Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Pitchers’ Category

As a rookie with the 1951 Cardinals, Dick Bokelmann took over the role of closer.

Bokelmann died Dec. 27, 2019, at 93. A right-handed reliever, his major-league career consisted of spending parts of three seasons (1951-53) with the Cardinals.

He experienced his most success after his promotion from the minors in August 1951.

Handy man

Bokelmann, 20, was pitching for Northwestern University when he got an offer from the Cardinals and signed with them in 1947.

His breakout season came in 1951, his fifth year in the Cardinals’ farm system, when he posted a 10-2 record and 0.74 ERA as the closer for Houston of the Texas League.

“Dick began learning to place his sinking fastball and splendid curve where he wanted it,” The Sporting News reported.

Bokelmann, 24, was called up to the Cardinals and made his debut with them on Aug. 3, 1951, earning a save in relief of starter Harry Brecheen against the Giants at St. Louis. Boxscore

In his first three appearances for the Cardinals, all against the Giants, Bokelmann faced a total of 10 batters and retired all of them.

“A kid like Bokelmann comes in handy,” Brecheen told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In the groove

Bokelmann’s emergence prompted Cardinals manager Marty Marion to move closer Al Brazle into the starting rotation, where he thrived, posting a 2.83 ERA in eight starts.

“If we had a relief pitcher like Dick Bokelmann all season, we could have started Brazle more often,” Marion said.

After a couple of shaky outings against the Dodgers and Braves in late August, Bokelmann experienced a hot streak. In four appearances from Aug. 26 to Sept. 9, Bokelmann yielded no runs over 16 innings, earning two wins and a save.

The save came on Sept. 6 when Bokelmann worked four scoreless innings in relief of starter Cliff Chambers against the Cubs at Chicago. Boxscore

The next night, Sept. 7, the Cardinals were at Pittsburgh and Bokelmann got his first big-league win, yielding one hit and no runs over five innings in relief of starter Tom Poholsky. Boxscore

On Sept. 9, at Pittsburgh, Bokelmann, the Cardinals’ third pitcher of the game, entered with one out in the fourth, held the Pirates to one hit over 5.2 innings and got the win. Boxscore

Changing careers

Bokelmann finished the season with a 3-3 record and three saves in 20 appearances for the 1951 Cardinals.

He opened the 1952 season with the Cardinals, gave up runs in seven of his 11 appearances and was sent back to the minors.

Bokelmann ended his big-league career with three appearances for the 1953 Cardinals. His overall record for them: 3-4, three saves and a 4.90 ERA in 34 games.

After his baseball career, Bokelmann worked for Prudential Insurance in Illinois for 30 years.

Read Full Post »

Andy Hassler was willing to return to the minor leagues for the first time in 10 years to show the Cardinals he belonged with them in the majors.

Hassler died Dec. 25, 2019, at 68. A left-hander, he pitched for 14 seasons in the big leagues, primarily with the Angels.

In 1984, the Angels released Hassler at the end of spring training. He was 0-5 with a 5.45 ERA for them in 1983 and didn’t do enough at training camp the following spring to convince them to keep him.

The Cardinals offered Hassler, 32, a chance to stay in the game, but it was a humbling proposition. He would have to go to the minors, two levels down to Class AA. The last time he pitched in the minors was 1974. The last time he pitched in Class AA was 1970 when he was 18.

“It’s tough to go down after that many seasons,” Hassler told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “You have to question yourself why you really want to do it.”

Hassler did it, and by the end of the season he was back in the big leagues with the Cardinals.

Rapid rise

Hassler was 17 and recently graduated from high school in Tucson, Ariz., when he was chosen by the Angels in the 25th round of the 1969 amateur draft.

Two years later, on May 30, 1971, he made his major-league debut for them at 19 in a start at Yankee Stadium. Boxscore

Hassler lost his first eight decisions in the big leagues. Though he pitched for the Angels in parts of 1971 and 1973, his first win for them didn’t come until June 23, 1974, versus the Rangers. Boxscore

His career often was defined by extremes. He either was very good or very bad. In 1974, Hassler pitched a one-hitter against the White Sox and, on a staff with Nolan Ryan and Frank Tanana, led the Angels in ERA at 2.61. From 1975-76, he lost 18 consecutive decisions _ his last 11 of 1975 and his first seven of 1976.

