Archive for the ‘Managers’ Category

In a pairing of two of the most successful and colorful sports leaders of the 1980s, Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka spent an evening with the Cardinals as a guest of their manager, Whitey Herzog.

Thirty years ago, on July 19, 1988, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Ditka got into a Cardinals uniform, took batting practice with the team and brought out the lineup card to the umpires at home plate before the start of the game against the Dodgers.

Ditka came to St. Louis to promote Herzog’s restaurant at Union Station. The management firm that ran Herzog’s restaurant also operated Ditka’s restaurant in Chicago.

Bringing Ditka and Herzog together created the media attention the restaurant managers sought.

Ditka led the 1985 Bears to a NFL championship, winning 15 of 16 regular-season games and all three postseason games. The Bears qualified for the playoffs in seven of his 11 seasons as their head coach. A popular “Saturday Night Live” comedy sketch at the time featured actors playing blue-collar Bears fans who spoke with Chicago dialects about their devotion to “Da Bears” and to Ditka, “Da Coach.”

Herzog led the 1982 Cardinals to a World Series championship and followed that with National League pennant-winning seasons in 1985 and 1987. Dubbed “The White Rat” during his playing career because of his light-colored hair and resemblance to a Yankees pitcher with the same nickname, Herzog transformed the Cardinals into winners by emphasizing a style of play, called “Whiteyball,” featuring speed, fielding, relief pitching and fundamentals

Fan of The Man

Ditka was named Michael Dyczko when he was born Oct. 18, 1939, in Carnegie, Pa. The surname was changed to Ditka during his childhood because it was easier to pronounce.

As a youth in Aliquippa, Pa., where the family moved in the 1940s, Ditka became a Cardinals baseball fan because their best player, Stan Musial, also was from western Pennsylvania.

“I’ve been a St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan since I was a kid, basically because of one man, and that was The Man: Stan Musial,” Ditka told the Chicago Tribune in 1988. “Musial was from Donora, Pa., and I was from just outside of Pittsburgh. In the bottom of my heart, I’m still a Cardinals fan. I have to root for the Cubs every once in a while.”

At Aliquippa High School, Ditka played football, baseball and basketball and was coached by Press Maravich, the father of future college and NBA standout “Pistol” Pete Maravich.

Though Ditka was a catcher and outfielder for the high school baseball team, and later for the University of Pittsburgh, he knew his future was in football. “My fondest memories of baseball were playing in Little League and then in Pony League and then American Legion, because we competed pretty good in the state of Pennsylvania,” Ditka said.

After excelling as a receiver and punter for the University of Pittsburgh football Panthers from 1958-60, Ditka went on to become a top tight end in the NFL with the Bears (1961-66), Eagles (1967-68) and Cowboys (1969-72). He was inducted as a player into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1968 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.

Ditka was head coach of the Bears (1982-92) and Saints (1997-99).

“We always enjoyed playing the Cardinals in football,” Ditka said. “St. Louis went through a great era of football down here when Don Coryell was here and Jim Hart and Dan Dierdorf … They were about as good a team as there is in the Eastern Division.”

That’s entertainment

When Ditka got to the Cardinals baseball clubhouse to meet Herzog before the game with the Dodgers, he was issued a uniform with No. 89. That was his uniform number during his NFL playing days.

“Ditka and Herzog appeared to enjoy each other’s company,” columnist Kevin Horrigan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch observed, but both “appeared to be just the least bit embarrassed by what their business partners had gotten them into.”

The Cardinals had lost 10 of their previous 11 games, prompting Herzog to tell Ditka, “Let’s don’t joke around with this too much. Bad as we’re going it doesn’t pay to joke too much.”

Ditka stood 6 feet 3 and weighed 230 pounds, and when Herzog saw him in a size 48 Cardinals jersey, he called Tom Brunansky to come over and said to the strapping right fielder, “He’s going to take batting practice. If he hits one out, I may have to move you out of cleanup.”

Replied Brunansky: “He can have right field as far as I’m concerned. Anything for some run support.”

Brunansky, acquired by the Cardinals from the Twins three months earlier, went to his locker and came back wearing a Minnesota Vikings football T-shirt. “What do you think of this?” he said playfully to Ditka.

Hit and miss

In the batting cage, Ditka, 48, hit “a couple of soft-liners, a couple of semi-loud fouls,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Ditka hit “one drive to the warning track after several swings and misses.”

“He’s got a short stroke,” said Herzog. “He’s got potential.”

Ditka gave Cardinals players Bear caps to wear during batting practice. “You know what?” said Herzog. “We hit better with them Bears caps on.”

Wearing his Cardinals uniform with the name Ditka on the back, the Bears coach joined Dodgers coach Bill Russell in presenting team lineup cards at home plate to umpires Tom Hallion, Joe West, Bob Engel and Charlie Williams.

The Cardinals went on to beat the Dodgers, 3-2, that night. Brunansky, batting cleanup, contributed a single, a walk, a stolen base and scored a run. Boxscore

Three days later, Ditka was back with the Bears for the opening day of training camp in Wisconsin.

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Chuck Stobbs was a left-hander who made his major-league debut at age 18, pitched for three American League franchises, yielded an epic home run to Mickey Mantle, experienced a streak of 16 consecutive losses and was given a chance to extend his career with the Cardinals.

On July 9, 1958, Stobbs, 29, was claimed by the Cardinals from the Senators for the waiver price of $20,000.

The Cardinals utilized Stobbs as a reliever the remainder of the season before they released him. He returned to the Senators, reviving his career after discovering and correcting an eye problem.

Young pro

Stobbs was a standout athlete at Granby High School in Norfolk, Va., and was recruited by several college football programs. He chose to pursue a professional baseball career and was signed in May 1947 by Red Sox scout Specs Toporcer, a former Cardinals infielder.

Stobbs was 18 when he made his major-league debut with the Red Sox in a relief role on Sept. 15, 1947, against the White Sox. He became a starter in 1949 and had one of his best seasons in 1950, posting a 12-7 record.

After the 1951 season, the Red Sox traded Stobbs to the White Sox and he spent one season with them before he was dealt to the Senators in December 1952.

“Stobbs suffers from asthma and the changeable spring weather makes him weak,” columnist Bob Addie reported in The Sporting News. “Once the weather gets hot and dry, Chuck feels human again and becomes a better pitcher.”

Stobbs made his first regular-season appearance for the Senators on April 17, 1953, in a start against the Yankees at Griffith Stadium in Washington and it was memorable. In the fifth inning, Mantle hit a pitch from Stobbs out of the ballpark, a home run estimated to have traveled more than 500 feet and the only ball to clear the left field bleachers at Griffith Stadium. Boxscore

In 1956, Stobbs was 15-15 for the Senators, but lost his last five decisions. The losing streak stretched to 16 when Stobbs lost his first 11 decisions in 1957.

Stobbs was 8-20 with a 5.36 ERA for the Senators in 1957 and 2-6 with a 6.04 ERA for them in 1958 when he was placed on waivers and claimed by the Cardinals.

Seeking relief

Cardinals manager Fred Hutchinson had pitched and managed in the American League for the Tigers, was familiar with Stobbs and thought the breaking-ball specialist could help in the bullpen.

“I suppose I’ll be called in to pitch to Duke Snider, Eddie Mathews and some of those other sluggers,” Stobbs said. “Maybe I’ll get past them by walking them.”

Stobbs disliked airplane travel and was dismayed to learn the Cardinals took flights on longer road trips. “I didn’t know the train was so obsolete,” Stobbs said. “I thought I was in baseball, but it seems somewhere along the way I joined the Air Force.”

Stobbs made his Cardinals debut on July 13 against the Pirates at St. Louis. Entering the game in the fifth inning with a 6-5 lead, he yielded a two-run home run to Bill Mazeroski and took the loss. Boxscore

On July 16, in a four-inning relief stint against the Braves at St. Louis, Stobbs gave up back-to-back home runs to Mathews and Hank Aaron and took another loss. Boxscore

A week later, on July 23 at Milwaukee, Stobbs relieved starter Larry Jackson and shut out the Braves for six innings. Boxscore

When the Cardinals fell into an eight-game losing streak from July 27 to Aug. 3, Stobbs offered to contribute the rabbits feet and other good-luck charms fans sent him when he experienced his 16-game skid with the Senators. “The charms apparently are easier to find than prospects from Redbird farms who can help right away,” wrote Neal Russo of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Stobbs lost his first three decisions with the Cardinals before earning his lone win on Aug. 6 with five scoreless relief innings against the Giants at St. Louis. Stobbs also walked, scored a run and executed a sacrifice bunt. Boxscore

On Sept. 9, Stobbs earned a save against the Cubs at St. Louis, entering with two on, two outs and an 8-7 lead in the ninth and retiring Walt Moryn on a fly out. Boxscore

Stobbs finished with a 1-3 record, a save and a 3.63 ERA in 17 relief appearances for the 1958 Cardinals. Left-handed batters hit .300 (15-for-50) against him.

