Archive for the ‘Managers’ Category

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

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

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

Home run king

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

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

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

Comeback Cardinals

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

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

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

Dare to differ

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

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

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

Among the factors influencing Dyer’s thinking:

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

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

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

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

Take that!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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John Claiborne lasted a mere 22 months as Cardinals general manager because he didn’t produce the results club owner Gussie Busch wanted and didn’t connect with Busch the way Whitey Herzog did.

Forty years ago, on Aug. 18, 1980, in what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch described as “a surprise move,” Busch fired Claiborne, citing “basic disagreements” between the two “regarding progress of the team in all areas of operation.” Two weeks later, Herzog was promoted from manager to general manager.

Given the authority to rebuild the Cardinals into a club featuring defense, speed and relief pitching, Herzog transformed them from losers in 1980 to World Series champions in 1982.

Front office intrigue

A St. Louis native who worked in the front offices of the Mets, Cardinals, Athletics and Red Sox, Claiborne, 39, was hired to replace his mentor, Bing Devine, as Cardinals general manager in October 1978 on the recommendation of Busch’s personal attorney, Lou Susman.

In 1979, the Cardinals finished 86-76, but it was a different story the next year. The 1980 Cardinals were 8-10 in April and 8-18 in May. Claiborne had made a bad trade, acquiring Bobby Bonds to play left field after Lou Brock retired, failed to sign top free agents and didn’t obtain a closer for the bullpen.

On June 8, 1980, with the Cardinals’ record at 18-33, Claiborne fired manager Ken Boyer between games of a doubleheader and Herzog was hired as the replacement.

After a couple of weeks as manager, Herzog was called into Busch’s office and asked to give his assessment of the team. In his book, “White Rat: A Life in Baseball,” Herzog said he told Busch, “Well, Chief, you’ve got a bunch of prima donnas, overpaid SOBs who ain’t ever going to win a goddamned thing. You’ve got a bunch of mean people, some sorry human beings. It’s the first time I’ve ever been scared to walk through my own clubhouse. We’ve got drug problems, we’ve got ego problems and we ain’t ever going anywhere.”

Herzog said, “I’ve never seen such a bunch of misfits. Nobody would run out a ball. Nobody in the bullpen wanted the ball.”

Busch asked, “You really think it’s that bad?”

“I know so,” Herzog responded. “We’ve got to do some housecleaning.”

Personnel flops

Busch began thinking the housecleaning should start with Claiborne.

“Claiborne went to the Cardinals as an innovative thinker,” columnist Bill Conlin wrote in The Sporting News. “He convinced Gussie Busch that the free-agent raffle was a viable shortcut to a pennant. The trouble was, despite St. Louis’ willingness to spend, John couldn’t sign any first-liners.”

The free agents signed by Claiborne were pitchers Darold Knowles and Don Hood, and reserve outfielder Bernie Carbo.

“Claiborne spent too much money for too little talent,” wrote Rick Hummel in the Post-Dispatch.

Top free agents such as outfielder Pete Rose, pitcher Tommy John and closer Mike Marshall rejected Cardinals offers.

“In two or three cases, our offer actually was the best, but the player chose another club,” Claiborne said.

Post-Dispatch sports editor Bob Broeg noted Claiborne could have acquired Cubs closer Bruce Sutter for catcher Terry Kennedy, first baseman Leon Durham and second baseman Tommy Herr, but declined. “A sizable request, yes, but there’s an old saw in baseball that if you think you’re only one player away from competing for the top banana, you’ll give more than you can get,” Broeg wrote.

Claiborne “probably hesitated when he should have acted,” Post-Dispatch columnist Tom Barnidge concluded. “This club did, after all, need a relief pitcher like a cripple needs a cane.”

Drinking buddies

As Busch was contemplating what to do, Herzog met for lunch with Bing Devine and told him he was having trouble getting access to Busch. In his book, Herzog said Devine replied, “You’ve got a hell of an advantage. You drink. So does Gussie. Claiborne doesn’t drink. Just call him up and tell him you’re coming out for a few beers.”