“There were games in there where I pitched downright badly. I pitched poorly, period,” Hassler told the Boston Globe. “When I did pitch well, something (bad) would happen. I don’t like to make excuses, but it was a last-place team. There were a lot of plays that weren’t made.”

Hassler’s success depended on the effectiveness of his sinker.

“If I can keep the ball down, I don’t give a damn who’s up there,” Hassler told the Los Angeles Times.

Red Sox slugger Carl Yastrzemski rated Hassler “one of the four best left-handers in the league.”

Mutual admiration

On July 5, 1976, the Angels sold Hassler’s contract to the Royals, who were in first place in the American League West. The Royals’ manager, Whitey Herzog, had been an Angels coach in 1974 and 1975 when Hassler pitched for them.

According to The Sporting News, Angels owner Gene Autry told Hassler, “At least you are going to a team on top that will score some runs for you.” Regarding his Angels, Autry added, “You can’t get any lower than this one.”

After losing his first decision, his 18th in a row, with the Royals, Hassler won four in a row. “Without Andy, we wouldn’t be in first place,” Herzog said.

Said Hassler: “I have all the admiration in the world for Whitey.”

In 1984, Herzog was manager of the Cardinals when Hassler took the offer to go back to the minors.

Comeback trail

After signing with the Cardinals on May 2, 1984, Hassler reported to their Class AA farm club at Arkansas. In his Arkansas debut, Hassler took the loss, giving up a home run to Mets prospect Billy Beane, who years later became the Athletics general manager who inspired the book and movie “Moneyball.”

Hassler pitched in nine games for Arkansas, posted a 1-1 record with three saves and showed enough to earn a promotion to Class AAA Louisville.

The 1984 Louisville manager, Jim Fregosi, was Hassler’s teammate with the 1971 Angels and managed him with the 1981 Angels during Hassler’s second stint with the franchise.

Hassler regained his form with Louisville, putting together a stretch of 15 scoreless innings over nine appearances. With a 7-4 record, 10 saves and a 2.11 ERA at Louisville, Hassler got called up to the Cardinals in September 1984.

In his Cardinals debut on Sept. 16, 1984, against the Pirates at St. Louis, Hassler got the win when David Green produced a two-run single in the bottom of the 10th. Boxscore

Real pro

At spring training in 1985, Hassler allowed one earned run in 11 innings and got a spot as a reliever on the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster.

“If I was a right-hander, I’d have been done 10 years ago,” Hassler said. “Thank God there will always be teams looking for left-handers.”

Herzog said he liked Hassler “for his control and movement on his fastball.”

Hassler made 10 appearances for the 1985 Cardinals and was 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA, but with two other left-handers, Ken Dayley and Ricky Horton, in the bullpen, Hassler was sent back to Louisville in May to open a roster spot in St. Louis for outfielder Tito Landrum.

“I might be the first guy to get sent out with an ERA under two,” Hassler said.

At Louisville, Hassler, 33, mentored Todd Worrell, who struggled as a starter and was being converted into a reliever.

“It was just good timing that he was there to help me,” Worrell said. “What better source to get it from than somebody who’s been there?”

Worrell excelled as a reliever, got promoted to the Cardinals, became their closer in the last month of the 1985 season and helped them become National League champions.

Hassler was 4-5 with two saves and a 3.29 ERA for Louisville and retired from baseball in August 1985.

Pitching for six big-league teams (Angels, Royals, Red Sox, Mets, Pirates and Cardinals), Hassler was 44-71 with 29 saves.

Read Full Post »

St. Louis Browns manager Marty Marion wanted to convert rookie pitcher Don Larsen into an outfielder.

Marion reconsidered after Larsen put together a string of wins late in the 1953 season.

