Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

A rift between manager Solly Hemus and most of his coaches was a major factor in the Cardinals’ decision to fire him.

Sixty years ago, on July 6, 1961, Hemus was ousted and replaced by coach Johnny Keane.

Distrust between Hemus and the coaching staff, combined with a losing record, a disgruntled fan base and low team morale, all contributed to the decision to change managers.

Uneasy relationship

Hemus entered the Cardinals’ farm system as an infielder in 1946. As the second baseman for the Houston Buffaloes in 1947 and 1948, his manager was Johnny Keane. Hemus got to the majors with the Cardinals in 1949 and played for them until he was traded to the Phillies in May 1956.

In September 1958, Cardinals owner Gussie Busch decided to fire manager Fred Hutchinson and replace him with Hemus, who was the Phillies’ second baseman. Busch ignored the recommendation of general manager Bing Devine, who wanted Hutchinson to remain manager.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Hemus asked for Keane, who was managing in the Cardinals’ farm system, to be on his coaching staff and also approved the choices of coaches Howie Pollet and Harry Walker.

Keane, who was a finalist for the Cardinals’ managing job in November 1950 before Marty Marion was selected, twice had rejected offers to become a Cardinals coach because, “I wanted to go up as a manager,” he told The Sporting News.

On the advice of his friend Bing Devine, who told Keane his lack of big-league experience was preventing him from managing in the majors, Keane reconsidered his stance and accepted the offer to join Hemus’ staff.

In Hemus’ first year as manager, the Cardinals were 71-83 and finished seventh in the eight-team National League. Hemus made racist remarks and lost the respect of players such as Bob Gibson. In his book “Stranger to the Game,” Gibson said, “His treatment of black players was the result of one of the following: Either he disliked us deeply or he genuinely believed the way to motivate us was with insults.”

Hemus arranged for catcher Darrell Johnson to join the staff as player-coach in 1960 and the Cardinals improved to 86-68 and third place. According to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Hemus credited Johnson with the development of pitchers Ernie Broglio, a 21-game winner, and rookie Ray Sadecki.

As Hemus gained confidence in Johnson, the relationship with the other coaches ruptured.

“Hemus questioned both the competence and loyalty of the veteran organization men” on the coaching staff, according to the Post-Dispatch.

Only Johnson “passed Solly’s own naive loyalty test,” columnist Bob Broeg wrote.

Hemus wanted to fire Keane after the 1960 season, but Devine blocked the attempt, the Globe-Democrat reported.

Clubhouse turmoil

Expected to contend in 1961, the Cardinals flopped, posting losing records in each of the first three months of the season.

Tension created by the defeats intensified because of the fractured leadership. With Hemus relying on Johnson for advice, “Keane and the other coaches resented the decreased responsibility,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Keane said Hemus “had not taken advantage of his baseball experience and had bypassed him.”

“I did the only thing I could do then _ my job and no more,” Keane said.

Describing Hemus and Keane as “two fast friends who had become cool associates,” the Post-Dispatch reported Devine sought to bring them together, but couldn’t.

After a 13-1 loss to the Cubs on July 1 dropped the Cardinals’ record to 31-39, Gussie Busch declared he was “terribly discouraged and unhappy” with the team, but said Hemus would finish the season as manager, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Busch told the Globe-Democrat, “I’m a great admirer of Solly,” and added, “I’m quite sure he’ll finish the season.”

Regarding the players, Busch said, “Our boys are not playing hard enough. Something’s going on.”

The next day, July 2, the Cardinals again lost to the Cubs, 10-9. After a day off, they played at home and split a July 4 doubleheader with the last-place Phillies. After winning the opener, the Cardinals blew a 6-0 lead in the second game and lost, 10-6. Boxscore

In what had become a common occurrence, Hemus was booed throughout the doubleheader. Hemus “probably drew more boos than any pilot in the history of the Cardinals,” the Globe-Democrat noted.

Decision time

After the doubleheader, Devine informed Hemus a change might be necessary, the Globe-Democrat reported.

As the team departed for Los Angeles and a series against the Dodgers, Devine stayed behind in St. Louis. He went to Busch and said a change in managers was needed immediately.

“I took the initiative in this thing,” Devine told the Globe-Democrat.

