Archive for the ‘Hitters’ Category

Stan Musial won a game for the Cardinals with a walkoff pop-out.

It happened 60 years ago, on May 31, 1963, against the Giants at St. Louis.

In the ninth inning, with the score tied at 5-5, reliever Don Larsen, the former Yankee who pitched a World Series perfect game, walked Cardinals leadoff batter Curt Flood.

Bill White tried to move Flood to second with a sacrifice bunt, but fouled off two attempts. Then he swung away, rapping a grounder to second baseman Cap Peterson. A rookie, Peterson’s throw to shortstop Jose Pagan covering second was too late to get Flood, and White was safe at first on the fielder’s choice.

Bobby Bolin relieved and Dick Groat bunted, pushing the ball between the mound and third base. Bolin fielded it and tried getting Flood at third, but Flood beat the toss and Groat was credited with an infield single, loading the bases for Musial.

A left-hander, Billy Pierce, was brought in to face him.

Giants manager Al Dark moved the infield in and called for his outfielders to play shallow, hoping to make a play at the plate if necessary.

Musial swung at Pierce’s first pitch and hit a pop-up toward the right side of the infield. The umpires shouted, “Infield fly,” meaning Musial automatically was out.

Dazed and confused

The infield fly rule is called on a fair ball that can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort when runners either are on first and second, or when the bases are loaded, before two are out. The rule is for the benefit of the runners because it keeps infielders from letting a shallow fly drop with the intention of causing a force play at second and third, or second, third and home, according to MLB.com. A runner is allowed to attempt to advance at his own risk.

When Musial’s pop fly went into the air, Peterson turned and started back toward his normal second base position, the San Francisco Examiner reported. Then he froze, according to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

When center fielder Willie Mays and right fielder Felipe Alou saw Peterson fail to react, they raced in to try for a catch.

“Mays came closest to getting the ball,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, but it fell among he and Alou and Peterson. According to the Examiner, “the ball landed right where Peterson was standing when the ball was pitched.”

When Curt Flood on third saw that the ball was unlikely to be caught, he dashed to the plate. Mays tried to grab the ball on one bounce so that he could throw home, the Post-Dispatch reported, but he could not come up with it. Flood streaked across the plate with the winning run and Musial was credited with a RBI.

Disgusted, Mays kicked his glove about 30 feet, the Post-Dispatch reported. Boxscore

The pop fly was Peterson’s responsibility to catch, Dark said to the Post-Dispatch. Regarding the outcome of a game being decided on an infield fly rule out, Dark told the newspaper, “I’ve never seen such a play at any point in any game.”

The wining pitcher was Bob Gibson, who had entered in the top of the ninth and pitched a scoreless inning of relief. He retired Willie McCovey, Matty Alou and Harvey Kuenn in order.

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Jackie Brandt was an outfielder who earned a National League Gold Glove Award and was named to the American League all-star team, but people wanted more from him.

He was supposed to be the next Mickey Mantle, but he wasn’t.

He was supposed to be a sure bet to receive the National League Rookie of the Year Award with the Cardinals, but he didn’t.

He was supposed to be a flake, but maybe was just good at pretending to be one.

Quick rise

Brandt was an accomplished amateur pitcher and outfielder in his hometown of Omaha, but he didn’t get any offers to turn pro. Three months after he graduated from high school in 1952, he was wielding a sledgehammer as a boilermaker’s helper for the Union Pacific Railroad when Bob Hall, president of the minor-league club in Omaha, contacted the Cardinals and recommended Brandt to them, The Sporting News reported.

Cardinals scout Runt Marr went to Omaha, saw him throw and offered a contract, Brandt recalled to The Sporting News. A right-handed batter, Brandt preferred playing the outfield instead of pitching, and the Cardinals went along with his request, he told the Associated Press.

In his first regular-season game as a pro for Ardmore (Okla.) in the Class D Sooner State League, Brandt tore ligaments in his right leg and was sidelined for a month. When he came back, he tore up the league, hitting .357 with 131 RBI in 120 games.

Brandt made an impressive climb through the Cardinals’ system, hitting .313 for manager George Kissell’s Class A Columbus (Ga.) team in 1954 and .305 for Class AAA Rochester in 1955.

His performance for Rochester marked Brandt, 21, as a prime prospect for the majors. He excelled as a hitter (38 doubles, 12 triples), fielder (20 assists, 420 putouts) and base runner (24 steals). “Brandt is one of the best-looking kids I’ve ever seen,” Rochester manager Dixie Walker told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “He’ll be a major league star.”

Cardinals general manager Frank Lane said his Reds counterpart, Gabe Paul, offered $100,000 for Brandt. In rejecting the proposal, Lane told The Sporting News, “If Gabe offers $100,000 for him, the kid is worth every bit of $400,000.”

After Cardinals manager Fred Hutchinson saw Brandt play winter ball in Havana following the 1955 minor-league season, he said to The Sporting News, “He has a physical makeup similar to Mickey Mantle. He’s got the same kind of sloping shoulders, strength and speed. He showed exceptional aptitude defensively, a great knack of getting a jump on the ball and a strong arm.”

When New York Times columnist Arthur Daley got his first look at Brandt during spring training in 1956, he observed that the rookie had the “cat-like gait of Mickey Mantle. In fact, he looks as if he might be Mickey’s little brother.”

