A St. Louis homecoming was neither sentimental nor successful for Art Shamsky.

Fifty years ago, on Oct. 18, 1971, Shamsky was the best-known name among the four players the Cardinals acquired in a trade with the Mets. The Cardinals sent pitchers Harry Parker and Chuck Taylor, first baseman-outfielder Jim Beauchamp and infielder Chip Coulter to the Mets for Shamsky and pitchers Jim Bibby, Rich Folkers and Charlie Hudson.

Bibby would develop into a successful starting pitcher for the Rangers, Indians and Pirates, and Folkers became a reliable reliever for the Cardinals, but at the time of the deal neither was a prominent player. Bibby had no big-league experience and Folkers had spent part of one season in the majors.

Shamsky, born in St. Louis and raised in suburban University City, was an outfielder and first baseman who hit with power from the left side. He helped the Mets become World Series champions in 1969. The Cardinals projected him to be a pinch-hitter and role player for them in 1972, but it didn’t work out.

Cardinals fan

In his book, “The Magnificent Seasons,” Shamsky said of his boyhood in the St. Louis area, “My life was basically two things: Following the St. Louis Cardinals, or playing baseball with my friends.”

Shamsky’s favorite Cardinals player was Stan Musial and he’d ride a streetcar to the original Busch Stadium to see him play.

Starting at age 8, Shamsky played Khoury League youth baseball for the John C. Roberts Shoe Co. team managed by Milton Mandel. “Art was so small when we first got him,” Mandel told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “that we used him as leadoff man in hopes he’d be walked. I never thought he’d sprout the way he did.”

According to the Dayton Daily News, Shamsky “paid his own expenses to the Cardinals’ rookie camp in St. Petersburg when he was still in high school, but he was turned back as a kid who was too skinny and lacked power.”

What the Cardinals didn’t count on, the Dayton newspaper noted, was “the development of his wrists and fast hands.”

Regarding those quick wrists, Shamsky told the Post-Dispatch, “I strengthened them by working out a lot, playing handball and squeezing rubber balls.”

After graduating from University City High School at age 16 in 1958, Shamsky attended the University of Missouri for one year. Though the Cardinals made an offer, the Reds signed him in September 1959. The next season, his first in the minors, Shamsky was a roommate of Pete Rose, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.

Power source

On April 17, 1965, Shamsky, 23, made his big-league debut for the Reds in his hometown. Pinch-hitting at Busch Stadium, he struck out against Cardinals ace Bob Gibson. Boxscore

Two months later, Shamsky beat the Cardinals with a home run to the Busch Stadium pavilion roof versus Gibson. Boxscore

“Shamsky has a smooth, easy stroke,” the Post-Dispatch reported. “He ties into the ball well because of his quick, strong wrists.”

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Shamsky was a hitter “who many say can whip the bat as quick as the great Ted Williams.”

In 1966, Shamsky hit 21 home runs, including four in consecutive plate appearances. The first three came on Aug. 12 at Cincinnati when the lanky slugger entered a game against the Pirates in the eighth inning. Each time Shamsky batted, the Reds were behind. One of his home runs put them ahead and the other two tied the score. Boxscore

“That was the greatest clutch-hitting performance I ever saw,” Pete Rose said to the Dayton Daily News.

The next time Shamsky batted, on Aug. 14 against the Pirates, he hit another home run, giving him four in a row. Boxscore

“His power comes from his wrists rather than his arms or body,” Dayton columnist Si Burick observed. “If he depended on his biceps or any other part of his body, he would be working in an office.”

Aching back

In November 1967, Mets president Bing Devine acquired Shamsky from the Reds. A month later, Devine replaced Stan Musial as Cardinals general manager.

After platooning with Cleon Jones in left field for the Mets in 1968, Shamsky experienced back problems in 1969 and opened the season on the disabled list.

In his book, “After the Miracle,” Shamsky said, “The pain was so bad that I honestly wondered if I was ever going to play again.

“To make matters worse, I would get hooked on Percocet, an opioid analgesic, relying on the pills when I started playing again and taking sleeping pills at night.”

Shamsky batted .300 with 14 home runs in 100 games for the 1969 Mets, who won the World Series championship. He also hit .538 (with seven hits) in the National League Championship Series against the Braves. Video

After hitting .293 in 1970, Shamsky’s back woes intensified and he had a .185 batting mark in 1971.

“I’ve been to so many different doctors, chiropractors and osteopaths for my back pain,” Shamsky said in his book. “I once saw a doctor who stuck cotton swabs of cocaine up my nose to deaden my nerves.

