. Bing thought if given a little time he (Busch) would come to his senses and make a wise baseball decision rather than a personal decision.

“But he kept hammering about the mustache and would say, ‘Did you get rid of him yet? Why not?’ And the ultimatum was put like this: ‘If you don’t get rid of him, I’ll get rid of you and get somebody who will get rid of him.’ So when you’re faced with a situation like that, you do what has to be done.”

Q.: You still have a mustache and it has become something of a signature look for you…

Reuss: “Yeah. But when you look back about how that was the thinking in baseball in the early 70s and then just two or three years later baseball began to change with the times. Guys were coming in with long hair and beards. And you just wonder: What was the stink all about?

“So on the matter of just a little bit of facial hair _ you could barely see it _ people would ask, “Why didn’t you shave it?’ And I’d say, ‘There wasn’t a rule that the Cardinals had to be clean-shaven and be like a military situation. If it doesn’t bother anybody, if it’s not a rule, then what are we talking about here?’ “

Q.: Your last year with the Cardinals, 1971, was the year your teammate, Joe Torre, led the National League in hitting and RBI and won the MVP Award. Could you see then the leadership qualities that later would make him a Hall of Fame manager with the Yankees?

Reuss: “Oh, sure. Lights out. At that early age, I just wondered whether there were guys like that on every team.

“He was managing the club on the field. Red (manager Schoendienst) just stepped back and said, ‘Joe, you have a grasp of it. You take care of it. When you’re on the field, you see things that I don’t.’ And Joe, being wise enough and knowing his boundaries, would go to Red and say, ‘Would you consider this or would you consider that?’

“Sometimes there was a lineup that was put out and Joe would go to Red and say, ‘This player won’t say it to you but he’ll say it to me. You might want to give him a day off.’ And Red would say, ‘All right. Let’s do that.’ He’d make the lineup change. Joe was able to get those things from players and he did it only because it helped the club. It wasn’t anything personal with the player.

“You could see the leadership. I’ve never come across another player who was like him. There were a couple that had some of those qualities _ I understand Cincinnati had a few. (Johnny) Bench was one of those guys _ that when he spoke, everybody just said, ‘Let’s reconsider this.’ Joe was that way all the time. Joe was more far-reaching. You knew he would to be a manager.”

Q,: After leaving the Cardinals, you played for seven big-league teams. As a St. Louis native who began his career with the hometown team, did you ever hope to return to the Cardinals?

Reuss: “I never gave it a whole lot of thought. Once I got to Los Angeles (in 1979), I said, ‘This is home. This is where I want to be.’ It’s where I always wanted to play.

“Back in those days, it was one of the few grass fields. Lots of artificial turf then. My knees were feeling it. And then I became a ground ball pitcher and the infield I had behind me was particularly adept at playing at Dodger Stadium on the lawn.

“As a result, I had a good defensive ball club become a great defensive ball club. They got a lot of ground balls. That’s where my success was and that’s where I wanted to stay. When I was ready to change teams, I was past my prime. Rather than a lot of teams coming to me, I was going to them and just hoping for a chance.”

Q.: The player who had the most at-bats against you was

Reuss: “Pete Rose. Did you see what he hit against me?”

Q.: .244 in the regular season. (29-for-119).

Reuss: “I couldn’t believe that.”

Q.: What was your secret?

Reuss: “There was no secret. Pete hit me the same way he hit everybody else. It’s just that, when he hit the ball against me, more often it was right at somebody. Did you see the number of times he struck out against me? (9) He was making contact. He came up there swinging.”

Part 1: Jerry Reuss on Bob Gibson as a teammate: He was tough

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45 other followers