Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

After slicing his pay, the Cardinals cut deeper into the pride of Joe Medwick with a move he viewed as a public insult.

Eighty years ago, on Aug. 1, 1939, the Cardinals were one strike away from completing a win at home against the Braves when manager Ray Blades removed Medwick from left field for a defensive replacement.

Blades said the move was made for strategic reasons. Medwick said it was done to humiliate him.

Salary squabble

Medwick, a right-handed hitter of Hall of Fame caliber, made his major-league debut with the Cardinals in September 1932 and became their left fielder in 1933.

In 1934, Medwick batted .379 in the World Series against the Tigers, helping the Cardinals win the championship.

Medwick achieved his best season in 1937 when he won the National League Most Valuable Player Award and earned the Triple Crown by leading the league in batting average (.374), home runs (31) and RBI (154).

Though he had another stellar season in 1938, batting .322 with 21 home runs and leading the league in doubles (47) and RBI (122), the Cardinals wanted to cut his pay for 1939 because he didn’t repeat his Triple Crown performance.

Medwick, 27, sought a 1939 salary of $22,000, a $2,000 increase from his 1938 pay of $20,000. The Cardinals offered $15,000, The Sporting News reported.

After a holdout during 1939 spring training, Medwick signed for $18,000, a $2,000 cut from what he made in 1938.

“Certainly Medwick is not happy with the Cardinals,” wrote J. Roy Stockton of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He was unhappy when he signed his 1939 contract and made no attempt to conceal the fact. Joe felt he had been browbeaten into signing.”

The Dodgers, managed by Medwick’s friend and former Cardinals teammate, Leo Durocher, reportedly offered $200,000 for Medwick in the spring of 1939, but were rebuffed.

When the Dodgers came to St. Louis for a series against the Cardinals in late July 1939, Durocher hosted a dinner party and Medwick attended, causing some to suspect tampering.

Medwick dismissed the concerns, telling the St. Louis Star-Times, “I don’t want anyone to get the impression I ever ease up an inch when I’m playing against the Dodgers. No one is going to select my friends. If I want to attend a dinner at Durocher’s home, that’s my business.”

Mad as hell

After the Dodgers left town, the Cardinals opened a series versus the Braves on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 1, at Sportsman’s Park.

In the ninth inning, with the Cardinals ahead, 4-3, the Braves had a runner on first, two outs, and Tony Cuccinello at the plate against Clyde Shoun.

With the count at 1-and-2 on Cuccinello, Cardinals coach Mike Gonzalez, acting on orders from Blades, came out of the dugout, asked the plate umpire for time and hollered out to Medwick to come off the field.

As Lynn King, a reserve outfielder, trotted out to take over in left, Medwick “staged a temperamental demonstration that showed his total disregard for his manager’s ideas of how to run a ballclub,” the Star-Times reported.

According to published reports, Medwick “threw his glove high in the air, dug up the turf with his spikes as he marched sullenly toward his glove, and kicked the glove around with disgust before he picked it up.”

Instead of going to the dugout, Medwick “stormed through the wagon gate on the third-base side of the grandstand,” the Star-Times reported.

As Medwick exited, Cuccinello swung and missed at strike three, ending the game. Boxscore

Playing the percentages

Asked why Medwick was removed, Blades told the Post-Dispatch, “I consider King a better defensive outfielder than the other fellow.”

Regarding the timing, Blades said, “I would have made the change earlier, but I was afraid (the Braves) might get another run to tie the score and I wanted to keep King in reserve as a pinch-hitter. With two outs, I decided the wisest thing was to strengthen our defense.”

Cardinals owner Sam Breadon defended his manager, telling the Post-Dispatch, “That’s Blades baseball. He plays for every bit of percentage … I didn’t think anybody had reason for feeling badly or being hurt.”

Others saw it differently:

_ The Sporting News: “The yanking of Joe in that game could hardly be construed as less than a humiliation.”

_ The Post-Dispatch: “If Blades has a weakness, it is the coldness which makes him forget and disregard the human element as he strives for victory.”

Dissatisfied with Cards

Medwick, who went into the clubhouse after he left the field, ducked into the trainer’s room to avoid reporters.

On the morning of Aug. 3, before the Braves and Cardinals played a doubleheader, Star-Times sports editor Sid Keener contacted Medwick at home and got him to talk about the incident.

