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The Cardinals projected rookie Phil Clark to be their top reliever in 1958, but the role eventually went to the opposing pitcher who earned a win in Clark’s major-league debut.

Clark, who died Sept. 14, 2018, at 85, was a well-regarded prospect for the Cardinals in the 1950s. After graduating from Albany (Ga.) High School, Clark signed with St. Louis before the 1951 season and was assigned to his hometown Albany Cardinals, a Class D farm club.

Clark, 18, pitched 219 innings for Albany and was 18-7 with a 2.96 ERA. He spent the next two years in the Navy before returning to the Cardinals system in 1954.

A sensational 1957 season with the Class AA Houston Buffaloes elevated Clark’s status. The right-hander was 16-6 with a 1.83 ERA in 63 relief appearances that year.

High hopes

At spring training in 1958, Clark impressed with a string of eight scoreless innings in three exhibition games. “He’s temperamentally and physically equipped to be our No. 1 man in the bullpen.” Cardinals general manager Bing Devine told The Sporting News.

A sinkerball specialist with excellent control, Clark threw an assortment of pitches, but relied on a slider. Clark knew more about pitching technique than any other Cardinals prospect, scout Joe Mathes said.

The Sporting News reported Clark was “the best bet among the newcomers to stick and help the club” in 1958 and Sports Illustrated declared Clark as the rookie the Cardinals were “counting on most.”

On April 15, 1958, the Cardinals opened the season at home against the Cubs. Clark made his big-league debut in the seventh and pitched two scoreless innings, but the Cubs won, 4-0. Cubs starter Jim Brosnan pitched six innings, didn’t allow a run and got the win. Boxscore

After losing their first four games, the Cardinals won on April 20, 1958, against the Cubs at Chicago. Clark earned the save, holding the Cubs scoreless over the final three innings of a 9-4 Cardinals triumph. Brosnan, the Cubs’ starter, gave up four runs in three innings and was the losing pitcher. Boxscore

In his first three Cardinals appearances, all against the Cubs, Clark pitched a total of six scoreless innings. His next two outings, however, caused the Cardinals to lose confidence in him.

Changing course

On April 23, 1958, at San Francisco, Clark relieved in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, Giants runners on first and second and the Cardinals ahead, 7-4. The first batter Clark faced, Orlando Cepeda, hit a two-run triple and the next, Daryl Spencer, followed with a two-run home run, giving the Giants an 8-7 victory. Boxscore

In Clark’s next appearance, May 2, 1958, at St. Louis, he entered in the ninth with the Reds ahead, 4-3. He faced four batters and all reached base. Vada Pinson singled, Frank Robinson walked, George Crowe hit a three-run home run and Don Hoak doubled. Boxscore

Two weeks later, on May 20, 1958, the Cardinals sent Clark, 0-1 with one save and a 3.52 ERA in seven relief appearances, to their Class AAA Omaha farm club and acquired Brosnan from the Cubs for shortstop Al Dark.

In 12 starts for the 1958 Cardinals, Brosnan, an aspiring author, was 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA. Converted into a reliever by Cardinals manager Fred Hutchinson, Brosnan was 4-1 with seven saves and a 1.67 ERA in 21 relief appearances, successfully filling the role given to Clark at the start of the season.

Bullpen buddies

As the Cardinals began spring training in 1959, Brosnan was the closer and Clark, 10-6 with a 2.75 ERA in 44 relief appearances for Omaha in 1958, was a candidate for a bullpen role.

The two pitchers, whose career paths intersected so often in 1958, met for the first time during training camp and became friends. In his book, “The Long Season,” Brosnan wrote, “My first impressions of Phil Clark were reasonably soul-satisfying. Phil is a Georgia boy with a pleased-to-give-you-the-shirt-off-my back personality.”

Clark earned a spot on the Cardinals’ 1959 Opening Day roster and Brosnan wanted him as a road roommate, but the club assigned another pitcher, Alex Kellner, to room with Brosnan instead.

The erudite Brosnan, nicknamed “Professor,” and Kellner, a big-game hunter who roped mountain lions, were an odd couple. Kellner liked to watch TV westerns while Brosnan preferred to read. “I had to read my book with a pillow over my left ear, a pillow beneath my right ear and just enough light to see the larger type,” Brosnan wrote.

