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Archive for the ‘Opponents’ Category

Ron Fairly tormented Bob Gibson as an opponent and helped him as a teammate.

Fairly died Oct. 30, 2019, at 81. A first baseman and outfielder, Fairly played 21 years (1958-78) in the major leagues, primarily with the Dodgers (1958-69) and Expos (1969-74), and spent two seasons (1975-76) with the Cardinals. He played in four World Series for the Dodgers, including 1965 when he batted . 379 against the Twins.

A left-handed batter with a line drive stroke, Fairly did some of his best work against Gibson, the Cardinals’ ace.

During his Hall of Fame career, Gibson yielded more hits (48) and more doubles (10) to Fairly than he did to any other batter.

In addition to having his career highs in hits and doubles against Gibson, Fairly produced a career-best 24 RBI versus him.

In his 1968 book, “From Ghetto to Glory,” Gibson said, “I don’t have to make a mistake against Fairly. Whatever I throw, he just hits it _ I don’t care what it is _ and always when somebody is on base. The guy is just a pretty good hitter.”

Four decades later, in his book, “Sixty Feet, Six Inches,” Gibson described Fairly as a batter who “would punch the ball over the shortstop’s head and you couldn’t strike him out. I tried to pitch him in, like I did a lot of left-handed hitters, and I didn’t have any luck with that. I’d pitch him away, make a good pitch, and he’d dump it over the shortstop’s head.”

In 1975, Fairly’s first season with the Cardinals and Gibson’s last, Gibson benefitted from Fairly’s formidable hitting.

On July 27, 1975, Fairly had two hits, two walks, one RBI and scored a run in the Cardinals’ 9-6 victory over the Phillies at St. Louis. Gibson got the win, the 251st and last of his career, with four scoreless innings of relief. Boxscore

Fairly talented

Fairly attended the University of Southern California, signed with the Dodgers in June 1958 and made his major-league debut with them three months later at age 20.

He established himself as a smooth fielder at first base and a consistent hitter.

Chicago columnist Jerome Holtzman rated Fairly “the best first baseman I’ve ever seen coming in on a bunt.”

Dodgers manager Walter Alston, in a 1965 interview with Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said he regarded Fairly the best hitter with runners on base of any of the players he’d managed.

For his career, Fairly had 17 home runs and 100 RBI versus the Cardinals. He batted .302 against Gibson, with 48 hits, including four home runs, in 159 at-bats. Fairly’s on-base percentage versus Gibson was .369.

In Gibson’s autobiography, “Stranger to the Game,” Gibson’s friend and teammate Joe Torre said, “Ron Fairly hit Gibby about as well as anybody did.”

On July 15, 1964, Fairly hit two home runs, one against Gibson and the other versus Ray Washburn, in a 13-3 Dodgers victory over the Cardinals at St. Louis. Boxscore

Regarding the Gibson fastball he hit for the home run, Fairly said, “I just got around in front of the pitch and laid the bat on the ball. Gibson supplied the power.”

The next day, Fairly hit a homer against Ray Sadecki. For the three-game series, Fairly had 10 RBI and six hits in 13 at-bats.

A year later, on June 3, 1965, at St. Louis, Fairly hit a two-run home run off Barney Schultz with two outs in the eighth, erasing a 10-9 deficit and lifting the Dodgers to an 11-10 victory. Boxscore

Fairly hit the first walkoff home run of his major-league career on Sept. 25, 1970, for the Expos against the Cardinals in Montreal. With the Cardinals ahead, 5-4, the Expos had two on and two outs in the ninth when Fairly hit an 0-and-2 fastball from rookie Al Hrabosky for a game-winning homer. Boxscore

“I can’t hit a ball any better than that,” Fairly said to the Montreal Gazette.

