Archive for the ‘Executives’ Category

General manager Walt Jocketty, who made an array of trades that transformed the Cardinals into perennial contenders, was the victim of an internal management mess.

Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. became enamored of a data-driven consultant, Jeff Luhnow, who had business acumen. DeWitt brought Luhnow onto the management team, promoted him and put him in charge of the Cardinals’ player development group.

In essence, Jocketty was head of major-league baseball operations and Luhnow became head of minor-league baseball operations.

The problem was DeWitt did this without gaining the support of Jocketty. Though Luhnow reported to Jocketty, their relationship was icy _ Luhnow was DeWitt’s guy, not Jocketty’s _ and created division and tension throughout the front office.

DeWitt expected Jocketty and Luhnow to work out their differences and create organizational harmony.

Jocketty, feeling undercut and underappreciated, couldn’t bring himself to work collaboratively with a baseball newcomer with whom he had wide philosophical differences.

DeWitt had said he hired Luhnow to be a “problem solver.”

The problem-maker, in DeWitt’s view, was Jocketty.

Ten years ago, on Oct. 3, 2007, DeWitt surprised nearly everyone by firing Jocketty. The dismissal came a year after the Cardinals had won their first World Series championship in 24 seasons.

Redbirds revived

In 1994, when Anheuser-Busch owned the Cardinals, Jocketty was hired to replace Dal Maxvill as general manager. At the time, Jocketty was assistant general manager of the Rockies.

A year later, in 1995, Jocketty hired Tony La Russa to be the Cardinals’ manager. Jocketty and La Russa had worked together in the Athletics organization.

In 1996, a group led by DeWitt completed the purchase of the Cardinals from Anheuser-Busch.

With new ownership expressing a commitment to winning, Jocketty and La Russa went to work rebuilding a Cardinals club that hadn’t been to the postseason since 1987 and hadn’t won a World Series championship since 1982.

After qualifying for the postseason once in their first four years together, the leadership team of DeWitt, Jocketty and La Russa got the Cardinals into the postseason six times in a seven-year stretch from 2000-2006. The 2006 team won the World Series title.

Jocketty largely was responsible for the turnaround. His trades brought talent such as Mark McGwire, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen, Edgar Renteria, Darryl Kile, Woody Williams, Larry Walker and Adam Wainwright, to name just a few.

Front office duel

Though the Cardinals had become successful, DeWitt determined the organization needed a different approach to scouting and player development. DeWitt hired Luhnow in October 2003 for the newly created position of vice president for baseball development.

Luhnow and Jocketty clashed. Communication between Luhnow and Jocketty and their staffs broke down.

“There was basically a difference of philosophy,” Jocketty said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He added, “It’s not a way I’m comfortable operating.”

Luhnow said, “I wasn’t trying to cram things down people’s throats,” but added, “I have definitely stimulated a lot of debate since I’ve been here.”

John Mozeliak, Cardinals assistant general manager, was placed in the uncomfortable role of being the conduit between Jocketty and Luhnow.

“(Mozeliak) has done a very good job of staying above the fray,” DeWitt said.

Said Cardinals president Mark Lamping: “(Mozeliak) was sometimes torn between two factions within baseball operations. Tough job for anybody to do that.”

Divorce court

After the championship high of 2006, the Cardinals finished with a losing record (78-84) in 2007.

On Oct. 3, three days after the end of the 2007 season, Jocketty was called to a morning meeting at DeWitt’s house in Clayton, Mo. Jocketty didn’t know what to expect.

During the 45-minute session, DeWitt, saying it was “time to move forward with undivided vision and purpose,” fired Jocketty, though the owner chose to frame the departure as a mutual decision. DeWitt said he and Jocketty “were in agreement our relationship … had likely run its course.”

Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch cited “a widening front office split” and “Jocketty’s refusal to embrace the new structure” as reasons for DeWitt’s decision.

“I don’t think it played out where we could close the divide,” DeWitt said. “There had been a divide from prior years, but not as severe as it became.”