“I desperately wanted to keep playing ball.”

City slicker

Though Devine made the trade to acquire Shamsky for a second time and bring him to the Cardinals, he told the Post-Dispatch, “It’s a major deal only from the standpoint of numbers.” Or, as the New York Daily News noted, it was a trade “more distinguished for the quantity than the quality.”

Shamsky, a New York City resident who partnered with former Yankees infielder Phil Linz in owning two nightclubs there, was described by the New York Times News Service as “thoroughly modern Manhattan.”

Shamsky didn’t attempt to cloak his feelings about the trade. “To be honest,” he said to the Post-Dispatch, “my home is now in New York and I have two businesses there, so I’d rather have stayed in New York.”

The back problems followed Shamsky from New York to Cardinals spring training camp. After hitting .190 in Grapefruit League games, Shamsky was released by the Cardinals before the 1972 season began.

He played briefly in 1972 for the Cubs and Athletics, failed to hit with either, and was finished as a player at age 30.

Shamsky’s career batting average in the majors was the same as his career batting average versus the Cardinals: .253.

He was at his best against right-handers, hitting .417 (10 hits) against Don Drysdale and .350 (14 hits) versus Jim Bunning. Shamsky also hit four home runs, including a grand slam, against the Cardinals’ Nelson Briles.

Like a fading supermodel, reliever Chuck Hartenstein found himself out of fashion soon after he joined the Cardinals.

Described by The Sporting News as “a little stick of a guy who stands 5 feet 10 and weighs 150 pounds” and who “doesn’t show anything in the way of muscles,” Hartenstein was given the nickname Twiggy by a teammate.

In the late 1960s, when Hartenstein was at his peak as a National League closer, British fashion model Twiggy, 5 feet 6 and 110 pounds, was a cultural icon among the hip crowd. About the time Twiggy retired from modeling, Hartenstein was struggling to remain in the majors.

A right-hander whose signature pitch was a sidearm sinker, Hartenstein had a short stint with the Cardinals in 1970. He had a second career as a coach and scout in the majors and as an instructor in the minors. Hartenstein died on Oct. 2, 2021, at 79.

Thick and thin

Born and raised in Texas, Hartenstein went to the University of Texas and was a teammate of future Cardinals first baseman Joe Hague. Hartenstein earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing, but opted to pursue a professional baseball career, signing with the Cubs in May 1964.

Hartenstein became a protege of Cubs minor-league instructor Fred Martin, a former Cardinals pitcher, who taught him to throw the sinker. Years later, future Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter learned the split-fingered fastball from Martin.

“(Martin) taught me just about everything I know,” Hartenstein told The Sporting News.

Hartenstein had his breakout season in 1967. Called up to the Cubs in June, he became their closer, posting a 9-5 record and team-leading 11 saves.

Reliever Dick Radatz, dubbed “The Monster” because of his 6-foot-6, 230-pound frame, gave Hartenstein the Twiggy nickname, The Sporting News reported, but Hartenstein told the Society for American Baseball Research it was outfielder Billy Williams who came up with the tag.

According to the Pittsburgh Press, Hartenstein was so skinny “he could tread water in a test tube.”

Hartenstein entered 1968 as the Cubs’ closer, but his season quickly unraveled. In April, his errant fastball struck Braves batter Joe Torre in the head. “Torre went down like a fallen tree,” the Atlanta Constitution reported.

In his book, “Chasing the Dream,” Torre said, “I never saw it. It smashed against my cheek. It split my palate, broke my cheek and my nose. My teammates had to carry me off the field. I was in shock.”

Hartenstein told the Chicago Tribune, “I’m sorry it happened. I couldn’t believe the ball hit him. It was a fastball and it bore in on him. I had thrown two away from him for strikes, and this one was supposed to brush him back. I certainly didn’t want to hit him, but he just didn’t move.”

Hartenstein had a terrible April (0-2, 6.75 ERA) and was replaced as closer by Phil Regan. After clashing with manager Leo Durocher, Hartenstein was demoted to the minors in June.

“I found out one thing about Durocher: When you got in his doghouse, you never got out of it,” Hartenstein told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Snapped twig

The Cubs traded Hartenstein to the Pirates in January 1969. He led the 1969 Pirates in saves (10) and was 5-4. Hartenstein was effective against the Cardinals that year, yielding no hits or runs in four appearances totaling five innings.

In 1970, Hartenstein had another bad April (7.04 ERA) and was replaced as closer by Dave Giusti, who was acquired from the Cardinals.

