Archive for the ‘Managers’ Category

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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Gene Mauch, who drew comparisons with Eddie Stanky, got to play for him a brief while with the Cardinals.

On March 26, 1952, the Cardinals claimed Mauch for $10,000 after he was placed on waivers by the Yankees.

Mauch began the 1952 season with the Cardinals as a utility infielder but was released in May. A few months later, he began a more prominent career as a manager.

The Natural

The Dodgers signed Mauch, 17, in 1943 out of Fremont High School in Los Angeles.

A year later, at the Dodgers’ wartime spring training camp at Bear Mountain, N.Y., Mauch, 18, impressed manager Leo Durocher and earned the shortstop job.

“He’s a natural,” Durocher, the former Cardinals shortstop, told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “He does everything right by instinct.”

Pee Wee Reese, who took over for Durocher as Dodgers shortstop in 1940, was in military service in 1944, opening an opportunity for Mauch. “Durocher regards Mauch as a better shortstop prospect than Reese was at Mauch’s age,” the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported.

On April 18, 1944, Mauch was the Dodgers’ Opening Day shortstop against the Phillies. Boxscore

Joining Mauch in the infield were first baseman Howie Schultz, a 6-foot-6 basketball player; second baseman Luis Olmo, an outfielder; and third baseman Gil English, a utilityman appearing in a big-league game for the first time in six years. English was an upgrade from Dixie Walker, an outfielder who flopped in a tryout at third base in spring training.

Years later, Mauch told the Atlanta Constitution, “It must have been the worst infield of all time.”

Mauch started the Dodgers’ first five games, made no errors but hit .133 and was returned to the minors. In May 1944, Mauch entered the Army Air Corps and served until the spring of 1946.

On the move

When Mauch resumed his baseball career, he embarked on an odyssey as a utility player with the Dodgers, Pirates, Cubs and Braves.

Atlanta Constitution columnist Furman Bisher told the story of the time the Braves’ bus got stuck under a low overpass on the way to a game. The embarrassed driver was unsure what to do. Mauch suggested he let the air out of the tires and back out. The driver did.

Mauch spent most of the 1951 season with the Braves’ Class AAA team in Milwaukee, hitting .303 and posting a .445 on-base percentage. Milwaukee manager Charlie Grimm told The Sporting News, “Every big-league scout I have talked with this season tells me Mauch is good enough to be the regular shortstop on almost any big-time club except the Yankees and Dodgers.”

Naturally, it was the Yankees who took Mauch in the Rule 5 draft in November 1951. Looking to be the backup to shortstop Phil Rizzuto, Mauch batted .077 in spring training.

The Cardinals, in Eddie Stanky’s first season as manager, were seeking a reserve infielder to replace Stan Rojek. They claimed Mauch on waivers from the Yankees near the end of spring training at St. Petersburg, Fla., where both clubs trained.

On their way from Florida to St. Louis to open the 1952 season, the Cardinals played a series of exhibition games. At Lynchburg, Va., on April 9, Mauch drove in the winning run against the Phillies.

Mauch, 26, made his Cardinals regular-season debut on April 17 when he was sent to run for Steve Bilko. Boxscore

Pinch-running became Mauch’s primary role with the Cardinals. He appeared in seven games, four as a pinch-runner, two as a substitute shortstop and one as a pinch-hitter. In four plate appearances for the Cardinals, he had no hits and a walk. In two fielding chances at shortstop, he made one putout and one error.

In May 1952, the Cardinals acquired Virgil Stallcup from the Reds to be their backup shortstop and asked waivers on Mauch.

Chance to lead

According to the Associated Press, the Cardinals were planning to send Mauch to one of their minor-league teams, Rochester or Columbus, if no one claimed him, but the Braves did. Mauch spent the rest of the 1952 season with the Braves’ farm club in Milwaukee and hit .324.

After the season, Mauch’s former Dodgers teammate, Dixie Walker, left his job as manager of the minor-league Atlanta Crackers, a Braves farm team in the Class AA Southern Association, to become a Cardinals coach on Stanky’s staff.

Crackers owner Earl Mann sought a player-manager to replace Walker. While attending the 1952 World Series between the Dodgers and Yankees in New York, Mann met with Braves general manager John Quinn, who recommended Mauch.