Said Lamping: “A division within baseball operations continuing without a common purpose just doesn’t work.”

Tangled web

Jocketty had a year remaining on his contract and DeWitt said he would pay him the $1 million in salary for 2008.

Jocketty asked DeWitt to hold off announcing the dismissal to the media until he had a chance to tell his son, a high school junior, who turned 17 that day. DeWitt agreed. The announcement was made at 3 p.m.

Soon after Jocketty departed the meeting, DeWitt called La Russa at his residence in California. La Russa said he was “surprised and disappointed” by Jocketty’s departure.

“I thought Walt would be back,” said La Russa.

Reflecting on his relationship with Luhnow, Jocketty said, “There are probably things I could have done and should have done to try and make it work better, but I wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t do it.”

Regarding his tenure with the Cardinals from 1994-2007, Jocketty said, “We’ve had one of the most successful eras in Cardinals history. I hope that is how it is remembered.”

Three weeks after the shakeup, La Russa, to the surprise of many, signed to return as Cardinals manager. On Oct. 31, Mozeliak was named to succeed Jocketty.

La Russa and Mozeliak led the Cardinals to a World Series championship in 2011.

Jocketty became general manager of the Reds in 2008 and went on to serve the club in a variety of executive roles.

Luhnow left the Cardinals in December 2011 to become general manager of the Astros.

Four years later, it was learned a member of the Cardinals front office unlawfully had hacked into the Astros’ database. In 2016, Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa pleaded guilty to the crime and was sentenced to prison.

Previously: Walt Jocketty’s July gems: Chuck Finley, Scott Rolen

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In a move that shifted the balance of baseball power in St. Louis, Branch Rickey left the American League Browns and joined the National League Cardinals.

branch_rickey2One hundred years ago, on March 20, 1917, Rickey, the Browns’ business manager, became president of the Cardinals.

Rickey’s departure was fought by Browns owner Phil Ball, even though the two men didn’t get along.

At the time, the Browns were the dominant baseball franchise in St. Louis.

Under Rickey, the Cardinals eventually would transform from a lackluster franchise into an elite one.

Meet the new boss

In 1915, Rickey served the dual roles of Browns manager and assistant to team owner Robert Hedges. Rickey performed many of the duties of a general manager.

After the 1915 season, Hedges sold the Browns to Phil Ball. One of Ball’s first moves was to hire Fielder Jones, former White Sox manager, to be manager of the Browns and reassign Rickey to the position of business manager.

In his 1982 book “Branch Rickey: A Biography,” author Murray Polner wrote that Rickey and Ball “took an instant dislike to one another.”

“Ball thought Rickey’s ideas too radical and Rickey’s endless talk and large vocabulary made him uncomfortable,” Polner wrote. “Rickey was, in turn, uncomfortable with Ball’s crudeness. He considered Ball uncouth and, in matters of baseball, virtually illiterate.”

According to Rickey, Ball agreed to honor Rickey’s contract, but told him he wouldn’t stand in his way if Rickey wanted to leave.

First choice

The 1916 Browns were competitive. They entered September four games out of first place and finished with a 79-75 record.

The 1916 Cardinals were a mess. They finished in last place at 60-93. Ownership was strapped for cash and had trouble paying bills.

On March 5, 1917, Cardinals owner Helene Britton sold the club for $375,000 to a consortium of investors led by former team president James C. Jones.

Jones and the investors polled a group of seven St. Louis journalists for their advice on who should be hired to run the baseball operations.

The response was unanimous: Rickey.

Lucrative offer

Jones offered Rickey a three-year contract at $15,000 per year to be Cardinals president, according to the St. Louis Star. Rickey, who was to be paid $7,500 as Browns business manager in 1917, went to Ball and asked to be released from his contract.

Rickey said he received absolute assurance from Ball on March 19, 1917, that he could negotiate for a job that would better his position, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

A day later, Rickey accepted the Cardinals’ offer and signed a contract with them, according to a Page 1 story in the Post-Dispatch.

Ball, though, was having second thoughts.

