Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

Some of the fiercest individual matchups in the NFL in the 1960s were the ones between New York Giants wide receiver Del Shofner and St. Louis Cardinals defensive backs Larry Wilson, Jimmy Hill and Pat Fischer.

A pass-catcher with speed who gave the Giants their first deep threat, Shofner died on March 11, 2020, at 85.

Pale, razor-thin and susceptible to ulcers, Shofner sometimes didn’t look strong enough to play football, let alone excel at it, but he was a gifted receiver who posted impressive numbers.

The date September 17 was significant in Shofner’s career.

On Sept. 17, 1961, Shofner played his first regular-season game as a Giant and it came against the Cardinals.

Six years later, on Sept. 17, 1967, Shofner caught the last touchdown pass of his career and it, too, came against the Cardinals.

Special flair

Born in Center, Texas, near the Louisiana border, Shofner went to Baylor, where he majored in math, played baseball, basketball, football and was a sprinter on the track team.

When the skinny sophomore showed up for his first varsity football practice, “he looked like a poor man’s Abe Lincoln,” the Waco News-Tribune reported. “His bones didn’t exactly rattle when he walked. They just shifted silently.”

According to the newspaper, Baylor head coach George Sauer Sr. was “afraid his prize backfielder might be grabbed up by some pre-med student as a lab skeleton.”

Though Shofner was anemic and suffered from agonizing ulcers, he became a standout at three positions _ halfback, defensive back and punter _ for Baylor.

Blackie Sherrod of the Fort Worth Press wrote, “He’s blessed with terrific speed, with good hands and a glorious flair for the spectacular … The young speedster is an opportunist who can seize a tiny bit of daylight and squeeze it into a touchdown.”

Shofner capped his senior season by being named outstanding player of the Sugar Bowl in Baylor’s upset of Tennessee.

L.A. story

The Los Angeles Rams selected Shofner in the first round of the 1957 NFL draft. He played defensive back as a rookie, but was shifted to wide receiver in 1958 and led the NFL in receiving yards (1,097).

“His speed and his ability to maneuver in an open field excited fans in every league city,” the Los Angeles Times noted.

Shofner had another strong season for the Rams (936 receiving yards) in 1959, but it was a different story the next year. Shofner’s ulcers flared, he suffered leg and ankle injuries, and was limited to 12 receptions in 1960.

At training camp in 1961, Shofner no longer was the fastest receiver in wind sprints and the Rams were concerned.

The Giants, who acquired quarterback Y.A. Tittle from the San Francisco 49ers, were looking to add a receiver and Shofner, 26, appealed to them as an end to pair with flanker Kyle Rote.

On Aug. 28, 1961, the Giants traded a first-round pick to the Rams for Shofner.

Asked whether his speed had diminished, Shofner said, “I don’t think you have to prove yourself in wind sprints. You prove it running pass patterns in practice and in a game. I feel I have a great opportunity in New York and I’ll finally be able to catch Tittle.”

Linked in

Shofner admired Tittle, a fellow Texan, but Tittle was finding it hard to be accepted at Giants training camp. Charlie Conerly, 40, was the incumbent quarterback and wasn’t ready to concede the job to Tittle, who was five years younger.

“For weeks, Tittle was without a roomie, a lonely figure who almost was resented by the intensely loyal Giants players, a clannish group whose pep was the aging Conerly,” New York Times columnist Arthur Daley observed.

After Shofner traveled all night from California to New York to join his new team, he took a train from Manhattan to the Giants’ training camp in Fairfield, Connecticut. When he arrived in the morning, looking haggard, several Giants couldn’t believe he was the answer to their receiving needs.

Shofner “became Tittle’s roommate almost by default,” Daley wrote.

The two Texans formed a bond.

Giants debut

First-year Giants head coach Allie Sherman started Conerly in the season opener versus the Cardinals at Yankee Stadium. Cornerback Jimmy Hill was given the “special assignment” of covering Shofner, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

In the fourth quarter, with the Cardinals ahead, 14-10, and the Giants in possession at their 27-yard line, Shofner went deep. Hill stayed close and appeared to bump Shofner as Conerly’s pass arrived. The ball was intercepted by safety Larry Wilson, but interference was called on Hill “despite loud protests from the Big Red bench,” the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported.

“I don’t think I interfered,” Hill told the Post-Dispatch.

