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After getting lit up by Dennis Lamp, Lou Brock nearly turned out the lights on the Cubs pitcher.

Forty years ago, on Aug. 13, 1979, Brock got his 3,000th career hit, a smash that struck Lamp’s right hand, turning three of his fingers purple.

Brock’s single came on the first pitch after Lamp brushed him back.

“I should thank Lamp for that fastball under the chin,” Brock said to the Chicago Tribune. “It brought me back to reality because it was a pretty close pitch. All the thoroughbred players I know bounce back from that, so I was ready for the next pitch. My concentration was back where it should have been.”

Setting the stage

After batting .221 in 1978, Brock said the 1979 season would be his last as a player. He needed 100 hits to reach 3,000.

“I seriously doubted he’d make them,” Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch admitted. “I hoped a grand guy wouldn’t wind up an embarrassment in the batting order.”

Acting on a teammate’s tip, Brock, 40, made an adjustment in his batting stance, keeping his weight on his front foot, and began spraying hits consistently again. He went into the game against the Cubs with a .321 batting average and 2,998 hits.

The Monday night game at Busch Memorial Stadium matched Lamp against Cardinals starter Pete Vuckovich. Cardinals manager Ken Boyer put Brock in the No. 2 spot in the batting order between Garry Templeton and Keith Hernandez.

The Cubs were the ideal opponent for Brock’s attempt at the milestone. They were Brock’s first major-league team before they traded him to the Cardinals in 1964.

In the Cardinals’ clubhouse before the game, Brock’s mood was loose and relaxed, the Post-Dispatch reported. “He’s so even-keel you’d never know what was at stake,” Hernandez said.

Brock and Templeton shadow-boxed. Third baseman Ken Reitz reminded Brock of a bet they made in spring training regarding whether Brock would reach 3,000 hits before Reitz got to 1,000.

Playing before a crowd of 44,457, Templeton led off the Cardinals’ half of the first with a single. Boyer called for a hit-and-run and Brock lined a single to left for hit No. 2,999.

Big hit

Brock’s second at-bat of the game, and his first attempt at hit No. 3,000, came when he led off in the fourth.

“I pictured in my mind a hit up the middle,” Brock said.

The count was 1-and-2 when Lamp unleashed his brushback pitch. The high and tight fastball set up the next pitch, a curve Lamp hoped Brock would miss or hit weakly.

“I thought it was a good pitch,” Lamp said.

Instead, Brock drilled the ball, “a line drive that would clean the sawdust off a 2-by-4,” according to Post-Dispatch columnist Tom Barnidge.

Said Brock: “I really smashed that ball at him.”

The ball pounded into the fingers of Lamp’s throwing hand _ “It felt like having your hand caught in a car door,” he said to The Sporting News _ and caromed across the third-base line. Third baseman Steve Ontiveros retrieved it but had no chance to throw out Brock, who streaked across first base. Video

Crowning achievement

As the crowd roared, club owner Gussie Busch and Stan Musial, the first Cardinal to achieve 3,000 hits, came onto the field to join Brock and his teammates in a ceremony.

“I’ve always wanted to leave baseball in a blaze of glory,” said Brock, who became the 14th major-league player to achieve 3,000 hits. “I’ve always wanted to orchestrate my own exodus.”

Lamp was removed from the game and replaced by a former Cardinal, Doug Capilla. “My middle and index fingers swelled up and turned purple,” Lamp said.

In the fifth inning, with Ken Oberkfell on second base and two outs, Boyer sent Tony Scott to bat for Brock.

Brock went into the Cubs’ clubhouse to check on Lamp, who was relieved when X-rays showed no fractures to his fingers. “I told him not to be afraid to pull the ball next time,” Lamp said. “I guess what this means is that they’ll be sending my fingers to Cooperstown.”

That’s a winner

In the bottom of the ninth, with the score tied at 2-2, Reitz got his 1,000th career hit, a single against Willie Hernandez, but too late to win his bet with Brock. Tommy Herr, making his major-league debut, was sent in to run for Reitz.

After Hernandez hit Oberkfell with a pitch, moving Herr to second, Bruce Sutter relieved and yielded a single to Dane Iorg, loading the bases.

Templeton followed with a flyout to left fielder Dave Kingman. Herr tagged and headed toward the plate. The throw was wide and Herr scored the winning run. Boxscore

Great champion

Among the post-game reactions to Brock’s achievement:

_ Ted Sizemore, Cubs second baseman and former Cardinal: “Lou Brock is the most mentally prepared player I ever saw. He’s a guy who can identify with goals. When he sets his mind to it, he can get it. He’s one of the great champions in the game.”

_ Bob Forsch, Cardinals pitcher: “I think he wanted to do this against the Cubs. I mean, they’re the club that traded him away. There had to be a real sense of satisfaction.”

_Ted Simmons, Cardinals catcher: “You look at Lou’s career and you envy it. I do. I think most players do. I’ve enjoyed every ballgame I’ve ever played with him. What he’s done has been remarkable.”