Baseball battle

Ban Johnson, president of the American League, didn’t want Rickey going to a club in the rival league, Rickey said. Johnson pressured Ball to stop Rickey from joining the Cardinals.

Displaying a Browns contract Rickey had signed for 1917, Ball told the Post-Dispatch, “I will insist that he fulfill his agreement.”

“Rickey seems to be confused over certain promises I made to him when he signed this (Browns) contract,” Ball said. “I promised Rickey … I would also help him in bettering himself if any opportunity offered itself for him apart from baseball.

“I at no time had the notion that he would consider this offer applicable to any proposition he might receive from one of my competitors,” Ball said. “My idea was that should Rickey care to enter the law business in St. Louis I would give him every assistance that I could.”

Ball went to court and received a restraining order that prohibited Rickey from working for the Cardinals until a hearing could be held before a judge.

In the Post-Dispatch, columnist John Wray wrote, “The battle between Rickey and Ball … seems a useless waste of time and money in which the only persons to come out of the conflict with all the honors _ and considerable cash _ will be the attorneys.”

The St. Louis Star opined: “Squeamish people who have doubted that Rickey will be allowed to preside over the Cardinals on account of a prior contract with the Browns are now inclined to view the position of Rickey as one that will impregnably withstand legal assault.”

Let’s make a deal

On April 6, 1917, the day a hearing was to be held, a settlement was reached that allowed Rickey to join the Cardinals.

“Rickey agreed to the terms of the settlement only after much persuasion,” the Post-Dispatch reported. “He and his personal attorney, George Williams, were very eager to bring the case to trial, but they were persuaded in the end, for the good of baseball, to accept the settlement out of court as proposed by Ball’s lawyers.”

Though the Cardinals under Rickey improved significantly in 1917 _ they finished in third place at 82-70 _ it wasn’t until Sam Breadon became principal owner in 1920 that the franchise had the backing it needed to solidify and blossom.

Supported by Breadon, Rickey built professional baseball’s first farm system, providing the Cardinals with a steady supply of talent trained under a shared organizational philosophy.

Rickey, who had returned to the field as Cardinals manager in 1919 while still running the administrative baseball operations, was put back in the front office by Breadon fulltime in May 1925 and the Cardinals won their first NL pennant and World Series championship the next year.

Previously: The story of Branch Rickey and his final journey

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Looking to build on a reputation as a keen talent evaluator and smart decision-maker, Ted Simmons left a front-office job with the Cardinals for an executive position with a National League division rival.

ted_simmons19Twenty-five years ago, on Feb. 5, 1992, Simmons, 42, resigned as Cardinals director of player development and accepted an offer to become general manager of the Pirates.

Emerging from a field of finalists that included Walt Jocketty, Simmons got the job because of the work he had done in improving the Cardinals farm system and because of his connections with Pirates president Mark Sauer.

Simmons’ rise was derailed, however, when, 16 months after becoming general manager, he suffered a heart attack and resigned.

Talent show

A member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame, Simmons, a catcher, played 13 seasons (1968-80) for St. Louis, batting .298 and producing 1,704 hits and 929 RBI in 1,564 games.

In 1988, after Simmons finished his playing career with the Braves, he rejoined the Cardinals as head of their minor-league system.

Ray Lankford, Bernard Gilkey and Todd Zeile were among the prospects who developed into Cardinals players during Simmons’ tenure, enabling St. Louis to replace Willie McGee, Vince Coleman and Terry Pendleton.

Donovan Osborne, John Mabry and Dmitri Young were drafted by the Cardinals while Simmons was farm director.

Sauer, an Anheuser-Busch executive, joined the Cardinals as deputy chief operating officer and learned the baseball operation from Simmons.

Sauer was promoted to Cardinals executive vice president and chief operating officer in 1990. He left in October 1991 to become president and chief executive officer of the Pirates.

Search for success

Three months after he arrived in Pittsburgh, Sauer fired general manager Larry Doughty. Though the Pirates had won division titles in 1990 and 1991, Sauer was dissatisfied with the quality of the farm system under Doughty.