Concerned about the discontent of Cardinals fans, Busch “relented reluctantly” to Devine’s recommendation, according to the Post-Dispatch.

On July 5, while the Cardinals were beating the Dodgers, 9-1, “Devine slipped into town and registered at another hotel,” the Post-Dispatch reported. He met with Hemus and Keane and told them of the change.

At 9 a.m. on July 6, Devine, flanked by Keane and Hemus, held a press conference and made the official announcement.

Keane was signed to manage for the remainder of the 1961 season and for 1962.

Devine also announced that Red Schoendienst and Vern Benson would join Howie Pollet and Harry Walker as coaches on Keane’s staff. Benson had been manager of the Cardinals’ Portland farm team. Schoendienst would be a player-coach.

Darrell Johnson was removed from the coaching staff. He rejected the Cardinals’ offer to be a coach at Portland and instead joined the Phillies as a reserve catcher. “I know I have no future with the Cards,” Johnson told the Globe-Democrat.

Hostile takeover

The Cardinals were 33-41 and in sixth place when Hemus was fired. His overall record with them was 190-192. “We feel a change is called for before an extended losing pattern becomes fixed and established,” Devine said.

Hemus displayed “an obvious coolness” toward Keane at the press conference, the Post-Dispatch noted.

Bob Broeg wrote, “At first, Solly declined to discuss at all his relations with Keane. Then, asked specifically if his silence meant he felt Keane had undermined him, he said, ‘No comment.’ “

Keane had been a player, manager, scout and coach in the Cardinals’ organization since 1930. Regarding the 1961 Cardinals, Keane said, “The important thing is to boost morale. The morale isn’t apparent in the mechanical effort, but some players are down.”

Pointing to his heart, Keane told the Post-Dispatch he believed some players weren’t “feeling the game here.”

Bob Burnes of the Globe-Democrat lauded Keane as “a sound baseball man” and added, “Many of us have thought for years that Keane deserved a shot at the job he now has acquired.”

Under Keane, the 1961 Cardinals were 47-33 and finished fifth at 80-74.

In his book “From Ghetto to Glory,” Gibson said, “If there is any individual who gave me the confidence in my ability to be a major-league pitcher, it was Johnny Keane.”

Keane led the Cardinals to 84 wins in 1962, 93 in 1963 and 93 again in 1964.

The 1964 Cardinals won the National League pennant on the last day of the season and prevailed against the Yankees in a seven-game World Series.

Feeling betrayed by Gussie Busch, who fired Bing Devine during the 1964 season and plotted to have Leo Durocher become manager, Keane quit a day after the World Series clincher and joined the Yankees.

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The distance from Clinton, Iowa, to St. Louis is 285 miles, but it took Tom Hilgendorf a decade to complete the trek.

A left-handed pitcher who was born and raised in Clinton, Hilgendorf was 18 when he signed with the Cardinals in 1960. He was 27 when he finally got to pitch for them in the big leagues in 1969.

Hilgendorf’s route to the majors was filled with detours, including illness and a career change, but he persevered.

In six big-league seasons with the Cardinals, Indians and Phillies, Hilgendorf was 19-14 with 14 saves. His most important save occurred off the field while on a road trip with the Indians when he rescued a youth from drowning.

Hilgendorf was 79 when he died on March 25, 2021.

Traveling man

Hilgendorf’s baseball talent was evident early. According to The Sporting News, he pitched for the St. Mary’s High School varsity team when he was 13.

After signing with the Cardinals when he graduated from high school, Hilgendorf began an odyssey through their farm system.

While with Winnipeg in 1961, he played outfield on some days he didn’t pitch. Hilgendorf told the Philadelphia Daily News that farm director Walter Shannon and outfielder Stan Musial scouted him on a Cardinals off-day during the season.

“Musial came to Winnipeg to see me hit,” Hilgendorf said. “He had tagged me as just the kind of hitter he was when he quit pitching in the minors. The next week I was back to pitching. They were overloaded with outfielders and short on arms.”

After the 1965 season, Hilgendorf went to Nicarauga to play winter baseball.

“I was sitting in the dugout and (teammate) Mel Queen said, ‘Hey, your eyes are yellow,’ ” Hilgendorf told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I went and looked in a mirror and he was right. Then I noticed my arms were yellow, too.”

Hilgendorf had hepatitis. He returned to Iowa and said he spent a week in a hospital and four months in bed at home.

The Cardinals put Hilgendorf on the restricted list and he sat out the 1966 season. According to the Post-Dispatch, “he lost 45 pounds and started to think about a different future.”

He informed the Cardinals he wouldn’t play in 1967 either. “I went to work for DuPont’s cellophane plant in Clinton,” Hilgendorf told the Wilmington (Del.) News Journal.

“The hours were great and the money good,” said Hilgendorf, who operated a slicer, “but I couldn’t see myself sitting behind a machine all my life, never seeing the sun until I get off work.”

Hilgendorf returned to the Cardinals’ farm system in 1968. He began the season at Arkansas before moving to Class AAA Tulsa, managed by Warren Spahn

Back with Tulsa in 1969, Hilgendorf didn’t appear prominent in the plans of the Cardinals, whose bullpen ace was another left-hander from Iowa, Joe Hoerner.

“My mother and father would ask me why the Cardinals wouldn’t trade me to some team that would use me, or they’d say, ‘Why don’t you find yourself a nice job?,’ ” Hilgendorf said to the Wilmington News Journal.

Major achievement

In August 1969, Hilgendorf finally got the call from the Cardinals.

With prominent sideburns and a beefy physique, Hilgendorf “looks like a guy who just wheeled an 8-axle semi rig up to a truck stop somewhere on Route 66 and said to Marge the Waitress, ‘How’s tricks, Sweetie? Rustle me up a cheeseburger and black coffee,’ ” Bill Conlin wrote in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Hilgendorf made his major-league debut with an inning of scoreless relief against the Braves. Boxscore

The next month, Hilgendorf earned saves in consecutive games versus the Expos. The second one preserved the first win for Jerry Reuss, who was making his major-league debut. Boxscore

In six appearances covering 6.1 innings for the 1969 Cardinals, Hilgendorf had a 1.42 ERA.

After the 1969 season, the Cardinals dealt Joe Hoerner to the Phillies. Hilgendorf became “the prime candidate” to replace Hoerner as the top left-handed reliever, The Sporting News declared.

Hilgendorf opened the 1970 season with the Cardinals, but it didn’t work out. He was 0-4 with three saves for them and spent part of the season back at Tulsa, pitching for Spahn.

On Dec. 2, 1970, the Cardinals traded Hilgendorf to the Royals for pitcher Ike Brookens.

Fork it over

The Royals assigned Hilgendorf to the minors and left him there. In July 1972, they traded him to the Indians. The deal reunited Hilgendorf, 30, with Spahn, the Indians’ pitching coach.

“He’s got a good arm,” Spahn told The Sporting News. “He throws strikes, keeps the ball low.”

Facing a stretch with multiple doubleheaders, the Indians gave Hilgendorf his first start in the big leagues versus the Brewers. He pitched a six-hitter for his his first major-league win. Boxscore

Hilgendorf was 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA in 19 appearances for the 1972 Indians. In five starts for them, he was 2-1 with a 2.72 ERA.

The next year, Hilgendorf was 5-3 and led the Indians in games pitched (48), ERA (3.14) and saves (six). Hilgendorf credited a forkball, a pitch described by The Sporting News as “a no-spin pitch with a sharp drop,” with helping him get established in the majors.

Big save

Hilgendorf was 4-3 with three saves for the 1974 Indians. The highlight came on July 6 when the Indians were in Anaheim to play the Angels.

Hilgendorf was returning from dinner at 11:20 p.m. when he noticed a boy at the bottom of the motel swimming pool, the Long Beach Independent reported.

According to the newspaper, 13-year-old Jerry Zaradte of San Francisco was playing in the pool when he was overcome with cramps and sank to the bottom. Hilgendorf dived fully clothed into the pool to rescue him.

“I got him up once, but he slipped back,” Hilgendorf told the Long Beach Independent. “The second time, I made it. He’s a lucky kid. Normally, I wouldn’t have passed by the pool, but I decided to take a shortcut because it was getting late.”

Hilgendorf “was credited with saving the life” of the youth, The Sporting News reported.