Proud pro

On Dec. 6, 1974, the Cardinals acquired Fairly from the Expos for a pair of prospects, first baseman Ed Kurpiel and infielder Rudy Kinard. Cardinals general manager Bing Devine projected Fairly to be a pinch-hitter and backup to rookie first baseman Keith Hernandez.

Fairly, 36, told the Sporting News, “I expect to play a lot. I’d like to play every day.”

Hernandez, 21, opened the 1975 season as the starter, struggled and was sent to the minors in June.

Fairly, getting starts at first base and in the corner outfield spots, became a valuable player for the 1975 Cardinals. He hit .301 and had an on-base percentage of .421. He also hit .343 as a pinch-hitter. On July 8, 1975, at St. Louis, Fairly hit a grand slam against Pete Falcone of the Giants. Boxscore

“I don’t fool around in batting practice,” Fairly said. “I try to hit with game situations in mind. Too many players fool around too much in batting practice and that gets them in bad habits.”

Fairly shared his knowledge with Cardinals teammates. According to The Sporting News, catcher Ted Simmons, “regarded by many as the purest hitter now active in the game,” listened to the advice Fairly gave him on hitting.

Hernandez returned to the Cardinals in September 1975 and regained his starting job. In his memoir, “I’m Keith Hernandez,” Hernandez said Fairly “took the time to show me how to better break in a first baseman’s mitt and how to cheat a little bit on a close putout at first.”

“You’re moving forward to get the ball with the glove, extending your body, and your foot comes off the bag just before the ball arrives,” Fairly told Hernandez. “Don’t rush it, or the ump will catch you pulling your foot.”

In his book, Hernandez said, “I worked on it every day during infield until I had it, and took Ron’s sly little move with me for the rest of my career.”

Watching Fairly’s impact on the Cardinals, Expos owner Charles Bronfman admitted, “That Fairly deal was very unfortunate. I think Ron fooled a lot of us by playing a lot better than we expected.”

The next season, Fairly hit .264 and had an on-base percentage of .385 for the Cardinals before they sold his contract to the Athletics on Sept. 14, 1976. He batted .364 with runners in scoring position for the 1976 Cardinals.

Overall, in his two St. Louis seasons, Fairly batted .289 with a .409 on-base percentage.

He went on to play for the Athletics, Blue Jays and Angels, finishing his career with 1,913 hits.

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Jackie Hernandez experienced one of his most joyful moments in baseball after one of his most frustrating performances.

Hernandez died Oct. 12, 2019, at 79. Born in Cuba, he was a shortstop in the major leagues for nine seasons with the Angels (1965-66), Twins (1967-68), Royals (1969-70) and Pirates (1971-73).

Hernandez had his most memorable season in 1971 when the Pirates won the World Series championship. He opened the season as the starting shortstop because incumbent Gene Alley was sidelined with a broken hand. Late in the season, Alley had a bad knee and Hernandez was the primary shortstop in the pennant stretch and in the postseason.

PIrates manager Danny Murtaugh “isn’t looking for base hits from Hernandez,” The Sporting News reported. “The manager wants steady shortstop play.”

On Sept. 22, 1971, at St. Louis, Hernandez struck out four times against Bob Gibson, but the Pirates beat the Cardinals, 5-1, and clinched the National League East Division title.

Hernandez contributed with his fielding, helping the Pirates turn three double plays.

As the Pirates celebrated inside the clubhouse at Busch Memorial Stadium, Hernandez smiled as he wiped champagne off his spikes. He never had been on a club that qualified for the postseason.

“For the first time in my life, I struck out four times and it didn’t bother me,” Hernandez said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I don’t care if I get a hit, or if I get on base. Just so we win the game. That’s all I cared about.” Boxscore

Hernandez started six of the seven games in the 1971 World Series against the Orioles and committed no errors in 53.2 innings at shortstop.

In the ninth inning of Game 7, with the Pirates clinging to a 2-1 lead at Baltimore, Hernandez cleanly handled the last two outs.

After Frank Robinson popped out to Hernandez for the second out in the ninth, Merv Rettenmund hit one on the ground. “The ball skipped up the middle and a foot or so to the right of second base,” The Sporting News reported. “Base hit? No chance. Hernandez was playing almost behind second. It wasn’t a routine play, but he was there in plenty of time to grab the ball and fire to first baseman Bob Robertson for the clinching out.” Boxscore

Hernandez hit .208 in his major-league career, including .205 versus the Cardinals.

One of his most productive games with the bat occurred against the Cardinals on May 17, 1972, at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. Hernandez, batting eighth in the order, was 3-for-4 with three RBI in a 12-0 Pirates victory.

He entered the game with a season batting average of .167 and no RBI.

Hernandez broke the game open in the fourth inning. The Pirates led, 3-0, when Hernandez batted against Cardinals starter Reggie Cleveland with one out and the bases loaded. Hernandez hit a single to left, driving in two and giving the Pirates a 5-0 lead.

In the fifth, the Pirates scored three times against Joe Grzenda, extending their lead to 9-0. Hernandez scored Richie Hebner from third with a two-out single.

Hernandez also had a double to left in the seventh against Lance Clemons. Boxscore

 

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On a rainy St. Louis Sunday in 1961, the Cubs became convinced the Cardinals had someone inside the Busch Stadium scoreboard who was stealing the signs of catcher Sammy Taylor.

On May 7, 1961, the Cubs and Cardinals were scheduled to play a Sunday doubleheader at St. Louis. The starting pitchers in Game 1 were Don Cardwell for the Cubs and Ernie Broglio for the Cardinals. Caldwell, who brought a 3-0 season record into the game, had pitched a no-hitter against the Cardinals the year before.

Detective work

In the doubleheader opener, the Cubs scored twice in the first inning and the Cardinals got a run in the bottom half on Ken Boyer’s sacrifice fly.

In the second, the Cardinals battered Caldwell, scoring three runs on four hits. Carl Sawatski, batting eighth in the order, drove in a run with a single and Julian Javier knocked in two with a double. The damage could have been worse if the Cardinals hadn’t had a runner thrown out at the plate.

Cubs manager Harry Craft concluded batters knew what pitches were coming and suspected it was because the Cardinals were stealing the signs Taylor gave Caldwell.

Craft said he “became suspicious when Cardinals hitters in the lower end of the batting order were hitting pitches they ordinarily wouldn’t be able to handle,” The Sporting News reported.

According to Chicago reporter Jerome Holtzman, Craft and Cubs players “discovered someone from inside the Cardinals’ left-field scoreboard was signaling on every pitch.”

“It was very simple,” Craft said. “Someone just lifted what looked like a white tile into one of the scoreboard openings every time Caldwell was going to throw a curve. When he would throw a fastball, they would just leave the opening black.”

The switcheroo

Craft and Caldwell came up with a plan to cross up the Cardinals.

Craft told Taylor to give the sign for a curve, but to expect Caldwell to throw a fastball.

When Boyer came to the plate to lead off the third for the Cardinals, Taylor gave Caldwell the sign for a curve. Boyer leaned “way over the plate,” Craft told The Sporting News, in anticipation of a breaking ball.

Instead, Caldwell buzzed a fastball near Boyer’s chin and the pitch nearly hit him.

For the remainder of the game, the Sporting News reported, “there was no more signaling from the scoreboard.”

Caldwell held the Cardinals scoreless for the next three innings. The game was called after five innings because of rain and the Cardinals, on the strength of those early runs, won, 4-2. Boxscore

Cardinals nemesis

Two years earlier, in 1959, Taylor was a principal figure in another Cubs-Cardinals controversy when two balls simultaneously were put into play during a game at Wrigley Field.

Taylor, a left-handed batter, also had one of his best career hitting performances against the Cardinals.

