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Cardinals pitcher Larry Jackson and Dodgers outfielder Duke Snider found out the hard way that bats and balls, like sticks and stones, may break bones.

Sixty years ago, on March 27, 1961, Jackson suffered a fractured jaw when Snider’s bat splintered and struck Jackson in the face during a spring training game.

Three weeks later, on April 17, 1961, Snider suffered a fractured right elbow when the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson hit him with a pitch during an at-bat in the regular season.

Gibson’s plunking of Snider had more to do with the home run Snider hit in his previous at-bat against Gibson than it did with the accident involving Jackson.

Jackson and Snider recovered from their injuries, and each went on to have a productive season.

Painful outing

Jackson was pitching in his last scheduled inning when Snider came to bat in the exhibition game between the Cardinals and Dodgers at Vero Beach, Fla.

Snider had hit a two-run home run in the first and a two-run double in the third against Jackson. In the sixth, with baserunner Tommy Davis on second, Snider was looking to drive in another run.

Jackson threw a pitch near Snider’s fists. Snider connected, shattering the bat and sending pieces of it flying. The ball hit Jackson on the hip and fell to the ground. As Jackson turned to retrieve it, the heavy end of the bat, whirling rapidly through the air, struck him in the lower left jaw.

“Bleeding from cuts inside his mouth, Jackson fell in a heap in front of the mound, but did not lose consciousness,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

In his book “The Duke of Flatbush,” Snider said, “I felt awful about it, but that’s one of the occupational hazards of pitching.”

Jackson was taken by ambulance to a Vero Beach hospital and given emergency treatment. X-rays showed he had two fractures in the jaw.

Jackson was permitted to return on a chartered flight to St. Petersburg, Fla., where the Cardinals trained. His jaw was wired that night by a surgeon at a St. Petersburg hospital.

Released from the hospital on March 31, Jackson pitched batting practice a few days later. The Cardinals targeted the end of April for his return in a game.

Purpose pitch

After the Cardinals opened the season with wins in three of their first five games, they started Gibson against the Dodgers at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

In the third, Gibson threw a pitch on the outside corner to Snider, a left-handed batter. In the book “From Ghetto to Glory,” Gibson said, “I pitched away to Snider because he was a good pull hitter.”

Snider poked the ball over the screen in left for a two-run home run and a 3-1 Dodgers lead.

The next time Snider came up, in the fifth, “I was still going to pitch him outside,” Gibson said.

Gibson changed his mind when he noticed Snider lean in. “So I threw the next pitch tight to brush him back away from the plate,” Gibson said.

Snider barely saw the fastball. “It came right at me,” Snider said. “It was headed for my ribs and I brought up my right arm instinctively to protect my body. The pitch hit my elbow and the ball dropped straight to the ground. It was no glancing blow. It hit me flush.”

Snider advanced to first and was thrown out attempting to steal second.

When he tried to bat again in the seventh, Snider “felt a sharp pain in that right elbow, like someone jabbing a needle in there” and was lifted for a pinch-hitter.

An examination revealed the elbow was fractured.

“I saw Duke after the game,” Gibson said. “I didn’t apologize to him. He knew I was sorry. He knew I wasn’t throwing at him. I was just trying to move him away from the plate, trying to get him to think and not take things for granted up there.”

In the book “We Would have Played For Nothing,” Snider told former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent, “I know that Bob Gibson has told people he never threw at a player on purpose. Bob Gibson is a nice guy, but he stretches the truth a little bit once in a while.” Boxscore

We meet again

Jackson’s absence from the starting rotation the first few weeks of the 1961 season was a significant setback for the Cardinals. The year before, he won 18 and led the National League in innings pitched (282).

A right-hander, Jackson made his first appearance of the 1961 season on April 26, a month after his injury, in a start against the Braves.

He lost his first three decisions, prompting The Sporting News to note, “After subsisting on liquids and soft foods for a month, Jackson showed he needed a few steaks to beef up his pitching.”

Meanwhile, after sitting out a month, Snider returned on May 19 as a pinch-hitter and was back in the Dodgers’ starting lineup on May 22.

Two days later, the Dodgers opened a series at St. Louis. Jackson started Game 1 and faced Snider for the first time since the spring training accident. Snider walked three times, but didn’t get a hit, and Jackson got his first win of the season. Boxscore

The next night, Gibson started and faced Snider for the first time since he suffered the fractured elbow. Snider got a single in four at-bats. Sandy Koufax pitched a three-hitter and Tommy Davis hit a home run in a 1-0 Dodgers triumph. Boxscore

Keep going

On June 26, Jackson lost to the Braves, sinking his record for the season to 3-8. Manager Solly Hemus dropped him from the starting rotation.

Two weeks later, Hemus was fired and Johnny Keane replaced him. Jackson returned to the rotation and won 11 of his next 12 decisions.

“There’s no pitcher in the league right now who’s better than Larry Jackson,” Keane said to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

Jackson finished the season at 14-11 with three shutouts and 211 innings pitched. He made six starts against the Dodgers and was 1-3. Snider hit .294 versus Jackson in 1961 and .219 for his career.

Snider finished the season with 16 home runs and a .296 batting mark. Against Gibson, Snider hit .300 in 1961 and .212 for his career.

 

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Chuck Dressen thumbed his nose at being tossed.

On June 6, 1951, at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, Dressen, the Dodgers’ manager, was ejected in the fifth inning for complaining about ball and strike calls while Peanuts Lowrey batted for the Cardinals.

After plate umpire Artie Gore motioned for Dressen to take a hike, the manager stormed out of the dugout, kicked dirt around the plate and gesticulated wildly.

The performance ended when Dressen departed down the dugout steps, but it was just the first act in an afternoon of theatrics.

Costume party

According to the New York Daily News, Dressen went “to the cubicle beneath the stands, where it is possible to do a little bootleg managing.”

Unsatisfied with that arrangement, Dressen dreamed up a different scheme. According to The Sporting News, Dressen put on a groundskeeper’s cap and jacket and slipped into a corner of the Dodgers’ dugout, hoping he wouldn’t be noticed. He was about to pick up a rake to enhance the disguise when Cardinals manager Marty Marion spotted him and informed Gore.

“Marty turned me in when I was giving out instructions from the dugout,” Dressen told The Sporting News.

After being ordered by Gore to leave the dugout, Dressen headed for the clubhouse, but he wasn’t done.

Sitting pretty

In the seventh inning, Dressen, wearing street clothes, positioned himself in a box seat next to the Dodgers’ dugout on the first-base side.

Ever vigilant, Marion detected Dressen and again informed Gore. According to Marion, Gore replied, “There is nothing wrong with that, but if you see him doing anything to run the team from there, you let me know and I’ll chase him,” the New York Daily News reported.

Marion saw shortstop Pee Wee Reese, the Dodgers’ captain, go over to Dressen’s seat.

“Dressen was giving the signs and motioned for Reese to get some pitchers warmed up,” Marion told The Sporting News. “He was making a joke of the game.”

When Marion advised Gore what he had seen, Gore told Dressen to leave. Dressen watched the rest of the game from team owner Walter O’Malley’s private perch under the mezzanine behind home plate.

Asked whether he was giving instructions to Reese, Dressen “grinned and said he wasn’t that dumb,” the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported.

“I just told Pee Wee to find out from Gore what Marion was complaining about,” Dressen said. “I wouldn’t try to relay signs right out there in the open.”

According to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Dressen said he sat in the box seat at the request of a photographer. Dressen told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle the photos were for a shoe polish ad.

Some nerve

The Dodgers won, 3-2. Roy Campanella drove in all the Dodgers’ runs and Ralph Branca pitched a complete game. Boxscore

Marion protested the game on the grounds that Dressen broke the rules when he didn’t stay away after being ejected in the fifth inning.

National League president Ford Frick fined Dressen $100 for “failure to leave the bench when ejected and for masquerading in the dugout,” but denied the protest.

Miffed that Marion turned him in to Gore, Dressen told The Sporting News, “If I ever get the chance, you can bet I’ll pour it on him good. I don’t appreciate what he did to me.”