Tough game

Neither Clark nor Brosnan pitched well for the 1959 Cardinals.

On April 26, 1959, Clark entered a game against the Dodgers at St. Louis with the score tied at 9-9. He pitched a scoreless seventh, but in the eighth he gave up three runs, one earned. The Dodgers won, 17-11, and Clark was the losing pitcher. Boxscore

“Clark, being a good pitcher and knowing how to pitch, had made so many good pitches only to see them turned into handle-hits, bad hops over the infielders’ shoulders, bloops to the outfield and squibs through the infield, that a sympathetic observer, like a wife, could almost cry in desperation,” Brosnan wrote.

On May 9, 1959, Brosnan and Clark rode together to Busch Stadium for the game that day against the Cubs. Brosnan was in the training room when Clark walked in and asked Doc Bauman if he could use the phone. Clark called his wife and asked her to come get him. The Cardinals had informed him he was going back to the minors.

“He dropped the phone back onto its cradle, looked down at the floor for a moment and walked quickly from the room back to his locker,” Brosnan wrote. “I started to follow him, thought better of it, picked up the morning paper and went into the latrine to read.

“There was nothing I could say to Philip that would help. At cutdown date in organized baseball it’s every man for himself. My first reaction was relief that it wasn’t I who had just lost his job.”

Clark was 0-1 with a 12.86 ERA in seven relief appearances when the Cardinals demoted him. A month later, on June 8, 1959, Brosnan, 1-3 with two saves and a 4.91 ERA, was traded to the Reds for pitcher Hal Jeffcoat.

Brosnan regained his effectiveness with the Reds and was a relief ace in 1961 when they won the National League pennant.

Clark was with Omaha until July when he was traded to the St. Paul Saints, Class AAA farm club of the Dodgers, for pitcher Bob Darnell.

Clark pitched in the Dodgers’ minor-league system from 1959-61. He was a teacher, coach and assistant principal for public schools in Albany, Ga., from 1960-88.

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The National League expansion draft enabled third baseman Coco Laboy to get out from under control of the Cardinals and earn a chance to play in the major leagues.

Fifty years ago, on Oct. 14, 1968, Laboy was selected by the Expos in the sixth and final round of the draft.

Laboy, 28, had been in the Cardinals’ system for six seasons, including the last four at the Class AAA level. Though he hit for average and with power and fielded well, he never got the call to play for the Cardinals.

Given an opportunity by the Expos, Laboy delivered, becoming a popular and productive player in the franchise’s inaugural year.

Stay or go?

After the 1968 season, the National League expanded from 10 teams to 12 with the addition of the Expos in Montreal and the Padres in San Diego.

To help stock their rosters, the newcomers were permitted to draft a total of 60 players, 30 for each expansion club, from the existing National League franchises. The draft consisted of six rounds, and the Expos and Padres were allowed to each select five players per round from the major-league and minor-league rosters of the other clubs.

Each National League team could protect 15 players. A team could protect three more players each time one was taken from its list of unprotected.

The 15 players protected by the two-time defending National League champion Cardinals were pitchers Nelson Briles, Steve Carlton, Bob Gibson, Jerry Reuss and Ray Washburn; catchers Tim McCarver and Ted Simmons; infielders Orlando Cepeda, Joe Hague, Julian Javier, Dal Maxvill and Mike Shannon; and outfielders Lou Brock, Curt Flood and Vada Pinson, according to Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The Cardinals wavered until the last minute before protecting Washburn instead of newly acquired pitcher Dave Giusti, the Post-Dispatch reported.

When the Padres chose Giusti in the first round, the Cardinals added pitchers Joe Hoerner and Mike Torrez and infielder Steve Huntz to the protected list.

Joining Giusti and Laboy among the players drafted from the Cardinals were pitcher Clay Kirby (second round) and infielder Jerry DaVanon (third round) by the Padres and pitchers Jerry Robertson (fourth round) and Larry Jaster (fifth round) by the Expos.

Laboy batted .292 with 44 doubles and 100 RBI for the Tulsa Oilers in 1968. “He’s been a fine Triple-A hitter,” said Cardinals general manager Bing Devine, “but he’s been in our minor-league system a long time without having been brought up. Frankly, we were glad to see him get a chance in the big leagues.”

