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Archive for the ‘Executives’ Category

Roger Kahn, who gained prominence for his work about the Dodgers, wrote extensively about the Cardinals as well.

Kahn, 92, died on Feb. 6, 2020. A newspaper and magazine journalist, Kahn wrote 20 or so books, including the 1972 classic “The Boys of Summer” about his hometown Brooklyn Dodgers.

After covering sports for the New York Herald Tribune, Kahn wrote for magazines such as Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post and Sports Illustrated.

Kahn was respected by colleagues and the baseball people he covered. In February 1954, he called former Cardinals and Dodgers executive Branch Rickey, who had moved to the front office of the Pirates, at his spring training base in Fort Pierce, Fla., and was “offered a job,” The Sporting News reported.

When Kahn asked Rickey how long it would take him to do for the Pirates what he did for the Cardinals and Dodgers, Rickey replied, “I need help. If you know how to help a tail end ballclub, come down here. I’ll pay you more than you’re making. I don’t care what it is.”

Lane explains

In May 1956, Dodgers outfielder Duke Snider was the subject of a controversial Kahn article in Collier’s titled, “I Play Baseball For Money, Not Fun.”

A month later, in The Saturday Evening Post, Kahn wrote about Cardinals general manager Frank Lane in a piece titled, “I’m Here To Win A Pennant.” Lane was in his first season with the Cardinals and created a ruckus by trading players such as Red Schoendienst, Harvey Haddix and Bill Virdon.

“I didn’t come to St. Louis to raise red roses or tell after-dinner stories or take the tenor lead in ‘Hearts and Flowers,’ ” Lane told Kahn. “I came here to win a pennant and that’s exactly what I intend to do any way I can.

“I’ve got a program here to keep the club growing and improving,” Lane said. “I want to tell the other general managers around the National League that, with our fine farm clubs, and with the tough core we’ve welded, I’m not going to have to jump at every little offer for a trade. If I see something good, though, they’d better be ready.”

Lane lasted two seasons with the Cardinals and didn’t win a pennant.

Prideful struggle

Four years later, in September 1960, Kahn wrote a story on Stan Musial for Sports Illustrated titled, “Benching of a Legend.”

Musial, 39, was hitting .250 when he was benched by Cardinals manager Solly Hemus. Musial was kept out of the starting lineup from May 27 through June 23. His season batting average fell to .229 on June 25, but Musial recovered by hitting .352 in July and finished the year at .275 with 17 home runs.

Musial “intends to end his career with dignity and with base hits,” Kahn wrote. “Neither comes easily to a ballplayer several years past his peak, and so to Musial, a man accustomed to ease and to humility, this has been a summer of agony and pride.”

Regarding Musial’s struggles in the first part of the season, Kahn concluded, “Athletes, like chorus girls, are usually the last to admit that age has affected them, and Musial appeared to be following the familiar unhappy pattern.”

In an interview with Kahn, Hemus said, “What’s my obligation as manager? It’s not to a friendship, no matter how much I like a guy. My obligation is to the organization that hired me and to 25 ballplayers. I have to win. Stan was hurting the club. He wasn’t hitting and balls were getting by him at first base.”

Kahn reported, “Musial hated the bench. He confided to a few friends that he wouldn’t mind being traded to a club that would play him every day.”

After returning to the starting lineup, Musial told Kahn, “Maybe my wheels are gone, but I’ll be able to hit like hell for a long time.”

Musial went on to play three more seasons for the Cardinals, including 1962 when he hit .330, before retiring at 42.

High praise

When “The Boys of Summer” came out in February 1972, it received a glowing review from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which called Kahn’s work “a magnificent sports volume” and “a book which is redolent of dream and magic and which finds a common ground between one boyhood in a big city and lots of boyhoods in many other places.”

In September 1972, when Kahn was in St. Louis for a Cubs-Cardinals series, columnist Jerome Holtzman wrote in The Sporting News, “A half-dozen ballplayers got into line to meet and shake hands with Roger Kahn, who was in town promoting his bestselling ‘Boys of Summer.’ I had never seen players line up to meet a writer, and Kahn said it was a big thrill for him.”

Pitching lessons

In 2000, Kahn’s book, “The Head Game,” was published. It focused on pitchers, including two who were prominent with the Cardinals, Bob Gibson and Bruce Sutter.

Gibson told Kahn, “Pitching is inexact. It begins as a craft, working with your hands, but the longer you go, if you know how to think, the more it becomes an art.”

To illustrate, Gibson cited how he threw fewer knockdown pitches as he gained experience.

“As the art, the thinking, takes over, I’ve come to realize not everyone is bothered by knockdowns and some of them are afraid of my fastball, whether I throw at them or not,” Gibson said.

Like Gibson, Sutter won head games with batters. A Cardinals closer, Sutter did it with an innovative pitch, the split-fingered fastball.

“It was some time before I could control the splitter the way I had to,” Sutter told Kahn. “After a while, I found out I did best throwing for the top of the catcher’s mask. That became my target. If I used a wide finger split, the ball would end up in the dirt. If I split the fingers a little less, it would be a strike at the knees.

“Once in a while,” said Sutter, “maybe one pitch in 10, to cross them up, I’d play real dirty. I’d throw a straight fastball that didn’t drop at all.”

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The Cardinals continue to span the globe for talent.

In January 2020, the Cardinals’ 40-man winter roster had players who were natives of nine countries or territories. In alphabetical order, those are Canada, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, South Korea, United States and Venezuela.

One of the Cardinals’ key acquisitions for the 2020 season was left-handed pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim, a South Korean.

Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak is leading the franchise’s efforts to grow its global reach. In January 2020, Mozeliak answered questions from bloggers by e-mail. The opportunity to ask questions of Mozeliak came about through the efforts of Daniel Shoptaw, founder of United Cardinal Bloggers.

Mozeliak thoughtfully answered my two questions regarding the Cardinals’ international approach. Here are those questions and his answers:

Q.: What will be the long-term impact of the Cardinals’ Dominican Republic Academy on the major-league organization?

John Mozeliak: “Great question. We continue to invest in Latin America, specifically in the Dominican Republic. We’re currently operating two Dominican Summer League teams, and part of the reason for that is trying to create opportunity for finding more talent.

“I think, as you look at overall operating costs and what we’re also trying to manage through on the minor-league side, at some point I hope we get back to one team down there, but the impact we’re hoping for from the Latin America program is very real. These are measurable. Are you getting contribution from that program that’s contributing to the major-league side, or helping you with trades?

“Right now, we feel that our international operations has done a very good job of finding us talent and we continue to hope to enrich that by making investments and educating our staff to help them grow.”

Q.: How important will the Pacific Rim become as a talent source and how will the Cardinals be a player in that region?

John Mozeliak: “Well, clearly, we are a player in the region. I think you’re going to see more and more players have interest in coming here.

“A couple of things have changed over the last 10 years. I think the posting system (created to allow Asian teams to get compensation for players who want to go to the U.S. majors leagues) is much more fair. It’s more fair for everybody involved, not only domestic teams, but also teams in Korea and Japan.

“Players are able to see the game more, too. If you think about why New York, Boston or Los Angeles were the teams that seemed most attractive, I think part of that was because those were the teams that were on television in Asia. But now, with the ability to stream, players can see all the games, so their interest in other
baseball teams has become very real. You saw that with the Kwang-Hyun Kim signing.

“(Seung-Hwan) Oh (who pitched for the 2016-17 Cardinals) certainly didn’t hurt in that, being from Korea and speaking positively of the Cardinals, but also it was a team that he could see. I think how people watch the game of baseball now has helped our game grow.”

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Harry Caray built a broadcast career in St. Louis based on baseball and beer, but his relationship with the Anheuser-Busch brewery became as flat as a cup of Budweiser left outside in the summer sun.

On Oct. 9, 1969, Caray, the voice of the Cardinals for 25 years, was fired by the sponsor of the broadcasts, Anheuser-Busch.

Caray said he wasn’t told why he was fired.

Cardinals owner Gussie Busch, president of Anheuser-Busch, said the brewery’s marketing department recommended Caray’s dismissal.

In his 1989 book, “Holy Cow,” Caray scoffed at widespread speculation his departure came because he was having an affair with the wife of an Anheuser-Busch executive.

“At first, these rumors annoyed me,” Caray said. “Then they began to amuse me. They actually made me feel kind of good. I mean, let’s face it … I wore glasses as thick as the bottom of Bud bottles, and as much as I hate to say it, I was never confused with Robert Redford.”

Wild about Harry

In 1945, Caray, a St. Louis native, began broadcasting Cardinals games on radio station WIL. Griesedieck Brothers Brewery was the sponsor. Caray and former Cardinals manager Gabby Street formed the broadcast team.

Cardinals games also were broadcast on two other radio stations then. Johnny O’Hara and former Cardinals pitcher Dizzy Dean called the games on KWK. On KMOX, the broadcast team was France Laux and Ray Schmidt.

Caray’s colorful broadcasting style made him popular. In 1947, the Cardinals chose Griesedieck Brothers Brewery as the exclusive broadcast sponsor and Caray’s career soared.

In his book “That’s a Winner,” Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck said, “In the Midwest, no announcer has been more revered or respected than Harry. He told it like he thought it was, and that’s different from telling it like it is. He never hesitated to give his opinion … He had the guts to do it. That was his style.”

In February 1953, Anheuser-Busch purchased the Cardinals and took over sponsorship of the broadcasts. Caray went from pitching Griesedieck Brothers beer to advertising Anheuser-Busch products.

Anheuser-Busch sales increased, and Caray and Gussie Busch became pals.

“Harry and Gussie Busch were close friends,” said Buck. “They used to drink and play cards at Busch’s home at Grant’s Farm.”

Said Caray: “Gussie and I rarely talked about baseball. Ours was not a business relationship. It was social.”

When Caray was struck by a car and severely injured in November 1968, Busch gave him use of a Florida beach house to recuperate during the winter. Caray made a triumphant return to the broadcast booth in the Cardinals’ 1969 opener.

Trouble brewing

A few months into the season, speculation about Caray’s job status became a hot topic in St. Louis. In August 1969, Pirates broadcaster Bob Prince told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he was offered a five-year contract for “excellent money” to join KMOX.

Prince decided to stay with the Pirates’ broadcast team, but Caray was worried. Gossip about Caray’s alleged womanizing was rampant, so he met with Gussie Busch to talk about it. In his book, Caray said Busch laughed and told him, “You’ve got nothing to worry about.”

In September 1969, before he went on a trip to Europe, Busch told Caray “to keep his mouth shut” about his concerns until Busch returned, Buck said.

On Sept. 20, 1969, the Cardinals, whose hopes of qualifying for the postseason were fading, played the Cubs in Chicago when a journalist informed Caray of a report saying he would be fired. During the game broadcast, Caray told his audience, “The Cardinals are about to be eliminated and apparently so am I.”

According to Buck, Busch was livid with Caray for making the remark and for disobeying his edict to stay mum.

The ax falls

On Oct. 2, 1969, before the Cardinals played their season finale at St. Louis, Caray said he approached Buck, his broadcast partner since 1954, and asked him, “Do you know something I should know?”

Caray said Buck revealed he had been asked by Anheuser-Busch publicist Al Fleishman and KMOX general manager Robert Hyland to recruit other broadcasters. In his book, Caray said he and Fleishman “had been enemies for decades” and Fleishman wanted Caray fired.

A week later, Caray was at the Cinema Bar in downtown St. Louis on a Thursday afternoon when the bartender told him he had a phone call. An Anheuser-Busch advertising executive, who knew Caray’s hangouts, was on the line. The ad man informed Caray, 55, he was fired and Buck would replace him as head of the Cardinals broadcast team.

“I’m bruised, I’m hurt and I feel badly about it,” Caray said to the Post-Dispatch.

Caray also was miffed he didn’t hear about the decision from Gussie Busch. “You’d think after 25 years they would at least call me in and talk to me face to face about this,” said Caray.

Buck said, “I had nothing to do” with the decision to fire Caray.

“I always wanted to be No. 1 on the broadcast team,” Buck told the Post-Dispatch, “but not at the expense of Harry or anyone else.”

Special order

On his way home, Caray stopped at Busch’s Grove restaurant in the suburb of Ladue _ despite its name, the restaurant wasn’t affiliated with Anheuser-Busch _ and “decided to get some revenge,” he said.

Caray ordered a Schlitz, a beer made by an Anheuser-Busch rival. The restaurant didn’t carry the brand, so the bartender went across the street to a liquor store and bought cans of Schlitz.

As news photographers and television cameramen arrived, Caray posed with a can of Schlitz in his hand and “drew applause from a large number of patrons,” the Associated Press reported.

The bartender made several runs to the liquor store to stock up on Schlitz because customers kept ordering the beer in support of Caray, according to the Associated Press.

“I thought it was funny at the time because I was angry and hurt,” Caray said. “It seemed like the right gesture to make, but now I realize it was petty.”

After former players Bill White and Elston Howard each rejected a chance to join Buck in the Cardinals booth, Jim Woods, who did Pirates games with Bob Prince, was hired to be Buck’s broadcast partner.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Reds were interested in Caray. Their general manager, Bob Howsam, was the Cardinals’ general manager from August 1964 to January 1967. “You know Harry and I are good friends,” Howsam said.

Instead, Caray joined the Athletics broadcast team in 1970. He left after one season, went to the White Sox and capped his career with the Cubs, for whom he hawked Budweiser with the line, “I’m a Cubs fan and a Bud man.” Video

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Baseball experienced Saturday night fever on a Thursday in Chicago and it resulted in a disco inferno.

On July 12, 1979, the White Sox staged a Disco Demolition Night promotion for a doubleheader with the Tigers at Comiskey Park.

The stunt called for disco record albums to be blown up between games, but the situation got out of control when thousands of people poured out of the stands and damaged the field.

Umpire crew chief Dave Phillips called off the second game, ruling the field unplayable, and the next day the American League granted a forfeit win to the Tigers.

Rock n’ roll will never die

Disco dance music became popular in the 1970s and was highlighted by performers such as Donna Summer, Village People, and KC and the Sunshine Band. The soundtrack to the hit movie, “Saturday Night Fever,” featured disco songs such as “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees and “Disco Inferno” by The Trammps.

In an attempt to capitalize on the trend, Chicago radio station WDAI changed its format from rock music to disco. The switch caused the departure of disc jockey Steve Dahl, who resented the rise of disco.

Dahl ended up at WLUP, a Chicago FM radio station focused on rock music. Dahl, 24, developed a following by bashing disco.

The White Sox, looking to build an audience for a weekday doubleheader between two teams with losing records, arranged with Dahl and WLUP for the Disco Demolition Night. Anyone bringing a disco album would be admitted to the doubleheader for 98 cents. The price was chosen because WLUP’s location on the FM dial was 97.9.

“When baseball has to rely on that kind of bush promotion to get people in the park, we’re all in trouble,” Tigers general manager Jim Campbell said to the Detroit Free Press.

The scheme called for the disco albums to be burned and exploded under fire department supervision in center field between games.

White Sox owner Bill Veeck, whose 1979 antics included a Greek Night featuring what The Sporting News described as belly dancers “of all shapes, sizes and ages,” was surprised when the anti-disco promotion attracted far more spectators than he expected. Attendance was 47,795 in a ballpark with a seating capacity of 44,492 and many more reportedly were turned away at the gates.

“We had more security than we ever had before, but we had as many people in here as we ever had,” Veeck said to the Chicago Tribune.

The first game was played “under a constant bombardment of records and firecrackers,” according to the Tribune, and play was halted several times. Spectators flung the record albums onto the field like Frisbees.

“How’d you like to get hit in the eye with one of those?” said White Sox designated hitter Wayne Nordhagen. “These people don’t realize it only takes one to ruin a guy’s career.”

Tigers center fielder Ron LeFlore said a golf ball thrown from the stands bounced between his legs while he was catching a fly ball.

“These were not baseball fans tonight,” Veeck said.

After the Tigers won the game, 4-1, it was time for the disco demolition to begin. Boxscore

Wild bunch

Dahl blew up a crate of disco records and the fiery explosion sent spectators into a frenzy. An estimated 7,000 spectators stormed the field, the Free Press reported. Video

“I was scared,” said White Sox pitcher Ken Kravec, who was in the bullpen to warm up for Game 2.

Veeck and White Sox broadcaster Harry Caray each used the public address system to urge people to leave the field, but their pleas mostly were ignored.

“Beer and baseball go together,” Tigers manager Sparky Anderson told the Tribune. “I think those kids were doing things other than beer.”

With little to do other than run around the field, the interlopers eventually began leaving. When helmeted police arrived, fewer than 1,000 people remained on the field and officers cleared it in five minutes, The Sporting News reported.

According to the Tribune, 39 people were arrested and six were injured.

One hour and 16 minutes after its scheduled start, Phillips called off Game 2.

“Ten years after Woodstock, there was Veeckstock,” wrote Tribune columnist David Israel, who called it baseball’s “first rock riot.”

Paying the consequences

On July 13, 1979, American League president Lee MacPhail ruled the canceled game a forfeited win for the Tigers and a loss for the White Sox “because of inadequate crowd control and damage to the playing field, both of which are the responsibility of the home team.”

“We have found a lot of ways to lose games this year,” said White Sox manager Don Kessinger, “but I guess we’ve added a new wrinkle. It’s tough to lose two games when you played only one.”

For Anderson, who joined the Tigers a month earlier after managing the Reds in the National League, Disco Demolition Night was his first time at Comiskey Park.

“If I could get every team in the league to put on a promotion like that, I might win a few games,” Anderson said.

Veeck disagreed with MacPhail’s decision, saying, “I think the grounds for forfeiting are specious at best. It’s true there was some sod missing. Otherwise, nothing was wrong.”

On its editorial page, the Tribune called Veeck’s antics “an outrageous example of irresponsible hucksterism that disgraced the sport of baseball, endangered the White Sox and Tigers, and cheated and insulted the genuine fans who came to Comiskey Park.”

In The Sporting News, columnist Dick Young suggested, “Let them hold it in the studio and burn down the radio station.”

Dahl said to the Free Press, “Everybody over 40 is freaked out.”

Veeck called Disco Demolition Night “a regrettable incident” and an “ill-advised promotion,” apologized to White Sox fans and players, and said, “All I know is we’ll make certain we don’t try anything like this again.”

WLUP production director Russ James shot back, “Tonight was like the Toyota commercial: You asked for it, you got it. What did Veeck expect? He sanctioned this.”

Said White Sox pitcher Rich Wortham: “This wouldn’t have happened if they had country-and-western night.”

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“You’re going to like us” was the slogan used for many years by Trans World Airlines (TWA), but the upbeat pitch didn’t fly with a trio of Cardinals miscreants.

On April 11, 1979, Cardinals players Keith Hernandez, Ken Reitz and Silvio Martinez, frustrated by a lengthy flight delay, tore up a TWA hospitality room at Lambert Field in St. Louis.

The incident embarrassed Cardinals management and created a public relations headache for the club.

Storms brewing

After an April 11 afternoon game against the Cubs at St. Louis was rained out, the Cardinals boarded a bus at Busch Stadium and went to the airport for a scheduled 4:50 p.m. commercial flight to Pittsburgh.

The TWA flight, originating in San Francisco, was delayed when the plane was rerouted to Kansas City because of severe thunderstorms in St. Louis. Eventually, all flights in and out of Lambert Field were suspended for two hours because of the weather, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

TWA arranged for the Cardinals to wait out the delay in a hospitality room. The flight didn’t take off until 1:30 a.m., about nine hours later than scheduled.

At some point during the long wait, Hernandez, Reitz and Martinez went on “a destructive rumpus” and left the room “a shambles,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Grow up, guys

Initially, details about the incident were slow to emerge.

The story took a turn when an eyewitness told the Post-Dispatch, “They put them in this VIP room and they just completely demolished it. One guy threw a chair, then threw a cabinet and tore down some signs. They just wrecked it. If it had been some college kids going to Fort Lauderdale, they’d been in the newsreels and in jail in Clayton. It was just terrible.”

TWA spokesman Larry Hillard confirmed the Cardinals “damaged folding doors, tore lettering off the walls and ripped out telephones. They also broke up some chairs and other types of wooden doors.”

While the Cardinals were in Pittsburgh, where they lost three of four games against the Pirates, public outrage in St. Louis about the airport incident was rising and club management was feeling pressure to respond. General manager John Claiborne met the team at its next stop in Chicago, fined the players involved and told them they would have to pay for the damages they caused.

“Those responsible realize they were wrong and have apologized to TWA and any other offended body, including Anheuser-Busch,” Claiborne said, referring to the Cardinals’ parent company.

Post-Dispatch columnist Dick Kaegel said the vandalism done by the players “was inexcusable” and a “childish act by grown men who should know better.”

“Sure, a nine-hour wait in an airport is frustrating,” Kaegel wrote. “It was an inconvenience. But that same night in the St. Louis area hundreds of persons were leaving their flood-devastated homes. Some were wiped out. A High Ridge mother lost her 11-year-old son to the raging torrent. A St. Charles man drowned. Compared to that, the Cardinals’ inconvenience is inconsequential.”

My fault

Days later, after the team returned home, Reitz said he was responsible for doing most of the damage at the airport and may have had too much to drink. “Keith and Silvio didn’t do all that much,” he said. Hernandez and Martinez declined comment.

“You do some things sometimes you’re sorry for later,” Reitz said. “At that point in time, I didn’t think it was that big a deal.”

Reitz said he began to realize the consequences of his behavior when Claiborne “told us what the damages were and how many people were offended.”

“I screwed up,” Reitz concluded. “Let’s put it plain and simple.”

A month later, in May 1979, the Cardinals signed Reitz, a third baseman, to a five-year contract extension totaling between $1.25 million and $1.3 million.

In October 1979, Stan Isle of The Sporting News reported Ozark Air Lines, which provided charter flights for the Cardinals and other teams, “may be having second thoughts about future service for some baseball clubs,” according to a company official, because of bad behavior by players.

According to The Sporting News, “On one of the Cardinals’ charter flights, from Pittsburgh to Chicago, witnesses said right-hander Pete Vuckovich had to be restrained after an altercation with manager Ken Boyer. The incident alarmed flight attendants and the pilot threatened to land in Indianapolis before order was restored.”

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(Updated April 28, 2020)

In a meeting with Cardinals players after they won two consecutive National League pennants and a World Series title, club owner Gussie Busch warned them about getting fat, greedy and selfish, and scolded them for backing union leadership he considered disrespectful to management.

Players expecting gratitude and support for achieving back-to-back championship seasons, and seeking encouragement in their pursuit of more success, instead were told they needed to do a better job of conforming and representing the organization.

Busch’s speech on March 22, 1969, played well with some of the public, but backfired with some of the players, who were demoralized rather than inspired by his words. His rant was cited as a turning point in transforming the Cardinals from proud champions to dispirited underachievers.

Playing hardball

In the weeks leading to spring training in 1969, Busch became irritated and frustrated when the players’ union threatened to strike in a dispute with owners over the percentage players would get from television revenue.

Busch also was miffed by the salary demands of his players. The player payroll for the 1969 Cardinals was reported to be the highest in baseball at an estimated total of $900,000 to $1 million.

On Feb. 4, 1969, Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson was a guest on NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” appearing with entertainers Vince Edwards, Redd Foxx, Peter Lind Hayes and Tina Louise. Gibson explained to host Flip Wilson, subbing for Johnny Carson, why players were prepared to boycott spring training and defended their stance.

In his 1994 book “Stranger to the Game,” Gibson said his comments upset Busch. With a 1969 salary of $125,000, Gibson was the highest-paid Cardinals player and joined Stan Musial as only the second to receive $100,000 in a season. In return for such compensation, Busch expected Gibson to be supportive of management.

Though the players’ union called off the proposed spring training boycott after reaching a compromise on percentage of television revenue shared, the amount owners would contribute to the pension fund and the years needed to qualify for a pension, Busch didn’t like what he was seeing and hearing from players and decided to “get it off my chest.”

Busch prepared a speech and previewed it with Cardinals executive vice-president Dick Meyer, senior vice-president Stan Musial, general manager Bing Devine and manager Red Schoendienst.

With those key management people onboard, Busch invited the media to attend his meeting with the players on a Saturday morning in the team clubhouse at the St. Petersburg, Fla., training camp.

Being bossed

“It was unusual for players to meet with the owner and unprecedented, not to mention discomfiting, to do it with reporters in attendance,” Gibson said.

The players gathered in full uniform as Busch took a seat and began speaking.

“Fans no longer are as sure as they were before about their high regard for the game and the players,” Busch said.

“Too many fans are saying our players are getting fat, that they only think of money, and less of the game itself. The fans will be looking at you this year more critically than ever before to watch how you perform and see whether you really are giving everything you have.”

Regarding the players’ union, Busch said, “Baseball’s union representatives made all kinds of derogatory statements about the owners. We suddenly seem to be your greatest enemies. Representatives threw down all sorts of challenges, threats and ultimatums. Personally, I don’t react well to ultimatums.”

When Busch finished his 25-minute talk, players applauded “politely,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Busch invited players to comment or ask a question, but none did.

Meyer spoke next and made remarks tailored to drive a wedge between players and union leader Marvin Miller.

“He works for you,” Meyer said of Miller. “You don’t work for him. You cannot assign your future and the future of your family to someone else. If you do, you’re in trouble.”

Keeping up appearances

Asked by the Post-Dispatch for their reactions, most players stuck to generalities. “It was well said,” offered Tim McCarver. Lou Brock called it “very well put” and Dal Maxvill said “it was first class.” Others, such as Gibson and Curt Flood, declined comment.

In his 1971 book “The Way It Is,” Flood explained, “I feared that if I so much as hinted at the truth about that meeting I would be gone from the team in a week. I was sick with shame and so was everyone else on the Cardinals except Busch and his claque.”

Flood said Busch “depicted us as a rabble of ingrates” and “humiliated us to the best of his ability.”

“Busch was using the occasion not only to revile us but to reassert the uniquely feudal privileges vested to him and other club owners by baseball’s reserve system,” Flood said.

Anheuser-Busch printed 100,000 copies of Busch’s speech and distributed versions to its 21,000 stockholders, about 10,000 employees and anyone else who wanted one, The Sporting News reported.

Changes in attitude

Busch’s remarks made headlines, but “there is no evidence this had any effect” in him getting what he wanted, The Sporting News observed. On the eve of the 1969 season opener, “several key players refused to attend” a civic dinner.

The Cardinals played poorly in the first half of the 1969 season, posting records of 9-12 in April, 12-13 in May and 14-16 in June. After the Cardinals were swept by the Pirates in a three-game series to open the season, coach Dick Sisler said, “If we don’t win one pretty soon, we are going to have the first million-dollar bench.”

In summarizing the 1969 Cardinals, Sports Illustrated wrote, “The Cards threw to the wrong bases on defense and sometimes did not throw at all. Opposing runners stole with impunity and the St. Louis bullpen collapsed almost completely.”

The Cardinals finished at 87-75 and in fourth place in a six-team division. The Cardinals wouldn’t return to the postseason until 1982.

Gibson cited Busch’s speech as “defining a moment as any” in the Cardinals’ decline. “It seems our deterioration as a ballclub traced back to the fact the Cardinals, as an organization, were simply not willing or prepared to keep up with the times,” Gibson said.

Said Flood: “We Cardinals became a morose and touchy team. Our concentration suffered. So did the remarkable spirit of fraternity that had helped us dominate the league for two years in succession.”

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