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Archive for the ‘Pitchers’ Category

The first home run hit by Leon Durham for the Cubs came against the relief ace the Cardinals acquired for him.

On April 29, 1981, Durham slugged a two-run home run versus Bruce Sutter to tie the score at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Four months earlier, the Cardinals had traded Durham, Ken Reitz and Ty Waller to the Cubs to get Sutter as their closer. He did the job, leading the National League in saves in three of his four seasons with the Cardinals and helping them win a World Series championship in 1982.

Nonetheless, it was a peculiar quirk of fate that when Sutter did have his first setback with the Cardinals, it was Durham who was responsible.

Still pals

Sutter was successful in his first four save opportunities for the Cardinals, including his first appearance against the Cubs.

In St. Louis on April 20, 1981, the Cubs played the Cardinals for the first time since the Sutter trade. Sutter, who played five seasons for the Cubs and won the 1979 National League Cy Young Award while with them, visited his former team’s clubhouse before the game “to renew old acquaintances,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

Later, from the Cardinals’ dugout, “It was really strange before the game, looking over there at the Cubs across the field and realizing I wasn’t one of them,” Sutter told the Tribune, “but once the game started, all of the feelings were gone. When I had to pitch against them, it was just a job. That’s what they pay me to do.”

Entering in the eighth to protect a 2-1 lead, Sutter retired all six batters he faced. He struck out two (Ivan DeJesus and Steve Henderson) and got Durham on a pop fly to left for the final out. Boxscore

“Bruce is the best at what he does,” Cubs manager Joey Amalfitano told the Tribune. “It looked like somebody pulled the pins out the way his ball was dropping when he struck out DeJesus.”

Showing there were no hard feelings, Sutter said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “I’ll probably go out later and have a few beers with some of the guys I played with.”

Durham delivers

Nine days later, the Cardinals made their first visit of the season to Chicago for a doubleheader with the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs won the opener, snapping a 12-game losing streak to put their season record at 2-13. Sutter relieved in the seventh inning of the second game with the Cardinals ahead, 2-0. He hadn’t allowed a run in five appearances totaling 10.2 innings for the Cardinals.

Sutter retired the first Cubs batter, then gave up a single. Durham was up next. As a Cardinals rookie in 1980, Durham had a single and a walk in two plate appearances versus Sutter, then a Cub.

Like many of the Cubs, Durham got off to a poor start in 1981. The triple he hit against the Cardinals’ Jim Kaat in the first game of the doubleheader raised his batting average to .209 and produced just his second RBI of the season. He still was seeking his first home run as a Cub.

Digging in against Sutter in Game 2, Durham later told the Tribune, “I was really keyed up to face him. Any time you face a guy you’ve been traded for, you really want to get a piece of him.”

A left-handed batter, Durham sliced a Sutter pitch into a strong wind. “The ball barely reached the basket in front of the left field stands,” the Tribune noted, but was good enough for a two-run home run, tying the score at 2-2. 

“I just wanted a hit off him,” Durham said to the Post-Dispatch. “He got me in St. Louis, and I got him today.”

Sutter told the newspaper, “I threw my best pitch. He hit it out. That’s the way it goes when you’re a relief pitcher.”

Sutter held the Cubs scoreless in the eighth and ninth before being lifted for a pinch-hitter.

With the score still tied after 11 innings, the game was suspended because of darkness. It was scheduled to be resumed July 3, but the players’ strike kept that from happening. The suspended game never was resumed and was declared a tie, with all statistics counting in the record books. Boxscore

Durham hit two more home runs against Sutter. Both came for the Cubs in 1985 when Sutter was with the Braves. For his career, Durham had a .412 batting average and .444 on-base percentage (seven hits and a walk in 18 plate appearances) versus Sutter.

In 1982, when the Cardinals were World Series champions, Sutter had six saves in seven appearances versus the Cubs, but his career ERA against them was 5.36, by far his highest versus any foe.

Against the Cardinals, Sutter had 25 career saves and a 3.21 ERA.

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Stan Musial played in 3,026 regular-season games for the Cardinals. Only once did he strike out three times in a game. The pitcher who did it: Dick Ellsworth.

A left-hander who pitched in 13 seasons with the Cubs, Phillies, Red Sox, Indians and Brewers, Ellsworth had a career record of 115-137. He twice lost 20 in a season with the Cubs (9-20 in 1962 and 8-22 in 1966).

Ellsworth’s most noteworthy season was 1963. He was 22-10 for the Cubs and his 2.11 ERA ranked second in the National League to the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax (1.88).

