Archive for the ‘Hitters’ Category

Cardinals slugger Richie Allen gave a grand goodbye to Connie Mack Stadium.

Fifty years ago, on Sept. 8, 1970, in a game between the Cardinals and Phillies, Allen hit a home run in his final at-bat at Connie Mack Stadium, his baseball home for his first seven seasons in the major leagues.

Allen wasn’t expected to play in the game because he hadn’t fully recovered from a hamstring injury, but he didn’t want to miss the chance to appear a final time in the ballpark where he performed for the Phillies from 1963-69.

Rising to the occasion, Allen went out with flair.

Old venue

The Tuesday night game was the Cardinals’ last in Philadelphia for 1970 and their last in Connie Mack Stadium. The ballpark was named Shibe Park when it opened in 1909 as the home of the Athletics. The Phillies moved there from Baker Bowl during the 1938 season. Shibe Park was renamed Connie Mack Stadium in 1953.

The Phillies were moving to newly constructed Veterans Stadium in 1971.

Allen, acquired by the Cardinals in October 1969, was providing the run production the club sought until he injured a hamstring in his right leg during a steal of second base on Aug. 14, 1970. Boxscore

At the time of the injury, Allen, a right-handed batter, was on pace to hit 45 home runs for the season, The Sporting News calculated. The Cardinals’ franchise record was 43 by Johnny Mize in 1940. The club mark for a right-handed batter was 42 by Rogers Hornsby in 1922.

Allen sat out about a week, made two pinch-hitting appearances, and went back on the shelf.

Unexpected visitor

Allen hadn’t started a game since the day he was injured, so it was a surprise when he was listed as cleanup batter and first baseman in the lineup card Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst submitted before the start of the series finale at Philadelphia.

“Allen didn’t get to the park until 7 o’clock and how his name got onto Red Schoendienst’s lineup card is something of a mystery,” Bill Conlin reported in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Years later, in the book, “Redbirds: A Century of Cardinals Baseball,” Bob Broeg revealed “a wobbly Allen” was “full of giggle water” when he insisted on playing.

“His wife even phoned Red Schoendienst and asked the manager not to play him,” Broeg wrote. “Red concurred, but Richie was so persuasive that Red shrugged his shoulders and put him in the lineup.”

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Allen called Schoendienst before the game and asked to go back in the lineup.”

Phillies manager Frank Lucchesi told the Philadelphia Daily News, “I was quite frankly surprised to see his name on the lineup card. We were under the impression he was too hurt to play.”

Delightful drama 

Before a gathering of 3,995 spectators, the game matched starting pitchers Steve Carlton of the Cardinals and Rick Wise of the Phillies. Two years later, they would be traded for one another.

In his first three plate appearances, Allen walked, singled and struck out.

With the Cardinals ahead, 3-2, Allen batted with two outs and none on in the eighth. Barring a Phillies comeback, it figured to be his last at-bat at Connie Mack Stadium. In the Phillies’ bullpen, pitcher Woodie Fryman said to coach Doc Edwards, “You better believe he wants to hit one out.”

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Fryman turned to reliever Ken Reynolds and said, “Don’t be surprised if he does it right here.”

Allen got a pitch to his liking. “It was a slider out over the plate that didn’t do anything,” Wise told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

When Allen hit the ball, Bill Conlin wrote in the Philadelphia Daily News, “it started out like a vicious zapper to left-center. Then it appeared the ball would clatter off the sign that advertises dog food. Somehow, though, the ball never changed its flat, whistling trajectory until it thudded off a fan in the lower deck.”

Said Edwards: “It hit some kid in the chest and they carried him out. That ball never was more than 10 feet high the whole 400 feet.”

Allen limped around the bases, “blew a double kiss to some fans behind the dugout and kept going right down the dugout steps,” Conlin observed.

Joe Hague replaced Allen at first base in the bottom of the eighth.