The penalty on Hill gave the Giants possession at the Cardinals’ 37. Two plays later, Conerly threw to Shofner, but Hill intercepted and returned the ball to the St. Louis 46.

“I was waiting for it,” Hill said. “You have to give that Shofner a little room and this was one time I guessed right. I may be getting old and slow, but I don’t think he’s going to outrun me.”

The Cardinals won, 21-10. Shofner made six catches for 77 yards, but Conerly completed only nine passes and was intercepted twice. The Globe-Democrat credited the Cardinals for rattling Conerly “with Larry Wilson red-dogging from his defensive halfback post and Ted Bates, Bill Koman and Dale Meinert ripping through from their linebacker positions.” Game stats

Rise and fall

Tittle soon replaced Conerly and the offense clicked.

“Tittle threw precision passes and Shofner ran precision patterns,” Arthur Daley wrote.

The combination helped the Giants win three consecutive division championships from 1961-63. Nicknamed “Blade” because of his physique and the way he sliced through secondaries, Shofner topped 1,100 yards receiving each of the three years. He was the first NFL player to have two seasons of 1,000 yards receiving and the first Giant with 1,000 yards in receptions in one season.

The New York Times described him as an “octopus-armed swiftie” who “terrorized all the pass defenders in the league.”

Though listed at 185 pounds, Shofner “looks more like an underfed altar boy than a professional gridder … a blonde, soft-spoken string bean with facial features so delicate few could guess what he does to put beans on the table,” the Danville (Pa.) News declared.

In 1964, Shofner’s ulcers returned, his weight dropped to 165 pounds and he was limited to six games. After the season, Tittle retired and Shofner’s performance declined. He made three catches in 1966.

Final glory

The Giants acquired quarterback Fran Tarkenton from the Vikings in 1967 and Shofner, 32, was energized by the scrambler’s arrival.

“We hit it off from the start,” Shofner said. “I liked to run square-outs and he likes to throw them. Nothing gives a receiver more satisfaction than to have a passer who continually looks in his direction.”

The Giants opened the 1967 season against the Cardinals at St. Louis. In the fourth quarter, Tarkenton threw a 33-yard pass in the end zone to Shofner, who “made an over-the-head grab” behind defensive back Pat Fischer for a touchdown, giving the Giants a 34-13 lead in a game they won, 37-20. Game stats

It was the last touchdown catch for Shofner, who retired after the season.

Shofner had 51 career touchdown receptions, including 25 from Tittle.

In the book, “Giants In Their Own Words,” Tittle said, “Del Shofner was my favorite receiver. He had blazing speed and great hands. Most receivers don’t have both, but Del did. He just never dropped the football. If it was there and he could get his hands on it, he caught it.”

Click to see video of Tittle career highlights, including passes to No. 85, Shofner.

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Don Pavletich achieved two special personal milestones versus the Cardinals, but one of his worst moments also occurred in a game against them.

A catcher and first baseman who played 12 years in the major leagues for the Reds, White Sox and Red Sox, Pavletich died March 5, 2020, at 81. The 1965 Topps card pictured here incorrectly listed him as a pitcher.

In 1962, while with the Reds, Pavletich got his first major-league hit. A few weeks later, he got his first major-league RBI. Both feats came in games against the Cardinals.

Two years later, Pavletich had a prominent, but unwanted, role versus the Cardinals when his error led to a Reds loss in the thick of the 1964 National League pennant race.

Hot prospect

Born in Milwaukee and raised in nearby West Allis, Wisconsin, Pavletich was Croatian-American. All four of his grandparents immigrated to the United States from Croatia, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.

In high school and summer leagues, Pavletich was coached by Steve Belich, who had prepared another West Allis standout, Harvey Kuenn, for the majors.

A powerful right-handed batter, Pavletich, 18, signed with the Reds in August 1956 and made his major-league debut for them in his hometown of Milwaukee on April 20, 1957. A month later, Pavletich began a two-year hitch in the Army.

After hitting .295 with 22 home runs as a catcher and first baseman for manager Cot Deal at minor-league Indianapolis in 1961, Pavletich opened the 1962 season with the defending National League champion Reds as a backup to catcher Johnny Edwards and first baseman Gordy Coleman.

On April 29, 1962, in the first game of a doubleheader at St. Louis, the Cardinals led, 9-1, in the fourth inning when Reds manager Fred Hutchinson replaced Edwards with Pavletich.

In the fifth, Pavletich got his first big-league hit, a single versus Larry Jackson. Pavletich went on to hit .400 (6-for-15) in his career against Jackson. Boxscore

The next time Pavletich faced the Cardinals, on June 5, 1962, at St. Louis, he started at first base and hit a two-run single versus Curt Simmons in the third inning for his first RBI in the big leagues. Boxscore

Pavletich did some of his best hitting against some prominent left-handers, including Dick Ellsworth (.409), Denny Lemaster (.389), Warren Spahn (.364), Johnny Podres (.364) and Simmons (.318).

Costly miscue

On Sept. 19, 1964, the Cardinals and Reds, trying to catch the first-place Phillies in the final two weeks of the season, played a doubleheader at Cincinnati. The Cardinals were jolted in the opener when Frank Robinson hit a three-run walkoff home run against Bob Gibson in the ninth. Boxscore

In the second game, with the pressure on the Cardinals to avoid being swept, the pitchers were left-handers Billy McCool, making his first career start for the Reds, and Ray Sadecki for St. Louis. The catchers were a pair of Milwaukee natives, Pavletich and the Cardinals’ Bob Uecker.

In the second inning, with one out and the game scoreless, the Cardinals’ Bill White and Julian Javier each singled, putting runners on second and first.

As the next batter, Mike Shannon, struck out, White and Javier attempted a double steal. Pavletich’s throw sailed over the head of third baseman Chico Ruiz and into left field. White and Javier both scored on the error and those were the game’s only runs. Boxscore

The 2-0 victory kept the Cardinals in second place, 5.5 games behind the Phillies, and proved to be a difference-maker. The Cardinals clinched the pennant on the last day of the season, finishing a game ahead of both the Reds and Phillies.

Power hitter

At spring training in 1966, Pavletich made a bid to unseat Edwards, a three-time National League all-star, as the Reds’ starting catcher. When Edwards suffered ligament damage to the middle finger of his right hand when struck by a foul ball in an exhibition game on April 9, Pavletich was ready to take over.

After watching Pavletich hit his fifth home run of the spring training season, Edwards told the Dayton Daily News, “Every time I see him swing that bat, my finger feels better.”

With Edwards sidelined, Pavletich opened the 1966 season as the Reds’ catcher. On April 17, in his third consecutive game as starting catcher, Pavletich injured his left foot while rounding first base after hitting a double. He stayed in the game, but awoke the next morning with pain in his foot so intense “he nearly collapsed when he got out of bed,” the Dayton Journal-Herald reported.

Pavletich strained ligaments in the foot and couldn’t play. Edwards, wearing a metal splint on his injured finger, replaced him and remained the starting catcher.

Veteran vs. phenom

In August 1967, Johnny Bench made his major-league debut with the Reds and was their starting catcher the last month of the season.

Six months later, the Reds traded Edwards to the defending World Series champion Cardinals to clear the way for Bench to be their catcher in 1968.

“Bench was conceded the starting position at the start of spring training,” the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

Pavletich, 29, wasn’t ready to give in to Bench, 20. Rising to the challenge, Pavletich hit seven home runs with 19 RBI in Reds spring training games in 1968 and was named the Opening Day starting catcher.

“I must say I’m most pleased by Pavletich’s home run hitting,” Reds manager Dave Bristol said.

Convinced the Reds were a contender, Pavletich said, “I know the Cardinals are a great club and definitely are the club to beat, but I feel we have it on them in two important departments _ pitching and bench strength.”

Pavletich started at catcher in the first five games of the 1968 season before he hurt his right arm swinging at a pitch in Chicago. With Pavletich sidelined for a month, Bench took over as starting catcher and never looked back, building a Hall of Fame career.

Pavletich batted .254 in his big-league career, including .264 in 50 games versus the Cardinals.

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In assessing Joe McEwing’s value to the club as a utility player, the Cardinals placed a premium on productivity instead of popularity.

Twenty years ago, on March 18, 2000, the Cardinals traded McEwing to the Mets for reliever Jesse Orosco.

The deal was disliked by Cardinals fans who rooted for McEwing when he unexpectedly emerged as an overachieving underdog to become the team’s second baseman in 1999.

Nicknamed “Super Joe” for his all-out hustle, McEwing established a Cardinals rookie record with a 25-game hitting streak in 1999. The feat earned him another tag, “Little Mac,” in relation to his slugging teammate, Mark McGwire, who was “Big Mac.”