Eye opener

Described by The Sporting News as a “carefree bachelor,” Stobbs got married in November 1958 and was preparing to report to spring training before the Cardinals released him in January 1959.

Stobbs was home in Washington, D.C., when he went to renew his driver’s license and nearly flunked the eye test. He saw an optometrist and learned he had weak vision in his right eye. The eye problem “seriously affected his depth perception and could easily account for his increasing inability in recent years to find home plate with his pitches,” Shirley Povich reported in The Sporting News.

After being fitted for glasses, Stobbs met with Calvin Griffith and convinced the Senators owner to give him a chance to compete for a job in spring training. Able to hit his spots with his improved vision, Stobbs had a string of 16 scoreless innings in 1959 spring training games and opened the regular season as a Senators reliever.

Stobbs was 1-8 with seven saves and a 2.98 ERA for the 1959 Senators. In 1960, Stobbs had one of his best Senators seasons, finishing 12-7 with a 3.32 ERA.

When the Senators relocated to Minnesota and became the Twins in 1961, Stobbs went with them and pitched his final season there. In 15 years in the majors, Stobbs was 107-130 with a 4.29 ERA.

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Seeking a return to professional baseball after a stint in a hospital rehabilitation facility to treat his depression, Jimmy Piersall was given a chance to manage a group of players in the Cardinals’ organization.

The man who hired Piersall to manage the Orangeburg (S.C.) Cardinals in 1973 didn’t know the former big-league outfielder was being treated for a mental health issue at that time, though Piersall’s history certainly was no secret. In 1952, while playing for the Red Sox, Piersall suffered a nervous breakdown. He wrote a book, “Fear Strikes Out,” about that experience and Hollywood made it into a film, starring Anthony Perkins.

Piersall played 17 years in the major leagues, twice won a Gold Glove Award and was notorious for his on-field antics and feuds with umpires.

He never managed a team until getting the chance with the Cardinals prospects.

It would be his only season as a manager.

Road to recovery

In 1972, Piersall worked for the Athletics in group ticket sales and promotions. The 1972 Athletics won the World Series championship and Piersall earned a ring, but he clashed with club owner Charlie Finley. Piersall also disclosed in his second book, “The Truth Hurts,” he was having marital problems at the time.

“So between my wife and the Finley situation, it really hit me, and I got very depressed, into crying and all that, and I went to see a psychiatrist,” Piersall said.

Piersall was admitted to a rehabilitation center at a hospital in Roanoke, Va., and stayed for about a month. “Finally I got back in shape,” Piersall said. “I felt strong and the attitude was good again.”

As his stay at the treatment center neared its end, Piersall said, he got a call from a friend, Red Dwyer, who was president and general manager of the Orangeburg Cardinals, a fledgling franchise in the Class A Western Carolinas League.

Dwyer, who asked Piersall to manage the club, “didn’t know I was in the rehab center,” Piersall said. “He just thought I was in the hospital for some minor thing.”

Piersall, 43, accepted the offer and on March 13, 1973 _ a month before the season opener _ he was named manager.

Bad behavior

Orangeburg hadn’t had a minor-league team since 1908. The 1973 Orangeburg Cardinals were not officially affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals. The club was a co-op, meaning its roster was composed of players from several big-league organizations. St. Louis, though, supplied the majority of players.

“By the time I linked up with the Orangeburg team, spring training was already over,” Piersall said. “When I got a look at the team, I knew I had a bunch of guys who just weren’t good enough to be professional baseball players … Most of them were getting their last shot at the game.”

On the eve of the opener, Piersall told the Orangeburg Times-Democrat, “I know that I’m going to have to conduct myself properly and make the right decisions.”

Naturally, Piersall got involved in several scrapes with umpires. In June, he was suspended for two games by the league after he reportedly pushed umpire Bob Nelson, causing him to fall backwards.

Soon after his return, police were called to escort Piersall from the ballpark when he continued to argue with umpires after a game.

“When he gets vehemently loud, he detracts from the concentration of his own players, the guys on the other teams and from the umpires,” said umpire Dave Slickenmyer.

