Archive for the ‘Pitchers’ Category

Grover Cleveland Alexander lost his spot on the Cardinals when manager Bill McKechnie lost confidence in the pitcher’s ability to come to games ready to play.

Ninety years ago, on Aug. 19, 1929, McKechnie determined Alexander’s alcoholism made him unreliable and sent him back to St. Louis during a Cardinals road trip.

Cardinals owner Sam Breadon, who liked Alexander and was sympathetic to him, told him to go home to Nebraska, sit out the rest of the 1929 season and try to get sober.

Alexander never pitched for the Cardinals again.

Shell shocked

After compiling a 190-88 record in seven seasons with the Phillies, Alexander was traded to the Cubs in December 1917. He entered the Army in the spring of 1918 and experienced extensive combat in Europe during World War I.

Exposed to heavy artillery shelling, Alexander lost hearing in his left ear, suffered damage to his right ear, developed epilepsy and became an alcoholic.

Alexander returned to the Cubs in May 1919 and pitched effectively for several seasons, but his drinking eventually got him in trouble with rookie manager Joe McCarthy, who took over in 1926 and wanted him off the team.

Years later, Alexander’s wife, Aimee Alexander, told Sport magazine, “Alex always thought he could pitch better with a hangover, and maybe he could, at that.”

In June 1926, the Cubs granted McCarthy’s request, placed Alexander on waivers and he got claimed by the Cardinals.

Under control

In his book “Redbirds: A Century of Cardinals Baseball,” author Bob Broeg described Alexander, 39, as “freckled and turkey-wattled from a long, hard athletic life, knock-kneed, wearing his cap perched on top of his head like a peanut.”

Alexander may not have had control of his personal demons, but he still had command of his pitches. According to Broeg, Alexander was called “Old Low and Away” by teammate Jesse Haines for his ability “to pinpoint pitches down across the lower, outer edge of the plate.”

Alexander was 9-7 for the Cardinals the remainder of the 1926 season, helping them win their first National League pennant. In the 1926 World Series against the Yankees, Alexander made two starts, won both, and earned the save in Game 7 with 2.1 innings of hitless relief, including an iconic strikeout of Tony Lazzeri with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh.

Alexander was 21-10 for the Cardinals in 1927 and 16-9 in 1928 when they won their second National League championship.

At 42, Alexander still was a starter for the Cardinals in 1929, but he delivered one of his best performances in a relief stint.

On Aug. 10, 1929, in the second game of a Saturday doubleheader against the Phillies at Philadelphia, McKechnie brought Alexander into the game in the eighth inning with the Cardinals trailing, 9-8. According to Broeg, McKechnie said to Alexander, “Hold ’em, and we’ll win it for you.”

The Cardinals got a run in the ninth to tie the score at 9-9 and two in the 11th for an 11-9 lead. Alexander did his part, pitching four scoreless innings and earning the win, the 373rd and last of his major-league career. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals catcher Jimmie Wilson said Alexander had such control of his pitches against the Phillies “he could have hit a gnat in the eyebrow.” Boxscore

Basic training

Philadelphia prohibited Sunday baseball, so with a day off on Aug. 11, 1929, Alexander informed McKechnie he planned to go to Atlantic City to visit friends.

According to Broeg, Alexander told McKechnie, “I won’t take a drink.”

McKechnie replied, “I don’t care if you take a drink. Just return Monday, fit and ready to work.”

Alexander returned to the club on Monday looking “unsightly and shaky,” according to Broeg.

McKechnie warned Alexander not to let it happen again.

On Aug. 17, 1929, Alexander got the start against the Giants in Game 2 of a Saturday doubleheader in New York and took the loss, yielding five runs in three innings and dropping his record to 9-8.

Alexander went on a drinking binge again. Two days later, on Aug. 19, 1929, during a day off in Brooklyn, McKechnie “ordered Alexander to leave the team for breaking training” rules, the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported.

McKechnie had given Alexander “repeated warnings” and said he decided “to use stern measures” because “leniency had failed to gain results,” the Associated Press reported.

In the Post-Dispatch, J. Roy Stockton wrote, “Everybody knows what caused Alexander’s final break with Bill McKechnie. His waywardness has been disguised by a kindly newspaper world as mumps, measles, lumbago, indigestion and ptomaine poisoning, but it is doubtful if anybody is fooled.”

Fond farewell

Alexander got back to St. Louis on Aug. 20, 1929, and told the St. Louis Star-Times, “I’ve been a bad boy of baseball and I’m paying for it now. There’s no one to blame but myself and I hold no hard feelings toward anyone. Everyone knows I never was an angel.”

Alexander met with Breadon the next day, Aug. 21, 1929. Breadon thought it best for Alexander to take a break from baseball, but said he would continue to pay him during his leave of absence.

“Mr. Breadon told me to go home and straighten up with a long rest and all would be all right,” Alexander said to the Post-Dispatch. “I am going home to St. Paul, Nebraska, and go fishing for bullheads. I expect to regain my best condition and to pitch for the club next year.”

According to the Globe-Democrat, Breadon said McKechnie “did right to order (Alexander) away from the team and I support McKechnie in his moves.”

Breadon added, “I have always been very fond of Alexander and I could not deal harshly with him. It has been said I have disciplined my managers for not holding Alexander closer to the mark, but the actual truth is I have been even more lenient with Alexander than the managers.”

Four months later, on Dec. 11, 1929, the Cardinals traded Alexander and catcher Harry McCurdy to the Phillies for pitcher Bob McGraw and outfielder Homer Peel.

Alexander was 0-3 with a 9.14 ERA in nine appearances for the 1930 Phillies, got sent to the minors and didn’t play in the big leagues again.

He and Christy Mathewson are tied for third among major leaguers in career wins at 373. Only Cy Young (511) and Walter Johnson (417) have more.

Alexander struggled with personal and financial problems during the Great Depression. According to Broeg, Breadon, for the rest of his life, paid Alexander $100 a month, sending the check through the National League office. After Breadon died in 1949, Fred Saigh, part of the Cardinals’ new ownership, kept up the payments to Alexander and paid for the funeral when Alexander died in 1950.

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Mike Roarke brought out the best in Bruce Sutter, earned the trust and respect of Joaquin Andujar and John Tudor, guided the comeback of Dan Quisenberry, and enhanced the careers of several other Cardinals pitchers, including Danny Cox, Ken Dayley, Jose DeLeon and Jeff Lahti.

Roarke died July 27, 2019, at 88. He was the pitching coach on the staff of Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog from 1984-90 and helped the club win National League pennants in 1985 and 1987.

Sutter, the Hall of Fame reliever, viewed Roarke as a guru and went to him for advice throughout his career.

Teaching skills

Roarke was a standout athlete at Boston College. He was a catcher on the baseball team and a receiver on the football team. His football teammates included defensive tackles Art Donovan and Ernie Stautner, whose NFL careers earned them induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Roarke chose to pursue a baseball career. He played four seasons (1961-64) in the major leagues as a backup catcher for the Tigers. He and Herzog were teammates on the 1963 Tigers.

After his playing career, Roarke was a coach for the Tigers and Angels, managed in the minor leagues, and from 1976-77 was a pitching instructor in the Cubs system.

Sutter signed with the Cubs as an 18-year-old amateur free agent in September 1971. He struggled until Cubs minor-league instructor Fred Martin, a former Cardinals pitcher, taught him the split-fingered pitch. Martin showed Sutter how “to spread his index and middle fingers and throw the ball like he would a fastball,” the Chicago Tribune noted. “Immediately, he got the ball to dive.”

Roarke never had seen the split-fingered pitch. When he joined the Cubs in 1976, he studied Sutter and learned the mechanics of what made the pitch work for him. Roarke mastered an understanding of what it took for Sutter to excel.

Sutter made his major-league debut with the Cubs in May 1976. Two years later, in 1978, Roarke became the Cubs’ pitching coach and Sutter’s career soared. He led the National League in saves with 37 in 1979 and 28 in 1980.

In September 1980, another future Hall of Fame reliever, Lee Smith, made his major-league debut with the Cubs and was mentored by Roarke.

Career paths

After the 1980 season, Roarke left the Cubs because he wanted to spend more time with his wife and five children at home in Rhode Island. Shortly after, on Dec. 9, 1980, the Cubs traded Sutter to the Cardinals.

Roarke took a job in Rhode Island as an insurance salesman. The Red Sox contacted him and asked whether he would be the pitching coach for their Pawtucket farm club. An arrangement was made for Roarke to work only home games. He’d sell insurance during the day before heading to the ballpark.

