Archive for the ‘Opponents’ Category

Before he gained fame with the Pirates for pitching 12 perfect innings against the Braves and earning two World Series wins versus the Yankees, Harvey Haddix began his career with the Cardinals and was their ace.

Twenty-five years ago, on Jan. 8, 1994, Haddix, 68, died from emphysema, the consequences of cigarette smoking.

A left-hander at 5 feet 9, 160 pounds, Haddix “relied on technique instead of strength,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

On May 26, 1959, at Milwaukee, Haddix pitched 12 perfect innings, retiring the first 36 batters he faced, but lost when the Braves scored an unearned run in the 13th. Boxscore

The Pittsburgh Press called it “the greatest of all baseball tragedies” and, years later, Marino Parascenzo of the Post-Gazette hailed Haddix as “a little guy with a big heart, big enough to pitch baseball’s greatest game and absorb one of baseball’s greatest disappointments, both in the same day _ and come up smiling.”

A year after his Milwaukee masterpiece, Haddix started and won Game 5 of the 1960 World Series at Yankee Stadium, and he pitched the ninth inning of Game 7 and got the win when Bill Mazeroski hit a walkoff home run for the Pirates. Boxscore

Those feats overshadowed the achievements of his early years with the Cardinals when he had a 20-win season, led the National League in shutouts and was selected to three all-star teams.

Catapult to success

Haddix grew up on an Ohio farm and signed with the Cardinals in 1947 after attending a tryout camp in Columbus. He pitched four seasons in the Cardinals’ system and was 18-6 for Class AAA Columbus in 1950 before serving in the Army.

After military service, the Cardinals brought Haddix to the major leagues. In his debut in a start against the Braves on Aug. 20, 1952, at St. Louis, Haddix got the win, singled, stole a base, drove in a run and scored a run in a 9-2 victory.

In the first inning, Haddix walked two and hit a batter, but settled down and limited the Braves to five hits through eight innings before the game was halted because of rain. Boxscore

Haddix was matched in his debut against Braves starter Lew Burdette. Seven years later, Burdette was the opposing pitcher who held the Pirates scoreless for 13 innings while Haddix was perfect for 12.

Haddix “bears a strong resemblance” to teammate Harry Brecheen in “size, pitching technique and ability,” Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Brecheen, nicknamed “The Cat,” earned 128 wins in his Cardinals career and was the 1948 National League ERA leader. Because he appeared to be a younger version of “The Cat,” Haddix got tabbed “The Kitten.”

Years later, according to Broeg, Cardinals outfielder Enos Slaughter said, “You know how much I think about Brecheen. Harvey is even better.”

Big winner

Haddix was 2-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 42 innings for the 1952 Cardinals. He maintained his rookie status in 1953 because he had pitched fewer than 45 innings in the major leagues.

Haddix posted a 20-9 record for the 1953 Cardinals, led the league in shutouts (six) and finished second to Dodgers infielder Jim Gilliam in balloting for the Rookie of the Year Award. Haddix also batted .289 with 11 RBI.

On June 23, 1953, Haddix hit a three-run home run against Frank Hiller and earned a complete-game win in a 15-8 Cardinals triumph over the Giants at St. Louis. Boxscore

Broeg noted Haddix “was a better hitter than hurler” that day, though he held the Giants scoreless in seven of the nine innings. “Frankly, I think I was tipping my pitches,” Haddix said. “I believe Bill Rigney, coaching at first base, started picking up my fastball motion and I had to readjust my delivery.”

Haddix’s best pitching performance in his 20-win season was a two-hit shutout of the Phillies in a 2-0 Cardinals triumph on Aug. 6, 1953, at St. Louis.

Haddix held the Phillies hitless for eight innings. Richie Ashburn, leading off the ninth, attempted to bunt Haddix’s first pitch, fouled it off and got booed. “That’s what he’s paid to do, try to win,” Haddix said.

With the count 1-and-2 on Ashburn, Cardinals catcher Del Rice called for a slider, but Haddix shook off the sign and threw a curve. Ashburn lined the pitch to right for a single.