Said Piersall: “What I try to do is fight for my players. I don’t look to get into a show with a hundred people in the stands.”

Handle with care

Piersall took seriously the responsibilities of working with his players and managing games.

“The kids make mistakes _ chiefly in fundamentals _ but they are sharp, have ability and want to learn,” Piersall told the Associated Press.

Piersall said he was learning “how to cope with young people without blowing my top. It’s something I have learned day by day. I keep notes during games to point out to the kids in practice the next day mistakes they have made. With no coaches to help, it’s hard giving instruction.”

The best prospect on the club was 18-year-old outfielder Tito Landrum. “He has all the tools to become a big leaguer,” Piersall said. “He has a lot to learn, but his attitude is good, he has a great arm and speed.”

Landrum told the Times-Democrat how Piersall helped him become a better hitter by having him place more weight on his front foot and less on his back foot.

(Landrum batted .279 in 70 games for Orangeburg. He would be the only member of the Orangeburg Cardinals to play in the major leagues. He spent nine seasons in the majors _ eight with St. Louis _ and played in two World Series.)

Three other players of note on the Orangeburg roster:

_ Dave Bialas, who would become a manager in the Cardinals’ farm system.

_ Rob Sievers, son of former big-league slugger Roy Sievers.

_ Randy Poffo, who would become the professional wrestler known as Macho Man Savage.

One and done

National media _ including the Washington Post and Heywood Hale Broun of CBS News _ came to Orangeburg to do stories on Piersall.

In August, Piersall experienced chest pains, was taken to a hospital and was diagnosed with bronchitis, Dwyer said, before returning to the team. (Two years later, Piersall was found to have blocked arteries and underwent heart surgery.)

Orangeburg finished in last place with a 50-72 record.

In 1974, Orangeburg became an affiliate of the Dodgers and Bart Shirley, a former major-league infielder, was named manager. Among the prospects on the 1974 Orangeburg Dodgers were Pedro Guerrero and Jeffrey Leonard.

With no other offers to manage, Piersall contacted his friend, Billy Martin, who’d replaced Whitey Herzog as Rangers manager, and Martin helped Piersall get a job in group ticket sales and promotions with the 1974 Rangers.

Previously: Jimmy Piersall and his NL debut against Cardinals

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Club owner Sam Breadon wasn’t satisfied with Bob O’Farrell managing the Cardinals to a 92-win season. Breadon wanted O’Farrell to perform at the level of a most valuable player, too.

On Nov. 7, 1927, Breadon changed managers, replacing O’Farrell with coach Bill McKechnie, even though in his first season as player-manager, O’Farrell, a catcher, led the 1927 Cardinals to a 92-61 record and second place in the National League, 1.5 games behind the Pirates.

The 1927 club was the franchise’s first to achieve more than 90 wins in a season since the Cardinals joined the National League in 1892.

The year before, the 1926 Cardinals, with Rogers Hornsby as player-manager, finished in first place with 89 wins and defeated the Yankees in a seven-game World Series. O’Farrell’s play was significant in the success of the 1926 Cardinals. Solid on defense, he worked well with the pitching staff and batted .293 with 30 doubles and 68 RBI. O’Farrell was named winner of the 1926 NL Most Valuable Player Award.

In 1927, O’Farrell batted .264 with 10 doubles and 18 RBI. Though O’Farrell was slowed by injuries, Breadon concluded the catcher’s play was impacted negatively by the responsibilities of managing. With McKechnie, the former Pirates manager who led Pittsburgh to the 1925 NL pennant, on the coaching staff, Breadon opted to return O’Farrell to the status of fulltime player and promote McKechnie.

Who’s boss?

O’Farrell had done Breadon a big favor by agreeing to become player-manager in 1927.

After the Cardinals won their first World Series title in 1926, Hornsby demanded a three-year contract. Breadon offered a one-year deal. Unable to reach agreement, Breadon traded Hornsby to the Giants for Frankie Frisch, sparking a public outcry.

Attempting to quell the backlash, Breadon turned to O’Farrell, who was popular with the fan base.

Breadon wanted McKechnie, fired by the Pirates, to manage the 1927 Cardinals, but that wasn’t likely to appease the critics. Breadon got the next-best arrangement when McKechnie agreed to be a coach and serve as O’Farrell’s assistant.

“O’Farrell never was considered an outstanding candidate for a managerial job,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch declared, “and he was named as Hornsby’s successor chiefly because of his having been honored as the league’s most valuable player.”

At 1927 spring training, O’Farrell injured his right shoulder in an exhibition game. “The injury handicapped him most of the year,” the Post-Dispatch reported. Late in the season, O’Farrell also dislocated a thumb.

O’Farrell was limited to playing in 61 games and making 51 starts at catcher. He split playing time with Frank Snyder (55 starts) and Johnny Schulte (46 starts).

According to a biography of McKechnie by the Society for American Baseball Research, O’Farrell didn’t want to be manager and “he leaned heavily on McKechnie, occasionally calling time in mid-inning to go to the bench and consult his assistant.”

The Post-Dispatch suggested fans were aware McKechnie was calling the shots “under the disguise of a coach.”

James Gould, columnist for the St. Louis Star-Times, credited McKechnie with having “a quiet, suave handling, and a calm, collected policy.”

The Cardinals were in the 1927 pennant race until the end. They would have repeated as league champions if they’d done better against the Pirates. The Cardinals were 8-14 against Pittsburgh and 84-47 versus the rest of the National League.

Assessing value

Breadon and his top baseball executive, Branch Rickey, were impressed by McKechnie, especially with how he related to prospects.

Breadon met with O’Farrell after the 1927 season and informed him of his intention to make McKechnie the manager. O’Farrell “seemed to be willing and ready to slip out from under the tasks of a manager and devote all his time to playing,” The Sporting News claimed.

In the Star-Times, Gould surmised, “We cannot picture Bob O’Farrell as terribly unhappy over the change in his status.”

To lessen the sting of the demotion _ and perhaps to soothe his own conscious _ Breadon increased O’Farrell’s pay by $5,000, giving him a salary in excess of $20,000 and making him the highest-paid catcher in baseball, according to the Post-Dispatch.

While acknowledging the injuries O’Farrell suffered in 1927 _ “Had he escaped injuries, I believe we would have won the pennant,” Breadon said _ the owner insisted the manager job largely was responsible for the drop in the catcher’s performance.

“I believe that, with O’Farrell free to devote all his time to catching, his arm will come back and he once more will be the outstanding catcher in baseball,” Breadon said. “… I believe O’Farrell will be of more value to us as a catcher without the worries of management.”

Sent packing

McKechnie said he consulted with O’Farrell before agreeing to replace him. “I never would have accepted the managership of the Cardinals had not Bob O’Farrell decided it best for himself to step out and confine his efforts to catching in 1928,” McKechnie said.

McKechnie had a splendid season in 1928; O’Farrell did not.

The Cardinals finished in first place at 95-59, two games ahead of the Giants.

O’Farrell hit .212 in 16 games before he was traded to the Giants on May 10, 1928, for outfielder George Harper.

Jimmie Wilson, acquired from the Phillies, replaced O’Farrell as Cardinals catcher.

O’Farrell, who began his major-league career in 1915, played until 1935, including stints with the Cardinals in 1933 and 1935. He was player-manager of the Reds for part of the 1934 season.

After the Cardinals were swept by the Yankees in the 1928 World Series, Breadon demoted McKechnie to a position in the minor leagues and replaced him with Billy Southworth. When Southworth proved unprepared for the job, Breadon brought back McKechnie during the 1929 season.

Breadon asked McKechnie to stay as manager in 1930, but McKechnie instead accepted an offer to manage the Braves. He later became Reds manager and led them to two pennants and a World Series title.

McKechnie, who won pennants as manager of the Pirates, Cardinals and Reds, was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Previously: How Bob O’Farrell went from NL MVP to manager

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Though given an offer he called the best he’d ever received, Gene Mauch rejected a chance to manage the Cardinals.

In August 1980, when Whitey Herzog was promoted from manager to general manager of the Cardinals, Mauch was Herzog’s choice to replace him.

If Mauch had accepted the offer, he might have earned the prize that eluded him.

Mauch, who would manage for 26 years in the major leagues, never led a team to a league pennant or World Series championship. Two years after Mauch turned down the Cardinals, Herzog managed the team to the 1982 National League title and World Series crown.

Whether the Cardinals would have achieved the same with Mauch as their manager is conjecture, but it is a fact Herzog wanted to give him the opportunity.