Medwick said, “I think it was the rawest deal I’ve ever received in my baseball career … I’m dissatisfied playing with the Cardinals.

“If Blades thought I wasn’t spry enough to go after some drives in the ninth, why didn’t he take me out before the inning started?” Medwick said. “I don’t look like an old man out there, do I? I’ve made some pretty fancy catches this season, saved a lot of extra-base hits for our pitchers and I would have caught anything Cuccinello would have hit out to left field.”

Forget about it

When Medwick arrived at Sportsman’s Park for the Thursday afternoon doubleheader, he and Blades met and “apparently smoothed out their differences,” the Star-Times reported.

“I simply explained to Joe why I took him out of the game,” said Blades. “As for a feud or any personal differences between us, that’s foolish.”

Said Medwick: “Blades explained his move and I agree with him. Let’s forget the whole deal.”

Blades and Medwick posed in the dugout for photographers and shook hands.

Medwick got an ovation when he took his position in left field. When Medwick batted for the first time, leading off the second inning, he was cheered and responded by hitting a home run. Boxscore

Medwick batted .332 with 48 doubles and 117 RBI for the 1939 Cardinals.

In 1940, the Cardinals stumbled and, with their record at 14-24, Breadon fired Blades on June 7. Five days later, Medwick was traded to the Dodgers.

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After being demoted to the minors early in his rookie season with the Cardinals, Bob Gibson got a chance to return a few months later and showed he belonged in the big leagues.

Sixty years ago, on July 30, 1959, Gibson made his first major-league start for the Cardinals and pitched a shutout in a 1-0 triumph over the Reds at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

The win was the first of a club-record 251 Gibson achieved with the Cardinals. He and fellow Baseball Hall of Famer Jesse Haines (210) are the only pitchers to earn 200 wins as Cardinals.

Work in progress

Gibson, 23, made his big-league debut for the Cardinals on April 15, 1959, in a relief appearance against the Dodgers at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

After pitching in three games, all in relief, for the Cardinals and posting a 10.12 ERA, Gibson was demoted to Class AAA Omaha on April 28, 1959.

Playing for manager Joe Schultz, Gibson was 9-9 with a 3.07 ERA in 135 innings pitched for Omaha.

In his book “From Ghetto to Glory,” Gibson said, “Pitching regularly, my early wildness practically vanished. That pleased me and evidently it pleased the Cardinals.”

The Cardinals brought him back on July 29, 1959, and manager Solly Hemus told him he’d start the next night against the Reds.

Close call

Before the game, Reds farm director Phil Seghi told Bill Ford of the Cincinnati Enquirer that Gibson nearly signed with the Reds instead of the Cardinals in 1957 when he was attending Creighton University in Omaha.

“As late as 2 in the morning, he agreed to verbal terms with us,” Seghi said, “but by daylight he had jumped to the Cardinals.”

Seghi said “a member of the Gibson family nixed the deal” with the Reds.

According to the Dayton Daily News, Gibson’s basketball coach at Creighton, Tommy Thomsen, scouted for the Reds and recommended Gibson.

“The Reds looked him over a few times and decided they liked what they saw,” the Dayton newspaper reported. “So they told Thomsen to go to work on him and try to get him to sign. Thomsen thought he was making progress until he read Gibson had signed with Omaha, a Cardinals farm. The Reds representatives quickly got in touch with Gibson and the youngster said he was a native of Omaha and he felt honor-bound to sign with the hometown team.”

Tested early

Gibson was matched in his first Cardinals start against Reds rookie Jim O’Toole. Years earlier, Gibson and O’Toole competed for a roster spot on a semipro team in South Dakota and Gibson got the job.

In the first inning, Gibson quickly got into trouble when Johnny Temple led off with a walk and the next batter, Vada Pinson, singled. Gus Bell grounded to short, forcing Pinson at second and advancing Temple to third. With runners on first and third, one out, Gibson escaped the mess unscathed when Frank Robinson flied out to shallow center and Jerry Lynch grounded out.

The Cardinals scored in the second. Ken Boyer led off with a double, moved to third on Bill White’s groundout to second and scored on Joe Cunningham’s single. In the bottom half of the inning, Gibson struck out his first big-league batter, Willie “Puddin’ Head” Jones.