Herzog said he followed Devine’s advice. He called Busch and told him, “I’m coming out to have a beer and a braunschweiger sandwich.”

Herzog began meeting regularly at Busch’s home and told him what should be done to improve the team. “Sometimes I’d bring him some fresh fish, which he loved, or some headcheese, which a friend of mine made. We’d sit and eat sandwiches, play gin and drink beer.”

After hearing how Herzog thought the Cardinals should be rebuilt, Busch decided Claiborne wasn’t up to the task and fired him.

Claiborne told the Post-Dispatch, “I was a failure at trying to win quickly. The blame has to be placed on someone and I accept it.”

Though Herzog undercut Claiborne by going directly to Busch with his thoughts rather than working through the general manager, Herzog was taken aback when Busch fired Claiborne, The Sporting News reported. Asked about Busch’s decision, Herzog said, “You wonder why at this time.”

Herzog said he wasn’t interested in being general manager because the job was too time-consuming. “I like to hunt, fish and golf,” Herzog said.

Executive level

Busch put attorney Lou Susman in charge of conducting a search for Claiborne’s replacement.

While Susman was interviewing candidates in New York, Herzog was called to Busch’s home by club vice president Margaret Snyder and told Busch wanted him to be general manager. Herzog asked for time to think about it.

In his book, Herzog said, “I didn’t really want to be a general manager,” but he was concerned someone would be hired who he couldn’t work with. So he called Busch and accepted.

When his promotion to general manager was announced Aug. 29, 1980, Herzog told the Post-Dispatch, “I feel I’m the right guy for the job. I don’t know how anybody can be better qualified for it than me. I decided this is one time I can control my own destiny. I sure as heck didn’t come here to be general manager, but I can do more for the Cardinals as GM than as field manager.”

Former Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst became interim manager.

Herzog wanted to hire Gene Mauch or Dick Williams to be Cardinals manager after the 1980 season but couldn’t work out an arrangement. On Oct. 24, 1980, the Cardinals announced Herzog would have the dual role of general manager and manager. Herzog hired his friend, Joe McDonald, former general manager of the Mets, to be executive assistant/baseball and take care of the administrative and business duties while Herzog focused on baseball matters.

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When Whitey Herzog became Cardinals manager, he replaced a friend who had been his roommate and teammate with the Mets.

On June 8, 1980, the Cardinals fired manager Ken Boyer and hired Herzog to succeed him.

Boyer, an all-star and Gold Glove Award winner as Cardinals third baseman in the 1950s and 1960s, was their manager since April 1978. Herzog managed the Royals to three consecutive division titles before being fired after the 1979 season.

In 1966, the Mets had Boyer as their third baseman and Herzog as a coach. In his book, “White Rat: A Life in Baseball,” Herzog said he and Ken Boyer shared a New York apartment with Yankees players Roger Maris and Clete Boyer, Ken’s brother.

“When the Mets were on the road, Clete and Roger had the place, and when the Yankees were on the road, Kenny and I took it over,” Herzog said.

After Boyer was fired by the Cardinals, he told a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, “Wish Whitey Herzog good luck. I hope they can turn it around.”

The comment was relayed to Herzog, who said, “I appreciate that. We are very good friends.”

Time for a change

After Herzog left the Royals, Cardinals general manager John Claiborne called him occasionally to seek his opinions on players. Claiborne and Herzog had worked together for Bing Devine with the Mets.

At one point in their conversations, Herzog said, Claiborne asked whether he’d want to become a paid consultant to the Cardinals. “I told him I didn’t want to get tied up with something like that, but I’d be happy to give him my opinions when he asked for them,” Herzog said.

The 1980 Cardinals hit the skids early and Claiborne and club owner Gussie Busch determined Boyer needed to go.

On Saturday, June 7, 1980, Herzog said he got a call from Busch’s attorney, Lou Susman, who asked him to meet Busch in St. Louis the next morning. Meanwhile, Claiborne headed to Montreal, where the Cardinals were playing, to inform Boyer he was fired. Claiborne intended to get to Montreal on Saturday night and meet with Boyer the next morning, but a rainstorm canceled the connecting flight and Claiborne had to spend the night in Chicago.

On the morning of June 8, 1980, Herzog went to Busch’s estate at Grant’s Farm and Claiborne took a flight from Chicago to Montreal, where the Cardinals and Expos were to play a Sunday afternoon doubleheader.

Herzog met with Busch and Susman, and was offered a one-year, $100,000 contract to manage the Cardinals. When Herzog objected to the length of the contract, Busch countered with a three-year deal through the 1982 season. Herzog accepted and Busch made plans to announce the hiring in a news conference late in the afternoon.

At Montreal, the Cardinals lost Game 1 of the doubleheader, dropping their record to 18-33 and giving them 21 losses in their last 26 games.

Boyer was in the clubhouse, making out the lineup card for Game 2, when he looked up and was surprised to see Claiborne enter. “I thought for certain he had come here to discuss possible trades,” Boyer told the Montreal Gazette.

Instead, Claiborne told Boyer he was fired. “This is something you want to talk about to a man face to face, not over the telephone,” Claiborne said.

Claiborne offered Boyer another job within the organization, but Boyer said he wanted time to think it over.

“Boyer was on his way to St. Louis by the second inning of the second game,” the Gazette reported.

Coach Jack Krol filled in as manager for Game 2, and the Cardinals lost again.

Mourning in Montreal

In the locker room, after getting swept in the doubleheader, most Cardinals said they were sorry Boyer was gone and exonerated him of blame for the team’s record. Boyer was 166-191 as Cardinals manager.

In comments to the Post-Dispatch, first baseman Keith Hernandez said the 1980 Cardinals were “the worst team I’ve been on since I’ve been in the major leagues. The worst. We are bad. The manager is only as good as his horses and we don’t have the horses. I’m going to miss Ken Boyer.”

Second baseman Tommy Herr said, “There’s a lack of professionalism among certain players as far as guys running groundballs out, 100 percent all-out effort.”

Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons and pitcher Bob Forsch were two of the players most upset by Boyer’s firing, according to the Post-Dispatch. “Old Cardinals die hard,” Simmons said.

Pitcher John Fugham told The Sporting News, “Unfortunately, there were not 25 people on this team that were as intense as Kenny Boyer was. Therein lies the problem.”

Vern Rapp, who two years earlier was fired while the Cardinals were in Montreal and replaced as manager by Boyer, was a coach with the 1980 Expos. Asked his reaction to Boyer’s firing, Rapp told the Post-Dispatch, “I feel sorry for anybody it happened to. I know how it feels. It’s not a good feeling.”

Oh, brother

At the news conference at Grant’s Farm introducing him as Cardinals manager, Herzog said, “I’m going to take this dang team and run it like I think it should be run. I don’t think I’ve ever had trouble with players hustling. I understand that’s been a problem here. I think you’ll see the Cardinals running out groundballs.”

Asked whether the Cardinals needed a leader to emerge from within the team, Herzog said, “I don’t need a team leader. I’m the leader.”

Said Busch: “My type of manager, without any argument.”

Born and raised in New Athens, Ill., Herzog described himself as a “very opinionated, hardheaded Dutchman.”

At birth, he was named Dorrell Norman Elvert Herzog. His mother said she intended to name him Darrell, but the name got misspelled. In New Athens, where he excelled at basketball as well as baseball, everyone called him Relly. In the New Athens High School yearbook, it was noted, “He likes girls even more than basketball.” As a professional ballplayer, he got nicknamed Whitey because of his light blonde hair.

Herzog had two brothers _ Therron, who everyone called Herman, and Codell, who everyone called Butzy.

When Herzog was named Cardinals manager, Butzy, who “never played baseball in his life,” told Whitey what lineup he should use to help the Cardinals improve.

“I may play his lineup,” Whitey said.

“He better,” Butzy told the Post-Dispatch, “or we’ll have a fight.”

Whether or not it was with Butzy’s help, the Cardinals went on to win three National League pennants and a World Series championship during Whitey’s 11 years as their manager.

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Rich Hacker, a protege of Whitey Herzog, developed and coached players for championship Cardinals clubs.

Hacker died April 22, 2020, at 72. He managed teams in the St. Louis farm system for four years and was a big-league coach on Herzog’s staff for five seasons, including 1987 when the Cardinals were National League champions. Hacker also was a coach for the Blue Jays when they won consecutive World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.

From boyhood in southern Illinois to his days as a big-league shortstop and later as a scout, manager and coach, Hacker was strongly influenced by Herzog.

Early learner

Hacker was born in Belleville, Ill., and raised in New Athens, Ill., Herzog’s hometown. Rich’s uncle, Warren Hacker, pitched in the majors for 12 seasons and was a 15-game winner for the 1952 Cubs.

Herzog was a big-league outfielder from 1956-63 and “when he would come home to New Athens, there would be a freckle-faced, redheaded kid waiting on his front porch, hoping for a game of catch. The kid’s name was Richie Hacker,” wrote Kevin Horrigan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“We always knew when he was home,” Hacker recalled. “He drove this big, old Edsel and you couldn’t miss it. He’d bring home bats and balls for us to play with and we’d get a game up out in the street. We’d play pepper and the kid who caught the most balls got to take the bat and ball home.”

Hacker played baseball and basketball at New Athens High School. The Cardinals selected him in the 39th round of the 1965 amateur draft but he enrolled at Southern Illinois University. After his sophomore year, the Mets, whose director of player development was Herzog, took him in the eighth round of the 1967 draft and signed him.

Hacker fielded well but couldn’t hit much. On March 31, 1971, the Mets traded Hacker and Ron Swoboda to the Expos for Don Hahn. Hacker began the season at minor-league Winnipeg, but got called up to the Expos in late June when shortstop Bobby Wine went on the disabled list.

Reaching the top

On July 2, 1971, Hacker made his big-league debut, starting at shortstop in both games of a doubleheader versus the Phillies at Montreal. In the first game, Hacker went hitless against Rick Wise but played flawless defense for winning pitcher Dan McGinn. Boxscore

“Hacker is just a great shortstop,” McGinn told the Montreal Gazette. “He should find it a cinch here after fielding balls on the bumpy infield at Winnipeg.”

In the second game, Hacker got his first big-league hit, a double versus Woodie Fryman to drive in Coco Laboy from third, and “showed the fans why the Expos feel he has a major-league glove,” the Gazette reported. Boxscore

A few days later, when Wine returned, Hacker went back to Winnipeg with instructions to try switch-hitting.

Hacker rejoined the Expos in September. His last hit in the majors came Sept. 26, 1971, when he singled versus Cardinals reliever Dennis Higgins at St. Louis. Boxscore

After spending 1972 and 1973 in the minors, Hacker, 26, was finished as a player. “I knew I wasn’t a prospect anymore,” Hacker said.

Earning respect

Out of baseball for two years, Hacker wanted back in. He spent three seasons (1976-78) as head baseball coach at Southeastern Illinois College and two years (1979-80) as a Padres scout. In 1981, the Blue Jays hired him to scout and to manage their Gulf Coast League team.

Herzog, who joined the Cardinals in 1980, had the dual roles of general manager and manager, and his influence was substantial. The Cardinals hired Hacker to manage their farm club at Johnson City, Tenn., in 1982. Among the prospects at Johnson City were Vince Coleman and Terry Pendleton.

Hacker managed three seasons at Johnson City and one at Erie, Pa.

In November 1985, Hacker was named to the Cardinals’ coaching staff, replacing Hal Lanier, who became Astros manager. Hacker got the job after rejecting a chance to be Astros director of player development, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Herzog regarded Hacker “as one of the brightest minds in the organization,” the Post-Dispatch noted.

“I’ll tell you one thing,” Herzog said. “I wouldn’t have made a guy coach just because he comes from New Athens. Otherwise, I would have brought the bartender in here. He was better to me than anyone else.

“Rich Hacker has a hell of a future in baseball,” Herzog said. “He was a smart player, a smart minor-league manager and a smart scout.”

Hacker was Cardinals first-base coach from 1986-88. When Nick Leyva left the Cardinals’ coaching staff to become Phillies manager, Hacker replaced him as third-base coach in 1989.

Accident victim

After Herzog abruptly quit in July 1990, Joe Torre became manager and wanted to bring in different coaches for 1991. Hacker departed and became third-base coach on the staff of Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston. The Blue Jays won a division title in 1991 and a World Series championship in 1992.

In 1993, when the Blue Jays were on their way to a second straight World Series crown, Hacker made plans to visit his family at home in Belleville, Ill., during the all-star break.

On Sunday, July 11, 1993, Hacker took a flight to St. Louis and arranged to drive himself home. At about 11:45 p.m., Hacker was driving across the Martin Luther King Bridge from downtown St. Louis “when one of two speeding cars that were drag racing across the bridge from Illinois crashed into Hacker’s eastbound vehicle head-on,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Hacker suffered head injuries and a broken right ankle.

“He was wearing his seat belt,” said Dr. Marc Shapiro, director of trauma services at the St. Louis University Medical Center. “If Mr. Hacker was not wearing his seat belt, his injuries would be much more serious. We might not even be talking about him now.”

Hacker told the Post-Dispatch his condition “was touch and go for a while.” Regarding the accident, Hacker said, “I don’t remember a darn thing. I guess that is the body’s way of protecting us.”

Hacker was in a rehabilitation hospital until Sept. 3, 1993. Among his visitors were Blue Jays team doctor Ron Taylor, the former Cardinals pitcher, and Cardinals coach Red Schoendienst and his brother Elmer. When Elmer Schoendienst was a Cardinals prospect in 1948, he was injured and five teammates were killed when their team bus was hit head-on by a truck near St. Paul, Minn. “He’s been very kind to me,” Hacker told the Post-Dispatch.

On Oct. 8, 1993, Hacker threw the ceremonial first pitch before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series at Toronto.

With Hacker unable to work on the field, the Blue Jays, in a fitting twist, hired Leyva to replace him as third-base coach. Hacker remained on the Blue Jays’ coaching staff in 1994 and was given special assignment duties, including charting every pitch of each game from the press box, Toronto’s National Post reported.

Hacker was out of baseball in 1995, though the Blue Jays paid him his full salary of $75,000, the Post-Dispatch reported. In 1996, he became a Padres scout, a position he held until he retired after the 2003 season.

Several retired Cardinals players posted tributes to Hacker on his obituary page.

John Tudor called Hacker “a class act and great person” and said “he was such an unheralded part of those 1980s teams.”

Ozzie Smith said, “Rich was one of the nicest people I have ever met. We spent a lot of time talking baseball and him hitting me ground balls.”

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The Cardinals gave Terry Francona a chance to finish his playing career as part of a Louisville outfield with Ray Lankford and Bernard Gilkey.

Thirty years ago, on May 5, 1990, the Cardinals signed Francona, 31, after he was released by the Brewers and assigned him to their Class AAA farm club at Louisville.

The Cardinals made the move because Francona provided insurance in case their left-handed pinch-hitter, Denny Walling, faltered, and because he brought experience to a Louisville lineup featuring prospects Lankford, Gilkey and first baseman Rod Brewer.

Francona’s lone season in the Cardinals’ system was his last as a player, but hardly the end of his baseball career.

In 2004, Francona managed the Red Sox to a World Series sweep of the Cardinals, and in 2011 he was a candidate to replace Tony La Russa as St. Louis manager.

All in the family

Tito Francona, Terry’s father, was an outfielder and first baseman in the majors for 15 years with nine teams, including the 1965-66 Cardinals.

Terry Francona followed his father into baseball. He batted .769 as a high school senior in New Brighton, Pa., and went on to play at the University of Arizona for coach Jerry Kindall, a teammate of Tito Francona with the 1962-64 Indians.

In 1980, Arizona won the College World Series championship. Terry Francona was named outstanding player of the tournament and he won the Golden Spikes Award as the top college baseball player of the year.

The Expos selected Francona in the first round of the 1980 amateur draft and he made his major-league debut with them a year later in August 1981. Like his father, Terry Francona batted left-handed and played outfield and first base.

On Sept. 16, 1981, Francona hit his first major-league home run and it came against Cardinals closer Bruce Sutter at Montreal. Francona said “Mr. Fanning,” Expos manager Jim Fanning, told him to take the first pitch from Sutter, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Francona did and it was called a ball. He swung at the second and hit it over the right-field wall.

“We felt that wasn’t a bad pitch,” said Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog.

Said Sutter: “The kid hit a home run. It couldn’t have been a good pitch.” Boxscore

Francona went on to hit .274 in a big-league career with the Expos (1981-85), Cubs (1986), Reds (1987), Indians (1988) and Brewers (1989-90). He batted .311 versus the Cardinals and had more career hits (46) against them than he did any other team.

Kentucky home

Francona’s last appearance in a big-league game was April 19, 1990, when he ran for Dave Parker. The Brewers released him April 27 and the Cardinals signed him a week later.

On May 5, 1990, in his first game for Louisville, Francona had a double and triple against Buffalo. Louisville’s outfield was Francona in right, Lankford in center and Gilkey in left.

Four days later, on May 9, 1990, those three played central roles in a wild inning.

Louisville scored 16 runs in the third inning of an 18-4 win at home against Nashville. Gilkey had two singles, a home run and four RBI in the inning. Francona and Lankford also hit home runs in the inning. Francona’s was a two-run shot and Lankford’s was his first grand slam as a professional.

Francona’s home run came against starter Rodney Imes, the first of three Nashville pitchers in the inning. The others were Bobby Moore and Neil Allen, the former Cardinal. Francona pitched the eighth and ninth innings of the blowout for Louisville and allowed one run on one hit, a home run by Keith Lockhart.

The next day, Louisville, naturally, was held to three hits, but one was a two-run home run by Francona, in a 4-1 win versus Indianapolis.

Francona played mostly against right-handers and finished the season with a .263 batting average, six home runs and 30 RBI. “We thought he’d hit better and for more power,” manager Gaylen Pitts told the Louisville Courier-Journal.

A left-handed thrower, Francona was an effective mopup reliever for Louisville. In five appearances as a pitcher, he had a 1.17 ERA, allowing one earned run in 7.2 innings and striking out six.

New career

After the 1990 season, Francona had reconstructive knee surgery. Receiving no offers to play again, he tried selling real estate but didn’t like it. He got back into baseball when his former Reds teammate, Buddy Bell, who was in the White Sox front office, offered him a job to coach in the minors. In 1992, Francona became manager of a White Sox farm team in South Bend, Ind.

Francona managed the Phillies from 1997-2000 and Red Sox from 2004-2011 before becoming Indians manager in 2013. He led the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. The 2004 World Series championship was their first since 1918. He also managed the Indians to the 2016 American League pennant.

When Tony La Russa retired after managing the Cardinals to the 2011 World Series title, Francona was a candidate to replace him. Others were Mike Matheny, Ryne Sandberg, Jose Oquendo, Joe McEwing and Chris Maloney, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

A search committee interviewed Francona on Nov. 8, 2011, in Cincinnati where Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. resided and operated a private equity firm.

“We discussed pretty basic philosophy,” Francona told the Post-Dispatch. “I’d call it an enjoyable, casual conversation.”

A week later, on Nov. 14, 2011, Matheny was named manager of the Cardinals.

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Jim Frey was the Texas League batting champion when the Cardinals acquired him and gave him a chance to compete for a spot on their Opening Day roster. Frey didn’t get to the majors as a player, but he did as a manager.