Wanted: Type A

In June 1980, with the Cardinals’ record at 18-33, manager Ken Boyer was fired and replaced by Herzog. Two months later, Cardinals general manager John Claiborne was fired and replaced by Herzog. Red Schoendienst, Cardinals coach and former manager, was named interim manager for the remainder of the season.

Cardinals owner Gussie Busch elevated Herzog to the general manager role because he believed a roster overall was needed to make the club a contender and he wanted Herzog to oversee the rebuilding job.

One of Herzog’s first tasks was to find a manager.

“The players are too passive … I want the players to be more aggressive,” Herzog said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “One quality I’ll be looking for in a manager is someone who is aggressive himself.”

The first candidate Herzog contacted was Mauch. “I do know he’s a fine manager _ I managed against him _ and he has a great baseball mind,” Herzog said.

Mauch, 54, was available because he had resigned as Twins manager in August 1980.

After Mauch joined the Twins in 1976, the organization severed ties with several of their best players through trades (Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven) or free agency (Larry Hisle, Bill Campbell). Mauch led the Twins to winning records in three of his first four seasons, but they had a 54-71 mark in 1980 when he chose to leave rather than return for the final year on his contract.

“I’ve had some bad teams _ teams that were bad enough to gag a maggot _ but even those teams were able to steal some games by executing,” Mauch told The Sporting News. “This season, we have lost because of a failure to execute.”

Mauch, an infielder, played nine seasons in the big leagues, including seven games with the 1952 Cardinals.

At 34, he was named manager of the Phillies in 1960. Four years later, Mauch had the Phillies in first place _ a 6.5-game lead with 12 to play _ but the team lost 10 in a row and finished a game behind the champion Cardinals.

Mauch managed the Phillies for nine years (1960-68), the Expos for seven (1969-75) and the Twins for five (1976-80).

He and Herzog competed in the same division, the American League West, from 1976-79 when Herzog managed the Royals.

Change of plans

Asked by Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch in September 1980 whether he was interested in becoming Cardinals manager, Mauch replied, “Let me say this: If I take another managing job, it will have to be with a team which has a chance to win. I think the Cardinals have a chance to win.”

Hummel concluded, “Mauch … would be Herzog’s type of manager. The Cardinals are in need of a demanding, tough-guy sort of leader.”

By early October, just before the 1980 regular season ended, Herzog’s top two choices for the managerial job became clear:  Mauch and Dick Williams.

Williams, manager of the Expos, was under contract to them for 1981, but there had been published speculation the club could be considering a change. Williams was a St. Louis native and, like Mauch, an experienced manager with a no-nonsense approach. He had managed the 1967 Red Sox to an AL pennant and he had led the Athletics to World Series championships in 1972 and 1973.

When it became evident Williams would stay with the Expos, Herzog offered the job to Mauch.

“It is no secret that Mauch was Herzog’s first choice for the job,” Hummel wrote in the Post-Dispatch.

Unsure he was ready to manage again, Mauch declined.

Recalled Herzog: “He said, ‘I don’t want you to hold off on me. It’s probably the best offer I’ve ever had, but I just don’t feel like I want to do it.’ ”

Herzog also confirmed to Larry Harnly of The State Journal-Register of Springfield, Ill., that Mauch had turned down the Cardinals’ offer.

With Mauch and Williams unavailable, Herzog decided to hire himself.

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.

(Herzog’s first choice for the assistant’s role had been Bing Devine, who had served two stints as Cardinals general manager, but Lou Susman, attorney for club owner Gussie Busch, opposed the move and blocked it, according to Hummel in the Post-Dispatch.)

Four months later, in February 1981, Mauch was named director of player personnel for the Angels.

“I had offers to manage four clubs this winter,” Mauch said. “If I wanted to manage, I’d be in one of those places. Right now, I don’t want to manage.”

In May 1981, the Angels fired manager Jim Fregosi _ and replaced him with Mauch.

Previously: Battle of wills: Bob Gibson, Gene Mauch play hardball

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Though the Cardinals were cash poor and never had won a National League pennant, their outlook was hopeful in 1917 because the top two leaders of their baseball operations, Branch Rickey and Miller Huggins, were among the best in the business.

Rickey, the Cardinals’ president, and Huggins, their manager, were smart, innovative and effective. Both would build careers that would earn them election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

They worked together, however, for just one season in St. Louis.

Rickey and the Cardinals wanted Huggins to stay. Rickey, however, was the decision-maker on all key baseball matters _ a role Huggins wanted. Huggins also felt he had been misled when denied the chance to become part of the ownership group.