According to the Atlanta Constitution, Quinn labeled Mauch an Eddie Stanky-type.

“He’s always thinking on the field, talks baseball all the time, and is one of the sharpest young students of baseball in the game,” Quinn said. “I feel confident that Mauch is ready to take a shot as a manager in double-A ball.”

Mann called Mauch at home in Los Angeles, invited him to Atlanta for an interview and hired him. “That’s where my future is in baseball _ managing,” Mauch told the Atlanta Constitution.

Mann said, “He has everything I’ve been looking for in a manager: youth, aggressiveness, personality.”

Told Mauch was described as a Stanky-type, Eddie Stanky replied to the Atlanta Constitution, “I’m not sure that’s an asset, but I’m sure you’ve got a good man. I can vouch for him as a student of baseball.”

Making his mark

Mauch had no connection to Atlanta or the South, so he arrived as a mystery man to Crackers fans. Columnist Furman Bisher wrote, “The selection of Mauch exploded on Atlanta with much the same surprising effect as if the Prohibition candidate had won the presidency.”

It didn’t take long for him to get noticed. Mauch, 27, led the 1953 Crackers to an 84-70 record. One of his top players was outfielder Chuck Tanner, who, like Mauch, became a successful big-league manager.

According to the Atlanta Constitution, Mann invited Mauch to return in 1954, but Mauch declined. “We may have had some success on paper, but I wasn’t satisfied because I didn’t think I measured up to what I thought I should as a manager,” Mauch told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Crackers sent Mauch to the Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels, a Cubs farm team, and he resumed playing. He returned to the majors as a Red Sox utility player in 1956 and 1957, then went back to managing. He managed the Red Sox’s farm team at Minneapolis in 1958 and 1959.

In 1960, Mauch was 34 when he got his first job managing in the majors with the Phillies. The man who hired him, general manager John Quinn, was the one who recommended Mauch for the Atlanta job when Quinn was with the Braves.

A smart instigator, Mauch turned out to be a lot like Stanky. Mauch managed in the big leagues for 26 seasons with the Phillies, Expos, Twins and Angels but never won a pennant.

Throughout his playing career, Mauch had several managers who either had played for or managed the Cardinals. Those influencers included Leo Durocher (1944 Dodgers), Ray Blades (1946 St. Paul), Jimmy Brown (1947 Indianapolis), Frankie Frisch (1949 Cubs), Billy Southworth (1950 Braves) and Eddie Stanky (1952 Cardinals).

In 1980, when Whitey Herzog became Cardinals general manager, he tried to hire Mauch to manage the Cardinals, but was turned down.

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Alex Cora appealed to the Cardinals as a potential player-coach in Mike Matheny’s first season as manager.

On Feb. 7, 2012, Cora signed a minor-league contract with the Cardinals, who invited him to spring training to compete for a spot on their Opening Day roster.

The defending World Series champions were seeking an experienced utility infielder, and Cora’s resume met the requirements. He also was interested in transitioning into a coaching role, and the Cardinals thought he could begin to hone those skills by mentoring their young infielders, including Matt Carpenter.

As it turned out, the Cardinals released Cora, 36, before the start of the regular season, bringing an end to his playing days but opening a multitude of new paths, both rewarding and treacherous, in his baseball career.

Learning to lead

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Alex Cora was 11 when his brother, second baseman Joey Cora, 21, made his debut in the majors with the Padres in 1987. Joey played 11 years in the majors with the Padres, White Sox, Mariners and Indians before becoming a big-league coach.

During Joey’s time as a White Sox player (1991-94), he introduced a teen-age Alex to Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio, and the team’s shortstop then, Ozzie Guillen. Aparicio and Guillen became role models, Alex told the Boston Globe.

Alex enrolled at the University of Miami and helped the baseball team reach the College World Series three times.

Regarding Cora’s college career, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe noted, “He wasn’t a standout athlete or a great hitter, yet he proved a difference-maker on the field, someone whose game awareness produced outs on defense as well as timely hits in the batter’s box.

“Cora projected a confidence that spread to teammates and defined him as a leader _ someone who was unafraid to communicate with teammates in both English and Spanish _ by the time he was a sophomore, a stature that continued to grow as a junior.”

Making the majors

Alex began his professional career with the Dodgers, who chose him in the third round of the 1996 amateur baseball draft.

On June 7, 1998, when Alex made his big-league debut for the Dodgers, it came in Seattle against the Mariners, whose second baseman was his brother, Joey. Boxscore

Alex had stints as the Dodgers’ starter at shortstop (2000-01) and at second base (2003-04). He played against the Cardinals in the 2004 National League Division Series.

Granted free agency in December 2004, Alex was pursued by the Cardinals, who needed a second baseman after Tony Womack departed for the Yankees, but they lost interest when Alex sought a multiyear contract. The Cardinals instead went with Mark Grudzielanek, and Alex signed with the Indians.

The Indians, who had Ronnie Belliard at second and Jhonny Peralta at shortstop, traded Alex to the Red Sox in July 2005. Playing for manager Terry Francona, Alex excelled in a utility role and was a member of the Red Sox’s World Series championship team in 2007. Francona told Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe, “He was tremendous. He was a manager-in-waiting.”

After four years (2005-08) with the Red Sox, Alex played for the Mets (2009-10), Rangers (2010) and Nationals (2011). In 2009, he also played for the Puerto Rican team managed by the Cardinals’ Jose Oquendo in the World Baseball Classic.

Short stay

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Cora had considered retiring to start a career in coaching,” but when the Cardinals made him an offer in February 2012, he couldn’t refuse.

Alex, who played all four infield positions, seemed an ideal fit for the Cardinals. General manager John Mozeliak said Alex also would provide “an on-field coach” during spring training.

Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch noted, “Cora is highly regarded within the game for his instincts, and the Cardinals see him as help for some of the less experienced infielders.”

That group included Matt Carpenter, Daniel Descalso and Tyler Greene.

The 2012 Cardinals shared a spring training facility with the Marlins in Jupiter, Fla. While Alex was making a bid for a roster spot with the Cardinals, his brother Joey was serving as a coach on the staff of Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen.

The brothers took advantage of the chance to connect in their spare time.

Alex told the Miami Herald, “It’s been great being able to sit down together and just have dinner. Our father died in 1988. When you lose your dad when you’re a young kid, your big brother becomes everything for you. This is the most time we’ve been able to spend together since we were kids in Puerto Rico.”

The Post-Dispatch described it as “something of a surprise” when the Cardinals released Alex on March 25.

With Skip Schumaker on the disabled list because of a rib injury, Daniel Descalso opened the 2012 season as the Cardinals’ second baseman, and Matt Carpenter and Tyler Greene were the reserve infielders.

Success and shame

For the next five years (2012-16), Alex was general manager of a team in the Puerto Rican winter league. He also managed the team for two seasons and did TV work for ESPN.

In 2017, Alex was bench coach on the staff of Astros manager A.J. Hinch. The Astros won their first World Series title that year.

Hired by the Red Sox to be their manager, Alex led them to the 2018 World Series championship.

After the 2019 season, it was revealed that the 2017 Astros and 2018 Red Sox used technology to steal the signs relayed to players by opposing teams.

For his role in the scandal, Alex was suspended for the 2020 season by baseball commissioner Rob Manfred. When the suspension ended, the Red Sox rehired him as manager. “I am sorry for the harm my past actions have caused,” Alex said.

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When push came to shove during a game at Cincinnati, both the Cardinals and the plate umpire behaved badly.

On April 22, 1952, Cardinals manager Eddie Stanky confronted umpire Scotty Robb, who responded with a shove.

Two weeks later, Robb submitted his resignation to National League president Warren Giles, then accepted a surprise offer to continue umpiring in the American League.

Law and order

A Baltimore native, Douglas Walker Robb, known as Scotty, played semipro baseball until an arm injury prompted him to move into umpiring. He umpired college and minor-league games before serving two years (1944-45) in the Navy.