The Cardinals went on to win, 6-3, and when reporters went into the clubhouse, Allen was gone. Boxscore

“He’ll probably be sore tomorrow,” Schoendienst said, “but he wanted to give it a try.”

Power supply

The next night, at Pittsburgh, Allen was in the starting lineup against the Pirates. In the fifth inning, his right leg tightened when he swung and missed at a pitch. The Cardinals said he suffered a muscle cramp. Vic Davalillo finished the at-bat for Allen. Boxscore

Allen appeared as a pinch-hitter on Sept. 10 and never played in another game for the Cardinals. His totals for the 1970 season: 34 home runs and 101 RBI in 122 games. His on-base percentage was .377.

The 34 home runs were the most by a Cardinal since Stan Musial hit 35 in 1954, and the most by a Cardinals right-handed batter since Ken Boyer had 32 in 1960. Cardinals switch-hitter Rip Collins hit 35 in 1934.

Allen was consistent, hitting 17 home runs for the Cardinals at home and 17 on the road. He hit more home runs (six) versus the Phillies than he did against any other foe in 1970.

The Cardinals traded Allen to the Dodgers after the season.

In his book, “Stranger to the Game,” Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson said of Allen, “He wasn’t your all-American boy, by any means, and he did some things, mainly drinking, that people frowned on, but I maintain that if he had been white, he would have been considered merely a free spirit. As a black man who did as he pleased and guarded his privacy, he was instead regarded as a troublemaker.

“As a teammate, I can honestly say that I was crazy about the guy,” Gibson said. “He swung that big, old 42-ounce bat like nobody I’d ever played with, and when he lit into a fastball, (stuff) happened. That’s all I cared about.”

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On June 21, 1991, about a month after Rickey Henderson of the Athletics set the record for most career stolen bases in the major leagues, I got to interview the man who had held the mark, Lou Brock.

In downtown Cincinnati to promote an Upper Deck Heroes of Baseball old-timer’s game at Riverfront Stadium, Brock met at the Hyatt Regency hotel with my colleague, Geoff Hobson, and me for a wide-ranging interview.

A Baseball Hall of Fame inductee who achieved 3,023 hits and 938 stolen bases during his career with the Cubs and Cardinals, Brock was thoughtful, pleasant and generous with his time.

Brock was present when Henderson broke the stolen base record with his 939th steal on May 1, 1991, at Oakland against the Yankees.

Here are excerpts from our tape-recorded interview a few weeks later:

Q.: It was a curious moment when Henderson broke your record. He raised the base above his head and was kind of defiant when he said, “Lou Brock is the symbol of great base stealing, but today I am the greatest of all time.” Do you think that was a proper way to accept the record?

Brock: “I went to him the night before and asked if he wanted help writing something to say. He said yes. I told him if I wrote something down he’d have to read it at the microphone, but he wanted to do it from the heart.

“Rickey wasn’t prepared. He didn’t have a sounding board. What was shocking to me was how exposed he was while going for a major record. You have to have somebody helping you screen the attention.”

Q.: When you were chasing Ty Cobb, did you have someone to help you?

Brock: “When I was going for records, most of the guys I chased were gone. So I was just going after paper. Rickey not only came face to face with history, but I was there physically, and that probably added to the pressure.”

Q,: What else can you tell us about your experience with Rickey Henderson?

Brock: “We ate dinner together the night before and we played cards together the night before that. Rickey was like a son to me. He and my son, Lou Brock Jr., got along well. They talked the same language. The inning before Rickey broke the record, he and I were talking underneath the stands. I told him he had to take control of the game. Let them react to you.”

Q.: Do you see a difference in base stealing today versus when you played?

Brock: Guys like myself, Maury Wills, Luis Aparicio were pioneers, making the basepaths super highways. Teams watered the infield to stop you. You’d have to run on the edge of the infield grass because you knew the ground there was firm. Now, there’s no highway patrol to tell you how fast to go and no citizen’s arrest if you’re going too fast.”

Q.: Do you think you are appreciated as an all-round player, not just a base stealer?

Brock: “Baseball has become highly specialized. They market you in slugging or fielding, and the total player can get lost. My signature is all over stolen base records, but my mark is on other places as well.”

Q.: What was it like when you were with the Cubs before going to the Cardinals?

Brock: “I was a kid with two left feet then. I hadn’t done anything spectacular. I was waiting to hear from Cubs management that I was being sent back to the minor leagues.

“It was frustrating. I was one of those guys who was a shooting star in the organization and went straight up to the top. I came out of Class C baseball to the big leagues in the same year. It was a curse and a blessing. The blessing was I was in the big leagues. The curse was I had to learn to play baseball against the best. You begin to feel you don’t belong.”

Q.: Did you welcome the trade to the Cardinals in June 1964?

Brock: “My last hit for the Cubs was a two-run homer to win a ballgame against the Pirates. The next day I was traded. I got the call from the Cubs general manager, John Holland. He said, ‘Your contract is being transferred.’ Transferred? What the hell is transferred?

“When he told me I had been traded to St. Louis, and who I had been traded for, Ernie Broglio, Bobby Shantz, I thought, ‘Wow, I have value. I really do belong here.’ You begin to take a different view of yourself. It can change all in that one moment.”

Q.: Do you think the Cubs would have won a pennant if you stayed?

Brock: “They probably would have won in 1967, 1968, 1969 and maybe 1970 if they had a leadoff man. The leadoff man is very important because he sets the table for how the game will be played. You look at all your great teams. They have a leadoff guy who can set the table and force the other team to beat what you put on it.”

Q.: One of your teammates on those 1960s Cardinals was Curt Flood. Do you think he’ll ever get his due for what he did to challenge the reserve clause and open the door to free agency for players?

Brock: “He was a pioneer who ended up with arrows in his back because of the stance he took in regards to the system. Curt wanted us to look at baseball hard, to dust if off, polish it up.”

Q,: You rose to national prominence in the 1967 World Series against the Red Sox when you hit .414 and set a World Series record for steals, with seven. What can you tell us about that?

Brock: “Dick Williams was the manager of those 1967 Red Sox. When I was with the Cubs in 1963, we played the Red Sox in a spring training game in Arizona. I got the sign to steal third. Dick Williams was the third baseman. I went diving into third head-first and Dick blocked me and stepped on my hand. I couldn’t get to the base. He tagged me out and said, ‘Kid, what do you think this is, the seventh game of the World Series?’

“So in the seventh game of the 1967 World Series, I’m on second base, and I look into the Red Sox dugout and see Dick Williams and I say to myself, ‘This is too good to be true.’ So I steal third. It couldn’t be more appropriate.”

Q.: You played in three World Series with the 1960s Cardinals. What was it like being on those teams?

Brock: “We had practical jokers on our team. Tim McCarver was one of the best. Bob Gibson was one of the best. Roger Maris was quiet, but he was one of them. I was surprised he fit in that well with that group of guys. They nailed my shoes to the floor a couple of times.

“We were pretty much like the Gashouse Gang. Nobody knew it, but we were just that wild. Maris joined right in.”

Q.: How is it those 1960s Cardinals teams had so many leaders among the players?

Brock: “I call them fighters. One of the differences between the Cubs and the Cards then was attitude.

“With the Cubs, we’d lose and the manager and coaches would say, ‘Sit at your locker and think about the game. Think about how you lost.’

“With the Cards, we lost the first game I was in a St. Louis uniform. I was expecting everyone to sit down and put their heads in their lockers. Then I heard the manager and coaches say, ‘Go get your rest. Those guys got lucky today. We’re going to kick their butts tomorrow. Somebody on that other team is going to pay for it tomorrow.’

“That whole attitude was right down my alley.”

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As the Cardinals discovered, peanuts and baseball made a good mix.

Seventy years ago, on Sept. 7, 1950, the Cardinals acquired Peanuts Lowrey from the Reds for the waiver price of $10,000.

