Archive for the ‘Pitchers’ Category

The Cardinals projected rookie Phil Clark to be their top reliever in 1958, but the role eventually went to the opposing pitcher who earned a win in Clark’s major-league debut.

Clark, who died Sept. 14, 2018, at 85, was a well-regarded prospect for the Cardinals in the 1950s. After graduating from Albany (Ga.) High School, Clark signed with St. Louis before the 1951 season and was assigned to his hometown Albany Cardinals, a Class D farm club.

Clark, 18, pitched 219 innings for Albany and was 18-7 with a 2.96 ERA. He spent the next two years in the Navy before returning to the Cardinals system in 1954.

A sensational 1957 season with the Class AA Houston Buffaloes elevated Clark’s status. The right-hander was 16-6 with a 1.83 ERA in 63 relief appearances that year.

High hopes

At spring training in 1958, Clark impressed with a string of eight scoreless innings in three exhibition games. “He’s temperamentally and physically equipped to be our No. 1 man in the bullpen.” Cardinals general manager Bing Devine told The Sporting News.

A sinkerball specialist with excellent control, Clark threw an assortment of pitches, but relied on a slider. Clark knew more about pitching technique than any other Cardinals prospect, scout Joe Mathes said.

The Sporting News reported Clark was “the best bet among the newcomers to stick and help the club” in 1958 and Sports Illustrated declared Clark as the rookie the Cardinals were “counting on most.”

On April 15, 1958, the Cardinals opened the season at home against the Cubs. Clark made his big-league debut in the seventh and pitched two scoreless innings, but the Cubs won, 4-0. Cubs starter Jim Brosnan pitched six innings, didn’t allow a run and got the win. Boxscore

After losing their first four games, the Cardinals won on April 20, 1958, against the Cubs at Chicago. Clark earned the save, holding the Cubs scoreless over the final three innings of a 9-4 Cardinals triumph. Brosnan, the Cubs’ starter, gave up four runs in three innings and was the losing pitcher. Boxscore

In his first three Cardinals appearances, all against the Cubs, Clark pitched a total of six scoreless innings. His next two outings, however, caused the Cardinals to lose confidence in him.

Changing course

On April 23, 1958, at San Francisco, Clark relieved in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, Giants runners on first and second and the Cardinals ahead, 7-4. The first batter Clark faced, Orlando Cepeda, hit a two-run triple and the next, Daryl Spencer, followed with a two-run home run, giving the Giants an 8-7 victory. Boxscore

In Clark’s next appearance, May 2, 1958, at St. Louis, he entered in the ninth with the Reds ahead, 4-3. He faced four batters and all reached base. Vada Pinson singled, Frank Robinson walked, George Crowe hit a three-run home run and Don Hoak doubled. Boxscore

Two weeks later, on May 20, 1958, the Cardinals sent Clark, 0-1 with one save and a 3.52 ERA in seven relief appearances, to their Class AAA Omaha farm club and acquired Brosnan from the Cubs for shortstop Al Dark.

In 12 starts for the 1958 Cardinals, Brosnan, an aspiring author, was 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA. Converted into a reliever by Cardinals manager Fred Hutchinson, Brosnan was 4-1 with seven saves and a 1.67 ERA in 21 relief appearances, successfully filling the role given to Clark at the start of the season.

Bullpen buddies

As the Cardinals began spring training in 1959, Brosnan was the closer and Clark, 10-6 with a 2.75 ERA in 44 relief appearances for Omaha in 1958, was a candidate for a bullpen role.

The two pitchers, whose career paths intersected so often in 1958, met for the first time during training camp and became friends. In his book, “The Long Season,” Brosnan wrote, “My first impressions of Phil Clark were reasonably soul-satisfying. Phil is a Georgia boy with a pleased-to-give-you-the-shirt-off-my back personality.”

Clark earned a spot on the Cardinals’ 1959 Opening Day roster and Brosnan wanted him as a road roommate, but the club assigned another pitcher, Alex Kellner, to room with Brosnan instead.