Robb was 38 when he became a National League umpire in August 1947. In his debut game, Cardinals versus Giants at the Polo Grounds in New York, he umpired at third base. Johnny Mize drove in four runs against his former club, powering the Giants to a 6-5 victory. Boxscore

Three years later, on July 2, 1950, Robb had a confrontation with Stanky in a game between the Braves and Giants at the Polo Grounds.

With the score tied at 2-2 in the seventh inning, the Giants had a runner on first, none out, when Stanky came to the plate with “visions of a game-winning rally,” the New York Daily News reported.

Nicknamed “The Brat,” Stanky got upset when Robb, working the plate, called Bob Chipman’s first pitch to him a strike. Stanky took an angry swing at the next delivery and missed badly. Strike two. After watching a pitch go outside, Stanky grounded into a rally-killing double play.

“Angrier than ever when he reached the bench, Stanky threw a couple of water buckets onto the grass,” the Daily News reported, and Robb ejected him.

Giants manager Leo Durocher came out of the dugout to argue and Robb tossed him, too.

As Stanky and Durocher made the long walk across the outfield to the clubhouse behind the bleachers in center, Giants outfielder Bobby Thomson threw a towel in the direction of Robb and he also was ejected.

In a flash, the Giants had lost their second baseman, center fielder and manager.

“It was a senseless rhubarb and strictly the Giants’ fault,” declared the Boston Globe.

Robb took “a wicked booing” from Giants fans the remainder of the game, the Globe noted, especially after the Braves struck for four runs in the ninth and won, 6-3. Boxscore

Boiling point

The Giants traded Stanky, 36, to the Cardinals in December 1951 and he became their player-manager, replacing Marty Marion.

After the Cardinals split their first six games in 1952, Stanky selected rookie pitcher Vinegar Bend Mizell, 21, to make his big-league debut in a start against the Reds at Crosley Field.

Mizell, who allowed the Reds two runs in the first and none for the rest of the game, showed more poise than Stanky and some of his veteran players.

In the third inning, Robb, the plate umpire, called out the Cardinals’ Solly Hemus on strikes for the second time in the game. Hemus barked at Robb before heaving his bat toward the grandstand on the first-base side near the visitors’ dugout.

Robb ejected Hemus, prompting Stanky to rush out of the dugout. Robb ordered Stanky to leave the field, but instead he got as close as he could to the umpire. Stanky stood toe to toe with Robb, gestured excitedly, waved his index finger in his face and berated him, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

“I wanted to know why Hemus was put out of the game,” Stanky told the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

According to the Dayton Journal Herald, Stanky and Robb “were jostling each other in a startling fashion.”

During what the Globe-Democrat described as a “tornadic argument,” Robb thought Stanky touched or bumped him.

According to Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “As far as press box observers could tell, it was a phantom touch, as light-fingered and as unobtrusive as a pickpocket.”

Stanky said to the Globe-Democrat, “I told Robb that I never touched him. If I did, it was not intentional, and probably was caused by the fact that his momentum as he was walking toward our dugout carried him into me.”

Enraged, Robb threw down his mask, put both hands on Stanky’s chest and vigorously shoved him back a few steps. “The umpire squared off and Stanky, obviously stunned, then started toward Robb,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

“It appeared as if the two might start swinging at each other,” the Globe-Democrat noted. 

Umpires joined Cardinals players and coaches in getting between the two and preventing further damage.

Stanky told the Post-Dispatch, “Getting shoved that way and not being able to strike back was the most embarrassing, the most humiliating thing that’s ever happened to me on a ball field.”

Robb ejected Stanky and the game continued. Gene Mauch replaced Hemus at shortstop.

Stan the Mad

More trouble happened in the seventh. With the Cardinals trailing, 2-1, Stan Musial batted with two outs and a runner on first. Musial hit a grounder sharply down the line at first. Umpire Lon Warneke, Musial’s former Cardinals teammate, ruled it a foul ball. “From the press box, the ball appeared to be foul by at least two feet,” the Cincinnati Enquirer noted.

Musial thought otherwise.

“Stan, who seldom protests a decision, kicked the dirt viciously several times,” the Globe-Democrat reported.

According to the Post-Dispatch, Musial was “drop-kicking dirt with the skill of a football field goal specialist.”