Going nowhere

Jose Laboy was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, the same hometown of Orlando Cepeda. Laboy told the Montreal Gazette people called him Coco for as long as he could remember, but he didn’t know why.

At 18, he signed with the Giants and played for four seasons (1959-62) in their farm system. He batted .305 with 83 RBI for the Class C Fresno Giants in 1960, but in 1962 Laboy suffered a serious back injury on a slide into second base, was limited to 13 games and got released after the season. “The doctors told me I’d never play again,” Laboy said to The Sporting News.

Laboy played winter ball in Puerto Rico, proved he was healthy and signed with the Cardinals in February 1963. The Cardinals assigned him to the Class A Winnipeg Goldeyes and he batted .292 with 21 home runs that season.

In 1964, Laboy was sent to the Class A Raleigh Cardinals, who were managed by George Kissell. Laboy thrived, batting .340 with 24 home runs, but an incident late in the season tarnished him.

On Aug. 20, 1964, in a game at Rocky Mount, N.C., Laboy became convinced pitcher Carl Middledorf was throwing at him and others. In the fifth inning, Laboy bunted along the first-base line. As Middledorf fielded the ball, Laboy charged at him with a bat. Laboy hit Middledorf twice with the bat, striking him in the back and chest, and a brawl ensued, the Rocky Mount Telegram reported.

Middledorf was not badly hurt and continued pitching until the eighth inning, according to the Rocky Mount newspaper.

Police arrested Laboy, took him to headquarters and charged him with assault with a deadly weapon. Laboy was released on $150 bail, appeared in court the next morning and entered a guilty plea. Judge Tom Matthews sentenced Laboy to 30 days on a road crew, suspended the sentence and fined him $20.25. The Carolina League suspended Laboy for three days and fined him $25.

Oh, Canada

While playing winter ball in Puerto Rico, Laboy’s teammate for three years was Phillies second baseman Tony Taylor.

“I knew when I first saw him that he could make the major leagues,” Taylor said to Sports Illustrated.

Taylor shared his insights with Phillies manager Gene Mauch. When Mauch became Expos manager, he remembered Taylor’s recommendation of Laboy.

“Several times when I was managing the Phillies I talked to Tony Taylor about Laboy,” Mauch said. “Before we went to the draft meetings, I talked to Tony again.”

Taylor said Laboy “is a good ballplayer and a smart one. He is the kind of player Mauch likes.”

At Expos spring training camp in West Palm Beach, Fla., in 1969, Mauch and his staff showed unwavering confidence in Laboy, even though he struggled while trying to impress.

The Expos went into their inaugural season with Laboy as their third baseman. In the season opener on April 8, 1969, against the Mets at New York, the Expos led, 8-6, in the eighth when Laboy hit a three-run home run against Ron Taylor, the former Cardinal. Laboy’s home run proved the difference in an 11-10 Expos triumph. Boxscore

A week later, on April 14, 1969, the Expos played their first home game, facing the Cardinals at Parc Jarry. In the seventh, with the score tied at 7-7, Laboy hit a double against Gary Waslewski and scored on pitcher Dan McGinn’s single to left. “I never ran harder,” said Laboy, whose run provided the winning margin in an 8-7 Expos victory. Boxscore

Laboy acknowledged getting special pleasure from beating the Cardinals. “They never gave me a chance,” he said. “I wanted especially to beat them today.”

Fun while it lasted

Laboy’s magical beginning to his major-league career continued throughout the first month. He batted .377 with 14 RBI in 20 April games.

“Every day he does something that just tickles me,” Mauch said. “Sometimes I want to kiss him.”

Asked to explain why Laboy was performing so well, Mauch said, “Character. Coco’s got that. He just tries so damn hard to do what you want _ and he’s doing it.”

Laboy finished his rookie season with a .258 batting mark, 18 home runs and 83 RBI.

The next season was a different story. Laboy hit .199 in 1970, was replaced by Bob Bailey at third base in 1971, and spent three seasons as a reserve before the Expos released him in September 1973 at age 33.

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After losing their way while trying to navigate a path to the top of the 1958 National League standings, the Cardinals embarked on an odyssey of cultural awakening and confidence building.