“He wouldn’t have hit that curve if I had got it where I wanted it _ down,” Haddix said. “It was high, though, and he should have hit it.”

With one out, Del Ennis bounced a single into left, but Haddix got Granny Hamner to ground into a game-ending double play. Boxscore

Haddix got his 20th win of the season on Sept. 25, 1953, in an 11-2 Cardinals rout of the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Boxscore

He became the first Cardinals pitcher to achieve 20 wins in a season since Howie Pollet was 20-9 in 1949.

Master craftsman

In 1954, Haddix was 18-13 for the Cardinals. From May 8, 1954, to June 23, 1954, Haddix won 10 consecutive decisions and lowered his ERA from 4.17 to 2.85. He allowed one run in the last 36 innings of the streak.

Haddix was 12-16 for the 1955 Cardinals, but was chosen for the All-Star Game for the third consecutive year. He pitched three innings and retired Ted Williams on a groundout to end the fifth and got Mickey Mantle on a groundout to start the sixth. Boxscore

The next year, Haddix appeared ready to give the Cardinals another good showing. On April 25, 1956, he pitched a two-hit shutout in a 6-0 Cardinals victory against the Cubs at St. Louis. Boxscore

Two weeks later, the Cardinals traded Haddix and pitchers Stu Miller and Ben Flowers to the Phillies for pitchers Murry Dickson and Herm Wehmeier.

In five seasons with St. Louis, Haddix was 53-40 with a 3.65 ERA and 12 shutouts. “He had the misfortune to be the Cardinals’ best pitcher at a time they didn’t have enough,” wrote Broeg.

Haddix went on to pitch for the Phillies (1956-57), Reds (1958), Pirates (1959-63) and Orioles (1964-65). His pitching coach with the Orioles was Brecheen, a reunion of “The Cat” and “The Kitten.”

Haddix was 40 when he pitched his last big-league game and he finished with a career mark of 136-113.

Haddix became a pitching coach for the Mets (1966-67), Reds (1969), Red Sox (1971), Indians (1975-78) and Pirates (1979-84).

With the Mets, Haddix was the first big-league pitching coach for Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver. When Frank Robinson became the first African-American manager in the big leagues with the 1975 Indians, he chose Haddix to be the pitching coach. In 1979, the Pirates won the World Series championship with Chuck Tanner as manager and Haddix as pitching coach.

In winters, Haddix returned to his Ohio farm near the village of South Vienna. “Haddix was a good rifle shot,” Broeg wrote. “Back home in Ohio, they considered him a hero after a neighbor’s bull went on a rampage and threatened life and property. Haddix delivered a bull’s-eye shot with only a .22-caliber.”

A year before he died, the Associated Press reported, Haddix, needing an oxygen tank, talked about his smoking habit.

“I was a three-pack-a-day man,” Haddix said. “That was my friend. My wife and kids didn’t travel with me. I could handle the drinking part of it, but not the cigarettes.

“I loved cigarettes, but they finally got to me.”

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(Updated Jan. 22, 2019)

In his lone career appearance against the Cardinals, Mike Mussina gave them an understanding of why he is a Hall of Famer.

On June 15, 2003, Mussina limited the Cardinals to four hits in eight innings and earned the win in a 5-2 Yankees victory at New York.

Mussina, a right-hander who achieved a 270-153 record in 18 seasons with the Orioles and Yankees, was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Jan. 22, 2019.

Center stage

Mussina posted double-digit win totals in 17 consecutive seasons (1992-2008) and pitched in 537 regular-season games, all but one as a starter. He debuted with the Orioles in 1991, pitched 10 seasons for them and spent his last eight years with the Yankees.

In 2003, Mussina was 17-8 and one of his best performances was his start versus the Cardinals before 54,797 on a Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees were going for a sweep of the three-game series and matched Mussina against Woody Williams.

Mussina retired 10 of the first 11 batters and had a 1-0 lead before the Cardinals scored twice in the fourth. With one out, Albert Pujols hit a home run, tying the score, Tino Martinez walked and, after Scott Rolen flied out to right, Mussina uncorked a wild pitch, moving Martinez to second. Edgar Renteria’s infield single advanced Martinez to third and Kerry Robinson’s single drove him in, putting the Cardinals ahead, 2-1.

Under control

The Yankees went up, 5-2, with a four-run sixth. Robin Ventura hit a two-run double and scored on a single by Hideki Matsui. Ruben Sierra’s double drove in Matsui.

The Cardinals didn’t get another base runner against Mussina after the fourth. He retired the last 13 batters in a row before Mariano Rivera relieved and pitched a scoreless ninth. Boxscore

“If you’re a control pitcher, things can come and go on you rather quickly,” Mussina said to the New York Daily News, “so you try to stay on top of it.”

Asked about being lifted for Rivera after eight innings, Mussina replied, “I had no problem with that. It would have had to be a much bigger lead for me to go back out there.”

Rivera, baseball’s all-time saves leader, also was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Jan. 22, 2019, the same day as Mussina.

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(Updated Jan. 22, 2019)

Todd Helton had a flawless game at the plate for the Rockies against the Cardinals, but Mike Matheny produced the most important at-bat.

On April 8, 2003, at Denver, Helton tied a major-league record by reaching base safely seven times. Helton was 4-for-4 with three walks, a double, a home run, three RBI and three runs scored against six Cardinals pitchers. His home run tied the score, 12-12, in the seventh inning, but the Cardinals won, 15-12, when Matheny countered with a three-run home run in the 13th.

Helton, a first baseman, produced 2,519 hits and 1,406 RBI in 17 seasons with the Rockies. A left-handed hitter, he had a .316 batting average and .414 on-base percentage in a big-league career from 1997 to 2013.

Against the Cardinals, Helton had a .281 batting average and .386 on-base percentage and was especially strong versus them in these five seasons:

_ 2000: Batted .400 with 12 RBI and a .543 on-base mark.

_ 2001: Batted .324 with 12 RBI. Six of his 11 hits were home runs.

_ 2003: Batted .500. With 11 hits and seven walks in 29 plate appearances, his on-base mark was .621.

_ 2004: Batted .400 and hit a home run in five of six games.

_ 2009: Batted .421. With eight hits and seven walks in 28 plate appearances, his on-base percentage was .536.

Helton’s most impressive single-game performance against the Cardinals was when he reached base safely in all seven plate appearances.

Lucky seven

Here is a look at each plate appearance:

_ First inning: RBI-single against Jason Simontacchi.

_ Second inning: Drew a walk from Simontacchi with two outs and a runner on third.

_ Fourth inning: RBI-double to left versus Lance Painter.

_ Sixth inning: Led off with a single against Jeff Fassero.

_ Seventh inning: Solo home run versus Dustin Hermanson.

_ Ninth inning: Drew a walk from Russ Springer with two outs and a runner on first.

_ Eleventh inning: Drew a walk from Jose Jimenez with one out and runners on first and third.

Video of all seven plate appearances

Helton became the first big-league player to reach base safely seven times in a game since Sean Casey of the Reds did it in a nine-inning game May 19, 1999, against the Rockies at Denver. Boxscore

“I don’t ever remember getting up seven times in a game, much less getting on seven times,” Helton said to the Denver Post.

Said Rockies hitting coach Duane Espy: “What he did I can’t explain. The guy has the unique ability to hit what is there and leave alone what’s not. He continues to amaze me. He’s the first guy who I have been around when the count is 0-and-2, I am comfortable.”

Mike’s magic

Helton was deprived of an eighth plate appearance because Cal Eldred retired the Rockies in order in the 12th and 13th innings.

Eldred earned the win, his first in the major leagues in three years, because his friend, Matheny, hit his first regular-season home run in 12 months in the top half of the 13th.

With Scott Rolen on second, Eduardo Perez on first and one out, Matheny hit a pitch from Dan Miceli deep to left. Gabe Kapler leaped and appeared to make a catch, but when he fell back against the fence the ball came out of his glove and landed in the seats. Kapler “walked away, looking puzzled at his empty glove,” the Denver Post reported. Boxscore

The home run was Matheny’s first in the regular season since April 26, 2002, at Montreal. For Eldred, who missed most of two seasons because of elbow problems, the win was his first in the major leagues since June 28, 2000.

Matheny and Eldred became friends as Brewers teammates. After Matheny joined the Cardinals, he recommended the club take a chance on Eldred.

“Those two have such a special friendship,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I don’t think you could have scripted it better.”

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Andrew Miller made his first major-league start for the Tigers against the Cardinals, impressed Jim Leyland and Tony La Russa and helped his club achieve a measure of redemption against the defending World Series champions.

On May 18, 2007, three days before he turned 22, Miller pitched six scoreless innings and got his first big-league win against the Cardinals at Detroit.

The 6-foot-7 left-hander pitched with poise and skill and appeared to be headed toward a long, distinguished career as a starter.

Eleven years later, Miller, a free agent, joined the Cardinals with the expectation he would be their top left-handed reliever. He hadn’t made a start in seven years.

Escape artist

Miller was a standout pitcher at the University of North Carolina, establishing the school’s career strikeout record, and was selected by the Tigers in the first round of the 2006 amateur draft.

After making his major-league debut with the Tigers in 2006 and appearing in eight games, all in relief, Miller was at Class AA Erie in May 2007 when he got called up to Detroit to fill in for injured starter Jeremy Bonderman.

Miller’s first big-league start was the Tigers’ first game versus the Cardinals since losing four of five against them in the 2006 World Series.

Pitching before a sellout crowd of 40,816 at Comerca Park, Miller worked in and out of trouble in the first three innings.

The Cardinals loaded the bases in the first on singles by Albert Pujols and Juan Encarnacion and a walk to Scott Rolen, but with two outs Ryan Ludwick popped out to second baseman Placido Polanco.

In the second, the Cardinals had Yadier Molina on third with one out, but stranded him when David Eckstein grounded out to short and So Taguchi flied out to right.

The Cardinals put runners on first and second with one out in the third before Miller retired Rolen and Ludwick.

After that, Miller yielded no hits and walked two over his last three innings.

The Tigers scored seven runs against Cardinals starter Braden Looper and another seven against Kelvin Jimenez and won, 14-4. Miller’s line: 6 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts, 1 batter hit by pitch. The Cardinals were 0-for-5 against him with runners in scoring position. Boxscore

Rave reviews

Under the headline, “Dandy, Andy,” the Detroit Free Press declared Miller “arrived amid some fanfare and delivered on cue, showing he might have as much to do with the team’s current fortunes as its future.”

Other comments about Miller after the game:

_ Tigers manager Jim Leyland: “This is real talent. He should have a very, very bright future.”

_ Cardinals manager Tony La Russa: “I was impressed with how often he was around the plate and how when he had the potential to throw a ball through the screen, he stayed within himself and didn’t try to strike out the side. Very impressive.”

_ Tigers pitching coach Chuck Hernandez: “I learned he’s got a little feel for pitching to go along with a good fastball.”

_ Free Press columnist John Lowe: “He confirmed anew that he will one day be a dominant big-league pitcher.”

Said Miller: “I know that I can do this.”

Bullpen specialist

Miller went on to have more bad outings than good ones as a starter in the major leagues. He finished 5-5 with a 5.62 ERA for the 2007 Tigers and was part of a package of prospects traded to the Marlins after the season for slugger Miguel Cabrera and pitcher Dontrelle Willis.

In three seasons with the Marlins, Miller was 10-20 with a 5.89 ERA. They traded him to the Red Sox and he was 6-3 with a 5.54 ERA in 2011 before being converted into a reliever.

Miller was consistently effective in relief roles for the Red Sox (2012-14), Orioles (2014), Yankees (2015-16) and Indians (2016-18). He earned 36 saves for the 2015 Yankees and was 4-0 with a 1.55 ERA for the 2016 pennant-winning Indians.

Miller was an American League all-star with the Indians in 2016 and 2017 and was named most valuable player of the 2016 AL Championship Series when he struck out 14 Blue Jays in 7.2 scoreless innings.

Through 2018, Miller had a 49-48 record, 3.98 ERA and 53 saves in 13 big-league seasons. He was 20-27 with a 5.70 ERA as a starter and 29-21 with a 2.56 ERA as a reliever.