Philadelphia story

In March 1975, the Indians traded Hilgendorf to the Phillies.

“I’ve been after Hilgendorf for two years,” Phillies general manager Paul Owens told The Sporting News. “He can pitch.”

In joining the Phillies, Hilgendorf crossed paths again with former Cardinals teammate Joe Hoerner. With Tug McGraw sidelined because of a back ailment, Hoerner and Hilgendorf were the left-handers in the Phillies’ bullpen.

Hilgendorf was 7-3 with a 2.14 ERA in 53 appearances for the Phillies. In seven games versus the Cardinals, he was 1-1 with a 1.76 ERA.

The Phillies released Hilgendorf, 34, just before the start of the 1976 season. The Pirates signed him, but he never returned to the majors.

After his playing career, Hilgendorf was a self-employed carpenter in Iowa.

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Ted Simmons was the first catcher to start All-Star Games for both the National League and American League.

Simmons was the starting catcher for the National League all-stars when he was with the Cardinals in 1978. He was the starting catcher for the American League all-stars when he was with the Brewers in 1983.

Named an all-star eight times, Simmons played as a reserve in three games (1973, 1977 and 1981) and did not get into games after being selected in 1972, 1974 and 1979. Simmons was voted the 1979 National League starting catcher by the fans, but was unable to play because of a broken left wrist.

Ted’s turn

The Reds’ Johnny Bench was the starting catcher for the National League in every All-Star Game from 1969-77. In 1978, fans voted for Bench to be the starter again, but a bad back kept him from playing in the July 11 game at San Diego.

Bench received 2,442,201 votes in fan balloting. The other top vote-getters among National League catchers in 1978 were the Dodgers’ Steve Yeager (1,952,494), the Phillies’ Bob Boone (1,842,080) and Simmons (1,815,712).

Of the four, Simmons was producing the best. He entered the all-star break with a .311 batting average and 10 home runs. Bench (.224, 11 homers), Boone (.258, seven homers) and Yeager (.189, two homers) were not as good.

Asked for his opinion of the all-star voting by fans, Simmons told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “I’d be lying if I said I did like it, but I don’t want to sound like sour-graping because everything that has come to Johnny Bench, he’s earned.”

National League manager Tommy Lasorda chose Simmons, Boone and the Braves’ Biff Pocoroba (.262, four homers) as all-star catchers, and named Simmons the starter. Before Simmons in 1978, the last catcher other than Bench to start for the National League in an All-Star Game was the Mets’ Jerry Grote in 1968.

Simmons was the first Cardinals catcher to start an All-Star Game since Walker Cooper in 1944.

Check it out

Asked about being an all-star starter, Simmons told the Post-Dispatch, “There’s nothing to match it.”

In the top of the first inning, with the Giants’ Vida Blue pitching, Simmons caught the Mariners’ Richie Zisk attempting to steal.

Batting sixth in the order, Simmons came to the plate with runners on first and second, none out, in the second against the Orioles’ Jim Palmer.

“Tough man at the plate,” said ABC-TV broadcaster Keith Jackson.

Broadcast partner Howard Cosell called Simmons “the most underpublicized exceptional hitter in baseball … I love to watch Ted Simmons hit.”

Expecting to get pitches to hit, Simmons swung exceptionally hard. “I thought I might get me a tater,” he said, explaining his home run cut.

Simmons drilled a pitch and “nearly removed the ankles from first base umpire Nestor Chylak with a nasty line drive barely outside the foul line,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Perhaps too eager to hit another hard, Simmons struck out, making him 0-for-5 in All-Star Game plate appearances.

Simmons got another chance in the third. With two outs, he again came up with runners on first and second against the Athletics’ Matt Keough, who relieved Palmer.

Fooled by a pitch, Simmons checked his swing but still connected. The ball bounced along the third-base line, “a gentle trickle placed well enough even for Simmons, no gazelle, to leg it out,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

The infield single loaded the bases.

“My first all-star hit,” Simmons said with a grin. “I’ll take it. They could roll it out there if they wanted.”

Simmons got one more at-bat in the game. Leading off the sixth against the Brewers’ Lary Sorensen, Simmons took another big swing and hit a soft liner to the Red Sox’s Dwight Evans in right for an out.

Boone replaced Simmons in the seventh.

The National League won, 7-3, for its 15th victory in the last 16 All-Star Games. Asked about the dominance, Simmons told the Post-Dispatch, “The National League has the better players.” Boxscore and Game Video

Play to win

Two years later, in December 1980, Simmons and Sorensen were swapped in a multi-player trade between the Cardinals and Brewers.

Like Bench had done in the National League, Carlton Fisk dominated fan balloting for catcher in the American League.

Fisk was the American League all-star starting catcher every year from 1977-82, with the exception of 1979, when the Royals’ Darrell Porter started. Fisk was with the Red Sox until becoming a free agent and joining the White Sox in 1981.

In 1983, Simmons got the all-star start because he was the top vote-getter among American League catchers in fan balloting. He got the support because he was hitting .307 with six home runs at the all-star break and had played for the American League champions the previous year.

The top vote-getters were Simmons (946,254), the Tigers’ Lance Parrish (824,741), Fisk (870,342) and another former National Leaguer, the Angels’ Bob Boone (610,559).

Parrish was batting .304 with eight home runs at the all-star break. Fisk (.250, nine homers) and Boone (.251, three homers) were not as good with the bat.

Played on July 6, 1983, at Comiskey Park in Chicago, the All-Star Game had its 50-year anniversary. The National League team was managed by the Cardinals’ Whitey Herzog, who made the trade of Simmons to the Brewers.

Simmons batted twice in the game. He grounded out to pitcher Mario Soto of the Reds in the first and popped out to second against the Giants’ Atlee Hammaker in the third before being replaced by Parrish.

The American League won, 13-3, snapping an 11-game losing streak. Boxscore and Game Video

“These guys wanted to win this game,” Simmons said to The Capital Times of Madison, Wis. “You could see it in peoples’ faces. Instead of guys saying, ‘I want out of the game. I’m going to play my three innings and go,’ they wanted to stick around.

“There were a number of former National League players who had been all-stars, like Bob Boone, Dave Winfield and myself, who tried to generate that, ‘Hey, let’s win the game,’ attitude.”

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Pitcher Gary Blaylock hit two home runs for the Cardinals and he did it in consecutive at-bats.

On May 12, 1959, in his final at-bat of the game, Blaylock hit a two-run home run against Reds reliever Jim O’Toole.

Four days later, on May 16, Blaylock took his next at-bat, against Phillies starter Jim Owens, and hit another two-run home run.

The home runs in consecutive at-bats were the only ones Blaylock hit in the majors. The 1959 season, Blaylock’s lone year as a big-league player, was split between the Cardinals and Yankees.

Long wait

Blaylock was born in the Missouri Bootheel, the southeasternmost part of the state, in the town of Clarkton, and grew up on a farm in nearby Malden.

A right-hander, he developed his arm strength milking cows, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Blaylock was 18 when he signed with the Cardinals in 1950.

Blaylock spent nine seasons in the Cardinals’ farm system. He had success, winning 23 for Johnson City in 1951 and 14 for Rochester in 1958, for instance. The Sporting News noted he “has appeared close to stardom at times,” but Blaylock repeatedly was passed over for a spot in the big leagues.

“We always have considered him a fine prospect,” Cardinals general manager Bing Devine told The Sporting News, “but he was young and found it difficult to control his temper. He fought himself and was, by and large, a thrower instead of a pitcher.”

The Cardinals liked what they saw of Blaylock, 27, at spring training in 1959. 

“He has matured,” Devine said. “He’s a pitcher now.”

Cardinals manager Solly Hemus told The Sporting News, “I’ll bet that if the state of the ballclub permits the use of Gary every fourth day, he’ll win 12 games. If he is used only in spots and not as a regular starter, he’ll win at least seven.”

On the run

The Cardinals opened the 1959 season with a starting rotation of Larry Jackson, Ernie Broglio, Vinegar Bend Mizell and Lindy McDaniel. Hemus said rookies Blaylock and Bob Gibson would be relievers and sport starters.

After waiting since 1950 to reach the big leagues, Blaylock made his debut on Opening Day at St. Louis, but not as a pitcher. He entered the game in the eighth inning as a pinch-runner for Stan Musial, and it was quite an adventure.

Taking a big lead in anticipation of a hit-and-run play, Blaylock became trapped when Giants pitcher Johnny Antonelli made a pickoff throw to first.

“All I could think of _ and I thought of a lot in a split second _ was, ‘My gosh, I’ve been in baseball 10 years, waiting to get into a big-league game, and now look what I’ve done,’ ” Blaylock told the Post-Dispatch.

Blaylock made a desperate dash toward second. A throw to shortstop Andre Rodgers, covering second, arrived ahead of the runner, but Blaylock made a belated slide, eluded “a slow, careless tag” by Rodgers, and was called safe, The Sporting News reported.

Blaylock advanced to third on a groundout and scored on an Alex Grammas single. Boxscore

Hot and cold

Six days later, on April 16, Blaylock pitched in a big-league game for the first time. Appearing in relief against the Dodgers at Los Angeles, Blaylock tossed two scoreless innings, retiring all six batters he faced. Boxscore

Hemus rewarded him with a start against the Cubs at Chicago on April 21. Blaylock pitched a complete game, but the Cubs won, 1-0, behind Glen Hobbie’s one-hitter. Musial got the Cardinals’ lone hit, a double with two outs in the seventh. Sammy Taylor drove in the Cubs’ run in the second. Boxscore

In May, Hemus put Blaylock in the starting rotation. On May 12 at St. Louis, he held the Reds scoreless for five innings. With the Cardinals ahead 5-0, Blaylock hit a two-run home run deep into the seats in left-center in the bottom of the fifth.

“I’ve always been a fair hitter,” Blaylock told the Post-Dispatch.

He pitched 6.2 innings for the win, but was lifted before he had another at-bat. Boxscore

In his next appearance, a start versus the Phillies at St. Louis, Blaylock broke a scoreless tie with a two-run home run in his first at-bat of the game in the third. Blaylock went the distance and got the win, boosting his record to 3-1. Boxscore

After that, Blaylock’s season unraveled. He never won another start and was sent to the bullpen in the middle of June. In July, the Cardinals put him on waivers and the Yankees claimed him.

In 26 appearances for the 1959 Cardinals, Blaylock was 4-5 with a 5.13 ERA. He was 3-4 as a starter and 1-1 in relief. As a batter, Blaylock was 4-for-34 with 17 strikeouts.

Blaylock was an effective reliever for the 1959 Yankees. He had a 2.59 ERA in 14 relief appearances for them. A highlight came on Aug. 15 at Yankee Stadium when he pitched five scoreless innings and drove in Norm Siebern with a double. Boxscore

Shelled in his one start, against the Tigers, Blaylock finished the season 0-1 with a 3.50 ERA for the Yankees.

Nurturing talent

Blaylock pitched in the Yankees’ farm system from 1960-63, then moved into managing. He was a minor-league manager for the Yankees and Royals.

In 1971, when Blaylock managed the Royals’ farm team in Billings, Mont., his shortstop was George Brett, 18, who was in his first season as a professional. According to the Kansas City Star, Blaylock said he wasn’t convinced Brett “had enough arm to be a top-flight shortstop” and moved him to third.

“I was thoroughly impressed with him as a kid and as a guy that liked to play,” Blaylock said, “but I wasn’t impressed to the point that I thought he’d be a star.”

Blaylock also served as a scout and minor-league pitching instructor for the Royals. He mentored pitching prospects Bret Saberhagen, Danny Jackson and Mark Gubicza.

“He understands me more than anybody except my family,” Gubicza told the Kansas City Star.

The Royals named Blaylock pitching coach on the staff of manager Dick Howser in 1984. Blaylock succeeded another former Cardinal, Cloyd Boyer.

Blaylock was Royals pitching coach from 1984-87.

His coaching highlight came in 1985 when the Royals became World Series champions, defeating the Cardinals.

Royals pitchers limited the Cardinals to 13 runs in seven games. Saberhagen was 2-0 with an 0.50 ERA and won the World Series Most Valuable Player Award. He also was the recipient of the 1985 American League Cy Young Award.

Note: Special thanks to Cardinals researcher Tom Orf for providing the inspiration to research and write this post.

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Before he settled in as a second baseman, Rogers Hornsby was moved all over the field by the Cardinals. The one constant amid the shuffling was Hornsby’s hitting.

One hundred years ago, in 1921, Hornsby was the Cardinals’ Opening Day left fielder. Before then, Hornsby had taken turns as the Cardinals’ starter at shortstop, third base, second and first.

His stint as an outfielder didn’t last long. Moved back to second base, Hornsby went on to have his peak seasons with the Cardinals.

Multiple moves

Hornsby made his major-league debut with the Cardinals in 1915. He played in 18 games, all at shortstop, after he was called up from the minors in September. At St. Louis on Sept. 30, the starting shortstops were a field of dreams matchup: Hornsby, 19, and Honus Wagner, 41, on the same field for the first time. Boxscore

In 1916, manager Miller Huggins made Hornsby the Cardinals’ Opening Day shortstop, but shifted him to third base in May. Hornsby started 79 games at third, 44 at short and 14 at first base for the 1916 Cardinals.

Hornsby was back at shortstop for Huggins in 1917 and stayed there all season, but he committed 52 errors. The next year, when Jack Hendricks managed the Cardinals, Hornsby made 46 errors at shortstop in a season shortened because of World War I.

Branch Rickey was Cardinals manager in 1919. He opened the season with Hornsby at shortstop, but shifted him to third base in June. Hornsby made 71 starts at third base in 1919, 36 at shortstop, 26 at second base and five at first.

In 1920, Hornsby opened a season at second base for the first time and remained there all year. Perhaps it is no coincidence that he led the National League in hitting (.370), on-base percentage (.431), hits (218), total bases (329), doubles (44), RBI (94) and extra-base hits (73).

In the foreword of Hornsby’s autobiography, “My War With Baseball,” a contemporary, Casey Stengel, said, “Most people, when they talk about Hornsby, just talk about his hitting. Well, he was just amazing on the double play, terrific as a runner, and his judgment on the field was keen.”

First rate at 2nd

Cardinals third baseman Milt Stock also had a big season in 1920, batting .319 with 204 hits. Unhappy with the Cardinals’ contract offer, Stock sat out spring training in 1921.

Uncertain when, or if, Stock would end his holdout, manager Branch Rickey planned to open the season with Hornsby at third base and rookie Specs Toporcer at second. Toporcer is believed to be the first player other than a pitcher to wear eyeglasses in a major-league game.

The lineup plan changed on the eve of the season opener when Stock signed with the Cardinals, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Rickey’s 1921 Opening Day lineup had Stock at third, Toporcer at second and Hornsby in left field. Until then, Hornsby’s outfield experience in the big leagues consisted of three games in 1918. Boxscore

Hornsby started in left in the Cardinals’ first six games of the season, made no errors and hit .391.

Rickey “is highly pleased with the splendid showing Rogers Hornsby has made” as an outfielder, the St. Louis Star-Times reported. “Hornsby is delighted with his transfer … He has always aspired to hold down an outfield berth.”

The St. Louis Globe-Democrat noted Hornsby “has made some pretty plays in the pasture.”

At second base, Toporcer hit .300 in the Cardinals’ first six games, turned four double plays and made two errors.

The Cardinals, though, lost five of their first six games and were held to two runs or less in three of the defeats. Rickey wanted to get outfielder Les Mann’s bat into the lineup, so he opened a spot by moving Hornsby to second and benching Toporcer.

“It is firmly believed Hornsby’s potency will rate higher if he is given one position on the diamond, a permanent one,” the Globe-Democrat suggested.

Sticking primarily to second base for the rest of the 1921 season, Hornsby led the National League in hitting (.397), on-base percentage (.458), runs (131), hits (235), total bases (378), doubles (44), triples (18), RBI (126) and extra-base hits (83). He struck out a mere 48 times in 674 plate appearances.

He never again played in the outfield.

After the 1920 season, the Giants offered $200,000 and four players for Hornsby, The Sporting News reported. The Cardinals said they would make the deal only if second baseman Frankie Frisch was one of the players they received. The Giants, “suffering from shock” from the Cardinals’ rejection, said they wouldn’t trade Frisch for Hornsby even up, according to The Sporting News.

Staying primarily at second base, Hornsby became the Cardinals’ all-time best right-handed hitter. As player-manager in 1926, he led them to their first World Series championship.

After a falling out with Cardinals owner Sam Breadon, Hornsby was traded to the Giants _ for Frankie Frisch and pitcher Jimmy Ring.

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The Cardinals decided nights in red satin weren’t for them.

Seventy-five years ago, in 1946, the Cardinals planned to take a bold departure from their traditional look. They bought red satin uniforms to wear during night road games.

When it came time to don the shiny red fabric in a game, however, the Cardinals backed out and stuck with their flannels.

Pajama game

Satin baseball uniforms made a sensation at the American Association All-Star Game at Toledo in 1938. The minor-league all-stars, including Ted Williams, wore red, white and blue satin uniforms for the night game, according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

In the 1940s, with night games becoming more commonplace, a few National League teams decided to try satin uniforms because the material reflected the ballpark lights.

Satin is a fabric weave that produces a smooth, soft, glossy material with a luxurious look. It is made of silk, polyester or nylon.

According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Dodgers, Braves and Reds experimented with satin uniforms in the 1940s.

Innovative executive Branch Rickey chose to have the Dodgers wear satin uniforms in 1944. The former Cardinals administrator got the idea from watching All-American Girls Professional Softball League teams play in satin uniforms under the lights in 1943, Newspaper Enterprise Association reported.

Rickey planned for the 1944 Dodgers to wear white satin uniforms with blue piping for night home games, and blue satin uniforms with white piping for night road games.

“Rickey decided to make Them Beautiful Bums even more colorful,” Newspaper Enterprise Association declared.

United Press described the Dodgers’ outfits as “satin pajamas” and “Little Lord Fauntleroy uniforms.” 

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle called the uniforms “satin nightgowns” and rated the home whites as looking better than the road blues. “The flashy white undies with the blue stripes stood out particularly well,” the Brooklyn newspaper noted.

According to Brooklyn Daily Eagle columnist Tommy Holmes, “The players were expecting a lot of razzing from the wisecrackers, but witticisms from the cash customers were conspicuous by their absence.”

Newspaper Enterprise Association concluded, “The next thing you know they’ll be playing baseball without spikes and with chewing tobacco checked in the clubhouse.”

Fashion faux pas

Two years later, in 1946, the Cardinals purchased bright red satin uniforms for road night games, The Sporting News reported, but the duds never got worn by the big-leaguers.

The St. Louis Star-Times reported Cardinals players “refused to wear” the satins. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat claimed the Cardinals “considered the new satin suits too effeminate.” According to The Sporting News, manager Eddie Dyer determined “the uniforms were too fancy for the Cardinals.”

The Cardinals sold the red satins to Fred C. Steffens, a St. Louis sportsman, who donated the brand-new uniforms to the North Side Teen Town baseball team of St. Louis, the Star-Times reported.

On June 12, 1946, Cardinals pitcher Ken Burkhart presented the uniforms to the youth team at St. Louis’ Sherman Park.

Comfortable in their own skin, as well as in their familiar uniforms, the Cardinals went on to win the 1946 National League pennant and beat the Red Sox for the World Series championship.

Sharp-dressed men

While the 1946 Cardinals balked at wearing satin, the 1946 Braves embraced the idea.

On May 11, 1946, the Braves debuted their satin uniforms in a Saturday night home game against the Giants. It was the first time a big-league night game was played in Boston. Boxscore

The Boston Globe described the Braves’ outfits as “a slithery uniform of white satin with scarlet piping, which shine like lingerie in a department store window.”

Among the Braves swathed in satin were a group of former Cardinals, including manager Billy Southworth, center fielder Johnny Hopp and first baseman Ray Sanders. “A sight to behold,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch declared.

The Reds wore satin uniforms in 1948. After playing the Cardinals on a steamy Friday night in St. Louis on July 9, the Reds switched to gray flannels the following night.

According to The Sporting News, Reds players “complained the satins were too uncomfortable during the sweltering heat.”

After Reds general manager Warren Giles, acting on the recommendation of manager Johnny Neun, approved the scrapping of satin for flannel for the Saturday, July 10 game, “the fancy monkey suits went out.” the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

Soon after, satin uniforms, like top hats and knickers, faded out of style.

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