Archive for the ‘Pitchers’ Category

Relying primarily on high fastballs, Larry Jaster got inside the heads of Dodgers batters and kept them from scoring a run against him.

larry_jaster3In a remarkable and underrated pitching feat, Jaster, 22, a Cardinals left-hander, made five starts against the 1966 Dodgers and tossed complete-game shutouts against them each time.

Fifty years ago, on Sept. 28, 1966, Jaster pitched the last of those five shutouts _ a 2-0 Cardinals victory at St. Louis _ and tied a major-league record.

Jaster became the third and last pitcher to shut out the same club five times in a season. He joined Senators pitcher Tom Hughes, who shut out the Indians five times in 1905, and Phillies pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander, who shut out the Reds five times in 1916. Alexander was 8-0 with an 0.50 ERA in eight starts against the 1916 Reds.

However, Jaster is the only pitcher to achieve five consecutive shutouts against the same club in a season. Before Jaster, the record was held by Giants pitcher Fred Fitzsimmons, who had four shutouts in a row versus the Reds in 1929.

In his five starts against the 1966 Dodgers, Jaster, in his first full Cardinals season, pitched 45 shutout innings and limited them to 24 hits, all singles. He struck out 31, walked eight and hit a batter.

Stan Musial, a Cardinals vice president in 1966, had perhaps the best explanation.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times after Jaster shut out the Dodgers for the fifth time, Musial, the Cardinals’ all-time best hitter, said, “It gets to be a psychological thing with the hitters when a guy beats them one time after another.”

Beating the best

Jaster held the Dodgers to five hits or less in four of his five shutouts. He beat Don Drysdale and Claude Osteen twice each and Don Sutton once. Drysdale and Sutton would be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The 1966 Dodgers were an elite opponent. They were the defending World Series champions and they would repeat as National League pennant winners in 1966.

The first four shutouts by Jaster versus the 1966 Dodgers were:

_ April 25 at Los Angeles. Jaster pitched a seven-hitter and the Cardinals won, 2-0, versus Osteen. Boxscore

_ July 3 at Los Angeles. Jaster pitched a three-hitter and the Cardinals won, 2-0, versus Drysdale. Boxscore

_ July 29 at St. Louis. Jaster pitched a five-hitter and the Cardinals won, 4-0, versus Drysdale. Boxscore

_ Aug. 19 at Los Angeles. Jaster pitched a five-hitter and the Cardinals won, 4-0, versus Osteen. Boxscore

Baseball mystery

The Sept. 28 start for Jaster against the Dodgers at St. Louis would be his last of the season. He was matched against Sutton.

The Cardinals were looking to end an eight-game losing streak. The Dodgers, who had a three-game lead over the second-place Pirates with five remaining, were looking to secure the pennant.

In the fourth inning, with two outs and the bases empty, Jaster yielded singles to Lou Johnson and Tommy Davis. Dick Stuart walked, loading the bases. The next batter, Jim Lefebvre, flied out to right fielder Mike Shannon, ending the threat.

“This is a mystery,” Lefebvre said. “That ball Jaster throws looks good (to hit). It rises a little and it has a spin on it, but it still looks good. I could see the ball very well every time. I just can’t believe what happened. It’s beyond me.”

In the bottom half of the inning, Ed Spiezio hit a two-out, two-run double into the left-field corner off Sutton, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.

The Dodgers threatened once more in the seventh. Tommy Davis singled and so did Dick Schofield. With two outs, Al Ferrara hit for catcher Jeff Torborg. Jaster struck him out.

The Dodgers were hitless in the eighth and ninth. Jaster finished with a four-hit shutout.

“You’ve got to be kind of lucky to do this,” Jaster told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I don’t feel I throw any differently against the Dodgers _ just up and down, in and out, 90 percent fastballs. I just try not to walk anybody and keep the leadoff man off base.”

Said Cardinals pitching coach Joe Becker: “Jaster just goes around the clock _ high inside, high outside, low inside, low outside. The same thing as (Sandy) Koufax, but, of course, he doesn’t have Sandy’s velocity.”

Said Koufax, the Dodgers’ ace: “Jaster makes it look easy.” Boxscore

Simply incredible

Jaster finished the 1966 season with an 11-5 record and 3.26 ERA. He was 5-0 with an 0.00 ERA versus the Dodgers; 6-5 with a 4.63 ERA against the rest of the National League.

“The kid has the same kind of motion and delivery that (Cardinals left-hander) Howie Pollet used to have,” Musial said to the Post-Dispatch. “The ball used to jump out of Pollet’s hand. Jaster throws a lot of balls high, but he keeps them outside.”

Said Dodgers outfielder Willie Davis: “He’s been throwing just one pitch, a fastball, but most guys try to keep the ball low and he’s keeping the ball up. I just don’t know.”

Jaster was a .500 pitcher against the Dodgers the rest of his career. He has a 9-5 career record and 2.81 ERA in 25 career appearances versus the Dodgers.

In 1991, on the 25th anniversary of his five-shutout performance, Jaster told John Sonderegger of the Post-Dispatch: “As time goes on, you think about it and you realize it was kind of an incredible thing.”

In 2011, 45 years after Jaster’s feat, Tim McCarver, the Cardinals’ catcher in each of the five shutouts against the 1966 Dodgers, told Dan O’Neill of the Post-Dispatch: “It was just one of those wonderful things to be a part of that you really can’t explain.”

Previously: Larry Jaster and his sparkling September with Cards

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Three months after he was traded by the Giants to the Cardinals, Billy Southworth hit a home run against his former team, providing the winning run in the victory that clinched the first National League pennant for St. Louis.

billy_southworth4It was sweet revenge for Southworth, whose deteriorating relationship with Giants manager John McGraw led to the trade.

Ninety years ago, on Sept. 24, 1926, Southworth broke a 3-3 tie with a two-run home run in the second inning, carrying the Cardinals to a 6-4 victory over the Giants at the Polo Grounds in New York. The victory gave the Cardinals a three-game lead over the second-place Reds with two remaining.

In a biography of Southworth by author John C. Skipper, Southworth said, “I couldn’t have asked for a better setting, in the Polo Grounds against the Giants who had traded me. That was the timeliest home run I ever hit and to have hit it against the Giants, with McGraw snarling his defiance from the bench, made it doubly thrilling and satisfying.”

Quite a comeback

Southworth, a right fielder, was traded by the Giants to the Cardinals on June 14, 1926. “I was unable to subordinate myself to McGraw’s rigid system,” Southworth explained. “So when he decided, in 1926, that I was, from his viewpoint, hopeless, he traded me with no personal feeling one way or the other.”

Contributing to their pennant push, Southworth hit .317 in 99 games for the 1926 Cardinals.

To pitch the potential pennant clincher against the Giants, Cardinals manager Rogers Hornsby chose Flint Rhem, a 20-game winner that season, as his starter.

After the Cardinals failed to score in the top of the first against Hugh McQuillan, Bill Terry slugged a three-run home run off Rhem in the bottom half of the inning.

Said Southworth: “Hornsby poured acid on us when we came back to the bench. He told us we hadn’t been taking our full cuts at the ball for several games and to get out there and swing.”

Hornsby’s words woke up the Cardinals.

In the second, Les Bell doubled and, with one out, advanced to third on a wild pitch. Bell scored on Bob O’Farrell’s infield single. The No. 8 batter in the order, Tommy Thevenow, doubled, moving O’Farrell to third.

Rhem was due up next, but Hornsby lifted him for a pinch-hitter, Specs Toporcer.

Toporcer, who hit .391 (9-for-23) as a pinch-hitter for the 1926 Cardinals, drilled a two-run double, tying the score at 3-3.

After Taylor Douthit flied out, Southworth batted and hit his home run into the upper deck in right field, giving the Cardinals a 5-3 lead.

Bill Sherdel, who relieved Rhem, held the Giants to one run in eight innings and got the win. Boxscore

Dancing downtown

In downtown St. Louis that Friday afternoon, the game was broadcast over loudspeakers set up for the public.

When Sherdel nailed down the final out, sealing the Cardinals’ victory, it “loosed bedlam in the downtown district,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“Scenes comparable only with the ending of the Great War were enacted in the business section and repeated upon a smaller scale in other centers of the city’s life,” the newspaper reported. “Blizzards of paper enveloped every office building in the downtown area between Twelfth Boulevard and Fourth.”

Wrote the Associated Press: “Traffic at the principal corners was in a hopeless jam. Policemen, trying vainly to keep some semblance of order, were unable to keep the automobiles and street cars moving. Parades formed on Olive Street, Washington Avenue and other principal thoroughfares.”

At the Polo Grounds, the victorious Cardinals “merely smiled as they hurried to the clubhouse, shaking hands and slapping one another on the back” wrote the Associated Press.

That night, reported J. Roy Stockton in the Post-Dispatch, “as the young men sat around the lobby of the Alamac Hotel, accepting congratulations and reading telegrams from friends back home, they appeared suddenly to have knocked 10 years off their age.”