That also was the year Ellsworth did to Musial what no other pitcher had been able to do.

Top talent

As a youth in Fresno, Calif., Ellsworth followed the local minor-league team, an affiliate of the Cardinals. One of the players who made a strong impression on him was Larry Jackson, who had a 28-4 record for the 1952 Fresno Cardinals.

Ellsworth developed into an outstanding pitcher with Fresno High School. He had a 15-0 record his senior season and struck out 195 in 100 innings, according to the Fresno Bee. He was one of three future big-league players on the 1958 Fresno High School team. The others: Jim Maloney and Pat Corrales. Later, Tom Seaver attended the school.

The day after he graduated in June 1958, Ellsworth, 18, signed with the Cubs. Brought to Chicago, he started in a charity exhibition game against the White Sox at Comiskey Park and pitched a four-hit shutout.

A week later, Ellsworth made his official big-league debut in a start against the Reds at Cincinnati. With the bases loaded and the score tied at 1-1, Ellsworth was lifted for Glen Hobbie, whose belt-high fastball was slugged for a grand slam by Gus Bell. Boxscore

Sent to the minors, Ellsworth came back to stay with the Cubs in 1960. In his first appearance against the Cardinals, on May 14, 1960, at Chicago, he pitched seven scoreless innings and got the win. Boxscore

A year later, on May 20, 1961, Ellsworth earned his first big-league shutout, a 1-0 win against the Cardinals at Chicago. Matched against the pitcher he used to watch at Fresno, Larry Jackson, Ellsworth won the duel, tossing a three-hitter. After Ellsworth got Musial to tap to the mound with a runner at second for the final out in the top of the ninth, Ed Bouchee led off the bottom of the inning and walloped Jackson’s first pitch for a walkoff home run. Boxscore

Words of wisdom

After Ellsworth’s 20-loss season in 1962, two former Cardinals _ Cubs pitching coach Fred Martin and (there’s that name again) Larry Jackson _ helped convert him into a 22-game winner in 1963.

Ellsworth had stopped using a slider because the pitch caused him elbow pain, but at spring training in 1963 Martin showed him a better way to throw it, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

(Martin later taught Bruce Sutter to throw the split-fingered pitch that put him on the path to the Hall of Fame.)

Larry Jackson, acquired by the Cubs from the Cardinals after the 1962 season, helped Ellsworth develop the slider taught by Martin. “When Jackson joined our club, I asked him how he threw his slider because he has one of the best in the business,” Ellsworth told The Sporting News. “He showed me how to grip the ball and release it without jerking my arm. Now I can throw it without the slightest twinge in my arm.”

Jackson and another veteran Cubs pitcher, Bob Buhl, mentored Ellsworth on his approach to pitching. “I’d sit and talk to them after a game and they’d ask, ‘Why did you throw this pitch to that hitter in that spot?’ or ‘Why didn’t you curve with a 3-and-2 count?’ They helped teach me to think.”

Ellsworth, 23, learned his lessons well. He won eight of his first 11 decisions in 1963. One of the losses was to Ernie Broglio and the Cardinals by a 1-0 score. Boxscore

The next time Ellsworth faced the Cardinals, on July 15, 1963, at St. Louis, he used his bat, as well as his arm, to beat them. Ellsworth pitched 6.2 scoreless innings, exiting after a strikeout of Musial, and drilled a two-run single to center versus Broglio in the 2-0 victory. Boxscore 

Though his sinking fastball remained his best weapon, “the slider gave me a pitch that kept them honest,” Ellsworth explained to The Sporting News. “I’d push the right-handers back by jamming them on the wrists with the slider.”

Special stuff

Two weeks later, on July 28, 1963, Ellsworth started against the Cardinals at Chicago and beat them for his 15th win of the season. Ellsworth pitched a complete game, drove in a run, and struck out 10. Most remarkable, though, were his three strikeouts of Musial. No one had done that to The Man. Boxscore

With his whiff on July 15, followed by the three on July 28, Musial struck out in four consecutive plate appearances versus Ellsworth.

“It surely marked the lowest point of his 1963 season,” author James N. Giglio wrote in his book “Musial: From Stash to Stan the Man.”

Though 42 and in his final season as a player, Musial remained a tough out. That month, for instance, he belted a home run against Juan Marichal and produced two hits in a game versus Warren Spahn. He still made consistently hard contact and would finish his 22-year career never having struck out as many as 50 times in a season.

Against Ellsworth, it was different. Musial hit .219 with 10 strikeouts versus Ellsworth for his career. All seven of his hits against him were singles.