Three years later, with the Yankees, Larsen pitched the only World Series perfect game, a feat unlikely to have happened if Marion had implemented his plan.

Larsen died on Jan. 1, 2020, at 90. His professional baseball career was influenced by a couple of former Cardinals, Marion and Harry Brecheen.

Prized prospect

Larsen’s father, the son of Norwegian immigrants, was a watchmaker who moved the family from Indiana to San Diego. Larsen, 17, was pitching for an American Legion team when a Browns scout signed him for $850.

After four seasons (1947-50) in the Browns’ farm system, Larsen served stateside in the Army for two years (1951-52). He was on the roster of the San Antonio farm club when he reported to 1953 spring training with the Browns.

A right-hander, Larsen, 23, impressed in spring training and opened the 1953 season in the Browns’ starting rotation.

“He has the confidence and could be a terrific pitcher by the end of the season,” Browns general manager Bill DeWitt Sr. told The Sporting News.

ABC-TV broadcaster and former Cardinals ace Dizzy Dean said Larsen “could retire many of the big sluggers with only his blazing pitches if he could control them.”

Catcher Les Moss said Larsen’s curve and changeup improved with the help of Brecheen, the left-hander who joined the Browns following his release by the Cardinals. Brecheen, 38, mentored multiple Browns pitchers.

Marion, who’d been an all-star shortstop for the Cardinals and managed them in 1951 before joining the Browns, said Larsen “is the best-looking pitching prospect I’ve seen in the American League this season. He’s not a finished product, but he has all the tools to make a great pitcher.”

Preparing an experiment

Larsen struggled to fulfill expectations.

After a loss to the Red Sox at Boston on Aug. 5, 1953, he was 2-10 with a 4.32 ERA, but his batting average was .288. Boxscore

Over a span of three games from July 24 to Aug. 5, Larsen produced hits in seven consecutive at-bats.

Intrigued by the combination of Larsen’s bat and arm, Marion wanted to make him an outfielder.

Immediately after the Aug. 5 game at Fenway Park, Marion “ordered a practice session during which he had Larsen shag flies in the outfield for some 30 minutes,” the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported.

“Since spring training, I’ve been toying with the idea of trying Larsen as an outfielder,” Marion said. “The way he’s been hitting of late, I may take a look at him out there in a game in the near future.”

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Marion planned to start Larsen in the outfield the next day, Aug. 6, at Fenway Park.

“I decided against it at the last minute,” Marion said. “I was afraid he might run into the left field fence. As soon as I feel Don is mentally ready for the experiment, I’ll start him.”

Worth a try

After the series at Boston, the Browns went to Washington to play the Senators. In the series opener on Aug. 7, 1953, Browns left fielder Dick Kokos “bungled a fly ball” which fell for a double in the fifth inning, the Post-Dispatch reported. Marion replaced Kokos with Larsen in the sixth. Larsen played the final three innings in left field, had no fielding chances and grounded out in his one at-bat. Boxscore

Facing back-to-back doubleheaders, Marion used Larsen as a starting pitcher in one on Aug. 11 against the Tigers. Larsen was shelled for seven runs in four innings and took the loss, dropping his record to 2-11. Boxscore

The next day, the Globe-Democrat reported Larsen “has been working out afternoons as an outfielder.”

“He might be a better outfielder than a pitcher,” Marion told The Sporting News.

Said Larsen: “I’ll try anything they ask me to try. If I can’t make it in the outfield, I can always go back to pitching.

“If I get to play every day in the outfield, my hitting will improve. It’s worth trying and I’m happy Marty suggested it.”

Change of plans

A turnaround for Larsen occurred on Aug. 20, 1953, at Baltimore when the Browns played the minor-league Orioles in an exhibition game. Baltimore was trying to adopt the Browns and the game was important for the city. Larsen pitched a five hitter, striking out 11, in an 8-2 Browns victory.

On Aug. 30, the Browns were at home to play their third doubleheader in seven days. Brecheen, scheduled to start Game 1 against the Senators, had a sore shoulder, so Marion went with Larsen.

In what the Globe-Democrat described as “the surprise of the day,” Larsen pitched a two-hit shutout for his first win since June. Boxscore

“After being considered seriously for the role of outfielder, Larsen just missed pitching a no-hitter,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Larsen held the Senators hitless until Wayne Terwilliger singled with one out in the eighth. The other hit was a Pete Runnels single in the ninth.

The first batter of the game, Eddie Yost, walked on four pitches. When Larsen went to a 2-and-0 count on the next batter, Runnels, Marion called for Bob Cain to warm up in the bullpen. Larsen settled down and, starting with Runnels, struck out five batters in a row.

The shutout was the first of five consecutive wins for Larsen.

Browns owner Bill Veeck and Marion “vetoed all plans that had been afoot a few weeks ago to convert Larsen into an outfielder,” The Sporting News reported.

Larsen finished with a 7-12 record for the 1953 Browns and batted .284 with three home runs.

A year later, Larsen was traded to the Yankees and was 45-24 for them in five seasons. His career record in 14 big-league seasons was 81-91.

Larsen was 0-3 with a 3.41 ERA in 19 appearances versus the Cardinals. One loss was in 1963 while with the Giants. The other losses came in 1964 while with the Houston Colt .45s, including one on Aug. 18 in his lone career start against the Cardinals. Boxscore

Read Full Post »

Andy Benes and the Cardinals were separated, not estranged, and when the opportunity came to rekindle the relationship they made it happen.

Twenty years ago, on Jan. 7, 2000, Benes, a free agent, returned for a second stint with the Cardinals, signing a three-year, $18 million contract.

A right-hander, Benes, 32, joined Darryl Kile, Garrett Stephenson, Pat Hentgen and Rick Ankiel in a revamped starting rotation and helped the Cardinals return to the postseason in 2000 for the first time since he initially joined them in 1996.

Splitting up

After pitching for the Padres and Mariners, Benes became a free agent and signed with the Cardinals in December 1995.

He led the 1996 Cardinals in wins (18), starts (34) and innings pitched (230.1) and the club reached the postseason for the first time in nine years.

After earning 10 wins and leading the staff in strikeouts (175) in 1997, Benes again became a free agent. He reached an agreement to stay with the Cardinals, but the deal was voided because it came together after expiration of a deadline mandated by the baseball owners’ Player Relations Committee.

Instead of getting the Cardinals’ offer of a five-year contract worth $32.5 million, Benes settled for a three-year deal worth $18 million with the Diamondbacks, an expansion franchise.

The contract with the Diamondbacks gave Benes the option to depart after two seasons. Benes posted records of 14-13 and 13-12 with the Diamondbacks and exercised his option to leave after the 1999 season.

Benes and his agent, Scott Boras, talked with the Tigers, who showed the most interest, but the team Benes wanted to go to was the Cardinals.

After acquiring Kile and Hentgen in trades, the Cardinals were open to signing another veteran starter, but had budget limitations.

Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty was considering two other free-agent pitchers: Darren Oliver, who was 9-9 for the 1999 Cardinals, and Juan Guzman, a former Blue Jays ace who was a combined 11-12 for the Orioles and Reds in 1999.

Jocketty strongly considered Guzman, who had seasons of 16-5 and 14-3 for the Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993 and started three World Series games for them. “We were serious,” Jocketty told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We could have done it. He was intriguing.”

Jocketty spoke to Boras about Benes but said no offer was made and it was unlikely the Cardinals would bring him back.

Problem solvers

The situation changed around Christmas time. Benes expressed a willingness to work with the Cardinals on structuring a contract putting more money on the back end than on the front.

“We had to be very creative as to how we put this deal together because where we were as far as our payroll was concerned for this year,” Jocketty said.

The Cardinals were approaching a franchise-high $60 million in player salaries for 2000, according to the Post-Dispatch.

Before Benes agreed to defer money in the first year of the contract, Jocketty said, “A month ago, I didn’t think this was going to happen.”

A grateful Benes said of his return to the Cardinals, “This is where my heart was. I really wanted this opportunity to see if it could happen back here again.”

Benes was 12-9 as part of a durable Cardinals rotation in 2000. Six pitchers made starts during the 162-game regular season: Kile (34 starts), Hentgen (33), Stephenson (31), Ankiel (30), Benes (27) and Britt Reames (seven).

In five seasons with St. Louis, Benes was 52-37. The Cardinals reached the postseason in four of those years.

Read Full Post »

As a catcher for the Cardinals, Ted Simmons helped Steve Carlton achieve his first 20-win season. As an opposing hitter, Simmons hit with power against Carlton.

One reason Simmons was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in December 2019 was he could hit any kind of pitching, including the best.

Of his 248 regular-season career home runs in the majors, Simmons hit 22 against fellow future Hall of Famers.

The future Hall of Famer who Simmons hit the most home runs against was Carlton, who spent most of his career with the Phillies after being a teammate of Simmons with the Cardinals.

A switch-hitter, Simmons hit seven home runs against Carlton, a left-hander.

Here is a breakdown of the number of home runs Simmons hit versus future Hall of Famers:

_ Steve Carlton, 7 home runs against.

_ Tom Seaver, 3

_ Don Sutton, 2

_ Ferguson Jenkins, 2

_ Bert Blyleven, 2

_ Phil Niekro, 2

_ Rich Gossage, 1

_ Bruce Sutter, 1 (See story)

_ Lee Smith, 1

_ Gaylord Perry, 1

Battery mates

Carlton debuted with the Cardinals in 1965 and Simmons debuted with them three years later, in 1968.

Tim McCarver was Carlton’s primary catcher with the Cardinals from 1965-69. After McCarver got traded to the Phillies in October 1969, Simmons and Joe Torre split the catching for the Cardinals the next year. Torre caught Carlton in 20 games in 1970 and Simmons was his catcher in 15, according to baseball-reference.com.

The first time Carlton and Simmons started a regular-season game together was June 2, 1970, a 12-1 Cardinals win versus the Giants at St. Louis. Carlton pitched a four-hitter. Simmons had a single, a triple and a walk, scoring twice. Boxscore

In 1971, when Torre shifted to third base, Simmons was the Cardinals’ catcher. He caught in 33 of Carlton’s 37 games for the 1971 Cardinals.

On Sept. 28, 1971, Carlton earned his 20th win of the season, beating the Mets at New York. Simmons was the catcher and produced a single, a double and two RBI. Boxscore

It was the last time Carlton would pitch for the Cardinals. Five months later, on Feb. 25, 1972, he was traded to the Phillies on orders of Cardinals owner Gussie Busch, who was fed up with player salary demands.

Carlton and McCarver were reunited as Phillies. According to baseball-reference.com, the catchers who caught the most games pitched by Carlton were McCarver (236), Bob Boone (147), Bo Diaz (79) and Simmons (48).

Carlton had a 3.24 ERA over the 358.2 innings Simmons was his catcher.

Mighty matchup

Carlton’s career record against the Cardinals was 38-14 with five shutouts, 27 complete games and a 2.98 ERA.

Simmons batted .274 against Carlton. Of his 34 hits, 17 were for extra bases: nine doubles, seven home runs, one triple. Simmons had a .357 on-base percentage versus Carlton, drawing 16 walks and getting hit by a pitch once.

The most significant home run Simmons hit against Carlton was on June 25, 1977, at St. Louis.

In the seventh inning, with the Phillies ahead, 2-1, Hector Cruz led off for the Cardinals and pulled the ball down the third-base line. Third baseman Mike Schmidt snared it, but his throw sailed past first baseman Richie Hebner. Cruz was credited with a single and advanced to second on Schmidt’s throwing error.

Simmons, due up next, turned to teammate Mike Anderson and said, “I’m just going to look for anything inside that I can pull and hit hard,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

With McCarver catching, the first pitch Carlton threw Simmons was a slider, low and on the inside corner of the plate.

“He might have wanted to get the ball in the dirt or something because usually he doesn’t give me the ball in the strike zone unless it’s outside,” Simmons told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Simmons hit the ball into the left-field seats for a two-run home run, giving the Cardinals a 3-2 lead.