Placed on waivers in June, Hartenstein was selected by the Cardinals. According to the Pittsburgh Press, when Pirates general manager Joe Brown called and told him he was going to the Cardinals, Hartenstein asked, “Football or baseball?”

The transaction made Hartenstein a teammate of Joe Torre, who was traded by the Braves to the Cardinals a year earlier. Hartenstein was thrilled to join a team that featured a lineup with hitters such as Torre, Dick Allen and Lou Brock. “This club could win it all,” he told the Pittsburgh Press.

The 1970 Cardinals could hit, but their bullpen was weak. The Cardinals would finish the season with the fewest saves (20) in the major leagues.

Manager Red Schoendienst said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Twiggy told me he’ll pitch everyday if we want him to,” but Hartenstein didn’t help. After pitching three scoreless innings against the Pirates in his Cardinals debut, he was shelled in his next five outings. Boxscore

In July, when Nelson Briles came off the disabled list, going into the starting rotation and bumping Chuck Taylor into the bullpen, Hartenstein was given his unconditional release.

In six appearances for the Cardinals, Hartenstein had an 8.77 ERA, surrendering 13 runs in 13.1 innings.

Hartenstein blamed the AstroTurf infields at Busch Memorial Stadium and other National League ballparks for his troubles.

“Sure, I’ve pitched some bad games,” he told the Boston Globe, “but almost everything hit on the ground was finding holes. An infielder playing on the AstroTurf has to be a step quicker than when he plays on a grass infield.”

In Hartenstein’s short time with the Cardinals, he wore three different uniform numbers (22, 26 and 50), according to baseball-reference.com.

The Red Sox, who played on a grass infield, signed Hartenstein for the remainder of the 1970 season and he flopped with them, too (0-3, 8.05 ERA).

Learning to teach

Hartenstein spent the next six seasons (1971-76) in the Pacific Coast League, pitching for farm clubs of the White Sox, Giants and Padres.

In 1977, Hartenstein, 35, returned to the majors with the Blue Jays, an American League expansion club. In May, Rod Carew hit a ball that struck Hartenstein, dislocating his right thumb. When he recovered, Hartenstein gave up four home runs _ to Bernie Carbo, Butch Hobson, Fred Lynn and Jim Rice _ in a July 4 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Boxscore

“It was great instruction for anyone who wants to be a pitching coach,” Hartenstein said to the Boston Globe. “I showed exactly what you shouldn’t do.”

After finishing 0-2 with a 6.59 ERA for the 1977 Blue Jays, Hartenstein became a minor-league instructor. In 1979, he got back to the majors as pitching coach for the Indians. The club’s bullpen coach was Dave Duncan, who years later was Cardinals pitching coach.

Hartenstein also was Brewers pitching coach from 1987-89 when Dan Plesac developed into a top closer.

In six seasons as a big-league pitcher, Hartenstein was 17-19 with 24 saves. In 13 appearances versus the Cardinals, he had a 1.96 ERA.

Bob Klinger, a good pitcher put into a bad spot by his manager, was involved in one of the most exciting plays in Cardinals lore.

Seventy-five years ago, on Oct. 15, 1946, Klinger was the Red Sox pitcher who gave up the winning run to the Cardinals in World Series Game 7.

Though he hadn’t pitched in a month, Klinger was brought into a situation packed with pressure: bottom of the eighth inning, score tied, a championship on the line.

Adding to the degree of difficulty, the first man Klinger, a right-hander, had to face was a fearsome left-handed hitter.

He almost completed the task unscathed, but Enos Slaughter’s daring dash from first base on a Harry Walker hit lifted the Cardinals to victory and made Klinger the losing pitcher.

Rescued by Pirates

Klinger was born in Allenton, Mo., before the small railroad town was annexed by Eureka, Mo., home to the Six Flags St. Louis amusement park.

The Cardinals signed him and he spent nine years in their farm system.

After posting a 16-12 record for Elmira, N.Y., in 1933, Klinger was called up to the Cardinals in September but didn’t get into a game, according to the Society for American Baseball Research. He was on the Cardinals’ roster at spring training in 1934, but was returned to the minors before the season started.

Selected by the Pirates in the Rule 5 draft for $7,500 in October 1937, Klinger, 29, made his major-league debut on April 19, 1938, pitching two scoreless innings of relief and getting the win against the Cardinals at St. Louis. Boxscore

Moved into the starting rotation at the end of May, Klinger had a splendid rookie season (12-5, 2.99 ERA) for the second-place Pirates. Against the Cardinals that year, he was 4-1 with a 1.66 ERA.

Klinger was 62-58 in six seasons with the Pirates before he entered the Navy in April 1944. Discharged in December 1945, Klinger was released by the Pirates before he got to pitch for them again in the regular season. The Red Sox signed him on May 9, 1946, hoping he would bolster their bullpen.

“Klinger has the reputation of being a fireball pitcher,” the Boston Globe reported, “and that is the kind of fellow any club needs to shoot into a ballgame for relief work.”

Title contender

Klinger, 38, joined a smoking hot Red Sox team that won 21 of its first 24 games and cruised to the American League championship.

At a time when most starting pitchers took pride in completing games, Klinger contributed nine saves, tops in the American League in 1946, and was 3-2 with a 2.37 ERA, but his season ended on a downbeat note.

On Sept. 19, against the Browns at St. Louis, Klinger entered in the ninth inning to protect a 5-4 lead, but all four batters he faced reached base and two scored, giving the Browns a victory and Klinger a loss. He didn’t appear in any more games that month. Boxscore

Ten days later, before the Red Sox played their Sept. 29 season finale at home against the Senators, Klinger learned his 2-year-old son was seriously ill “with what was feared to be polio,” the Boston Globe reported. Klinger left immediately to return home to Pacific, Mo.

The Red Sox, who finished 12 games ahead of the second-place Tigers, waited to learn who they would play in the World Series. The Cardinals and Dodgers completed the National League schedule tied for first and needed a best-of-three playoff to determine the champion.

After the Cardinals clinched the pennant on Oct. 3, the World Series opened in St. Louis on Oct. 6. The Cardinals and Red Sox split six games, setting up the finale at Sportsman’s Park.

Trailing 3-1, the Red Sox rallied for two runs in the top of the eighth. Reliever Joe Dobson was lifted for a pinch-hitter during the inning, and Red Sox manager Joe Cronin had two possible replacements warming in the bullpen, Klinger and Earl Johnson, a left-hander.

Controversial choice

With Enos Slaughter, a left-handed batter who led the National League in RBI in 1946, due to lead off the bottom of the eighth, Earl Johnson seemed to some to be the obvious choice, but Cronin opted for Klinger.

“Why bring in Bob Klinger, a National League castoff, to pitch to the Cardinals in the eighth inning of the deciding game with the score tied?,” New York Sun columnist Herbert Goren wrote. “With Slaughter leading the inning, the percentage selection would have been Johnson.”

Others thought Cronin should have used right-hander Tex Hughson, a 20-game winner. Two days earlier, Hughson pitched 4.1 scoreless innings of relief in Game 6. As Sid Keener of the St. Louis Star-Times noted, Hughson held “a higher rating than Klinger in any manager’s book.”

Klinger hadn’t pitched in a game since his shelling against the Browns on Sept. 19, but Cronin apparently chose him because he was the club’s saves leader and had knowledge of National League hitters.

The problem with that logic was hitters were familiar with Klinger, too. Slaughter had a career batting average against Klinger of .338, with 23 hits. Harry Walker, who also batted left, had a career batting average versus Klinger of .300, with nine hits.

Hitting and running

Slaughter greeted Klinger with a sharp single to center. Whitey Kurowski, attempting to bunt Slaughter to second, popped out to Klinger.

Del Rice, a right-handed batter who had one home run for the season, hit “a towering fly to deep, darkest left field,” the Boston Globe reported, but Ted Williams caught it for the second out and Slaughter held at first base.

Walker was up next. With the count 2-and-1, the Cardinals called for a hit-and-run play. Slaughter started running as Klinger delivered his pitch and Walker stroked it to the gap in left-center.

“Slaughter turned second base, approaching third base at full speed, and was hell-bent for home,” the St. Louis Star-Times reported.

Center fielder Leon Culberson, who had replaced an injured Dom DiMaggio, gloved the ball and threw to the cutoff man, shortstop Johnny Pesky. With Slaughter steaming toward home and Walker dashing to second, Pesky hesitated, then threw to the plate “a looping toss with no oomph behind it,” the Star-Times noted.

Slaughter slid in safely, giving the Cardinals a 4-3 lead. They survived a Red Sox threat in the ninth, clinching their third World Series title in five years. Boxscore and Video

Klinger pitched one more season in the majors, going 1-1 with five saves for the 1947 Red Sox. At 40, he returned to the Cardinals’ system in 1948, pitching for manager Johnny Keane at Houston.

If not for an injury, Cloyd Boyer might have been to Cardinals pitching what his brother, Ken Boyer, was to Cardinals hitting and fielding.

A right-handed pitcher, Cloyd Boyer had an exceptional fastball when he got to the big leagues with the Cardinals, drawing comparisons to ace Mort Cooper, but he wasn’t the same after hurting his shoulder.

Boyer pitched in four seasons for the Cardinals and had a record of 15-18 with a 4.24 ERA. After his playing days, he had a long career as a major-league pitching coach and minor-league manager. Boyer died Sept. 20, 2021, at 94.

Baseball family

Born in Missouri’s Jasper County near Joplin, Cloyd was the oldest son of the 14 children of Vern and Mabel Boyer.

Cloyd and his six brothers all became professional baseball players. Cloyd, Ken and Clete reached the majors. Wayne, Lynn, Ron and Len spent all their time in the minors.

Ken and Clete were standout third basemen. Ken earned five Gold Glove awards with the Cardinals and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1964 when the Cardinals were World Series champions. Clete played for the Yankees in five World Series, including in 1964 against Ken and the Cardinals.

The Boyer boys got their passion for baseball from their father Vern, who worked a variety of jobs, including marble-cutter and blacksmith, and helped build a lighted baseball diamond across the street from the family house in Alba, Mo.

“He bought us a couple of gloves that were nothing bigger than your hand and we used corn cobs for balls,” Cloyd recalled to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He loved the game. If it hadn’t been for him, I would have never been in baseball.”

In 1944, when Cloyd was 17 and working for a farmer, Vern learned the Cardinals were conducting a tryout camp at nearby Carthage, Mo. “My father came and took me off the hay baler and carried me to the tryout camp,” Cloyd said in the book “Ken Boyer: All-Star, MVP, Captain.”

Cardinals scout Runt Marr and administrator Walter Shannon, who were running the tryout camp, became impressed “the minute Boyer powered a throw to the plate from the outfield,” the Post-Dispatch reported. They met with Cloyd and his father in Alba that night and signed the teen to a contract.

Hard thrower

After his first season in the Cardinals’ farm system in 1945, Cloyd enlisted in the Navy when he turned 18 in September that year. He served for almost a year, including three months aboard the USS Iowa, and was discharged in time to pitch in five games in the minors at the end of the 1946 season.

Cloyd began an ascension in the Cardinals’ farm system with consecutive 16-win seasons in 1947 and 1948.

“Boyer has a terrific fastball,” Cardinals farm director Joe Mathes told The Sporting News in 1948.

Cloyd, 21, earned a spot on the Cardinals Opening Day roster in 1949.

Comparing Boyer to Johnny Beazley, who had 21 wins as a rookie for the 1942 Cardiinals, Bob Broeg of the Post-Dispatch wrote, “Cloyd was shy, almost bashful, when he came up to the Cardinals, but was not too shy to knock down a hitter who dug in too earnestly against his swift, side-armed fastball.”

Cloyd made his major-league debut on April 23, 1949, with two scoreless innings of relief against the Cubs, but was returned to the minors after three appearances. Boxscore

Tough guy

Boyer stuck with the Cardinals in 1950, beginning the season as a reliever and moving into the starting rotation in late July.

“There isn’t a veteran pitcher on my squad who can match the speed of Cloyd Boyer,” Cardinals manager Eddie Dyer told The Sporting News.

Dyer was impressed as much by Cloyd’s courage and poise as he was with his fastball.

On July 17, 1950, the Dodgers’ Carl Furillo lined a pitch that struck Boyer “hard on the right thumb, glanced off and slammed against his throat,” Dick Young of the New York Daily News reported.

Boyer retrieved the ball and threw to first base in time to get Furillo, but “almost fainted a moment later, gasping for breath,” the Daily News reported. “His mates had him lie on the hill for several minutes, regaining his wind.”

Once he could breathe freely, Boyer got to his feet and walked off the field. X-rays disclosed a ruptured blood vessel at the heel of his hand. “He’s lucky he’s alive,” the Daily News declared. “Getting his hand in the way of Furillo’s comeback bullet just in time to prevent it from tearing into his neck probably saved the guy’s life, or at least his voice.” Boxscore

Four days later, Boyer pitched 11 innings in a start against the Giants. Boxscore

On July 27, 1950, 10 days after being struck by the Furillo liner, Boyer faced the Dodgers again and pitched a complete game for the win, holding Furillo hitless. Boxscore

“The kid’s got moxie,” Cardinals scout Fred Hawn said to the Post-Dispatch.

Pitching in pain

Two months later, on Sept. 15, 1950, Boyer hurt his right shoulder on the last pitch of his warmup before a start against the Dodgers and couldn’t continue. Cardinals trainer Doc Weaver described the injury as “an inflamed nerve,” the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported.

According to the book “Ken Boyer: All-Star, MVP, Captain,” Cloyd “likely damaged his rotator cuff, but the mentality of managers and pitching coaches at the time was to pitch through the pain.”

Incredibly, Boyer started against the Braves five days later, on Sept. 20, and pitched a four-hit shutout. Boxscore

The performance took a toll, though. On Sept. 29, while warming up before a start versus the Cubs, Boyer’s pitches “lacked the usual zip.” the Post-Dispatch reported.

He started the game and, “flinching on several throws,” got the count to 3-and-2 before yielding a double to leadoff batter Randy Jackson. Dyer ran to the mound and removed the ailing pitcher. Boxscore

Boyer finished the season 7-7 with a 3.52 ERA. He was 3-0 against the Dodgers.

Helping others

First-year Cardinals manager Marty Marion figured on Boyer for a spot in the starting rotation in 1951, but his arm wasn’t right. Ineffective, he was sent to the minors in July. Though brought back to the Cardinals at the end of the month, Boyer finished 2-5 with a 5.26 ERA for them in 1951.

“Boyer, until he suffered arm trouble, was considered another prospect like Mort Cooper,” The Sporting News noted.

Boyer was 6-6 with a 4.24 ERA for the Cardinals in 1952, then spent the next two seasons in the minors.

The Athletics acquired him and he pitched his last season in the majors for them in 1955, posting a 5-5 record and 6.22 ERA. 

Cloyd never got to play a big-league game with brother Ken, but he did with brother Clete, who was 18 when he made his debut in the majors with the 1955 Athletics.

Cloyd became a big-league coach for the Yankees (1975 and 1977), Braves (1978-81) and Royals (1982-83). Otherwise, from the 1960s to the 1990s, he was a scout, coach and manager in the minors.

Among the pitchers he managed in the minors were 17-year-old Pat Hentgen, who became an American League Cy Young Award recipient and a 15-game winner with the 2000 Cardinals.

Cloyd also managed a couple of 18-year-old pitchers, Steve Avery and Mark Wohlers, who became key members of 1990s pennant-winning Braves teams.

For a team that finished out of contention in fifth place, the Cardinals had a lot of players others valued.

Sixty years ago, on Oct. 10, 1961, seven Cardinals were chosen in the National League expansion draft. No other club lost more players in filling the rosters of the Houston Colt .45s and New York Mets.

“I think it proves we have a lot of good players in our organization,” Cardinals general manager Bing Devine told the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

Two of the seven selected from the Cardinals went on to become National League all-stars, and another would play in three World Series.

Cash transactions

The expansion draft was held at the Netherland-Hilton Hotel in Cincinnati the day after the Yankees and Reds completed the 1961 World Series at Crosley Field.

The draft was held in two phases:

_ In Phase One, the Colt .45s and Mets drafted players left unprotected by the eight existing National League clubs. The expansion club paid from $50,000 to $75,000 for each player it took. The money went to the club that lost the player.

_ Phase Two was described as a premium draft. Each existing National League club had to offer two players who had been protected from the regular draft. The Colt .45s and Mets each could take four players in the premium draft, but no team could lose more than one player. Each premium player taken cost the expansion club $125,000.

The Cardinals, who finished with an 80-74 record, 13 games out of first in 1961, lost pitcher Bob Miller to the Mets in the premium draft.

Of the six Cardinals chosen in the regular draft, pitcher Craig Anderson, catcher Chris Cannizzaro and outfielder Jim Hickman went to the Mets, and infielder Bob Lillis and outfielders Ed Olivares and Don Taussig went to the Colt .45s.

As compensation, the Cardinals received $525,000 _ $125,000 for Miller, $75,000 each for Anderson, Cannizzaro, Lillis and Taussig, and $50,000 each for Hickman and Olivares.

“The $525,000 will be needed to balance the books on a red ink season at the gate,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Among the available Cardinals not taken in the draft were utility player Red Schoendienst, outfielder Don Landrum and infielder Alex Grammas.

Like Miller, Grammas was made available in the premium draft. After Miller was chosen, the Cardinals were able to protect Grammas, a valued utility player.

“Grammas is important until Jerry Buchek is completely ready to take over at shortstop,” Cardinals manager Johnny Keane told the Globe-Democrat.

As for Landrum, who hit .313 in the Cardinals’ farm system in 1961, Keane said to the Post-Dispatch, “I’ll be glad to have him available as center field insurance in case anything happens to Curt Flood.”

Pitching potential

The players the Cardinals disliked losing in the draft were the two right-handed pitchers, Miller, 22, and Anderson, 23.

Miller “has all the tools to be a real good pitcher,” Keane told the Globe-Democrat. He said Anderson “has a fine potential.”

Solly Hemus, who was replaced by Keane as Cardinals manager in July 1961, had become a Mets coach and advocated for the drafting of the Cardinals pitchers.

As a rookie in 1961, Anderson was 4-3 with a save and a 3.26 ERA in 25 relief appearances for the Cardinals.

Miller, a St. Louis native, was 18 when he signed with the Cardinals on June 20, 1957, after graduating from Beaumont High School. Cardinals scout Joe Monahan rated Miller “the finest pitching prospect in the St. Louis area in all the years I’ve scouted,” The Sporting News reported.

A week after turning pro, Miller made his big-league debut with the Cardinals. Boxscore

Miller was one of two 18-year-olds on the 1957 Cardinals’ pitching staff. The other was Von McDaniel.

In four seasons (1957 and 1959-61) with the Cardinals, Miller was 9-9 with three saves and a 3.83 ERA.

Talent search

The first player selected by the Mets in the regular draft was Giants catcher Hobie Landrith, a former Cardinal. Giants shortstop Eddie Bressoud was the first choice of the Colt .45s. Bressoud finished his career in 1967 as a utility player for the World Series champion Cardinals.

The Reds, Dodgers and Pirates lost six players apiece in the draft. The Giants, Phillies and Cubs each had five players drafted.

Here, in alphabetical order, is a look at what became of the seven players drafted from the Cardinals:

_ Craig Anderson: On May 12, 1962, Anderson won both games of a doubleheader for the Mets against the Braves. Then he lost his next 16 decisions, finishing the season with a 3-17 record. Anderson’s four saves led the Mets’ staff.

_ Chris Cannizzaro: The 1962 Mets used seven catchers, but Cannizzaro played more games than any of them. Cannizzaro threw out 55.6 percent of the runners attempting to steal against him in 1962. Seven years later, Cannizzaro was with another National League expansion team, the Padres, and was their representative on the all-star team.

_ Jim Hickman: He spent five seasons with the Mets and was the franchise’s first player to hit for the cycle and to hit three home runs in a game. With the Cubs in 1970, Hickman was an all-star and hit 32 home runs with 115 RBI. He finished his career with the 1974 Cardinals.

_ Bob Lillis: He started the most games at shortstop for the 1962 Colt .45s. As Astros manager from 1982-85, Lillis had a .514 winning percentage.

_ Bob Miller: He was one of two Bob Millers who pitched for the 1962 Mets. The former Cardinal was 1-12 that season. The other Bob Miller was 2-2. St. Louis’ Bob Miller went on to pitch 17 seasons in the majors for 10 teams. With the 1964 Dodgers, he led National League pitchers in appearances (74). Miller pitched in the World Series for the Dodgers in 1965 and 1966, and for the Pirates in 1971.

_ Ed Olivares: He never got to play for the Colt .45s, or any other team in the majors, after leaving the Cardinals, but his son, Omar Olivares, pitched for the Cardinals from 1990-94. Ed and Omar Olivares were the first father and son to play for the Cardinals.

_ Don Taussig: His one home run for the 1962 Colt. 45s came against the Cardinals’ Larry Jackson and was the winning run in a 4-3 victory. Boxscore

The Cardinals’ climax to a year of strangeness was fittingly bizarre.

Forty years ago, on Oct. 2, 1981, the Cardinals’ chances of reaching the playoffs evaporated in the ninth inning of a game played in a mostly empty stadium on a night with the feel of winter in Pittsburgh.

After the Cardinals came from behind with a pair of home runs in the top of the ninth to tie the score, the last-place Pirates got a run in the bottom half of the inning against the National League’s best closer and won, 8-7.

The loss dropped the Cardinals 1.5 games behind the first-place Expos with two left to play. The Expos clinched the division title the next day, beating the Mets.

In a year when baseball made a sick joke of the season _ foreshadowing a series of decisions that purposely devalue regular-season excellence and reward mediocrity _ the Cardinals finished the 1981 schedule with the best record in the National League East and were excluded from the farce called the postseason.

Bonehead baseball

After major-league players went on strike in June 1981 and ended the walkout in August, those who run baseball decided to have two regular seasons in 1981. All division leaders at the time the strike began were declared champions of the first season. The second season consisted of games played after the strike. Like with the first season, those who finished in first place in a division went to the playoffs.

It didn’t matter to baseball officials that all teams didn’t play the same number of games in either season, or that some played more road games than home games. Baseball held an expanded playoffs _ with four division champions in each league instead of two _ and hoped the manufactured excitement would make fans forget being spat on by the strike.

The Cardinals (30-20) placed second to the Phillies (34-21) in the East Division in the first season.

With three games remaining in the second season, the Cardinals (27-22) trailed the first-place Expos (28-22) by a half-game. The Cardinals closed with a series at Pittsburgh versus the Pirates while the Expos were at New York against the Mets.

Winter wonderland

The series opener at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium was played on a Friday night when the temperature at game time was 39 degrees and the wind chill made it feel like 25.

“A swirling wind made pop-ups adventurous, and intermittent drizzle felt like snowflakes,” the Pittsburgh Press reported.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “The weather conditions were fitting for a Steelers playoff game in late December.”

A mere 2,348 spectators attended in a stadium with capacity for 47,971. It was the smallest attendance for a Pirates game since the stadium opened in 1970.

The brand of baseball the frozen faithful witnessed that Friday night caused shivers, too. The Pirates made four errors, one more than the Cardinals.

“Even on ordinary plays, balls popped out of gloves like in a game of flip,” the Pittsburgh Press noted. “There were more drops than in an eye doctor’s office.”

Blaming the weather, Pirates manager Chuck Tanner said, “Hard gloves and cold hands produce a lot of errors.”

Cardinals catcher Darrell Porter suggested frayed nerves played a factor, too. “I wouldn’t say we’re tight, but we haven’t played like we’re in a pennant race,” Porter said.

Coming back

Trailing 7-2, the Cardinals scored three in the sixth to get within two.

In the ninth, George Hendrick led off with a home run against Rod Scurry, working his third inning of relief, but the next two batters made outs.

Porter was the Cardinals’ last hope. After he fell behind in the count, 1-and-2, Porter pounced on an inside fastball.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever hit a ball better than that,” Porter told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The ball barely stayed inside the foul pole but cleared the wall in right by plenty for a home run, tying the score at 7-7.

“When something like that happens, you think you’re going to win,” Porter said to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Especially, Porter might have added, when the Cardinals had Bruce Sutter to pitch the bottom of the ninth.

Sutter led the National League in saves for the third consecutive year in 1981.

Walks will haunt

Speedster Omar Moreno led off the ninth for the Pirates and drew a walk. After Tim Foli’s sacrifice bunt moved Moreno to second, Sutter gave an intentional pass to Dave Parker.

Mike Easler batted next. He played in the Cardinals’ farm system in 1976, and he would become the Cardinals’ hitting coach for three years when Tony La Russa was manager.

With the count 2-and-2, Easler sliced a double to left-center, scoring Moreno with the winning run. Boxscore

“Sutter has to pitch low to be effective,” Easler told the Pittsburgh Press. “His pitches dropped a foot. The one I hit did, too, only it was high and dropped right into my swing.”


In its game story, the Pittsburgh Press declared, “The Pirates didn’t bury the Cardinals. The Cardinals picked up the shovel, dug the hole and jumped in.”

The loss to the Pirates, coupled with the Expos’ 3-0 victory that night, meant the Expos would have to lose their remaining two games for the Cardinals to have a chance to finish atop the division. It didn’t happen. The Expos finished (30-23) a half-game ahead of the Cardinals (29-23).

The Cardinals completed the 1981 schedule with the best overall record in the East Division at 59-43, two games ahead of the Expos (60-48) and 2.5 ahead of the Phillies (59-48).

The Reds had the best overall record in the West Division at 66-42, but, like the Cardinals, didn’t finish atop the division in either season, and didn’t get into the 1981 playoffs.

Incredibly, baseball devised a system in which four National League teams got into the 1981 playoffs, but excluded the two with the best overall records.

Whitey Herzog, who served the dual roles of Cardinals manager and general manager, said baseball’s hierarchy were “dumb dips,” The Sporting News reported.

“This second season is a farce,” Herzog said. “As good as the game was, I can’t believe they messed with it. You wonder why you beat your brains out.”

Since then, baseball has continued to dilute the regular season. Now, a team with the fifth-best record in its league qualifies for the playoffs.

It will get worse. Team owners want to expand the playoffs, following the model from 2020, when 16 teams qualified after the regular season was reduced because of the pandemic. Two of the playoff qualifiers had losing records. Three others, including the Cardinals, who didn’t even play all their scheduled games, got in by finishing two wins over .500.