In his search for a general manager, Sauer identified five finalists. In addition to Simmons, they were:

_ Cam Bonifay, Pirates assistant general manager.

_ Bill Lajoie, former Tigers general manager.

_ Murray Cook, former general manager of the Yankees, Reds and Expos.

_ Walt Jocketty, director of baseball administration for the Athletics.

Simmons interviewed with Sauer in late January 1992. Simmons told Dan O’Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the session was “thorough, intense and in-depth.”

Eliminating Jocketty (who two years later would become general manager of the Cardinals) and Cook, Sauer pared the list to Simmons, Lajoie and Bonifay.

Lajoie, a scout with the Braves, was the preferred choice of Pirates manager Jim Leyland. When he was scouting director of the Tigers, Lajoie was a mentor to Leyland, who had been a player and manager in Detroit’s farm system.

Simmons told the Post-Dispatch he thought Bonifay would get the job.

Earned reward

Simmons was in a meeting when Cardinals chief executive officer Stuart Meyer came in and told Simmons to expect a call from Sauer. A short while later, Sauer asked Simmons to be general manager.

Sauer described Simmons as “an outstanding evaluator of young talent” and “a good communicator.”

Asked whether their friendship was a factor in hiring Simmons, Sauer told the Pittsburgh Press, “My experience with Ted gives me a comfort level and confidence in what he can do, but this was not an issue of friendship. What I think made Ted the best choice was his demonstration of skills in the area of developing players in St. Louis.”

Said Simmons: “There’s no question Mark and I are friends, but there is also no question that during the time I was with Mark in St. Louis he was my boss … If I thought I stood here as general manager of the Pirates because I was Mark’s friend, No. 1, I would be embarrassed; No. 2, I would be ashamed.”

Simmons departed the Cardinals with the respect of general manager Dal Maxvill and manager Joe Torre.

“I’m extremely happy for him,” said Maxvill. “We had a great relationship. He was very loyal to me and to the organization. You couldn’t ask for better than Teddy.”

Said Torre: “He never does anything halfway.”

Pressure in Pittsburgh

Dedication and drive were qualities that helped Simmons get the job. Those attributes could become negatives, though, if not kept in check.

In their praise of Simmons, Maxvill and Sauer unintentionally foreshadowed trouble.

“His skin will have to be thick,” Maxvill said. “You can’t get too excited or too upset … You have to not let things bother you and just try to do the best you can and the best for the ballclub. I think he knows that.”

Said Sauer: “He’s very consumed with baseball. He lives and breathes baseball on many different layers.”

The Pirates won a third consecutive division title in Simmons’ first year as general manager. They were on the verge of clinching the 1992 pennant until the Braves rallied for three runs in the ninth inning and won Game 7 of the NL Championship Series.

With ownership putting pressure on Sauer and Simmons to reduce payroll, the Pirates’ best hitter, Barry Bonds, and best pitcher, Doug Drabek, became free agents and left. Simmons dealt second baseman Jose Lind to the Royals for prospects.

Simmons, who smoked two to three packs of cigarettes a day, was tasked with trying to rebuild from within the organization.

Medical emergency

On June 8, 1993, Simmons, 43, was working in his office when he was stricken with a heart attack.

“I thought I was going to die,” Simmons told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“It was tolerable pain in my chest and between my shoulder blades. It was acute, intolerable pain in my upper left arm. I knew what was happening.”

Simmons called the team trainer, who got Simmons to a car and drove him to a hospital. Simmons underwent an emergency angioplasty operation to re-open a completely blocked artery to his heart.

Two weeks later, on June 19, 1993, Simmons was back at the ballpark when he announced he was resigning to focus on his health.

Sauer promoted Bonifay to the position of general manager.

Previously: Ted Simmons helped put pal Joe Torre on path to Hall

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In a union of legendary rivals who represented baseball at its best, Stan Musial hired Warren Spahn to be a manager in the Cardinals organization.

spahn_musialFifty years ago, on Feb. 25, 1967, a month after he was named Cardinals general manager, Musial bypassed Sparky Anderson and selected Spahn to be manager of the Class AAA Tulsa Oilers.

Anderson had managed the Cardinals’ Class A St. Petersburg club to a league championship in 1966 and reportedly was the top internal candidate for the Tulsa opening.

Spahn, who never had managed, was the recommended choice of Tulsa owner A. Ray Smith.

Though Cardinals executives such as farm director George Silvey had input, Musial, as general manager, had the final decision regarding who to hire as manager for the Cardinals’ top affiliate.

Matchup of marvels

In Spahn, Musial chose the candidate who had been his respected nemesis during their Hall of Fame playing careers.

Spahn, who pitched 21 seasons in the major leagues, primarily with the Braves, is the all-time leader in career wins (363) among left-handers. Musial, who played 22 seasons in the major leagues, all with the Cardinals, is the all-time leader in total bases (6,134) among left-handed batters.

Their matchups spanned the 1940s to 1960s. Musial has a career .318 batting average and .412 on-base percentage against Spahn, according to the Web site retrosheet.org. Musial has more hits (104), doubles (23), triples (6) and walks (50) versus Spahn than any other player. Only Willie Mays (18) hit more home runs against Spahn than Musial (17) did.

In his 1964 book “Stan Musial: The Man’s Own Story,” Musial called Spahn “the best National League pitcher of my era.”

“Spahnie was more than a student of pitching,” Musial said. “He was a scientist.”

Musial concluded: “It was a great challenge to hit against this cunning guy … and I’m proud to have done well.”

Pressure on Stan

If not for Bob Howsam’s departure, Musial and Spahn might never have worked together and Anderson might not have left the Cardinals.

On Jan. 22, 1967, Howsam resigned as Cardinals general manager and became executive vice president and general manager of the Reds. Musial, a Cardinals vice president, took on the additional role of general manager.

One of Howsam’s cronies was Tulsa manager Charlie Metro, who was waiting in the wings in case Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst faltered. Metro followed Howsam to the Reds, accepting a job as a scout.

With spring training close to opening, Musial and the Cardinals had to scramble to find a replacement for Metro in Tulsa.

Spahn, 45, was residing on his 2,800-acre cattle ranch in Hartshorne, Okla., about 120 miles from Tulsa. He made it known he wanted to get back into baseball. Smith was thrilled by the possibility of having a baseball icon manage his club, so the Oilers owner went to work on trying to convince Musial to make it happen.

On Feb. 20, 1967, Musial said Smith’s request was under review and that he hoped to announce a choice soon, The Sporting News reported.

Smith told the Associated Press that Musial had been pressured to select a candidate from within the Cardinals’ organization, “but we fought a hard fight” for Spahn.

Though Anderson was “first choice for the position,” according to The Sporting News, Spahn got the Tulsa job. Anderson was assigned to manage the Cardinals’ Class A club at Modesto, Calif.

Rookie manager

Spahn’s hiring was announced by Smith at a news conference at Tulsa’s prestigious Southern Hills Country Club.

“The Oilers and Tulsa are mighty lucky to get a man of Spahn’s caliber,” Smith said.

Said Spahn: “I’ve always wanted an opportunity to manage. The ranch is great, but it’s more like a plaything. I’d like to manage in Tulsa for 10 years. Naturally, I’m for a major-league job someday, but first I’ve got to earn that.”

Tulsa opened the 1967 season with a roster that included pitchers Tracy Stallard and Wayne Granger; catchers Pat Corrales and Sonny Ruberto; infielders Elio Chacon, Bobby Dews and Coco Laboy; and outfielder Danny Napoleon.

Other managers in the Pacific Coast League that season included Chuck Tanner of the Seattle Angels, Whitey Lockman of the Tacoma Cubs, Bob Skinner of the San Diego Padres and Mickey Vernon of the Vancouver Mounties.

