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Archive for the ‘Pitchers’ Category

After pitcher Jackie Collum made an impressive debut in the majors, the Cardinals literally couldn’t wait for the encore.

Seventy years ago, on Sept. 21, 1951, Collum pitched a two-hit shutout and got the win against the Cubs in his first game in the big leagues.

The next night, Collum pitched two innings in relief and got the loss against the Cubs.

A diminutive left-hander, Collum craved heavy duty, and the Cardinals obliged.

Big talent

An Iowa native, Collum was born in Victor and grew up in Newburg, near Grinnell.

The middle finger of his left hand became disfigured when he was a boy.

“I got that when I was 4 years old,” Collum told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “My hand was caught in a pulley while we were making hay on our farm.”

The damaged digit didn’t prevent him from succeeding in athletics, nor did his size. As Bob Husted of the Cincinnati Enquirer put it, “Jackie was born in Iowa where the corn grows tall, but he didn’t.”

Collum reached a height of “almost 5 feet 7,” the Rochester Democrat-Chronicle noted.

He served in the Army during World War II for two years, including 19 months in the Pacific. After his discharge, Collum got a tryout with the Cardinals, who gave him a contract and told him to report to their minor-league spring training camp at Albany, Ga., in 1947.

Bob Stanton, manager of the Cardinals’ Class C affiliate at St. Joseph, Mo., liked Collum and recruited him for his team.

Forming a battery with catcher Vern Rapp, a future Cardinals manager, Collum was 15-11 for St. Joseph in 1947. A left-handed batter, Collum played outfield on some days he didn’t pitch. He produced 47 hits and a .388 batting average.

Right stuff

Back with St. Joseph in 1948, Collum won his first 16 decisions and finished the regular season with a 24-2 record and 2.47 ERA. He also batted .280 with 40 hits.

His reward from the Cardinals was an invitation to pitch batting practice at their big-league spring training camp in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1949 before reporting to the minor-league training site.

Collum accepted and became a protege of Cardinals pitcher Harry Brecheen, who taught him how to throw a screwball.

Before Collum departed the big-league camp, Cardinals manager Eddie Dyer gave him a chance to pitch in an exhibition game against the Yankees on March 13. Collum struck out Joe DiMaggio with the bases loaded, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Two years later, in 1951, Collum, in his fifth season in the minors, pitched for manager Johnny Keane at Class AAA Rochester and was 15-8 with a 2.80 ERA.

“I can think of 25 pitchers in the majors who aren’t as good as he is today,” Keane told the Rochester Democrat-Chronicle. “He’s one of the finest competitors among pitchers I’ve ever seen. He’s got it inside.”

On Sept. 17, 1951, the Cardinals called up Collum, 24, to the majors.

Overtime duty

Four days later, on Sept. 21, Cardinals manager Marty Marion made a last-minute decision to give Gerry Staley a rest and start Collum in that night’s game against the Cubs at St. Louis.

The only hits Collum surrendered were an infield single by Bob Ramazzotti in the third and a soft single to center by Eddie Miksis in the sixth.

Collum walked three in the first four innings and two in the ninth, but was aided by a defense that turned four double plays.

“I was in a bit of a daze,” Collum told the Post-Dispatch. “I usually have pretty good control.”

Collum also singled twice and scored twice against Cubs starter Frank Hiller. Boxscore

The following night, Sept. 22, the score was tied 5-5 when Marion brought in Collum to pitch the ninth. He retired the side in order, but the Cubs scored against him in the 10th, handing Collum the loss 24 hours after his shutout. Boxscore

Compared to today’s standards of pitch counts and cautious care, using Collum in relief the night after he pitched a shutout seems outrageous. It’s possible, though, Collum wanted the work.

Cardinals broadcaster and former catcher Gus Mancuso told Si Burick of the Dayton Daily News, “He looks like a high school pitcher, but he’s got twice as much heart as the average big man.”

Birdie Tebbetts, who later managed Collum with the 1954-55 Reds, said to the Cincinnati Enquirer, “I’ve never seen a ballplayer with more desire than Collum. He isn’t much larger than a short beer, but he’s got the guts of a burglar. Nothing scares him. He keeps himself in wonderful condition. He loves to pitch and would be in there every day if such a thing were possible.”

After his back-to-back appearances, Collum pitched in one other game for the 1951 Cardinals. On Sept. 29, he started against the Cubs at Chicago, pitched six innings and got the win. Boxscore

He pitched a career-high 239 innings in 1951 _ 222 for Rochester and 17 for the Cardinals.

Traveling man

After his busy 1951 season, Collum went directly to Cuba to play winter baseball. From Cuba, he reported to Cardinals spring training camp in 1952 and showed up “about 30 pounds underweight, tipping the scales at 136 pounds,” the St. Joseph News-Press reported.

Collum opened the regular season with the Cardinals, but was returned to the minors after two relief appearances.

The Cardinals brought back Collum to open the 1953 season, but traded him to the Reds in May for pitcher Eddie Erautt. When Collum arrived in the Reds’ clubhouse, they didn’t have a uniform that fit him, so he borrowed a bat boy’s baseball pants, The Sporting News reported.

On July 11, 1954, in a 6-5 Reds victory over the Braves, the shortest pitcher in the league, Collum, got the win, and the tallest pitcher in the league, 6-foot-8 Gene Conley, took the loss. Boxscore

In three seasons (1953-55) as a spot starter and reliever with the Reds, Collum was 23-22 with four saves.

In January 1956, Frank Lane made his first trade as Cardinals general manager, sending pitchers Brooks Lawrence and Sonny Senerchia to the Reds for Collum.

Lane described Collum to United Press as “a courageous little guy and all-around good performer.”

Collum was 6-2 with seven saves for the 1956 Cardinals. After the season, they traded him to the Cubs. He pitched briefly for the Cubs, Dodgers, Twins and Indians, but spent most of the remainder of his baseball career in the minors.

In nine seasons in the majors, Collum was 32-28 with 12 saves. He hit .246 with a home run, a three-run shot for the Reds at the Polo Grounds against the Giants’ Ruben Gomez. Boxscore

Against the Cardinals, Collum was 5-5 with a save and hit .250.

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Relegated to long relief and mop-up roles with the Reds, Doug Bair got a chance to revive his career with the Cardinals.

Forty years ago, on Sept. 10, 1981, the Cardinals acquired Bair from the Reds for infielder Neil Fiala and pitcher Joe Edelen.

Durable and effective, Bair gained the confidence of manager Whitey Herzog and was a key contributor to the Cardinals’ World Series championship year in 1982.

Traveling man

A right-hander who pitched college baseball at Bowling Green, Bair was picked by the Pirates in the second round of the 1971 amateur draft.

In five seasons as a starting pitcher in the Pirates’ farm system, Bair “spent so much time in buses, he qualified for a Greyhound pension,” Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News noted.

In 1976, his sixth season in the minors, Bair became a reliever and pitched well enough to earn a promotion to the Pirates in September.

After the season, he was traded to Oakland. Bair got into 45 games for the 1977 Athletics and led them in saves (eight), but the team was out of contention by mid-July and finished in last place.

“Things got completely out of hand there,” Bair told the Dayton Daily News. “Some veterans were showing up 10 or 15 minutes before game time.”

The Athletics traded their ace, Vida Blue, to the Reds after the season, but commissioner Bowie Kuhn voided the deal. So the Reds settled for Bair instead.

Bair impressed manager Sparky Anderson, who made him the Reds’ closer in 1978.

“He’s so smooth and easy,” Anderson told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Just like Don Gullett was. Smooth, easy, then flip. Pfffft. Boom. The fastball is right on top of you. You can’t sit on it or he’ll eat you alive with his breaking pitch.”

Bair was 7-6 with 28 saves and a 1.97 ERA for the 1978 Reds. He remained their closer at the beginning of the 1979 season, but manager John McNamara, who had replaced Anderson, switched to Tom Hume later in the year.

Change of scenery

In December 1980, Whitey Herzog, who had the dual role of Cardinals manager and general manager, was “talking in earnest” to the Reds about a proposed trade, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The Reds offered a package of pitchers, Bair, Mike LaCoss and Paul Moskau, for catcher Terry Kennedy, but Herzog opted to deal Kennedy to the Padres for reliever Rollie Fingers and others.

With Hume and Joe Price getting most of the meaningful relief work, Bair was moved to the back of the Reds’ bullpen in 1981.

Though Bair had a 5.77 ERA in 24 appearances for the 1981 Reds, Cardinals scout Mo Mozzali highly recommended him, Joe McDonald, executive assistant to Herzog, told the Post-Dispatch.

Seeking a reliable reliever to set up closer Bruce Sutter, the Cardinals took a chance on Bair.

“I know I can perform,” Bair said to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “It’s really a new life for me.”

Back in step

After Bair, 32, reported to the Cardinals, pitching coach Hub Kittle detected a flaw in his delivery and made a fix.

“When I stepped back to get my left leg into rocking position, I was stepping toward first base entirely too much,” Bair told The Sporting News. “Now I step more straight back toward second. I’m lifting my leg more than swinging it. It keeps me more in balance.”

In his first appearance for the Cardinals, Bair pitched a scoreless inning against the Mets and got the win. Boxscore

Bair didn’t allow a run in his first six innings as a Cardinal. In 11 games for them in 1981, he was 2-0 with a save and a 3.45 ERA.

In April 1982, the Cardinals acquired another Reds reliever, Jeff Lahti. He joined, Sutter, Bair and Jim Kaat in giving the Cardinals a dependable bullpen.

Bair got off to a strong start (1-0, 1.04 ERA in April and 2-1, one save, 2.21 ERA in May) and was splendid in the stretch run (1-0, two saves, 1.65 ERA in September).

“He’s just as important to the team as I am,” Sutter said to The Sporting News.

Bair made 63 regular-season appearances for the 1982 Cardinals, and allowed only nine of 38 inherited runners to score. He yielded 69 hits in 91.2 innings.

“He’s worked very, very hard,” Kittle told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Lots of dedication. Doug Bair is as tough a son of a buck as you’ll ever find. A good man.”

Bair was 5-3 with eight saves and a 2.55 ERA in the regular season in 1982. He was the losing pitcher in Game 4 of the World Series against the Brewers.

Second title

In 1983, Bair was 1-1 with a save and a 3.03 ERA in 26 games for the Cardinals when they traded him in June to the Tigers, where he was reunited with manager Sparky Anderson.

Bair helped the Tigers to a World Series championship in 1984.

The Cardinals reacquired him in September 1985 to help in their pennant push. He pitched a total of two scoreless innings. After the season, Bair, 36, became a free agent and signed with the Athletics.

In 15 years in the majors with seven teams, Bair was 55-43 with 81 saves. He was 8-4 with 10 saves and a 2.72 ERA for the Cardinals, and 0-0 with six saves and a 3.86 ERA against the Cardinals.

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On the verge of being unable to complete his masterpiece, Bud Smith rediscovered the strike zone in the nick of time and got the job done.

Twenty years ago, on Sept. 3, 2001, Smith pitched a no-hitter for the Cardinals against the Padres.

With his pitch count rising and his command fading, Smith was in danger of getting a mound visit from manager Tony La Russa, who was considering lifting the rookie left-hander.

One pitch away from creating an uncomfortable situation, Smith managed to prevent the conversation neither he nor La Russa wanted to have.

Tapping his potential

Born and raised in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, Robert Allan Smith got the nickname Bud from his father, Allan, a construction worker, who would come home from work and ask his son to get him a cold Budweiser from the refrigerator, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Smith was 18 when he was chosen by the Cardinals in the fourth round of the 1998 amateur draft.

His breakout season came in 2000 when he had a 17-2 record in the minors. Among the wins were a pair of seven-inning no-hitters for Arkansas.

A finesse pitcher, Smith was listed at 6 feet, 170 pounds. When Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck got a look at him at spring training in 2001, he exclaimed to Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz, “He’s as thin as soup.”

The Sporting News described Smith as “a Tom Glavine-type: smallish but with a good enough fastball and decent changeup.”

“I create ground balls,” Smith told Miklasz. “I’m not a big strikeout guy.”

Ups and downs

Smith, 21, started the 2001 season in the minors, but was called up to the Cardinals in June. He made his debut for them with an inning of scoreless relief at Denver. Boxscore

On June 17 against the White Sox, Smith got his first big-league win in his first big-league start. Boxscore

He was 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in July, but 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA in August.

In his last three August starts, Smith gave up 14 earned runs in 14 innings. The last game in that stretch was against the Padres in St. Louis. The Cardinals won, 16-14, but Smith was shelled for seven runs, five earned, before he was lifted in the fourth. Ryan Klesko hit a 472-foot home run against him. Boxscore

Looking good

La Russa was considering removing Smith from the rotation if he didn’t improve in his next start, Sept. 3, in a rematch versus the Padres at San Diego.

The game would be Smith’s first in his home state as a big-leaguer. In attendance were his mother, stepfather, 14 other immediate family members and 10 high school buddies, the Associated Press reported.

“Smith tried to change speeds and use both sides of the plate better than he did in his three previous outings,” The Sporting News reported.

In sync with catcher Eli Marrero, Smith executed the strategy splendidly. “That’s the first time I’ve felt that comfortable in a while,” he told the Post-Dispatch.

Smith retired the first five batters before issuing a walk to ex-teammate Ray Lankford in the second. Rickey Henderson walked in the third. Five of the Padres’ first 15 outs were strikeouts. In five innings, Smith’s pitch count was at 70.

“I was almost rooting for him to give up a hit so we could get him out of there,” pitching coach Dave Duncan told the Post-Dispatch.

Henderson walked again in the sixth, but the no-hitter was intact.

In the seventh, Smith hung a changeup to Bubba Trammell, who drove the pitch deep to left.

“That ball was the biggest scare of the night,” Smith told the Post-Dispatch.

As he watched left fielder Albert Pujols run toward the wall, “I thought the only chance I had was if Albert jumped and robbed him,” Smith said.

The ball didn’t carry as far as Smith feared, and Pujols caught it at the wall.

Mission accomplished

In the late innings, aware a no-hitter was at stake, “I was shaking,” Smith said to the Post-Dispatch. “I was so nervous.”

With the Cardinals ahead, 4-0, La Russa made some defensive changes in the eighth, including shifting Pujols from left to first base in place of Mark McGwire.

In the same inning, Tony Gwynn, 41 and in his last season of a Hall of Fame career, got a standing ovation as he came to the plate as a pinch-hitter. Smith was so focused, “I couldn’t hear anybody in the stands,” he told the Post-Dispatch.

Gwynn grounded out to shortstop Edgar Renteria.

In the ninth, relievers Dave Veres and Steve Kline warmed up rapidly in the Cardinals’ bullpen. Henderson, like Gwynn, a future Hall of Famer, led off and hit a broken-bat grounder to short for the first out.

After getting ahead on the count 1-and-2 to D’Angelo Jimenez, Smith walked him. La Russa sensed trouble. Smith had thrown more than 120 pitches and leaving him in the game “went against La Russa’s instincts,” The Sporting News noted.

The next batter was Ryan Klesko, who had hit the mammoth home run against Smith five nights earlier. When the first three pitches to Klesko missed the strike zone, La Russa said he was tempted to relieve Smith if he walked Klesko, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Asked whether he really would have lifted Smith, La Russa replied, “I probably would have made a trip (to the mound) and asked him to be honest. If he said, ‘I’m toast,’ it would have been better to let the reliever make the mistake.”

La Russa never had to leave the dugout. On the 3-and-0 pitch to Klesko, Smith threw a fastball for a strike. He came back with a curve for strike two. On the next pitch, Klesko sliced a grounder toward short. Renteria grabbed it on the short hop and fired to first in time for the second out.

Next was cleanup batter Phil Nevin. He got the count to 2-and-1. On Smith’s 134th pitch, Nevin smacked a sharp grounder up the middle. Smith snared it, ran halfway to first base and flipped underhanded to Pujols for the final out.

“He hit it right to me, but I didn’t know I had the ball,” Smith told the Associated Press. Boxscore and Video of last 3 innings

Smith was the third Cardinals rookie to pitch a no-hitter, joining Paul Dean (1934) and Jose Jimenez (1999).

The no-hitter was the start of a stretch of 12 wins in 13 games for the Cardinals. Smith was 3-0 with an 0.43 ERA in three September starts, helping the Cardinals finish in a tie with the Astros atop the division and qualify for the playoffs.

Smith’s record with the Cardinals in the regular season: 6-3 with a 3.81 ERA.

In the National League Division Series against the Diamondbacks, Smith started and won Game 4. Boxscore

The next year, Smith was 1-5 with a 6.94 ERA when the Cardinals packaged him in a trade to the Phillies for Scott Rolen.

After the deal, Smith never appeared in another big-league game. The no-hitter was his only complete game in the majors.

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(Updated Sept. 12, 2021)

Three future Hall of Famers converged on center stage for a climactic scene in a Cardinals classic. On the mound, Bob Gibson. Behind the plate, Ted Simmons. In the batter’s box, Willie Stargell.

On Aug. 14, 1971, Gibson got his lone no-hitter when he struck out Stargell for the last out.

Finishing a no-hitter is a formidable task under any circumstance, but for Gibson the degree of difficulty was heightened. Stargell was leading the majors in home runs and RBI.

Simmons, in his first full season as Cardinals catcher, had an intriguing role in the drama. He earned respect with his bat, but took pride in his catching, too. Being involved in a Gibson no-hitter would help secure Simmons’ reputation.

Pride still matters

Gibson earned his second National League Cy Young Award in 1970. At 35, he looked as dominant as ever at the start of the 1971 season, winning three of his first four decisions. The only loss in that stretch was in extra innings to the Cubs’ Ferguson Jenkins.

Trouble soon followed. In his last April start, Gibson got shelled in a loss to the Mets’ Tom Seaver. In May, Gibson was 1-3 with a 5.21 ERA. He tore a thigh muscle late in the month and didn’t pitch from May 30 through June 20. When he returned, he lost two June starts, dropping his record to 4-7 with a 4.31 ERA.

Losing none of his intensity and focus, Gibson told The Sporting News, “I get paid for winning,” and he set his sights on earning the money.

Gibson was 5-2, including consecutive shutouts of the Phillies and Mets, with a 1.95 ERA in seven starts in July.

“Pride keeps him going,” teammate Joe Torre told The Sporting News. “He’s the greatest competitor I ever saw.”

On Aug. 4, with Simmons catching, Gibson struck out nine, including Willie Mays twice, and beat Gaylord Perry and the Giants for his 200th career victory. Boxscore

Overpowering stuff

Ten days later, Gibson was the starter against the Pirates on a Saturday night at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.

The Cardinals knocked out Pirates starter Bob Johnson in the first inning and also pounded relievers Bob Moose and Bob Veale. Gibson contributed three RBI. Simmons had four hits, a RBI and scored three times. Torre also had four hits and a RBI, and scored twice.

On the mound, Gibson was in command.

“This was the first time in my life I ever was overpowered by anyone,” Pirates center fielder Al Oliver said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I never was able to get my bat around in time.”

Pirates second baseman and future Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski told the Associated Press, “Gibson was throwing them right where he wanted. He hit the outside corner every time. I broke two of my bats.”

Simmons told the Baseball Hall of Fame yearbook in 2021, “I can remember specifically thinking in the fourth inning that I was watching something that was pretty special … The slider was just so wicked. Complete and total command of a fastball that he could ride and sink, four-seam and two-seam.”

When the Cardinals scored three runs in the eighth to take an 11-0 lead, the outcome wasn’t in doubt. The focus was on whether the Pirates would get a hit. Gibson never had pitched a no-hitter at any level, amateur or professional.

“In the last two innings, I was bearing down extra hard,” Gibson told The Sporting News. “I was trying not to make any bad pitches. Even when I was falling behind in the count, I was being careful not to groove any pitches. I was throwing sliders and curves on 3-and-2 counts.”

Despite his best efforts, Gibson made a mistake to Dave Cash. With two outs in the eighth, Gibson said he hung a slider. Cash hit a high bouncer to third. For a moment, Joe Torre couldn’t see it in the lights.

“It scared the heck out of me, man,” Torre told the Baseball Hall of Fame yearbook in 2021. “I’m thinking, ‘I’m going to whiff this thing,’ but it didn’t happen. I was able to make the play.”

Stretching on tiptoes, he snared the ball and fired a throw to first to nip Cash.

Friend or foe?

“By the ninth inning, I was so nervous my knees were actually knocking,” Gibson said in his book “Stranger to the Game.”

The first batter was Vic Davalillo, a former Cardinal who started in right field instead of Roberto Clemente. Gibson got him to ground out to shortstop Dal Maxvill.

Al Oliver followed and grounded out to second baseman Ted Kubiak.

Willie Stargell was all that stood between Gibson and a no-hitter _ and he stood like a giant from the left side of the plate.

“His weight shifting rhythmically from one foot to the other, his bat moving in circles like an airplane propeller, Stargell creates a feeling of menace as he waits for the pitch,” Newspaper Enterprise Association reported.

At that point in the season, Stargell had 39 home runs and 101 RBI. No one else in the majors had more.

Stargell also had hit four home runs in his career versus Gibson then.

(The final career numbers for Stargell against Gibson: .290 batting average, .388 on-base percentage, five home runs, 20 walks and 41 strikeouts. According to baseball-reference.com, Stargell struck out more times versus Gibson than he did against any other pitcher. Gibson and Phil Niekro were the only pitchers to issue as many as 20 walks to Stargell.)

In “Stranger to the Game,” Gibson said, “Aside from former teammates, the only opposing player I ever really made friends with was Willie Stargell. I don’t have a good excuse for this, except that Stargell’s personality left me no choice. I was just fortunate he didn’t spread around the league that I was a nice guy or something. I couldn’t have that.”

Caught looking

Increasing the tension with every pitch, Gibson got ahead in the count, 1-and-2, on Stargell. On the next one, “I was looking for a fastball,” Stargell told The Sporting News.

Instead, with his 124th pitch of the game, Gibson threw a slider.

Stargell watched it go into Simmons’ mitt and heard umpire Harry Wendelstedt call, “Strike three!”

“That last pitch to Stargell really exploded,” Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst said to The Sporting News.

Stargell said the slider “cut over the plate at the last instant.” Boxscore and Video

“You can tell all those people who have been saying that Gibson was washed up that they should have been at the plate with a bat in their hands,” Stargell said.

Jack Buck, calling the ninth inning on the KMOX radio broadcast, said after the completion of the no-hitter, “If you were here, it would have made you cry.” Audio broadcast of Jack Buck and Jim Woods

Gibson’s no-hitter was the first in a big-league game in Pittsburgh since 1907 when rookie Nick Maddox of the Pirates did it against the Dodgers at Exposition Park. No big-leaguer pitched a no-hitter at Forbes Field, the Pirates’ home from 1909-69.

Gibson finished the season with a 16-13 record, 3.04 ERA, 20 complete games and five shutouts, his most since his most dominant season in 1968.

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In his 20th season in the big leagues, pitcher Arthur Rhodes fulfilled his goal of playing in a World Series, but not with the team he expected.

Ten years ago, on Aug. 11, 2011, the Cardinals signed Rhodes after he was released by the Rangers. Two months later, the Cardinals beat the Rangers in an epic seven-game World Series.

Rhodes, who turned 42 during the World Series, contributed significantly to the Cardinals’ effort. A left-handed reliever, he pitched in eight postseason games for the 2011 Cardinals and didn’t allow a run. Three of his appearances came in the World Series, including the decisive Game 7.

Career builder

A high school pitcher selected by the Orioles in the second round of the 1988 draft, Rhodes was 21 when he made his debut in the majors with them in 1991.

Converted from starter to reliever in 1995, Rhodes was 9-1 for the Orioles in 1996 and 10-3 in 1997.

He became a friend of teammate Cal Ripken, who set the major-league record for consecutive games played despite engaging in a risky ritual.

“We wrestled every day before the game, rolling around the floor. Every day,” Rhodes told Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty. “He was in such good shape, he never worried about getting hurt.”

After the 1999 season, Rhodes became a free agent. He pitched for the Mariners, Athletics, Indians and Phillies before sitting out the 2007 season because of reconstructive surgery on his left elbow.

Heart-wrenching loss

In 2008, Rhodes returned to the Mariners and finished the season with the Marlins. He became a free agent after the season and received interest from multiple teams, including the Cardinals.

“For years, we wanted Arthur on our ballclub and it never worked,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Rhodes signed with the Reds on Dec. 12, 2008. Four days before Christmas, he was devastated when his 5-year-old son, Jordan, died from an illness.

Afterward, whenever Rhodes came into a game to pitch, he etched his son’s initials, J.R., behind the pitching rubber. As Mike Lopresti of Gannett News Service wrote, “When he takes the mound, the first act comes not from his arm but his heart.”

Rhodes also had a tattoo of angel wings put on his right calf in memory of his son. “He loved to wake up in the morning,” Rhodes told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He loved going outside. He loved just playing. Whatever I loved doing, he loved doing, too.”

Despite his heartache, Rhodes produced two terrific seasons for the Reds. He had a 2.53 ERA in 66 appearances in 2009 and a 2.29 ERA in 69 games in 2010. Rhodes had 33 consecutive scoreless appearances for the 2010 Reds and was selected an all-star for the only time in his career. In seven games against the Cardinals in 2010, Rhodes yielded no runs in 6.1 total innings.

Match game

A free agent after the 2010 season, Rhodes, 41, wanted to sign with a team that would give him his best chance at reaching the World Series for the first time. He chose the Rangers, the 2010 American League champions.

The Rangers were as good as Rhodes hoped they’d be, but at the end of July they made a pair of trades for relievers, getting Koji Uehara from the Orioles and Mike Adams from the Padres.

Though left-handed batters hit .216 against him as a Ranger. Rhodes (3-3, 4.81 ERA) was deemed expendable. The Rangers released him on Aug. 8.

The Phillies, who had the best record in the National League, made an offer. Rhodes said he was tempted until the Phillies told him they wanted him to first go to their farm team in Clearwater, Fla., and get some work in.

“I had enough work for four months,” Rhodes told the Philadelphia Daily News. “Why should I go down to Clearwater and wait? If I don’t get called up, I’d be at home.”

The Red Sox, who had the best record in the American League, also called, but Rhodes liked best what he heard from the Cardinals. He said when they called, they said, “We want you.”

The Cardinals were in second place in their division and were not assured of reaching the playoffs, let alone the World Series, but Rhodes said he was sold on playing for La Russa.

Dream come true

Rhodes gave the Cardinals a second left-handed reliever, joining Marc Rzepczynski.

Rhodes made 19 regular-season appearances for the Cardinals and was unscored on in 15 of those. Overall, he was 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA.

The Cardinals finished fourth in the National League, but got into the playoffs as a wild-card entry. Rhodes played a valuable role for them in each step toward the championship.

In the National League Division Series against the Phillies, he made three appearances, totaling an inning, and allowed no runs or hits.

Rhodes got into two games in the National League Championship Series versus the Brewers, totaled two-thirds of an inning and allowed no runs or hits, helping the Cardinals win the pennant.

Regarding Rhodes reaching the World Series in his 20th season, La Russa told the Philadelphia Daily News, “That’s a lot of dues. So very special. Special as it gets.”

The pattern was the same in the World Series. In three appearances totaling an inning, Rhodes gave up no runs or hits. Video

“Not only is he an effective pitcher, but he’s got a dynamic presence,” La Russa said to the Post-Dispatch.

The World Series championship was a fitting way for Rhodes to end his pitching career.

He became the third big-leaguer to play for both World Series participants in the same season, joining Lonnie Smith (1985 Cardinals and Royals) and Bengie Molina (2010 Giants and Rangers).

Rhodes finished with a career record of 87-70 and 33 saves in the big leagues. He was better as a reliever (69-48, 3.43) than as a starter (18-22, 5.81). He limited left-handed batters to a .217 batting average.

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Howie Krist, who had his share of hard luck, experienced a season of unusual good fortune with the Cardinals.

Eighty years ago, in 1941, Krist posted a 10-0 record for the Cardinals.

A right-hander, Krist is the only National League pitcher to have 10 or more wins and no losses in a season. Three have achieved the feat in the American League: Tom Zachary (12-0) of the 1929 Yankees, Dennis Lamp (11-0) of the 1985 Blue Jays and Aaron Small (10-0) of the 2005 Yankees.

Ups and downs

Krist was born in West Henrietta, N.Y., near Rochester, and raised on a family farm. His father, from Germany, and mother, from Denmark, immigrated to the United States, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.

Krist was 18 when he was signed by Warren Giles, president and general manager of the Cardinals’ Rochester farm club and future National League president.

In 1936, his second season as a professional, Krist recovered from appendicitis and posted a 20-9 record for the Cardinals’ farm club in Columbus, Ga. Eddie Dyer was the manager.

Krist had several setbacks, including a severe case of influenza and a broken ankle, in 1937, but persevered and got called up to the Cardinals in September. He pitched in six games, including four starts, for the 1937 Cardinals and was 3-1.

Krist began the 1938 season with the Cardinals, but was returned to the minors in April.

In March 1939, Krist underwent surgery on his right elbow. “Several small pieces of bone that had become embedded in the soft tissue surrounding the joint were cut out of his elbow,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Remarkably, Krist pitched 103 innings in 1939 for the Cardinals’ Houston farm team. With Eddie Dyer again his manager, Krist posted a 5-2 record.

The next year, Krist was back with Houston and playing for Dyer. Pain-free, Krist was 22-9 with a 1.71 ERA for Houston in 1940. He issued 50 walks in 253 innings and was dubbed “a master of control” by the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

Good impression

Krist, 25, was given a serious look by the Cardinals at spring training in 1941 and made the Opening Day roster as a reliever.

He got into only one game in April and, according to The Sporting News, the Cardinals were considering returning him to the minors to get more work.

Needing a spot starter for a game versus the Phillies on May 2, manager Billy Southworth turned to Krist.

Krist was “fighting for his job,” the Globe-Democrat reported.

He responded by pitching a complete game and limiting the Phillies to five hits in a 4-2 Cardinals victory. Boxscore

After that, the Cardinals changed their minds about sending Krist to the minors.

Used as a reliever and spot starter, Krist showed “fine control as well as deceptive stuff,” the St. Louis Star-Times reported.

Though described as “frail,” Krist, 6 feet 2 and 175 pounds, “has shown he can stop the best of the league’s hitters,” the Post-Dispatch noted.

After Krist boosted his season record to 6-0 with a win in relief against the Giants on July 10, the Post-Dispatch declared, “You can bet the Cardinals’ manager is happy today he held onto Krist three months ago when he was trimming the pitching staff.” Boxscore

Krist got his 10th win on Sept. 14 in another relief stint versus the Giants. Boxscore

Pennant chances damaged

Though Krist never was the losing pitcher in a game, the season wasn’t without its setbacks for him.

The Cardinals entered play on Sept. 20 a half-game behind the league-leading Dodgers. At St. Louis that day, the Cardinals led, 3-1, after eight innings against the Cubs.

In the ninth, the Cubs tied the score versus starter Lon Warneke, who departed with runners on second and third. Krist relieved and gave an intentional walk to Clyde McCullough, loading the bases. Rookie Bob Scheffing, batting for shortstop Johnny Hudson, swung at Krist’s first pitch and socked it deep into the seats in left for a grand slam.

The Cubs won, 7-3, with the loss going to Warneke. The Dodgers, who swept a doubleheader from the Phillies, moved two games ahead of the Cardinals. Boxscore

Winning five of their last seven, the Dodgers (100-54) finished in first place, 2.5 games ahead of the Cardinals (97-56).

Krist finished 10-0 with two saves and a 4.03 ERA. He was 6-0 with a 3.03 ERA in 29 relief appearances and 4-0 with a 5.23 ERA in eight starts.

Five of Krist’s 10 wins came against the Phillies.

More adversity

Krist helped the Cardinals win consecutive pennants in 1942 and 1943. He was 13-3 with a save in 1942 and 11-5 with three saves in 1943.

Serving in the Army in 1944 and 1945, Krist experienced combat in Europe during World War II. According to The Sporting News, he was seriously injured in France in November 1944 and spent considerable time in a hospital in England, recovering from leg wounds.

“I tore a bunch of muscles in my leg when I was carrying a machine gun and stepped in a hole,” Krist told the Post-Dispatch.

A few days after his discharge in January 1946, Krist suffered a fractured jaw and lost several teeth when the car he was driving struck a culvert near Wellsville, N.Y. State police said a front tire blew out, causing the accident. Krist’s wife (bruised back and cuts) and 4-year-old daughter (sprained knee) also were injured.

Two months later, Krist reported to Cardinals’ spring training camp. Eddie Dyer, in his first season as Cardinals manager, gave Krist a spot on the team. He was 0-2 in 15 relief appearances, but remained on the roster as the Cardinals went on to become World Series champions.

The 1946 season was Krist’s last in the majors. His career record with the Cardinals was 37-11, including 17-2 versus the Phillies.

Three years later, Krist was shot in the right hip and groin in a hunting accident in Delevan, N.Y.

According to the Associated Press, “The accident occurred when Krist banged his rifle on the ground to catch a young woodchuck. The stock broke and the gun discharged, causing the .22 caliber bullet to enter the groin through the hip.”

Hospital officials described the injury as a “flesh wound” and said Krist was in good condition, the Associated Press reported.

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