Archive for the ‘Executives’ Category

Andy Benes left the Cardinals and went to the Diamondbacks because he, his agent and general manager Walt Jocketty couldn’t follow baseball rules.

On Feb. 3, 1998, Benes, a starting pitcher, signed a three-year contract worth $18 million to play for the Diamondbacks, who joined the National League as an expansion team that season.

Benes had reached an agreement to stay with the Cardinals, but the deal came together after expiration of a deadline mandated by the baseball owners’ Player Relations Committee.

Instead of getting the Cardinals’ offer of a five-year contract worth $32.5 million, Benes settled for less with the Diamondbacks.

Deadline pressure

Benes joined the Cardinals as a free agent after the 1995 season. He was 18-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 1996 and 10-7 with a 3.10 ERA in 1997 before becoming a free agent again.

The Cardinals wanted to re-sign him and Benes indicated he wanted to remain in St. Louis, but negotiations stalled.

Because the Cardinals hadn’t offered Benes salary arbitration, baseball rules established by the Player Relations Committee dictated he and the club had to reach a contract agreement by midnight on Dec. 7, 1997, or else Benes would not be eligible to re-sign with the Cardinals until May 1, 1998.

Benes didn’t want to wait until May to sign a contract, so it became imperative he and the Cardinals reach an agreement by the Dec. 7 deadline if he was to stay in St. Louis.

Breaking the rule

Jocketty and Benes’ agent, Scott Boras, went down to the wire in the negotiations. When it became apparent they needed more time, they asked Major League Baseball officials for an extension and were granted an additional 30 minutes to get a deal done.

The deadline extension passed without an agreement being reached. About two hours later, the sides settled on the five-year, $32.5 million contract.

The Player Relations Committee, however, ruled the agreement invalid because it hadn’t been reached in the allotted time.

Benes and the Cardinals initially appealed the ruling, but dropped the matter when it became clear baseball officials wouldn’t budge.

Bernie Miklasz, columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, questioned why the agreement wasn’t approved. “The bureaucrats who run baseball are poised to kill the deal and all of this good faith because of some arcane rule? Absurd,” Miklasz wrote.

Go west

With the Cardinals out of the picture, Benes and Boras negotiated with the Cubs, Mets and Indians, but got no offers, in part, because Boras wanted a contract clause that would allow Benes the option to leave his next team after one season.

With little bargaining leverage remaining, Benes agreed to the three-year offer from the Diamondbacks that gave him the option to depart after two seasons.

Though he could have waited until May and signed with the Cardinals, Benes feared he could suffer an injury during the wait and ruin any chance for a contract offer, so he opted to sign the guaranteed contract from the Diamondbacks.

“We made a very substantial offer, which unfortunately wasn’t able to get completed on time,” Jocketty said. “We can’t look back.”

Said Benes: “I was disappointed with the way things didn’t work out in St. Louis, but things sometimes don’t work out for a reason. Maybe (Arizona) is the place I was supposed to be after all.”

Post-Dispatch columnist Dan O’Neill described Benes’ departure as “a messy tale of a ballplayer burned by the system, a victim of bad timing, a casualty of miscommunication and red tape.”

Playing for a Diamondbacks club managed by Buck Showalter, Benes was 14-13 with a 3.97 ERA in 1998 and 13-12 with a 4.81 ERA in 1999. After that, he exercised his option, departed Arizona and rejoined the Cardinals, playing his final three seasons (2000-2002) with St. Louis.

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In November 1947, Sam Breadon was 71 years old and he was thinking about mortality. He had been principal owner of the Cardinals for 27 years, operating the club with a hands-on approach, and he didn’t think he could do the job much longer.

Though his heart favored keeping the business he loved, Breadon chose the path that made the most sense to him. He decided to sell.

By selling, Breadon would acquire the cash to ensure financial security for his wife and two daughters.

A sale also would enable Breadon to handpick buyers who were willing to keep the club in St. Louis and protect the jobs of his top employees.

On Nov. 25, 1947, Breadon sold the Cardinals to Robert Hannegan and Fred Saigh. Hannegan, 44, a St. Louis native, was Postmaster General of the United States. Saigh, 42, was a lawyer in St. Louis.