Nearly 50 years later, on June 9, 1999, in a night game against the Blue Jays, Mets manager Bobby Valentine returned to the dugout disguised in sunglasses and a fake moustache after being ejected. Valentine said he was fined $5,000 and suspended for two games for the prank. Video

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After he was fired from his job as Cardinals manager, Ken Boyer stayed with the organization and worked for his successor, Whitey Herzog.

Forty years ago, in February 1981, Boyer was at Cardinals spring training camp as an instructor, working with players who a year earlier he had managed.

It was one of multiple roles Boyer would fill for the Cardinals in 1981.

Helping hand

Cardinals general manager John Claiborne asked Boyer to stay with the franchise after Herzog replaced Boyer as manager in June 1980.

Boyer, an all-star and Gold Glove Award winner when he was Cardinals third baseman in the 1950s and 1960s, accepted the invitation and was assigned to visit the farm clubs, instructing and evaluating prospects.

In August 1980, Claiborne was fired and Herzog took on the additional role of general manager.

Boyer and Herzog became friends in 1966 when both were with the Mets. Boyer, the third baseman, and Herzog, a coach, shared an apartment in New York with Yankees players Roger Maris and Clete Boyer, Ken’s brother.

After he took over the baseball operations of the Cardinals in 1980, Herzog assigned Boyer to be an advance scout for the 1981 season.

“Whitey told me I’ve got the job that, in the back of his mind, he always thought he’d like to have,” Boyer told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Boyer’s job was to watch opposing National League teams and file reports on strengths and weaknesses before the Cardinals played them. He also was tasked with watching six American League clubs to rate players the Cardinals might want to acquire.

In addition to the scouting job, Boyer was asked by Herzog to come to training camp at St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1981 and help out in early drills.

Boyer agreed and was on the field daily with the Cardinals players in preparation for the Grapefruit League exhibition season.

Staying informed

When he was done helping on the field at training camp, Boyer took on the scouting assignment with gusto. He told the Post-Dispatch two other organizations had made offers to him to be a minor-league manager, but he rejected both in order to stay with the Cardinals.

“I’m really excited about it,” Boyer said of the scouting role. “It really keeps you in touch with all the right people … and it keeps you in touch with the players. You can ask a ballplayer two questions and he might tell you what’s going on with his club and around the whole league.”

In June 1981, while the major-league players were on strike and scouting was curtailed, Boyer stepped in when the Cardinals needed an interim manager at their farm team in Gastonia, N.C., after Joe Rigoli was suspended for bumping an umpire during an argument.

Boyer was back scouting when the players ended their strike in August.

Ol’ Kentucky home

After the 1981 season, the Cardinals’ top farm team relocated from Springfield, Ill., to Louisville. The owner of the Louisville Redbirds, A. Ray Smith, asked the Cardinals for Boyer to be the manager. They’d been together before. When the Cardinals’ Class AAA farm team was at Tulsa, Smith was the owner and Boyer was manager from 1974-76. 

Boyer never had been to Louisville and wasn’t keen on giving up a job scouting major-league teams to return to riding buses in the minors, but he agreed to visit before making up his mind.

Dan Ulmer, co-chairman of a committee to raise funds to refurbish a football stadium into a ballpark for the Redbirds, told the Louisville Courier-Journal, “Boyer didn’t think too much about the idea at first. Before he came here, he probably gave Louisville about a rating of 3 on a scale of 10. When he saw the stadium and the enthusiasm, we quickly moved up to about an 8 in his estimation.”

On Nov. 13, 1981, Boyer was introduced as Redbirds manager at a news conference in Louisville.

“This is a great opportunity for me,” Boyer told the Courier-Journal. “I welcome this challenge to get back into managing.”

Noting the widespread support for the return of a Class AAA ballclub to Louisville for the first time since 1972, Boyer said to the Associated Press, “It’s more like moving into a big-league market than a minor-league one.”

Attending the news conference as an observer was resident Pee Wee Reese, the former shortstop of the Dodgers. Reese had been team captain of the Dodgers, just like Boyer had been team captain of the Cardinals.

When Boyer spotted Reese, he said to him, “We’re going to make this Cardinals country, Captain. The Dodger Blue has gone as far as it can go. What do you think of that?”

“Reese shrugged,” Billy Reed of the Courier-Journal noted. “As a lifelong Louisvillan, he’s happy to see Class AAA baseball come back to town.”

Terrible time

Shortly after he was named Louisville manager, Boyer, 50, had a routine physical examination. The doctor ordered a biopsy, which revealed Boyer, a smoker, had inoperable cancer in both lungs and the esophagus, according to the book “Ken Boyer: All-Star, MVP, Captain.”

Boyer, divorced, initially told only his children about the diagnosis, according to the biography. He began receiving treatment in St. Louis after Thanksgiving Day. Boyer eventually informed Cardinals management, according to the book, but requested no announcement about his condition.

In January 1982, Boyer went to Mexico to receive treatments of the drug laetrile. Extracted from apricot pits, laetrile was not approved in the United States as an effective treatment for cancer.

After Boyer failed to show for a promotional event in Louisville on Jan. 21, 1982, the Courier-Journal reported he was “seriously ill.”

A. Ray Smith confirmed to the newspaper that Boyer had lung cancer, but said, “In my judgment, I think he’ll manage here.”

Joe McDonald, assistant to Whitey Herzog, said, “We expect Ken Boyer to be our manager in Louisville this season.”

A month later, on Feb. 22, 1982, with spring training approaching, Smith said Boyer wouldn’t be able to manage the Louisville club. Boyer’s health problems “are very serious,” Smith told the Associated Press.

Smith wanted former Angels manager Jim Fregosi to replace Boyer, but Fregosi declined, the Courier-Journal reported.

Cardinals scout Joe Frazier, former manager of the Mets, was chosen to manage Louisville in 1982. Frazier and Boyer were Cardinals teammates in 1955 and 1956.

Seven months later, on Sept. 7, 1982, a month before the Cardinals became World Series champions, Boyer, 51, died in St. Louis. 

 

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Joe Torre guided Alex Trevino into the majors and was with him again 13 years later when he left.

Thirty years ago, on Jan. 2, 1991, the Cardinals signed Trevino, a free agent, as backup catcher.

The deal reunited Trevino with Torre, the Cardinals’ manager and former catcher. Torre was manager of the Mets when Trevino, 21, made his major-league debut with them in September 1978. Trevino and Torre were together with the Mets for four seasons (1978-81). Trevino also played for Torre in 1984 when Torre was managing the Braves.

Torre and the Cardinals projected Trevino to back up starting catcher Tom Pagnozzi in 1991, but it didn’t work out. Instead, Trevino got released near the end of spring training. The next season, Trevino was back in the Cardinals’ organization and, though he played in the minors, he made a major contribution in helping a top pitching prospect get acclimated to baseball in the United States.

From Mexico to Mets

A native of Monterrey, Mexico, Trevino was 7 and playing youth baseball when he saw the World Series on television for the first time in 1964, the Cardinals versus the Yankees. “I was impressed so much by Bob Gibson because I was a pitcher then,” Trevino told United Press International.

Trevino was 16 when the Mets signed him in May 1974 with the intention of making him a shortstop. Assigned to a rookie league club in Marion, Va., Trevino became a catcher for manager Chuck Hiller, a future Cardinals coach.

Four years later, Trevino got called up to the Mets and he and Torre bonded.

“To me, he’s like my second father,” Trevino told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He took me under his wing when I came to the big leagues. I owe him a lot. He gradually gave me playing time and let me build my confidence.”

Torre said, “He had such great hands. I always like the way he caught.”

Trevino was a backup to John Stearns with the Mets in 1978 and 1979. An agile catcher with a strong throwing arm, Trevino got more starts than Stearns in 1980, but went back to a reserve role in 1981 because Stearns was the better hitter.

Trevino led National League catchers in throwing out the highest percentage of runners attempting to steal in 1979 (47.7 percent) and 1980 (44.3 percent).

Torre said Trevino became the favorite player of his daughter, Tina. Also, Trevino got to be a teammate of his favorite player from the 1964 World Series, Bob Gibson, who became a coach on Torre’s staff with the 1981 Mets.

“Several clubs are interested in Trevino, but Torre won’t part with the kid,” The Sporting News reported.

On the move

After the 1981 season, Torre became manager of the Braves, and the Mets packaged Trevino in a trade to the Reds for slugger George Foster. Trevino took over for future Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, who no longer could catch regularly.

When the Reds opened the 1982 season, Trevino was the catcher and Bench was at third base. Boxscore

A contact hitter with little power, Trevino was no Bench, and he fell into disfavor with the Reds.

“They expected me to hit .300 and throw out every baserunner,” Trevino told The Sporting News. “It was a bad time … They played with my head there.”

In April 1984, the Reds sent Trevino to the Braves to be the backup to Bruce Benedict. Torre was the manager and he “treasured Trevino’s skills,” The Sporting News reported. Also, Bob Gibson was on the coaching staff.

After the 1984 season, Torre was fired and Trevino was traded to the Giants. Trevino went from the Giants (1985) to the Dodgers (1986-87) and to the Astros (1988-90).

On June 13, 1986, Trevino and Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela formed what is believed to be the first all-Mexican battery in the majors, according to the Los Angeles Times. Boxscore

One of Trevino’s best games came on May 22, 1988, at St. Louis when he got four hits and scored the winning run in the Astros’ 2-1 victory over the Cardinals. Boxscore

Ups and downs

In 1990, Trevino was the backup to Astros catcher Craig Biggio, but in July he was released and replaced by Rich Gedman, who was acquired from the Red Sox.

The Mets signed Trevino in August 1990, but the reunion started badly. In his first start for the Mets, on Aug. 5, 1990, against the Cardinals at St. Louis, Trevino was hitless, committed two errors and allowed two passed balls. Boxscore

“It was the worst game of my career,” Trevino told the Post-Dispatch. “I’ve never had a day like that.”

A month later, the Reds selected Trevino off waivers. Trevino got three hits in seven at-bats for the Reds, who went on to become 1990 World Series champions.

Change in plans

Trevino became a free agent in December 1990 and the Cardinals arranged for him to reunite with Torre again. The Cardinals had decided to move Todd Zeile from catcher to third base, and were seeking a veteran backup to Tom Pagnozzi, who became the starting catcher.

The Cardinals also had considered Gary Carter (36) and Ernie Whitt (38) as the backup catcher but took Trevino (33) because he was younger, the Post-Dispatch reported. Carter signed with the Dodgers and Whitt went with the Orioles.

Cardinals general manager Dal Maxvill, who had been a coach on Torre’s staffs with the Mets (1978) and Braves (1984) when Trevino was there, said, “We’re not trying to look beyond this year, but, if the guy is still catching decently and throwing decently, it could be something beyond a year. I’m not ruling out he could be here four or five years.”

A month later, the Cardinals signed Rich Gedman, the catcher who in 1990 had replaced Trevino on the Astros, to a minor-league contract. “Gedman figures to be Louisville’s starting catcher this season unless he beats out Alex Trevino for the backup catching job” with the Cardinals, the Post-Dispatch reported.

At Cardinals spring training in 1991, Trevino was “erratic on defense,” according to the Post-Dispatch. Gedman, a left-handed batter, hit .375. Trevino, a right-handed batter, hit .353.

Torre liked having a catcher who batted left-handed to back up Pagnozzi, who hit from the right side. On March 31, 1991, Torre told Trevino he was being placed on waivers for the purpose of giving him his release. “It was hard, really hard,” Torre said of his talk with Trevino.

A stoic Trevino said, “Gedman had a good spring. It was obvious.”

Keep on going

Trevino signed a minor-league contract with the Angels and was assigned to their Class AA club at Midland, Texas, where he was reunited with Fernando Valenzuela, who was attempting a comeback.

After playing in 14 games for Midland, Trevino joined his hometown team, Monterrey, in the Mexican League.

In February 1992, the Cardinals invited Trevino to spring training as a non-roster player, and he earned a spot with their Louisville farm club.

The Cardinals had signed a promising pitching prospect, Cuban defector Rene Arocha, and assigned him to Louisville. Trevino caught most of Arocha’s games, served as his interpreter and mentored him. 

In September 1992, after the end of Louisville’s season, Trevino was rewarded for his effort. He was called up to the Cardinals, though not activated, and spent the final month of the season in the big leagues.

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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.

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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.

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