What the Cardinals shelled out was peanuts for what they got in return from the pint-sized handyman.

Lowrey was adept at reaching base, rarely struck out, played multiple positions, delivered in the clutch and excelled as a pinch-hitter.

Name game

Harry Lee Lowrey was born in 1917 in Culver City, Calif., near Los Angeles.

From the start, he went by the name of Peanuts. “It was given to me by my uncle when I was one day old,” Lowrey told The Sporting News.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, when the uncle got his first look at his nephew, he said, “Why, he’s so small, he looks like a peanut.”

As a youth, Lowrey lived across the street from the MGM and Hal Roach movie lots in Culver City, according to The Sporting News. Clark Gable used to have Lowrey keep an eye on his car while he was on the set, and Buster Keaton bought the boy ice cream cones. The “Our Gang” comedies were filmed on location at a farm owned by Lowrey’s grandfather, and the youngster got to hang out with the cast and fill in as an extra.

A top athlete at Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, Lowrey signed with the Cubs after he graduated in 1937 and was assigned to the minor leagues. Listed at 5 feet 8, Lowrey batted from the right side and played shortstop his first three seasons in the farm system, but after making 72 errors with the St. Joseph (Mo.) club in 1939 he was switched to third base and outfield.

Lowrey, 24, made his debut in the majors with the Cubs against the Cardinals at St. Louis on April 14, 1942, as a replacement in left field for Dom Dallessandro.

Tall order

After a stint with the Army in 1944, Lowrey hit .283 with 89 RBI as an outfielder for the Cubs in 1945, helping them win the National League pennant. In the World Series versus the Tigers, Lowrey hit .310 in seven games and scored four runs.

Cardinals center fielder Terry Moore rated Lowrey “a good outfielder” as well as “an excellent hit-and-run man” and “a guy who could hit well to all fields.”

“He was an excellent student of the game,” Moore said to the Post-Dispatch.

The Cincinnati Enquirer described Lowrey as “one of the best hustlers in the game” with “the knack of being able to do the right thing at the right time.”

Lowrey told The Sporting News, “A little guy has to be twice as good and twice as strong as a big guy to stay in the lineup. Take it from me, a little guy has to fight all the time for a job.”

In June 1949, the Cubs traded Lowrey to the Reds. He was the Opening Day left fielder for the Reds in 1950, but slumped in July and August. He was batting .227 for the season when the Reds shipped him to the Cardinals.

Valued versatility

Cardinals manager Eddie Dyer recommended the Cardinals acquire Lowrey, 33, to serve a utility role. “I’ve always regarded that little guy as an underrated player,” Dyer told The Sporting News. “He’s doubly valuable because he can play more than one position.”

Lowrey got into 17 games for the 1950 Cardinals, batted .268 and made starts at second base, third base and left field.

In 1951, Marty Marion was Cardinals manager and he planned to open the regular season with Tommy Glaviano as the center fielder, with Lowrey in a utility role. The plan changed when Glaviano crashed into a fence pursuing a drive during an exhibition game in April and injured his shoulder.

Lowrey was the Opening Day center fielder for the 1951 Cardinals, with Stan Musial in left and Enos Slaughter in right.

Making the most of the opportunity, Lowery hit .300 or better in every month except July. One of his best games was Aug. 7, 1951, when he was 5-for-5 against the Pirates. Boxscore

Though he primarily played center field for the 1951 Cardinals, Lowrey also made starts in left field and at second base and third base. For the season, he batted .303 and had an on-base percentage of .366. Lowrey struck out a mere 12 times in 419 plate appearances.

Produced in a pinch

In 1952, with Eddie Stanky becoming the Cardinals’ third manager in three years, Lowrey was used in a utility role, playing all three outfield positions as well as third base. He scored four runs in a game versus the Phillies on July 10, 1952. Boxscore

As a pinch-hitter for the 1952 Cardinals, Lowrey was spectacular. He produced hits in seven consecutive pinch-hit appearances and for the season batted .483 (14-for-29) as a pinch-hitter, according to retrosheet.org. His on-base percentage as a pinch-hitter was .500.