Perhaps to prevent Musial from getting ejected for the only time in his career, Cardinals reliever Al Brazle ran from the bullpen onto the field to argue on Musial’s behalf. Warneke ejected Brazle. Boxscore

Tough job

National League president Warren Giles was at the game and witnessed the shenanigans. The next day, Giles met for 45 minutes with Stanky, Hemus and the four umpires _ Robb, Warneke, Babe Pinelli and Dusty Boggess _ to get their versions of what happened.

As the meeting ended, Robb and Stanky shook hands. “It’s all over now,” Stanky told The Sporting News. “We’ll forget it and start anew.”

A few hours later, Giles, a former Cardinals minor-league executive, announced he was fining Hemus $25 and Stanky $50 for their roles in the incident. Giles publicly reprimanded Robb and said he fined the umpire an amount greater than the combined fines of Hemus and Stanky. Years later, The Sporting News reported Robb was fined $200.

Robb “seemed to feel he had been humiliated by Giles’ reprimand and fine,” The Sporting News reported.

The next game Robb worked was on April 26 when the Cardinals played the Cubs at St. Louis. In the seventh inning, Warneke ejected Stanky for arguing a call at third base. Boxscore

Unable to overcome the feeling that Giles hadn’t supported him, Robb resigned on May 5 and said he would operate a printing business in New Jersey.

Two days later, Robb was stunned when American League president Will Harrirdge offered him an umpiring job.

“When Mr. Harridge approached me with an offer, I was so choked up I couldn’t talk for a minute or two,” Robb told The Sporting News.

Harridge said, “I signed what I believed to be a good umpire and the kind of gentleman we would like to have on our staff.”

Robb umpired in the American League through June 1953, then retired from baseball at age 44.

“It’s a lonesome, difficult life,” Robb told The Sporting News. “An umpire must live like a hermit, avoiding casual acquaintances and not associating with players, managers or coaches. The travel is bad … and the pay wasn’t too good either.”

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Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst had the self-confidence to make a bold decision when he thought it would give his team its best chance to win.

A prime example of how Schoendienst put team ahead of individual occurred on July 22, 1968, when the Cardinals trailed the Phillies by two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning.

With two on and none out, Orlando Cepeda was due to bat for the Cardinals. Cepeda was the cleanup hitter and the most recent winner of the National League Most Valuable Player Award, but he hadn’t been producing lately with runners in scoring position.

Schoendienst chose to let Lou Brock bat for Cepeda. The move stunned Cepeda, who never had been removed for a pinch-hitter, but the decision to let one future Hall of Famer bat for another turned out well.

Setting the table

Sparked by a three-run home run from Don Lock against Steve Carlton, the Phillies led the Cardinals, 4-2, entering the last of the ninth at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis.

The Cardinals’ first batter was Julian Javier. Using a bat borrowed from Curt Flood, he fought off an inside fastball from Phillies left-hander Woodie Fryman and blooped a single into shallow right, breaking the bat.

“It was my sweet stroker,” Flood told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch when asked about the bat. “I had used it a couple of weeks.”

John Boozer, a right-hander with a 1-0 record and five saves, relieved Fryman. The first batter he faced, Flood, noticed that third baseman Tony Taylor was playing back on the infield and guarding the line against an extra-base hit. Flood made the decision to try for a bunt single.

“Flood laid down a gorgeous drag bunt,” the Philadelphia Daily News reported.

Taylor charged in, grabbed the ball and threw high to first. Flood easily beat the throw for a single, and Javier advanced to second.

Phillies manager Bob Skinner, a former Cardinals teammate of Flood, said, “Give the guy credit for making the play. It’s a do or die play.”

Rare opportunity

With runners on first and second, none out, the situation seemed ideal for Cepeda, who had 111 RBI for the Cardinals the previous year, but Schoendienst had other ideas.

Cepeda had produced a mere two RBI for the month and none since July 13. (He ended up with five RBI for July.) Cardinals fans booed him the day before when he was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts versus Mets left-hander Jerry Koosman.

Though Cepeda hit well against Boozer in his career (.375 with two home runs), it was a different story in 1968. Cepeda would go hitless in four at-bats versus Boozer for the year.

Schoendienst liked the notion of having Brock, a left-handed batter, face Boozer. (Brock would hit .391 versus Boozer in his career and go 3-for-5 against him in 1968. Also, left-handed batters would hit .352 versus Boozer for the season.) Plus, Schoendienst figured Brock was less likely to hit into a double play. (Cepeda grounded into a team-high 13 double plays in 1968 compared with four by Brock.)

With the Phillies starting a left-hander (Fryman), Schoendienst had intended to give Brock, who complained of leg muscle soreness, a day off, but with the game on the line and Boozer on the mound, the manager couldn’t resist making a move.

“You don’t always have a Brock sitting on your bench in such a situation,” Schoendienst said to the Post-Dispatch. “If there was no Brock, I wouldn’t have used anyone to pinch-hit.”

Right stuff

Cepeda told the Post-Dispatch he never had been lifted for a pinch-hitter at any level of amateur or professional baseball. When Schoendienst sent Brock to bat for him, Cepeda flung his helmet and stormed into the clubhouse.

“Anyone who knows this proud Puerto Rican must realize what a severe blow it was to his pride,” The Sporting News noted.

Brock was seeking his first hit versus the Phillies in 1968. He had gone hitless in 17 at-bats against them.

Using a bat borrowed from Javier, Brock grounded a 2-and-1 pitch from Boozer into right field for a single, scoring Javier and narrowing the Phillies’ lead to 4-3. Flood advanced to third on the play.

It was Brock’s only hit in three appearances as a pinch-batter in 1968. (For his career, Brock batted .258 with 33 hits as a pinch-batter.)

Mike Shannon followed and belted a 2-and-0 pitch from Boozer over Lock’s head in right. The ball bounced into the seats for a ground-rule double. The hit drove in Flood, tying the score at 4-4, and moved Brock to third.

Left-hander Grant Jackson replaced Boozer. Tim McCarver, a left-handed batter, smacked Jackson’s first pitch to deep center, a sacrifice fly that scored Brock with the winning run. Boxscore

Learning experience

Soon afterward, Schoendienst went to the clubhouse and met with Cepeda.

“Cepeda was mad, and it’s good that he was mad because it shows he wants to play,” Schoendienst told the Post-Dispatch.

Cepeda said, “This is a new experience for me. I wanted to bat. I was mad at first, but you never stop learning in this game. The manager made the right move. I haven’t been hitting. You know Brock is not going to hit into many double plays. He’s been hitting well.”

The next night, Cepeda had two hits and scored three runs in a Cardinals rout of the Phillies.

After hitting .325 with 25 home runs and 111 RBI in 1967, Cepeda finished at .248 with 16 homers and 73 RBI in 1968. For the season, he hit .217 with runners in scoring position, but the Cardinals still won their second consecutive National League pennant.

In March 1969, the Cardinals traded Cepeda to the Braves for Joe Torre.

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Tino Martinez and Tony La Russa had much in common: Both were born and raised in Tampa, graduated from the same high school, went into the major leagues and helped teams get to the World Series.

On Dec. 18, 2001, Martinez joined La Russa on the Cardinals.

A free-agent first baseman, Martinez had been a consistent run producer for the Yankees, who won five American League pennants and four World Series titles in his six seasons with them.

La Russa had managed the Athletics to three American League pennants and one World Series championship before becoming Cardinals manager.

Though La Russa eventually would win three National League pennants and two World Series crowns with the Cardinals, Martinez wouldn’t get to be a part of that success.

Path to majors

A left-handed batter, Constantino Martinez attended Tampa Catholic High School and helped its baseball team win a state championship in 1982.

After his sophomore year, he transferred to Tampa Jefferson High School. More than 20 years earlier, in 1962, La Russa, a classmate of Martinez’s father, had batted .479 as a shortstop for Jefferson High School. La Russa was signed by the Athletics to a package worth $100,000 the same night he received his high school diploma.

Martinez was a first baseman for Jefferson High School. His friend, Luis Gonzalez, was the second baseman. Gonzalez went on to play 19 seasons in the majors as an outfielder, primarily with the Astros and Diamondbacks.

With Martinez and Gonzalez on the team, Jefferson High School reached the state final before losing to Miami Hialeah.