Under Spahn, Tulsa had a dismal 1967 season (65-79), though he did receive high marks for helping to develop starting pitchers Mike Torrez (10 wins) and Hal Gilson (15 wins). Silvey noted that Spahn “must have helped Torrez quite a bit. Mike has added a curve and he’s faster.”

Meanwhile, Anderson led Modesto to a 79-61 record and a league championship in 1967. After the season, Anderson joined the Reds as manager of their Class AA Asheville club.

Anderson “was so upset at being bypassed (for the Tulsa job) that he quit the Cardinals organization,” The Sporting News reported.

Two years after leaving the Cardinals, Anderson was named manager of the Reds and went on to build a Hall of Fame career.

Ups and downs

In 1968, Spahn took Tulsa from worst to first. The Oilers finished 95-53 and won the league championship.

Spahn managed Tulsa in 1969 (79-61), 1970 (70-70) and 1971 (64-76) before he was fired by Cardinals general manager Bing Devine.

“Devine said I had been here five years and there were young prospective managers in the organization who needed to move up,” Spahn said.

Though Spahn went on to work as a coach and instructor with other organizations, Tulsa would be the only team he would manage.

Previously: How Charlie Metro miffed Stan Musial

Previously: Cardinals boosted managing career of Sparky Anderson

Previously: Warren Spahn and his Cardinals connection

Previously: Why the Cardinals fired Warren Spahn

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As a player, Stan Musial rose to the challenge of converting from a pitcher to an outfielder. The move saved his career and launched him on a path to becoming the all-time greatest Cardinal. As an executive, Musial continued to take on challenges. He joined the Cardinals’ front office as a vice president in 1963 and, four years later, accepted a second role.

musial_schoendienst2Musial, 46, surprised many when he became Cardinals general manager on Jan. 23, 1967 — 50 years ago. Musial took the job a day after it was announced Bob Howsam, the Cardinals’ general manager since August 1964, had resigned to become executive vice president and general manager of the Reds.

At the time, Musial had many business and civic achievements. He owned a restaurant, a hotel and a sports equipment company, and he was an ambassador in promoting physical fitness for President Lyndon Johnson.

Still, he missed being directly involved in big-league baseball.

“The main reason I took the job is that I found myself with nothing to do,” Musial said to columnist Dick Young in The Sporting News. “I’d go into the restaurant, spend an hour or so there, and then have a lot of time on my hands for the rest of the day. All my other interests are pretty much running themselves. My son (Dick Musial) is running my sporting goods business and everything else is going smoothly. I needed something to do.”

Lillian Musial, Stan’s wife, explained that her husband’s decision was driven by a desire “to be closer to baseball again.”

Ready or not

When Howsam informed the Cardinals in January 1967 he was departing, club owner Gussie Busch said it took 15 minutes to decide Musial should become general manager. “We called a meeting of the executive committee and we decided right away,” Busch told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Musial, whose first full season in the big leagues was 1942, said: “It’s taken me 25 years to reach this station and, you know, I kind of think I deserve it.”

As vice president, Musial had developed “an increasingly larger voice in the direction of the club, especially in regard to making trades.” the Post-Dispatch reported. “Musial indicated that he could have had the general manager job much earlier.”

Said Busch: “Since his retirement as an active player, he has become familiar with front office operations. He has served an apprenticeship as few men have in baseball.”

Stan and friends

Musial agreed to work with no contract _ “I might say that Mr. Busch’s word is better than a contract,” Musial said _ and for a salary of about $35,000.

As general manager, Musial’s first move was to hire Bob Stewart as executive assistant. Stewart, a former athletic director at St. Louis University, had earned Musial’s trust and respect as administrator of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

Stewart’s role was key, because Musial “will concentrate on the playing personnel instead of devoting considerable time to routine administrative phases of the club’s operation,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Musial had another trusted ally in Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst. They were longtime friends and had been road roommates as players.

Schoendienst entered the 1967 season, his third as Cardinals manager, with a one-year contract. The Cardinals hadn’t contended since he replaced Johnny Keane.

“It is only fair to say that both Stan and Red fully understand that record _ and not personal friendship _ will be the judge of the future,” Busch said.

Unfazed, Musial said, “Red has had a couple of years under his belt in rebuilding the ballclub and I’m sure we’ll work together well and be together a long time.”

Said Schoendienst: “I know Stan well and he knows me well. He just might make me work harder.”

Tough enough

Media reaction to Musial’s hiring was supportive but cautious.

Bob Broeg, Post-Dispatch sports editor, wrote, “For Musial, stepping in to run a ballclub rather than into the batter’s box, is a risk for which The Man must be prepared. … It’ll be no easy job.”

In an editorial, The Sporting News suggested, “Musial is risking his hero toga in moving behind the GM desk for the club to which he contributed so much on the field.”

Asked whether his nice guy reputation might conflict with being a general manager, Musial told Young, “I can be as tough as I have to be, but that’s overdone. You don’t have to be tough at trade talks. I’ve sat in on enough of them to know. The hardest part is cutting some player’s pay.”

Broeg revealed a comment Musial made when they had worked together on his autobiography: “Most friends … think I don’t want to be a manager because I’d find it too hard not to be easy on the players,” Musial confided. “I’m afraid I’d be too demanding.”

That’s a winner

In Musial’s lone season in the dual role of vice president and general manager, the Cardinals won the 1967 National League pennant and World Series title. Though the roster largely was built by his predecessors _ Bing Devine and Howsam _ Musial did more as general manager than he usually gets credited for doing.

Musial created an atmosphere of confidence and professionalism that enabled players and staff to relax and perform at their best. It was quite a contrast to Howsam, who had hounded players with memos that told them how to dress, stand and sit and who had made it known he had a friend, minor-league manager Charlie Metro, waiting in the wings to take over for Schoendienst if the Cardinals skipper stumbled.

Howsam was the executive who acquired right fielder Roger Maris for the 1967 Cardinals, but it was Musial who closed the deal. Maris was considering retiring when the Yankees traded him to St. Louis. After Howsam departed, Musial listened to Maris’ concerns without pressuring him, made him feel appreciated and convinced the skittish slugger to report to spring training.

Said Maris: “It should be good working with men like Musial and Schoendienst because they know all about the game.”

Previously: Why Bob Howsam left Cardinals for Reds

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A skilled administrator unafraid to make bold trades involving prominent players, Cardinals general manager Bob Howsam also was unpopular with many on the club and was second-guessed by bosses who restricted his authority and threatened his job security.

howsam_gibsonJumping at an offer for a higher salary, a multi-year contract and the opportunity to be fully in charge of baseball operations, Howsam left the Cardinals 50 years ago on Jan. 22, 1967, and joined the Reds as executive vice president and general manager.

The club Howsam left behind won the 1967 National League pennant and World Series title. Two players acquired by Howsam, first baseman Orlando Cepeda and right fielder Roger Maris, were important contributors to that Cardinals championship squad.

With Cincinnati, Howsam enjoyed his greatest success, building the Big Red Machine teams that won four pennants (1970, 1972, 1975 and 1976) and two World Series crowns (1975 and 1976).

Not welcome

A minor-league executive in Denver, Howsam replaced ousted Cardinals general manager Bing Devine in August 1964. At the time, the Cardinals were nine games behind the front-running Phillies.

Branch Rickey, a Cardinals consultant and former general manager, had recommended Howsam to club owner Gussie Busch.

Devine, who had acquired for the Cardinals key players such as outfielders Lou Brock and Curt Flood and infielders Bill White, Julian Javier and Dick Groat, was well-liked by club employees and media.

After Devine departed, the Cardinals won 31 of 45 regular-season games, clinched the pennant and defeated the Yankees in the World Series.