Lowrey continued to excel in 1953 for the Cardinals. As a pinch-hitter, he batted .344 (21-for-61) and had a .429 on-base percentage, according to retrosheet.org.

The magic ended in 1954. Lowrey hit .115 and was released in October. He finished his playing career with the 1955 Phillies. In 13 years in the majors, Lowrey had 1,177 hits. He struck out 226 times, a total some batters approach in one season today.

Big screen

Lowrey managed in the minors for three seasons and coached in the majors for 17 years. As a coach for the Phillies, Giants, Expos, Cubs and Angels, Lowrey had a reputation for being able to steal the signs given by opposing teams.

Staying true to his roots, Lowrey appeared in some Hollywood baseball movies. According to the Internet Movie Database, he had a credited role playing himself in the 1952 film about Grover Cleveland Alexander, “The Winning Team,” starring Ronald Reagan and Doris Day.

Lowrey also had uncredited non-speaking parts in “Pride of the Yankees,” “The Stratton Story,” and “The Jackie Robinson Story.”

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Cardinals manager Eddie Dyer preferred to put Pirates slugger Ralph Kiner on base, representing the potential winning run, rather than give him a chance to hit a walkoff home run.

Seventy years ago, on Sept. 3, 1950, with the score tied in the bottom of the 10th inning of a game between the Cardinals and Pirates at Pittsburgh, Dyer ordered pitcher Harry Brecheen to give an intentional walk to Kiner with the bases empty and two outs.

The unorthodox strategy backfired when the next batter, rookie Gus Bell, hit a double, scoring Kiner and giving the Pirates a 12-11 victory.

Home run king

The Cardinals carried a four-game losing streak into the Sunday afternoon series finale against the last-place Pirates at Forbes Field.

Kiner hit two home runs. The first was a solo shot against Red Munger in the opening inning. The second home run, a two-run clout versus Cloyd Boyer in the eighth, gave the Pirates a 9-8 lead.

In his first four seasons (1946-49) in the majors, Kiner led the National League in home runs in 1946 (23) and 1949 (54), and tied with Johnny Mize of the Giants for the top spot in 1947 (51) and 1948 (40). Kiner was on his way to winning the league’s home run crown again in 1950.

Comeback Cardinals

Bill Howerton of the Cardinals led off the top of the ninth with a home run into the upper deck in right against Junior Walsh, tying the score at 9-9.

Brecheen, usually a starter, relieved for the Cardinals in the bottom of the ninth and retired the Pirates in order.

In the top of the 10th, the Cardinals scored twice versus Bill Werle. With one out and none on, Red Schoendienst doubled, Stan Musial drove him in with a single and Enos Slaughter tripled, scoring Musial and extending the Cardinals’ lead to 11-9.

Dare to differ

Brecheen retired the first batter, Clyde McCullough, in the bottom of the 10th, but the next two, Pete Castiglione and Bob Dillinger, each hit a home run, tying the score at 11-11. For Castiglione, the home run was his third of the season and for Dillinger it was his first since the Pirates acquired him from the Athletics in July.

After the back-to-back home runs, Brecheen knocked down the next batter, Danny O’Connell, with his first pitch to him. O’Connell grounded out for the second out of the inning.

The next batter was Kiner. The only way he could beat the Cardinals was to hit a home run, but Dyer thought the risk was so high it was worth issuing an intentional walk.

Among the factors influencing Dyer’s thinking:

_ Kiner batted right-handed and Brecheen was a left-hander.

_ Brecheen already had given up two home runs in the inning and thus was vulnerable against Kiner.

“The fact it violated tried and true baseball strategy doesn’t bother us a bit,” columnist Bob Burnes wrote in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. “We’ve always felt too many managers called too many plays in routine fashion purely because that’s the way the pattern said it should be.”