On Dec. 21, 2018, Miller, 33, agreed to terms with the Cardinals on a two-year, $25 million contract with an option for 2021.

“Andrew Miller is one of the premier relievers in the major leagues,” said Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak.

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Jim Campanis was ready to leave the Dodgers and Al Campanis was ready to make it happen.

Fifty years ago, on Dec. 15, 1968, Jim, a catcher, was traded by the Dodgers to the Royals for cash. The Royals also agreed to loan two players to the Dodgers’ minor-league club in Spokane.

The deal was made by Jim’s father, Al, the Dodgers’ director of player personnel.

Jim had been in the Dodgers’ system since 1962, no longer was prominent in their plans and had said during the 1968 season his best chance for an extended shot at the big leagues probably was with another organization.

Al, longtime Dodgers scouting director, took over the duties of general manager in November 1968 and did his son a favor by sending him to the Royals, who were entering the American League as an expansion team in 1969 and seeking experienced players.

However, because the transaction was the first made by Al in his new role and because it featured his son, it created a media sensation.

The Los Angeles Times headline blared, “Campanis Peddles Son, Jim, to KC,” and The Sporting News featured a headline of, “No Room For Sentiment _ A Daddy Sells His Son.”

The trade was “further evidence supporting the premise that baseball and sentiment are not synonymous,” the Los Angeles newspaper reported.

All in the family

Al Campanis was born in 1916 in Kos, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, and came to New York City with his family as a youth. After graduating from New York University, he joined the Dodgers as an infield prospect in 1940 and played briefly for the big-league club in 1943. Al was the second baseman for the Dodgers’ minor-league club at Montreal in 1946 when Jackie Robinson was the shortstop.

Al became Dodgers scouting director in 1960 and two years later, in 1962, when his son, Jim, was graduating high school, the Dodgers were one of the clubs in pursuit of the prospect. According to The Sporting News, when Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley asked whether the club was likely to sign Jim, Al responded, “I think I have a good chance. I’m pretty close to his mother.”

O’Malley approved a $10,000 bonus offer and Jim accepted.

Jim made his major-league debut with the Dodgers on Sept. 20, 1966.

Cardinals connections

In 1967, Jim began the season as a backup to Dodgers starting catcher John Roseboro. On April 24, 1967, Jim got his first big-league hit, a double down the left-field line against Cardinals reliever Joe Hoerner in the 13th inning at Los Angeles. The hit sparked a comeback by the Dodgers, who erased a 5-4 deficit and won, 6-5. Boxscore

“The kid saved our necks,” Dodgers manager Walter Alston said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Four months later, on Aug. 9, 1967, Jim was a central figure in a bizarre ending to a game against the Cardinals at St. Louis.

In the eighth inning, batting for Don Drysdale, Jim hit a solo home run high over the Busch Stadium wall in left against Larry Jaster, tying the score at 2-2, and stayed in the game as the catcher.

In the 11th, after the Cardinals loaded the bases with none out against Phil Regan, Eddie Bressoud popped out to first baseman Wes Parker. Mike Shannon, the runner on third, bluffed an advance toward the plate. Parker should have held the ball and run toward Shannon until he retreated to third. Instead, Parker lobbed a throw to Campanis.

“I was off balance … I didn’t trust myself to get set,” Parker said.

Said Alston: “Instead of throwing the ball like an old woman, he should have put something on it.”

The ball bounced in front of the plate, skidded between the legs of Campanis and rolled away. Shannon hesitated before making a dash to the dish and scored the winning run. Boxscore

“The catcher should not have let such an easy roller get away from him,” Alston scolded.

New roles

Campanis batted .161 for the 1967 Dodgers. Before the 1968 season, the Dodgers dealt Roseboro to the Twins and acquired Tom Haller from the Giants to be the starting catcher. Campanis spent most of the 1968 season in the minor leagues. At 24, he acknowledged he was looking ahead to the November 1968 National League expansion draft when the Padres and Expos would stock their rosters with players from existing franchises.

“Although I would like to play on a winner like the Dodgers, I would just be happy to be in the big leagues with any club,” Jim told The Sporting News in May 1968.

Asked whether his father being Dodgers scouting director was a help or hindrance, Jim replied, “I know it’s slowed me down. I know a couple of times I feel I should have gone to a higher classification, but didn’t because I don’t think they wanted it to look like they were showing favoritism.”

In June 1968, Dodgers general manager Buzzie Bavasi left to become president of the Padres. The Dodgers promoted farm director Fresco Thompson to replace him. Five months later, Thompson, 66, died. O’Malley gave Al Campanis the title of player personnel director and assigned him the same responsibilities of a general manager.

Jim wasn’t chosen in the expansion draft, but Royals director of player procurement Charlie Metro rated him a prospect and contacted Al to propose a deal.

“I said this was a very difficult situation for me to be involved in,” Al responded.

Al discussed it with O’Malley and they agreed the trade should be made because it would give Jim “an opportunity to go to a club he can play for regularly,” Al told the Los Angeles Times.

Jim was playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic for a team managed by Cardinals second baseman Julian Javier when Al called and told him of the trade. “He was pleased,” Al said. “He has been told he’ll get a shot at being the first-string catcher.”

The transaction was the first one Al made in his new role, according to The Sporting News. “If it means the boy is going to get a chance, this is one time I won’t mind too badly if the Dodgers made a bad deal,” Al said.

Controversial comments

Jim made the 1969 Royals’ Opening Day roster as the backup to catcher Ellie Rodriguez. In the franchise’s first regular-season game, April 8, 1969, versus the Twins at Kansas City, Jim batted for pitcher Tom Burgmeier in the sixth inning and delivered a RBI-single. Boxscore

Jim played for the Royals in 1969 and 1970 and ended his major-league career with the 1973 Pirates. He batted .147 in six big-league seasons.

Al remained the top executive of Dodgers baseball operations until April 1987 when he resigned under pressure for making insensitive racial comments during an interview with Ted Koppel of the ABC News show “Nightline.”

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Carl Hubbell and Mel Ott forever are linked as teammates, friends, road roommates, Hall of Famers and, tragically, by a bizarre twist of fate.

Thirty years ago, on Nov. 21, 1988, Hubbell, 85, died in a Scottsdale, Ariz., hospital from injuries suffered in a car accident two days earlier.

Hubbell’s death occurred 30 years to the day Ott died under eerily similar circumstances. On Nov. 21, 1958, Ott, 49, died in a New Orleans hospital from injuries suffered in a car accident a week earlier.

Hubbell was the ace pitcher and Ott the home run slugger who spent their entire major-league playing careers with the Giants.

Ott, 17, debuted with the Giants in 1926 and Hubbell, 25, joined them in 1928. They roomed together on road trips from the time Hubbell arrived with the Giants until he pitched his last game in 1943, according to the Associated Press. Both men had low-key personalities and friendly demeanors and genuinely liked one another.

Hubbell was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1947 and Ott was inducted four years later in 1951.

When Ott died, Hubbell told the New York Daily News, “I’m heartsick. Mel was one of my closest friends.”

Perfect pitch

Hubbell was born in Carthage, Mo., and grew up on a cotton and pecan farm near Meeker, Okla.

In 1924, when he turned 21, Hubbell signed with a minor-league club in Oklahoma and taught himself to throw a pitch known as a “reverse curve” or “fadeaway.”

When right-handers Christy Mathewson of the Giants and Grover Cleveland Alexander of the Cardinals threw the “reverse curve,” it broke in to right-handed batters and away from left-handed ones. As a left-hander, Hubbell’s version broke in to left-handed batters and away from right-handed ones.

In 1925, when Hubbell was tossing the pitch in warmups, the catcher said, “That’s the screwiest thing I ever saw,” and the “reverse curve” became known as a screwball, according to The Sporting News.

Hubbell’s success with the pitch attracted the interest of major-league scouts and in August 1925 the Tigers acquired him from the Oklahoma City club in the Western League.

The Tigers invited Hubbell to spring training in 1926 and 1927 but returned him to the minor leagues both times. According to the Associated Press, a Tigers coach, believing Hubbell would hurt his arm throwing a screwball, told him, “Don’t fool with that. Forget it.”