Cardinals manager Johnny Keane and most players were upset that Howsam, not Devine, was the general manager celebrating the championship. Howsam contributed only “three cheers” to the title run and his relationship with Keane was so sour that their conversations consisted of two kinds: “little and none,” wrote sports editor Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Howsam angered many when he attempted to take some credit for the 1964 success. According to the Post-Dispatch, Howsam said, “My personal feeling is that Devine’s firing led us to the pennant and world championship. It fired up everybody _ the manager, the players and the entire Cardinals staff. They got to thinking about contracts for the next season and they simply produced.”

St. Louis shakeup

In 1965, Howsam’s first full season as general manager, the Cardinals finished in seventh place at 80-81. After the season, Howsam created an uproar when he traded three-fourths of the Cardinals’ popular infield: White, Groat and Ken Boyer. Most of the players St. Louis received in return were busts.

“He had nerve, if not judgment,” Broeg wrote of Howsam’s decision to unload the infielders.

Howsam worsened matters when he tried to defend the trade of White by claiming the first baseman was several years older than he was. In my 2011 interview with White, he said Howsam’s remarks upset him and that he challenged the general manager.

The Post-Dispatch reported that White “denounced Howsam and said he no longer could have any respect for him.”

Stan Musial, a Cardinals vice president, had been “brought late into trade talks,” and “said he felt badly about the Bill White deal because he felt that he and others had been misled by Howsam’s approach to the deal,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Hot seat

Howsam also created ill will with players who “resented efforts to trim salaries in times of plenty,” Broeg reported, and who were upset to receive notes from Howsam “telling them how to dress on the field, for instance, and how to sit in the bullpen.”

Howsam was successful in helping the Cardinals open a new stadium in 1966 and with developing promotions to attract women and children to games.

However, when the Cardinals floundered early in the 1966 season _ they lost 14 of their first 22 games _ Howsam was “close to being fired,” Broeg reported.

What saved him was the trade he made on May 8, 1966, when the Cardinals got Cepeda from the Giants for pitcher Ray Sadecki. With Cepeda providing run production, the Cardinals improved, finishing with a winning record (83-79), though in sixth place.

Ties that bind

Busch and the Cardinals’ hierarchy, including executive vice president Dick Meyer, had lost confidence in Howsam and they blocked two major trades he attempted to make.

Before trading for Cepeda, Howsam tried to deal pitchers Steve Carlton and Nelson Briles, right fielder Mike Shannon and utility infielder Phil Gagliano to the Reds for shortstop Leo Cardenas, first baseman Gordy Coleman and pitcher Joey Jay, but the Cardinals’ “high command” vetoed the trade, The Sporting News reported.

After the 1966 season, Howsam wanted to trade Carlton, Briles and outfielders Bobby Tolan and Alex Johnson to the Cubs for outfielder Billy Williams, but again he was stopped. “The price in promising young talent was too high, ownership concluded,” Broeg wrote.

The consolation prize was Maris, whom Howsam acquired from the Yankees for third baseman Charlie Smith.

Reds to rescue

In its Jan. 1, 1967, edition, the Post-Dispatch reported it had asked Howsam to respond to a story that listed him as the top candidate to become Reds general manager. “It’s news to me,” Howsam replied, adding he’d had no contact with the Reds.

Bill DeWitt Sr., a St. Louisan and father of Bill DeWitt Jr. (2017 owner of the Cardinals), had been owner of the Reds until selling the club to a syndicate led by Cincinnati Enquirer publisher Francis Dale in December 1966. DeWitt Sr. also had served as club president and general manager.

DeWitt Sr. suggested the new owners pursue Howsam, calling him “one of the 10 best baseball men around.”

The Reds contacted Busch, who granted permission for them to approach Howsam. On Jan. 11, 1967, Howsam was interviewed by a Reds committee in St. Louis.

Soon after, the Reds offered Howsam a three-year contract at $50,000 per year. Howsam, working without a contract and receiving a $35,000 Cardinals salary, gave Busch a chance to match the offer, but he was uninterested.

“I wish him the best of luck except when his team plays ours,” Busch said.

A day after Howsam was hired by the Reds, Busch named Musial general manager of the Cardinals.

Previously: Why Gussie Busch fired Bing Devine

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