What did bother Burnes is the slumping Cardinals appeared to have lost confidence. “It was a desperation play, one dictated by something almost akin to panic,” Burnes said.

Take that!

As Kiner watched Brecheen lob four pitches wide of the plate, the fans booed.

With Kiner on first, cleanup hittter Gus Bell batted next. Bell had tripled twice and singled. Though a left-handed batter, Bell hit .320 versus left-handers in 1950.

Bell belted a pitch from Brecheen high and deep to right. The ball “appeared headed into the stands for a home run,” the Pittsburgh Press reported, but it hit high on the screen.

Right fielder Enos Slaughter gave chase and fell. The ball caromed about 35 yards from the screen, the Globe-Democrat reported, giving Kiner time to hustle from first base to home. Bell stopped at second with a double as Kiner crossed the plate with the winning run. Boxscore

The teams combined for 30 hits, including 20 for extra bases.

Each team hit three triples. The Pirates had five home runs and the Cardinals had three.

The Cardinals wasted a big performance from Stan Musial, who had four hits and two walks. Playing near his hometown of Donora, Pa., Musial had a two-run home run and scored four times.

Kiner went on to hit 47 home runs in 1950. Only eight came against left-handers.

Brecheen finished the 1950 season with a 3.55 ERA in 23 starts for the Cardinals and a 10.50 ERA in four relief appearances.

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Joaquin Andujar, a big winner for the Cardinals when they became World Series champions in 1982 and again when they won another National League pennant in 1985, might never have pitched for them if the Astros and Pirates had closed a deal involving him.

Forty years ago, in 1980, the Astros agreed to trade Andujar to the defending World Series champion Pirates for first baseman and outfielder Bill Robinson. The deal was to be completed just before the start of 1980 spring training, but it fell through when the Astros refused to renegotiate Robinson’s contract.

A few months later, the Astros planned to trade Andujar to the Phillies as part of a three-way deal with the Giants, but it didn’t happen because the player the Astros wanted in return went on the disabled list.

Andujar finished the 1980 season with the Astros and was traded to the Cardinals in 1981.

Wrong role

The Astros began the 1979 season with Andujar in the bullpen. He moved into the rotation in late May. In six June starts, Andujar was 5-1 with a 1.59 ERA, but he was ineffective late in the season and manager Bill Virdon put him back into a relief role.

“I’m the only guy that has to win every time and, if I don’t, I’m in the bullpen,” Andujar complained to The Sporting News. “If I don’t win there, I’m in the doghouse. They forget me. They ought to trade me or give me my release.”

Andujar completed the 1979 season with a 12-12 record, four saves and a 3.43 ERA. He made 23 starts and 23 relief appearances.

After the season, the Astros signed free agent Nolan Ryan, who joined a rotation of Joe Niekro, J.R. Richard and Ken Forsch.

The Astros put Andujar on the trade market. They were seeking a first baseman who could hit with power from the right side to replace Cesar Cedeno, who wanted to return to the outfield.

The Braves showed interest, but they also were in discussions with the Cardinals about a swap of outfielder Gary Matthews for pitcher John Denny and catcher Terry Kennedy, The Sporting News reported.

Near deal

At the baseball winter meetings in December 1979, the Pirates became the prime suitor for Andujar. The Pirates wanted a starting pitcher because one of their starters, Bruce Kison, became a free agent and signed with the Angels, and two others, Don Robinson and Rick Rhoden, had undergone shoulder surgeries.

The Pirates offered Bill Robinson to the Astros. In 1979, he hit 24 home runs. He also batted .311 versus left-handers.

“Bill Robinson would help us very much,” Virdon told the Pittsburgh Press.

The deal “came close” to being made, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, until the Astros asked for a minor-league player to be included.

According to The Sporting News, the Pirates also discovered Robinson had the right to veto a trade because he had played 10 seasons in the majors, including five in a row with them. Pirates general manager Harding Peterson hadn’t discussed the deal with Robinson, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The teams decided to halt negotiations.

Called off

Two months later, in February 1980, the Astros and Pirates resumed talks and agreed to a straight swap of Andujar for Robinson. The Pirates planned for Andujar, who turned 27 in 1980, to join a rotation with Bert Blyleven, John Candelaria and Jim Bibby.

The deal hinged on one last step: It needed Robinson’s approval.

Initially, Robinson told The Sporting News, “If Houston still wants me, I want to play for them. I want to play every day and help bring them a pennant.”

He told the Pittsburgh Press, “I’ve tentatively agreed to the trade.”

The clubs gave Robinson a deadline of 5 p.m. on Feb. 20, 1980, to make a firm decision.

Robinson, who turned 37 in 1980, had a contract for the 1980 season and wanted the Astros to extend it through 1981.

Astros general manager Tal Smith refused to renegotiate, so Robinson blocked the trade.

“I vetoed the deal with the Astros because, they not only didn’t offer me an additional penny, they wouldn’t give me a 1981 contract,” Robinson said.

Phillies fuel interest

When Andujar arrived at Astros training camp in Cocoa, Fla., he discovered pranksters had placed a picture of Bill Robinson at his locker.

Andujar wasn’t laughing when he began the regular season in the bullpen. His first start of the 1980 season came on May 24 as a showcase versus the Phillies, who were looking to make a trade to bolster their rotation.

The Phillies were considering a trade of first baseman Keith Moreland, outfielder Lonnie Smith and two minor-leaguers to the Giants for first baseman Mike Ivie and pitchers Ed Halicki and Gary Lavelle, the Philadelphia Daily News reported. The Phillies would send Ivie to the Astros for Andujar.

The deal dissolved when Ivie went on the disabled list for mental fatigue. “He was the whole key, the only player Houston really wanted for Andujar,” wrote Bill Conlin in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Andujar finished the season with a 3-8 record for the 1980 Astros, who won a division title.

The Pirates were glad they didn’t trade Bill Robinson. He hit .287 for them in 1980, including .323 versus left-handers.

In 1981, Andujar was 2-3 with a 4.94 ERA when the Astros traded him to the Cardinals on June 7 for outfielder Tony Scott.

Andujar earned 15 regular-season wins for the 1982 Cardinals and also was the winning pitcher in Games 3 and 7 of the World Series versus the Brewers.

Andujar won 20 for the Cardinals in 1984 and 21 in 1985. After a temper tantrum led to his ejection from Game 7 of the 1985 World Series against the Royals, Andujar was traded by the Cardinals to the Athletics.

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Dazzling defense by first baseman Jim Bottomley and ironman relief by Syl Johnson carried the Cardinals to an epic victory over the Cubs and helped change the momentum of the 1930 National League pennant race.

Ninety years ago, on Aug. 28, 1930, the Cardinals beat the Cubs, 8-7, in 20 innings at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

The triumph was the Cardinals’ ninth in a row and moved them 5.5 games behind the first-place Cubs. The Cardinals went on to win 21 of 25 games in September while the Cubs were 13-13 for the month. The sizzling surge enabled the Cardinals (92-62) to finish in first place, two games ahead of the Cubs (90-64).

The results might have been different if the Cardinals hadn’t won the 20-inning marathon.

Matchup of aces

The starting pitchers for the Thursday afternoon game were spitball specialist Burleigh Grimes for the Cardinals and Pat Malone for the Cubs. Grimes, acquired from the Braves two months earlier, had won six of his last seven decisions for the Cardinals. Malone had won seven in a row and was 16-6 for the Cubs. The matchup attracted about 20,000 spectators.

With the Cardinals ahead, 5-3, in the eighth, Jim Lindsey, working his first inning in relief of Grimes, gave up a two-run double to Footsie Blair, enabling the Cubs to tie the score.