Though McEwing endeared himself to the Cardinals, sentiment was shoved aside the following spring when he struggled in a bid to earn a role as a utility player.

Job search

McEwing, chosen by the Cardinals in the 28th round of the 1992 amateur draft, was in his seventh season in their farm system when he earned a call to the big leagues in September 1998.

Placido Polanco was the Cardinals’ Opening Day second baseman in 1999, but McEwing eventually emerged from the bench to replace him. A right-handed batter, McEwing hit .275 with 28 doubles for the 1999 Cardinals, splitting time between second base and the outfield.

After the 1999 season, the Cardinals acquired second baseman Fernando Vina from the Brewers and made him their leadoff batter in 2000. McEwing, 27, went to spring training as a candidate for a utility role.

The competition for bench spots was intense. McEwing hit .143 in spring training and was outperformed by fellow utility players Shawon Dunston, Craig Paquette and Polanco.

When left-handed reliever Scott Radinsky developed elbow trouble, the Cardinals went searching for a replacement and made the swap of McEwing for Orosco.

“It would have been tough for Joe to make the club based on what we’ve seen this spring and the other candidates,” Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

When McEwing left the Cardinals’ clubhouse in Jupiter, Fla., he wrote on a message board, “I love you guys, Joe Mac.”

Fond farewell

Most were sorry to see McEwing depart.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he planned to keep a pair of McEwing’s cleats in his office “to remind me of what a professional ballplayer is supposed to be.”

Jocketty said when he got home after making the trade he found a McEwing baseball card belonging to his son, Joey, on a table. “I’m not popular with my son,” Jocketty told the Post-Dispatch.

Columnist Bernie Miklasz called McEwing “one of my favorite St. Louis athletes ever” and wrote, “Trading Joe McEwing is like being mean to a kitten.”

Miklasz concluded, “I didn’t want to admit it at first, but this trade makes sense.”

Warranty expires

Orosco, who turned 43 a month after joining the Cardinals, was a standout with the Mets in 1986 when they were World Series champions. In 1999, he pitched in 65 games for the Orioles.

He told the Post-Dispatch he was glad to be with the Cardinals. “Hopefully, I’m the piece to that puzzle that they needed in the bullpen,” Orosco said.

Before becoming a Cardinal, Orosco pitched in 1,090 major-league games and never was on the disabled list.

“Maybe he’s just got elastic bands for rotator cuffs,” said Cardinals pitcher Paul Spoljaric.

Turns out, the elastic was ready to snap.

Orosco pitched in three April games for the Cardinals, hurt his elbow and went on the disabled list. He returned in June, pitched in three more games, went back on the disabled list, had surgery to repair a torn elbow tendon and was done for the season.

Orosco faced a total of 16 batters for the Cardinals. He became a free agent after the season, signed with the Dodgers and continued to pitch in the majors until 2003 with the Twins at age 46. His 1,252 games pitched, including six with the Cardinals, are a major-league record

Switching sides

With Melvin Mora and Kurt Abbott in utility roles for the Mets, McEwing began the 2000 season in the minors. In mid-May, he got called up to the Mets and was in their lineup as an outfielder for all three games of a series May 26-28 against the Cardinals at St. Louis.

“I’m excited to come back,” McEwing told the Post-Dispatch before adding, “I’m a Met now. I’m happy to be a Met.”

Helped by McEwing and another ex-Cardinal, Todd Zeile, the Mets swept the three-game series. McEwing was 4-for-12 with one RBI and was warmly greeted by Cardinals fans. Zeile was 5-for-13 with three home runs and seven RBI and was booed.

After teasing McEwing about the fan reactions, Zeile told the New York Daily News, “I get excited to play back here. With every at-bat, the fans booed me a little louder and it motivated me a little more. I don’t think there’s any animosity though.”

McEwing hit .222 for the 2000 Mets, who won the pennant by prevailing against the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series.

McEwing played five season (2000-2004) with the Mets before finishing his career in the majors with the Royals (2005) and Astros (2006). He played every position in the majors except pitcher and catcher.

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A routine physical exam at spring training revealed a serious medical problem for third baseman Mike Shannon.

On March 18, 1970, the Cardinals disclosed Shannon, 30, had glomerulonephritis, a defect of the filtering function of the kidney.

Both of Shannon’s kidneys were affected, Cardinals team physician Dr. Stan London told The Sporting News.

Through medication, Shannon was able to play in 55 games for the Cardinals in 1970, his last season as a player.

Timely test

Shannon’s future with the Cardinals was in question when he got to spring training in 1970, but not because of his health.

Outfielder Curt Flood, who was traded by the Cardinals to the Phillies in October 1969, refused to report and filed an antitrust lawsuit against Major League Baseball. The Cardinals agreed to compensate the Phillies by sending them another player, possibly Shannon, according to columnist Dick Young in The Sporting News.

Shannon “apparently was” of interest to the Phillies, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. As general managers Bing Devine of the Cardinals and John Quinn of the Phillies were discussing a deal, a urine sample taken during a spring training physical revealed Shannon’s kidney problem.

if Shannon was going to play in 1970, it likely wouldn’t be until July or August, Dr. London said. “Mike might have to miss the entire season,” Dr. London added.

Shannon was stunned to learn he had a kidney disease. He was batting .304 in spring training games and said he had been feeling fine.

“I had no idea at all I had such a condition,” Shannon told the Post-Dispatch. “I had no warning.”

Shannon was grateful the physical exam had been thorough and that Dr. London had made the diagnosis.

“If I had gone on and played, I might really have damaged the kidney,” Shannon said. “I might never have played again. It might have taken my life.”

Dr. London confirmed, “His condition could have been aggravated by his playing baseball.”

Speedy recovery

On March 20, 1970, Shannon left training camp in Florida and returned to St. Louis. He was admitted to a hospital two days later.

The Cardinals assigned instructors George Kissell and Ken Boyer to work with catcher Joe Torre on how to play third base. Manager Red Schoendienst planned to try utility player Carl Taylor at catcher until Ted Simmons completed a military commitment in May. After watching Taylor catch in spring training, Schoendienst changed his mind. He shifted first baseman Richie Allen to third, replacing Shannon, put Joe Hague at first base and kept Torre at catcher.

On April 16, 1970, Shannon was discharged from the hospital and continued being treated at home, the Post-Dispatch reported. “We are conservatively optimistic,” Dr. London said.

Shannon adapted well to the medication and was given approval to return to baseball earlier than anticipated. On May 3, 1970, Shannon took part in batting and fielding drills with the Cardinals at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis.

As for a prognosis on his health, Shannon said, “It will be up to the Man upstairs. He’s running the show. Let’s face it.”

Asked about being sidelined for about seven weeks, Shannon said, “I’ll trade a few weeks for the rest of my life any time.”

Brief comeback

On May 14, 1970, Shannon made his first official appearance of the season when he batted for outfielder Leron Lee in the eighth inning of a game against the Pirates at St. Louis. Shannon, who received a standing ovation, flied out to Willie Stargell in left. Shannon stayed in the game at third base and cleanly fielded a grounder hit by leadoff batter Jose Pagan in the ninth. Boxscore

The next night, Shannon started against the Cubs at St. Louis and got a bunt single versus reliever Phil Regan. Boxscore

Shannon remained in the lineup but struggled to hit. On May 30, 1970, Schoendienst benched Shannon, who was batting .132, moved Torre to third and started Simmons at catcher.

Shannon eventually returned to the starting lineup but he lacked power. His last game as a major-leaguer was Aug. 12, 1970. Two days later, the Cardinals placed him on the disabled list for the rest of the season. Dr. London said tests revealed Shannon’s kidney condition had deteriorated.

In 55 games, including 45 starts at third base, Shannon hit .213 with no home runs for the 1970 Cardinals. Torre (72 starts) and Allen (38) were the Cardinals’ primary third basemen. Torre also started 88 games at catcher and Allen made 78 starts at first base.

On Feb. 12, 1971, the Cardinals said Shannon wouldn’t be back as a player. After spending the 1971 season in the Cardinals’ sales and promotion department, Shannon embarked on a successful second career as a broadcaster for the club rather than pursue opportunities to be a coach or manager.

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Johnny Antonelli lost more than he won versus the Cardinals, and Stan Musial and Ken Boyer often hit well against him, but when he was at his peak he was hard to beat.

Antonelli died on Feb. 28, 2020, at 89. A left-handed pitcher, he had a 126-110 record in 12 major-league seasons with the Braves, Giants and Indians.

His most prominent year was 1954 when he was 21-7 for the World Series champion Giants and led the National League in ERA (2.30) and shutouts (six).

His 20th win in 1954 came against the Cardinals and made him the first Giants left-hander to achieve the feat since Carl Hubbell and Cliff Melton each did it in 1937.

The Natural

Antonelli’s father was born in Italy and immigrated to Rochester, N.Y., where he worked for the railroad.

In the book, “We Played the Game,” Antonelli said he played organized baseball for the first time in high school. “It came pretty easy to me,” Antonelli said. “I started out playing first, but my coach, Charlie O’Brien, noticed that when I threw the ball it had a little tail to it, so he tried me out as a pitcher.”

As he prepared to graduate from high school in 1948, Antonelli said an exhibition game against a local semipro team was arranged for him so he could pitch before big-league scouts. The game was played at the ballpark used by the Cardinals’ farm club in Rochester.

In “We Played the Game,” Antonelli said the Red Sox made the highest offer, but he signed with the Braves for a $52,000 bonus. The Braves’ manager, Billy Southworth, had led the Cardinals to three consecutive pennants (1942-44) and two World Series titles.

“I let my father make the decision,” said Antonelli. “My father and I were fans of the Rochester Red Wings and my father was surely influenced to sign with the Braves because Billy Southworth had once coached at Rochester.”

Antonelli said it also helped that the Braves were owned by an Italian-American, Lou Perini.

Mixing pitches

Antonelli, who never played in the minor leagues, was 18 when he made his debut with the Braves on July 4, 1948. He spent two years (1951-52) in the Army and was traded to the Giants in 1954 in a deal involving slugger Bobby Thomson.

Giants pitching coach Freddie Fitzsimmons helped Antonelli develop an off-speed pitch to go with his fastball and curve. Antonelli described it as a “little snap screwball.”

In “We Played the Game,” Antonelli said, “It was meant to keep batters off stride. It was the pitch that made me successful.”

Changing speeds effectively, Antonelli’s pitching, along with Willie Mays’ hitting and fielding, helped the Giants replace the Dodgers as the best team in the National League in 1954.

On Aug. 30, 1954, Antonelli pitched a four-hitter in a 4-1 Giants victory over the Cardinals at St. Louis. The win gave Antonelli a season record of 20-3. All four Cardinals hits were singles.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch described Antonelli as “tremendous” and reported he used a curve, a “clever changeup” and an “overpowering fastball.”

“I’ve never seen him so fast,” Musial said. “He almost shaved me with one inside.” Boxscore

In a nifty bit of foreshadowing, the Post-Dispatch concluded, “It’s difficult to figure them beating Antonelli in a close one.”

Two weeks later, on Sept. 13, 1954, Antonelli pitched a five-hit shutout and outdueled rookie Gordon Jones in the Giants’ 1-0 triumph over the Cardinals in New York. Again, all of the St. Louis hits were singles. Antonelli allowed no hits after the fourth inning. Boxscore

Cardinals challenge

Antonelli was the starter for the Giants in the first game the Cardinals played in San Francisco in 1958. Boxscore

He also allowed two of the five home runs Musial hit in a doubleheader against the Giants on May 2, 1954 at St. Louis. Boxscore

Musial hit .302 with 11 home runs in his career against Antonelli. No other batter hit more home runs versus Antonelli.

The first home run allowed by Antonelli in the big leagues was to Musial on May 24, 1949, at St. Louis. Boxscore

Musial’s Cardinals teammate, Boyer, batted .330 with five home runs versus Antonelli. Two of Boyer’s home runs came in a game on June 27, 1956, a 6-0 Cardinals victory at the Polo Grounds. Boxscore

For his career against the Cardinals, Antonelli was 17-18 with five shutouts and a 3.53 ERA.

In his book, “Stan Musial: The Man’s Own Story,” Musial said, “Antonelli was a good pitcher with great control for several years. In his peak, he came up with a terrific change of pace that made him outstanding. A little later, he lost that change, the pitch that went away from a right-handed hitter, and he never got it back. Losing that pitch cost him something in the way of effectiveness.”

After the 1959 season, the Cardinals offered to trade second baseman Don Blasingame and pitcher Larry Jackson to the Giants for Antonelli and shortstop Daryl Spencer, but the Giants wouldn’t part with Antonelli, a 19-game winner in 1959. With Antonelli unavailable, the deal was restructured and Blasingame was sent to the Giants for Spencer and outfielder Leon Wagner.

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Dick Scott waited a long time to reach the major leagues, and when he got there, as a 30-year-old rookie, he quickly experienced highs and lows.

A left-handed pitcher, Scott was in his eighth season in the minor leagues when he got called up to the Dodgers for the first time in May 1963.

The first team Scott faced was the Cardinals at St. Louis. His debut went splendidly. The next night was a different story.

This post is in remembrance of Scott, who died Feb. 10, 2020, at 86.

Down on the farm

Born in New Hampshire, Scott went to high school in Maine and played multiple sports. He was 20 when the Dodgers signed him as an amateur free agent in August 1953. After two years in the Army, Scott began his pro baseball career in the Dodgers’ farm system in 1956.

One of Scott’s biggest boosters was Bobby Bragan, who managed him at Spokane in 1958.

Scott “should make the majors,” Bragan said to the Spokane Chronicle.

Bragan, who managed the Pirates and Indians before taking the Spokane job, told the Spokane Review, “All that Scott needs is a little confidence, that feeling of thinking to himself, ‘Just give me the ball and let me out there. I’ll mow them down.’ ”

In 1960, Scott, 27, was 8-1 with a 2.27 ERA for the Dodgers’ farm club in Atlanta, but he had left elbow surgery in September, the Atlanta Constitution reported. Toward the end of spring training in 1961, Scott pitched 18 consecutive scoreless innings, but he remained in the minors.

While pitching for Spokane in 1962, Scott “has given up the idea of trying to overpower every batter and has become a better pitcher in the process,” according to the Spokane Chronicle.

“I’ve found out I have better control when I don’t throw too hard,” Scott said.

Meet me in St. Louis

Scott had a strong spring training in 1963 and nearly made the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster. His impressive pitching carried over to the regular season with Spokane. In his first start, he pitched a three-hit shutout at Denver in a game attended by heavyweight boxing champion Sonny Liston.

On May 7, 1963, Scott was leading the Pacific Coast League in ERA (0.77) when he was called up to the Dodgers.

Scott reported to the Dodgers at St. Louis on May 8 and made his major-league debut that night against the Cardinals.

Entering in the eighth, with the Dodgers ahead, 10-5, Scott retired Curt Flood, Dick Groat and Bill White in order.

After the Dodgers added a run in the top of the ninth, Stan Musial led off the bottom half against Scott and lined out to second. Ken Boyer doubled, but Scott got George Altman to ground out and Tim McCarver to pop out to third. Boxscore

Scott’s two scoreless innings against the star-studded Cardinals lineup made a strong impression. Scott “is ready to pitch any time the Dodgers need him,” the Los Angeles Times declared.

Tough encore

Scott didn’t have to wait long. The next night, May 9, the Dodgers led, 2-0, in the fifth when the Cardinals loaded the bases with none out against starter Pete Richert.

Manager Walter Alston called for Scott to face Bill White, a left-handed batter.

“I was looking for the fastball on the first pitch because I figured Scott would try to get ahead of me,” White told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “The ball was right down the middle.”

White hit the ball over the pavilion roof at Busch Stadium and onto Grand Avenue for a grand slam, giving the Cardinals a 4-2 lead.

After Boyer lined out to center and Musial flied out to right, Charlie James singled and Gene Oliver put the Cardinals ahead, 6-2, with a two-run home run off Scott.

Rattled, Scott gave up singles to Julian Javier and Bob Gibson before Larry Sherry relieved him. Sherry surrendered a RBI-single to Flood and the run was charged to Scott.

Scott’s line: 0.2 innings, four runs, five hits. Boxscore

Wrong place, wrong time

Scott pitched in nine games for the Dodgers before he was returned to Spokane in July 1963.

A month later, Scott was sitting on the edge of the visitors dugout at San Diego when the weighted end of a lead warmup bat swung by teammate Bart Shirley, who was in the on-deck circle, came loose and struck him above the right eye.

Scott was taken to a hospital and needed 25 stitches to close the wound, according to the Spokane newspapers.

Fortunately, Scott recovered, started against Portland on Sept. 3 and pitched 7.1 innings, allowing one run.

Scott finished with a 2.28 ERA for Spokane. In December 1963, the Dodgers traded him to the Cubs for pitcher Jim Brewer and catcher Cuno Barragan.

The 1964 season was Scott’s last as a professional player. He pitched in three games for the Cubs and spent most of the year with their Salt Lake City farm team.

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