Roarke was the Pawtucket pitching coach from 1981-83. Among the Red Sox prospects he mentored were Oil Can Boyd, Bruce Hurst, Al Nipper and Bob Ojeda.

“He just turned me around,” Hurst told Sports Illustrated. “If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have returned to the big leagues in 1981.”

With the Cardinals, Sutter led the league in saves with 25 in strike-shortened 1981 and 36 in their 1982 World Series championship season. In 1983, he stumbled, posting a 4.23 ERA.

Hub Kittle was the pitching coach in Sutter’s first three Cardinals seasons. With Kittle’s permission, Sutter arranged for Roarke to come to St. Louis each year and work with him “because he felt Roarke was the only other person who understood the vagaries and processes involved in his split-fingered pitch,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Right time

After the 1983 season, Kittle asked to be reassigned because his wife was ill and he wanted the flexibility to spend more time with her.

Kittle became a minor-league instructor and Herzog approached Roarke about becoming pitching coach. By then, four of Roarke’s five children had graduated high school.

“The offer came at the right time,” Roarke said. “A couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have taken it.”

The Cardinals hired him on Oct. 11, 1983.

Herzog said, “I can’t deny that having Bruce here was one of the main reasons I hired Mike.” But Roarke revealed, “If they had wanted me just to work with Sutter, I wouldn’t have taken the job.”

“I knew he was knowledgeable and had good rapport with players,” Herzog said. “When Mike talked, people listened.”

Herzog became dissatisfied with the Cardinals’ pitching in 1983 and, although he didn’t blame Kittle, he made it clear he wanted changes.

“Our pitchers wouldn’t pitch inside last year,” Herzog said. “They were pitching behind too often and we don’t strike anybody out. We can’t pitch that way. We’ve got to pitch inside and change speeds.”

Making a difference

At spring training in 1984, Roarke discovered a flaw in Sutter’s delivery. “After he had come to a stretch position, Sutter was not squaring himself with the plate,” Roarke said.

Roarke also went to work on Andujar, who had slumped to a 6-16 record in 1983. Andujar was a Kittle disciple but liked what he heard from Roarke. “He’s a really smart guy,” Andujar said. “He knows how to talk to people.”

Under Roarke’s guidance in 1984, Sutter earned 45 saves and posted a 1.54 ERA. Andujar was a 20-game winner.

“What it all boils down to is the confidence factor,” Sutter said. “When someone you believe in asks you to make an adjustment, you’re more likely to do what he says than if someone you don’t know asks you.”

After the 1984 season, the Cardinals acquired Tudor from the Pirates. Tudor began his career with the Red Sox, knew of Roarke from his work there and was comfortable with him.

In 1985, Tudor and Andujar each earned 21 wins and Cox got 18. Sutter departed to the Braves as a free agent, but Lahti and Dayley stepped up. Lahti had 19 saves and a 1.84 ERA. Dayley had 11 saves and a 2.76 ERA.

Cox credited Roarke with developing a new delivery that put less strain on his arm, The Sporting News reported. Dayley said Roarke taught him how to make his breaking ball sharper and keep his pitches down in the strike zone.

After the 1987 season, the Cubs needed a manager and were interested in Roarke, The Sporting News reported, but he decided not to pursue the chance. “I think he could have had it if he wanted,” Herzog said. The job went to Don Zimmer instead.

Roarke remained with the Cardinals and among those he helped were Quisenberry and DeLeon.

Quisenberry, released by the Royals, was 3-1 with a 2.64 ERA for the 1989 Cardinals and credited Roarke with enabling him to regain his sinker. “I can’t bend over like I used to,” Quisenberry said. “Mike taught me to throw like a 36-year-old.”

DeLeon, who was 2-19 for the 1985 Pirates, was 13-10 with the Cardinals in 1988 and 16-12 in 1989. DeLeon credited Roarke with making two changes: He altered DeLeon’s step before his delivery and got him to keep his back straight instead of leaning over.

In July 1990, Herzog resigned and Joe Torre replaced him. Roarke, who was not retained, became pitching coach for the Padres.

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Before Ernie Broglio became a principal figure in the Lou Brock trade, he had much success, including his greatest game, against the Cubs.