Confident Cards

Contacted by the Associated Press, Cardinals owner Sam Breadon said, “Nothing could possibly have made me happier than the winning of the pennant. When I took charge of the club seven years ago, I did it with the sole hope of winning a championship for St. Louis.”

Asked about the Cardinals being matched against the American League champion Yankees in the 1926 World Series, Hornsby boasted to The Sporting News, “Of course we are going to win the world’s championship. We have the punch and that means we do not fear the Yankees’ pitchers. We have better pitchers of our own, for that matter. Also, a faster fielding team.”

Indeed, the Cardinals went on to win four of seven games against the Yankees, earning the World Series title.

Previously: How Cardinals got Grover Cleveland Alexander

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Working with Cardinals coaches Mark Riggins and Bob Gibson after his promotion from the minor leagues to St. Louis in September 1995, Alan Benes adjusted his approach, mixing off-speed pitches with his fastball, and delivered a double-digit strikeout performance in earning his first win.

alan_benes3On Sept. 30, 1995, Benes, in his third big-league appearance, struck out 10 Pirates in the Cardinals’ 5-1 victory at St. Louis.

Twenty-one years later, Luke Weaver joined Benes and Stu Miller as the only Cardinals pitchers to achieve double-digit strikeouts in one of their first four appearances for St. Louis, according to researcher Tom Orf.

Miller struck out 10 Dodgers in his fourth Cardinals appearance on Aug. 26, 1952. Boxscore Weaver struck out 10 Brewers in his fourth Cardinals appearance on Aug. 31, 2016. Boxscore

Valued prize

Like Weaver in 2014, Benes was a first-round draft choice of the Cardinals. Benes was selected in the 1993 June amateur draft with the 16th overall pick just after the Blue Jays took pitcher Chris Carpenter with the 15th pick.

Benes produced a 17-3 record and 2.28 ERA in 30 starts in the Cardinals’ minor-league system in 1994. Limited by an injury, he was 4-2 with a 2.41 ERA in 11 starts for Class AAA Louisville in 1995 before his call-up to the Cardinals.

In September 1995, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch described Benes as “the most valued prize in the Cardinals’ farm system.”

Learning curve

Benes, 23, made his Cardinals debut on Sept. 19, 1995, in a start against the Pirates at Pittsburgh. He displayed an impressive fastball, but wasn’t effective. His line: 4 innings, 8 hits, 7 runs, 1 walk and 5 strikeouts. The Pirates won, 12-1, and Benes was the losing pitcher.

“He threw a few too many strikes,” Riggins told writer Rick Hummel. “He didn’t make the hitters chase some pitches and he can. That comes with experience.”

Said Benes: “I didn’t really move the ball around as much as I could have. I didn’t throw inside enough. I basically had one pitch.”

Six days later, on Sept. 25, Benes made his second appearance, starting against the Cubs at Chicago, and the results were similar to his first. Benes’ line: 3.1 innings, 9 hits, 7 runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts. The Cubs won, 7-0, dropping Benes’ record to 0-2.

“He didn’t get his breaking ball over,” said Cardinals manager Mike Jorgensen. “… He’s throwing hard. It’s a matter of pitching rather than throwing.”

Said Benes: “I’m not happy, but I’m not going to put a lot of stock in it. The first three or four games you’ve got to learn.”

That’s a winner

Benes was a quick study. Riggins, the pitching coach, and Gibson, the bullpen coach and former ace, worked with Benes on pitch selection and command.

In his third Cardinals appearance, on Sept. 30 against the Pirates at St. Louis in the next-to-last game of the season, Benes was dominant.

The 6-foot-5 right-hander shut out the Pirates through eight innings. He entered the ninth with a 5-0 lead.

With two outs and runners on first and third, Midre Cummings hit a double to center off Benes, driving in a run.

Jorgensen was booed when he went to the mound and called for closer Tom Henke to replace Benes. Henke struck out Kevin Young, saving Benes’ first win. Benes’ line: 8.2 innings, 7 hits, 1 run, 2 walks and 10 strikeouts. Boxscore

In his analysis of Benes’ performance, Cardinals catcher Danny Sheaffer said, “He got ahead in the count. No doubt that made a big difference. That and he pitched a little different with the early lead.”

Entering the off-season on a positive, Benes admitted, “This was a real important game for me to win.”

Three months later, the Cardinals signed his older brother, starting pitcher Andy Benes, who had become a free agent after pitching for the Padres and Mariners. In 1996, Andy and Alan Benes combined for 31 regular-season wins, helping the Cardinals to a division championship.

Previously: The story of Stu Miller and his stellar start with Cards

Previously: Unlike Lance Lynn, Alan Benes unlucky in big K effort

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When Von McDaniel joined his brother, Lindy, on the 1957 Cardinals staff and began shutting down opponents, comparisons were made to another sibling pitching duo in St. Louis lore, Dizzy and Paul Dean.

von_mcdanielFor a while during that summer of 1957, Von McDaniel, 18, created as much excitement among Cardinals fans as the Dean brothers did in 1934 when they combined for 49 regular-season wins in pitching St. Louis to a National League pennant.

Von McDaniel opened his Cardinals career by pitching 19.2 consecutive scoreless innings over four appearances.

Fifty-nine years later, another rookie right-hander, Alex Reyes, opened his Cardinals career by pitching 14 consecutive scoreless innings over six appearances.

Von McDaniel in 1957 and Pat Perry (16.1 innings in 1985-86) are the only Cardinals rookies to begin their big-league careers with longer scoreless innings streaks than Reyes.

In 2016, Reyes pitched 9.1 scoreless innings over five relief appearances, then 4.2 scoreless innings in his first start.

In 1957, Von McDaniel pitched 8 scoreless innings over two relief appearances, then 11.2 scoreless innings over two starts.

Little brother

Von McDaniel received a $50,000 bonus when he signed with the Cardinals on May 27, 1957, after graduating from Hollis High School in Oklahoma. He was placed on the Cardinals’ active roster, joining Lindy, who had received the same bonus amount when he signed with the Cardinals in September 1955 at age 19.

Lindy McDaniel made his Cardinals debut on Sept. 2, 1955. He was used primarily in relief by them in 1956, posting a 7-6 record, and joined their starting rotation in 1957.

When Von McDaniel joined the Cardinals in May 1957, scout Fred Hawn, who had signed both McDaniel brothers, told The Sporting News, “Von throws harder than Lindy.”

Fred Hutchinson, the Cardinals manager, was in no hurry to use Von. “I’ll let him get acquainted, get the feel of things and then let him mop up (in a game),” Hutchinson said.

Von was the definition of a greenhorn. Four days after he signed with the Cardinals, Von took his first train ride when the club traveled from St. Louis to Milwaukee.

Dominant debut

Von was inactive during his first two weeks with the Cardinals. Then, on June 13, at Philadephia, the Phillies led, 8-1, through four innings when Hutchinson decided the time was right for Von to make his debut.

Hal Smith, the Cardinals’ catcher, met Von at the mound and, attempting to keep things simple, told the rookie he would signal 1 for a fastball, 2 for a curve and 3 for a changeup. As Smith turned to go back behind the plate, Von said, “And No. 4 for my slider.”

Von pitched four scoreless innings, yielding only a single to Granny Hamner and striking out four. He retired the last 10 consecutive batters. Boxscore

Dodgers dazzled

Three days later, on June 16, the Cardinals were in Brooklyn to face the defending NL champion Dodgers in a doubleheader. In Game 1, the Dodgers led, 6-2, through five when Hutchinson put in Von.

Again, the rookie pitched four scoreless innings, allowing two baserunners _ Elmer Valo doubled and Charlie Neal was hit by a pitch _ and striking out five. When the Cardinals rallied for a 7-6 victory, McDaniel had his first big-league win. Boxscore

Said Dodgers slugger Duke Snider, who struck out and grounded out versus Von: “He’s real good. Got a fine curveball and exceptional control.”

Sensational start

Five days later, on June 21, Hutchinson pulled a surprise, announcing Von would start that night in St. Louis against the Dodgers. Earlier, Hutchinson had said Willard Schmidt would get the start. The manager later admitted he used Schmidt as a decoy so that Von wouldn’t lose sleep in anticipation of his first start.

Pitching before a Friday night crowd of 27,972, Von held the Dodgers hitless through the first five innings.

In the sixth, with the score at 0-0, the Dodgers loaded the bases with none out on two singles and an error. The catcher, Smith, went to the mound and told Von, “If the ball is hit to you, don’t forget to throw it to me.”

Nonplussed, Von patted the veteran on the shoulder and said, “OK, Smitty, and don’t worry.”

The batter, Valo, hit a comebacker to Von. He threw to Smith, whose relay to first baseman Stan Musial completed the double play. When Gino Cimoli followed by grounding out to Von, the rookie left the mound to a standing ovation from the energized crowd.