In a three-game series at Wrigley Field, June 30-July 2, 1961, Taylor was 8-for-13 with three doubles, two home runs and four RBI. The home runs were hit against Lindy McDaniel. Boxscore

Taylor raised his season batting average from .244 to .295 during the series.

He hit .351 (13-for-37) against the Cardinals in 1961, but overall for the season his batting average was .238.

In 1962, when Taylor was with the Mets, he hit a home run in each game of a July 7 doubleheader versus the Cardinals at the Polo Grounds in New York. Taylor hit a home run off Larry Jackson in Game 1 Boxscore and another against Ray Washburn in Game 2. Boxscore

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The Cardinals never envisioned Dave Giusti to be a closer and neither did the Pirates. When Giusti transformed into one of the National League’s best saves specialists, he helped the Pirates become an East Division power.

Fifty years ago, on Oct. 21, 1969, the Cardinals traded Giusti and catcher Dave Ricketts to the Pirates for outfielders Carl Taylor and Frank Vanzin.

Giusti, a right-hander, wanted to remain a starting pitcher and the Cardinals didn’t see a spot for him in their projected rotation in 1970.

The Pirates figured Giusti to be a spot starter and middle-inning reliever.

Giusti became the Pirates’ closer only because they had no one else available after their other options faltered.

His emergence as a stopper gave the Pirates an advantage over the Cardinals. The Pirates finished in first place in the East Division five times in a six-year stretch from 1970-75. The Cardinals, who struggled for bullpen help while trading pitchers who became quality closers, failed to win a title in that period.

Wanted man

After winning their second consecutive pennant in 1968, the Cardinals sought to acquire Giusti from the Astros to join a starting rotation of Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Nelson Briles and Ray Washburn. Giusti achieved a double-digit win total for the Astros each season from 1966-68.

On Oct. 11, 1968, the Cardinals got Giusti and catcher Dave Adlesh from the Astros for catchers Johnny Edwards and Tommy Smith, but three days later the Padres selected Giusti in the National League expansion draft.

Cardinals general manager Bing Devine was willing to try again. On Dec. 3, 1968, the Cardinals acquired Giusti from the Padres for infielder Ed Spiezio, outfielder Ron Davis, catcher Danny Breeden and pitcher Philip Knuckles.

Initially, the move paid dividends. Giusti won two of his first three starts for the 1969 Cardinals, but in May he injured his back and spent a month on the disabled list. When he returned, he struggled and was moved into a long-inning relief role. Giusti finished the 1969 season with a 3-7 record and 3.61 ERA.

The Cardinals in 1970 planned to have a starting rotation of Gibson, Carlton, Briles, Mike Torrez and Jerry Reuss. In need of a hitter to improve their bench strength, the Cardinals dangled Giusti in trade talks.

Supply and demand

Devine was confident the Cardinals made a good deal in acquiring Taylor for Giusti. A right-handed batter and the step-brother of Orioles slugger Boog Powell, Taylor hit .348 in 221 at-bats for the 1969 Pirates. He had a .415 batting average (17-for-41) as a pinch-hitter. After Taylor accused Pirates management of keeping him on the bench because of “politics,” teammates nicknamed him “Senator.”

The Tigers offered pitcher Joe Sparma for Taylor, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, but the Pirates preferred Giusti after getting a recommendation from their best player, Roberto Clemente. “He always had good stuff and he is a tough competitor,” Clemente said.

Pirates general manager Joe Brown told The Sporting News, “He can start and relieve. This was a big factor in making the trade.”

The Pirates projected their 1970 starting pitchers to be Steve Blass, Bob Moose, Dock Ellis, Bob Veale and Luke Walker, but Giusti said, “I want to be in the starting rotation. I think I can be a better pitcher if I’m used in rotation.”

Surprising development

Giusti, 30, went to spring training, hoping to convince Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh to make him a starter. Instead, he pitched poorly, yielding 12 runs in 15 spring training innings.