The Sporting News called the 3,000 hits “a testimony to his ability, pride, determination and competitive spirit.”

In an editorial, the Post-Dispatch concluded, “What truly sets him apart is the self-discipline and fidelity to purpose that made possible the consistency and stamina demanded by such a sports milestone.”

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At a time when big-league baseball lost its way, Cardinals players got stranded and fans were abandoned.

Twenty-five years ago, on Aug. 12, 1994, major-league players went on strike. The season never resumed and there were no postseason games.

The Cardinals’ last game of the season was played Aug. 11, 1994, at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami against the Marlins.

With management and players showing no signs of reaching a labor settlement, the Cardinals’ front office told the players they weren’t allowed on the team’s charter flight and would have to find their own way back to St. Louis.

Lost souls

The 1994 Cardinals ended June with a 39-36 record, but went into a tailspin in July, losing 20 of 28 games.

Manager Joe Torre said his players had “a tough time concentrating” and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted the Cardinals “often seemed like lost souls.”

In a game against the Cubs, outfielders Ray Lankford and Mark Whiten let a routine fly ball fall untouched between them. “It’s something that shouldn’t happen,” Torre said. “Mental shutdowns shouldn’t happen.”

The baseball players’ union set a strike date of Aug. 12 if a settlement wasn’t reached with team owners. Some wondered whether the Cardinals were distracted by the likelihood of a work stoppage, but shortstop Ozzie Smith said, “The way we’ve been playing has nothing to do with the strike or anything else. We’ve just been playing like a bad baseball team.”

In what would be their last home game of 1994, the Cardinals lost, 9-7, to the Cubs on July 31 before 48,921, dropping their record to 47-56 before embarking on an 11-game trip to Montreal, Pittsburgh and Miami. Boxscore

No deal

On Aug. 8, 1994, Donald Fehr, executive director of the players’ union, told the Associated Press, “This doesn’t have the air of a dispute that’s going to settle.”

Richard Ravitch, chief negotiator of the baseball owners, wouldn’t make a prediction but added, “That doesn’t mean I think the fairy godmother will descend with a solution.”

The dispute focused on a salary cap, salary arbitration and player compensation. The owners wanted a salary cap and elimination of salary arbitration. The players wanted higher minimum salaries, more postseason money and preservation of the free agency system.

Cardinals general manager Dal Maxvill said, “I’m concerned. We’re not talking about apples and apples here. Or apples and oranges, or apples and bananas. We’re talking about apples and sabers.”

Hardball tactics

On Aug. 10, with a strike looking inevitable in two days, Cardinals president Stuart Meyer told Todd Zeile, the club’s player union representative, the players wouldn’t be allowed on the team charter flight to St. Louis after the series-ending game with the Marlins on Aug. 11.

“Paternalism is gone,” Meyer said. “It isn’t a friendly situation anymore. It’s a fact of life. It’s a business decision.”

Cardinals pitcher Bob Tewksbury called the ploy by Cardinals management “kind of unbelievable.”

“I can’t see any other point they’re trying to make other than, ‘We don’t care about you and we’re going to try to stick it to you,’ ” said Tewksbury.

Said catcher Tom Pagnozzi, the club’s alternate player union representative: “One thing I think this did is it unified the players a little bit more. There are some guys who are real bitter.”

Ozzie Smith said, “It’s not surprising. We’ve had to deal with it for years. Nothing has changed. The faces change, but the actions remain the same.”

Zeile and Pagnozzi arranged for the players to charter a TWA DC-9 airplane to take them back to St. Louis. They also lined up a bus to take the players from the Miami stadium to the airport and rented a truck to load the players’ equipment. Zeile said it cost $18,000 to charter the plane and the cost was split among the players, according to the Post-Dispatch.

Fitting ending

In another controversial cost-saving move by Cardinals management, catcher Erik Pappas was recalled from the minor leagues on Aug. 11 “because he makes $140,000 on a major-league contract,” the Post-Dispatch explained.

By having Pappas on the active big-league roster, the Cardinals wouldn’t have to pay him during a strike. “If the strike would last the rest of the season, the Cardinals would save about $40,000 in Pappas’ salary,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

On Aug. 11, a Thursday night, the Cardinals and Marlins played what would be their last game of the season. In the top of the eighth, with the Cardinals ahead, 8-6, “God punished everyone,” Rick Hummel wrote in the Post-Dispatch, when rain delayed the game for 1 hour, 19 minutes before crew chief Harry Wendelstedt called it off. Boxscore

When the Cardinals players arrived at the Fort Lauderdale airport for their flight to St. Louis, “they could see the team’s regular charter plane preparing to take off,” the Post-Dispatch reported. Torre, coaches, staff and broadcasters were onboard the official Cardinals charter.

The next day, Aug. 12, the strike began and management permitted Cardinals players to go into Busch Memorial Stadium and clean out their lockers.

“The fans are the ones who have had to endure over and over again,” said Torre. “I hope they’ll give this thing one more chance. We’ve got to stop teasing the fans.”

The strike didn’t end until April 2, 1995, soon after U.S. District Judge Sonia Sotomayor issued an injunction requiring baseball owners to comply with the expired collective bargaining agreement.

The first regular-season game since the strike began was played April 25, 1995, between the Dodgers and Marlins in Miami. The Cardinals opened at home the next day, April 26, versus the Phillies.

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Before Ernie Broglio became a principal figure in the Lou Brock trade, he had much success, including his greatest game, against the Cubs.

Broglio died July 16, 2019, at 83. He was a premium starting pitcher when the Cubs acquired him, reliever Bobby Shantz and outfielder Doug Clemens from the Cardinals for Brock and pitchers Jack Spring and Paul Toth on June 15, 1964.

Based on his results for the Cardinals, the Cubs thought Broglio would be a consistent winner.

Broglio earned 21 wins for the Cardinals in 1960 and 18 in 1963.

The right-hander was 11-4, with four shutouts, as a Cardinal against the Cubs.

The best of those performances came on July 15, 1960, when Broglio pitched a one-hitter and struck out 14 in a 6-0 Cardinals victory over the Cubs at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Right stuff

Broglio entered the Friday night game with a 9-4 record and a streak of four consecutive wins.

With one out in the second inning, the Cubs’ Ed Bouchee, a left-handed batter, lined a single against the screen in right field. Broglio retired the next 13 batters in a row before Richie Ashburn drew a walk with two outs in the sixth.

In the seventh, Ernie Banks walked with one out before Broglio retired the last eight batters in a row.

Every Cubs starter except Bouchee struck out. None of the three Cubs baserunners advanced to second. Boxscore

“This is the best I’ve ever seen Broglio pitch,” Cardinals manager Solly Hemus said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Broglio “kept the Cubs off balance with changing speeds and breaking stuff,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

Asked by the Post-Dispatch which pitch worked best, Broglio said, “My curve. It was breaking off fine.”

Cardinals catcher Carl Sawatski told the Associated Press, “His curveball was working almost perfectly and his fastball was as good as ever.”

Broglio credited Sawatski with perfect pitch selection. “I didn’t shake him off once,” Broglio said.

Sawatski also contributed a solo home run onto the right-field pavilion roof against starter Don Cardwell, who pitched a no-hitter for the Cubs against the Cardinals two months earlier on May 15, 1960.

Big deal

Two months after his gem against the Cubs, Broglio shut them out again, pitching a three-hitter in a 4-0 Cardinals triumph on Sept. 3, 1960, at St. Louis. He struck out seven and walked two. Boxscore

Broglio was 3-0 with a 1.15 ERA versus the Cubs in 1960.

When the Cubs acquired him from the Cardinals, Broglio, 28, was regarded a more prominent player than Brock. In six seasons (1959-64) with the Cardinals, Broglio was 70-55, including 18 shutouts. Brock hit .257 in four seasons (1961-64) with the Cubs.

In a 2014 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Broglio recalled, “I was a little bit upset because I wanted to finish my career with the Cardinals.”

Asked to recall his reaction to the trade, Bill White, the first baseman for the 1964 Cardinals, told me in a 2011 interview, “We all thought it was nuts. Lou was a raw talent. At that point, he didn’t really understand baseball. He might try to steal while 10 runs up or 10 runs down.”

According to the Tribune, Brock “had fallen into some disfavor” with Cubs manager Bob Kennedy, “a stickler for sound application of baseball’s fundamentals.”

“Kennedy was irritated at times by Brock’s erratic outfield play and occasionally by his unsound baserunning,” the Tribune reported.

Kennedy said the acquisition of Broglio “gives us as good a pitching staff as there is in the league.” Cubs third baseman Ron Santo added, “With our pitching staff now, we can win the pennant.”

Broglio, who had a damaged right elbow, was 4-7 with a 4.04 ERA for the 1964 Cubs, who finished eighth at 76-86. In a 2016 interview with his hometown San Jose Mercury News, Broglio said, “They (Cardinals) got rid of used merchandise. The Cubs didn’t know. Nowadays, that trade never would have happened.”

Brock hit .348 with 33 stolen bases and 81 runs scored, sparking the 1964 Cardinals to the National League pennant and a World Series championship.

Broglio told the Mercury News the Cardinals players went to Stan Musial’s restaurant in St. Louis after clinching the World Series title and called him at his home in San Jose to thank him for his contributions and to have him feel a part of the celebration.

Broglio was 7-19 with a 5.40 ERA in three seasons (1964-66) with the Cubs. Brock went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Cardinals.

According to the San Jose newspaper, Brock sent Broglio an autographed photo with the inscription, “History and time have tied us together. You are and were a hellava player.”

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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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