Broglio died July 16, 2019, at 83. He was a premium starting pitcher when the Cubs acquired him, reliever Bobby Shantz and outfielder Doug Clemens from the Cardinals for Brock and pitchers Jack Spring and Paul Toth on June 15, 1964.

Based on his results for the Cardinals, the Cubs thought Broglio would be a consistent winner.

Broglio earned 21 wins for the Cardinals in 1960 and 18 in 1963.

The right-hander was 11-4, with four shutouts, as a Cardinal against the Cubs.

The best of those performances came on July 15, 1960, when Broglio pitched a one-hitter and struck out 14 in a 6-0 Cardinals victory over the Cubs at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Right stuff

Broglio entered the Friday night game with a 9-4 record and a streak of four consecutive wins.

With one out in the second inning, the Cubs’ Ed Bouchee, a left-handed batter, lined a single against the screen in right field. Broglio retired the next 13 batters in a row before Richie Ashburn drew a walk with two outs in the sixth.

In the seventh, Ernie Banks walked with one out before Broglio retired the last eight batters in a row.

Every Cubs starter except Bouchee struck out. None of the three Cubs baserunners advanced to second. Boxscore

“This is the best I’ve ever seen Broglio pitch,” Cardinals manager Solly Hemus said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Broglio “kept the Cubs off balance with changing speeds and breaking stuff,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

Asked by the Post-Dispatch which pitch worked best, Broglio said, “My curve. It was breaking off fine.”

Cardinals catcher Carl Sawatski told the Associated Press, “His curveball was working almost perfectly and his fastball was as good as ever.”

Broglio credited Sawatski with perfect pitch selection. “I didn’t shake him off once,” Broglio said.

Sawatski also contributed a solo home run onto the right-field pavilion roof against starter Don Cardwell, who pitched a no-hitter for the Cubs against the Cardinals two months earlier on May 15, 1960.

Big deal

Two months after his gem against the Cubs, Broglio shut them out again, pitching a three-hitter in a 4-0 Cardinals triumph on Sept. 3, 1960, at St. Louis. He struck out seven and walked two. Boxscore

Broglio was 3-0 with a 1.15 ERA versus the Cubs in 1960.

When the Cubs acquired him from the Cardinals, Broglio, 28, was regarded a more prominent player than Brock. In six seasons (1959-64) with the Cardinals, Broglio was 70-55, including 18 shutouts. Brock hit .257 in four seasons (1961-64) with the Cubs.

In a 2014 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Broglio recalled, “I was a little bit upset because I wanted to finish my career with the Cardinals.”

Asked to recall his reaction to the trade, Bill White, the first baseman for the 1964 Cardinals, told me in a 2011 interview, “We all thought it was nuts. Lou was a raw talent. At that point, he didn’t really understand baseball. He might try to steal while 10 runs up or 10 runs down.”

According to the Tribune, Brock “had fallen into some disfavor” with Cubs manager Bob Kennedy, “a stickler for sound application of baseball’s fundamentals.”

“Kennedy was irritated at times by Brock’s erratic outfield play and occasionally by his unsound baserunning,” the Tribune reported.

Kennedy said the acquisition of Broglio “gives us as good a pitching staff as there is in the league.” Cubs third baseman Ron Santo added, “With our pitching staff now, we can win the pennant.”

Broglio, who had a damaged right elbow, was 4-7 with a 4.04 ERA for the 1964 Cubs, who finished eighth at 76-86. In a 2016 interview with his hometown San Jose Mercury News, Broglio said, “They (Cardinals) got rid of used merchandise. The Cubs didn’t know. Nowadays, that trade never would have happened.”

Brock hit .348 with 33 stolen bases and 81 runs scored, sparking the 1964 Cardinals to the National League pennant and a World Series championship.

Broglio told the Mercury News the Cardinals players went to Stan Musial’s restaurant in St. Louis after clinching the World Series title and called him at his home in San Jose to thank him for his contributions and to have him feel a part of the celebration.

Broglio was 7-19 with a 5.40 ERA in three seasons (1964-66) with the Cubs. Brock went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Cardinals.

According to the San Jose newspaper, Brock sent Broglio an autographed photo with the inscription, “History and time have tied us together. You are and were a hellava player.”

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After being demoted to the minors early in his rookie season with the Cardinals, Bob Gibson got a chance to return a few months later and showed he belonged in the big leagues.