“His curveball hangs and his fastball lacks zip,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. “He is not getting the ball down. Most of his pitches, especially his breaking pitches, appear to go to the hitter’s strength, about chest high.”

Giusti told the Pittsburgh Press, “I guess I was pressing. I went down there trying to show the club I could become the fifth starter and, as a result, I wasn’t throwing the ball the way I can.”

The Pirates opened the 1970 season with Giusti as a middle-inning reliever and Chuck Hartenstein as their closer. A slender right-hander, Hartenstein was nicknamed “Twiggy.” He struggled in April, posting a 7.04 ERA in six appearances. Two other closer candidates, Joe Gibbon and Bruce Dal Canton, weren’t the answer, so in desperation Murtaugh turned to Giusti.

Using a palmball, his version of a changeup, Giusti was able to pitch often and well as the closer. By mid-July, he was 8-0 with 14 saves and a 2.37 ERA.

“He’s our bread and butter now,” Murtaugh said.

In June 1970, the Pirates placed Hartenstein on waivers and he was claimed by the Cardinals. A month later, after he posted an 8.77 ERA in six appearances for the Cardinals, Hartenstein was released.

No relief

Giusti finished with a 9-3 record and 26 saves in 1970. The Pirates (89-73) won the division title, five games ahead of the second-place Cubs, and the Cardinals (76-86) came in fourth.

One of the Cardinals’ biggest problems was relief pitching. The staff produced 20 total saves, including eight by team leader Chuck Taylor.

Cardinals management counted on the starters to pitch deep into games and was slow to recognize the growing importance of having a strong bullpen with a dependable closer. The Cardinals weren’t developing top relievers, and they were giving away pitchers, like Giusti, who had the ability to do the job.

In 1970, three of the top closers in the majors were pitchers recently traded by the Cardinals _ Wayne Granger (35 saves) of the Reds, Giusti (26) and Mudcat Grant (24) of the Athletics. The Pirates acquired Grant from Oakland in September 1970 to join Giusti for the pennant push.

Against the Cardinals in 1970, Giusti was 3-0 with a save.

The next season, the Pirates became World Series champions. Giusti produced 30 saves and a 2.93 ERA. His ERA against the Cardinals, who finished as runners-up to the Pirates in the division, was 1.13. The Cardinals’ saves leader in 1971 was Moe Drabowsky, with eight.

Giusti pitched a total of 5.1 scoreless innings in the 1971 World Series against the Orioles and got a save in Game 4.

In seven seasons with the Pirates, Giusti was 47-28 with 133 saves and a 2.94 ERA.

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A pitcher with a losing record and a batter with a bad back provided a winning combination for the St. Louis Browns in their World Series debut.

Seventy-five years ago, on Oct. 4, 1944, Denny Galehouse outdueled Cardinals ace Mort Cooper, and George McQuinn hit a two-run home run, lifting the Browns to a 2-1 victory in Game 1 of the World Series at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis.

The American League champion Browns, appearing in their only World Series, defied convention all season and did so again against the three-time defending National League champion Cardinals.

Browns manager Luke Sewell bypassed his ace, Nelson Potter, and started Galehouse (9-10) against Cooper (22-7). Galehouse was the first pitcher with a losing season record to start Game 1 of a World Series, The Sporting News reported.

McQuinn, the Browns’ first baseman, was another unexpected standout. He suffered from sciatica and needed to be rested for a stretch of games in early September when his chronic back pain became severe, according to United Press.

McQuinn “rarely gets a good night’s rest,” The Sporting News reported. “He has difficulty in sleeping because if he lies for several hours in one position the back becomes pinched and exceedingly painful.”

Given opportunities on baseball’s biggest stage, though, Galehouse and McQuinn delivered grand performances.

Duty calls

Galehouse, a right-hander, pitched for the Indians and Red Sox before being sent to the Browns in December 1940. Like his Browns teammate, outfielder Chet Laabs, Galehouse was too old for military service in World War II but the Army sent him to work in a plant in 1944 when he was 32.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Galehouse was working fulltime at a rubber factory in the Akron-Youngstown region of northeast Ohio in 1944. In May, the Browns arranged for Galehouse to travel by train from Ohio for Sunday games.

Galehouse pitched in three Sunday games in May and three Sunday games in June, losing three decisions, before he got an indefinite leave of absence from the war plant. He became a fulltime member of the Browns’ starting rotation on July 24.

After the Browns clinched the pennant on the last day of the regular season, most expected Sewell to select Potter (19-7) to be the Game 1 World Series starter. Instead, Sewell opted for Galehouse, who in September had a 1.92 ERA in 56.1 innings pitched. Galehouse allowed one earned run in his last three regular-season starts, covering 23 innings.

Sewell hoped his hot starter would win Game 1 and Potter would follow suit in Game 2.

The strategy almost worked.

Great escape

Galehouse got out of an early jam in Game 1 with the help of a questionable decision by Cardinals manager Billy Southworth, who took the bat out of Stan Musial’s hands.

With the game scoreless, Johnny Hopp led off the bottom of the third inning with a single for the Cardinals. Ray Sanders followed with a sinking liner. Right fielder Gene Moore, trying to make a backhand grab, got his glove on the ball, but couldn’t hold it. Hopp, waiting to see whether Moore would catch the ball, advanced only to second on Sanders’ single.

Musial, who batted .347 with 94 RBI during the regular season, stepped to the plate with runners on first and second, none out. After fouling off a pitch from Galehouse, Musial was given the bunt sign. He sacrificed successfully, moving Hopp to third and Sanders to second, but Southworth deprived the Cardinals’ best hitter of a chance to deliver a big blow.

The next batter, Walker Cooper, was walked intentionally, loading the bases with one out for Whitey Kurowski.

After getting two strikes on Kurowski, Galehouse noticed the Cardinals’ batter “was protecting the far side of the plate,” the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported. Galehouse threw a slider inside and Kurowski swung at it and missed for the second out. Next, Danny Litwhiler hit into a force play at third, enabling Galehouse and the Browns to escape the inning unscathed.

Grantland Rice, writing for the North American Newspaper Alliance, said Galehouse possessed a “stout right arm, cool head and scrappy heart.”

“Galehouse looked cooler than a slice of cucumber on ice,” wrote Rice.

Mighty McQuinn

With two outs in the fourth, Cooper gave up his first hit, a single by Moore.

Up next was McQuinn, a left-handed batter.

McQuinn, 34, hit 11 home runs during the season, but only one after Aug. 13.

With the count 1-and-0, Cooper threw him a fastball. “One of his low, fast ones _ almost too low for me,” McQuinn said to the St. Louis Star-Times.

McQuinn swung and “caught it just right,” he told United Press.

“The noise that followed sounded like the shot from a big gun,” Grantland Rice observed.

McQuinn’s rising line drive headed toward a right-field screen that extended from the wall to the pavilion roof.

“I was a bit worried at first (the ball) wasn’t quite high enough,” McQuinn said to the Globe-Democrat.

According to the Star-Times, “the ball cleared the pavilion roof by no more than a foot or so” for a home run and a 2-0 Browns lead.

St. Louis showdown

Cooper went seven innings, allowing only the two hits, and Blix Donnelly held the Browns hitless over the last two innings.

In the bottom of the ninth, Marty Marion led off with a drive to left-center for the Cardinals. Center fielder Mike Kreevich tried to make a shoestring catch, but barely missed, and Marion had a double.

Galehouse got Augie Bergamo to ground out to second, advancing Marion to third.

Ken O’Dea, batting for Donnelly, battled Galehouse, fouling off six pitches, before he flied out to deep center. Marion scored on the sacrifice fly, moving the Cardinals to within a run at 2-1, but the bases were empty with two outs.

The drama ended when Hopp flied out to right-center. Boxscore

“We were lucky,” Sewell said to the Post-Dispatch. “We had the breaks and I freely admit it. You have to be lucky to win when a pitcher holds you to two hits.”

Said Southworth: “We had everything that usually wins ballgames for you. You couldn’t have asked for better pitching than we got.”

The Browns’ mojo nearly held up in Game 2. Potter limited the Cardinals to two unearned runs, but Donnelly pitched four scoreless innings in relief of Max Lanier and the Cardinals won, 3-2, in 11 innings.

After the clubs split Games 3 and 4, Cooper got his revenge, striking out 12 and beating Galehouse with a 2-0 shutout in Game 5.

Needing one more win for the crown, the Cardinals got it, beating the Browns, 3-1, in Game 6.

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Tom Phoebus won a start versus Bob Gibson and got traded for Tony La Russa.

Phoebus died Sept. 5, 2019, at 77. A 5-foot-8 right-hander, he pitched for seven seasons in the major leagues, primarily with the Orioles.

Phoebus hurled a no-hitter against the Red Sox, won a World Series game and had double-digit win totals for the Orioles in three consecutive years _ 14 in 1967, 15 in 1968 and 14 in 1969.

His career record in the majors was 56-52 with a 3.33 ERA.

Phoebus spent his last two big-league seasons in the National League, with the Padres and Cubs. In six appearances versus the Cardinals, he was 2-2 with two saves and a 3.44 ERA.

Hometown heroics

Born and raised in Baltimore, Phoebus was 18 when he signed with the Orioles as an amateur free agent in June 1960.

In 1961, his second season as a pro, Phoebus struggled to a 1-12 record and 5.53 ERA for Leesburg of the Florida State League. The Orioles stuck with him, though, and he worked his way through their system.

Pitching in 1966 for a Rochester club managed by Earl Weaver, Phoebus was 13-9 with five shutouts and a 3.02 ERA.

The 1966 Orioles, on their way to an American League pennant, rewarded him with a promotion to the big leagues. The Orioles’ pitching coach was the former Cardinal, Harry Brecheen.

Phoebus, 24, made his major-league debut on Sept. 15, 1966, with a start against the Angels and pitched a four-hit shutout. Boxscore. In his next appearance, Sept. 20, 1966, Phoebus shut out the Athletics on a five-hitter, beating Catfish Hunter. Boxscore

Phoebus became the seventh major-league pitcher to craft a shutout in each of his first two starts, and the first to do so since Karl Spooner of the 1954 Dodgers.

“He’s a good boy with good stuff,” Brecheen told the Baltimore Sun. “All he has to do is get it over the plate.”

A year later, after he led the 1967 Orioles in wins (14), innings pitched (208) and strikeouts (179), Phoebus was named the top rookie pitcher in the American League in player balloting by The Sporting News.

“Ask hitters around the American League and they’re quick to admit Phoebus is one of the toughest pitchers to hit,” The Sporting News reported. “He’s got a good fastball, his slider breaks nearly as much as anyone else’s curve and his curve is ridiculous.”

On April 27, 1968, Phoebus pitched a no-hitter against the defending American League champion Red Sox. He walked two batters in the first inning and another in the sixth before retiring the last 12 in a row. Boxscore

In his final Orioles appearance, Phoebus was the winning pitcher in Game 2 of the 1970 World Series versus the Reds, pitching in relief of Mike Cuellar. Boxscore

Two months later, on Dec. 1, 1970, the Orioles traded Phoebus, pitchers Al Severinsen and Fred Beene, and shortstop Enzo Hernandez to the Padres for pitchers Pat Dobson and Tom Dukes.

Facing the best

The Padres projected Phoebus to join a starting rotation led by former Cardinals farmhand Clay Kirby. “Never in my 30 years of scouting have I seen a pitcher who can get two strikes on a hitter as quick as Tom Phoebus can,” Padres scout Leon Hamilton said.

Phoebus made two starts versus the Cardinals. The first was at San Diego on April 17, 1971, and it began badly for him. Matty Alou hit the first pitch of the game for a single and Joe Hague hit the next for a home run. Phoebus regrouped and pitched seven innings, allowing three total runs, but Steve Carlton tossed a four-hit shutout and the Cardinals won, 4-0. Boxscore

A month later, on May 24, 1971, at St. Louis, Phoebus was matched against Gibson. The Padres scored seven runs against the Cardinals’ ace and won, 12-3. The Sporting News noted Phoebus “celebrated the birth of his second son” by getting the win. Boxscore

It was the last win Phoebus would get for the Padres.

After beating Gibson, Phoebus lost his next seven decisions and was moved to the bullpen. He finished 3-11 for the 1971 Padres; Dobson was 20-8 for the 1971 Orioles.

Cubs helper

At spring training in 1972, Padres pitching coach Roger Craig said, “Phoebus is throwing better than he did all last year and he’s keeping the ball down.”

After making one regular-season start for the Padres, Phoebus was dealt to the Cubs for cash on April 20, 1972.

The Cubs made Phoebus a reliever and he earned his first two saves for them against the Cardinals at St. Louis on May 18, 1972, Boxscore and on May 21, 1972. Boxscore

In the latter game, Phoebus entered in the ninth with one out, Cardinals runners on second and third, and the Cubs ahead, 3-1. He got Ted Sizemore out on a deep sacrifice fly, making the score 3-2.

The next batter, Jerry McNertney, worked the count to 3-and-1. Phoebus saw Joe Torre in the on-deck circle and, according to the Chicago Tribune, “admitted he came in with a fastball over the middle of the plate, preferring a swing of any kind from McNertney than a confrontation with Torre.”

McNertney grounded out to short, ending the game.

New career

Phoebus was 3-3 with six saves and a 3.78 ERA for the 1972 Cubs. He told The Sporting News he had become a better craftsman.

“When you first get up here, you think the most important thing is to try to impress everybody with great velocity and a good curveball,” Phoebus said. “After you’ve been around, you realize what’s really important is throwing strikes and working on the hitter, keeping him off balance. I’m not strikeout happy like I used to be. Today I’d rather throw one pitch and hope for a double play than strike out two batters.”

The Braves were impressed by him and talked to the Cubs about a deal. On Oct. 20, 1972, Phoebus was traded to the Braves for La Russa.

“When I saw Phoebus last season, he looked like a workhorse,” said Braves manager Eddie Mathews. “He showed me a good arm and he wanted to pitch.”

The Cubs liked La Russa, 28, and projected him as a utility infielder. La Russa had spent the 1972 season with the Braves’ Richmond farm club and was named the International League all-star second baseman, batting .308 with 15 stolen bases. “Our scouting reports on him indicate he can make it,” said Cubs vice president John Holland. “We’re going to give him a chance.”

The deal, however, didn’t work out the way anyone envisioned.

La Russa appeared in one game for the 1973 Cubs as a pinch-runner for Ron Santo. It was La Russa’s last game as a big-league player. He spent the rest of the 1973 season with the Cubs’ Wichita farm club and batted .314 with a team-leading 75 RBI, six more than runner-up Pete LaCock. La Russa played four more seasons in the minors before embarking on a Hall of Fame career as a manager.

The Braves assigned Phoebus to Richmond, where he pitched on a staff with former Cardinal Larry Jaster. Phoebus was 7-11 with a 3.38 ERA for Richmond, but no big-league club showed interest.

Phoebus, 31, decided to quit baseball. He worked as a liquor salesman before enrolling at the University of South Florida, where he earned a degree in education when he was 43.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Phoebus “spent nearly two decades as a physical education instructor at a Port St. Lucie (Fla.) grade school before retiring” in Palm City, Fla.

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