An outfielder who played in the minors for 14 years, including four in the Cardinals’ system, Frey managed the Royals to their first American League pennant in 1980 and led the Cubs to their first division championship in 1984.

A left-handed batter, Frey could hit, but a weak throwing arm kept him out of the big leagues. He played in the farm systems of the Braves, Dodgers, Phillies, Cardinals and Pirates from 1950-63.

Looks deceive

As a student at Western Hills High School in Cincinnati, Frey and classmate Don Zimmer became lifelong friends. Western Hills was the alma mater of multiple major-league players, including Pete Rose, Russ Nixon and Zimmer. Frey, Zimmer, Rose and Nixon all managed in the majors.

In 1957, Frey, 26, was in his eighth season in the minors. Playing left field for Tulsa, a Phillies farm club, Frey batted .336, 28 points better than any other player in the Texas League. He also led the league in hits (198), runs (102), doubles (50), triples (11) and total bases (294).

The Cardinals purchased’s Frey contract and put him on their 40-man winter roster. At spring training in 1958, Frey was a candidate for a reserve outfielder spot with the Cardinals.

“We’ll take a long look” at him, Cardinals general manager Bing Devine told The Sporting News.

Listed at 5 feet 9 and 170 pounds, Frey “actually looks smaller,” The Sporting News noted, “but doubts as to his ability are dispelled when he takes his turn at the plate. The little guy, who wears specs and resembles an oversized jockey rather than a big-leaguer, has an A-1 batting style.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Frey “swings a business-like bat. He wears glasses and looks more like a sophomore who leads his class in chemistry and mathematics than he resembles a ballplayer, but he hits the ball where it is pitched, instead of trying for home runs, and what a pleasure it is to see a player so intelligent.”

Have bat, will travel

Cardinals manager Fred Hutchinson “gave me a real shot” to make the club, Frey told the Kansas City Star. “I hit everything they tossed up that spring, but I couldn’t throw a ball from center to second base. My arm was dead after I banged my shoulder against the fence the year before.”

The Cardinals sent Frey and another outfield prospect, Curt Flood, to their Omaha farm club.

Frey “was handicapped by the fact he has only a mediocre throwing arm and the Cards already are well prepared with left-handed pinch-hitters, Joe Cunningham and Irv Noren,” the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported.

“I’ve always been overlooked,” Frey told The Sporting News.

Playing for manager Johnny Keane, Frey hit .283 for Omaha in 1958 and had a team-leading .382 on-base percentage, but the Cardinals kept him off the 40-man winter roster entering 1959.

Frey spent the 1959 and 1960 seasons with the Cardinals’ farm club at Rochester. He hit .296 with a team-leading .387 on-base percentage in 1959. In 1960, he was the International League batting champion, hitting .317. Frey tied Leon Wagner for the club lead in home runs (16) and again was the best on the team in on-base percentage at .381.

In September 1960, the Cardinals traded Bob Sadowski and four Rochester players, Frey, Dick Ricketts, Wally Shannon and Billy Harrell, to the Phillies for Don Landrum.

Frey played in the Phillies’ system in 1961 and 1962. He opened the 1963 season with a Pirates minor-league club, got released and was signed by the Cardinals, who sent him to their Atlanta farm team. Frey, 32, finished his playing career there that season.

Coach and manager

From 1970-79, Frey was an Orioles coach on the staff of manager Earl Weaver. Like Frey, Weaver never played in the majors but he spent multiple years in the Cardinals’ farm system. The Orioles won three American League pennants during Frey’s time as coach.

In October 1979, when Frey became Royals manager, he told The Sporting News, “I think of myself as a guy who helped Weaver win games, not as his protege.”

On replacing the popular and successful Whitey Herzog as manager of the Royals, Frey said, “The name is Frey, as in, ‘Out of the frying pan and into the fire.’ ”

Four years later, when he was named manager of the Cubs, who played their home games at Wrigley Field, a ballpark then without lights, Frey said, “We’re going to try to win every night.”

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