While attending the University of Tampa, Martinez was selected by the Mariners in the first round of the 1988 amateur baseball draft. Martinez entered the big leagues with the Mariners in August 1990. He played six seasons for them, including 1995, when he produced 31 home runs and 111 RBI.

In December 1995, the Mariners dealt Martinez to the Yankees, who needed a first baseman after the retirement of Don Mattingly.

Playing for manager Joe Torre, who joined the Yankees after being ousted by the Cardinals, Martinez generated 105 or more RBI in five of six seasons with the Yankees. His best year was 1997 when he had 44 home runs and 141 RBI.

In 2001, the Yankees played the Diamondbacks in the World Series. The Diamondbacks’ top hitter was Martinez’s friend and former prep teammate, Luis Gonzalez, who had 57 home runs and 142 RBI that year.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of World Series Game 4, Martinez hit a two-run home against Byung-Hyun Kim, tying the score. The Yankees won in the 10th on Derek Jeter’s walkoff home run versus Kim. Boxscore and Video

In the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7, Gonzalez, playing in his lone World Series, drove in the winning run with a single against Mariano Rivera, giving the Diamondbacks the championship. Boxscore

Match game

After the World Series, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman called Martinez’s agent and informed him the club planned to sign free agent Jason Giambi to be their first baseman in 2002. For the first time in his career, Martinez, a month away from turning 34, also was a free agent.

When first baseman Mark McGwire told the Cardinals he was retiring, Martinez saw an opportunity. “St. Louis was my first choice,” he told the Tampa Tribune.

Before the start of the baseball winter meetings in December 2001, Martinez called Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty.

“I asked them to consider me in their plans if I’d fit in,” Martinez told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I wanted to make sure I initiated something so they could keep my name in their minds.”

Jocketty recalled, “With him calling like that, it impressed me a lot. He said he really liked what he saw here and what he perceived this organization to be.”

Thrilled by Martinez’s interest, La Russa told the St. Petersburg Times, “I knew his dad. His family knows our family. I know not just what kind of player he is, I know the character of the player. He’d be a great fit for us.”

Meet me in St. Louis

The Cardinals also were bidding for free-agent outfielder Moises Alou. If they got Alou, they planned to put him in left field and shift Albert Pujols to first base. The club budget allowed for the signing of Alou or Martinez, not both.

Martinez drew interest from the Athletics, Braves and Orioles, but he chose the Cardinals when they offered a three-year contract worth $21 million. The deal also included a club option for a fourth year. The Cubs got Alou with a three-year offer worth $27 million.

According to the Tampa Tribune, the first call Martinez got after signing came from Luis Gonzalez. “He was about as excited as I was,” Martinez said.

La Russa told the Post-Dispatch, “He’s going to be good for our players. He’s got his priorities right. It isn’t about stats and money. It’s about competing and winning.”

In an analysis of the signing, columnist Bernie Miklasz noted, “La Russa covets Tino’s presence and a little dose of that Yankees magic,” but also cautioned that Martinez’s “stroke was custom-fitted for the short dimension down the right-field line at Yankee Stadium.”

Production drop

The first signs of trouble showed at spring training. Martinez hit .180 with no home runs and two RBI in Florida Grapefruit League exhibition games. “Scouts say his bat looked slow in spring training,” The Sporting News reported.

When the season began, Martinez hit .198 in his first 116 at-bats. Published reports noted he repeatedly lunged at low off-speed pitches.

Though his hitting improved in the second half of the 2002 season and his fielding was strong, Martinez fell short of expectations. He hit 21 home runs but had his lowest RBI total (75) since the strike-shortened 1994 season. He hit .246 with runners in scoring position and a mere .207 overall versus left-handers.

Martinez later said he played much of the 2002 season with an inflamed left rotator cuff that prevented him from fully extending for outside pitches, The Sporting News reported.

The Cardinals won a division title in 2002, but fell short in their quest for a pennant. In 2003, Martinez produced 15 home runs and 69 RBI. He hit .210 with runners in scoring position. The Cardinals finished third in a six-team division.

After the season, the Cardinals traded Martinez to the Rays, giving him a chance to play for his hometown team.

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