Another New York columnist, Red Smith, described Brandt as “a smaller, slighter version of Mickey Mantle.”

Great expectations

Brandt’s spring training performance earned him a spot on the Cardinals’ 1956 Opening Day roster and heightened expectations. Cardinals outfielders had won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 1954 (Wally Moon) and 1955 (Bill Virdon), so Brandt was being touted as a favorite to get the honor in 1956.

“He is faster than either Moon or Virdon, both on the bases and in the outfield,” The Sporting News reported. “He loves to run, loves to hit and he doesn’t know the meaning of pressure.”

Brandt “could be another Terry Moore,” Cardinals chief scout Joe Mathes said to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, referring to the center fielder on the club’s 1940s championship teams.

Unfazed, Brandt told The Sporting News he could hit as well as any Cardinals player “except Stan” Musial. “Confidence is my major asset,” Brandt said.

Hutchinson, though, preferred a lineup with experienced big-leaguers. The Cardinals opened the 1956 season with Hank Sauer in left field, Virdon in center, Musial in right, Moon at first base and Brandt on the bench. In May, they dealt Virdon to the Pirates for Bobby Del Greco and made him the center fielder.

When Del Greco got injured, Brandt filled in and came through with consecutive three-hit games. Boxscore and Boxscore

Future shock

After a few starts in late May, Brandt was back on the bench. Dissatisfied with sitting and watching, he asked the Cardinals to send him to the minors so he could play every day, he told author Steve Bitker in the book “The Original San Francisco Giants.”

Instead, the Cardinals traded him. He was part of the June 1956 deal that sent second baseman Red Schoendienst to the Giants for shortstop Al Dark and others. The Giants insisted on Brandt being included. “We wouldn’t have made the deal without him,” Giants general manager Chub Feeney told United Press. “Frankly, we were surprised that the Cards would let him go.”

Brandt batted .286 with one home run in 42 at-bats for the Cardinals and fielded flawlessly. (According to researcher Tom Orf, Brandt is one of two players who began his career with the Cardinals, hit one home run for them and went on to slug 50 or more in the majors. The other is Randy Arozarena.)

On the day the trade was made, the Cardinals were 29-23 and one game out of first place in the National League. Frank Lane thought having Dark as their shortstop could spark them to a pennant. “Brandt could come back to haunt us, but we’re concerned about 1956 and not the future,” Lane explained to The Sporting News.

J. Roy Stockton of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch countered: “We don’t consider the Cardinals a sufficient threat in 1956 to justify trading away Brandt.”

(The Cardinals hit the skids in July and finished 76-78, 17 games behind the champion Dodgers.)

Schoendienst told the Post-Dispatch, “Lane didn’t hurt the Cardinals trading me. It was his dealing off young players like Bill Virdon and Jackie Brandt … Brandt alone, counting what he can do now and what he’ll do in the future, is worth all four players the Cardinals got in the Giants deal.”

Golden gate

The Giants made Brandt their left fielder and he hit .299 with 11 home runs for them in 1956.

After spending most of the next two seasons in military service, Brandt was the Giants’ left fielder when they opened the 1959 season at St. Louis against the Cardinals. In the ninth inning, with a runner on first, one out and the score tied at 5-5, Brandt made two unsuccessful sacrifice bunt attempts, then ripped a Jim Brosnan pitch 400 feet to left-center for a double, driving in the winning run. Boxscore

Brandt went on to hit .270 for the 1959 Giants and ranked first among National League left fielders in fielding percentage (.989), earning him a Gold Glove Award. The other NL Gold Glove outfielders that season were teammate Willie Mays (center) and the Braves’ Hank Aaron (right).

(According to the authorized biography “Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend,” there were tensions between Brandt and Mays. “Brandt was outspoken and he was always criticizing Mays,” Giants broadcaster Lon Simmons said.)

Brandt was traded to the Orioles after his Gold Glove season.

Offbeat Oriole

Brandt played six seasons (1960-65) for the Orioles and was their center fielder for most of that time. In 1961, when he hit .297 and scored 93 runs, Brandt was named to the American League all-star team, but it was during his Orioles days that he got labeled a flake.

Teammate Boog Powell told the Baltimore Sun, “He had a pair of alligator shoes and, at a team party, decided to take them for a swim. He just walked into the pool, then out, and continued the evening like nothing had happened.”

(Decades later, when Powell operated a barbecue stand at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Brandt tapped him on the shoulder, said, “Pardon me, sir, but can you spare a poor man a sandwich?” and then kissed his old teammate square on the lips, the Sun reported.)

In a spring training game, Brandt got caught in a rundown and did a backflip to avoid the tag, the Sun reported. Another time, Brandt scored ahead of Jim Gentile, who missed the plate with his slide. Brandt bent down, picked up Gentile’s foot and placed it neatly on the plate, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

Brandt’s words could be as amusing as his actions.

According to Milton Gross of the North American Newspaper Alliance, after the 1964 season, when Brandt hit less than .250 for the second straight year, Orioles general manager Lee MacPhail wished him a good winter. Brandt replied, “I always have a good winter. The bad summers are what troubles me.”

Regarding his inability to measure up to Mickey Mantle, Brandt told Gross, “I do everything pretty fair, but I’m not up to my potential. Maybe I’m living in the future.”

Orioles manager Hank Bauer said to the Sun, “I asked him how he managed to misplay a fly. He said, ‘I lost in the jet stream.’ “

According to the Baltimore newspaper, other gems uttered by Brandt included:

_ “This year, I’m going to play with harder nonchalance.”

