Phil Gagliano, not Ernie Broglio, could have been the key player involved in one of the most lopsided trades in favor of the Cardinals.
In spring 1964, Bing Devine, Cardinals general manager, offered Gagliano, a second baseman, to the Cubs for outfielder Lou Brock. The Cubs were seeking a second baseman to replace Ken Hubbs, 22, who died in a plane crash in February 1964.
“The Cardinals tried to lure Brock away for Phil Gagliano,” Jack Herman reported in The Sporting News.
At the time, Gagliano, 22, was a highly regarded prospect and would have been a potential fit to replace Hubbs, who won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 1962. Brock, meanwhile, had underachieved with the Cubs, but he appealed to the Cardinals, who were seeking a left fielder to replace the retired Stan Musial.
The Cubs turned down the Cardinals’ offer and instead acquired second baseman Joey Amalfitano, 30, from the Giants in a cash transaction in March 1964.
Three months later, in June 1964, the Cubs, needing pitching, agreed to deal Brock to the Cardinals, who, this time, were offering Broglio, an established starter.
The trade of Brock and pitchers Jack Spring and Paul Toth to the Cardinals for Broglio, reliever Bobby Shantz and outfielder Doug Clemens generally was considered then to be a steal for the Cubs until Brock developed into a Hall of Fame player who sparked St. Louis to three NL pennants and two World Series titles.
Gagliano didn’t develop into the standout that Brock became, but he was a part of those Cardinals championship clubs as a utility player.
Gagliano, who died Dec. 19, 2016, at 74, would play eight seasons (1963-70) with the Cardinals.
Six years after offering Gagliano for Brock, Devine did deal him to the Cubs in May 1970.
Gagliano was a friend and teammate of Tim McCarver at Christian Brothers High School in Memphis. Scouted by former big-league player Buddy Lewis, Gagliano and McCarver signed with the Cardinals as amateur free agents in 1959.
McCarver made his big-league debut with St. Louis that year and established himself as the Cardinals’ everyday catcher in 1963.
Gagliano debuted with the Cardinals in 1963. He could play all four infield positions and the corner outfield spots, but he fit best at second base and third base.
At the Cardinals’ Florida Instructional League camps in 1962 and 1963, Gagliano, a right-handed batter, caught the attention of instructors Joe Schultz, Eddie Stanky, Grover Resinger, Harry Walker and George Kissell.
“That’s where I learned to hit,” Gagliano told The Sporting News. “I learned to handle the bat in the Instructional League. I learned how to handle the outside pitch and I learned the strike zone there.”
Before the 1964 season, Gagliano was named by Cardinals writers as the hardest worker in spring training camp.
In May 1965, George Silvey, Cardinals scouting director said, “Phil moved up faster than we expected because he always had so much poise.”
Gagliano had his most productive season with the 1965 Cardinals. Filling in for starting second baseman Julian Javier, who broke his right hand in June when struck by a pitch from the Pirates’ Vern Law, Gagliano was batting .273 entering August before he tailed off. Overall, Gagliano batted .240 with eight home runs and 53 RBI in 122 games, including 48 starts at second base.
Red Schoendienst, the former second baseman who became Cardinals manager in 1965, liked Gagliano. “This kid is a tremendous player,” Schoendienst said of Gagliano in April 1965.
Said Gagliano: “I like to hit the way Red Schoendienst wants me to. He says to go up and swing the bat _ don’t be a defensive hitter.”
New York calling
In spring 1967, Gagliano again almost was traded. This time, it was Devine who tried to acquire him.
The 1967 Mets were seeking a second baseman. Devine, who had been fired by the Cardinals in August 1964, was the Mets’ president. He contacted Musial, the Cardinals’ general manager, and inquired about Gagliano or infielder Jerry Buchek, according to a report by Jack Lang in The Sporting News.
“Gagliano is the man the Mets want,” Lang wrote. “The Cards, however, want to wait.”
On April 1, 1967, the Cardinals traded Buchek, pitcher Art Mahaffey and infielder Tony Martinez to the Mets for shortstop Eddie Bressoud, outfielder Danny Napoleon and cash.
Buchek became the Mets’ starting second baseman. Gagliano remained a valued backup to Javier at second base and, especially, to Mike Shannon at third. Shannon had converted from right field to third base after the Cardinals acquired Roger Maris from the Yankees.
Mentored by Schoendienst on fielding, Gagliano said, “I’ve been working mostly on the double play, getting my body in the proper position to throw. I had been throwing off balance too much. Red has worked hard with me and I feel I’ve improved a lot on the pivot.”
On April 11, in the Cardinals’ 1967 season opener against the Giants at St. Louis, Gagliano, replacing an ailing Shannon, hit a solo home run off Juan Marichal, supporting Bob Gibson’s shutout in a 6-0 triumph. Boxscore
Though Gagliano hit just 14 home runs _ all for St. Louis _ in a 12-year big-league career with the Cardinals, Cubs, Red Sox and Reds, three of those came against future Hall of Famers: two off Marichal and one off Jim Bunning.
Gagliano appeared in the 1967 and 1968 World Series for the Cardinals but was hitless in four at-bats.
On May 29, 1970, Devine, back for a second stint as Cardinals general manager, dealt Gagliano to the Cubs for Ted Abernathy, 37, a relief pitcher.
“It’s a shock … but I have no regrets,” Gagliano said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The next day, May 30, 1970, Gagliano made his Cubs debut and produced a two-run pinch-hit single off Dave Roberts, helping Chicago to an 8-7 victory over the Padres at Wrigley Field. Boxscore