Sixty years ago, in the fall of 1958, the Cardinals traveled to Japan for a goodwill tour and a series of 16 exhibition games against Japanese all-star teams. Along the way, the Cardinals also played exhibition games in Hawaii, Guam, Philippines, Okinawa Island and South Korea.

The Cardinals began the journey from St. Louis on Oct. 9, 1958, and completed the trip with their return on Nov. 18, 1958.

During their adventure, the Cardinals won nearly every game, providing a boost to their self-esteem after finishing the regular season at 72-82, 20 wins fewer than the National League champion Braves.

In addition, the Cardinals were exposed to a world they never knew.

Palaces and diamonds

The Cardinals took 20 players, along with manager Solly Hemus and coaches Johnny Keane and Harry Walker, on the excursion.

They had eight pitchers _ Bob Blaylock, Ernie Broglio, Jim Brosnan, Larry Jackson, Sam Jones, Vinegar Bend Mizell, Phil Paine and Bill Wight.

Brosnan agreed to write columns for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch during the trip.

The 12 Cardinals position players were Ruben Amaro, Don Blasingame, Ken Boyer, Joe Cunningham, Alex Grammas, Gene Green, Ray Katt, Wally Moon, Stan Musial, Bobby Gene Smith, Hal Smith and Lee Tate.

As the Cardinals boarded a plane at Lambert Field in St. Louis, “Musial was the last man up the ramp,” the Post-Dispatch reported. “Musial had the biggest camera kit of all the big camera kits. When the trip is finished, Hemus will know what every Cardinal can do with a 35-millimeter.”

The Cardinals arrived in Honolulu on Oct. 10 and were welcomed by “a hula dancing troupe and a high school band,” the Associated Press reported. The team was taken to Iolana Palace and met with Hawaii Governor William Quinn, a graduate of St. Louis University. Musial was presented a key to the city by Honolulu Mayor Neal Blaisdell.

The Cardinals won all three exhibition games in Hawaii against local teams whose rosters were supplemented by visiting big-league players Lew Burdette, Bob Turley and Eddie Mathews, who were paid to participate.

On the way to the Japanese mainland from Hawaii, the Cardinals stopped at Guam, Manila and Okinawa Island and won an exhibition game against locals or military clubs at each site.

Play to win

The Cardinals arrived in Tokyo on Oct. 20, 1958.

“Dressed in bright maroon coats, white shirts, light gray ties with black and white stripes, light gray trousers and black shoes, they were given a rousing welcome by more than 1,500 fans, most of them flag-waving children,” the Associated Press reported.

From the airport, the Cardinals were driven through Tokyo in 13 decorated open cars and presented with large floral bouquets by kimono-clad women. The team also was greeted by a group of American children, residents of Yokohama, dressed in Cardinals uniforms.

The Cardinals prepared to play 16 games throughout Japan, plus one in Seoul, South Korea.

“We’re going to win all 16 games during our Japan visit,” Hemus said. “My boys are going to hit at least 25 home runs in Japan. No one wants to lose even goodwill games. We came to Japan to win every game we can.”

On Oct. 23, 20,000 people streamed into Tokyo’s Komazawa Stadium to watch the Cardinals conduct their first workout. “I never saw so many people watch a mere workout,” Hemus said.

Altering slightly his prediction of a sweep, Hemus said, “If we lose more than two games to the Japanese all-stars, I’m going to be mighty disappointed.”

Clubhouse chronicler

Broadcaster Joe Garagiola accompanied the Cardinals on the trip and his broadcasts were carried by Cardinals flagship radio station KMOX.

Readers of the Post-Dispatch were treated to Brosnan’s insightful, clever prose. Some examples:

_ “At Chunichi Stadium in Nagoya, the Japanese proved they can hit a hanging curveball as far as anyone. I threw one in the ninth and this fellow, Yomauchi, parked it in the center field seats, 410 feet away.”

_ “An amazingly industrious people, the Japanese are handicapped by lack of land, but utilize every foot-acre, each tillable clod of black earth. In the bottomlands, the rice is planted, the garden plots are stuffed with huge cabbages and turnips, and the slopes sport timber and orchards. Even the mountains look hand-formed.”

_ “They say it goes to 35-below at Sapporo in December. At the Sapporo Grand Hotel, a grand hotel, under a sheet, two blankets and a quilt three inches thick, I burrowed in for the winter. Which lasted for nine hours; then we suited up for another game.”