In the fifth, O’Toole’s single “bounced off the left shin of Gibson, momentarily throwing fear into the Cards,” the Cincinnati Enquirer reported, but Gibson was able to continue and got the next batter, Temple, to ground into a double play.

Dramatic ending

Gibson’s biggest challenge occurred in the ninth.

Lynch led off with a single and Ed Bailey followed with a liner toward White at first base. White stopped the hard smash with the thumb of his glove. The ball fell to the ground and White picked it up and threw to second in time to force out Lynch.

With a runner on first, Jones popped out to the catcher for the second out, but Gibson walked pinch-hitters Frank Thomas and Don Newcombe on eight consecutive pitches to load the bases for Temple, who was batting .328.

In his book “Stranger to the Game,” Gibson said, “I was half-expecting Hemus to yank me out of the game.”

Reliever Marshall Bridges was ready in the bullpen, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, but Hemus stuck with Gibson.

Gibson’s first two pitches to Temple were outside the strike zone and called balls. After a called strike on the third pitch, Temple fouled off a delivery to even the count at 2-and-2.

On the next pitch, a fastball, Temple hit a liner to shallow center and it was caught by Curt Flood for the final out.

The Cincinnati Enquirer called Gibson’s ninth-inning escape act “a credit to his competitive determination.”

Gibson, sipping a cup of orange soda, told the Post-Dispatch, “I can throw a lot harder, but my shoulder has been a little sore for the past week.” Boxscore

Hit or miss

Gibson lost his next five decisions before earning a win on Sept. 12, 1959, in a start against the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Gibson pitched a six-hitter, struck out 10 and drove in a run in the 6-4 Cardinals victory.

He didn’t pitch again for two weeks until Hemus used him in relief in the last game of the season against the Giants on Sept. 27, 1959.

In “from Ghetto to Glory,” Gibson said, “I was so bored I would sit on the bench in the far corner of the dugout and I’d just about fall asleep because it’s no fun when you’re not playing.”

Gibson finished with a 3-5 record and 3.33 ERA in 13 appearances for the 1959 Cardinals. His ERA as a starter was 3.16.

“The few times I did get a chance to pitch I could not possibly be sharp because of lack of work,” Gibson said. “Especially when I went eight or nine days without pitching. I’d be exceptionally strong and the ball would move every which way. I never knew where it was going and, as a result, I walked a lot of men (39 in 75.2 innings) and made too many mistakes.”

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Shortly before Al Hrabosky became prominent, another pitcher with a double-consonant start to his name, Joe Grzenda, was the Cardinals’ top left-handed reliever.

Grzenda died July 12, 2019, at 82. He pitched eight seasons in the major leagues for the Tigers (1961), Athletics (1964 and 1966), Mets (1967), Twins (1969), Senators (1970-71) and Cardinals (1972).

The Cardinals, seeking a reliever who could get out left-handed batters, acquired Grzenda from the Senators for infielder Ted Kubiak on Nov. 3, 1971, but it didn’t work out the way they’d hoped.

Nervous energy

Grzenda, a Polish-American, was born in Scranton, Pa. His father was a coal miner. Grzenda signed with the Tigers when he was 18 in 1955. He injured his arm in the minor leagues and developed a sidearm delivery, relying on a sinker.

After making his major-league debut with the Tigers in 1961, Grzenda was released in 1963 and joined the Athletics. According to Hardball Times, when Grzenda was in the Athletics’ farm system in 1964, his teammates “quickly took note of his habit of drinking two pots of coffee each day. They also noticed his chain-smoking, as he plowed through three packs of Lucky Strikes in a typical day. Sometimes Grzenda would light a cigarette and start smoking, leave it on the bench, and then work so quickly on the mound that he could return to the dugout and finish off the cigarette. A bundle of nervous energy fueled by cigarettes and coffee, he was in constant motion.”

In 1967, with Dave Duncan as his primary catcher, Grzenda was 6-0 with a 1.20 ERA in 52 appearances for the Birmingham club in the Athletics’ farm system. Mets president Bing Devine was impressed and purchased Grzenda’s contract on Aug. 14, 1967. Grzenda made 11 appearances with the 1967 Mets and had a 2.16 ERA.

Grzenda had his biggest successes in the major leagues with the 1969 Twins and 1971 Senators.

Playing for manager Billy Martin, Grzenda was 4-1 with three saves for the Twins, who won the 1969 American League West title.

In March 1970, the Twins traded Grzenda to the Senators, who were managed by Ted Williams.

In the book “Kiss It Goodbye,” Senators radio voice and author Shelby Whitfield noted, “Williams was the only one who saw potential in Grzenda.”

Getting a grip

During the 1970 season, Senators catchers told Grzenda “he was throwing the slider with more velocity than his fastball,” The Sporting News reported.

Seeking a remedy, Grzenda went to Senators pitching coach Sid Hudson, who suggested a grip change. Grzenda tried it and his fastball developed the action of a slip pitch. Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch described the slip pitch as “a delivery that fades and falls like a screwball.”

“It serves not only as a changeup,” Broeg wrote, “but also as a good double-play pitch for right-handed hitters who try to pull it.”

Many pitchers can’t control a slip pitch, but for Grzenda it “was love at first sight,” according to Broeg.

Hudson said, “Now he has more confidence in what he is doing because he has more velocity and is throwing pitches with different speeds.”

Grzenda was 5-2 with five saves and a 1.92 ERA in 46 relief appearances for the 1971 Senators. He limited batters to 17 walks in 70.1 innings. Left-handed batters hit .226 against him.

Filling a need

Cardinals scout Joe Monahan was impressed and said Grzenda has “a good curve, his fastball is alive and he has excellent control. His fastball sinks and has the effect of a screwball against right-handed batters.”

After the 1971 season, the Senators moved from Washington, D.C., to Texas and were renamed the Rangers. The club was seeking a second baseman and Williams viewed Kubiak, a Cardinals utility infielder, as an ideal candidate.

“Ted Williams has been interested in Kubiak for a couple of years,” Rangers owner Bob Short told The Sporting News.

Williams contacted the Cardinals to inquire about Kubiak’s availability. Monahan “highly recommended” the Cardinals ask for Grzenda in exchange. Devine, who had left the Mets and was in his second stint as Cardinals general manager, was willing to acquire Grzenda a second time.

“We needed an experienced left-handed reliever so badly,” Devine said.

Devine figured Grzenda and Don Shaw would give the 1972 Cardinals a pair of quality left-handers in the bullpen. Shaw was 7-2 with a 2.65 ERA for the Cardinals in 1971 and left-handed batters hit .171 against him.

Slippery slope

The plan unraveled early in the 1972 season.

Shaw developed a shoulder ailment, made eight appearances for the Cardinals and was traded to the Athletics in May.

Grzenda’s slip pitch no longer was effective. He had a 6.75 ERA in April and an 8.59 ERA in May.

Grzenda and his road roommate, Moe Drabowsky, made unwanted headlines during a series in Houston in May when it was discovered their hotel room was extensively damaged. Devine described the damage as “pretty bad.” According to the Post-Dispatch, light bulbs and drinking glasses were smashed and a bed headboard was “sighted sailing down a corridor” of the hotel.

In June, when he turned 35, Grzenda had a turnaround. He didn’t allow an earned run in 6.1 innings over five appearances for the month. He also got a win with 1.1 innings of scoreless relief against the Giants on June 17. Boxscore

After that, the highlights were few. Grzenda had a 6.75 ERA in August and a 12.46 ERA in September.

The Cardinals, out of contention and headed for a 75-81 finish, used the last few weeks of the season to look at some prospects, including Hrabosky.

Grzenda made the most appearances (30) of any left-hander on the 1972 Cardinals and was 1-0 with a 5.66 ERA. He gave up 46 hits in 35 innings and walked more batters (17) than he struck out (15). Left-handed batters hit .436 against him.

The 1972 season was Grzenda’s last in the big leagues. His career mark in the majors: 14-13 with 14 saves and a 4.00 ERA.

Hrabosky, who had brief stints with the Cardinals from 1970-72, pitched in 44 games for them in 1973 and went on to become their top left-handed reliever from 1974-77 while developing a persona as the self-psyching “Mad Hungarian.”

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Gary Kolb impressed Branch Rickey, stepped in for Stan Musial and got traded for Bob Uecker.

Kolb, who played seven seasons in the major leagues with the Cardinals (1960, 1962-63), Braves (1964-65), Mets (1965) and Pirates (1968-69), died July 3, 2019, at 79.

A left-handed batter with speed, Kolb primarily was an outfielder who also experimented with catching and playing infield in the hope his versatility would enhance his value to the Cardinals.

Rickey, the former general manager who came back to the club as a consultant, liked Kolb, and so did Musial, who tabbed Kolb and Mike Shannon as potential outfield successors.

Top prospect

Kolb was a standout in baseball, basketball, football and track at Rock Falls High School in Illinois. He enrolled at the University of Illinois and played on the freshman football, basketball and baseball teams.

As a college sophomore, Kolb, 6 feet and 190 pounds, gave up basketball, but played varsity football and baseball. The football Illini projected him as a starting running back as a junior, but he signed a professional contract with the Cardinals in the spring of 1960 after completing his sophomore baseball season.

“I thought I’d better get out of football before I got hurt,” Kolb said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Kolb, 20, played for two Cardinals farm clubs in the summer of 1960, produced 15 triples and was called up to the big-league club in September. He made his Cardinals debut on Sept. 7, 1960, as a pinch-runner. Kolb appeared in nine games, eight as a pinch-runner, for the 1960 Cardinals.

Kolb spent the next two seasons in the minors before getting another September call-up to the Cardinals in 1962. He hit .357 for them in 14 at-bats.

A month later, in October 1962, the Cardinals hired Rickey, 80, as a consultant and one of his first assignments was to assess their players in the winter Florida Instructional League. Kolb was there, playing shortstop, and he caught the attention of Rickey.

Rickey “indicated he considered Kolb one of the best prospects in the camp,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Batter up

In February 1963, shortly before the Cardinals opened spring training at St. Petersburg, Fla., they arranged for six prospects, including Kolb, to attend a special five-day hitting session. Joining Kolb were Jerry Buchek, Duke Carmel, Doug Clemens, Phil Gagliano and Dal Maxvill.

Rickey proposed the extra workouts after he observed the players at the Florida Instructional League.

“All are good athletes with good reflexes and baseball instinct,” the Post-Dispatch reported, “but all have been disappointing at swinging a bat against major-league pitching.”

Cardinals manager Johnny Keane, coach Vern Benson and Rickey were the instructors for the sessions.

Rickey “had a special batting cage built in the center field corner of the Redbirds’ spring training park,” the Post-Dispatch observed. “Behind the batting cage is a platform about five feet above the ground from which Rickey watches the batters hit against a pitching machine.”

Rickey told the assembled prospects, “You’ll hit until you are weary. You’ll get blisters on your hands before we’re through, unless you wear the golf gloves we have here for you, gloves for both hands. You’ll swing as hard as you can and you’ll bunt. You’ll bunt for the sacrifice and you’ll bunt for base hits.”

On the rise

The extra work apparently helped Kolb because he had a good spring training camp with the 1963 Cardinals. Eddie Stanky, the Cardinals’ director of player development, said Kolb is “a bulldog and a versatile athlete whose ability to play both infield and outfield will help him make the big-league club.”

Near the end of spring training, Kolb, at Rickey’s urging, “strapped on the pads” and worked out as a catcher “to lend value to his versatile efforts,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

When the Cardinals sold the contract of outfielder Minnie Minoso to the Senators, it opened a spot for Kolb on the Opening Day roster as a reserve outfielder.

The Cardinals returned Kolb to the minors in May 1963, but he hit .318 for Tulsa and was brought back to the big-league club in July.

Keane gave Kolb a start in right field against the Braves on July 12, 1963, and he produced two hits, including his first major-league home run, against Tony Cloninger. The two-run homer carried onto the pavilion roof at Busch Stadium. Boxscore

Kolb was back in the starting lineup again the next day, July 13, 1963, and went 3-for-4 with two singles and another home run against the Braves’ Hank Fischer. Boxscore

Kolb made 19 starts in right field, mostly in July, for the 1963 Cardinals. He batted .327 with 18 hits and 12 walks in 19 July games.

Kind words

In September 1963, with the Cardinals challenging the Dodgers for the pennant, Kolb was used primarily as a pinch-runner, most often for Musial, who was 42 and in his last season. Kolb appeared nine times as a pinch-runner for Musial in 1963.

On Sept. 29, 1963, Musial was in the Busch Stadium clubhouse, preparing to play his final game, when Kolb and Shannon walked by his locker.

“Wait a minute,” Musial said, putting an arm around each of them.

As photographers and reporters closed in, Musial said, “These are my proteges. They’re going to take over for me, aren’t you?”

Kolb and Shannon blushed, according to the Post-Dispatch.

After Musial stroked a RBI-single in the sixth, Keane sent in Kolb to run. Kolb told his hometown news organization, Saukvalley.com of Sterling, Ill., that as Musial departed first base for the final time to a thunderous ovation, he turned to him and said, “They love you, kid.” Boxscore

Moving on

Kolb batted .271 in 119 plate appearances for the 1963 Cardinals. He generated 26 hits, including five triples, and 22 walks for a .403 on-base percentage.

Kolb hit .328 for the Cardinals versus right-handers in 1963 and overall he batted .500 (9-for-18) against the Braves.

After trading George Altman to the Mets, Cardinals general manager Bing Devine said in November 1963 he viewed Kolb, Shannon, Clemens and Johnny Lewis as candidates to start in right field in 1964.

The scenario changed in February 1964 when the Cardinals acquired outfielder Carl Warwick from the Houston Colt .45s. Warwick and Lewis performed best in spring training and Kolb became expendable.

On April 9, 1964, the Cardinals traded Kolb and catcher Jimmie Coker to the Braves for Uecker, who was viewed as a defensive upgrade as a backup to starting catcher Tim McCarver.

Kolb spent his final three seasons (1971-73) with the Pirates’ Class AAA farm club in Charleston, W.Va., and settled there after his playing career. His cousin, Dan Kolb, was a big-league relief pitcher from 1999-2007.

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Eight months after striking out in their efforts to acquire Matt Holliday from the Rockies, the Cardinals got him from the Athletics, completing a series of transactions designed to boost their offense and bolster their chances of returning to the postseason after a two-year absence.

Ten years ago, on July 24, 2009, the Athletics dealt Holliday to the Cardinals for three prospects: corner infielder Brett Wallace, pitcher Clayton Mortensen and outfielder Shane Peterson.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa put Holliday in left field and batted him in the cleanup spot between Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick.

Holliday was the third prominent position player acquired by the Cardinals in a span of one month. On June 27, 2009, they got third baseman Mark DeRosa from the Indians for pitchers Chris Perez and Jess Todd, and on July 22, 2009, they acquired infielder Julio Lugo from the Red Sox for outfielder Chris Duncan.

“Tony pushes these guys to be successful,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “My job is to make sure he has the right players to do so.”

Aggressive suitor

The Cardinals’ pursuit of Holliday intensified in November 2008 at the general managers meetings at Dana Point, Calif.

Holliday won a National League batting title in 2007, hitting .340, and led the league in hits (216), doubles (50), RBI (137) and total bases (386) for the pennant-winning Rockies. He became expendable after the 2008 season because the Rockies couldn’t get him to commit to a long-term contract and he was eligible to become a free agent a year later.

“The Rockies arrived at the meetings intent on building momentum for a deal involving Holliday,” the Post-Dispatch reported, and the Cardinals were an “aggressive suitor.”

Mozeliak, who worked for the Rockies before joining the Cardinals after the 1995 season, acknowledged the pursuit of Holliday. “For me to say there were not serious discussions would be inaccurate,” he said to the Post-Dispatch.

The Cardinals offered Ludwick for Holliday, the Post-Dispatch reported, but the Rockies also wanted utility player Skip Schumaker and pitcher Mitchell Boggs included in the deal.

According to the Post-Dispatch, “misgivings existed within some quarters of the organization about committing multiple players for Holliday” because he could depart as a free agent after the 2009 season.

Unable to come to terms with the Cardinals, the Rockies traded Holliday to the Athletics on Nov. 10, 2008, for outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and pitchers Huston Street and Greg Smith.

Big deal

The Athletics posted losing records in each of the first three months of the 2009 season and entered July in last place in the American League West. Out of contention and facing the likelihood Holliday could walk away after the season, the Athletics shopped him and the Cardinals made the best offer.

Wallace, the Cardinals’ 2008 first-round draft pick, was the “keystone of the deal” for the Athletics, Mozeliak told the Post-Dispatch.

“Wallace is not the type of hitter you’re going to replace easily,” Mozeliak said.

Wallace hit a combined .337 for two Cardinals farm clubs in 2008 and .293 for Class AAA Memphis in 2009.

The Cardinals, who were 52-46 and in first place in the National League Central, 1.5 games ahead of both the Astros and Cubs, were willing to give up prospects for the opportunity to qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2006.

Asked whether he was concerned Holiday would depart as a free agent, Mozeliak responded, “Let him get a taste of St. Louis.”

How big a deal was it for the Cardinals to get Holliday? “It’s as big as his biceps,” pitcher Adam Wainwright told the Post-Dispatch.

Loaded lineup

Holliday was informed of the trade the morning of July 24, 2009, by text at a hotel in New York, where the Athletics were staying for a series with the Yankees.

Accompanied by his wife and two sons, Holliday took a train from Manhattan to Philadelphia and joined the Cardinals in time for their night game against the Phillies.

La Russa posted a revamped batting order of Lugo at second base, DeRosa at third, Pujols at first, Holliday in left, Ludwick in right, Yadier Molina at catcher, Rick Ankiel in center, Brendan Ryan at short and pitcher Joel Pineiro.

At the time of the trade, Pujols had received 34 intentional walks on the season, or 21 more than any other major-league batter, according to Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz.

“By getting Holliday to follow Albert Pujols in the lineup, the Cardinals clearly raised their profile as a National League contender,” the Philadelphia Inquirer observed.

Pujols called Holliday “a professional hitter” and said, “He’d make any lineup better.”

Holliday went 4-for-5 in his Cardinals debut, producing three singles and a double, with one RBI and a run scored in an 8-1 triumph over the Phillies. Boxscore

“I can’t imagine being a pitcher and having to pitch to Pujols and looking on deck and seeing Holliday,” Athletics infielder Mark Ellis said to the New York Daily News. “That’s incredible.”

Dodgers manager Joe Torre, taking a good-natured jab at La Russa, said to the Post-Dispatch, “That lineup is pretty deep now. Tony won’t have to bat the pitcher eighth anymore.”

Happy Holliday

After batting .286 with 54 RBI in 93 games for the 2009 Athletics, Holliday hit .353 with 55 RBI in 63 games for the 2009 Cardinals.

With Holliday, the Cardinals were 39-25 and won the 2009 division title with an overall mark of 91-71, finishing 7.5 games ahead of the second-place Cubs.

Holliday, 29, became a free agent after the season, but returned to the Cardinals. In 2010, he hit .312 with 45 doubles, 28 home runs and 103 RBI.

He played in the postseason in six of his eight years with the Cardinals, missing only in 2010 and 2016, and helped them to two National League pennants and a World Series title.

Holliday’s numbers as a Cardinal: .293 batting average, 1,048 hits, .380 on-base percentage.

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Before he became a celebrated author with “Ball Four,” Jim Bouton was a power pitcher whose cap flew off with nearly every delivery.

Bouton died July 10, 2019, at 80. Fifty-five years earlier, in 1964, he made two starts for the Yankees against the Cardinals in the World Series and won both.

The Cardinals won the championship, but Bouton impressed with his ability to produce on the big stage. He was the first pitcher to earn two wins in a World Series versus the Cardinals since the Yankees’ Spud Chandler in 1943.

Stubbornly effective

Bouton, 25, was 18-13 with a 3.02 ERA for the 1964 Yankees. The right-hander led the team in wins, starts (37) and innings pitched (271.1).

For the first two World Series games in St. Louis, Yankees manager Yogi Berra started ailing ace Whitey Ford, who lost, and rookie Mel Stottlemyre, who won. Bouton was the starter for Game 3 at Yankee Stadium and was matched against Curt Simmons.

In his book “October 1964,” author David Halberstam called Game 3 “probably the best played and best pitched game of the series.”

Played on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 10, 1964, before 67,101 spectators, the game became a duel between Bouton and Simmons.

Bouton threw “virtually straight overhanded with his delivery and his forearm brushed the back of his cap, sending it sailing,” the Sporting News noted.

Said Berra: “We’ve tried a dozen different caps on him, and he wears a small, tight one now, but it doesn’t do any good.”

The Yankees got a run in the second on Clete Boyer’s RBI-double and the Cardinals tied the score, 1-1, on a RBI-single by Simmons in the fifth.

After retiring the Cardinals in order in three of the first four innings, Bouton worked out of multiple jams. The Cardinals loaded the bases in the sixth with two outs, but Mike Shannon grounded into a forceout. In the seventh, Dal Maxvill led off with a double and moved to third on Simmons’ sacrifice, but Curt Flood and Lou Brock stranded him.

“Bouton was keeping the ball away from me good,” Flood said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Said Brock: “I was out in front of this guy all day. I never do this … I hit the ball off the end of the bat all four times.”

In the ninth, Tim McCarver led off and reached on an error by shortstop Phil Linz. Shannon’s sacrifice bunt moved McCarver to second. Carl Warwick, batting for Maxvill, walked, but Bouton retired Bob Skinner and Flood.

Barney Schultz relieved Simmons in the bottom of the ninth and Mickey Mantle walloped his first pitch, a knuckleball, into the upper deck in right for a walkoff home run and a 2-1 Yankees victory. Boxscore

Bouton threw 123 pitches in what the New York Daily News described as a “stubborn pitching performance.” Video highlights at 1:30 mark

Under pressure

The Cardinals won Games 4 and 5 at Yankee Stadium. Back in St. Louis with a chance to clinch the title in Game 6 on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 14, 1964, the Cardinals started Simmons in a rematch with Bouton, who welcomed the challenge.

“Far more than most baseball players, he was an adrenaline player, and he liked pitching under this kind of pressure,” said Halberstam. “He loved being the center of attention and being given the ball in a game this big.”

When Flood and Brock opened the bottom of the first with singles, it was a wakeup call for Bouton, who said, “I had to stop and boot myself in the fanny. Those hits kind of shook me up.”

Bouton got the next batter, Bill White, to ground into a double play. Flood scored from third, but Bouton settled down.

In the fifth, Bouton lined a single over the head of shortstop Dick Groat, driving in Tom Tresh from third and tying the score at 1-1.

The game turned in the sixth when Roger Maris and Mantle hit back-to-back home runs against Simmons, giving the Yankees a 3-1 lead.

In the seventh, Bouton told Berra to get a reliever ready because his right shoulder was getting tight. The Yankees extended their lead in the eighth, scoring five times. The big hit was a grand slam by Joe Pepitone against Gordon Richardson.

Bouton yielded a run in the eighth and another in the ninth. He went 8.1 innings before being relieved by Steve Hamilton, and the Yankees won, 8-3. Boxscore  and Video highlights at 1:45 mark

Cardinals slugger Ken Boyer said Bouton “kept the ball low and away all afternoon, and, if he missed the plate, he barely missed it.”

Jim and Joe

Bouton’s career took a downturn the next year. He developed a sore arm, posted records of 4-15 in 1965 and 3-8 in 1966, and was dropped from the starting rotation.

The Yankees sold Bouton’s contract to the Seattle Pilots, who joined the American League as an expansion team in 1969. The Pilots’ manager was Joe Schultz, who was a Cardinals coach from 1963-68 after managing in their farm system.

Schultz, a round, balding, good-natured baseball lifer, became a central character in “Ball Four.” Two samples of Bouton’s musings:

_ “Joe Schultz stopped by again today to say a kind word. I noticed he was making it his business to say something each day to most of the guys. He may look like Nikita Khrushchev, but it means a lot anyway. I’m sure most of us here feel like leftovers and outcasts and marginal players and it doesn’t hurt when the manager massages your ego a bit.”

_ “After the game, Joe Schultz said, ‘Attaway to stomp on ’em, men. Pound that Budweiser into you and go get ’em tomorrow.’ Then he spotted John Gelnar sucking out of a pop bottle. ‘For crissakes, Gelnar,’ Joe said, ‘You’ll never get them out drinking Dr. Pepper.’ ”

Fitting in

Bouton was 2-1 with a save and a 3.91 ERA in 57 appearances for the Pilots. On Aug. 24, 1969, they traded him to the Astros for pitchers Dooley Womack and Roric Harrison.

Two nights later, on Aug. 26, 1969, Bouton made his National League debut, relieving Larry Dierker and pitching a scoreless eighth against the Cardinals at St. Louis. Bouton retired Shannon on a groundout and Julian Javier on a pop-up before striking out Maxvill on a 3-and-2 knuckleball.

“The knuckleball was a doll,” Bouton said.

When Bouton got to the dugout, Astros pitching coach Jim Owens asked him why he threw a knuckleball with the count full.

“I told him that first time around I want to earn a little respect,” Bouton said. “I want everyone to know that I’m liable to throw that pitch in any situation … I want them to know that they can’t count on getting the fastball.” Boxscore

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