On Oct. 25, 1917, Huggins left the Cardinals to become manager of the Yankees. With a lineup anchored by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, Huggins managed the Yankees to six American League pennants and three World Series titles.

Rickey went on to build the first minor-league system, establishing a steady supply of affordable talent that transformed the Cardinals from a lackluster franchise into an elite one.

Front-office intrigue

Huggins, who, like Rickey, earned a law degree, played in the major leagues as a second baseman for the Reds (1904-09) and Cardinals (1910-16).

A favorite of team owner Helene Britton, Huggins became the Cardinals’ player-manager in 1913. In that role, Huggins made all the important baseball decisions, including acquisition of players. His friend and most trusted scout, St. Louis native Bob Connery, discovered the future Hall of Famer, Rogers Hornsby, and brought him to the Cardinals.

After the 1916 season, Britton decided to sell and she promised Huggins he would have first chance to buy the franchise. Huggins was friends with the owners of the Fleischmann’s Yeast company of Cincinnati and they planned to bankroll his bid to purchase the Cardinals.

When Britton’s attorney, James C. Jones, learned of his client’s intentions, he organized a St. Louis group of investors, who included auto dealer Sam Breadon, and convinced her to sell the Cardinals to them. Jones was named chairman of the club. Needing someone to run the baseball side of the business, the group hired Rickey from the crosstown American League Browns and named him president.

For Huggins, the new management structure “placed over him a man who did all the club’s business of finding and hiring players and left Huggins nothing to do but to direct them. Furthermore, with Rickey as president, getting a $15,000 salary, or twice the sum Huggins received, friction was inevitable,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Though stung by the sale of the team and by the emergence of Rickey as baseball boss, Huggins managed the Cardinals to an 82-70 record and third-place finish in 1917. Those were the most wins in a season for the franchise since 1899 and just the second time the club finished as high as third place since joining the National League.

“The fact that he had suffered a bitter disappointment in not being given a chance to buy the club himself _ a chance promised him by Mrs. Britton _ did not interfere with his services” to the 1917 Cardinals, the Post-Dispatch proclaimed.

Bidding game

After the 1917 season, Rickey offered Huggins a salary of $10,000, plus 10 percent of all club profits over $25,000, to remain Cardinals manager in 1918, the Post-Dispatch reported

Huggins. who made a counter offer, told the St. Louis Star-Times that Rickey “failed to meet my terms.”

Rickey said Huggins “seemed to agree with me that the percentage above $25,000 was fair in these days of inflated baseball salaries, but managers, like players, are seeking more money every day. I felt that in justice to my board of directors that I could offer Huggins no greater percentage of the club’s profits.”

Huggins accepted a Yankees offer of a two-year contract at $12,000 per year. According to a report in the Post-Dispatch, the Yankees also agreed to pay Huggins “a small percentage of the profits of the club.”

Noting that Huggins “has put up with a world of inconveniences and misfits” as Cardinals manager, the Star-Times opined, “Huggins has made a great leader for the Cardinals and has been very much unappreciated … There is no doubt that Huggins is one of the smartest fish in baseball. The wisest men on the diamond will tell you that.”

Right move

Huggins replaced Bill Donovan, who had managed the Yankees to a 71-82 record in 1917. The Yankees had losing records in two of Donovan’s three seasons as manager.

“I had no quarrel with the St. Louis club and I’m leaving the Cardinals under the most friendly circumstances and with the best of wishes for their success,” Huggins said. “The club made me an offer to remain, but I left because I felt that I could do better (in New York). I talked the whole matter over with President Rickey.”

Said Rickey: “I can only say that my best wishes go with Huggins and that he is a great field general _ one of the best I have ever known. We hold no grievance against him.”

The Sporting News concluded, “Rickey understood that it was not entirely a money proposition with Huggins. The opportunity to lead a club in New York, where he would be in supreme charge of the makeup and handling of his team, was bound to appeal to any ambitious baseball man.”

Huggins managed the Yankees for 12 years (1918-29) and had a record of 1,067-719. Including his Cardinals years, Huggins had 1,413 career wins as a big-league manager.

Rickey replaced Huggins with a manager from the minor-league Indianapolis Indians, Jack Hendricks, and it was a disaster. The Cardinals finished 51-78 in 1918. Rickey took over as manager the following year.

Previously: How Branch Rickey escaped Browns, joined Cardinals

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