When the Cardinals traded half of their all-star infield to the Phillies, the all-star they got in return no longer had the skills to be a consistent starter.
Fifty years ago, on Oct. 27, 1965, the Cardinals traded first baseman Bill White, shortstop Dick Groat and catcher Bob Uecker to the Phillies for pitcher Art Mahaffey, outfielder Alex Johnson and catcher Pat Corrales.
Two years earlier, four Cardinals _ White, Groat, second baseman Julian Javier and third baseman Ken Boyer _ formed the starting infield for the 1963 National League all-star team.
After White and Groat were traded, only Javier remained with the Cardinals from that infield. Boyer had been traded by the Cardinals to the Mets a week before White and Groat were sent to the Phillies.
Mahaffey, a hard-throwing right-hander, had been an all-star with the 1961 and 1962 Phillies. He earned 19 wins in 1962 and was second in the NL that season in complete games (20) and fourth in innings pitched (274).
Though limited by an arm ailment to 71 innings pitched while posting a 2-5 record for the 1965 Phillies, the Cardinals saw Mahaffey, 27, as a candidate to bolster their rotation.
In addition to a starting pitcher, Cardinals general manager Bob Howsam also believed he had acquired a starting left fielder (Johnson) and an upgrade at backup catcher (Corrales) from the Phillies.
During the 1965 season, Mahaffey had fallen into disfavor with Phillies manager Gene Mauch. Mahaffey didn’t make a start after July 5 and appeared just twice in relief after Sept. 1.
Mahaffey and Mauch “have not seen eye to eye for quite a while,” The Sporting News reported.
Published reports speculated the Phillies would trade Mahaffey to an American League club. The Senators expressed keen interest.
“I was waiting to get traded, but I had no idea I would go to the Cardinals,” Mahaffey said after the deal was made.
“All I need to do is start. I’m a starting pitcher, not a reliever. I can’t pitch in relief … because I have to warm up longer since I had the arm trouble a couple of years ago. My arm is all right now, however.”
Agreeing to a request from Howsam, Mahaffey went to the Cardinals’ Florida Instructional League club at St. Petersburg in November 1965 with the goal of developing a slider.
“The slider should make a big difference for me,” Mahaffey said. “On days when my fastball isn’t as good as it should be, I could use my slider on left-handed hitters.”
Entering spring training in February 1966, the Cardinals had nine prime candidates for the five starting rotation spots.
Joining Mahaffey among the right-handers were Bob Gibson, Ray Washburn, Tracy Stallard and Nelson Briles. The left-handers were Ray Sadecki, Curt Simmons, Al Jackson and Larry Jaster.
“Our pitching depth is much, much better than it was at this time last year,” Howsam said.
In a sign of the confidence they had in Mahaffey, the Cardinals issued him the uniform No. 14 that had been worn by Boyer.
Mahaffey “is one of the hardest workers in the Cardinals camp. He has a mission,” The Sporting News reported.
Said Mahaffey: ” I want to make a good impression. I think I can win and win big. I’m healthy, my arm is sound.”
Mahaffey sealed a spot on the Opening Day roster by pitching four scoreless innings in an exhibition start against the Reds on March 22, 1966, at St. Petersburg.
The Cardinals opened the 1966 season with 13 pitchers. Needing only four starters early in the season, Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst and pitching coach Joe Becker chose Gibson, Washburn, Jaster and Briles.
Simmons, Stallard, Sadecki and Mahaffey complained about lack of work.
“We’re rusting and our market value is going down,” Simmons said.
Mahaffey, who switched to uniform No. 30, was the last of the 13 pitchers to appear in a game, making his Cardinals debut with four innings of shutout relief against the Astros on April 28. Boxscore
“I can’t understand it,” Mahaffey said. “I was assured when I was traded that I would be a starting pitcher.
“Bob Howsam wanted me to get off to a quick start this season, so I agreed to go to the winter league for a month. I had to drop my winter jobs and that cost me a couple of thousand dollars. So this is how I get repaid.”
On May 7, 1966, Mahaffey got his first Cardinals start _ and it was a dud. Facing the Giants in the next-to-last game played at Busch Stadium I (formerly known as Sportsman’s Park), Mahaffey pitched two scoreless innings before yielding seven runs in the third. Four were scored on a grand slam by Orlando Cepeda. Boxscore
(The next day, Cepeda was traded for Sadecki.)
Mahaffey made five starts for the Cardinals and won one _ against the Braves Boxscore _ and was returned to the bullpen. He earned a save _ the only one of his big-league career _ against the Mets. Boxscore
Overall, Mahaffey was 1-4 with a 6.43 ERA in 12 appearances for the Cardinals before he was demoted to Tulsa in mid-July. Mahaffey was 4-4 with a 5.05 ERA in 11 starts for the Class AAA club.
After the 1966 season, the Cardinals retained the rights to Mahaffey but gave him permission to make his own deal with another club. The Giants invited him to spring training at Arizona in 1967 as a non-roster pitcher.
Mahaffey pitched for the Giants in spring training, but they were unimpressed and returned him to the Cardinals. On April 1, 1967, Stan Musial, who had replaced Howsam, traded Mahaffey and infielders Jerry Buchek and Tony Martinez to the Mets for infielder Eddie Bressoud, outfielder Danny Napoleon and cash.
The Mets assigned Mahaffey to their Class AAA Jacksonville club, managed by former Cardinals outfielder Bill Virdon. Mahaffey was 1-1 with a 5.50 ERA before he was released.
Mahaffey signed with Dallas-Fort Worth, the Class AA affiliate of the Cubs, and joined a staff that included his former Cardinals teammate, Stallard, and Don Larsen, 38, who had pitched a perfect game in the World Series for the Yankees 11 years earlier.
After posting a 2-7 record and 6.00 ERA in 16 games for the Class AA club, Mahaffey, 29, was finished as a professional pitcher.
Previously: 1963 NL all-stars started all-Cardinals infield