Sixty years ago, on July 30, 1959, Gibson made his first major-league start for the Cardinals and pitched a shutout in a 1-0 triumph over the Reds at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

The win was the first of a club-record 251 Gibson achieved with the Cardinals. He and fellow Baseball Hall of Famer Jesse Haines (210) are the only pitchers to earn 200 wins as Cardinals.

Work in progress

Gibson, 23, made his big-league debut for the Cardinals on April 15, 1959, in a relief appearance against the Dodgers at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

After pitching in three games, all in relief, for the Cardinals and posting a 10.12 ERA, Gibson was demoted to Class AAA Omaha on April 28, 1959.

Playing for manager Joe Schultz, Gibson was 9-9 with a 3.07 ERA in 135 innings pitched for Omaha.

In his book “From Ghetto to Glory,” Gibson said, “Pitching regularly, my early wildness practically vanished. That pleased me and evidently it pleased the Cardinals.”

The Cardinals brought him back on July 29, 1959, and manager Solly Hemus told him he’d start the next night against the Reds.

Close call

Before the game, Reds farm director Phil Seghi told Bill Ford of the Cincinnati Enquirer that Gibson nearly signed with the Reds instead of the Cardinals in 1957 when he was attending Creighton University in Omaha.

“As late as 2 in the morning, he agreed to verbal terms with us,” Seghi said, “but by daylight he had jumped to the Cardinals.”

Seghi said “a member of the Gibson family nixed the deal” with the Reds.

According to the Dayton Daily News, Gibson’s basketball coach at Creighton, Tommy Thomsen, scouted for the Reds and recommended Gibson.

“The Reds looked him over a few times and decided they liked what they saw,” the Dayton newspaper reported. “So they told Thomsen to go to work on him and try to get him to sign. Thomsen thought he was making progress until he read Gibson had signed with Omaha, a Cardinals farm. The Reds representatives quickly got in touch with Gibson and the youngster said he was a native of Omaha and he felt honor-bound to sign with the hometown team.”

Tested early

Gibson was matched in his first Cardinals start against Reds rookie Jim O’Toole. Years earlier, Gibson and O’Toole competed for a roster spot on a semipro team in South Dakota and Gibson got the job.

In the first inning, Gibson quickly got into trouble when Johnny Temple led off with a walk and the next batter, Vada Pinson, singled. Gus Bell grounded to short, forcing Pinson at second and advancing Temple to third. With runners on first and third, one out, Gibson escaped the mess unscathed when Frank Robinson flied out to shallow center and Jerry Lynch grounded out.

The Cardinals scored in the second. Ken Boyer led off with a double, moved to third on Bill White’s groundout to second and scored on Joe Cunningham’s single. In the bottom half of the inning, Gibson struck out his first big-league batter, Willie “Puddin’ Head” Jones.

In the fifth, O’Toole’s single “bounced off the left shin of Gibson, momentarily throwing fear into the Cards,” the Cincinnati Enquirer reported, but Gibson was able to continue and got the next batter, Temple, to ground into a double play.

Dramatic ending

Gibson’s biggest challenge occurred in the ninth.

Lynch led off with a single and Ed Bailey followed with a liner toward White at first base. White stopped the hard smash with the thumb of his glove. The ball fell to the ground and White picked it up and threw to second in time to force out Lynch.

With a runner on first, Jones popped out to the catcher for the second out, but Gibson walked pinch-hitters Frank Thomas and Don Newcombe on eight consecutive pitches to load the bases for Temple, who was batting .328.

In his book “Stranger to the Game,” Gibson said, “I was half-expecting Hemus to yank me out of the game.”

Reliever Marshall Bridges was ready in the bullpen, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, but Hemus stuck with Gibson.

Gibson’s first two pitches to Temple were outside the strike zone and called balls. After a called strike on the third pitch, Temple fouled off a delivery to even the count at 2-and-2.

On the next pitch, a fastball, Temple hit a liner to shallow center and it was caught by Curt Flood for the final out.

The Cincinnati Enquirer called Gibson’s ninth-inning escape act “a credit to his competitive determination.”

Gibson, sipping a cup of orange soda, told the Post-Dispatch, “I can throw a lot harder, but my shoulder has been a little sore for the past week.” Boxscore

Hit or miss

Gibson lost his next five decisions before earning a win on Sept. 12, 1959, in a start against the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Gibson pitched a six-hitter, struck out 10 and drove in a run in the 6-4 Cardinals victory.

He didn’t pitch again for two weeks until Hemus used him in relief in the last game of the season against the Giants on Sept. 27, 1959.

In “from Ghetto to Glory,” Gibson said, “I was so bored I would sit on the bench in the far corner of the dugout and I’d just about fall asleep because it’s no fun when you’re not playing.”

Gibson finished with a 3-5 record and 3.33 ERA in 13 appearances for the 1959 Cardinals. His ERA as a starter was 3.16.

“The few times I did get a chance to pitch I could not possibly be sharp because of lack of work,” Gibson said. “Especially when I went eight or nine days without pitching. I’d be exceptionally strong and the ball would move every which way. I never knew where it was going and, as a result, I walked a lot of men (39 in 75.2 innings) and made too many mistakes.”

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Shortly before Al Hrabosky became prominent, another pitcher with a double-consonant start to his name, Joe Grzenda, was the Cardinals’ top left-handed reliever.

Grzenda died July 12, 2019, at 82. He pitched eight seasons in the major leagues for the Tigers (1961), Athletics (1964 and 1966), Mets (1967), Twins (1969), Senators (1970-71) and Cardinals (1972).

The Cardinals, seeking a reliever who could get out left-handed batters, acquired Grzenda from the Senators for infielder Ted Kubiak on Nov. 3, 1971, but it didn’t work out the way they’d hoped.

Nervous energy

Grzenda, a Polish-American, was born in Scranton, Pa. His father was a coal miner. Grzenda signed with the Tigers when he was 18 in 1955. He injured his arm in the minor leagues and developed a sidearm delivery, relying on a sinker.

After making his major-league debut with the Tigers in 1961, Grzenda was released in 1963 and joined the Athletics. According to Hardball Times, when Grzenda was in the Athletics’ farm system in 1964, his teammates “quickly took note of his habit of drinking two pots of coffee each day. They also noticed his chain-smoking, as he plowed through three packs of Lucky Strikes in a typical day. Sometimes Grzenda would light a cigarette and start smoking, leave it on the bench, and then work so quickly on the mound that he could return to the dugout and finish off the cigarette. A bundle of nervous energy fueled by cigarettes and coffee, he was in constant motion.”

In 1967, with Dave Duncan as his primary catcher, Grzenda was 6-0 with a 1.20 ERA in 52 appearances for the Birmingham club in the Athletics’ farm system. Mets president Bing Devine was impressed and purchased Grzenda’s contract on Aug. 14, 1967. Grzenda made 11 appearances with the 1967 Mets and had a 2.16 ERA.

Grzenda had his biggest successes in the major leagues with the 1969 Twins and 1971 Senators.

Playing for manager Billy Martin, Grzenda was 4-1 with three saves for the Twins, who won the 1969 American League West title.

In March 1970, the Twins traded Grzenda to the Senators, who were managed by Ted Williams.

In the book “Kiss It Goodbye,” Senators radio voice and author Shelby Whitfield noted, “Williams was the only one who saw potential in Grzenda.”

Getting a grip

During the 1970 season, Senators catchers told Grzenda “he was throwing the slider with more velocity than his fastball,” The Sporting News reported.

Seeking a remedy, Grzenda went to Senators pitching coach Sid Hudson, who suggested a grip change. Grzenda tried it and his fastball developed the action of a slip pitch. Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch described the slip pitch as “a delivery that fades and falls like a screwball.”

“It serves not only as a changeup,” Broeg wrote, “but also as a good double-play pitch for right-handed hitters who try to pull it.”

Many pitchers can’t control a slip pitch, but for Grzenda it “was love at first sight,” according to Broeg.

Hudson said, “Now he has more confidence in what he is doing because he has more velocity and is throwing pitches with different speeds.”

Grzenda was 5-2 with five saves and a 1.92 ERA in 46 relief appearances for the 1971 Senators. He limited batters to 17 walks in 70.1 innings. Left-handed batters hit .226 against him.

Filling a need

Cardinals scout Joe Monahan was impressed and said Grzenda has “a good curve, his fastball is alive and he has excellent control. His fastball sinks and has the effect of a screwball against right-handed batters.”

After the 1971 season, the Senators moved from Washington, D.C., to Texas and were renamed the Rangers. The club was seeking a second baseman and Williams viewed Kubiak, a Cardinals utility infielder, as an ideal candidate.

“Ted Williams has been interested in Kubiak for a couple of years,” Rangers owner Bob Short told The Sporting News.

Williams contacted the Cardinals to inquire about Kubiak’s availability. Monahan “highly recommended” the Cardinals ask for Grzenda in exchange. Devine, who had left the Mets and was in his second stint as Cardinals general manager, was willing to acquire Grzenda a second time.

“We needed an experienced left-handed reliever so badly,” Devine said.

Devine figured Grzenda and Don Shaw would give the 1972 Cardinals a pair of quality left-handers in the bullpen. Shaw was 7-2 with a 2.65 ERA for the Cardinals in 1971 and left-handed batters hit .171 against him.

Slippery slope

The plan unraveled early in the 1972 season.

Shaw developed a shoulder ailment, made eight appearances for the Cardinals and was traded to the Athletics in May.

Grzenda’s slip pitch no longer was effective. He had a 6.75 ERA in April and an 8.59 ERA in May.

Grzenda and his road roommate, Moe Drabowsky, made unwanted headlines during a series in Houston in May when it was discovered their hotel room was extensively damaged. Devine described the damage as “pretty bad.” According to the Post-Dispatch, light bulbs and drinking glasses were smashed and a bed headboard was “sighted sailing down a corridor” of the hotel.

In June, when he turned 35, Grzenda had a turnaround. He didn’t allow an earned run in 6.1 innings over five appearances for the month. He also got a win with 1.1 innings of scoreless relief against the Giants on June 17. Boxscore

After that, the highlights were few. Grzenda had a 6.75 ERA in August and a 12.46 ERA in September.

The Cardinals, out of contention and headed for a 75-81 finish, used the last few weeks of the season to look at some prospects, including Hrabosky.

Grzenda made the most appearances (30) of any left-hander on the 1972 Cardinals and was 1-0 with a 5.66 ERA. He gave up 46 hits in 35 innings and walked more batters (17) than he struck out (15). Left-handed batters hit .436 against him.

The 1972 season was Grzenda’s last in the big leagues. His career mark in the majors: 14-13 with 14 saves and a 4.00 ERA.

Hrabosky, who had brief stints with the Cardinals from 1970-72, pitched in 44 games for them in 1973 and went on to become their top left-handed reliever from 1974-77 while developing a persona as the self-psyching “Mad Hungarian.”

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Before he became a celebrated author with “Ball Four,” Jim Bouton was a power pitcher whose cap flew off with nearly every delivery.

Bouton died July 10, 2019, at 80. Fifty-five years earlier, in 1964, he made two starts for the Yankees against the Cardinals in the World Series and won both.

The Cardinals won the championship, but Bouton impressed with his ability to produce on the big stage. He was the first pitcher to earn two wins in a World Series versus the Cardinals since the Yankees’ Spud Chandler in 1943.

Stubbornly effective

Bouton, 25, was 18-13 with a 3.02 ERA for the 1964 Yankees. The right-hander led the team in wins, starts (37) and innings pitched (271.1).

For the first two World Series games in St. Louis, Yankees manager Yogi Berra started ailing ace Whitey Ford, who lost, and rookie Mel Stottlemyre, who won. Bouton was the starter for Game 3 at Yankee Stadium and was matched against Curt Simmons.

In his book “October 1964,” author David Halberstam called Game 3 “probably the best played and best pitched game of the series.”

Played on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 10, 1964, before 67,101 spectators, the game became a duel between Bouton and Simmons.

Bouton threw “virtually straight overhanded with his delivery and his forearm brushed the back of his cap, sending it sailing,” the Sporting News noted.

Said Berra: “We’ve tried a dozen different caps on him, and he wears a small, tight one now, but it doesn’t do any good.”

The Yankees got a run in the second on Clete Boyer’s RBI-double and the Cardinals tied the score, 1-1, on a RBI-single by Simmons in the fifth.

After retiring the Cardinals in order in three of the first four innings, Bouton worked out of multiple jams. The Cardinals loaded the bases in the sixth with two outs, but Mike Shannon grounded into a forceout. In the seventh, Dal Maxvill led off with a double and moved to third on Simmons’ sacrifice, but Curt Flood and Lou Brock stranded him.

“Bouton was keeping the ball away from me good,” Flood said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Said Brock: “I was out in front of this guy all day. I never do this … I hit the ball off the end of the bat all four times.”

In the ninth, Tim McCarver led off and reached on an error by shortstop Phil Linz. Shannon’s sacrifice bunt moved McCarver to second. Carl Warwick, batting for Maxvill, walked, but Bouton retired Bob Skinner and Flood.

Barney Schultz relieved Simmons in the bottom of the ninth and Mickey Mantle walloped his first pitch, a knuckleball, into the upper deck in right for a walkoff home run and a 2-1 Yankees victory. Boxscore

Bouton threw 123 pitches in what the New York Daily News described as a “stubborn pitching performance.” Video highlights at 1:30 mark

Under pressure

The Cardinals won Games 4 and 5 at Yankee Stadium. Back in St. Louis with a chance to clinch the title in Game 6 on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 14, 1964, the Cardinals started Simmons in a rematch with Bouton, who welcomed the challenge.

“Far more than most baseball players, he was an adrenaline player, and he liked pitching under this kind of pressure,” said Halberstam. “He loved being the center of attention and being given the ball in a game this big.”

When Flood and Brock opened the bottom of the first with singles, it was a wakeup call for Bouton, who said, “I had to stop and boot myself in the fanny. Those hits kind of shook me up.”

Bouton got the next batter, Bill White, to ground into a double play. Flood scored from third, but Bouton settled down.

In the fifth, Bouton lined a single over the head of shortstop Dick Groat, driving in Tom Tresh from third and tying the score at 1-1.

The game turned in the sixth when Roger Maris and Mantle hit back-to-back home runs against Simmons, giving the Yankees a 3-1 lead.

In the seventh, Bouton told Berra to get a reliever ready because his right shoulder was getting tight. The Yankees extended their lead in the eighth, scoring five times. The big hit was a grand slam by Joe Pepitone against Gordon Richardson.

Bouton yielded a run in the eighth and another in the ninth. He went 8.1 innings before being relieved by Steve Hamilton, and the Yankees won, 8-3. Boxscore  and Video highlights at 1:45 mark

Cardinals slugger Ken Boyer said Bouton “kept the ball low and away all afternoon, and, if he missed the plate, he barely missed it.”

Jim and Joe

Bouton’s career took a downturn the next year. He developed a sore arm, posted records of 4-15 in 1965 and 3-8 in 1966, and was dropped from the starting rotation.

The Yankees sold Bouton’s contract to the Seattle Pilots, who joined the American League as an expansion team in 1969. The Pilots’ manager was Joe Schultz, who was a Cardinals coach from 1963-68 after managing in their farm system.

Schultz, a round, balding, good-natured baseball lifer, became a central character in “Ball Four.” Two samples of Bouton’s musings:

_ “Joe Schultz stopped by again today to say a kind word. I noticed he was making it his business to say something each day to most of the guys. He may look like Nikita Khrushchev, but it means a lot anyway. I’m sure most of us here feel like leftovers and outcasts and marginal players and it doesn’t hurt when the manager massages your ego a bit.”

_ “After the game, Joe Schultz said, ‘Attaway to stomp on ’em, men. Pound that Budweiser into you and go get ’em tomorrow.’ Then he spotted John Gelnar sucking out of a pop bottle. ‘For crissakes, Gelnar,’ Joe said, ‘You’ll never get them out drinking Dr. Pepper.’ ”

Fitting in

Bouton was 2-1 with a save and a 3.91 ERA in 57 appearances for the Pilots. On Aug. 24, 1969, they traded him to the Astros for pitchers Dooley Womack and Roric Harrison.

Two nights later, on Aug. 26, 1969, Bouton made his National League debut, relieving Larry Dierker and pitching a scoreless eighth against the Cardinals at St. Louis. Bouton retired Shannon on a groundout and Julian Javier on a pop-up before striking out Maxvill on a 3-and-2 knuckleball.

“The knuckleball was a doll,” Bouton said.

When Bouton got to the dugout, Astros pitching coach Jim Owens asked him why he threw a knuckleball with the count full.

“I told him that first time around I want to earn a little respect,” Bouton said. “I want everyone to know that I’m liable to throw that pitch in any situation … I want them to know that they can’t count on getting the fastball.” Boxscore

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