Syl Johnson, who had a 4.83 ERA, replaced Lindsey in the ninth and was in command.

Sherrif Blake, who pitched a complete game two days earlier, became the fourth Cubs pitcher of the day in the ninth and also was sharp. After Blake held the Cardinals scoreless on one hit for three innings, Bob Osborn, who had a 4.84 ERA, took over for the Cubs in the 12th.

Diamond dandy

The Cardinals broke through against Osborn in the 15th. With two outs and none on, Jimmie Wilson singled and scored on Charlie Gelbert’s double. Syl Johnson drove in Gelbert with a single, giving the Cardinals a 7-5 lead.

Pitching in the bottom half of the inning, Johnson got into immediate trouble. Danny Taylor led off and doubled. After High Pockets Kelly flied out, Gabby Hartnett doubled, driving in Taylor, and Les Bell, a former Cardinal, singled, scoring Hartnett with the tying run.

After Osborn bunted Bell to second, Johnson issued an intentional walk to Footsie Blair. A right-handed batter, Woody English, was up next. He swung late at a pitch and slashed the ball hard on the ground along the first-base line.

“It looked like a sure base hit,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

As the ball skipped over the bag, Bottomley lunged, extended his glove hand and barely reached the ball, knocking it down.

Bottomley grabbed the ball, rolled over and looked for Johnson to be covering first base, but Johnson wasn’t there. Thinking the ball was headed into the outfield as a game-winning hit, Johnson stayed, transfixed, on the mound.

Reacting quickly, Bottomley, still on the ground, flipped the ball toward home plate. “It wasn’t much of a throw,” the Post-Dispatch noted.

The runner on second, Les Bell, never imagined Bottomley would get to the ball hit by English, and slowed on his way to the plate after rounding third base.

Catcher Jimmie Wilson gathered in Bottomley’s off-target throw and tagged out Bell “an inch from the plate,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

Red Smith covering the game for the St. Louis Star-Times, called Bottomley’s stop of English’s smash “the grandest bit of defensive play” he’d ever seen.

The St. Louis Globe-Democrat described the play as “one of the most spectacular ever seen on a major-league diamond.”

Down to the wire

As the game progressed into the 20th inning, it was about 7 p.m. and darkness was gathering. With no lights at Wrigley Field, the 20th “probably would have been the last inning, regardless of the happenings therein,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

“The plate was in deep shadow and darkness was settling down,” the St. Louis Globe-Democrat confirmed.

With one out and none on, the Cardinals’ Taylor Douthit singled and moved to second when Sparky Adams grounded out to first. Andy High singled, scoring Douthit and giving the Cardinals an 8-7 lead.

In the Cubs’ half of the 20th, Hartnett led off with a single. After Bell flied out on a long drive to center, Hartnett moved to second on Wilson’s passed ball. Zack Taylor, who years later would manage the St. Louis Browns, ran for Hartnett.

The Cubs had two chances to drive in the tying run from second, but Johnson got Cliff Heathcote and Footsie Blair to fly out, ending the game. Boxscore

Fun facts

The game was played in 4 hours, 10 minutes.

Winning pitcher Syl Johnson went 12 innings, gave up nine hits and a walk, and struck out nine.

In addition to his defensive gem, Bottomley hit the game’s lone home run, a solo shot in the second.

All eight Cardinals position players played the entire game and each had at least one hit.

All eight Cubs position players played every inning, too. Hartnett was the only player in the game to get four hits. He also drew a walk.

Cubs cleanup hitter Hack Wilson, who hit .356 with 56 home runs and 191 RBI for the 1930 Cubs, was 0-for-7 with two walks and was the only Cubs batter to strike out three times.

“Any 20-inning game is something for a baseball bug to gurgle about, but this one will go down among the great games of National League history,” the Chicago Tribune concluded.

Cardinals manager Gabby Street told the St. Louis Star-Times, “I tell you, a club that can win a game like (that) can beat anybody.”

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