“I just can’t seem to pick up his ball,” Musial told the Post-Dispatch. “My timing hasn’t been right against him.”

Ellsworth said to the Fresno Bee, “I never think about strikeouts. I try to make them hit my pitch. I get more satisfaction in using my head than my arm. I don’t think I’m doing a real good job when I strike out a batter.”

On Sept. 2, 1963, Ellsworth beat the Giants for his 20th win of the season. That same day, his former high school teammate, Jim Maloney of the Reds, beat the Mets for his 20th win of the season.

Ellsworth was the first Cubs left-hander to achieve 20 wins in a season since Hippo Vaughn did it in 1919. 

“I wouldn’t trade him for Sandy Koufax,” pitching coach Fred Martin told The Sporting News. “Dick has more pitches than Koufax and he gets them over.”

Moving on

Ellsworth had losing records in each of the next four seasons. On July 18, 1966, at St. Louis, he gave up a pair of three-run home runs. Tim McCarver hit one and Mike Shannon belted the other 450 feet to left. Boxscore

In 1968, Ellsworth had a resurgence with the Red Sox, posting a 16-7 record for the defending American League champions.

Ellsworth finished with a career record of 15-14 versus the Cardinals. He had more wins against the Cardinals than he did versus any other club.

A son, Steve Ellsworth, pitched for the Red Sox in 1988.

Dick Ellsworth had a long and successful second career as a real estate salesman in Fresno. He died on Oct. 10, 2022, at 82.

 

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Looking to cap a comeback from an injury that nearly shattered his season, pitcher Tommy Boggs was expecting to start Game 2 of the National League Championship Series for the Braves against the Cardinals.

Instead, his hopes for a storybook ending got washed away on a stormy St. Louis night.

After suffering a partial tear of the rotator cuff in his right shoulder early in the season, Boggs wasn’t expected to pitch again in 1982, but he defied the odds and returned to the starting rotation on the last day of August, helping the Braves over the final month in their bid for a National League West Division title. The Braves felt so confident about Boggs’ recovery that they planned to give him a start in the playoff series versus the East Division champion Cardinals.

A right-hander who pitched nine seasons in the majors for the Rangers and Braves, Boggs died on Oct. 5, 2022, at 66.

Top talent

Born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Boggs was a year old when his family moved to Lexington, Ky. Boggs later played youth baseball there and rooted for the Reds, according to the Lexington Herald and the Austin American-Statesman.

After the family relocated to Austin, Texas, Boggs became a standout pitcher at Lanier High School. The Rangers took him with the second overall pick in the first round of the 1974 amateur baseball draft. Boggs was selected ahead of other first-rounders such as Lonnie Smith (Philies), Dale Murphy (Braves), Garry Templeton (Cardinals), Willie Wilson (Royals) and Rick Sutcliffe (Dodgers).

The Rangers called up Boggs, 20, from their Sacramento farm club in July 1976 and he joined a starting rotation with the likes of Gaylord Perry, Bert Blyleven and former Cardinal Nelson Briles. Boggs made his major-league debut in a start against the Red Sox, The first batter he struck out was Fred Lynn. The first hit he gave up was to Carl Yastrzemski. Boxscore

Relying on his fastball, Boggs impressed many, including Cleveland Indians manager Frank Robinson, who told The Sporting News, “He’s good now and he can be a great one. He has poise. He gives the impression he’s in total command, and that’s rare for one his age.”

After Boggs got his first big-league win against Whitey Herzog’s Royals, Rangers manager Frank Lucchesi told the Kansas City Times, “The kid is something special. He reminds me of a young Tom Seaver.” Boxscore

Trials and tribulations

The high expectations created a strain not even an exceptional fastball could overcome. Boggs’ record in two seasons with the Rangers was 1-10. In December 1977, they traded him to the Braves.

“Everything was always, potential, potential,” Boggs told the Austin newspaper. “You really get sick of hearing about it. One time, in triple-A, I saw this sign, one of those Charlie Brown things, that said, ‘The greatest burden in life is potential.’ For about three years, I really believed that.”

Boggs lost 21 of his first 24 decisions in the majors.

It wasn’t until 1979, when he was with the Braves’ farm club in Richmond, Va., that Boggs, 23, began fulfilling his potential. He credited Richmond pitching coach Johnny Sain, who taught him to throw a slider. “Before that, I was a two-pitch pitcher, fastball and curve,” Boggs told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “When my curve was off, the batters would just sit on my fastball.”

Boggs had his best season as a pro with Richmond, posting a 15-10 record with 16 complete games.

“I finally got the confidence that I could win again, and the slider was a big part of it,” Boggs said to the Austin American-Statesman. “The pitch, and the confidence, were the two big differences.”

In 1980, Braves manager Bobby Cox and pitching coach Cloyd Boyer, the former Cardinal, gave Boggs a spot in the starting rotation. Mixing his pitches effectively, he finished 12-9, including 3-0 versus the Cardinals.

“The key to pitching against the Cardinals is to keep Garry Templeton off base in front of the big guys,” Boggs told the Atlanta Constitution.

Boggs regressed in 1981 (3-13 record), but showed enough at spring training in 1982 to be a starter for manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Bob Gibson. In the Braves’ home opener, Boggs and Al Hrabosky combined to beat Don Sutton and the Astros. Boxscore

After two more starts in April 1982, Boggs felt pain in his right shoulder.

Down, not out

“When they told me it was a rotator cuff, it really scared me,” Boggs said to the Atlanta Constitution. “There goes your livelihood.”

Torre said, “If he helps us before the end of the season, I’d consider it a plus. I’m not thinking of him coming back before the end of the year.”

Specialists advised Boggs that rest, rather than surgery, was best. Two months later, Dr. Frank Jobe informed Boggs the tear in the rotator cuff had healed and cleared him to begin workouts.

When the Braves played the Cardinals that season, Boggs sought the advice of catcher Darrell Porter, who had experienced a similar injury in 1981. “It’s healed as much as it can, but I still have pain,” Porter told the Atlanta Constitution. “I can’t throw over the top like I used to. I can’t extend my arm. Boggs is facing something difficult.”

After working to strengthen the shoulder, Boggs made three starts for Richmond and was called up to the Braves.

On Aug. 31, 1982, in a start against the Phillies, Boggs made his first big-league appearance since the injury. He pitched six shutout innings and got the win. The two batters he struck out were Pete Rose and Mike Schmidt. Boxscore

“His control was phenomenal,” pitching coach Bob Gibson told the Atlanta Constitution. “I didn’t expect him to have control. He could be a big lift for us.”

Boggs said, “There were times in the last four months when I didn’t know if I could pitch again. Just to go out there was more gratifying than I can explain.”

Boggs made six starts in September for the Braves, showing he could contribute in the playoff series against the Cardinals.

Tough break

Torre chose Phil Niekro, Pascual Perez and Rick Camp as the starting pitchers for the first three games of the best-of-five National League Championship Series. Boggs was picked to start if a Game 4 was necessary.

Wet weather in St. Louis altered those plans. In Game 1 on Wednesday Oct. 6, Niekro pitched 4.1 scoreless innings and had a 1-0 lead when the game was called off because of rain. In the rescheduled Game 1 on Thursday Oct. 7, the Cardinals routed Perez and won, 7-0, on Bob Forsch’s three-hitter.

After the loss, Torre said he would start Niekro in Game 2 on Friday night Oct. 8, but on the morning of the game he changed his mind and said Boggs would start that night against the Cardinals. Torre told the Atlanta Constitution he based his decision on two factors: (1) Whether it’d be fair to pitch Niekro on one day’s rest, and (2) the possibility of having another Niekro start rained out that night.

Gibson called Boggs in his hotel room and informed him of Torre’s decision. Pitching in the playoffs is “something you prepare yourself for all your life,” Boggs told the Post-Dispatch.

Unfortunately for Boggs, it rained relentlessly and the game was called off before a pitch was thrown.

Afterward, Torre changed his mind again, saying Niekro, not Boggs, would start the rescheduled Game 2 on Saturday Oct. 9.

“Someone once told me that changing your mind is a sign of intelligence,” Torre said to the Atlanta Constitution. “After all the times I’ve changed my mind about pitching this year, I must be the most intelligent guy in the world.”

Though Torre said Boggs would start Game 4, if one was necessary, it didn’t soothe the sting Boggs felt about having his Game 2 assignment rained out and being bypassed for Niekro in the rescheduled game. “I’m disappointed,” Boggs told the Post-Dispatch. “I thought I had earned a right to pitch.”

The Cardinals won Game 2, rallying against reliever Gene Garber after Niekro went six innings, and clinched the pennant by beating Rick Camp in Game 3.

Boggs never got to pitch in a playoff game. His last season in the majors was 1985. He ended with a career record of 20-44.

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On the day he secured his sixth National League batting title, Stan Musial learned he should stick to hitting instead of pitching.

Musial pitched for the only time in a big-league game on Sept. 28, 1952, in the Cardinals’ season finale against the Cubs at St. Louis.

He threw one pitch to one batter, his closest pursuer for the batting title, Cubs outfielder Frankie Baumholtz, then returned to the outfield.

Musial’s pitching appearance was prearranged by the Cardinals, who hoped it would generate interest in a game with nothing at stake in the standings.

Instead, the stunt was an embarrassment to Musial.

Show time

The Cardinals (88-65) entered the final day of the 1952 season in third place in the National League and the Cubs (76-77) were in fifth. Regardless of the outcome in the season finale, both teams were assured of finishing in those spots in the standings.

On the morning of the final game, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Musial would pitch that Sunday afternoon, but only to Baumholtz. Cardinals manager Eddie Stanky told the newspaper Musial would pitch at least once to Baumholtz.

According to The Sporting News, the Cardinals received permission from National League president Warren Giles for Musial to pitch against Baumholtz.

In his book, “Stan Musial: The Man’s Own Story,” Musial said he “was persuaded” to pitch to Baumholtz “as a box office promotion.”

Musial entered the game with a league-leading .336 batting average. Baumholtz was second at .326. According to the Post-Dispatch, it remained mathematically possible for Baumholtz to surpass Musial for the batting title. For that to happen, Baumholtz would have to go 5-for-5 in the finale and Musial would need to go hitless in at least four at-bats.

If Baumholtz went 5-for-5, he’d finish with a batting average of .334. If Musial went 0-for-4 or 0-for-5, he’d finish at .333.

Though the odds were stacked against Baumholtz overtaking Musial, the Cardinals thought having Musial pitch to him would make it more intriguing.

On the mound

Musial began his professional career as a left-handed pitcher in the Cardinals’ system. After pitching two seasons (1938-39) for Williamson (W.Va.), Musial pitched for another Class D farm, the Daytona Beach (Fla.) Islanders, in 1940.

Musial was 18-5 with a 2.62 ERA for Daytona Beach. On days he didn’t pitch, he often played the outfield. In August 1940, he was playing center field against Orlando when he damaged his left shoulder trying to catch a sinking line drive.

The injury ended Musial’s pitching career. Moved fulltime to the outfield in 1941, Musial, 20, rose through the farm system, impressing with his hitting, and reached the majors with the Cardinals in September that year.

Eleven years later, he was asked to give pitching another try in order to end Frankie Baumholtz’s last-gasp bid to snatch the batting crown from him.

Having regrets

A crowd of 17,422 gathered at Sportsman’s Park for the 1952 season finale. Rookie left-hander Harvey Haddix was the Cardinals’ starting pitcher. Musial began the game in center field.

Haddix walked the Cubs’ leadoff batter, Tommy Brown. Then, with Baumholtz coming up, Musial went to pitch, Haddix moved to right field, and Hal Rice shifted from right to center.

“Musial took only a couple of pitches for warmup,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

In his autobiography, Musial said, “I didn’t relish the contrived show. I didn’t like it particularly because the one batter I’d face would be Baumholtz. I didn’t want to give any impression I might be trying to show him up.”

As Musial warmed up, Cubs manager Phil Cavarretta said to Baumholtz, “They’re trying to make a fool of you, Frank,” Baumholtz told author Danny Peary for the book “We Played the Game.”

Baumholtz said he replied, “I don’t think so. I think it’s just a gimmick to get a lot of people in the stands to watch two also-rans on the last day of the season.”

Send in the clowns

Baumholtz was strictly a left-handed batter, but he stood in from the right side to face Musial. Baumholtz never had batted right-handed. According to The Sporting News, Baumholtz made the switch as a gesture of sportsmanship because he “refused to try for a cheap hit” against the National League batting leader posing as a pitcher.

Or, as the St. Louis Globe-Democrat put it, “Baumholtz didn’t want to get something for nothing.”

Musial threw Baumholtz a fastball, the Post-Dispatch reported. In describing the pitch in his book, Musial said, “I flipped the ball.”

Baumholtz “met the ball squarely and it bounced on a big hop” to third baseman Solly Hemus, the Post-Dispatch reported. “Figuring on a double play, Hemus fumbled the ball. He then threw late and wide to first, and Brown took third.”

As United Press noted, “Baumholtz was safe on an error on what should have been a double play ball.”

Reaching on an error made Baumholtz 0-for-1 for the game and virtually eliminated his chance of overtaking Musial for the batting crown.

“I’m not proud of that circus,” Musial said in his autobiography.

After the Baumholtz at-bat, Musial, Haddix and Rice returned to their original positions. Haddix got the next batter, Bill Serena, to ground into a double play, but Brown scored from third for a 1-0 Cubs lead.

When Musial batted in the third inning, Cubs starter Paul Minner “tried to tease him with a slow underhand toss but it was wide of the plate,” the Globe-Democrat reported. On a curve, Musial fouled out to the catcher.

In the ninth, Musial lined a 3-and-2 pitch from Minner to left for a single. In going 1-for-3 in the game, Musial finished the season with a .336 batting average.

Baumholtz went 1-for-4 _ his hit was a bunt single in the sixth _ and placed second in the batting race at .325.

Haddix pitched eight innings and allowed three runs. Minner pitched a shutout in a 3-0 Cubs victory. Boxscore

Higher standards

In the seven seasons in which he won batting titles, Musial’s .336 mark in 1952 was his lowest. It also was the lowest figure by a NL batting leader since Ernie Lombardi of the Reds hit .330 in 1942.

“I had a bad year,” Musial said to the Globe-Democrat. “I wish I could have done better. My timing was off during the season.”

Yep, it was terrible. In addition to winning the batting crown, Musial, 31, led the National League in slugging percentage (.538), hits (194), total bases (311) and doubles (42) in 1952.

In his autobiography, Musial said he was “most disappointed” in his RBI total of 91 in 1952. It was the only time in a 10-year stretch from 1948-57 that Musial didn’t drive in 100 runs in a season.

 

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Tasked with putting team ahead of family, Andy Benes didn’t like the assignment but he performed like a pro and did his job exceptionally well.

On Sept. 6, 2002, brothers Andy Benes of the Cardinals and Alan Benes of the Cubs were the starting pitchers in a game at St. Louis. It was the first time a Cardinals starting pitcher was matched against a sibling, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Andy was the winner, pitching a complete game and producing two hits _ one to ignite an uprising and another to drive in a run _ against his younger brother in an 11-2 Cardinals victory.

The win was the 155th and last of Andy’s career in the majors.

Baseball brotherhood

Picked by the Padres as the first overall choice in the 1988 amateur baseball draft, Andy was a free agent when he signed with the Cardinals in December 1995.

Alan was chosen by the Cardinals in the first round of the 1993 draft immediately after the Blue Jays selected pitcher Chris Carpenter.

Andy and Alan were Cardinals teammates in 1996 and 1997. They were the Cardinals’ first brother pitching tandem since Lindy McDaniel and Von McDaniel in 1957-58.

The Benes brothers combined for 31 wins (Andy, 18; Alan, 13) in 1996 and 19 wins in 1997 (Andy, 10; Alan, 9). Alan came within an out of pitching a no-hitter against the Braves.

A contract snafu made Andy a free agent after the 1997 season and he went to the Diamondbacks. Alan injured his right shoulder and required two operations _ one in September 1997 and the other in September 1998.

Granted free agency after the 1999 season, Andy returned to the Cardinals, and he and Alan were teammates again in 2000 and 2001.

Alan’s shoulder surgeries took a toll, though, and he no longer was a promising starter. He was a reliever with the 2000 Cardinals and spent most of 2001 in the minors before becoming a free agent. The Cubs signed him to a minor-league contract for 2002.

Alan opened the 2002 season in the Cubs farm system. Andy made three April starts for the 2002 Cardinals before being sidelined because of an arthritic knee.

Family matter

On July 3, 2002, Andy was with the Cardinals’ Memphis affiliate, working himself back into form after his stint on the disabled list, when he and Alan, pitching for Iowa, opposed one another as starters for the first time. Alan got a hit, but Andy got the win in an 8-5 Memphis triumph.

Two weeks later, Andy rejoined the Cardinals. In late August, the Cubs called up Alan.

That set up their September showdown in St. Louis.

Because of their competitiveness, “I know he would throw some balls in on me if he needs to, and I would throw some balls in on him if I need to,” Alan told the Chicago Tribune.

The matchup of Andy, 35, and Alan, 30, was the first time pitching brothers started against one another in the majors since Ramon Martinez of the Dodgers faced Pedro Martinez of the Expos on Aug. 29, 1996. Ramon got the win in a 2-1 Dodgers triumph at Montreal. Boxscore

(Brothers Bob Forsch of the Cardinals and Ken Forsch of the Astros never faced one another as starting pitchers, but they did pitch as opponents in the same game four times.)

Oh, brother

Attending the 2002 Cubs versus Cardinals game at St. Louis were Benes family members, including Charles Benes, the father of Andy and Alan. Seated 20 rows behind home plate, Charles wore a Cardinals cap while Andy pitched and switched to a Cubs cap when Alan was on the mound.

“We were hoping for a 1-0 game,” Andy told the Associated Press.

The game was scoreless when Alan led off the top of the third inning and hit a soft liner to his brother. Andy caught it for an out, but then let the ball slip out of his glove in order to make Alan think he should run to first base. Alan took a few steps up the line before veering back to the dugout.

“I was just being playful,” Andy said to the Associated Press.

The kid stuff ended in the bottom half of the inning. Andy led off for the Cardinals and drove a high fastball to left for a single.

The hit triggered a merciless assault on poor Alan.

After Fernando Vina singled, Alan unleashed a wild pitch, enabling Andy and Vina to each move up a base. Eli Marrero singled, scoring Andy for a 1-0 lead. After Jim Edmonds walked, Albert Pujols singled, scoring Vina and Marrero. The Cardinals led 3-0.

Scott Rolen struck out, but Tino Martinez lofted a fly ball to deep right. Sammy Sosa leaped for the ball, missed it completely and it fell for a double, driving in Edmonds and Pujols and making the score 5-0.

During the barrage, Andy left the dugout and went into the tunnel that led to the clubhouse. “It just kind of killed me watching it,” Andy explained to the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat. “I had to kind of regroup. He’s my younger brother and I’m his second-biggest fan behind his wife. It’s gut-wrenching. It’s like you can beat up your younger brother, but nobody else can.”

After Edgar Renteria was walked intentionally, Mike Matheny made the second out, bringing Andy to the plate for the second time in the inning.

Andy delivered the knockout blow, a single to center that scored Martinez and made it 6-0.

Alan was relieved by Jesus Sanchez, who allowed both runners he inherited, Renteria and Andy, to score. Those runs were charged to Alan. The Cardinals scored 11 runs in the inning. Alan was responsible for eight of those. Boxscore

“I couldn’t make the big pitch to slow them down,” Alan told the Post-Dispatch.

Andy concluded, “I knew it was going to be tough today. It was going to be very emotional for everybody, regardless of results.”

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In the same year Jackie Robinson integrated the big leagues, Dan Bankhead became the first black pitcher in the majors.

In August 1947, Bankhead debuted for the Dodgers against the Pirates. His second appearance came against the Cardinals.

Unlike Robinson, Bankhead didn’t have a Hall of Fame career. He pitched in three seasons for the Dodgers and had a 9-5 record. Versus the Cardinals, he was 2-0, including his lone shutout.

Talent search

During the 1947 season, while the front-running Dodgers tried to fend off the Cardinals in the National League pennant race, Dodgers executive Branch Rickey launched a nationwide search for pitching help. Two of his scouts, Hall of Famer George Sisler and Wid Matthews, recommended Bankhead, a right-hander with the Memphis Red Sox of the Negro American League.

Bankhead was 20 when he began his pro baseball career in 1940 with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League. According to the New York Times, he served three years (1942-45) in the Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

After his discharge, Bankhead joined the Memphis Red Sox and his baseball career soared. B.B. Martin, a dentist who owned the Memphis club and had been involved in Negro League baseball for many years, called Bankhead “one of the great pitchers I have ever seen,” the Associated Press reported.

On July 27, 1947, Bankhead was the winning pitcher in the Negro League All-Star Game before 48,112 spectators, including Dodgers scouts, at Comiskey Park in Chicago. About the same time, Rickey began his search to bolster a Dodgers pitching staff led by 21-year-old ace Ralph Branca and closer Hugh Casey.

“I’ve flown all over the country trying to find the best possible solution to a problem that I consider desperate,” Rickey told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Rickey eventually focused his attention on Bankhead. In August, he saw him pitch a five-hitter and strike out 11 in a win against Birmingham. Rickey was as impressed with Bankhead’s poise and confidence as he was with his fastball. For the season, Bankhead was 11-5 with more strikeouts than innings pitched.

Rickey, who told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, “In the last three weeks, I’ve looked at more pitchers than any man in North America,” became convinced Bankhead, 27, could help the Dodgers immediately.

Dan or Diz?

On Aug. 24, 1947, the Dodgers purchased Bankhead’s contract from Memphis for $15,000. He became the second black player in the National League, joining Dodgers teammate Jackie Robinson, who integrated baseball four months earlier.

As the first black pitcher in the big leagues, Bankhead’s arrival in Brooklyn received much attention. Rickey upped the ante when he told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, “If he were a couple of inches taller and if he had better command of that change of pace, his style would strongly suggest that of Dizzy Dean.”

Rickey added, “He wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think he had extraordinary ability, but, at the same time, I regret the necessity of rushing him right into the National League.”

On Aug. 26, two days after he signed with the Dodgers, Bankhead made his debut at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. About one-third of the crowd of 24,069 were blacks, according to the Associated Press. As the game began, Bankhead walked to the bullpen “to the tune of welcoming applause,” the New York Times reported.

Pitching in relief of starter Hal Gregg, Bankhead gave up eight runs in 3.1 innings. His highlight came in his first plate appearance in the big leagues: a two-run home run into the left field seats against the Pirates’ 39-year-old Fritz Ostermueller. Boxscore

Dodgers manager Burt Shotton suggested Bankhead was tipping his pitches, inadvertently letting the Pirates know what was coming.

“I admit the boy didn’t look good,” Shotton said to the Associated Press, “but he certainly showed me he knows how to pitch. He has speed, a good curve and control. His delivery could be improved. The boys were calling all his pitches before they were made. His motion is too slow with men on bases.”

Noting that at Memphis he made three starts a week and often relieved on other days, Bankhead told the Associated Press, “I’m quite a bit overworked,” but added, “This is no alibi … They (the Pirates) smoked back every pitch faster than I threw it.”

Another test

Bankhead didn’t pitch again until two weeks later, Sept. 12, at St. Louis.

The Cardinals were an especially difficult test. Before facing Jackie Robinson for the first time in May, some of the Cardinals’ players reportedly threatened to boycott the game in protest of having a black player on the field. Three months later, Cardinals baserunner Enos Slaughter spiked Robinson on the foot. Some thought it was intentional.

Naturally, the first Cardinals batter to face a black pitcher was Slaughter.

Entering in relief of Casey with two outs and a runner on third in the seventh, Bankhead got Slaughter to ground out. Boxscore

(It would take seven more years, 1954, before the Cardinals had a black pitcher, Bill Greason, play for them.)

Bankhead pitched in four games, earning one save, for the 1947 Dodgers, who won the pennant. His roommate on the road, Jackie Robinson, won the Rookie of the Year Award.

In the book “We Played the Game,” another black pitcher, Don Newcombe, who was with the Dodgers’ farm team in Nashua, N.H., in 1947, said Bankhead “was a pretty good pitcher who struck out a lot of batters, but I think he was brought in mostly as a companion for Jackie.”

Sign of the times

Bankhead spent the next two years in the minors, achieving 20 wins in each season.

With nothing more to prove in the minors, Bankhead seemed ready for a return to the Dodgers in 1950, but there was a catch. According to the New York Daily News, Branch Rickey Jr., the Dodgers’ farm director and son of Branch Rickey Sr., candidly called it the “saturation point.” The 1950 Dodgers already had three blacks _ Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe and Jackie Robinson _ and the ignorant consensus of the time was that a ballclub wasn’t ready for more.

Branch Rickey Sr. “worked hard” to sell Bankhead’s contract to the White Sox, but was unsuccessful, The Sporting News reported. The Braves wanted Bankhead but the cost was deemed too steep.

“Rickey made it clear his price for Bankhead ran in the six figures,” The Sporting News reported.

Right stuff

Unable to trade Bankhead, the Dodgers opened the season with him and he won his first four decisions.

On June 18 at Brooklyn, Bankhead shut out a Cardinals lineup that included Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst and Enos Slaughter.

“Bankhead smothered each scoring chance as he poured across his fastball and snapped off his curve,” the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported.

Bankhead also had three hits and scored a run. Boxscore

The New York Daily News described him as “the tremendous triple threat man who is the pleasant surprise of the season. Dan can pitch, he can hit and he can run.”

Moved to the bullpen, Bankhead was 3-0 with two saves for the Dodgers in September. He finished the 1950 season at 9-4 and was hailed by The Sporting News as “a competitor of high quality. He has the stuff and the brass.”

Border crossings

In 1951, Dan’s brother, Sam Bankhead, became the first black manager “in organized baseball” when he signed to lead the Farnham club of the Class C Provincial League in Canada, United Press reported. As player-manager of the Homestead Grays of the Negro National League, Sam had led them to pennants in 1949 and 1950.

The 1951 season didn’t go so well for Dan Bankhead. He began the year with the Dodgers, went 0-1 in seven games and never again pitched in the majors.

“Dan and I were roommates for a while,” Don Newcombe told author Danny Peary. “He was a good pitcher, but didn’t have that much desire to play in the majors. Dan preferred playing in the wintertime because he had fallen in love with a woman in Mexico.”

Bankhead pitched in the Mexican League until 1966 when he was 42. He also became a manager there.

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