The Cardinals triumphed, 2-0, and Von got a complete-game shutout. He limited the Dodgers to two hits and three walks, striking out four. Boxscore

“He’s either the greatest in the league, or we’re the worst hitters,” Dodgers manager Walter Alston said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In The Sporting News, Bob Broeg wrote, “The sensational arrival of Von McDaniel to give the Cardinals a red-hot brother pitching act has created the most excitement in St. Louis since Paul Dean joined brother Dizzy to help pitch the Gashouse Gang to the 1934 pennant.”

Fast fade

The next day, June 22, Dizzy Dean met the McDaniel brothers at the Cardinals’ ballpark. “You fellows are going to go a long way,” Dean told them. “Some day you’ll win 49 games (in a season) like me and Paul.”

Von got his second start on June 27 against the Phillies at St. Louis. He didn’t allow a run in the first two innings, extending his scoreless streak to 19.

In the third, after retiring the first two batters, Von gave up a single to Hamner and a run-scoring double to Ed Bouchee.

Though Von gave up four runs in 7.1 innings, he got the win as the Cardinals prevailed, 6-4. Hoyt Wilhelm, the future Hall of Famer, earned the save with 1.2 innings of scoreless relief. Boxscore

Through his first five appearances for the Cardinals, Von posted a 4-0 record and 1.71 ERA. He finished the 1957 season at 7-5 with a 3.22 ERA in 17 games, including 13 starts.

After the season, Von got out of shape. When he reported to spring training in 1958, he had lost command of his pitches.

Von appeared in two games for the 1958 Cardinals and was sent back to the minor leagues. He soon gave up on pitching and became a third baseman, playing in the minors until 1966 but never returning to the major leagues.

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In a matchup against the Giants, Cardinals ace Bob Gibson pitched a complete game, including seven hitless innings, struck out 14 batters and slugged a home run. Still, it wasn’t enough to win.

bob_gibson22On Aug. 30, 1972, the Giants beat the Cardinals, 3-2, at St. Louis despite Gibson’s dominant performance.

Forty-four years later, on Aug. 29, 2016, another Cardinals right-hander, Carlos Martinez, struck out 13 Brewers in six innings at Milwaukee, but didn’t get a win even though St. Louis prevailed, 6-5. Martinez departed with the Cardinals ahead, 2-1. The Brewers rallied against the St. Louis bullpen for a 5-3 lead before the Cardinals stormed back. Miguel Socolovich got the win and Martinez got a no-decision. Boxscore

Martinez became the first Cardinals pitcher to strike out 13 and not receive a win since Gibson versus the Giants in 1972.

Giant killer

Gibson, 36, carried a 10-game, three-year winning streak against the Giants into his 1972 start versus them. He hadn’t lost to the Giants since Sept. 17, 1968, when Gaylord Perry pitched a no-hitter against the Cardinals at San Francisco. Since then, Gibson had posted records versus the Giants of 3-0 in 1969, 3-0 in 1970 and 4-0 in 1971.

After holding the Giants hitless in the first inning on that Wednesday evening in 1972, Gibson yielded three singles, resulting in a run, in the second.

In the sixth, Gibson struck out the side: Bobby Bonds, Jim Howarth, Chris Speier. Then, Gibson led off the bottom half of the inning with a home run into the left-field seats off starter Jim Willoughby, tying the score at 1-1. It was Gibson’s fifth home run of the season and matched the career high he first achieved in 1965.

Price is right

Through eight innings, Gibson had recorded his 14 strikeouts. Each of the nine Giants in the starting lineup struck out at least once against him that night. He held the Giants hitless from the third inning through the eighth.

“Gibson may be close to 37, but he still amazes me every time he gets out there,” Giants coach Joey Amalfitano told the Associated Press. “He’s one guy I’d pay to watch.”

The Cardinals, however, were unable to break though against Willoughby, a rookie right-hander, and the score remained tied at 1-1 through eight.

In the ninth, a tiring Gibson yielded a walk and three singles, including RBI-hits by left-handed batters Dave Rader and Tito Fuentes that gave the Giants a 3-1 lead.

Bernie Carbo hit a solo home run off Willoughby in the bottom of the ninth, but it wasn’t enough for the Cardinals. Boxscore

“I’d trade those 14 strikeouts for a win anytime,” Gibson said.

Previously: Willie Mays on Ray Washburn: ‘Never saw a better curve’

Previously: The story of Bob Gibson, Gaylord Perry and a slam

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Unlike Alex Reyes, who delivers heat with a smooth motion, Ken Burkhart appeared to be throwing a shot put when he pitched for the Cardinals. Though possessing different styles, Reyes and Burkhart both produced effective results as St. Louis rookies.

ken_burkhartIn 2016, Reyes became the third Cardinals pitcher to earn a save and a win in relief in his first four career games, according to researcher Tom Orf. The others were Burkhart in 1945 and Dick Hughes in 1966.

Reyes was 21 and a highly-ranked prospect when he achieved his feat in August 2016.

Burkhart was 28 and a longtime minor-league pitcher when he achieved his feat in April 1945.

Time will tell what path Reyes’ career will take. Chances are, though, it won’t follow the direction Burkhart’s career took. After five seasons as a big-league pitcher, Burkhart became a National League umpire in 1957.

Working the farm

Burkhart (the original spelling of the name was Burkhardt) was working as a machinist in Cleveland in the summer of 1937 when he attended a Cardinals tryout camp at Columbus, Ohio. He made enough of an impression for the Cardinals to invite him to their baseball school at Winter Haven, Fla., the following spring.

The Cardinals signed Burkhart, 21, at the 1938 Winter Haven camp and he began an odyssey through the St. Louis farm system.

Burkhart earned 20 wins for Class B Asheville (N.C.) in 1940. A broken left leg in 1942 set him back.

After posting a 15-9 record for Class AA Columbus (Ohio) in 1944, Burkhart was invited to the Cardinals’ spring training camp in 1945. With several pitchers in military service, Burkhart was given a long look by the Cardinals and the rookie won a spot on their Opening Day roster.

“It seemed a long time coming up, but I kept aiming for the top,” said Burkhart to The Sporting News.

Fast start

On April 21, 1945, Burkhart made his major-league debut in the Cardinals’ home opener, pitching two scoreless innings and getting the win in a 3-2 St. Louis victory over the Reds at Sportsman’s Park.

Following starter Blix Donnelly and Bud Byerly, Burkhart entered in the eighth with the score tied at 2-2 and retired six of the seven batters he faced in his two innings of work. In the bottom of the ninth, Johnny Hopp delivered a RBI-single off starter Arnold Carter, lifting the Cardinals to victory. Boxscore

The next day, April 22, Burkhart pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless relief in Game 2 of a doubleheader versus the Reds.

In his third appearance, April 29, Burkhart got his save.

With the Cardinals ahead, 4-3, in Game 2 of a Sunday doubleheader at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Burkhart relieved starter Mort Cooper with two outs in the seventh. He shut down the Reds, yielding no runs in 2.1 innings. The Cardinals won, 8-3. Boxscore

Relentless grinder

Burkhart completed the 1945 season with an 18-8 record and 2.90 ERA in 42 appearances for the Cardinals. He made 22 starts and 20 relief appearances, totaling 217.1 innings pitched. The right-hander was 12-7 with a 2.75 ERA as a starter and 6-1 with three saves and a 3.40 ERA as a reliever.

Burkhart was a combined 6-0 that season against the Cubs (who finished three games ahead of the second-place Cardinals) and Dodgers (who placed third).

“He’s one of the gamest pitchers I’ve ever had work for me,” Cardinals manager Billy Southworth said to The Sporting News. “I’ve had men with more stuff, but none who ever bore down harder all the way.”

Calling strikes

His rookie season was Burkhart’s best as a big-league pitcher.

In four seasons with the Cardinals, Burkhart was 27-17 with seven saves and a 3.60 ERA. In July 1948, the Cardinals dealt Burkhart to the Reds for first baseman Babe Young. Burkhart was 0-3 with one save and a 5.40 ERA in two seasons with Cincinnati.

With his pitching career at an end, Burkhart returned to the minors and began a second career as an umpire.

Burkhart was a National League umpire from 1957-73. He worked the 1964 World Series that matched the Yankees and Cardinals. It was the Cardinals’ first World Series appearance since Burkhart pitched for them in 1946.

Burkhart was the home plate umpire when the Yankees won, 2-1, in Game 3 of the 1964 World Series.

In his 1964 book “Stan Musial: The Man’s Own Story,” Musial, commenting on Burkhart as a pitcher, said, “Ken had an idea the plate was wider and the strike zone bigger than he sees them now as an umpire. He had a frozen shoulder, a strange shot-put delivery, and only limited skill, but he had a good competitive heart.”

Previously: The day Ralph Kiner hit 3 home runs vs. Cardinals

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