“It is unpleasant for me to dispose of the Cardinals,” Breadon told reporters, “but I believe, in the interest of the Cardinals, a man of the character and ability of Bob Hannegan, a younger man, will be able to do more in keeping the Cardinals in the position they are today than I could do from now on. This is the main reason for disposing of my interests.”

Two years later, both Breadon and Hannegan would be dead and Saigh would be the Cardinals’ majority owner.

Buy low, sell high

Breadon, a car dealer, was part of a group that bought the Cardinals in the spring of 1917. Three years later, he became majority owner and club president.

Together with his top baseball executive, the innovative Branch Rickey, Breadon brought the Cardinals from the brink of bankruptcy to top-tier status as one of baseball’s most successful franchises. From 1926 to 1942, the Cardinals won six National League pennants and four World Series titles.

When Rickey left in late 1942 and joined the Dodgers, Breadon didn’t replace him. Breadon, determined to show he could succeed without Rickey, took on many responsibilities of the top baseball executive. Over the next five seasons, the Cardinals finished first (1943), first (1944), second (1945), first (1946) and second (1947) and won two World Series crowns.

With the franchise’s value at a peak, Breadon made plans to sell. He knew and liked Hannegan. The two began negotiations after the 1947 season, Breadon told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Big deal

The purchase price, estimated by both the Post-Dispatch and the St. Louis Star-Times to be about $4 million, was the “biggest financial transaction in baseball history,” according to United Press.

The buyers agreed to pay all Cardinals shareholders $400 per share. Breadon owned 77 percent of the stock.

“Sam said he would sell at a certain figure and, naturally, it was up to us to accept that price. We did,” Hannegan said to the Star-Times.

By what Saigh termed a “gimmick” in the tax law, he and Hannegan were able to make the transaction for a cash outlay of only $60,800, according to the Associated Press.

In addition to the major-league franchise, the sale included the Cardinals’ 16 minor-league clubs and property in St. Louis on Chouteau Avenue at Spring Avenue. Breadon had purchased that land as a possible site to build a ballpark for the Cardinals, who rented Sportsman’s Park from the American League Browns.

As majority owner, Hannegan “personally will have controlling interest” in the Cardinals, Breadon told the Star-Times. Hannegan was named club president and chairman of the board of directors. Saigh was given the titles of vice president and treasurer.


Hannegan, son of a St. Louis police captain, grew up a Cardinals fan. As a youth, he sold peanuts at Cardinals games and he was a member of the club’s original Knothole Gang.

After he was graduated from St. Louis University, where he played football and baseball, Hannegan became a lawyer and got into local politics as a ward boss for the Democratic Party.

From there, Hannegan steadily grew his political stature at the state level and he became friends with Harry Truman. President Franklin Roosevelt named Hannegan chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 1944. A year later, Hannegan was appointed Postmaster General in the Cabinet of President Truman. Hannegan also stayed involved in sports, becoming a stockholder and board member of the Browns.

On the day he purchased the Cardinals, Hannegan resigned as Postmaster General. “The country is losing the services of a most efficient public servant,” Truman said.

Saigh, whose father operated groceries and department stores in northern Illinois, developed a law practice in St. Louis and “figured in several important real estate deals involving downtown office buildings,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Unhealthy situation

Hannegan said leaving Washington, D.C., and returning to St. Louis to run the Cardinals was “the happiest homecoming of my life.”

“From my boyhood, I have held fast to the belief that Sam Breadon and the Cardinals were champions, not only of a clean sport but in the eyes of the nation,” Hannegan said. “They have become, like our churches, schools, hospitals, parks and press, one of St. Louis’ finest civic assets.”

Good to their word, Hannegan and Saigh made no major changes for the 1948 season. The Cardinals again placed second with basically the same roster that had finished second in 1947, featuring manager Eddie Dyer and players such as Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, Enos Slaughter, Terry Moore and Marty Marion.

Hannegan, however, was in poor health. He had a history of high blood pressure.

By 1949, both Hannegan and Breadon, who had prostate cancer, were in rapid decline. In January 1949, Hannegan sold his shares to Saigh, giving him total control of the franchise.

Breadon, 72, died on May 8, 1949. Five months later, on Oct. 6, Hannegan, 46, died of heart disease.

In April 1952, Saigh was indicted on federal charges of income tax evasion. After being sentenced to 15 months in prison, Saigh sold the club to Anheuser-Busch.

Previously: How close did Cardinals come to moving to Milwaukee?

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Club owner Sam Breadon wasn’t satisfied with Bob O’Farrell managing the Cardinals to a 92-win season. Breadon wanted O’Farrell to perform at the level of a most valuable player, too.

On Nov. 7, 1927, Breadon changed managers, replacing O’Farrell with coach Bill McKechnie, even though in his first season as player-manager, O’Farrell, a catcher, led the 1927 Cardinals to a 92-61 record and second place in the National League, 1.5 games behind the Pirates.

The 1927 club was the franchise’s first to achieve more than 90 wins in a season since the Cardinals joined the National League in 1892.

The year before, the 1926 Cardinals, with Rogers Hornsby as player-manager, finished in first place with 89 wins and defeated the Yankees in a seven-game World Series. O’Farrell’s play was significant in the success of the 1926 Cardinals. Solid on defense, he worked well with the pitching staff and batted .293 with 30 doubles and 68 RBI. O’Farrell was named winner of the 1926 NL Most Valuable Player Award.

In 1927, O’Farrell batted .264 with 10 doubles and 18 RBI. Though O’Farrell was slowed by injuries, Breadon concluded the catcher’s play was impacted negatively by the responsibilities of managing. With McKechnie, the former Pirates manager who led Pittsburgh to the 1925 NL pennant, on the coaching staff, Breadon opted to return O’Farrell to the status of fulltime player and promote McKechnie.

Who’s boss?

O’Farrell had done Breadon a big favor by agreeing to become player-manager in 1927.

After the Cardinals won their first World Series title in 1926, Hornsby demanded a three-year contract. Breadon offered a one-year deal. Unable to reach agreement, Breadon traded Hornsby to the Giants for Frankie Frisch, sparking a public outcry.

Attempting to quell the backlash, Breadon turned to O’Farrell, who was popular with the fan base.

Breadon wanted McKechnie, fired by the Pirates, to manage the 1927 Cardinals, but that wasn’t likely to appease the critics. Breadon got the next-best arrangement when McKechnie agreed to be a coach and serve as O’Farrell’s assistant.

“O’Farrell never was considered an outstanding candidate for a managerial job,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch declared, “and he was named as Hornsby’s successor chiefly because of his having been honored as the league’s most valuable player.”

At 1927 spring training, O’Farrell injured his right shoulder in an exhibition game. “The injury handicapped him most of the year,” the Post-Dispatch reported. Late in the season, O’Farrell also dislocated a thumb.

O’Farrell was limited to playing in 61 games and making 51 starts at catcher. He split playing time with Frank Snyder (55 starts) and Johnny Schulte (46 starts).

According to a biography of McKechnie by the Society for American Baseball Research, O’Farrell didn’t want to be manager and “he leaned heavily on McKechnie, occasionally calling time in mid-inning to go to the bench and consult his assistant.”

The Post-Dispatch suggested fans were aware McKechnie was calling the shots “under the disguise of a coach.”

James Gould, columnist for the St. Louis Star-Times, credited McKechnie with having “a quiet, suave handling, and a calm, collected policy.”

The Cardinals were in the 1927 pennant race until the end. They would have repeated as league champions if they’d done better against the Pirates. The Cardinals were 8-14 against Pittsburgh and 84-47 versus the rest of the National League.

Assessing value

Breadon and his top baseball executive, Branch Rickey, were impressed by McKechnie, especially with how he related to prospects.

Breadon met with O’Farrell after the 1927 season and informed him of his intention to make McKechnie the manager. O’Farrell “seemed to be willing and ready to slip out from under the tasks of a manager and devote all his time to playing,” The Sporting News claimed.

In the Star-Times, Gould surmised, “We cannot picture Bob O’Farrell as terribly unhappy over the change in his status.”

To lessen the sting of the demotion _ and perhaps to soothe his own conscious _ Breadon increased O’Farrell’s pay by $5,000, giving him a salary in excess of $20,000 and making him the highest-paid catcher in baseball, according to the Post-Dispatch.

While acknowledging the injuries O’Farrell suffered in 1927 _ “Had he escaped injuries, I believe we would have won the pennant,” Breadon said _ the owner insisted the manager job largely was responsible for the drop in the catcher’s performance.

“I believe that, with O’Farrell free to devote all his time to catching, his arm will come back and he once more will be the outstanding catcher in baseball,” Breadon said. “… I believe O’Farrell will be of more value to us as a catcher without the worries of management.”

Sent packing

McKechnie said he consulted with O’Farrell before agreeing to replace him. “I never would have accepted the managership of the Cardinals had not Bob O’Farrell decided it best for himself to step out and confine his efforts to catching in 1928,” McKechnie said.

McKechnie had a splendid season in 1928; O’Farrell did not.

The Cardinals finished in first place at 95-59, two games ahead of the Giants.

O’Farrell hit .212 in 16 games before he was traded to the Giants on May 10, 1928, for outfielder George Harper.

Jimmie Wilson, acquired from the Phillies, replaced O’Farrell as Cardinals catcher.

O’Farrell, who began his major-league career in 1915, played until 1935, including stints with the Cardinals in 1933 and 1935. He was player-manager of the Reds for part of the 1934 season.

After the Cardinals were swept by the Yankees in the 1928 World Series, Breadon demoted McKechnie to a position in the minor leagues and replaced him with Billy Southworth. When Southworth proved unprepared for the job, Breadon brought back McKechnie during the 1929 season.

Breadon asked McKechnie to stay as manager in 1930, but McKechnie instead accepted an offer to manage the Braves. He later became Reds manager and led them to two pennants and a World Series title.

McKechnie, who won pennants as manager of the Pirates, Cardinals and Reds, was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Previously: How Bob O’Farrell went from NL MVP to manager

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Four weeks after experiencing one of his most satisfying feats _ a 1942 World Series championship for a Cardinals team composed primarily of players developed within the minor-league system he created _ Branch Rickey left the organization.

Though he had played a major role in the Cardinals becoming one of baseball’s best franchises, Rickey’s relationship with club owner and president Sam Breadon had deteriorated beyond repair.

On Oct. 29, 1942, Rickey, the Cardinals’ vice president and general manager, resigned and signed a five-year contract to become president and general manager of the Dodgers.

He left the Cardinals in good shape.

Benefitting from the farm system, the Cardinals had a pipeline of talent despite departures of players into military service during World War II. In their first four seasons after Rickey left, the Cardinals won three National League pennants (1943, 1944 and 1946) and two World Series titles (1944 and 1946).

Rickey, meanwhile, upgraded the Dodgers’ farm system _ his moves positioned Brooklyn to win six NL pennants in a 10-year stretch (1947-56) while the Cardinals had none in that period _ and prepared to make his most important contribution: integrating the major leagues by bringing Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers in 1947.

Golden magic

In 1917, Breadon was part of a group of St. Louis investors who bought the Cardinals from Helene Britton. The new owners lured Rickey from the crosstown American League Browns, named him president and put him in charge of baseball operations.

Breadon became the Cardinals’ principal owner in 1920. Rickey, dubbed by writers as “The Brain,” served at various times as Cardinals president, vice president, general manager and manager.

“Finding it impossible to compete in the open market for players, Rickey conceived the idea of finding prospects when they were young and planting them on minor-league clubs, or farms,” wrote J. Roy Stockton of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Rival baseball operators laughed at the idea, but it worked with golden magic.”

From 1926-42, the partnership of Breadon and Rickey produced six NL pennants and four World Series titles.

For most of that time, Breadon and Rickey were an odd couple who worked well together.

“It was a strange partnership always, with each having a great respect for the ability of the other while their personalities, habits and views of extracurricular things were so diametrically opposed that there never was any strong bond of friendship between the partners,” Stockton wrote.

Ice formations

The relationship began to change in 1939 when the Cardinals got embroiled in a scandal.

Baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who disliked Rickey, launched an investigation into the farm system and determined the Cardinals had violated rules by colluding to control minor-league franchises and their players.

Embarrassed, Breadon concluded Rickey had betrayed his trust.

According to Murray Polner, author of “Branch Rickey: A Biography,” Breadon “insisted his reputation had been stained, his honesty questioned” because of Rickey’s actions.

“To have the stigma broadcast by Landis, whom he loathed, was simply too much for Breadon to bear,” Polner wrote.

Breadon also was miffed with Rickey’s role in a managerial turnover. Frankie Frisch, a Breadon favorite, feuded with Rickey. Fed up, Rickey threatened to join the Cubs unless the Cardinals changed managers. In September 1938, Breadon reluctantly fired Frisch. Rickey hired a friend, Ray Blades, to replace Frisch. When the Cardinals started poorly in 1940, Breadon fired Blades without consulting Rickey.

“Persons close to the club had noticed a coolness developing between president and general manager in recent years,” Stockton wrote.

Time to go

In spring 1941, the relationship reached a breaking point. Breadon informed Rickey he wouldn’t renew his contract at the present terms when the pact expired in December 1942. Rickey was getting a yearly salary of $50,000 and a percentage of the club profits.

(The Post-Dispatch estimated Rickey received more than $1 million in salary and bonuses during his time with the Cardinals.)

Looking ahead to when his contract would expire at the end of 1942, Rickey began to plot an exit.

The 1942 Cardinals won 106 games during the regular season and edged the Dodgers, who won 104, for the pennant. When the Cardinals won four of five against the Yankees to earn the World Series crown, Rickey said it was the happiest moment of his life “because it was a victory for his boys, young men who, with only a few exceptions, were products of the now far-flung chain store system Branch had fathered and developed,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

The Dodgers, seeking a team president to replace Larry MacPhail, who was commissioned into the Army as a lieutenant colonel, contacted Rickey, 60, after the World Series. Rickey’s son was head of the Dodgers’ farm system.

Rickey also was approached by the Browns, who made a surprisingly lucrative offer. “Under its terms, Rickey might have made stock arrangements that would have netted him as much as $100,000 in little more than a year,” The Sporting News reported.

Said Browns owner Donald Barnes: “We went the limit trying to keep Mr. Rickey in St. Louis … We probably went higher in our offer than present conditions would justify. We wanted him that badly.”

Tempted to remain in St. Louis, Rickey came “very, very close” to signing with the Browns, The Sporting News wrote.

However, because the Cardinals and Browns had their offices at Sportsman’s Park and played their games there, Rickey and Breadon would have had to work in close proximity to one another. “Sam and Branch could no longer live in the same ball park,” The Sporting News concluded.

Rickey notified Breadon in a telegram that he was joining the Dodgers.

Saying he wished Rickey “all the luck in the world,” Breadon told the Post-Dispatch, “We hardly ever had a hard word … If we failed to agree on a policy, we would iron it out. We never had any hard feelings. There are none now.”

Because of federal wartime restrictions on income, Rickey agreed to a yearly salary with the Dodgers of $35,000, but he negotiated a bonus plan in which he “stands a good chance of drawing close to a quarter of a million dollars” over the length of the contract, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported.

Breadon decided to divide Rickey’s duties among various Cardinals personnel rather than hire a replacement.

Previously: Top 5 reasons why Sam Breadon should be in Hall

Previously: Why Branch Rickey was unable to save Ray Blades



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Though given an offer he called the best he’d ever received, Gene Mauch rejected a chance to manage the Cardinals.

In August 1980, when Whitey Herzog was promoted from manager to general manager of the Cardinals, Mauch was Herzog’s choice to replace him.

If Mauch had accepted the offer, he might have earned the prize that eluded him.

Mauch, who would manage for 26 years in the major leagues, never led a team to a league pennant or World Series championship. Two years after Mauch turned down the Cardinals, Herzog managed the team to the 1982 National League title and World Series crown.

Whether the Cardinals would have achieved the same with Mauch as their manager is conjecture, but it is a fact Herzog wanted to give him the opportunity.

Wanted: Type A

In June 1980, with the Cardinals’ record at 18-33, manager Ken Boyer was fired and replaced by Herzog. Two months later, Cardinals general manager John Claiborne was fired and replaced by Herzog. Red Schoendienst, Cardinals coach and former manager, was named interim manager for the remainder of the season.

Cardinals owner Gussie Busch elevated Herzog to the general manager role because he believed a roster overall was needed to make the club a contender and he wanted Herzog to oversee the rebuilding job.

One of Herzog’s first tasks was to find a manager.

“The players are too passive … I want the players to be more aggressive,” Herzog said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “One quality I’ll be looking for in a manager is someone who is aggressive himself.”

The first candidate Herzog contacted was Mauch. “I do know he’s a fine manager _ I managed against him _ and he has a great baseball mind,” Herzog said.

Mauch, 54, was available because he had resigned as Twins manager in August 1980.

After Mauch joined the Twins in 1976, the organization severed ties with several of their best players through trades (Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven) or free agency (Larry Hisle, Bill Campbell). Mauch led the Twins to winning records in three of his first four seasons, but they had a 54-71 mark in 1980 when he chose to leave rather than return for the final year on his contract.

“I’ve had some bad teams _ teams that were bad enough to gag a maggot _ but even those teams were able to steal some games by executing,” Mauch told The Sporting News. “This season, we have lost because of a failure to execute.”

Mauch, an infielder, played nine seasons in the big leagues, including seven games with the 1952 Cardinals.

At 34, he was named manager of the Phillies in 1960. Four years later, Mauch had the Phillies in first place _ a 6.5-game lead with 12 to play _ but the team lost 10 in a row and finished a game behind the champion Cardinals.

Mauch managed the Phillies for nine years (1960-68), the Expos for seven (1969-75) and the Twins for five (1976-80).

He and Herzog competed in the same division, the American League West, from 1976-79 when Herzog managed the Royals.

Change of plans

Asked by Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch in September 1980 whether he was interested in becoming Cardinals manager, Mauch replied, “Let me say this: If I take another managing job, it will have to be with a team which has a chance to win. I think the Cardinals have a chance to win.”

Hummel concluded, “Mauch … would be Herzog’s type of manager. The Cardinals are in need of a demanding, tough-guy sort of leader.”

By early October, just before the 1980 regular season ended, Herzog’s top two choices for the managerial job became clear:  Mauch and Dick Williams.

Williams, manager of the Expos, was under contract to them for 1981, but there had been published speculation the club could be considering a change. Williams was a St. Louis native and, like Mauch, an experienced manager with a no-nonsense approach. He had managed the 1967 Red Sox to an AL pennant and he had led the Athletics to World Series championships in 1972 and 1973.

When it became evident Williams would stay with the Expos, Herzog offered the job to Mauch.

“It is no secret that Mauch was Herzog’s first choice for the job,” Hummel wrote in the Post-Dispatch.

Unsure he was ready to manage again, Mauch declined.

Recalled Herzog: “He said, ‘I don’t want you to hold off on me. It’s probably the best offer I’ve ever had, but I just don’t feel like I want to do it.’ ”

Herzog also confirmed to Larry Harnly of The State Journal-Register of Springfield, Ill., that Mauch had turned down the Cardinals’ offer.

With Mauch and Williams unavailable, Herzog decided to hire himself.

On Oct. 24, 1980, the Cardinals announced Herzog would have the dual role of general manager and manager. Herzog hired his friend, Joe McDonald, former general manager of the Mets, to be executive assistant/baseball and take care of the administrative and business duties while Herzog focused on baseball matters.

(Herzog’s first choice for the assistant’s role had been Bing Devine, who had served two stints as Cardinals general manager, but Lou Susman, attorney for club owner Gussie Busch, opposed the move and blocked it, according to Hummel in the Post-Dispatch.)

Four months later, in February 1981, Mauch was named director of player personnel for the Angels.

“I had offers to manage four clubs this winter,” Mauch said. “If I wanted to manage, I’d be in one of those places. Right now, I don’t want to manage.”

In May 1981, the Angels fired manager Jim Fregosi _ and replaced him with Mauch.

Previously: Battle of wills: Bob Gibson, Gene Mauch play hardball

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Though the Cardinals were cash poor and never had won a National League pennant, their outlook was hopeful in 1917 because the top two leaders of their baseball operations, Branch Rickey and Miller Huggins, were among the best in the business.

Rickey, the Cardinals’ president, and Huggins, their manager, were smart, innovative and effective. Both would build careers that would earn them election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

They worked together, however, for just one season in St. Louis.

Rickey and the Cardinals wanted Huggins to stay. Rickey, however, was the decision-maker on all key baseball matters _ a role Huggins wanted. Huggins also felt he had been misled when denied the chance to become part of the ownership group.

On Oct. 25, 1917, Huggins left the Cardinals to become manager of the Yankees. With a lineup anchored by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, Huggins managed the Yankees to six American League pennants and three World Series titles.

Rickey went on to build the first minor-league system, establishing a steady supply of affordable talent that transformed the Cardinals from a lackluster franchise into an elite one.

Front-office intrigue

Huggins, who, like Rickey, earned a law degree, played in the major leagues as a second baseman for the Reds (1904-09) and Cardinals (1910-16).

A favorite of team owner Helene Britton, Huggins became the Cardinals’ player-manager in 1913. In that role, Huggins made all the important baseball decisions, including acquisition of players. His friend and most trusted scout, St. Louis native Bob Connery, discovered the future Hall of Famer, Rogers Hornsby, and brought him to the Cardinals.

After the 1916 season, Britton decided to sell and she promised Huggins he would have first chance to buy the franchise. Huggins was friends with the owners of the Fleischmann’s Yeast company of Cincinnati and they planned to bankroll his bid to purchase the Cardinals.

When Britton’s attorney, James C. Jones, learned of his client’s intentions, he organized a St. Louis group of investors, who included auto dealer Sam Breadon, and convinced her to sell the Cardinals to them. Jones was named chairman of the club. Needing someone to run the baseball side of the business, the group hired Rickey from the crosstown American League Browns and named him president.

For Huggins, the new management structure “placed over him a man who did all the club’s business of finding and hiring players and left Huggins nothing to do but to direct them. Furthermore, with Rickey as president, getting a $15,000 salary, or twice the sum Huggins received, friction was inevitable,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Though stung by the sale of the team and by the emergence of Rickey as baseball boss, Huggins managed the Cardinals to an 82-70 record and third-place finish in 1917. Those were the most wins in a season for the franchise since 1899 and just the second time the club finished as high as third place since joining the National League.

“The fact that he had suffered a bitter disappointment in not being given a chance to buy the club himself _ a chance promised him by Mrs. Britton _ did not interfere with his services” to the 1917 Cardinals, the Post-Dispatch proclaimed.

Bidding game

After the 1917 season, Rickey offered Huggins a salary of $10,000, plus 10 percent of all club profits over $25,000, to remain Cardinals manager in 1918, the Post-Dispatch reported

Huggins. who made a counter offer, told the St. Louis Star-Times that Rickey “failed to meet my terms.”

Rickey said Huggins “seemed to agree with me that the percentage above $25,000 was fair in these days of inflated baseball salaries, but managers, like players, are seeking more money every day. I felt that in justice to my board of directors that I could offer Huggins no greater percentage of the club’s profits.”

Huggins accepted a Yankees offer of a two-year contract at $12,000 per year. According to a report in the Post-Dispatch, the Yankees also agreed to pay Huggins “a small percentage of the profits of the club.”

Noting that Huggins “has put up with a world of inconveniences and misfits” as Cardinals manager, the Star-Times opined, “Huggins has made a great leader for the Cardinals and has been very much unappreciated … There is no doubt that Huggins is one of the smartest fish in baseball. The wisest men on the diamond will tell you that.”

Right move

Huggins replaced Bill Donovan, who had managed the Yankees to a 71-82 record in 1917. The Yankees had losing records in two of Donovan’s three seasons as manager.

“I had no quarrel with the St. Louis club and I’m leaving the Cardinals under the most friendly circumstances and with the best of wishes for their success,” Huggins said. “The club made me an offer to remain, but I left because I felt that I could do better (in New York). I talked the whole matter over with President Rickey.”

Said Rickey: “I can only say that my best wishes go with Huggins and that he is a great field general _ one of the best I have ever known. We hold no grievance against him.”

The Sporting News concluded, “Rickey understood that it was not entirely a money proposition with Huggins. The opportunity to lead a club in New York, where he would be in supreme charge of the makeup and handling of his team, was bound to appeal to any ambitious baseball man.”

Huggins managed the Yankees for 12 years (1918-29) and had a record of 1,067-719. Including his Cardinals years, Huggins had 1,413 career wins as a big-league manager.

Rickey replaced Huggins with a manager from the minor-league Indianapolis Indians, Jack Hendricks, and it was a disaster. The Cardinals finished 51-78 in 1918. Rickey took over as manager the following year.

Previously: How Branch Rickey escaped Browns, joined Cardinals

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