The erudite Brosnan, nicknamed “Professor,” and Kellner, a big-game hunter who roped mountain lions, were an odd couple. Kellner liked to watch TV westerns while Brosnan preferred to read. “I had to read my book with a pillow over my left ear, a pillow beneath my right ear and just enough light to see the larger type,” Brosnan wrote.

Tough game

Neither Clark nor Brosnan pitched well for the 1959 Cardinals.

On April 26, 1959, Clark entered a game against the Dodgers at St. Louis with the score tied at 9-9. He pitched a scoreless seventh, but in the eighth he gave up three runs, one earned. The Dodgers won, 17-11, and Clark was the losing pitcher. Boxscore

“Clark, being a good pitcher and knowing how to pitch, had made so many good pitches only to see them turned into handle-hits, bad hops over the infielders’ shoulders, bloops to the outfield and squibs through the infield, that a sympathetic observer, like a wife, could almost cry in desperation,” Brosnan wrote.

On May 9, 1959, Brosnan and Clark rode together to Busch Stadium for the game that day against the Cubs. Brosnan was in the training room when Clark walked in and asked Doc Bauman if he could use the phone. Clark called his wife and asked her to come get him. The Cardinals had informed him he was going back to the minors.

“He dropped the phone back onto its cradle, looked down at the floor for a moment and walked quickly from the room back to his locker,” Brosnan wrote. “I started to follow him, thought better of it, picked up the morning paper and went into the latrine to read.

“There was nothing I could say to Philip that would help. At cutdown date in organized baseball it’s every man for himself. My first reaction was relief that it wasn’t I who had just lost his job.”

Clark was 0-1 with a 12.86 ERA in seven relief appearances when the Cardinals demoted him. A month later, on June 8, 1959, Brosnan, 1-3 with two saves and a 4.91 ERA, was traded to the Reds for pitcher Hal Jeffcoat.

Brosnan regained his effectiveness with the Reds and was a relief ace in 1961 when they won the National League pennant.

Clark was with Omaha until July when he was traded to the St. Paul Saints, Class AAA farm club of the Dodgers, for pitcher Bob Darnell.

Clark pitched in the Dodgers’ minor-league system from 1959-61. He was a teacher, coach and assistant principal for public schools in Albany, Ga., from 1960-88.

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Cardinals pitcher Alex Kellner understood the importance of control and precision in his work both on and off the field.

During the baseball season, Kellner relied on pinpoint command of his curveball to keep batters off balance. After the season, he relied on complete command of a different set of skills to capture a mountain lion.

Kellner, who pitched in the major leagues for 12 seasons, including 1959 with the Cardinals, was an avid outdoorsman who hunted for jaguars and bears, went spearfishing in the ocean and, according to several accounts, pursued mountain lions to capture for sale to zoos and circuses.

Meet me in St. Louis

Kellner was born in Tucson, Ariz., in 1924. His father was a cattle rancher and newspaper stenographer, according to a biography by the Society for American Baseball Research.

In 1941, when he was 16, Kellner signed with the Reds and pitched in their minor-league system. Two years later, he enlisted in the Navy and served in the South Pacific during World War II. After his discharge, the Reds released Kellner and he signed with the Athletics.

Kellner, a left-hander, made his major-league debut with the Athletics in 1948 and earned 20 wins for them in 1949. He remained with the Athletics until he was claimed off waivers by the Reds on June 23, 1958. Kellner was 7-3 with a 2.30 ERA for the 1958 Reds, including 2-1 with an 0.65 ERA in three appearances against the Cardinals.

Sixty years ago, on Oct. 3, 1958, the Reds traded Kellner, first baseman George Crowe and shortstop Alex Grammas to the Cardinals for outfielder Del Ennis, shortstop Eddie Kasko and pitcher Bob Mabe.

Wild kingdom

While with the Reds, reports surfaced of Kellner’s wildlife adventures.

Kellner “rassles Arizona mountain lions in the off-season for pleasure and profit,” the Associated Press reported on July 16, 1958.

In its Oct. 8, 1958, edition, readers of The Sporting News learned Kellner had a “hazardous winter pursuit _ roping mountain lions in his native Arizona.” Kellner “sells the big cats to zoos and circuses,” The Sporting News reported.

Kellner, 34, made his regular-season debut with the Cardinals on April 25, 1959, earning a win with five scoreless innings of relief against the Dodgers at St. Louis. Boxscore

In his next appearance, April 30, 1959, Kellner got a start versus the Braves at Milwaukee and was matched against Warren Spahn. Hank Aaron hit a home run in the fourth, giving the Braves a 1-0 victory. Boxscore

“Kellner knows how to handle enemy batters as easily as he does jaguars and mountain lions,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Man vs. beast

Kellner used dogs to pursue mountain lions. When out of options during such a chase, a mountain lion’s natural inclination is to climb a tree because dogs cannot do the same. With the mountain lion in the tree and the dogs gathered below, Kellner would lasso a rope and attempt to capture the animal.

Kellner, assisted by two other men, including his brother Walt, “once took a mountain lion alive in the mountains of southern Arizona,” Post-Dispatch outdoors columnist James Kearns reported. “Dogs were used to tree the animal.”

In the book “Baseball Players of the 1950s,” Walt, who pitched briefly for the Athletics, said, “I was right there with Alex in the off-seasons hunting down mountain lions and bears for zoos and circuses.”

Kellner also “killed a 275-pound black bear in the western part of the state and wild pigs outside Tucson,” the Post-Dispatch reported. “A year ago, he made a 1,000-mile trip into Mexico and brought down a 141-pound jaguar in Nayarit. He got motion pictures of the animal as it took refuge in a tree, snarling and spitting at the pursuing dogs.”

“I tackle anything,” Kellner said.

King of the sea

Kellner, 6 feet, 215 pounds, indicated his most worrisome experience occurred while spearfishing in the Gulf of California near the Mexican town of Puerto Libertad.

“I was skin diving for fish about 200 yards from shore when this sea lion stuck his head out of the water a few feet away,” Kellner told the Post-Dispatch. “He was as big as I am. I looked him over and he looked me over. He circled me four times, making a survey from all angles. I never took my eyes off him.

“He disappeared beneath the water, but returned about five minutes later. I suppose he was just being playful, but I was glad when he left for good.”

Kellner pitched effectively for the Cardinals as a starter and reliever until June 23, 1959, when he started again against the Braves at Milwaukee. After retiring the first two batters, Andy Pafko and Eddie Mathews, in the first inning, Kellner was pitching to Aaron when he felt a searing pain in his left elbow.

Kellner, who suffered a muscle tear in the elbow, was removed from the game and never pitched again. Boxscore

His record for the 1959 Cardinals was 2-1 with a 3.16 ERA in 12 appearances, including four starts.

Kellner had a career mark of 101-112 with a 4.41 ERA for the Athletics (1948-58), Reds (1958) and Cardinals (1959).

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Seeking stability at shortstop, the Cardinals went back to the past in a bid to enhance their future.

Sixty years ago, on Oct. 3, 1958, the Cardinals acquired shortstop Alex Grammas, first baseman George Crowe and pitcher Alex Kellner from the Reds for shortstop Eddie Kasko, outfielder Del Ennis and pitcher Bob Mabe.

The key to the deal for the Cardinals was Grammas, who had been their starting shortstop in 1954 and 1955 after being acquired from the Reds.

After using eight players at shortstop in 1958, the Cardinals were eager to have someone they knew who could do the job consistently, if not spectacularly.

Moving around

Grammas played baseball for Mississippi State and earned a degree in business. After graduating in 1949, he signed with the White Sox and played in their minor-league system until he was traded to the Reds in June 1951.

The Reds kept Grammas in the minor leagues and in 1953 they loaned him to the Kansas City Blues, a Yankees farm club. Grammas produced his best season for the Blues, batting .307 with 179 hits in 140 games as the everyday shortstop.

The Reds, who had smooth-fielding Roy McMillan as their shortstop, traded Grammas to the Cardinals on Dec. 2, 1953, for pitcher Jack Crimian and $100,000.

Grammas proved ready as a rookie to replace Solly Hemus as the Cardinals’ starter in 1954. He batted .264 and ranked second among National League shortstops in fielding percentage at .966. Grammas continued his good glove work (.968 fielding percentage) in 1955, but his batting average dipped to .240.

Frank Lane, who as White Sox general manager had traded Grammas to the Reds in 1951, became Cardinals general manager after the 1955 season and wanted more run production from a shortstop than Grammas was able to give.

Grammas opened the 1956 season as the starter, but on May 16 he was traded with outfielder Joe Frazier to the Reds for utility player Chuck Harmon. A month later, Lane dealt second baseman Red Schoendienst to the Giants for Al Dark, who became the Cardinals’ everyday shortstop.

Anatomy of a deal

Dark provided the hitting Lane sought, but all did not end well. Lane clashed with Cardinals owner Gussie Busch, departed after the 1957 season and was replaced by Bing Devine. Dark lacked fielding range as a shortstop, got traded by Devine to the Cubs in May 1958 and was replaced by Kasko, who’d been the Cardinals’ starting third baseman as a rookie in 1957.

Kasko made 64 starts at shortstop, didn’t hit well and was benched. Besides Dark and Kasko, others who played shortstop for the 1958 Cardinals were Ruben Amaro, Ken Boyer, Gene Freese, Johnny O’Brien, Dick Schofield and Lee Tate.

As the 1958 season neared its end, Devine, under orders from Busch, reluctantly fired manager Fred Hutchinson and replaced him with Busch’s personal choice, Hemus. While attending the 1958 World Series between the Braves and Yankees, Devine and Hemus went searching for a shortstop.

During Game 1 at Milwaukee, Devine and Hemus sat in the stands near their Reds counterparts, general manager Gabe Paul and manager Mayo Smith. According to Si Burick of the Dayton Daily News, Devine said to Paul, “I’ll take Alex Grammas.” Paul demanded Ennis in return.

“Cincinnati did not want to give up Grammas, one of the top utility infielders of the game, though a weak hitter,” Burick reported.

At Game 2, the trade interest between Devine and Paul got serious and, in an attempt at being discreet, they passed notes to one another from their box seats. One of Devine’s notes to Paul read, “It’s Grammas or nobody.”

Devine and Paul agreed to meet again when the World Series shifted to New York and they made the deal around noon on Oct. 3.

Encore performance

“Whether Grammas will be an improvement over Kasko is a question,” Bob Broeg wrote in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Neither can hit for average or distance. Grammas is considered by the Cardinals’ management to be steadier afield.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer declared, “Grammas, as everybody knows, is an excellent glove man, but an all-American out at the plate.”

Grammas was glad to be rejoining the Cardinals and told the Associated Press, “I like Solly Hemus. He helped me a lot with the Cards before, as much as a fellow ever did in baseball. If I was going to be traded, I couldn’t think of a place to go that I’d like better than St. Louis.”

Of the other two players acquired by the Cardinals from the Reds, Crowe was projected to be a pinch-hitter and backup first baseman and Kellner was expected to help as a left-handed reliever.

After the 1958 World Series was completed, the Cardinals went on a goodwill tour of Japan. Grammas was part of the entourage; Crowe and Kellner weren’t. The exhibition games against Japanese teams gave the Cardinals a chance to evaluate Grammas and he impressed.

Grammas, 33, opened the 1959 season as the Cardinals’ starting shortstop and he kept the job throughout the year, making 123 starts, batting .269 overall and ranking third in fielding percentage (.964) among National Leaguers at the position.

Crowe, 38, hit .301 in 103 at-bats for the 1959 Cardinals. He also played for them in 1960 and 1961, became a mentor to players such as Curt Flood, Bob Gibson and Tim McCarver, and stayed with the Cardinals as an instructor and scout after his playing days. Kellner, 34, was 2-1 with a 3.16 ERA in 12 appearances for the 1959 Cardinals before an elbow ailment ended his major-league pitching career.

After the 1959 season, the Cardinals obtained power-hitting shortstop Daryl Spencer from the Giants. Grammas opened the 1960 season as the Cardinals’ starting second baseman and held that job until the end of May, when he was replaced by rookie Julian Javier.

Grammas was a Cardinals utility player for the remainder of 1960, all of 1961 and part of 1962 before he was traded with outfielder Don Landrum to the Cubs for infielder Daryl Roberston and outfielder Bobby Gene Smith on June 5, 1962.

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In 1968, Steve Carlton was a National League all-star and he ranked second among the Cardinals in shutouts and strikeouts, but manager Red Schoendienst decided not to start him in a game during the World Series against the Tigers.

Schoendienst gave starts in Games 1, 4 and 7 to staff ace Bob Gibson and started Nelson Briles in Games 2 and 5 and Ray Washburn in Games 3 and 6.

Carlton, who pitched well in a start for the Cardinals against the Red Sox in the 1967 World Series, was used as a reliever in the 1968 World Series, even though he’d made only one relief appearance during the season.

Fifty years later, it’s hard to imagine how a team could have future Hall of Famers Gibson and Carlton in the rotation and not utilize both as starters in a seven-game World Series. The Tigers won four of those games, earning the championship, and naturally one wonders whether the outcome would have been different if Carlton had gotten a start.

After a sensational first half of the 1968 season, Carlton struggled in September and Schoendienst wasn’t comfortable starting him in October, but Briles also slumped late in the season and the Cardinals lost both of his World Series starts.

Ups and downs

Carlton, 23, won seven of his first eight decisions for the 1968 Cardinals, got selected to the all-star team and pitched a scoreless inning for the National League in its 1-0 victory over the American League Boxscore

Carlton and Larry Jaster were the left-handers in a Cardinals rotation with Gibson, Briles and Washburn. The starting pitching in 1968 propelled the Cardinals on a path to a second consecutive league championship.

At times, Carlton was dominant, pitching a three-hitter against the Phillies on May 24 and a one-hitter versus the Cubs on June 19.

After pitching a two-hitter against the Phillies on Aug. 1, Carlton had a season record of 11-5 with a 2.73 ERA, but then he began to lose command of the strike zone and lost four decisions in a row.

“It’s not that Steve is walking too many,” Schoendienst said to The Sporting News. “He’s been getting behind (in the count) on too many batters.”

Decision time

After the Cardinals clinched the pennant in Carlton’s win over the Astros on Sept. 15, Schoendienst and pitching coach Billy Muffett used the last two weeks of the season to determine the starters for the World Series. Gibson, who had won 15 in a row and would finish with a 1.12 ERA, was a given. So, too, was Briles, who would finish with 19 wins. The candidates for the No. 3 World Series starter were Carlton and Washburn.

On Sept. 18, 1968, Washburn significantly helped his case by pitching a no-hitter against the Giants. Two days later, on Sept. 20, Carlton started against the Dodgers, was unable to locate either his fastball or his curve, gave up four runs and seven hits and was lifted after 1.2 innings.

“Steve Carlton apparently removed all doubt as to whether Ray Washburn would start the third game of the World Series,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch declared. “Even before Carlton failed, manager Red Schoendienst said, ‘It looks like it will be Washburn in the third game.’ ” Boxscore

Though Washurn was 2-3 in September, his ERA for the month in six starts was 2.08 and he finished the season at 14-8 with a 2.26 ERA.

Carlton was 1-2 with a 4.13 ERA in five September starts, allowing 39 hits in 28.1 innings, and finished the season at 13-11, five shutouts, 162 strikeouts and a 2.99 ERA. As a starter, Carlton was 13-10 with a 2.98 ERA. In his last start of the season, Carlton pitched five scoreless innings before Schoendienst decided to give his relievers some work.

Though Briles finished the season 19-11 with a 2.81 ERA, he was 2-2 with a 4.67 ERA in five September starts, allowing 44 hits in 34.2 innings. Briles yielded 13 earned runs over his last 14.2 innings.

Pitching problems

A year earlier, Briles and Carlton each got a start in the 1967 World Series and each pitched well. Briles started Game 3, yielded seven hits and two runs in nine innings and got the win. Carlton started Game 5, yielded three hits and one run in six innings and took the loss in a 3-1 Red Sox victory. Boxscore

In 1968, after Gibson started Game 1, struck out 17 and shut out the Tigers, Briles started Game 2 and gave up four runs in five innings.

Carlton, making his first relief appearance since June 9, relieved Briles in the sixth with Willie Horton on first, none out and the Tigers ahead, 3-0. Jim Northrup hit the first pitch from Carlton for a single, moving Horton to second. After Bill Freehan popped out, Don Wert walked, loading the bases. Carlton struck out Mickey Lolich for the second out, but Dick McAuliffe followed with a two-run single, giving the Tigers a 5-0 lead. They won, 8-1. Boxscore

“If Schoendienst was thinking about giving Steve Carlton a shot at a starting assignment, he probably was discouraged by the left-hander’s showing in relief of Briles,” the Post-Dispatch offered.

Washburn won Game 3 and Gibson won Game 4, putting the Cardinals a victory away from clinching the championship. Schoendienst started Briles instead of Carlton in Game 5. When Briles was relieved by Joe Hoerner with one out and one on in the seventh, the Cardinals led, 3-2, but Hoerner allowed all four batters he faced to reach base and the Tigers rallied for a 5-3 triumph. Boxscore

In Game 6, Washburn started and gave up five runs in two innings. Jaster relieved and yielded three runs without recording an out. The Tigers went on to a 13-1 victory. Carlton pitched three innings and allowed one run, a home run by fellow future Hall of Famer Al Kaline. Boxscore

“If Cardinals fans did any second-guessing of manager Red Schoendienst, it involved his choice of relievers _ Larry Jaster instead of Steve Carlton in the Tigers’ third inning,” The Sporting News reported.

The Tigers beat Gibson in Game 7 and won a World Series title for the first time since 1945.

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Billy O’Dell was a left-handed pitcher who had success in the National League but the Cardinals’ Tim McCarver caused him trouble, hitting two grand slams against him.

O’Dell, who died Sept. 12, 2018, at 85, is best known as a starter for the 1962 National League champion Giants. O’Dell was 19-14 for them and led the staff in starts (39), complete games (20), innings pitched (280.2) and strikeouts (195).

Three years later, in February 1965, the Giants dealt O’Dell to the Braves, who converted him into a closer.

Fit to be tied

On Aug. 16, 1965, the Braves led the Cardinals, 8-4, in the eighth inning at St. Louis. Braves reliever Phil Niekro yielded consecutive singles to Bill White, Phil Gagliano and Ted Savage, loading the bases with no outs. Manager Bobby Bragan brought in O’Dell to face McCarver, a left-handed batter.

O’Dell entered the game with a 1.80 ERA and a string of 28 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run, but McCarver hit O’Dell’s first pitch into the right-field pavilion for a grand slam, tying the score at 8-8.

“That’s about the only real hit I’ve ever got off O’Dell,” McCarver said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In the ninth, Eddie Mathews poked a two-run single to center against Hal Woodeshick and the Braves won, 10-8. “Woodeshick jammed me good with that pitch,” said Mathews. O’Dell retired the Cardinals in the bottom half of the ninth and got the win. Boxscore

Against all odds

Two years later, on June 14, 1967, O’Dell was with the Pirates and he got the start against the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson at Pittsburgh.

In the first inning, the Cardinals loaded the bases with two outs, bringing up McCarver. O’Dell’s first pitch to him was a strike. The second was an inside fastball and McCarver lifted a high fly to right. Roberto Clemente moved toward the foul line, looking to make a catch, but the ball carried and dropped over the screen, just inside the foul pole, for a grand slam.

“Giving Bob Gibson a 4-0 lead before he even throws a ball is like matching Green Bay with Slippery Rock” in football, The Pittsburgh Press reported.

The Cardinals won, 7-4, and O’Dell took the loss. Boxscore

McCarver hit six grand slams in his major-league career. Four came against right-handers Larry Bearnarth of the Mets, Gary Wagner of the Phillies, Fred Gladding of the Astros and Rick Baldwin of the Mets and two were hit against O’Dell, who usually was effective versus left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .222 batting average in a 13-season career in the major leagues.

O’Dell yielded four grand slams as a big-leaguer _ the two to McCarver and the others to right-handed batters Ray Boone of the Tigers and Gene Oliver of the Braves.

Win some, lose some

O’Dell had a 10-8 record and 4.04 ERA in 42 career appearances versus the Cardinals. He pitched two shutouts against them. The first was May 28, 1960, in an 8-0 victory at St. Louis. O’Dell was backed by Willie Mays, who hit a pair of two-run home runs. Boxscore

O’Dell’s second shutout of the Cardinals was May 10, 1962, a 6-0 victory at St. Louis. Gibson started for the Cardinals and gave up a three-run home run to Willie McCovey. The win gave O’Dell a 5-0 record. Boxscore

A month later, on June 10, 1962, Curt Flood of the Cardinals got his first walkoff home run in the big leagues and it came against O’Dell in the opener of a doubleheader at St. Louis.

O’Dell started for the Giants and took a 5-4 lead into the ninth. After Bobby Gene Smith led off with a single, Dal Maxvill made his first big-league appearance, batting for pitcher Bobby Shantz, and popped out. Flood followed with a two-run home run, lifting the Cardinals to a 6-5 triumph. Boxscore

“It was like David against the Giants as Curt Flood, all 155 pounds of him, sent a slingshot home run into the left-field bleachers,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Said Flood: “I had decided to swing at the first pitch that looked like a strike. O’Dell didn’t seem as sharp as he had been. He had us swinging at a lot of bad balls.”

Flood batted .309 (21-for-68) versus O’Dell in his career. McCarver hit .333 (8-for-24) against him.

O’Dell never pitched in the minor leagues. He was a standout at Clemson University, joined the Orioles after signing with them on June 8, 1954, and was mentored by pitching coach Harry Brecheen, the former Cardinals left-hander. After entering military service in 1955, O’Dell rejoined the Orioles in September 1956.

O’Dell had a career record of 105-100 with a 3.29 ERA for the Orioles, Giants, Braves and Pirates.

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The 1943 Cardinals figured they had plenty of quality left-handed pitching. What they needed most was cash.

Seventy-five years ago, in September 1943, the Cardinals traded a top left-handed pitching prospect, Preacher Roe, to the Pirates for pitcher Johnny Podgajny, outfielder Johnny Wyrostek and “a big bundle of cash,” The Sporting News reported.

The Cardinals received “in the neighborhood of $25,000,” according to The Pittsburgh Press. They needed the money to offset financial losses in their minor-league system, The Sporting News reported.

Roe was well-regarded, but the Cardinals were stocked with left-handed pitchers such as Al Brazle, Harry Brecheen, Max Lanier and Ernie White and had another, Howie Pollet, in military service.

Several clubs made bids for Roe, but the Pirates won out because they offered the Cardinals the best combination of cash and players.

Name game

Elwin Roe was born in Ash Flat, Ark., and his father, Charles Roe, was a physician who played and coached semi-pro baseball.

When Elwin was 3 years old, he told an uncle he thought he should have a new name.

“What do you think it should be?” the uncle asked.

“Preacher,” replied the boy, who admired a local minister and his wife who took Roe for rides in their horse-driven buggy.

From then on, he was known as Preacher Roe, United Press reported.

Roe showed skill as a ballplayer and his father initially steered him toward being an outfielder. “I wanted to pitch,” Roe said, “but Dad wouldn’t let me until I was 16. I think that saved my arm and gave me the strength to throw my fast one.”

Roe eventually enrolled at Harding College in Searcy, Ark., and became a pitcher, posting a 24-4 career record there. In 1938, when Roe was 10-1, he struck out 27 in a 13-inning game. “It shows he has grasped the general idea of the fundamentals of pitching,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch somberly proclaimed.

Speedy trial

Roe attracted the attention of the Yankees, Tigers, Red Sox, Indians and Cardinals, according to the St. Louis Star-Times.

On July 25, 1938, Cardinals scout Frank Rickey, brother of club executive Branch Rickey, convinced Roe to sign with the Cardinals for $5,000. “It’s understood he rejected offers from the Yankees and Tigers,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Roe, 22, was placed on the big-league roster, joined the Cardinals in New York and spent the next few weeks watching and learning.

On Aug. 19, 1938, Cardinals manager Frankie Frisch gave Roe the start in an exhibition game against the semi-pro Belleville Stags at Athletic Park in Belleville, Ill. Roe pitched a three-hitter, striking out 11 and issuing no walks, in a 4-1 Cardinals victory.

Three days later, on Aug. 22, 1938, Roe made his major-league debut, pitching 2.2 innings of relief and yielding four runs to the Reds at St. Louis. Boxscore

That was Roe’s lone major-league appearance for the Cardinals.

Pirates prize

After the 1938 season, the Cardinals sent Roe to the minor leagues and he spent the next five years (1939-43) pitching for their farm clubs without getting another chance to return to the big leagues.

In 1943, Roe, 27, had his best minor-league season, posting a 15-7 record and 2.37 ERA for the Columbus (Ohio) Redbirds.

“The Preacher has speed, a fine curveball that he can operate on more than one speed and he flanks these orthodox offerings with a dandy screwball,” The Sporting News reported.

On Sept. 15, 1943, the Pirates obtained Roe from the Cardinals. Frisch, fired by the Cardinals in September 1938, was the Pirates’ manager and recommended they acquire Roe.

The Pirates got “one of the gems of the year,” The Pittsburgh Press reported. “Scouts believe he can’t miss in the majors this time.”

“In getting one of the real prize packages of the minors, Preacher Roe, the Pirates strengthened their pitching staff for next season,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette declared.

Big chance

Roe reported to spring training in 1944 at Muncie, Ind., where the Pirates were based because of wartime travel restrictions, and fulfilled expectations. Frisch gave the rookie the Opening Day start against the Cardinals in St. Louis on April 18, 1944.

“Frisch knows nothing would give the Preacher more pleasure than to show the Cardinals they made a mistake by letting him get away,” The Pittsburgh Press reported.

Roe limited the two-time defending National League champions to one hit in the first five innings. He also got the Pirates’ first hit, a single in the third. According to the Post-Dispatch, Roe “happened to meet a pitch with a feeble swing very much on the push side and the ball looped to center field.”

The Cardinals scored in the sixth and eighth innings and won, 2-0, behind Max Lanier’s two-hitter. Roe pitched a complete game, yielding seven hits, walking three and striking out two.

Roe’s father attended the game and Frisch told the physician, “Your boy certainly did a fine job this afternoon, but the breaks did not go his way.” Boxscore

Down, not out

Roe was 13-11 with a 3.11 ERA for the Pirates, who finished second to the champion Cardinals in 1944. He followed that with a 14-13 mark in 1945.

In February 1946, Roe was coaching a team in a high school basketball game in Arkansas when he was slugged by a referee during an argument. Roe’s head hit the floor and he fractured his skull. When he was able to pitch again, he no longer could throw a fastball with consistent effectiveness.

After posting records of 3-8 in 1946 and 4-15 in 1947, the Pirates soured on Roe. Again, the Rickeys played a pivotal role in Roe’s career. Branch Rickey, who’d left the Cardinals to join the Dodgers, acquired Roe after the 1947 season.

Determined to revive his career with the Dodgers, Roe began throwing a spitball and the illegal pitch worked wonders for him. He’d use ruses while on the mound to make batters think he was wetting the ball even when he wasn’t.

“I had a wet one and three fake wet ones,” Roe said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “You don’t have to throw it … Just make them think you’re going to throw it.”

Among Roe’s best seasons with the Dodgers were 1951 (22-3 record), 1952 (11-2) and 1953 (11-3). He earned World Series wins for the Dodgers against the Yankees in 1949 and 1952.

Roe achieved a 28-20 career mark against the Cardinals, even though he couldn’t fool Stan Musial, who hit .387 with 12 home runs against him.

Roe finished his 12-year major-league career with a 127-84 record and 3.43 ERA.

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