“So I forget it,” said Hubbell, “and Detroit forgot me.”

The Tigers sold Hubbell’s contract to a minor-league club in Beaumont, Texas, in April 1928. Giants scout Dick Kinsella liked what he saw from Hubbell there and on July 12, 1928, the Giants purchased his contract. Two weeks later, Hubbell made his big-league debut.

Big winner

Hubbell’s most celebrated performance came in the 1934 All-Star Game when he struck out five future Hall of Famers, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin, in succession. Boxscore

“My style of pitching was to make the other team hit the ball, but on the ground,” Hubbell told writer John P. Carmichael. “It was as big a surprise to me to strike out all those fellows as it probably was to them.”

The all-star feat got the glory, but in games that counted in the standings Hubbell’s most impressive outing occurred against the Cardinals.

On July 2, 1933, in the opener of a Sunday doubleheader at the Polo Grounds in New York, Hubbell pitched an 18-inning shutout in the Giants’ 1-0 victory over the Cardinals.

Hubbell held the Cardinals to six hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out 12. He retired 20 batters in a row from the seventh inning to the 13th and only one Cardinals runner reached third.

Cardinals starter Tex Carleton nearly matched Hubbell, pitching 16 scoreless innings before he was relieved by Jesse Haines. In the 18th, with Giants runners on first and third, two outs, Hughie Critz “shot a single past Haines’ left ear,” scoring Jo-Jo Moore, the St. Louis Star-Times reported. When Moore touched the plate, “a deafening roar went up and straw hats, torn programs and other debris rained upon the turf,” according to the New York Daily News. Boxscore

Hubbell pitched 16 seasons (1928-43) for the Giants and had a record of 253-154 with a 2.98 ERA. He twice won the National League Most Valuable Player Award (1933 and 1936), pitched in three World Series (1933, 1936 and 1937) and was a nine-time all-star.

Hubbell earned 21 wins or more in five consecutive seasons (1933-37) and in 1933 he led the league in wins (23), ERA (1.66), shutouts (10) and innings (308.2). He won 24 consecutive regular-season decisions over a two-year period (1936-37). Flagstaff Film clip of Hubbell vs. Cardinals on July 21, 1938.

Throwing the screwball eventually took a physical toll on him. When Hubbell’s left arm was at rest, his palm faced out instead of in. “I couldn’t get over Hubbell’s hand,” writer Roger Angell observed. “It was like meeting a gladiator who bore scars inflicted at the Colosseum.”

Eye for talent

Following his retirement as a player after the 1943 season, Hubbell became Giants farm director and rebuilt their sagging minor-league system. Among the prospects the Giants developed under Hubbell were Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry.

Hubbell made all decisions on which prospects the Giants would draft and which of the organization’s minor-league players got promotions, the San Francisco Examiner reported.

He was Giants farm director for 34 years until a stroke forced him to give up the job in 1977 at age 74. The stroke “left him unable to walk for a while and caused slurred speech,” according to the Arizona Republic. Hubbell had a second stroke in 1984, but continued to do scouting for the Giants in Arizona.

Hubbell lived in an apartment in Mesa, Ariz., not far from the Giants’ spring training base. “I get along all right,” Hubbell said to the New York Daily News in 1987. “When I can get to the car, I go to the post office, the bank, different places you have to go. There’s nothing wrong with the car. Only me.”

He ate breakfast at the counter of a Mesa restaurant every other morning and that’s where he was headed on Nov. 19, 1988, when he lost control of his car and hit a metal pole after suffering an apparent stroke, according to police reports.

Hubbell, who was alone in the car, was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Scottsdale, Ariz. He died of head and chest injuries two days later. He was survived by two sons and two grandchildren. His wife, Lucille, whom he married in 1930, died in 1967.

In citing his “consistency of excellence” as a pitcher, the New York Times noted, “Hubbell’s businesslike demeanor on and off the pitching mound contrasted with more colorful, eccentric pitchers of his era, like Lefty Gomez of the Yankees and Dizzy Dean of the Cardinals. Hubbell won respect and attention solely from on-field performances.”

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