_ “To get to the Hotel Fujiya from Tokyo, we had to take a narrow road, just wide enough for an English bicycle, down which Japanese buses go careening madly in order to keep on schedule. Arriving in a downpour, after a three-hour ride, everyone was struck by the beauty of the bar.”

_ “The hotel’s rooms are not numbered, as from 100 to 1,000, but given individual names, such as Chrysanthemum, Cape Jasmine and Nandina Japonica. Try to remember that at 3 in the morning after a bottle of sake.”

Lost in translation

To the delight of Hemus, the Cardinals won 14 of the 16 games against the Japanese all-stars, as well as the exhibition in Seoul versus the South Korean all-stars.

On the way back, several Cardinals departed in San Francisco and headed from there to their homes. The rest of the party went on to St. Louis and emerged from the plane “looking like gypsies traveling first class,” with luggage laden with souvenirs, the Post-Dispatch reported.

The trip was a success, but it didn’t help the Cardinals compete any better in the National League. They lost 15 of their first 20 games in 1959 and finished the season next-to-last at 71-83.

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In 1968, Steve Carlton was a National League all-star and he ranked second among the Cardinals in shutouts and strikeouts, but manager Red Schoendienst decided not to start him in a game during the World Series against the Tigers.

Schoendienst gave starts in Games 1, 4 and 7 to staff ace Bob Gibson and started Nelson Briles in Games 2 and 5 and Ray Washburn in Games 3 and 6.

Carlton, who pitched well in a start for the Cardinals against the Red Sox in the 1967 World Series, was used as a reliever in the 1968 World Series, even though he’d made only one relief appearance during the season.

Fifty years later, it’s hard to imagine how a team could have future Hall of Famers Gibson and Carlton in the rotation and not utilize both as starters in a seven-game World Series. The Tigers won four of those games, earning the championship, and naturally one wonders whether the outcome would have been different if Carlton had gotten a start.

After a sensational first half of the 1968 season, Carlton struggled in September and Schoendienst wasn’t comfortable starting him in October, but Briles also slumped late in the season and the Cardinals lost both of his World Series starts.

Ups and downs

Carlton, 23, won seven of his first eight decisions for the 1968 Cardinals, got selected to the all-star team and pitched a scoreless inning for the National League in its 1-0 victory over the American League Boxscore

Carlton and Larry Jaster were the left-handers in a Cardinals rotation with Gibson, Briles and Washburn. The starting pitching in 1968 propelled the Cardinals on a path to a second consecutive league championship.

At times, Carlton was dominant, pitching a three-hitter against the Phillies on May 24 and a one-hitter versus the Cubs on June 19.

After pitching a two-hitter against the Phillies on Aug. 1, Carlton had a season record of 11-5 with a 2.73 ERA, but then he began to lose command of the strike zone and lost four decisions in a row.

“It’s not that Steve is walking too many,” Schoendienst said to The Sporting News. “He’s been getting behind (in the count) on too many batters.”

Decision time

After the Cardinals clinched the pennant in Carlton’s win over the Astros on Sept. 15, Schoendienst and pitching coach Billy Muffett used the last two weeks of the season to determine the starters for the World Series. Gibson, who had won 15 in a row and would finish with a 1.12 ERA, was a given. So, too, was Briles, who would finish with 19 wins. The candidates for the No. 3 World Series starter were Carlton and Washburn.

On Sept. 18, 1968, Washburn significantly helped his case by pitching a no-hitter against the Giants. Two days later, on Sept. 20, Carlton started against the Dodgers, was unable to locate either his fastball or his curve, gave up four runs and seven hits and was lifted after 1.2 innings.

“Steve Carlton apparently removed all doubt as to whether Ray Washburn would start the third game of the World Series,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch declared. “Even before Carlton failed, manager Red Schoendienst said, ‘It looks like it will be Washburn in the third game.’ ” Boxscore

Though Washurn was 2-3 in September, his ERA for the month in six starts was 2.08 and he finished the season at 14-8 with a 2.26 ERA.

Carlton was 1-2 with a 4.13 ERA in five September starts, allowing 39 hits in 28.1 innings, and finished the season at 13-11, five shutouts, 162 strikeouts and a 2.99 ERA. As a starter, Carlton was 13-10 with a 2.98 ERA. In his last start of the season, Carlton pitched five scoreless innings before Schoendienst decided to give his relievers some work.

Though Briles finished the season 19-11 with a 2.81 ERA, he was 2-2 with a 4.67 ERA in five September starts, allowing 44 hits in 34.2 innings. Briles yielded 13 earned runs over his last 14.2 innings.

Pitching problems

A year earlier, Briles and Carlton each got a start in the 1967 World Series and each pitched well. Briles started Game 3, yielded seven hits and two runs in nine innings and got the win. Carlton started Game 5, yielded three hits and one run in six innings and took the loss in a 3-1 Red Sox victory. Boxscore

In 1968, after Gibson started Game 1, struck out 17 and shut out the Tigers, Briles started Game 2 and gave up four runs in five innings.

Carlton, making his first relief appearance since June 9, relieved Briles in the sixth with Willie Horton on first, none out and the Tigers ahead, 3-0. Jim Northrup hit the first pitch from Carlton for a single, moving Horton to second. After Bill Freehan popped out, Don Wert walked, loading the bases. Carlton struck out Mickey Lolich for the second out, but Dick McAuliffe followed with a two-run single, giving the Tigers a 5-0 lead. They won, 8-1. Boxscore

“If Schoendienst was thinking about giving Steve Carlton a shot at a starting assignment, he probably was discouraged by the left-hander’s showing in relief of Briles,” the Post-Dispatch offered.

Washburn won Game 3 and Gibson won Game 4, putting the Cardinals a victory away from clinching the championship. Schoendienst started Briles instead of Carlton in Game 5. When Briles was relieved by Joe Hoerner with one out and one on in the seventh, the Cardinals led, 3-2, but Hoerner allowed all four batters he faced to reach base and the Tigers rallied for a 5-3 triumph. Boxscore

In Game 6, Washburn started and gave up five runs in two innings. Jaster relieved and yielded three runs without recording an out. The Tigers went on to a 13-1 victory. Carlton pitched three innings and allowed one run, a home run by fellow future Hall of Famer Al Kaline. Boxscore

“If Cardinals fans did any second-guessing of manager Red Schoendienst, it involved his choice of relievers _ Larry Jaster instead of Steve Carlton in the Tigers’ third inning,” The Sporting News reported.

The Tigers beat Gibson in Game 7 and won a World Series title for the first time since 1945.

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Billy O’Dell was a left-handed pitcher who had success in the National League but the Cardinals’ Tim McCarver caused him trouble, hitting two grand slams against him.

O’Dell, who died Sept. 12, 2018, at 85, is best known as a starter for the 1962 National League champion Giants. O’Dell was 19-14 for them and led the staff in starts (39), complete games (20), innings pitched (280.2) and strikeouts (195).

Three years later, in February 1965, the Giants dealt O’Dell to the Braves, who converted him into a closer.

Fit to be tied

On Aug. 16, 1965, the Braves led the Cardinals, 8-4, in the eighth inning at St. Louis. Braves reliever Phil Niekro yielded consecutive singles to Bill White, Phil Gagliano and Ted Savage, loading the bases with no outs. Manager Bobby Bragan brought in O’Dell to face McCarver, a left-handed batter.

O’Dell entered the game with a 1.80 ERA and a string of 28 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run, but McCarver hit O’Dell’s first pitch into the right-field pavilion for a grand slam, tying the score at 8-8.

“That’s about the only real hit I’ve ever got off O’Dell,” McCarver said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In the ninth, Eddie Mathews poked a two-run single to center against Hal Woodeshick and the Braves won, 10-8. “Woodeshick jammed me good with that pitch,” said Mathews. O’Dell retired the Cardinals in the bottom half of the ninth and got the win. Boxscore

Against all odds

Two years later, on June 14, 1967, O’Dell was with the Pirates and he got the start against the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson at Pittsburgh.

In the first inning, the Cardinals loaded the bases with two outs, bringing up McCarver. O’Dell’s first pitch to him was a strike. The second was an inside fastball and McCarver lifted a high fly to right. Roberto Clemente moved toward the foul line, looking to make a catch, but the ball carried and dropped over the screen, just inside the foul pole, for a grand slam.

“Giving Bob Gibson a 4-0 lead before he even throws a ball is like matching Green Bay with Slippery Rock” in football, The Pittsburgh Press reported.

The Cardinals won, 7-4, and O’Dell took the loss. Boxscore

McCarver hit six grand slams in his major-league career. Four came against right-handers Larry Bearnarth of the Mets, Gary Wagner of the Phillies, Fred Gladding of the Astros and Rick Baldwin of the Mets and two were hit against O’Dell, who usually was effective versus left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .222 batting average in a 13-season career in the major leagues.

O’Dell yielded four grand slams as a big-leaguer _ the two to McCarver and the others to right-handed batters Ray Boone of the Tigers and Gene Oliver of the Braves.

Win some, lose some

O’Dell had a 10-8 record and 4.04 ERA in 42 career appearances versus the Cardinals. He pitched two shutouts against them. The first was May 28, 1960, in an 8-0 victory at St. Louis. O’Dell was backed by Willie Mays, who hit a pair of two-run home runs. Boxscore

O’Dell’s second shutout of the Cardinals was May 10, 1962, a 6-0 victory at St. Louis. Gibson started for the Cardinals and gave up a three-run home run to Willie McCovey. The win gave O’Dell a 5-0 record. Boxscore

A month later, on June 10, 1962, Curt Flood of the Cardinals got his first walkoff home run in the big leagues and it came against O’Dell in the opener of a doubleheader at St. Louis.

O’Dell started for the Giants and took a 5-4 lead into the ninth. After Bobby Gene Smith led off with a single, Dal Maxvill made his first big-league appearance, batting for pitcher Bobby Shantz, and popped out. Flood followed with a two-run home run, lifting the Cardinals to a 6-5 triumph. Boxscore

“It was like David against the Giants as Curt Flood, all 155 pounds of him, sent a slingshot home run into the left-field bleachers,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Said Flood: “I had decided to swing at the first pitch that looked like a strike. O’Dell didn’t seem as sharp as he had been. He had us swinging at a lot of bad balls.”

Flood batted .309 (21-for-68) versus O’Dell in his career. McCarver hit .333 (8-for-24) against him.

O’Dell never pitched in the minor leagues. He was a standout at Clemson University, joined the Orioles after signing with them on June 8, 1954, and was mentored by pitching coach Harry Brecheen, the former Cardinals left-hander. After entering military service in 1955, O’Dell rejoined the Orioles in September 1956.

O’Dell had a career record of 105-100 with a 3.29 ERA for the Orioles, Giants, Braves and Pirates.

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The 1943 Cardinals figured they had plenty of quality left-handed pitching. What they needed most was cash.

Seventy-five years ago, in September 1943, the Cardinals traded a top left-handed pitching prospect, Preacher Roe, to the Pirates for pitcher Johnny Podgajny, outfielder Johnny Wyrostek and “a big bundle of cash,” The Sporting News reported.

The Cardinals received “in the neighborhood of $25,000,” according to The Pittsburgh Press. They needed the money to offset financial losses in their minor-league system, The Sporting News reported.

Roe was well-regarded, but the Cardinals were stocked with left-handed pitchers such as Al Brazle, Harry Brecheen, Max Lanier and Ernie White and had another, Howie Pollet, in military service.

Several clubs made bids for Roe, but the Pirates won out because they offered the Cardinals the best combination of cash and players.

Name game

Elwin Roe was born in Ash Flat, Ark., and his father, Charles Roe, was a physician who played and coached semi-pro baseball.

When Elwin was 3 years old, he told an uncle he thought he should have a new name.

“What do you think it should be?” the uncle asked.

“Preacher,” replied the boy, who admired a local minister and his wife who took Roe for rides in their horse-driven buggy.

From then on, he was known as Preacher Roe, United Press reported.

Roe showed skill as a ballplayer and his father initially steered him toward being an outfielder. “I wanted to pitch,” Roe said, “but Dad wouldn’t let me until I was 16. I think that saved my arm and gave me the strength to throw my fast one.”

Roe eventually enrolled at Harding College in Searcy, Ark., and became a pitcher, posting a 24-4 career record there. In 1938, when Roe was 10-1, he struck out 27 in a 13-inning game. “It shows he has grasped the general idea of the fundamentals of pitching,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch somberly proclaimed.

Speedy trial

Roe attracted the attention of the Yankees, Tigers, Red Sox, Indians and Cardinals, according to the St. Louis Star-Times.

On July 25, 1938, Cardinals scout Frank Rickey, brother of club executive Branch Rickey, convinced Roe to sign with the Cardinals for $5,000. “It’s understood he rejected offers from the Yankees and Tigers,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Roe, 22, was placed on the big-league roster, joined the Cardinals in New York and spent the next few weeks watching and learning.

On Aug. 19, 1938, Cardinals manager Frankie Frisch gave Roe the start in an exhibition game against the semi-pro Belleville Stags at Athletic Park in Belleville, Ill. Roe pitched a three-hitter, striking out 11 and issuing no walks, in a 4-1 Cardinals victory.

Three days later, on Aug. 22, 1938, Roe made his major-league debut, pitching 2.2 innings of relief and yielding four runs to the Reds at St. Louis. Boxscore

That was Roe’s lone major-league appearance for the Cardinals.

Pirates prize

After the 1938 season, the Cardinals sent Roe to the minor leagues and he spent the next five years (1939-43) pitching for their farm clubs without getting another chance to return to the big leagues.

In 1943, Roe, 27, had his best minor-league season, posting a 15-7 record and 2.37 ERA for the Columbus (Ohio) Redbirds.

“The Preacher has speed, a fine curveball that he can operate on more than one speed and he flanks these orthodox offerings with a dandy screwball,” The Sporting News reported.

On Sept. 15, 1943, the Pirates obtained Roe from the Cardinals. Frisch, fired by the Cardinals in September 1938, was the Pirates’ manager and recommended they acquire Roe.

The Pirates got “one of the gems of the year,” The Pittsburgh Press reported. “Scouts believe he can’t miss in the majors this time.”

“In getting one of the real prize packages of the minors, Preacher Roe, the Pirates strengthened their pitching staff for next season,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette declared.

Big chance

Roe reported to spring training in 1944 at Muncie, Ind., where the Pirates were based because of wartime travel restrictions, and fulfilled expectations. Frisch gave the rookie the Opening Day start against the Cardinals in St. Louis on April 18, 1944.

“Frisch knows nothing would give the Preacher more pleasure than to show the Cardinals they made a mistake by letting him get away,” The Pittsburgh Press reported.

Roe limited the two-time defending National League champions to one hit in the first five innings. He also got the Pirates’ first hit, a single in the third. According to the Post-Dispatch, Roe “happened to meet a pitch with a feeble swing very much on the push side and the ball looped to center field.”

The Cardinals scored in the sixth and eighth innings and won, 2-0, behind Max Lanier’s two-hitter. Roe pitched a complete game, yielding seven hits, walking three and striking out two.

Roe’s father attended the game and Frisch told the physician, “Your boy certainly did a fine job this afternoon, but the breaks did not go his way.” Boxscore

Down, not out

Roe was 13-11 with a 3.11 ERA for the Pirates, who finished second to the champion Cardinals in 1944. He followed that with a 14-13 mark in 1945.

In February 1946, Roe was coaching a team in a high school basketball game in Arkansas when he was slugged by a referee during an argument. Roe’s head hit the floor and he fractured his skull. When he was able to pitch again, he no longer could throw a fastball with consistent effectiveness.

After posting records of 3-8 in 1946 and 4-15 in 1947, the Pirates soured on Roe. Again, the Rickeys played a pivotal role in Roe’s career. Branch Rickey, who’d left the Cardinals to join the Dodgers, acquired Roe after the 1947 season.

Determined to revive his career with the Dodgers, Roe began throwing a spitball and the illegal pitch worked wonders for him. He’d use ruses while on the mound to make batters think he was wetting the ball even when he wasn’t.

“I had a wet one and three fake wet ones,” Roe said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “You don’t have to throw it … Just make them think you’re going to throw it.”

Among Roe’s best seasons with the Dodgers were 1951 (22-3 record), 1952 (11-2) and 1953 (11-3). He earned World Series wins for the Dodgers against the Yankees in 1949 and 1952.

Roe achieved a 28-20 career mark against the Cardinals, even though he couldn’t fool Stan Musial, who hit .387 with 12 home runs against him.

Roe finished his 12-year major-league career with a 127-84 record and 3.43 ERA.

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