_ “It’s hard to tell how you’re playing when you can’t see yourself.”

Brandt told author Steve Bitker, “My mind works crazy. I don’t do anything canned. Whatever comes to mind, I say or do.”

At least one popular story told about Brandt turned out to be untrue. As reported by the Associated Press and the Newspaper Enterprise Association, Brandt, wanting to experience some of the 40 flavors offered at an ice cream place, drove 30 miles out of his way to get there _ and then ordered vanilla. In 1983, the Baltimore Sun reported it was Ed Brandt, a reporter who covered the Orioles for the newspaper, who drove the extra miles for the ice cream and settled for vanilla. Over time, Jackie, not Ed, got associated with the tale.

“I’m shrewder than most of the guys think,” Brandt, the player, said to North American Newspaper Alliance.

Being a pro

When the Phillies swapped Jack Baldschun to the Orioles for Brandt in December 1965, Larry Merchant of the Philadelphia Daily News called it a trade of “a screwballing relief pitcher for a screwball of an outfielder.”

Regarding his reputation for being a flake, Brandt told Merchant, “We’re paid to entertain. It’s like being on stage. People want a show. They pay three bucks, so they ought to get one.”

The 1966 Phillies were a haven for free spirits, with Bo BelinskyPhil Linz and Bob Uecker joining Brandt on the roster. Brandt didn’t play regularly, but was serious about finding ways to contribute.

“For weeks at a stretch, he would pitch batting practice 25 minutes a day,” Bill Conlin reported in the Philadelphia Daily News. “He would catch batting practice and became Jim Bunning’s preferred warmup catcher because of his knack of setting a low target with his glove.”

The Phillies sent Brandt to the Astros in June 1967 and he completed his final season in the majors with them. In his last big-league appearance, on Sept. 2, 1967, at St. Louis, Brandt singled versus Steve Carlton. Boxscore

In 11 seasons in the majors, Brandt produced 1,020 hits, including 112 home runs.

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Not even a dugout full of four-leaf clovers would have been enough to help Patsy Donovan turn the 1903 Cardinals into winners.

What Donovan needed more than the luck of the Irish was a dugout full of run producers and premium pitchers.

As player-manager of the 1903 Cardinals, Donovan (pictured here) did all he could. He was a crafty hitter and a smart manager _ and he also had a rookie pitcher who would become a Hall of Famer _ but that was not enough to compete in the National League 120 years ago.

The 1903 Cardinals finished in last place in the eight-team league at 43-94. Their .314 winning percentage is the lowest in Cardinals franchise history, and the 43 wins are the fewest by a Cardinals club in a season not shortened by labor strife or pandemic.

Popular lad

Born in County Cork, Ireland, Patsy Donovan immigrated to the United States with his family when he was a boy and settled in Massachusetts.

An outfielder and left-handed batter, Donovan reached the big leagues in 1890 and replaced Connie Mack as player-manager of the Pirates in 1896. “As a field general, Patsy ranks with the best in the business,” The Pittsburgh Press noted.

After the 1899 season, the Pirates had an ownership change and Donovan’s contract was sold to the Cardinals. Playing right field for them in 1900, Donovan hit .316 with 45 stolen bases, but the team finished 65-75.

Donovan became Cardinals player-manager in 1901 and led them to a 76-64 record. He hit .303 with 73 RBI and 28 steals. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch declared that “Donovan comes very near to being the best-versed man in the inside workings of the game.”

Many eyes, Irish or otherwise, were smiling on Donovan, whose “classic features (unlike those of some roughhouse ballplayers) don’t look as if they had been chiseled out with a crowbar,” the Post-Dispatch observed.

As the newspaper noted, “The ladies turned out in full force to see the old favorite of the fair fans, Patsy Donovan.”

Shuffling the Cards

Any hopes the Cardinals had of continuing a rise in the National League standings in 1902 were dashed when the fledgling American League made a raid on their roster. Five of their eight starting position players (first baseman Dan McGann, second baseman Dick Padden, shortstop Bobby Wallace, left fielder Jesse Burkett and center fielder Emmet Heidrick) and three top starting pitchers (Jack Harper, Jack Powell and Willie Sudhoff) were enticed to jump to the American League. Most went to the St. Louis Browns.

Donovan hit .315 with 34 steals in 1902, but with so much of his supporting cast departed, the Cardinals fell to 56-78.

Discouraged, Donovan resigned and planned to quit baseball. “He had no money (from the Cardinals) with which to build up a team,” the Post-Dispatch reported in November 1902. “With the prospect of going through another season like the one closed, Donovan concluded he wanted to change.”

Cardinals owners Frank and Stanley Robison convinced Donovan to change his mind and come back for the 1903 season. To help appease him, they acquired a third baseman, Jimmy Burke, from the Pirates and purchased the contract of a minor-league pitcher, Mordecai Brown.

Helping hands

A son of Irish immigrant parents, Jimmy Burke was born and raised in Old North St. Louis. Playing for the Shamrocks, an amateur sandlot team, Burke developed a reputation as a scrappy competitor. As The Sporting News noted, “He made up in hustle and fight what he may have lacked in exceptional ability.”

Mordecai Brown hailed from Nyesville, Ind., 30 miles northeast of Terre Haute. He was a youth when he mangled his right hand in a corn chopper accident, the Chicago Tribune reported. Soon after, he fell while chasing an animal on the family farm and did more damage to the hand.

As a teen, Brown worked in a coal mine and played baseball. Because of the unusual way he was forced to grip the ball in his deformed hand, Brown’s pitches had an unorthodox spin that often baffled batters, the Chicago Tribune noted.

Brown was 24 when he entered professional baseball with a minor-league team in Terre Haute in 1901. After posting 27 wins for Omaha in 1902, he was signed by the Cardinals, and by then he had a nickname _ Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown.

On the skids

Donovan began to feel optimistic about his 1903 team. In February, he told The Pittsburgh Press, “The Cardinals will be much stronger than they were last year.”

The good vibes continued when the Cardinals won their season opener, beating the Cubs, 2-1, on a five-hitter by Clarence Currie. Boxscore

“Three Finger” Brown made his big-league debut against the Cubs and pitched a one-hit shutout for the win in a game shortened to five innings because of rain. Boxscore

Before Brown’s next start, against Pittsburgh, “Patsy Donovan warned the Pirates that they would be surprised when they saw his find in the person of a pitcher with only three (usable) digits on his throwing hand,” The Pittsburgh Press reported. “The (Pirates) laughed, but their laughs turned to weeping when the battle was on.”

Brown gave up five runs in the fourth inning, held the Pirates scoreless for the other eight innings, and got the win. Boxscore

The good times faded fast. After a 6-7 record in April, the Cardinals were 4-23 in May. They collapsed over the last two months, losing 38 of 48 games. Their 43-94 mark for the season put them 46.5 games behind the National League champion Pirates (91-49).

The Cardinals gave up the most runs (787) in the league and scored the fewest (505). Their top home run slugger, Homer Smoot, hit four.

Patsy Donovan, 38, was the club’s leading hitter (.327) and also had 25 stolen bases. Jimmy Burke hit .285 with 28 steals.

“Three Finger” Brown led the pitching staff in ERA (2.60) and strikeouts (83), and tied Chappie McFarland for the team high in wins (nine).

On the move

After the season, the Cardinals made matters worse, trading “Three Finger” Brown and catcher Jack O’Neill to the Cubs for pitcher Jack Taylor and catcher Larry McLean. Patsy Donovan left to manage the Washington Senators.

Brown went on to help the Cubs win four National League pennants and two World Series titles. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Donovan finished with 2,256 hits and a .301 batting average. He managed the Senators, Dodgers and Red Sox after leaving the Cardinals.

In 1914, when he was a Red Sox scout, Donovan was sent to Baltimore to check out a pitching prospect, Dave Danforth. The player who got his attention was Babe Ruth. Donovan told the Red Sox to sign Ruth immediately and, acting on his recommendation, they did, The Sporting News reported.

According to the Associated Press, Donovan’s acquaintance with one of the Xavierian brothers who coached Ruth at a Baltimore orphanage helped get The Babe to sign with the Red Sox.

Described by The Sporting News as “a great developer of young players,” Donovan was hired to manage the minor-league Buffalo Bisons in 1915. He encouraged one of their infielders, Joe McCarthy, “to study the strategy of the game,” The Sporting News reported.

McCarthy followed Donovan’s advice and embarked on a managing career with the Cubs, Yankees and Red Sox that led to his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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Hobie Landrith was an undersized catcher with big desire.

At 5-foot-8, according to the Associated Press and his Topps baseball card, Landrith stood “about as tall as the bat boy,” the Baltimore Sun noted, but he played in the majors for 14 seasons, including two with the Cardinals.

A left-handed batter, he had many good games at St. Louis, both for and against the Cardinals. Landrith had more career hits (78) in St. Louis than he did in any other big-league city.

Though best known for being the first player the Mets took in the National League expansion draft, Landrith didn’t last a full season with them. He was 93 when he died on April 6, 2023.

Catching up

Hobart Landrith was born in Decatur, Ill., and moved with his family to metropolitan Detroit when he was 7. At 15, he served as a bating practice catcher for the Tigers.

In 1948, according to the Detroit Free Press, Landrith was one of two top high school catchers in Detroit. The other was Harry Chiti. Both became big-leaguers. (Landrith and Chiti were teammates on the 1956 Cubs and 1962 Mets).

After attending Michigan State for a year, Landrith signed with the Reds in 1949. Sent to their Tulsa farm club in 1950, Landrith broke a leg sliding into home plate in the season opener at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, the Tulsa World reported.

When he recovered, the Reds, needing a bullpen catcher, brought Landrith, 20, to Cincinnati. He impressed manager Luke Sewell, who put him on the roster. Landrith started four games for the Reds that summer.

After spending most of 1951 and 1952 in the minors, Landrith stuck with the Reds through 1955 as backup to Andy Seminick and then Smoky Burgess.

Flair for dramatic

For a player who hit .198 in 1954, Landrith had his share of standout performances. In May, his three-run home run against the Cardinals’ Gerry Staley sparked the Reds to victory. Boxscore Two months later, Landrith hit a walkoff home run in a 1-0 triumph over the Giants. Boxscore

Reds broadcaster and former pitcher Waite Hoyt referred to Landrith “with unabashed affection as Little Hobie because he’s been the sort of guy it’s always easy to root for,” the Dayton Journal Herald reported.

On Sept. 1, 1954, Landrith impressed with his glove _ and his courage _ when he took part in a promotional stunt and caught a baseball dropped 575 feet from a helicopter at Crosley Field. “It knocked me to the ground, ” Landrith told the Cincinnati Enquirer, “but I held on.”

Landrith received $500 for catching the ball.

(The record was set in 1938 when Indians catchers Hank Helf and Frank Pytlak each caught a ball dropped from atop the 708-foot Terminal Tower in Cleveland, the Associated Press reported.)

Second string in St. Louis

In November 1955, Landrith was traded to the Cubs and he made 90 starts for them in 1956. After the season, the Cubs dealt Landrith, pitchers Sam Jones and Jim Davis, and utilityman Eddie Miksis to the Cardinals for pitchers Tom Poholsky and Jackie Collum, catcher Ray Katt, and an infield prospect, Wally Lammers.

Cardinals general manager Frank Lane then tried to flip Landrith to the Reds for Smoky Burgess, but was turned down, the Associated Press reported.

Used primarily as a backup to Hal Smith, Landrith made 56 starts for the 1957 Cardinals. He hit .243 and nailed 14 of 30 runners attempting to steal.

Seeking a catcher with more pop, Bing Devine, Lane’s successor as Cardinals general manager, tried to swap Landrith to the Reds for Burgess after the 1957 season, but he was turned down, too, according to the Associated Press.

Landrith was the Cardinals’ Opening Day catcher in 1958, but most of the playing time that season went to Hal Smith (61 starts) and Gene Green (48). Landrith, who started 34 games, batted .215.

A highlight came on July 13, 1958, when Landrith had four hits and two RBI against the Pirates at St. Louis. (A lifetime .233 hitter in the majors, Landrith batted .313 versus the Pirates in his career.) Boxscore

A month later, Landrith walloped a game-winning home run in the eighth inning against the Phillies’ Turk Farrell at St. Louis. Boxscore

On Oct. 7, 1958, Landrith, pitcher Billy Muffett and third baseman Benny Valenzuela were traded to the Giants for pitchers Ernie Broglio and Marv Grissom.

Tall among Giants

Landrith twice had four-hit games for the Giants at St. Louis. The first was July 4, 1959. Boxscore The other came on Aug. 16, 1960, when Landrith had three doubles and a single against Bob Gibson and caught the four-hitter of rookie Juan Marichal, who was facing the Cardinals for the first time. Boxscore (Landrith also was the catcher when Marichal pitched a one-hit shutout versus the Phillies in his Giants debut. Boxscore)

“Hobie has helped me a lot, especially on gripping the ball so the batters can’t see if it’s going to be a fastball or a curve,” Marchial told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

On Aug. 17, 1961, a spectacular catch by Cardinals center fielder Curt Flood robbed Landrith of an extra-base hit at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

With the Cardinals ahead, 2-0, in the eighth, the Giants had a runner on second when Landrith batted against Larry Jackson. “At least three Cardinals (in the dugout) grabbed towels and signaled Flood to shade farther to the right,” the San Francisco Examiner reported. “He took five steps and needed every one.”

Landrith drove a pitch to right-center. “I hit that ball as hard as I’ve ever hit any,” he said to the Post-Dispatch.

Flood told the newspaper, “I thought for sure the ball was going out.”

“Flood took off with his back to the infield all the way,” the Post-Dispatch reported. “About one step from the fence he timed his high leap perfectly and speared the ball.” Boxscore

An original

After being drafted by the expansion Mets, Landrith went to spring training with them in 1962. Crouched behind the plate in a game, he was struck on top of the head by the backlash of a batter’s big swing. After a few days on the sideline, Landrith returned and was knocked on the noggin by another batter’s backlash. “I’m three inches shorter than when I reported to camp,” he told Dick Young of the New York Daily News.

In the Mets’ first regular-season game, against the Cardinals, Landrith started, went hitless and made an errant throw to second on Julian Javier’s stolen base. Boxscore

Landrith’s Mets highlight came on May 12, 1962, when he hit a two-run walkoff home run at the Polo Grounds against the Braves’ Warren Spahn. The high fly down the line in right “just did make the railing of the upper deck as it fell almost straight down,” the New York Daily News reported. Boxscore

A month later, Landrith was traded to the Orioles as the player to be named in a deal for first baseman Marv Throneberry

In his second week with the Orioles, Landrith slugged a two-run walkoff home run against Dick Radatz of the Red Sox at Baltimore, earning a win for starter Robin Roberts. Landrith, Radatz and Roberts all attended Michigan State.

“Roberts leaped out of the Orioles dugout, jumped up and down, and gave Landrith a big bear hug as Hobie battled his way through congratulating teammates.” the Baltimore Sun reported. Boxscore

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Bob Uecker’s speed, whatever there was of it, was no match for the arm of Jesus Alou.

A perfect throw by Alou in a game against the Cardinals nailed Uecker at the plate, aiding a win for the Giants that moved them into sole possession of first place in the 1964 National League pennant race.

Alou, youngest of three brothers to play in the majors, was an outfielder and contact hitter who excelled against premier pitchers. St. Louis University students formed a fan club in his honor. He was 80 when he died on March 10, 2023.

Oh, brother

Jesus Alou was a right-handed pitcher when he joined the Giants’ Class D farm team at Hastings, Neb., in 1959. Alou, 17, “developed a sore arm and was sure he was about to be released,” the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported. Instead, he became an outfielder, the same position played by his brothers Felipe and Matty.

“I always thought that maybe they just kept me because Felipe and Matty were moving up and they didn’t want them to feel bad,” Alou told the newspaper.

All three Alou brothers were born and raised in the Dominican Republic. In his autobiography, “Alou: My Baseball Journey,” Felipe said, “Our home was the size of an average bedroom in the United States _ 15 by 15 feet _ some of it with an uneven cement floor, and the rest, particularly our kitchen floor, was dirt.”

Felipe recalled Jesus would take meat “right out of the pot when it was still cooking over an open fire. He loved meat and always seemed to have a ravenous appetite … Jesus was the one who grew the tallest and filled out the most.”

Felipe entered the Giants’ system in 1956 and Matty joined him a year later. Felipe reached the majors with the Giants in 1958 and Matty got there in 1960.

Jesus Alou hit .324 or better in four consecutive seasons in the minors before he was brought up to the Giants in September 1963.

In Jesus Alou’s debut against the Mets, he, Matty and Felipe batted consecutively in the eighth inning (Jesus and Matty as pinch-hitters) and became the first trio of brothers to appear in the same big-league game. Boxscore

Five days later, Felipe (in center), Matty (in left) and Jesus (in right) were the Giants outfielders for two innings in a game against the Pirates. Boxscore

In his book, Felipe said, “People have asked me what I felt. Pride, to some degree, but mostly what I felt was an overwhelming sense of responsibility to look out for my younger brothers. I was more concerned for them than anything.”

After seeing Jesus Alou play, Giants manager Al Dark told the San Francisco Examiner, “He’ll be something special one of these days, perhaps next year.”

The three Alou brothers appeared in a game together eight times, but never started a game together.

After the season, Felipe was traded to the Braves and Dark said Jesus would get first crack at Felipe’s right field job. “In Dark’s expert opinion, (Jesus) is destined to become a better all-around ballplayer than Felipe, a development which would qualify him to rub shoulders with the best in the business,” the Examiner noted.

Forgive me, Father

A son of a carpenter _ naturally _ Alou was the first player in the majors to be named Jesus. Some of the less enlightened had a devil of a time accepting this.

“In the Dominican Republic, as well as elsewhere in Latin America, the name Jesus is a common one, but in this country … the name is sacred to the Savior and a jarring note is struck when the name is not so honored,” Examiner columnist Prescott Sullivan wrote in March 1964.

“It’s a grand name, a wonderful name, and Jesus Alou wears it proudly,” Sullivan wrote, but “we’ve been thinking that what Jesus Alou needs is a nickname.”

Sullivan suggested Alou should be called “Jay or Jess or even Chi Chi.”

(Sullivan provided playwright Neil Simon with the inspiration for the Oscar Madison character in “The Odd Couple,” according to the Associated Press.)

Sullivan contacted several San Francisco holy men, who told him that, by God, they agreed with the notion that Alou should not be called by his given name.

Monsignor Eugene Gallagher, director of the Catholic Youth Organization, confessed, “A nickname for Alou would eliminate the danger of disrespect for a name sacred to our Savior.” A spokesman for Episcopal Bishop James Pike of Grace Cathedral said, “It would be simpler all around to call him by a name other than the one given to our Lord.” Rabbi Alvin Fine of Temple Emanuel offered, “For baseball purposes, I’d rather call him Butch.”

The advice was taken as gospel. Some broadcasters and reporters referred to the player as Jay Alou instead of Jesus.

Good impressions

On May 28, 1964, Alou was the left fielder for the Giants at St. Louis. In the seventh inning, the Cardinals led, 1-0, and had Bob Uecker on second when Carl Warwick lined a single to left. “With two out, we had to try for the run and send Uecker in,” Cardinals manager Johnny Keane told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We had to hope for a wide throw, or a bounce that got past the catcher.”

Instead, Alou charged the ball, scooped it on one hop and fired a strike on the fly to catcher Del Crandall, who was waiting when Uecker slid into the tag. “That ball passed Uecker like a roadrunner,” coach Vern Benson said to the Post-Dispatch.

In the next inning, Willie Mays hit a Curt Simmons pitch off a girder in right-center for a two-run home run. The Giants won, 2-1, and moved into first place. Boxscore

(Mays “used to play cards with us all the time,” Jesus Alou told the Fort Launderdale Sun-Sentinel. “Every time he won, he gave us our money back.”)

Two months later, Alou had six hits (five singles and a home run) in a game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Boxscore

The Giants stayed in contention but finished three games behind the champion Cardinals.

The next year, Alou had 22 hits, including five doubles and two home runs, in 18 games against the 1965 Cardinals.

When the Giants played at St. Louis on June 28, 1966, a fan club of 48 graduate students from St. Louis University came to Busch Memorial Stadium and supported Alou with banners and cheers, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Alou had three hits in the game, scored twice and stole a base, then posed for pictures with the students. He hit .333 versus the Cardinals in 1966. Boxscore

Close call

After the 1968 season, Alou was chosen in the National League expansion draft by the Expos, who flipped him to the Astros for Rusty Staub.

In a June 1969 game against the Pirates, Alou fractured his jaw in a collision with shortstop Hector Torres while chasing a pop fly. On the ground, Alou “looked like he was dead,” Astros player Denis Menke told the Associated Press.

Alou swallowed his tongue and struggled to breathe before Pirates trainer Tony Bartirome “pulled Alou’s tongue up, inserted an inflationary tube in his throat and blew into it to open the passage,” Astros trainer Jim Ewell told the wire service.

Alou recovered and in 1970 he hit .306 for the Astros and .460 (17-for-37) against the Cardinals. In a May 1 game at St. Louis, he had three hits, three RBI and two runs scored. Boxscore

In 1971, the Cardinals acquired Matty Alou from the Pirates. In a game at Houston that year, Matty had two hits for the Cardinals and Jesus had three for the Astros. Boxscore

Bruce Bochy, who went on to manage the Giants to three World Series championships, began his professional playing career in the Astros’ system. In Felipe Alou’s book, Bochy said, “When I was a player, Jesus Alou was a guy who took me under his wing _ something I will never forget. I would sit next to Jesus in the dugout whenever I had the chance, soaking in his sage wisdom.”

In his book “I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally,” Jim Bouton said Astros teammate Jesus Alou “is one of the most delicate, sensitive, nicest men I have ever met. He’d walk a mile out of his way to drop a coin in some beggar’s cup.”

Playing to win

In 1973 and 1974, Jesus Alou got to play in two World Series for the champion Athletics. The manager of the 1974 team was Al Dark. Jesus was joined on the A’s by an Angel, fellow reserve outfielder Angel Mangual.

Jesus Alou played 15 seasons in the majors and had 1,216 hits. He was at his best against some future Hall of Famers, batting .436 (24-for-55) against Steve Carlton, .370 (17-for-46) against Don Sutton, .353 (12-for-34) against Sandy Koufax and .333 (14-for-42) against Tom Seaver.

After his playing days, Jesus Alou was a scout for the Expos, and then director of Dominican Republic operations for the Marlins and later the Red Sox.

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For a guy who hit .154 in the 1964 World Series, Yankees first baseman Joe Pepitone was at the center of several significant plays against the Cardinals.

Pepitone got hit by a Bob Gibson pitch at a key moment in Game 2, lined a ball that struck Gibson in Game 5, and belted a grand slam in Game 6.

The Cardinals prevailed in seven games, but Pepitone wasn’t done with them. After he joined the Cubs in 1970, Pepitone thrived against the Cardinals. A career .258 hitter in the majors, Pepitone batted .331 in 36 regular-season games versus the Cardinals.

Pepitone also played for, and had conflicts with, former Cardinals managers Johnny Keane and Harry Walker.

A power hitter and Gold Glove fielder who had a well-earned reputation as a carouser, Pepitone played for the Yankees, Astros, Cubs and Braves. He was 82 when he died on March 13, 2023.

Survival skills

In spring 1958, Pepitone, 17, was approached at his Brooklyn high school by an acquaintance who displayed a .38 Colt revolver and simulated a hold-up. The gun discharged and a slug ripped through Pepitone and came out his back. A priest administered last rites before Pepitone was rushed into surgery.

In his book, “Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud,” Pepitone said, “I was in surgery for nine hours. The bullet had struck a rib and caromed out my lower back, missing three vital organs by inches.”

He spent 12 days in the hospital. Soon after, Pepitone’s father, Willie, 39, died from complications following a heart attack.

In August 1958, the Yankees signed Pepitone for $25,000. He said in his book he splurged on a Thunderbird, a speedboat and several silk suits.

Four years later, in April 1962, Pepitone reached the majors. His first hit, a single, came against a future Hall of Famer, Jim Bunning. After the season, the Yankees traded first baseman Bill Skowron, opening the door for Pepitone to replace him in 1963. On Opening Day, he smacked two home runs. Boxscore

Pepitone, 22, had 27 home runs for the 1963 Yankees and led the club in RBI (89) and total bases (260). He followed that with 28 home runs and 100 RBI for the 1964 Yankees.

The Yankees won their fifth consecutive American League pennant in 1964 and faced the Cardinals in the World Series.

Bad actor

The Cardinals won Game 1 and part of the reason was Pepitone’s inability to deliver on scoring chances. In the fifth and seven innings, he batted with two runners on base and made the final outs both times. Boxscore

In Game 2, with the score tied at 1-1 and Mickey Mantle on first, Bob Gibson threw a pitch low and inside to Pepitone. “I was going to swing at the ball, but then it started coming in on me and I checked my swing,” Pepitone told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Plate umpire Bill McKinley said the ball struck Pepitone in the right thigh and awarded him first base, with Mantle moving to second. The Cardinals argued the ball hit Pepitone’s bat first. “That play was the turning point of this game,” Cardinals manager Johnny Keane told the Associated Press.

The next batter, Tom Tresh, singled, scoring Mantle and giving the Yankees the lead. They went on to win. Boxscore and Video at 12:22 mark

During batting practice before Game 3 at Yankee Stadium, Pepitone spotted Cardinals first baseman Bill White near third base. Pepitone had a photo of he and White together before Game 1, and wanted White to autograph it.

“So Pepitone, emerging from the first base dugoout, limped pitiably all the way to third base,” the New York Times reported. “The Cardinals whooped and sneered. Pepitone limped harder. The Cardinals couldn’t avoid laughing.”

“If that ball hit you,” Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver yelled out, “you’ve got a wooden leg.”

White autographed the photo and Pepitone headed back to the dugout, but forgot to limp. When the Cardinals called him on it, Pepitone began “limping worse than ever,” the Times noted.

Then, according to the New York Daily News, White hollered, “Hey, you’re limping on the wrong leg,”

“Oops,” said Pepitone, who switched his limp.

On his first trip to the plate in Game 3, Pepitone was decked by Curt Simmons’ first pitch. He also had to spin away from two other Simmons pitches, the Daily News noted.

Throughout the game, “Cardinals bench jockeys gave Pepitone a solid riding every time he came to bat,” The Sporting News reported.

Crucial out

The Cardinals, with Gibson pitching, led, 2-0, in the ninth inning of Game 5. With Mantle on first and one out, Pepitone hit a hard liner that struck Gibson in the right hip. As the ball darted toward the third base line, Gibson “was off the mound in a flash, grabbed the ball and fired off balance” to White at first base, The Sporting News reported.

When umpire Al Smith called Pepitone out, the Yankees argued. (Film clips “show Smith was correct in calling him out,” the Daily News reported.)

The next batter, Tom Tresh, hit a home run, tying the score. If not for Gibson’s play, Pepitone would have joined Mantle on the bases and Tresh’s homer would have won the game for the Yankees. Instead, the Cardinals prevailed on Tim McCarver’s home run in the 10th. Boxscore and Video

Rare feat

In Game 6 at St. Louis, the Yankees led, 4-1, when Pepitone faced Gordon Richardson with the bases loaded in the eighth. Twice, with the count 2-and-2, Pepitone fouled off balls “that just skipped off McCarver’s glove,” according to the Post-Dispatch. Then he hit a grand slam onto the roof in right. Boxscore and Video at 2:45 mark

Pepitone became the 10th player to hit a World Series grand slam, The Sporting News noted. Ken Boyer did it for the Cardinals in Game 4. The 1964 World Series was the second to have two grand slams. In 1956, Bill Skowron and Yogi Berra did it for the Yankees versus the Dodgers.

Authority issues

After the Cardinals clinched the championship in Game 7, Johnny Keane resigned and became Yankees manager. In his autobiography, Pepitone said, “Keane and I didn’t hit it off from the beginning.”

Pepitone said Keane fined him multiple times. Keane also benched him indefinitely for reporting late to the ballpark and failing to take batting practice, the Associated Press reported.

“There was a moment in 1965 when I came close to punching Johnny Keane,” Pepitone said in his book.

Pepitone was deep in debt in 1965, he said in his book, and trying to hide from bill collectors. Near the end of the season, he said, Yankees general manager Ralph Houk convinced him to enter a hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

“For me, the 1965 baseball season was one long agonizing scream,” Pepitone said in his book. “I tried to muffle it with endless partying and rebelling against authority. Before the season was over, I was feeling my mind snap, crack, pop at any minute.”

Keane was fired in May 1966. Pepitone led the Yankees that season in home runs (31), RBI (83), runs scored (85) and total bases (271).

Pepitone also got attention for what was considered a bold step in a macho culture _ using a hairdryer in the clubhouse. A prankster teammate slipped “some baby powder in the thing,” he told the Associated Press in 1968. “You should have seen the mess when I turned it on.”

After hitting 27 home runs in 1969, Pepitone was traded to the Astros for Curt Blefary. The trade reunited Pepitone with former Yankees teammate Jim Bouton. In his book, “Ball Four,” Bouton wrote about how Pepitone wore two hairpieces, one for ballgames and another for going out on the town. Pepitone opened a men’s hair styling boutique in New York and was looking to franchise the business, the New York Daily News reported.

The Astros’ manager, Harry Walker, had been a Cardinals manager (1955) and coach on Keane’s staff (1961-62). Walker and Pepitone didn’t get along either.

Pepitone hit 14 home runs in 279 at-bats for the 1970 Astros, but in July he was told by Walker he no longer could room alone on road trips. Fed up with what he considered petty rules, Pepitone walked out on the team and asked to be put on the voluntary retirement list. In his book, Pepitone said, “I couldn’t stand Harry Walker and all his rules and regulations.”

Placed on waivers, Pepitone was claimed by the Cubs.

Moving on

Leo Durocher, the Cubs manager, put Pepitone in center field and he did well. He produced 12 home runs and 44 RBI in 213 at-bats for the 1970 Cubs and made one error in 459 innings in center.

The next year, primarily playing first base, Pepitone hit .307 for the Cubs and .411 (23-for-56) against the Cardinals. In three home games versus the Cardinals from June 18-20, Pepitone was 8-for-9 with three walks, a hit by pitch, and seven runs scored. June 18 Boxscore June 19 Boxscore June 20 Boxscore

His success versus the Cardinals extended to 1972, when he hit .438 (7-for-16) against them. During that season, Durocher left and replaced Harry Walker as Astros manager.

One of Pepitone’s last big games came against the Cardinals on April 15, 1973, when he had five RBI and scored three runs. “Pepitone can play well,” Cubs manager Whitey Lockman told the Post-Dispatch. “It depends whether he wants to.” Boxscore

A month later, Pepitone, 33, was dealt to the Braves. He played in three games for them, the last against the Cardinals, and quit. “I’d had it with major league baseball,” Pepitone said in his book. “I just didn’t have any feeling for the game.”

The next year, he went to Japan, didn’t like it, hurt his ankle and played in 14 games before seeking his release.

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