“That’s one of the hardest he’s hit right-handed,” said Cardinals manager Vern Rapp. “That was hit deep into the deck.”

Said McCarver: “Simmons is just a good hitter. He might be the purest hitter in the game outside of Rod Carew. Maybe even more than Pete Rose because Simmons has more power.”

Bob Forsch and Rawly Eastwick held the Phillies scoreless over the last two innings, preserving the win for the Cardinals. Boxscore

Three years later, on April 26, 1980, at Philadelphia, Simmons got another key hit against Carlton, but it wasn’t a home run. Carlton pitched a one-hitter versus the Cardinals. Simmons’ single in the second deprived Carlton of a no-hitter, a feat that eluded him throughout his career. Boxscore

Special deliveries

Among other noteworthy home runs by Simmons against fellow future Hall of Famers were one hit against the Braves and another hit for them.

On Aug. 23, 1975, Simmons hit a grand slam against Phil Niekro, snapping a 1-1 tie in the fifth and carrying the Cardinals to a 7-2 win over the Braves at St. Louis. Simmons said he hit a low screwball, not Niekro’s signature knuckleball.

“I just golfed it,” Simmons said. “He’s been throwing me a lot of screwballs.”

The grand slam was the fifth of Simmons’ major-league career but his first versus a right-hander. Boxscore

Simmons batted .203 against Niekro in his career. He had almost as many walks (15) as hits (16).

On Aug. 31, 1986, the Cubs played the Braves in Atlanta. The Cubs started and ended the game with two future Hall of Famers, Dennis Eckersley and Lee Smith.

Simmons, 37, and in his first season with the Braves, led off the ninth, batting for pitcher Jeff Dedmon with the score tied at 3-3.

Throwing sliders, Smith got ahead in the count 1-and-2.

“Being down 1-and-2 is not the best situation to be in against Smith,” Simmons told the Chicago Tribune. “You’re living on the edge.”

On the next pitch, “Simmons timed the slider properly and launched an electric rainbow to right field,” the Atlanta Constitution reported.

The walkoff home run gave the Braves a 4-3 triumph. Boxscore

“When they say go up there and get it done like this, it’s do or die,” Simmons said. “When you do, it’s the greatest. When you don’t, it’s the worst. I like it.”

Read Full Post »

Ray Sadecki was the player the Cubs wanted in exchange for Lou Brock, but the timing wasn’t right. Sadecki got hot at the same time as the trade talks did and the Cardinals opted to keep him.

In May 1964, the Cubs and Cardinals discussed a proposed swap of Brock, an underachieving outfielder, for Sadecki, an underachieving starting pitcher, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Cubs general manager John Holland indicated “the Cardinals have shown a strong interest in Brock” and he wanted Sadecki in return.

In the story, which appeared on May 26, 1964, under the headline, “Cards Balk Cubs Bid for Sadecki; Brock Dangled as Trade Bait,” the Tribune reported a proposed swap involving Brock for Sadecki “was stalled by reluctance of someone in the St. Louis front office.”

Three weeks later, on June 15, 1964, the Cardinals dealt starting pitcher Ernie Broglio, reliever Bobby Shantz and outfielder Doug Clemens to the Cubs for Brock and pitchers Jack Spring and Paul Toth.

The deal, initially viewed as a steal for the Cubs, became the symbol for lopsided trades, with Brock becoming a Hall of Famer and Broglio, who damaged his right elbow, posting a 7-19 record in three years with Chicago.

Up and down

Sadecki was 17 in June 1958 when he signed with the Cardinals. Two years later, in May 1960, he made his major-league debut at 19 and earned nine wins as a rookie.

In 1961, Sadecki, 20, was an emerging ace. He was 14-10 and led the Cardinals in starts (31), complete games (13) and innings pitched (222.2).

The Cardinals offered him a $13,000 salary for 1962. Sadecki, who wanted $18,000, asked manager Johnny Keane to back him, but was sharply told to accept what was offered. They settled for $15,000, but a strain developed between Keane and Sadecki.

