Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Managers’ Category

For Marty Marion, being popular and having success in the big leagues gave him an edge over Johnny Keane in their competition for the Cardinals’ manager job.

Seventy years ago, on Nov. 29, 1950, Marion was chosen by Cardinals owner Fred Saigh to replace manager Eddie Dyer, who resigned. The hiring came two days before Marion turned 33.

Marion, the Cardinals’ shortstop since arriving in the big leagues in 1940, had no managerial experience. The other finalist, Keane, 39, began managing in the Cardinals’ system in 1938 and led their Rochester farm team to a 92-59 record and league championship in 1950, but he had no big-league experience.

Yankees prospect

Dyer, 51, resigned under pressure in October 1950. He had winning records in all five seasons as Cardinals manager and guided them to a World Series title in 1946, but Saigh was looking to make a change after the Cardinals fell to fifth place at 78-75 in 1950.

Saigh screened 25 candidates for the job, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

According to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Saigh “came close” to hiring a candidate outside the organization. The Post-Dispatch identified him as Yankees pitching coach Jim Turner. According to the Post-Dispatch, Saigh offered him the job, but Turner turned it down. Asked about it, Saigh declined comment.

Saigh eventually narrowed the field to four candidates. The Globe-Democrat identified Keane, Marion and two minor-league managers with big-league playing experience, Mike Ryba and Dixie Walker.  According to the Post-Dispatch, the four finalists were Keane, Marion, minor-league manager and former big-league catcher Rollie Hemsley and an unidentified “dark horse.”

Keen credentials

Saigh’s search was in its sixth week when the candidate list was pared to two, Keane and Marion.

Keane was well-regarded within the organization and his resume showed conclusively he knew how to manage and how to win. “I can’t try to do a selling job on myself by talking,” Keane told the Post-Dispatch. “My position is, ‘Here I am. You know my record. It’s up to you.’ “

Though Saigh was impressed by Keane’s record, he was concerned about image. Because he’d spent his whole career in the minors, Keane wasn’t well-known among the Cardinals’ fan base, and Saigh was hoping to make a splash with his first managerial hire.

Marion was a candidate who figured to attract attention. As the shortstop on Cardinals clubs that won four National League pennants and three World Series titles, Marion was as well-known among Cardinals fans as Stan Musial. He was popular with players, fans and media, and he was widely respected for his skills as a fielder and timely hitter. In 1944, Marion became the first shortstop to win the National League Most Valuable Player Award.

Before being approached by Saigh, Marion said he hadn’t given a thought to managing, the Globe-Democrat reported.

Keane was “neck-and-neck” with Marion and “might have landed the job if he had the benefit of a rich major-league background,” the Post-Dispatch reported. “No doubt the final factors that influenced Fred Saigh were Marion’s background and popularity, and the fact Keane would be a stranger in the National League.”

Pleasing the public

Saigh told the Post-Dispatch he made the decision to hire Marion the day the announcement was made.

“He can do as good a job as anyone,” Saigh said to The Sporting News.

Marion said, “It’s my ambition to win a pennant, not just be a contender, and we’ll hope to surprise everyone.”

Marion got a one-year contract. He said he planned to continue playing while managing, but he gave up his role as player representative in baseball labor relations. Marion had been active in negotiating a pension plan for players.

Dyer and former Cardinals executive Branch Rickey were among the first to send congratulatory telegrams to Marion, the Post-Dispatch reported. Cardinals players also reacted positively. Musial said Marion “will do well as a manager” and Red Schoendienst predicted “he’ll be a good manager.”

In an editorial, the Post-Dispatch noted, “Marion in the manager’s post is a definite asset. He has the advantage of youth, ability and the wholehearted support of players and fans. His managerial inexperience may be a handicap, but that same inexperience might make him more inclined than a seasoned hand to do experimenting and play the game with the dash which made the Cardinals famous.”

Twists and turns

The Cardinals gave Marion an experienced coaching staff to lend support. The group was Ray Blades, Marion’s first big-league manager; Terry Moore, Marion’s former teammate who had coached for Dyer; Buzzy Wares, a Cardinals coach since 1930; and Mike Ryba, the former Cardinals pitcher who had been a candidate to replace Dyer.

Marion opted not to play in 1950 in order to focus on managing. He was replaced at shortstop by Solly Hemus.

The 1951 Cardinals finished 81-73, getting three more wins than they did the year before under Dyer, but were 15.5 games behind the first-place Giants. Saigh fired Marion and replaced him with Eddie Stanky.

In June 1952, Marion replaced Rogers Hornsby as Browns manager and kept the job through the 1953 season. Marion became manager of the White Sox for the last nine games of 1954 and for all of 1955 and 1956. The 1955 White Sox were 91-63 and the 1956 team was 85-69.

After losing out to Marion for the Cardinals’ big-league job, Johnny Keane continued to manage in their farm system. In 1959, when Solly Hemus became Cardinals manager, Keane got to the majors for the first time as a coach on Hemus’ staff. When Hemus was fired in July 1961, Keane replaced him and he guided the Cardinals to a World Series title in 1964, their first since Dyer was their manager.

Read Full Post »

Tony La Russa, thought by some to be too old to manage in the majors, once was thought to be too young.

On Aug. 3, 1979, La Russa was 34 when he managed his first game in the majors for the White Sox. On Oct. 29, 2020, La Russa was 76 when he was named White Sox manager for a second time.

When he joined the White Sox at 34, La Russa’s managerial experience consisted of two partial seasons in the minors.

When he rejoined the White Sox at 76, La Russa’s managerial experience consisted of a Hall of Fame resume. He ranked No. 3 all-time in wins (2,728) among big-league managers and he had the distinction of being the only manager besides Sparky Anderson to win a World Series title in each league.

La Russa guided the Athletics to three American League pennants and one World Series crown, and he led the Cardinals to three National League pennants and two World Series championships. He ranks No. 1 all-time in wins (1,408) among Cardinals managers.

La Russa managed the White Sox from 1979-86, Athletics from 1986-95 and Cardinals from 1996-2011 before taking on a variety of front-office jobs.

His return to managing after an absence of nearly a decade drew surprise and skepticism similar to when the White Sox first hired him.

White Sox welcome

La Russa ended his playing career with the Cardinals’ New Orleans farm team as a player-coach in 1977. La Russa was about to finish law school and take his bar exam in Florida, but he wanted to give baseball managing a try.

According to the book, “Tony La Russa: Man on a Mission,” the Cardinals talked to La Russa about managing their rookie league club in Johnson City, Tennessee, but he declined because he wanted to start at a higher level.

Loren Babe, who managed and mentored La Russa with White Sox farm teams in 1975 and 1976, thought La Russa had the ability to manage, and recommended him to White Sox general manager Roland Hemond and farm director Paul Richards.

Acting on Babe’s tip, the White Sox hired La Russa to manage their Class AA Knoxville club in 1978. One of Knoxville’s top players was 19-year-old Harold Baines, who was destined for a Hall of Fame career. After La Russa led Knoxville to a 49-21 record in the first half of the season, he got promoted to first-base coach for the second half on the staff of White Sox manager Larry Doby, who had replaced Bob Lemon on July 1.

Don Kessinger took over for Doby as White Sox player-manager for 1979. According to the “Man on a Mission” book, La Russa could have stayed on the White Sox coaching staff, but he asked to manage the franchise’s top farm club at Des Moines because he believed being a manager there gave him a better chance than a coaching job did to develop into a big-league manager.

Kessinger had trouble getting the White Sox to play hard for him. They had a dreadful June, losing 19 of 28 games. After a seven-game skid dropped the White Sox’s record to 46-60, Kessinger resigned during a lunch meeting with team owner Bill Veeck on a day off, Aug. 2, 1979.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Veeck considered bringing back Bob Lemon to manage, and he also liked former Tigers manager Les Moss, but Veeck concluded they “wouldn’t be fitted to a ballclub that must constantly juggle its lineup.”

Veeck “should have reached for St. Jude,” Chicago Tribune columnist David Condon wrote.

Instead, Veeck reached out to La Russa, whose Des Moines club was 54-51.

Opportunity awaits

Veeck called La Russa in Des Moines and informed him he wanted him to manage the White Sox.

In the 2012 book “One Last Strike,” La Russa said, “Looking back on it, I can see they probably had more trust in me than I did in myself, or maybe as (broadcaster) Harry Caray claimed, they were too cheap to hire a real manager.”

La Russa accepted Veeck’s offer and went to Chicago that night to join the team for their flight to Toronto, where the White Sox would start a series versus the Blue Jays the following night.

“In replacing low-keyed Don Kessinger with keyed-up Tony La Russa, the White Sox may be bringing a new Earl Weaver into the American League,” wrote Richard Dozer in the Chicago Tribune. “La Russa is tough, dedicated to winning at any cost, and probably won’t keep Chicago fans waiting long to see an emotional outburst that would make Leo Durocher look like a Sunday school teacher.”

La Russa told the newspaper, “I’m a hungry manager. I have this fire that burns inside me, and it tells me I want to win any way I can.”

La Russa also acknowledged, “One of the things I’m going to have to do is learn to control my temper. I’ve made moves in anger that I might not make otherwise. You lose your temper and you lose your good sense.”

Winning start

Before his first game as White Sox manager, La Russa held a 35-minute meeting with the team. According to the “Man on a Mission” book, he told them, “Don’t embarrass me, and I won’t embarrass you. Play hard all the time. Come to me any time you want to talk.”

Third baseman Kevin Bell told United Press International, “We talked over the club’s problems in a meeting before the game. We all pretty much agreed we had been dogging it on a few occasions.”

White Sox pitcher Steve Trout said La Russa inspired everybody “with that little speech before the game,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

Bell, Jim Morrison and Lamar Johnson hit home runs, sparking the White Sox to an 8-5 triumph over the Blue Jays at Exhibition Stadium in a game played in 2:28. Trout pitched eight innings for the win and Ed Farmer pitched a scoreless ninth for the save. Boxscore

The White Sox were 27-27 for La Russa in 1979. They contended in 1982, with 87 wins, and in 1983 they had the best record in the majors (99-63) and qualified for the postseason for the first time since 1959.

Read Full Post »

Joe Torre thought when he got fired by the Cardinals his career as a manager was finished. He never figured the best was yet to come.

Twenty-five years ago, on Nov. 2, 1995, Torre, 55, was hired to manage the Yankees, who, to his surprise, approached him about replacing Buck Showalter.

Five months earlier, when the Cardinals gave up on him, it seemed to Torre it was like three strikes and you’re out. He’d managed three teams, Mets, Braves and Cardinals, and was fired by each. His teams never won a World Series title and only one, 1982 Braves, qualified for the postseason.

After the Cardinals fired him in June 1995, Torre, who also played 18 years in the majors, including six with the Cardinals, said he planned to return to broadcasting, a role he did with the Angels before the Cardinals hired him.

Instead, given the chance to manage the Yankees, he transformed from a retread into a Hall of Famer.

Free agent

Hired by the Cardinals in August 1990 to replace Whitey Herzog, who quit, Torre had winning records in 1991, 1992 and 1993, but the club finished 53-61 in 1994 and Torre’s friend, general manager Dal Maxvill, was fired and replaced by Walt Jocketty. When the Cardinals staggered to a 20-27 start in 1995, Jocketty fired Torre.

In his book, “Chasing the Dream,” Torre said, “I planned to go back to broadcasting. The politics and players’ attitudes in St. Louis had left a sour taste in my mouth anyway. I thought I was treated shabbily by the Cardinals, though I never said anything to embarrass the organization, even when I was fired.”

Torre and his wife, Ali, moved to Cincinnati to be close to her family. In October 1995, the Yankees called and asked him to interview for their general manager job, which opened when Gene Michael stepped down.

After the interview, Torre withdrew from consideration because he said he wasn’t interested in what the role required, but he’d made a favorable impression on Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

Friends in high places

On Oct. 23, 1995, the Yankees named Bob Watson as their general manager. Watson’s last three seasons as a player were with the Braves when Torre was manager. Torre entrusted him to serve as an unofficial assistant coach, an opportunity that helped prepare Watson for the next step in his baseball career.

The Yankees in 1995 had qualified for the postseason for the first time since 1981. The success heightened the popularity of manager Buck Showalter, whose contract was due to expire on Nov. 1.

Steinbrenner said Showalter wanted a three-year contract. Steinbrenner offered two years at $1.05 million, but Showalter rejected it “because it contained stipulations he didn’t like,” The Sporting News reported.

One stipulation was the Yankees wanted him to fire coach Rick Down.

When Showalter and the Yankees couldn’t agree on terms, Steinbrenner decided to let the contract expire and hire someone else.

Steinbrenner and Watson agreed on who should be the top choice: Torre.

Will to win

In his book, Torre said Steinbrenner called him and said, “You’re my man.”

A couple of days later, on Nov. 1, 1995, Torre met with Steinbrenner and Watson in Tampa. Torre was offered the same contract Showalter had rejected: two years at $1.05 million. The deal was for a salary of $500,000 the first year and $550,000 the next, and Torre was told it was non-negotiable. “It was a pay cut for me,” Torre said in his book. “I’d earned $550,000 with St. Louis.”

Torre understood the risks of working for Steinbrenner but was unfazed. “I knew George was willing to spend the money to win a world championship,” Torre said. “It wasn’t like St. Louis, where sometimes I had felt as if I were in a fight with my fists while the other guy had a gun.”

Torre accepted and the next day he was introduced at a press conference in New York as Yankees manager. He joined Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra and Dallas Green as men who managed both the Yankees and Mets.

Quality credentials

Watson said the Yankees also considered Butch Hobson, Gene Lamont, Chris Chambliss and Sparky Anderson for the manager job, but acknowledged Torre was the only candidate who met in person with club officials, Newsday reported.

Torre “had most of the qualities I was looking for in a manager,” Watson said. “He was a man I could communicate with. He’s not predictable. He’ll gamble a little bit.”

Torre told the New York Daily News, “I want a team that disrupts. I want an aggressive team. Speed never really goes into a slump.”

With characteristic self-deprecation, he added, “The way I ran as a player enables me to want someone who doesn’t run the way I did.”

Bill Madden of the New York Daily News called Torre “bright and personable” and noted he “has a natural presence that commands respect.” Torre’s downside was being “too laid back” and having a tendency to “move players out of position,” Madden added.

Pitcher Bob Tewksbury, whose best seasons occurred while Torre was managing the Cardinals, said, “He did more for me than any manager I played for. He believed in me. He has a way of relating to players that works. I don’t think you can take Joe Torre, the manager of the Cardinals, and predict how he’s going to manage the Yankees. His personnel will be different with the Yankees and he’ll adjust.”

Right stuff

Tewksbury was correct.

Torre guided the Yankees to six American League pennants and four World Series crowns., groomed Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera into Hall of Famers, and connected with consistent standouts such as David Cone, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams.

Torre and the Yankees split after the 2007 season and he finished his managerial career with the Dodgers. His final postseason triumph came in 2009 when the Dodgers swept the Cardinals in the National League Division Series.

In 29 years as a manager in the majors, Torre had a record of 2,304-1,982. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in December 2013 along with peers Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa.

Read Full Post »

Eddie Dyer knew when he wasn’t wanted, so he took the high road out of St. Louis.

Seventy years ago, on Oct. 16, 1950, after five seasons as Cardinals manager, Dyer, 51, resigned rather than wait for club owner Fred Saigh to make a change.

Though Dyer led the Cardinals to a World Series championship in 1946, his first year as their manager, and produced second-place finishes in each of the next three seasons, he fell out of favor with Saigh after the Cardinals dropped to fifth place in 1950.

Dyer spent 28 years with the Cardinals as a player, manager and administrator, and his resignation saved Saigh from the unpleasantness of firing an accomplished employee.

Big influence

A left-handed pitcher, Dyer played six seasons (1922-27) for the Cardinals. In 1928, club executive Branch Rickey gave him the chance to manage in the farm system, and Dyer excelled, building a reputation for grooming talent and producing winning teams.

New York Daily News columnist Jimmy Powers noted most of the Cardinals’ Gashouse Gang players in the 1930s “learned the skills of their trade from Eddie. Dyer deserves most of the credit for developing most of the great Gashousers.”

According to Powers, Dyer also “personally polished and readied the core” of the Cardinals’ teams that won four National League pennants and three World Series championships during a five-year span in the 1940s.

When Rickey left for the Dodgers after the 1942 season, Dyer, who earned a college degree at Rice, became the Cardinals’ farm system director. In 1944, he left the club to tend to his multiple and lucrative business interests in oil, insurance, real estate and beverage bottling in Houston.

When Cardinals manager Billy Southworth departed after the 1945 season for a better financial offer to manage the Braves, Dyer replaced him.

Style vs. substance

In Dyer’s first four seasons as Cardinals manager, the club had records of 98-58, 89-65, 85-69 and 96-58. Though successful, Dyer wasn’t beloved by the Cardinals’ fan base.

A St. Louis Globe-Democrat editorial noted, “Cardinals fans were accustomed to the dashing play of the old Gashouse Gang, and Eddie by no stretch of the imagination was a fire-eater manager. The fans recognized this fact and, even with a winning team, Eddie was frequently criticized.”

Dyer also got criticism from the Cardinals’ popular broadcaster, Harry Caray, and his on-air partner, Gabby Street, the former Cardinals manager.

In 1950, the heat intensified. The Cardinals ended June tied with the Phillies for first place, but faded, posting records of 12-16 in August and 13-17 in September.

“Dyer just ran out of farm products,” Jimmy Powers offered. “His Cards were milked dry.”

The 1950 Cardinals finished at 78-75. It was the first time since 1938 they had failed to finish among the top four teams in the National League standings.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Gabby Street said at a speaking engagement in Joplin, Mo., “Dyer didn’t always manage the Cardinals to suit me this past season. The Cardinals just didn’t have the hustle. They just didn’t look like any Cardinals ballclub I ever knew.”

Gentleman’s agreement

Saigh had become sole owner of the Cardinals in January 1949, and he wanted to make his mark. After the 1950 season, he did little to squelch speculation of a managerial change. Dyer’s departure “figured in the changes Saigh contemplated,” The Sporting News reported.

Saigh scheduled a meeting with Dyer on Oct. 16, 1950, in St. Louis and said a decision on the manager’s fate would be made then.

Dyer recognized he didn’t have the owner’s support. With his businesses booming in Houston, Dyer didn’t need a baseball job for income, and if he was destined to leave the franchise he had served so long and well, he wanted to do it on his terms.

“He apparently felt he had worn out his welcome in St. Louis and it was time to move on,” the Associated Press reported.

Dyer arrived at the meeting with a resignation letter. Saigh accepted the resignation and agreed to let Dyer announce the news to reporters who had gathered outside Saigh’s Sportsman’s Park office.

Harry Caray was told to stay out of the room when Dyer made his announcement because Saigh feared “an incident,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Dyer said Caray’s frequent on-air criticism was “vicious,” The Sporting News noted.

In his book “RedBirds: A Century of Cardinals Baseball,” Bob Broeg said Dyer would have had “a no-hold-barred exit with Saigh” in front of the media if Caray had been allowed to attend Dyer’s session with reporters.

When Caray stayed away, “Eddie agreed to resign gracefully, which was what Fred Saigh wanted,” Broeg observed.

Addressing reporters while perched on the arm of a chair, Dyer said he wasn’t “a candidate” to be Cardinals manager in 1951, thanked several people for their efforts and blamed player injuries for the team’s record in 1950. “I do not believe any club in the National League could have suffered as many and costly injuries as we did and still finish in the first division,” Dyer said.

Given a push

After Dyer read his statement, Saigh told the Globe-Democrat, “This comes as a shock to me.”

Regarding Saigh’s reaction, J. Roy Stockton of the Post-Dispatch wrote, “Even if there was a little salami, what of it? It was a gracious way of bidding a manager goodbye. Dyer’s long service with the club certainly made him entitled to the graceful exit.”

Others noted Dyer’s departure wasn’t solely his decision.

In an editorial, The Sporting News declared Saigh handed Dyer “his pink slip” and gave him “his dismissal notice.”

Bob Burnes of the Globe-Democrat wrote, “You can call it being fired, you can call it resigning or anything you wish.”

John Wray of the Post-Dispatch cited “widespread hostile fan comment” as part of the reason Saigh wanted a different manager.

Burnes called Dyer “one of baseball’s finest gentleman” and added, “Probably many Cardinals fans will be happy at the news Dyer is out. That has been something that always has puzzled us.”

The Sporting News noted Dyer was “strangely lacking in local popularity despite personal charm.”

Cardinals minor-league manager Johnny Keane was considered a leading candidate to replace Dyer, but Saigh instead hired popular shortstop Marty Marion. Marion lasted one season as player-manager and was replaced by Eddie Stanky.

Not until 1964, 18 years after Dyer’s 1946 team, did the Cardinals win another World Series title, and when it happened, Keane was the manager.

Read Full Post »

A kind gesture by Reds manager Sparky Anderson turned a disappointing ending into an uplifting moment.

Fifty years ago, on Oct. 15, 1970, the Reds were one out away from being eliminated in the decisive game of the World Series against the Orioles. At a time when some managers might be feeling despair, Anderson was feeling compassion.

The Reds’ Pat Corrales, a loyal, seldom-used backup catcher who had experienced personal tragedy, never had played in a World Series game. Realizing Corrales might never get another chance, and knowing how meaningful it would be to him, Anderson sent him to bat for one of the Reds’ hottest hitters, Hal McRae.

In his brief plate appearance, Corrales made the last out of the 1970 World Series, but the result didn’t matter. Unlike Hall of Famers such as George Sisler and Ernie Banks, Corrales had gotten to play in a World Series, and Anderson, in his first season as a big-league manager, had enhanced his growing reputation by being a considerate leader.

Three years earlier, Anderson and Corrales were in the Cardinals’ system _ Anderson as a manager looking to move up in rank, and Corrales as a catcher looking to show he could hit.

Cardinals connections

Anderson joined the Cardinals as a minor-league manager in March 1965. Corrales was acquired by the Cardinals in a trade with the Phillies in October 1965. Cardinals general manager Bob Howsam dealt Bill White, Dick Groat and Bob Uecker to the Phillies for Alex JohnsonArt Mahaffey and Corrales.

After managing St. Petersburg to a 91-45 record in 1966, Anderson was looking to manage the Cardinals’ top farm club, Tulsa, in 1967, but Stan Musial, who’d replaced Howsam as general manager, gave the job to Warren Spahn. Anderson was assigned to manage Modesto. After the 1967 season, Howsam, who had become general manager of the Reds, hired Anderson to manage in the Cincinnati farm system. Two years later, he became manager of the Reds.

Corrales, 25, spent the 1966 season as backup to Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver, but got into a mere 28 games and hit .181. “I’m probably the only guy in the league who has thrown out more runners than he has hits,” Corrales told The Sporting News.

Actually, it was a tie. Corrales finished the 1966 season with 13 hits and threw out 13 runners attempting to steal.

Afterward, Corrales reported to the Cardinals’ Florida Instructional League team to work on his hitting. The manager was George Kissell and Sparky Anderson was his assistant. When Corrales injured a knee, the Cardinals acquired Johnny Romano from the White Sox to be McCarver’s backup. Corrales played the 1967 season at Tulsa for Spahn, and hit .274 in 130 games.

Howsam and the Reds knew their top prospect, Johnny Bench, would be the starting catcher in 1968, replacing Johnny Edwards, and viewed Corrales as a potential backup. On Feb. 8, 1968, Howsam acquired Corrales for the second time, trading Edwards to the Cardinals for him and Jimy Williams. 

Devastating death

Corrales began the 1968 season with the Reds’ farm team at Indianapolis, managed by Don Zimmer, and hit .273 in 77 games. He got called up to the Reds in July to provide relief for Bench, who started 81 games in a row. On July 29, 1968, Corrales was the catcher when the Reds’ George Culver pitched a no-hitter against the Phillies.

Corrales impressed Reds management and was popular with teammates. Asked about Corrales, Pete Rose told The Sporting News, “There’s a man who can do it all. He knows what’s going on out there every minute. Corrales makes a pitcher think on the mound.”

Corrales stuck with the Reds in 1969.

On July 22, 1969, Corrales’ wife, Sharon, 27, gave birth to a son at 5:02 a.m. at Cincinnati’s Christ Hospital. It was the couple’s fourth child. They had three daughters, the oldest, 5, and twins, 3.

Ten hours later, Sharon died in the hospital. The cause was pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in the lungs, the Dayton Daily News reported.

Corrales returned to the Reds a week after Sharon’s funeral. Several teams raised money for an education fund for Corrales’ children, Newsday reported. Among the fund-raisers were the Orioles. According to The Sporting News, Orioles players donated money from fines collected by their clubhouse kangaroo court. Orioles wives raised funds with a bake sale and paper flower sale.

After the 1969 season, the Reds changed managers, replacing Dave Bristol with Sparky Anderson. At spring training in 1970, Anderson said, “In Corrales, I’ve got the best backup catcher in baseball.”

People skills

Corrales hit .236 in 43 games for the 1970 Reds, who finished first in the West Division. Against the Cardinals, he hit .417 (5-for-12).

In the National League Championship Series, the Reds swept the Pirates, and Corrales didn’t play. In the World Series, the Orioles won three of the first four games, and again Corrales didn’t play.

In Game 5 at Baltimore, the Orioles led, 9-3, entering the ninth. Sparky Anderson called to the bullpen, where Corrales had been catching throws from Reds relievers, and told him to come to the dugout.

According to the Dayton Daily News, Anderson approached Hal McRae, who hit .455 in the World Series, and told him, “Unless somebody gets on base before you, I’m going to have Pat hit for you. It’s not a reflection on you. I want him to have a chance to get his name in a World Series box score.”

McRae told Anderson he understood.

After starter Mike Cuellar retired the first two batters, Bench and Lee May, Anderson sent Corrales to the plate. Anderson, who played one season in the majors and 10 in the minors, appreciated a role player such as Corrales, who lived in Bench’s shadow.

“Anyone who plays his heart out for you all year deserves a chance to play in a World Series,” Anderson told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Corrales has done that for us and I wasn’t going to let this chance get away.”

To the Dayton Daily News, Anderson said, “I wasn’t being sentimental. I was being honest. I’d have let him down by not letting him bat.”

Corrales hit Cuellar’s first pitch to third. Brooks Robinson fielded it and threw to first for the final out, clinching the championship for the Orioles. Boxscore

Explaining why he swung away, Corrales told the Cincinnati Enquirer, “I wasn’t going to take nothing when I went up there. I wanted to hit.”

Regarding the move by Anderson, Corrales told Newsday, “I appreciate he thought of giving me the chance.”

Ritter Collett of the Dayton Journal Herald called Anderson’s action “a considerate gesture, like a coach getting his seniors into the final game.”

Wells Twombly wrote in The Sporting News, “It was a charming gesture, full of good, rich schmaltz. The lovely thing about Sparky is he dares to be corny in a violently cynical age.”

Said Anderson, “The World Series still is the biggest sporting event in America. That’s why I wanted to make sure Pat had a chance to get his name in a box score. It means a lot to a guy.”

Corrales never played in another World Series. He did coach in five World Series (1991, 1992, 1995, 1996 and 1999) for the Braves on the staff of manager Bobby Cox.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »