Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Jaime Garcia often was at his best for the Cardinals when facing the Brewers.

On Jan. 9, 2019, Garcia, 32, retired as a major-league pitcher. The left-hander had a regular-season career record of 70-62 with a 3.85 ERA in 10 seasons in the big leagues. He spent eight of those years with the Cardinals and had a regular-season career mark of 62-45 with a 3.57 ERA for them.

Against the Brewers in his career, Garcia had a 12-6 regular-season record and 2.86 ERA. Eleven of those wins came while he was with the Cardinals.

The Brewers were the opponent in Garcia’s two most impressive outings.

Almost perfect

On May 6, 2011, Garcia retired the first 22 batters in a row and finished with a two-hit shutout against the Brewers at St. Louis. Boxscore

“I knew I had a perfect game,” Garcia said to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It’s so hard not to think about it, but I was doing the best I could to stay focused on the next pitch.”

With one out in the eighth, Garcia walked Casey McGehee, ending the perfect game bid, and gave up a single to Yuniesky Betancourt before getting Corey Hart to ground into a double play. The second hit he allowed was a Rickie Weeks double in the ninth.

“His sinker was moving,” Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “His off-speed stuff was moving good, breaking down in the zone.”

Five years later, Garcia did even better.

Magic movement

On April 14, 2016, Garcia, relying on a mix of sinkers, sliders and cutters, pitched a one-hit shutout and struck out a career-high 13 in the Cardinals’ 7-0 triumph over the Brewers at St. Louis. Boxscore

Garcia’s strikeout total was the most for a Cardinals left-hander since Steve Carlton fanned 16 on May 21, 1970, at Philadelphia in a game the Phillies won, 4-3. Boxscore

Garcia was the first Cardinals left-hander to pitch a one-hit shutout and strike out as many as 13.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny described the darting movement of Garcia’s pitches as “odd and rare.”

“It’s just amazing what he can make the ball do,” Matheny said.

The movement Garcia gets on those pitches puts pressure on his left middle finger and requires treatment for blisters and a battered nail, Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch reported.

Garcia also singled twice, giving him more hits than he allowed.

The Brewers had three base runners. In the third, Keon Broxton struck out swinging on a wild pitch and reached first. In the sixth, Domingo Santana singled. Martin Maldonado walked, leading off the eighth.

Big starts

Garcia started twice against the Brewers in the 2011 National League Championship Series and had one rough outing. In Game 1, he allowed six runs in four innings and was the losing pitcher. He gave up one run in 4.2 innings in Game 5, but didn’t get a decision in a game the Cardinals won, 7-1.

Garcia, selected by the Cardinals in the 22nd round of the 2005 amateur draft, had his best seasons in 2010 and 2011.

His 2.70 ERA was the best of any National League left-hander in 2010 and produced a 13-8 record. Garcia was 13-7 in 2011 and started two games in the World Series against the Rangers, including Game 2 when he pitched seven scoreless innings but didn’t get a decision. He also started Game 6 and pitched three innings before the Cardinals rallied for a 10-9 victory in 11.

On Dec. 1, 2016, the Cardinals traded Garcia to the Braves for pitchers John Gant and Chris Ellis and infielder Luke Dykstra. Garcia pitched for the Braves, Twins and Yankees in 2017 and for the Blue Jays and Cubs in 2018.

Born and raised near Pittsburgh, John Stuper wanted to pitch for the hometown Pirates, went to the Cardinals instead and became a World Series winner as a rookie.

Forty years ago, on Jan. 25, 1979, the Pirates traded Stuper to the Cardinals for infielder Tommy Sandt.

The minor-league move turned into a big deal for the Cardinals, but not before Stuper had to revive a career headed in reverse.

Hometown hopeful

A native of Butler, Pa., 35 miles north of Pittsburgh, Stuper was a baseball and basketball standout in high school. In three seasons as a college pitcher, he had a 34-3 record. The right-hander was 25-3 in two years at Butler County Community College and 9-0 for Point Park College in downtown Pittsburgh.

The Pirates chose Stuper in the 18th round of the June 1978 amateur draft, offered a $2,500 bonus and signed him that night.

“It’s been my lifelong dream to be a professional baseball player,” Stuper said to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I know the odds are against making it to the majors, but I’m not thinking about that now.”

Years later, asked by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch why he wasn’t drafted in a higher round, Stuper replied, “The rap on me in high school and later in college was I labored too much and didn’t have a smooth enough delivery.”

Stuper was assigned to the Pirates’ Class A club at Charleston, S.C., and posted a 4-8 record and 5.33 ERA.

“He still has a few mechanical problems he has to correct,” said Pirates farm director Murray Cook.

Said Stuper: “I learned a lot. It was an adjustment getting used to being away from home and playing against better talent.”

Climbing the ladder

Four months after his first professional season ended, Stuper was called at home by Cook, who told him of the trade to the Cardinals.

“I was a little disappointed when I was traded, but my friends encouraged me to think positively that the Cardinals wanted me, not that the Pirates didn’t,” Stuper said to The Pittsburgh Press.

In the Cardinals’ minor-league system, Stuper had ERAs of 2.71 in 1979 and 2.41 in 1980. After the 1979 season, he enrolled at LaRoche College in McCandless, Pa., and earned a degree in English. After the 1980 season, he pitched winter baseball in Mexico.

When Stuper got to Cardinals spring training camp in 1981, he was “in midseason form,” he later told the Post-Dispatch, because of his work in Mexico.

Stuper impressed the Cardinals, who conceded he pitched well enough to deserve a role on the Opening Day roster, but they sent him to Class AAA Springfield, Ill., so he could pitch regularly as a starter.

“He’s going to be a good pitcher,” said Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog. “He’s been awfully impressive.”

A step back

Stuper struggled at Springfield and couldn’t get untracked. When the major-league players went on strike in June 1981, Herzog said he intended to go to Springfield “to see what’s wrong with Stuper,” who had lost seven of nine decisions.

Turns out the toll of pitching in Mexico, followed by a spring training workload, left Stuper out of sorts during the 1981 season. He finished with a 6-14 record and 4.92 ERA.

“In the long run, pitching in the winter hurt me,” Stuper said. “My arm was very fatigued all season.”

Stuper went home and worked to get his arm in shape, but he had a poor spring training in 1982 and the Cardinals sent him to Class AAA Louisville in mid-March.

A year after being the surprise of spring training camp, Stuper went to Louisville knowing he needed a good showing to get back in the Cardinals’ plans.

Mission accomplished

“One of my goals this year is to show that last season was a fluke,” Stuper said to the Associated Press.

After taking the loss on Opening Night, Stuper won seven consecutive decisions for Louisville and was 7-1 with a 1.46 ERA when he was called up to the Cardinals on May 28, 1982.

“I was shooting for September,” Stuper said to the Louisville Courier-Journal. “I would have been happy with that, so obviously I’m elated with this.”

Stuper made his major-league debut on June 1, 1982, in a start against the Giants at St. Louis. He pitched eight innings, allowing three runs, tripled against Atlee Hammaker and scored the tying run, but the Giants prevailed, 4-3, in 11. Boxscore

Giants first baseman Reggie Smith, a former Cardinal, said, “I liked the young guy’s guts. He challenges you.”

Said Stuper: “I thought my stuff was OK, but I wasn’t real sharp. I was getting behind on too many hitters. My location wasn’t as good as I like it to be.”

Homeward bound

Stuper won four of his first five decisions with the Cardinals.

On Aug. 14, 1982, Stuper pitched in Pittsburgh for the first time as a big-leaguer, getting the start against the Pirates. He yielded one run in 7.1 innings, earning the win in a 4-1 Cardinals triumph. Boxscore

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t kind of special. Very special,” Stuper said. “I always dreamed about coming here to pitch for the Pirates. The day I got traded, I started dreaming about coming here to pitch against them.”

Stuper finished his rookie season with a 9-7 record and 3.36 ERA, helping the Cardinals win the National League East Division title.

In the postseason, he made three starts and the Cardinals won all three, though he didn’t get a decision in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the Braves or in Game 2 of the World Series versus the Brewers.

Stuper did win Game 6 of the 1982 World Series, pitching a four-hitter in a 13-1 Cardinals victory and setting up a decisive Game 7 won by St. Louis.

Stuper was 12-11 for the Cardinals in 1983 and 3-5 in 1984 before he was traded to the Reds for outfielder Paul Householder.

In 1989, Stuper earned a master’s degree in English from Slippery Rock University. He was a Cardinals minor-league pitching instructor in 1991 and 1992 before becoming head baseball coach at Yale in 1993.

Stuper was entering his 27th season as head coach at Yale in 2019.

Darold Knowles was the first free-agent player signed by the Cardinals, the club he dreamed of playing for as a youth in Missouri.

Forty years ago, on Jan. 16, 1979, the Cardinals signed Knowles to a two-year contract for $100,000 per season.

Three years after baseball put in a system enabling players to become free agents, the Cardinals finally acquired one.

Free agency for players occurred in 1976 after Cardinals outfielder Curt Flood challenged baseball’s reserve clause in court and arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally should be free to sign with any teams they wanted after playing a season without contracts.

On July 12, 1976, a new collective bargaining agreement between players and owners created the framework for determining who could become free agents.

Though the Cardinals did pursue Pete Rose and other free agents, they consistently were outbid.

The signing of Knowles, a left-handed reliever, wasn’t a blockbuster, but he was respected, experienced and wanted to play for the Cardinals.

Redbirds rooter

Knowles was born in Brunswick, Mo., a rural community known for producing pecans, and he became a standout amateur player.

The first major-league game he saw as a youth was at St. Louis in the 1950s. “I’ve been a Cardinals fan for as long as I can remember,” Knowles said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The Cardinals, though, weren’t too interested in Knowles and he signed with the Orioles in February 1961.

Knowles, 23, made his major-league debut for the Orioles in 1965, pitched in five games for them and was traded after the season to the Phillies.

Storybook success

With his mother and father in attendance, Knowles got his first major-league win in his first appearance for the Phillies on April 14, 1966, at St. Louis against the Cardinals.

“I can pitch up here,” Knowles said to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I’ve got to throw strikes. I don’t consider myself a strikeout pitcher. If I can throw 27 ground balls, I’m happy.”

The Phillies led, 5-3, when Knowles relieved starter Ray Herbert with a runner on first and none out in the fourth. Knowles pitched “six pressure-packed innings” and “constantly worked his way out of trouble,” the Inquirer reported.

After the Cardinals scored in the fifth, pulling within a run at 5-4, Lou Brock led off the seventh with a walk, but was picked off by Knowles.

“We were going to bunt Lou over,” Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst said. “I don’t know what he was doing trying to steal.”

Said Knowles: “I figured that with them one run down, Brock would try to steal sometime. So I decided to throw to first right away. We got Brock and that was the ballgame. It was a big lift for me.” Boxscore

Championship caliber

In addition to the Orioles and Phillies, Knowles pitched for the Senators (1967-71), Athletics (1971-74), Cubs (1975-76), Rangers (1977) and Expos (1978) before joining the Cardinals.

With the 1970 Senators, Knowles was 2-14 with 27 saves and a 2.04 ERA.

Knowles was with the Athletics when they won three consecutive World Series championships (1972-74). He pitched in all seven games of the 1973 World Series versus the Mets, earning saves in Game 1 and Game 7, and totaled 6.1 scoreless innings.

In 1978, when he joined the Expos, Knowles was reunited with manager Dick Williams, who managed the championship Athletics clubs in 1972 and 1973. Knowles was 3-3 with six saves and a 2.38 ERA for the Expos and they wanted to re-sign him in 1979, “but my family and I didn’t like Montreal,” Knowles said.

Knowles, 37, became a free agent and interested the Cardinals, who were seeking a left-hander to join Mark Littell as short-inning relievers.

Old pro

“I feel good and I think I can have four or five more good years,” Knowles said when he signed with the Cardinals. “I’ve never been overpowering, but I’ve been blessed with good control and the ability to keep my pitches low.”

Said Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons: “Knowles knows what he’s doing. He’s been through every kind of situation. Whatever he’s lost with his arm, he can compensate for with his head. He knows how to approach his job, and the approach is 70 percent of the game.”

At first, Knowles did well for the Cardinals, posting a 2-1 record with four saves and a 2.00 ERA in May, but he finished the 1979 season at 2-5 with six saves and a 4.07 ERA.

Knowles, 38, returned to the Cardinals in 1980 for the second year of his contract.

In his second appearance, on April 18, 1980, Knowles was brought in to protect an 8-7 lead against the Pirates with one on and one out in the sixth. He threw a “scroogie changeup” to the first batter he faced, Dave Parker, who hit a home run and put the Pirates ahead, 9-8.

“The ball was low enough, but I didn’t want it over the plate,” Knowles said.

Knowles allowed another run before completing the inning and was the losing pitcher in a 12-10 Pirates triumph. Boxscore

“We were in a position to win this game and I screwed it up,” Knowles said.

Coaching career

On May 9, 1980, Knowles was released soon after the Cardinals acquired left-hander Jim Kaat from the Yankees.

“I didn’t have that much left,” Knowles said to the Society for American Baseball Research. “I didn’t have the good stuff that I had earlier, but it was OK. I wound up playing for my boyhood dream team and loved every minute in St. Louis.”

Knowles finished with a career record of 66-74, 143 saves and a 3.12 ERA.

The next year, the Cardinals hired Knowles as minor-league pitching coach and he served in the role from 1981-88. In 1983, when Cardinals pitching coach Hub Kittle left the club in June to be with his ailing wife, Knowles filled in for him the remainder of the season.

In 1989, Phillies general manager Lee Thomas, the former Cardinals director of player development, hired Knowles to be pitching coach. Serving on the staff of manager Nick Leyva, a former Cardinals coach, Knowles was Phillies pitching coach in 1989 and 1990.

The Cardinals considered hometown shortstop Jerry Buchek the finest baseball prospect in the St. Louis area in 1959 and thought he could be another Marty Marion.

Buchek, who died Jan. 2, 2019, at 76, was a standout athlete at McKinley High School and excelled in amateur baseball leagues in St. Louis.

On Sept. 10, 1959, Buchek, 17, signed with the Cardinals for $65,000.

Cardinals scouts Joe Monahan and George Hasser recommended Buchek, who was pursued by several other major-league organizations.

“In our opinion, he is the best prospect in the area,” Cardinals minor-league director Walter Shannon said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“He has one of the really outstanding throwing arms in all baseball, an arm like Marty Marion’s was,” Shannon said.

Marion was the shortstop on four pennant-winning Cardinals clubs in the 1940s and was the first National League shortstop to win a Most Valuable Player Award. Marion didn’t hit for power, though, and Buchek did.

“The combination of his ability to field well with ability to hit the ball out of the park makes him desirable,” Monahan said.

Rushed to Wrigley

Buchek spent the 1960 season with Cardinals farm clubs at the Class AA and Class AAA levels and had as many strikeouts (104) as hits (104). The Cardinals assigned him to the Portland Beavers, their Class AAA team in the Pacific Coast League, in 1961.

Soon after he hit home runs in three consecutive games for Portland at Salt Lake City, Buchek, 19, was called up to the Cardinals. He joined them on June 30, 1961, in Chicago, 30 minutes before their afternoon game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, and was put in the starting lineup by manager Solly Hemus.

In the eighth inning, with the bases loaded and one out, Buchek got his first big-league RBI when he was hit by a pitch from Don Elston. When Bob Lillis followed with a double, clearing the bases, Buchek scored his first run in the majors, helping the Cardinals to an 11-4 triumph. Boxscore

“We shouldn’t expect too much from Jerry Buchek right now,” Hemus cautioned, “but I do believe he’ll lend a little power.”

Plans change

The Cardinals were a mess when Buchek joined them. The win they got in Buchek’s debut gave them a 31-38 record.

Daryl Spencer opened the 1961 season as the Cardinals’ shortstop, but he was traded to the Dodgers on May 30 for Lillis and outfielder Carl Warwick. Lillis took over at shortstop, but was shifted to second base in mid-June. Hemus tried rookie Julio Gotay and veteran Alex Grammas before the Cardinals decided to give Buchek a shot as the shortstop.

On July 5, 1961, five days after Buchek’s debut, the Cardinals fired Hemus and promoted coach Johnny Keane to replace him. Keane continued to play Buchek as the starting shortstop, but the rookie struggled to hit.

Keane’s support of Buchek drew criticism on July 16, 1961, in a game against the Braves at St. Louis. In the fourth inning, with the Braves ahead 3-0, the Cardinals loaded the bases with one out before Buchek bounced into a double play. Two innings later, with two on and two outs, Buchek struck out, ending another Cardinals threat. He also committed an error and the Braves won, 9-1. Boxscore

After the game, Keane defended Buchek and said he’d remain the everyday shortstop.

Four days later, on July 20, 1961, the Cardinals changed their plan. Buchek, batting .128 after 16 starts at shortstop, was sent back to Portland.

Cardinals general manager Bing Devine said he and Keane and the coaches agreed to demote Buchek and call up pitcher Ed Bauta, who had a 9-1 record and 1.95 ERA as a Portland reliever.

“We are confident Buchek will become a great shortstop for us,” Devine said, “but we feel he can benefit just as much by playing daily for Portland.”

Years later, in an interview with Mark Simon for the Society for American Baseball Research, Buchek said, “I got a little nervous playing in my hometown.”

Ups and downs

Buchek played well in his return to Portland and when the Pacific Coast League season ended on Sept. 10 he was brought back to the Cardinals and reinserted into the starting lineup.

On Sept. 11, 1961, in his first game back as the starting shortstop, Buchek made three good plays against the Braves, the Post-Dispatch reported. He ranged to his left to snare a shot by Hank Aaron and made a strong throw to get him at first. He went behind the bag at second to start a double play and he made a “brilliant grab” of a smash by Joe Torre. Boxscore

Eight days later, on Sept. 19, 1961, Buchek made a play Keane said he’d never seen before. In the eighth, with a runner on first and two outs, Charlie Smith of the Phillies hit a fly to shallow center. Outfielder Curt Flood and second baseman Julian Javier collided attempting a catch. The ball bounced off Flood and caromed off Javier’s glove, but Buchek, racing over from the shortstop spot, dived and snared the ball before it reached the ground.

“Buchek deserves a lot of credit for being out there,” said Keane. “He didn’t just stand around.”

Buchek made 14 starts in September and October, but continued to struggle at the plate. He batted .133 for the 1961 Cardinals and made 10 errors in 30 starts at shortstop.

“It would be extremely unwise to expect him to play shortstop regularly next season,” wrote Post-Dispatch columnist Bob Broeg.

Buchek spent all of 1962 and most of 1963 in the minors. He played for the Cardinals from 1964-66, singled against Jim Bouton of the Yankees in his lone World Series at-bat in 1964 and was the Opening Day shortstop in 1966 before being replaced as the starter by Dal Maxvill two months later.

On April 1, 1967, in the first trade made by Cardinals general manager Stan Musial, Buchek was dealt to the Mets as part of a package for infielder Eddie Bressoud, outfielder Danny Napoleon and cash.

Three months after Babe Ruth powered the Yankees to a World Series sweep of the Cardinals, he experienced a shocking personal loss and became enmeshed in scandal with the death of his wife.

Ninety years ago, on Jan. 11, 1929, Babe’s wife, Helen Ruth, was killed in a house fire in Watertown, Massachusetts, near Boston.

Helen resided in the house with a dentist, Edward H. Kinder. Helen and Babe were separated, but not divorced. Neighbors knew Helen as Mrs. Kinder, and had no idea she was Babe’s wife. Edward’s family thought Helen was Edward’s wife, but Helen and Edward weren’t married.

Helen was alone in the house when the fire started, and though authorities determined the fire and Helen’s death were accidental, the tragedy created suspicion and revealed stunning secrets about Babe and his wife.

Young love

Babe made his major-league debut as a pitcher for the Red Sox in July 1914. He rented a hotel room in Boston and frequently took his meals at a luncheonette around the corner. Helen Woodford was a waitress there and she and Babe connected.

Three months later, on Oct. 17, 1914, Babe, 19, and Helen, 16, were married by Rev. Thomas S. Dolan in St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Ellicott City, Maryland, near where Babe had attended boarding school.

Babe and Helen got an apartment in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood and lived there until 1919 when they bought a 16-room house in Sudbury, Massachusetts, according to the Boston Globe.

In December 1919, the Red Sox sold Babe’s contract to the Yankees. Babe and Helen lived in an eight-room hotel suite in Manhattan during the baseball seasons and returned to their Sudbury estate in the winters.

In September 1922, Babe and Helen surprised the Yankees when they brought a 15-month-old girl named Dorothy to the Polo Grounds and introduced her as their daughter. “Not even his closest friend on the team had suspected Ruth was a father,” the Boston Globe reported.

Dorothy was raised to believe Helen was her biological mother. Years later, it was learned Babe and Helen adopted Dorothy in 1921. In a book she wrote, Dorothy revealed she discovered at age 59 in 1980 her biological mother was Juanita Jennings, a woman who had an affair with Babe in 1920. As a youth, Dorothy knew Juanita as “Aunt Nita,” a family friend.

Keeping up appearances

In 1923, Babe met Claire Hodgson, daughter of a Georgia attorney who did legal work for Ty Cobb. Claire and her baby daughter moved to New York after Claire’s husband died in 1921 and she launched a career as a model and Broadway chorus line performer. Babe became a frequent visitor to Claire’s Manhattan apartment, the New York Daily News reported.

By August 1925, Helen and Dorothy went to live fulltime at the house in Sudbury and Babe remained in New York year-round.

In 1927, Helen moved into the Watertown house of dentist Edward Kinder. Helen and Edward had known one another since childhood and their families lived in the same South Boston neighborhood, according to the New York Daily News. Edward was a World War I veteran, graduated from Tufts dental school in 1924 and established a practice in Boston.

Neighbors said Helen was known to them as Mrs. Kinder and Dorothy went by the name of Dorothy Kinder. Edward’s brother William said the Kinder family was under the impression Edward and Helen were married in Montreal in 1927, the Boston Globe reported. The 1928 Watertown city directory listed: “Kinder, Edward H. (Helen M.), dentist.”

Tragic night

During the separation from his wife, Babe hit a record 60 home runs for the Yankees in 1927 and batted .625 versus the Cardinals in the 1928 World Series.

On Friday night, Jan. 11, 1929, Edward Kinder went to the boxing matches at Boston Garden. Seven-year-old Dorothy was at a Catholic boarding school in nearby Wellesley, Massachusetts. Helen settled in for the night at the Watertown house. She turned on the radio, took sleeping pills and fell asleep in a second-floor bedroom.

About 10 p.m., a passerby saw smoke seeping from windows. When firefighters arrived, flames had reached the second story. Helen was found dead on the bedroom floor. Because of the sleeping pills, she wasn’t awakened by the smoke and flames until it was too late, the New York Daily News reported.

Helen’s body was taken to a hospital and then to undertakers. Edward was paged at Boston Garden and told by telephone a woman died in a fire in his house, detectives said. “She is my wife. Her name is Helen Kinder,” Edward told medical examiner George West, the Boston Globe reported.

West did an autopsy, but his examination was limited because the corpse had been embalmed by undertakers. In his report to district attorney Robert Bushnell, West determined “there was no indication of violence and the condition of the body was consistent with a theory of death from suffocation in a fire,” the Boston Globe reported.

The state fire inspector filed a report, saying the fire was caused by overloaded electrical wires and there were traces of amateur repair work where wires had been fixed but not soldered, leaving the chance for a short-circuit and fire, according to the Boston Globe.

Bushnell concluded there was no evidence of anything criminal in the case and Helen’s body was released to Edward for burial. Based on Edward’s remarks, West prepared a death certificate identifying the deceased as Helen Kinder.

Edward, who spent the weekend in seclusion at the home of his parents in South Boston, arranged to have Helen buried on Sunday, Jan. 13, in the Kinder family plot at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Mistaken identity

In reading newspaper accounts of the fire, Helen’s relatives recognized published pictures of the victim as Helen Ruth and notified police, who put a halt to the burial plans, according to the New York Daily News.

Babe was contacted in New York and arrived in Boston by train on Jan. 13. “My wife and I have not lived together for the last three years,” Babe told reporters. “During that time, I have seldom met her. I have done all that I can to comply with her wishes. Her death is a great shock to me.”

The next day, Monday, Jan. 14, Edward Kinder, accompanied by an attorney, arrived at the Watertown police station and was questioned by a group led by police chief John Millmore. Edward told the police he and Helen weren’t married and claimed he never tried to convey to anyone Helen was his wife. When asked about telling the medical examiner the victim was Helen Kinder, Edward denied making the statement and later said he didn’t remember, the Boston Globe reported.

Police said they were satisfied with Edward’s explanations.

Helen’s mother, sisters and brothers, however, demanded a more thorough investigation. The family was suspicious of both Babe and Edward _ and for different reasons.

Motive for murder?

Helen’s sister, Norma Woodford, revealed she accompanied Helen to a meeting with Babe on Dec. 10, 1928, at Yankees headquarters, the New York Daily News reported. Norma said Babe asked Helen for a divorce so he could marry Claire Hodgson. When Helen demanded $100,000, Babe said no and stormed out of the meeting.

A month later, Helen was dead.

Meanwhile, federal narcotics agents were looking into reports Edward supplied Helen with opium, according to the New York Daily News. Helen’s family, including a brother, Thomas Woodford, a former Boston policeman, suggested Helen was drugged with opium and the house deliberately was set on fire.

In an effort to resolve the matter, district attorney Bushnell ordered a second autopsy and brought in an expert pathologist, George Magrath, and a team from Harvard.

Meanwhile, Babe met reporters in his suite at the Hotel Brunswick in Boston. With “red-rimmed eyes” and “quivering chin,” Babe spoke in “trembling tones” about the grief he felt, the Boston Globe reported.

“His great chest rose and fell, he gulped audibly and his eyes filled as he dabbed at them with his big hands,” according to the Boston Globe. “For fully five minutes, he struggled for control of his feelings and emotions.”

Rest in peace

On Jan. 16, the results of the second autopsy confirmed Helen’s death was by suffocation from a fire and there were no signs of foul play.

Also, narcotics agents came up empty in their search for opium at Edward’s office and found no evidence Helen was prescribed opiates. In addition, Ellis Dennis, a state electrical examiner, confirmed the fire started in a partition on the first floor near a wall receptacle. Dennis said original wiring in the house was excellent, but additional wiring installed later was of “a faulty and amateurish sort,” placing too great a load on the circuit wires and receptacle, the Boston Globe reported.

The district attorney declared the investigations closed and released Helen’s remains to the family.

A seven-minute funeral service was held at the home of Helen’s mother on Jan. 17, followed by burial at Old Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Babe was present at the service and the burial; Edward did not attend either.

At the cemetery, “tears streamed down the Babe’s tanned cheeks as he saw the body of his wife lowered to its grave,” the New York Daily News reported. “Unmindful of the snow which fell from a gray sky, the Babe, hat clutched in his huge hand, stood among his wife’s relatives, sobbing.”

After the funeral, Babe returned to New York with his daughter Dorothy.

Three months later, on April 17, 1929, Babe and Claire married. The next day, the Yankees opened the season at home against the Red Sox. In his first at-bat, Babe hit a home run. Boxscore

Babe and Claire remained married until he died in 1948.

Before he gained fame with the Pirates for pitching 12 perfect innings against the Braves and earning two World Series wins versus the Yankees, Harvey Haddix began his career with the Cardinals and was their ace.

Twenty-five years ago, on Jan. 8, 1994, Haddix, 68, died from emphysema, the consequences of cigarette smoking.

A left-hander at 5 feet 9, 160 pounds, Haddix “relied on technique instead of strength,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

On May 26, 1959, at Milwaukee, Haddix pitched 12 perfect innings, retiring the first 36 batters he faced, but lost when the Braves scored an unearned run in the 13th. Boxscore

The Pittsburgh Press called it “the greatest of all baseball tragedies” and, years later, Marino Parascenzo of the Post-Gazette hailed Haddix as “a little guy with a big heart, big enough to pitch baseball’s greatest game and absorb one of baseball’s greatest disappointments, both in the same day _ and come up smiling.”

A year after his Milwaukee masterpiece, Haddix started and won Game 5 of the 1960 World Series at Yankee Stadium, and he pitched the ninth inning of Game 7 and got the win when Bill Mazeroski hit a walkoff home run for the Pirates. Boxscore

Those feats overshadowed the achievements of his early years with the Cardinals when he had a 20-win season, led the National League in shutouts and was selected to three all-star teams.

Catapult to success

Haddix grew up on an Ohio farm and signed with the Cardinals in 1947 after attending a tryout camp in Columbus. He pitched four seasons in the Cardinals’ system and was 18-6 for Class AAA Columbus in 1950 before serving in the Army.

After military service, the Cardinals brought Haddix to the major leagues. In his debut in a start against the Braves on Aug. 20, 1952, at St. Louis, Haddix got the win, singled, stole a base, drove in a run and scored a run in a 9-2 victory.

In the first inning, Haddix walked two and hit a batter, but settled down and limited the Braves to five hits through eight innings before the game was halted because of rain. Boxscore

Haddix was matched in his debut against Braves starter Lew Burdette. Seven years later, Burdette was the opposing pitcher who held the Pirates scoreless for 13 innings while Haddix was perfect for 12.

Haddix “bears a strong resemblance” to teammate Harry Brecheen in “size, pitching technique and ability,” Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Brecheen, nicknamed “The Cat,” earned 128 wins in his Cardinals career and was the 1948 National League ERA leader. Because he appeared to be a younger version of “The Cat,” Haddix got tabbed “The Kitten.”

Years later, according to Broeg, Cardinals outfielder Enos Slaughter said, “You know how much I think about Brecheen. Harvey is even better.”

Big winner

Haddix was 2-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 42 innings for the 1952 Cardinals. He maintained his rookie status in 1953 because he had pitched fewer than 45 innings in the major leagues.

Haddix posted a 20-9 record for the 1953 Cardinals, led the league in shutouts (six) and finished second to Dodgers infielder Jim Gilliam in balloting for the Rookie of the Year Award. Haddix also batted .289 with 11 RBI.

On June 23, 1953, Haddix hit a three-run home run against Frank Hiller and earned a complete-game win in a 15-8 Cardinals triumph over the Giants at St. Louis. Boxscore

Broeg noted Haddix “was a better hitter than hurler” that day, though he held the Giants scoreless in seven of the nine innings. “Frankly, I think I was tipping my pitches,” Haddix said. “I believe Bill Rigney, coaching at first base, started picking up my fastball motion and I had to readjust my delivery.”

Haddix’s best pitching performance in his 20-win season was a two-hit shutout of the Phillies in a 2-0 Cardinals triumph on Aug. 6, 1953, at St. Louis.

Haddix held the Phillies hitless for eight innings. Richie Ashburn, leading off the ninth, attempted to bunt Haddix’s first pitch, fouled it off and got booed. “That’s what he’s paid to do, try to win,” Haddix said.

With the count 1-and-2 on Ashburn, Cardinals catcher Del Rice called for a slider, but Haddix shook off the sign and threw a curve. Ashburn lined the pitch to right for a single.

“He wouldn’t have hit that curve if I had got it where I wanted it _ down,” Haddix said. “It was high, though, and he should have hit it.”

With one out, Del Ennis bounced a single into left, but Haddix got Granny Hamner to ground into a game-ending double play. Boxscore

Haddix got his 20th win of the season on Sept. 25, 1953, in an 11-2 Cardinals rout of the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Boxscore

He became the first Cardinals pitcher to achieve 20 wins in a season since Howie Pollet was 20-9 in 1949.

Master craftsman

In 1954, Haddix was 18-13 for the Cardinals. From May 8, 1954, to June 23, 1954, Haddix won 10 consecutive decisions and lowered his ERA from 4.17 to 2.85. He allowed one run in the last 36 innings of the streak.

Haddix was 12-16 for the 1955 Cardinals, but was chosen for the All-Star Game for the third consecutive year. He pitched three innings and retired Ted Williams on a groundout to end the fifth and got Mickey Mantle on a groundout to start the sixth. Boxscore

The next year, Haddix appeared ready to give the Cardinals another good showing. On April 25, 1956, he pitched a two-hit shutout in a 6-0 Cardinals victory against the Cubs at St. Louis. Boxscore

Two weeks later, the Cardinals traded Haddix and pitchers Stu Miller and Ben Flowers to the Phillies for pitchers Murry Dickson and Herm Wehmeier.

In five seasons with St. Louis, Haddix was 53-40 with a 3.65 ERA and 12 shutouts. “He had the misfortune to be the Cardinals’ best pitcher at a time they didn’t have enough,” wrote Broeg.

Haddix went on to pitch for the Phillies (1956-57), Reds (1958), Pirates (1959-63) and Orioles (1964-65). His pitching coach with the Orioles was Brecheen, a reunion of “The Cat” and “The Kitten.”

Haddix was 40 when he pitched his last big-league game and he finished with a career mark of 136-113.

Haddix became a pitching coach for the Mets (1966-67), Reds (1969), Red Sox (1971), Indians (1975-78) and Pirates (1979-84).

With the Mets, Haddix was the first big-league pitching coach for Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver. When Frank Robinson became the first African-American manager in the big leagues with the 1975 Indians, he chose Haddix to be the pitching coach. In 1979, the Pirates won the World Series championship with Chuck Tanner as manager and Haddix as pitching coach.

In winters, Haddix returned to his Ohio farm near the village of South Vienna. “Haddix was a good rifle shot,” Broeg wrote. “Back home in Ohio, they considered him a hero after a neighbor’s bull went on a rampage and threatened life and property. Haddix delivered a bull’s-eye shot with only a .22-caliber.”

A year before he died, the Associated Press reported, Haddix, needing an oxygen tank, talked about his smoking habit.

“I was a three-pack-a-day man,” Haddix said. “That was my friend. My wife and kids didn’t travel with me. I could handle the drinking part of it, but not the cigarettes.

“I loved cigarettes, but they finally got to me.”