On June 5, 1962, in a relief stint in St. Louis against the Reds, Sadecki faced five batters, allowed five runs, committed two errors and was booed off the field. Keane called Sadecki’s performance “the worst display of effort I’ve ever seen on a big-league diamond” and fined him $250.

Sadecki, upset about his effort being questioned, asked to be traded and continued to struggle. On July 31, 1962, with a 6-8 record and 5.54 ERA, he was demoted to the minors.

Back with the Cardinals in 1963, Sadecki was 10-10 with a 4.10 ERA.

Pressure to perform

When Sadecki, 23, went to spring training in 1964, he was in the back of the starting rotation, behind Broglio, Bob Gibson and Curt Simmons.

“Sadecki should be our No. 4 pitcher,” Keane told The Sporting News. “It’s important for us to get Ray off to a good start.”

Instead, Sadecki lost his first three decisions. Cardinals fans were “booing him at every turn,” The Sporting News reported.

The slow start didn’t help Sadecki’s relationship with Keane. According to author David Halberstam, Keane “believed that professional, as well as financial, success had come too quickly to Sadecki, and that somehow he had not paid his dues.”

Keane valued speed in a lineup and was urging general manager Bing Devine to trade for Brock. Before the 1964 season began, the Cardinals offered Phil Gagliano for Brock. The Cubs needed a second baseman to replace Ken Hubbs, who was killed in a plane crash in February 1964, but they opted for Joey Amalfitano of the Giants instead of Gagliano.

The player the Cubs desired was Sadecki.

Change in plans

If the Cardinals were open to the notion of swapping Sadecki for Brock, they changed their minds in mid-May. Locating pitches better and throwing breaking balls for strikes, Sadecki surged, winning six of seven decisions from May 11 to June 9. Two of the wins were against the Cubs, giving him an 11-3 career record versus them.

“Ray’s progress, from my standpoint, has not been unexpected,” said Cardinals pitching coach Howie Pollet. “I’ve felt he’s a key man in our pennant chances.”

In an editorial, The Sporting News credited Keane.

“Had Keane sought the easy way out, he could have dealt Sadecki to any of several clubs which sought him,” The Sporting News declared. “The manager, however, determined that the southpaw could help the Cardinals. He stayed with him doggedly and patiently.”

After the Chicago Tribune revealed the stall in a Brock for Sadecki swap, Devine said “Brock’s name had been mentioned in trade talks, but there is no serious thought of a deal now,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Soon after, Devine’s perspective changed. The Cardinals lost five of their first six games in June, dropping to 26-25. After winning two of three against the Giants despite scoring a total of three runs, the Cardinals were swept by the Dodgers, scoring two runs in three games, and fell to 28-29 on June 13.

Needing a spark to the offense, Devine called the Cubs. The starting pitcher he was prepared to offer was Broglio.

An 18-game winner in 1963, Broglio won two of his first three decisions for the Cardinals in 1964, but was 0-3 in five starts from May 3 to May 24. Broglio’s right elbow ached and he couldn’t throw without pain, but the Cubs were unaware of the problem.

On May 30, 1964, Broglio pitched a complete game and beat the Reds. In his next start, a 3-0 loss to Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers, Broglio yielded only one earned run in 6.1 innings.

The Cubs jumped at the chance to acquire a proven winner who, at 28, appeared to be entering his prime.

Brock, batting .251 with a lame .300 on-base percentage, was not well-received by Cardinals veterans. Brock told the Chicago Tribune he felt “unwanted” when he reported to the Cardinals. “Some of his teammates concurred that there was a feeling of resentment” over the trading of Broglio for such a raw talent.

Acquiring Brock and keeping Sadecki proved to be a winning combination for the Cardinals, who clinched the pennant on the last day of the season. Brock batted .348 and produced an on-base percentage of .387. Sadecki was 20-11.

In the 1964 World Series against the Yankees, Sadecki won Game 1, and Brock hit .300 with five RBI, helping the Cardinals to their first championship in 18 years.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »