Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Pitchers’ Category

Cardinals pitcher Larry Jackson and Dodgers outfielder Duke Snider found out the hard way that bats and balls, like sticks and stones, may break bones.

Sixty years ago, on March 27, 1961, Jackson suffered a fractured jaw when Snider’s bat splintered and struck Jackson in the face during a spring training game.

Three weeks later, on April 17, 1961, Snider suffered a fractured right elbow when the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson hit him with a pitch during an at-bat in the regular season.

Gibson’s plunking of Snider had more to do with the home run Snider hit in his previous at-bat against Gibson than it did with the accident involving Jackson.

Jackson and Snider recovered from their injuries, and each went on to have a productive season.

Painful outing

Jackson was pitching in his last scheduled inning when Snider came to bat in the exhibition game between the Cardinals and Dodgers at Vero Beach, Fla.

Snider had hit a two-run home run in the first and a two-run double in the third against Jackson. In the sixth, with baserunner Tommy Davis on second, Snider was looking to drive in another run.

Jackson threw a pitch near Snider’s fists. Snider connected, shattering the bat and sending pieces of it flying. The ball hit Jackson on the hip and fell to the ground. As Jackson turned to retrieve it, the heavy end of the bat, whirling rapidly through the air, struck him in the lower left jaw.

“Bleeding from cuts inside his mouth, Jackson fell in a heap in front of the mound, but did not lose consciousness,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

In his book “The Duke of Flatbush,” Snider said, “I felt awful about it, but that’s one of the occupational hazards of pitching.”

Jackson was taken by ambulance to a Vero Beach hospital and given emergency treatment. X-rays showed he had two fractures in the jaw.

Jackson was permitted to return on a chartered flight to St. Petersburg, Fla., where the Cardinals trained. His jaw was wired that night by a surgeon at a St. Petersburg hospital.

Released from the hospital on March 31, Jackson pitched batting practice a few days later. The Cardinals targeted the end of April for his return in a game.

Purpose pitch

After the Cardinals opened the season with wins in three of their first five games, they started Gibson against the Dodgers at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

In the third, Gibson threw a pitch on the outside corner to Snider, a left-handed batter. In the book “From Ghetto to Glory,” Gibson said, “I pitched away to Snider because he was a good pull hitter.”

Snider poked the ball over the screen in left for a two-run home run and a 3-1 Dodgers lead.

The next time Snider came up, in the fifth, “I was still going to pitch him outside,” Gibson said.

Gibson changed his mind when he noticed Snider lean in. “So I threw the next pitch tight to brush him back away from the plate,” Gibson said.

Snider barely saw the fastball. “It came right at me,” Snider said. “It was headed for my ribs and I brought up my right arm instinctively to protect my body. The pitch hit my elbow and the ball dropped straight to the ground. It was no glancing blow. It hit me flush.”

Snider advanced to first and was thrown out attempting to steal second.

When he tried to bat again in the seventh, Snider “felt a sharp pain in that right elbow, like someone jabbing a needle in there” and was lifted for a pinch-hitter.

An examination revealed the elbow was fractured.

“I saw Duke after the game,” Gibson said. “I didn’t apologize to him. He knew I was sorry. He knew I wasn’t throwing at him. I was just trying to move him away from the plate, trying to get him to think and not take things for granted up there.”

In the book “We Would have Played For Nothing,” Snider told former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent, “I know that Bob Gibson has told people he never threw at a player on purpose. Bob Gibson is a nice guy, but he stretches the truth a little bit once in a while.” Boxscore

We meet again

Jackson’s absence from the starting rotation the first few weeks of the 1961 season was a significant setback for the Cardinals. The year before, he won 18 and led the National League in innings pitched (282).

A right-hander, Jackson made his first appearance of the 1961 season on April 26, a month after his injury, in a start against the Braves.

He lost his first three decisions, prompting The Sporting News to note, “After subsisting on liquids and soft foods for a month, Jackson showed he needed a few steaks to beef up his pitching.”

Meanwhile, after sitting out a month, Snider returned on May 19 as a pinch-hitter and was back in the Dodgers’ starting lineup on May 22.

Two days later, the Dodgers opened a series at St. Louis. Jackson started Game 1 and faced Snider for the first time since the spring training accident. Snider walked three times, but didn’t get a hit, and Jackson got his first win of the season. Boxscore

The next night, Gibson started and faced Snider for the first time since he suffered the fractured elbow. Snider got a single in four at-bats. Sandy Koufax pitched a three-hitter and Tommy Davis hit a home run in a 1-0 Dodgers triumph. Boxscore

Keep going

On June 26, Jackson lost to the Braves, sinking his record for the season to 3-8. Manager Solly Hemus dropped him from the starting rotation.

Two weeks later, Hemus was fired and Johnny Keane replaced him. Jackson returned to the rotation and won 11 of his next 12 decisions.

“There’s no pitcher in the league right now who’s better than Larry Jackson,” Keane said to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

Jackson finished the season at 14-11 with three shutouts and 211 innings pitched. He made six starts against the Dodgers and was 1-3. Snider hit .294 versus Jackson in 1961 and .219 for his career.

Snider finished the season with 16 home runs and a .296 batting mark. Against Gibson, Snider hit .300 in 1961 and .212 for his career.

 

Read Full Post »

The Cardinals and Dan Duquette played a prominent role in shaping the baseball career of Rheal Cormier.

Soon after Cormier debuted in the majors with the Cardinals in 1991, Duquette, the Montreal Expos’ general manager, tried to acquire the French-Canadian.

The Cardinals wouldn’t deal Cormier then, but four years later, when Duquette was general manager of the Red Sox, he did obtain Cormier from the Cardinals. The next year, Duquette sent him to the Expos.

A left-hander, Cormier pitched in the big leagues for 16 years, including the first four with the Cardinals. He died March 8, 2021, at 53.

Northern exposure

Cormier was born in the province of New Brunswick on the east coast of Canada. His father, Ronald, was a truck driver. According to the Boston Globe, Cormier’s mother, Jeannette, was 13 when she had the first of her five children with Ronald.

“My father used to say that my mother could get pregnant from eye contact,” Cormier told reporter Gordon Edes.

When Jeannette was 19, and the mother of five, she worked as a packager for a Canadian lobster company.

The Cormier family made their home in the village of Saint-Andre, a potato farming area of New Brunswick. Their house “was little more than a shack,” the Philadelphia Daily News reported. “There was no insulation in the cracked walls. When it snowed, it wasn’t unusual to wake up in the morning to find small white drifts between the beds.”

The family eventually moved into a three-bedroom trailer.

Rheal loved to play baseball. His mother would give him flour to draw bases and foul lines on the pavement, he told the Boston Globe.

“We used to play baseball in the snow banks, sometimes when it was minus-10,” Cormier recalled.

Cormier developed his talent playing in youth leagues. The Expos wanted to sign him when he graduated high school, Cormier told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “but the money wasn’t right: $5,000.”

Cormier, whose first language was French, attended a community college in Rhode Island. He got chosen by the Cardinals in the sixth round of the 1988 amateur draft and signed for $35,000.

A few years later, when he started making major-league money, he bought his parents a new house and car.

Starting out

Cormier played for Team Canada in the 1988 Summer Olympics and entered the Cardinals’ farm system in 1989. According to the Cardinals’ media guide, he spent off-seasons working as a lumberjack.

In August 1991, the Cardinals called up Cormier, 24, from the minors. He made his debut on Aug. 15 in a start against the Mets at St. Louis and got the win. Boxscore

“After I got through the first inning, I told myself, ‘I can pitch here,’ ” Cormier said to the Post-Dispatch.

Cardinals manager Joe Torre said, “I really liked his poise.”

With the win, Cormier became:

_ The first Cardinals starting pitcher to win his debut since Joe Magrane in April 1985.

_ The first Cardinals left-handed starter to win since Magrane in September 1990.

_ The first French-Canadian to win in the National League since Claude Raymond for the Expos in April 1971.

_ The first French-Canadian to win for the Cardinals since Ron Piche in August 1966.

Oh, Canada

Cormier was 4-5 for the 1991 Cardinals but impressed with his command, striking out 38 and issuing a mere eight walks. He appealed to Duquette, the newly appointed Expos general manager, whose mandate was “to create excitement about a team with meager prospects,” Michael Farber of the Montreal Gazette noted.

The Cardinals were in the market for Expos first baseman Andres Galarraga and Duquette, attempting his first trade, was willing to deal Galarraga for Cormier, whose heritage, Farber wrote, “made him more appealing than his stats.”

Cormier “could be a huge asset to the Expos, at least to get people in Montreal talking about the team,” The Sporting News observed.

The Expos’ interest in Cormier was big news in New Brunswick. “It was the talk of the town, let me tell you,” Cormier said to the Post-Dispatch. “People were talking about it all around.”

For the Cardinals, who had a shortage of left-handed starters, Cormier was “the one guy I didn’t want to trade,” manager Joe Torre said.

Cardinals general manager Dal Maxvill said, “I know Joe thinks the world of him. He’s a little bulldog out there.”

The Expos took pitcher Ken Hill from the Cardinals in exchange for Galarraga.

“We talked long and hard about Cormier,” Duquette said. “They told me they would not give up Cormier.”

Cormier said, “I definitely didn’t want to get traded. First of all, I like St. Louis. Second of all, playing in Montreal would be a lot of pressure. There is pressure now, but just imagine how much more there would be if I was pitching in Montreal.”

Highs and lows

In January 1992, Cormier got married. Three months later, he pitched in Canada for the first time as a major-leaguer, starting for the Cardinals at Montreal in the Expos’ home opener. Cormier’s mother, two brothers and a sister were among the 40,907 in attendance.

An error by shortstop Ozzie Smith led to two unearned runs and the Expos won, 3-2. Boxscore

In four seasons (1991-94), Cormier was 24-23 for the Cardinals, but teammate Todd Zeile told the Post-Dispatch, “Ask any of the catchers and they’ll tell you he had the best stuff on the staff.”

On April 9, 1995, the Cardinals traded Cormier and outfielder Mark Whiten to the Red Sox for third baseman Scott Cooper and pitcher Cory Bailey. The Cardinals tried to convince the Red Sox to take pitcher Tom Urbani instead of Cormier, but Duquette said no deal would be made without Cormier. “They were pretty adamant about it,” Torre said.

Duquette traded Cormier to the Expos in January 1996. He pitched a three-hit shutout against the Cardinals in April. Boxscore

After making one start in 1997, Cormier hurt his left elbow and had reconstructive surgery. He sat out the 1998 season, returned to the Red Sox and became a durable reliever. He was with the Phillies from 2001-2006. His best season was 2003 when he was 8-0 with a 1.70 ERA.

In July 2006, “the Phillies had a trade for Cormier worked out with the Cardinals, but that fell apart,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Instead, Cormier was dealt to the Reds and finished his playing career with them.

In 16 seasons in the majors, Cormier was 71-64, including 2-0 against the Cardinals.

Read Full Post »

The Cardinals tried to beat two teams in one day. Adding to the challenge, they tried to do it against a pair of aces, Sal Maglie and Warren Spahn.

On Sept. 13, 1951, at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, the Cardinals played an afternoon game against the Giants and a night game versus the Braves.

According to The Sporting News, it was the first time since 1899 that a big-league club faced two opponents in the same day.

The Cardinals split the unusual doubleheader, beating the Giants and losing to the Braves.

Stormy weather

Thursday, Sept. 13, was supposed to be a day off for the Cardinals, but rainouts changed the schedule.

When the Braves and Cardinals were rained out of a game on June 23, it was rescheduled for the night of Sept. 13.

The Giants got involved when their Sept. 12 game with the Cardinals was rained out. Because the Giants had a day off Sept. 13 and weren’t scheduled to come back to St. Louis, it was proposed that the game be played then.

National League president Ford Frick approved the plan to have the Cardinals take on the Giants and Braves on the same day, but denied a request by Cardinals owner Fred Saigh to have both games played in the evening, the New York Daily News reported.

The start of the game against the Giants was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and the game versus the Braves was given an 8:30 p.m. start.

“To think, this was to have been an open date, a chance to loaf or go fishing,” Cardinals manager Marty Marion said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

St. Louis spoilers

The Giants, 5.5 games behind the first-place Dodgers, were trying to tighten the pennant race. According to the Daily News, they arrived at Sportsman’s Park on Sept. 13 “full of hope” because Sal Maglie was starting for them. Maglie was 20-5 and had won his last five decisions. Cardinals starter Tom Poholsky was 5-12.

To the Giants’ dismay, when the game got under way Maglie “didn’t have control and didn’t have a thing on the ball when he did get it over,” the Daily News noted.

The Cardinals scored six runs in the second inning against Maglie and reliever Monty Kennedy, but the uprising came with a price. Poholsky, whose RBI-single knocked Maglie out of the game, was spiked near the right knee by catcher Wes Westrum when he slid home on Red Schoendienst’s hit and had to leave.

Rookie Dick Bokelmann replaced Poholsky to start the third and was tasked with protecting the 6-0 lead.

An unusual play occurred in the bottom half of the inning. Kennedy threw a pitch behind Vern Benson’s back. In trying to duck the pitch, Benson tilted his bat back. The ball struck the bat and caromed toward the mound.

“For a few seconds, everybody stood still, figuring it had to be a foul ball,” the Daily News reported.

Instead, it was ruled to be in play. Kennedy finally picked up the ball and tossed to first baseman Whitey Lockman for the out. According to the Daily News, “Benson just stood at the plate in bewilderment.”

The Giants scored twice against Bokelmann in the sixth and got two more in the eighth before Gerry Staley relieved and saved the 6-4 victory for the Cardinals. Boxscore

The loss dropped the Giants six games behind the Dodgers and gave Brooklyn a magic number of 10. Any combination of Dodgers wins or Giants losses totaling 10 would clinch the pennant for Brooklyn. “That just about does it for the Giants,” the Daily News declared.

Sensational Spahn

Between games, the Cardinals ate dinner and skipped batting practice. Braves starter Warren Spahn took advantage. He pitched a one-hitter in the night game, a 2-0 Braves victory.

“It was the best game I ever pitched,” Spahn told the Boston Globe.

The only Cardinals to reach base were Chuck Diering on a leadoff walk in the third and pitcher Al Brazle on a bloop single with one out in the sixth. Brazle’s floater fell just beyond the reach of second baseman Roy Hartsfield.

“It was a changeup,” Spahn said. “It was a good pitch, outside, just where I wanted it. He was lucky. I’d throw the same pitch to Brazle nine times in a row under the same circumstances.”

The win was Spahn’s 20th of the season and his fifth against the Cardinals in six decisions. His catcher for the game was the former Cardinal, Walker Cooper.

Spahn survived a scare in the third when he stopped a hard grounder by Del Rice with his hands. The glove and the ring finger of his pitching hand took the brunt of the shock, the Boston Globe reported. Boxscore

What a finish

The Giants recovered from their Sept. 13 loss to the Cardinals and won 12 of their final 13 regular-season games.

They finished in a first-place tie with the Dodgers, who lost nine of their last 17 regular-season games.

In a best-of-three playoff to determine the National League champion, the Giants prevailed, winning Game 3 on Bobby Thomson’s walkoff home run.

Read Full Post »

(Updated March 19, 2021)

From the first game he pitched in the National League to the last, Stan Williams had a significant connection to the Cardinals.

A right-hander with a reputation for intimidating batters, Williams played in the majors for 14 seasons. He died on Feb. 20, 2021, at 84.

Williams was 21 when he made his big-league debut for the Dodgers against the Cardinals at St. Louis in July 1958. He was 35 when he pitched his final National League game as a Cardinals reliever in September 1971.

Williams’ time with the Cardinals was brief, but successful. He made 10 relief appearances for them and was 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA.

Big and fast

Born in New Hampshire, Williams was a toddler when his family moved to Denver. He played organized baseball for the first time in high school and attracted scouts because of his fastball. “I was a Stan Musial fan and kept track of his hits every day,” Williams said in the book “We Played the Game.”

Williams was 17 when the Dodgers signed him in 1954 and sent him to the minors.

It was at Newport News in 1955, he said, that he got the reputation for being mean. The Dodgers taught pitchers “that when you got ahead of a hitter you kept him off the outside corner by pitching him in and knocking him back or down,” Williams told author Danny Peary.

“I just started rearing back and throwing it as hard as I could at their chins and let them get out of the way.”

Williams, who grew to 6 feet 5 and 230 pounds, was imposing and erratic. In 242 innings for Newport News, he struck out 301, walked 158 and hit 16 batters.

After a teammate, catcher Bob Schmidt, taught him to throw a slider during winter ball in the Dominican Republic, Williams progressed. He was in his fifth season in the minors when he got called up to the Dodgers in 1958.

Joltin’ Joe

Williams made his debut in the majors on May 17, 1958, at St. Louis. Entering in the fifth, he worked two scoreless innings before giving up three runs in the seventh. Joe Cunningham hit a two-run home run against him. Boxscore

A left-handed hitter, Cunningham battered Williams throughout his career. In 36 plate appearances versus Williams, Cunningham had 13 hits, eight walks and twice was hit by pitches _ an on-base percentage of .639. His career batting average against Williams was .500.

That’s entertainment

Two months after his debut versus the Cardinals, Williams had a noteworthy encounter with them. 

On Aug. 15, 1958, at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Williams, 21, was matched against the Cardinals’ Sal Maglie, 41, a former Dodger nicknamed “The Barber” for the close shaves he gave batters with pitches.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals were “highly irritated” by the amount of time Williams was taking to deliver pitches. When Williams came to bat in the fourth, Maglie “took off his shoe, emptied it of dirt and slowly put it on again, tying his laces with much care.”

As the crowd roared, Williams backed out of the box and “kicked some imaginary mud from his cleats,” the Los Angeles Times noted.

Then Williams stepped back in and hit Maglie’s first pitch over the high screen in left for a home run, his first in the majors. Boxscore

Teddy bear

“Nobody in the league has a better fastball than Stan Williams,” Cardinals slugger Ken Boyer told the Los Angeles Times in 1960.

As part of a Dodgers rotation that featured Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, Williams’ signature pitch was the knockdown.

“In all the years I played, he was the only guy who ever scared me _ and he was on my team,” Ron Fairly, a first baseman for the Dodgers and Cardinals, told the San Francisco Examiner. “The thing about Stan, he was so big and strong, and he threw as hard as Koufax. The difference was Sandy was not mean. Stan was very mean.”

Roger Craig, a former Dodgers and Cardinals pitcher, said, “He was the meanest pitcher I ever saw. Everyone thought Drysdale was so mean, but Stan was far worse.”

One year, Williams had a clause in his contract calling for a $500 bonus if he kept his season walk total to less than 75. According to the San Francisco Examiner, as he neared the mark, he plunked a batter when the count got to ball three rather than risk a walk.

“It was a game of intimidation in those days,” Williams said. “I was never a headhunter. I never pitched with the idea of hurting anyone. I don’t think I’ve ever been mean. What I had was a very competitive streak. That helped give me an edge. So I took advantage of it.”

Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson could relate. In his book “Stranger to the Game,” Gibson said, “Guys like Don Drysdale, Stan Williams and Sandy Koufax raised the level of competition by claiming their territory and daring you to take it from them.

“The fact is,” said Gibson, “knockdowns were commonplace in my day, and guys like Drysdale and Stan Williams employed them more liberally than I did.”

Big hurt

In August 1960, Williams was matched against Lew Burdette of the Braves. “Burdette used to dig a hole in front of the mound” with his foot, Williams told The Sporting News. “To avoid it, I pitched from the side of the rubber. On a pitch to Lee Maye, I slipped and my back went one way and my arm the other. I felt something snap.”

Williams said he thinks he tore a muscle in his right arm or shoulder, but he kept pitching. He had win totals for the Dodgers of 14 in 1960, 15 in 1961 and 14 in 1962, but he said the pain got progressively worse.

“I pitched with tears running down my cheeks many a time after I hurt my arm in 1960,” Williams told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune

The Dodgers traded Williams to the Yankees after the 1962 season, but “there were times when I couldn’t raise my arm, so I started throwing from the hip,” he said. 

The Yankees shipped Williams to the Indians in March 1965. He spent most of that season and all of 1966 in the minors.

Williams was with Class AAA Portland in 1967 “when the adhesions popped again and I regained my strong arm.”

Called up to the Indians in July 1967, Williams posted six wins and a 2.62 ERA. The next year, he won 13 and had a 2.50 ERA.

The Twins acquired Williams after the 1969 season and made him a reliever. He was 10-1 with 15 saves and a 1.99 ERA in 1970, helping them win a division title.

Perfect record

On Sept. 1, 1971, the Twins traded Williams to the Cardinals for outfielder Fred Rico and pitcher Danny Ford.

Cardinals scout Joe Monahan, who recommended Williams, told the Post-Dispatch, “He’s not going to be overwhelmed by a pennant race.”

On Sept. 7, 1971, Williams got a win against the Phillies in the completion of a game suspended from Aug. 1. Boxscore

He also got relief wins against the Cubs and Mets. Boxscore and Boxscore

The Cardinals released Williams in April 1972. He surfaced in the American League with the Red Sox and pitched his final three games in the majors.

Coach and dad

Williams was a coach for pennant-winning Red Sox (1975) and Yankees (1981) clubs, and the 1990 World Series champion Reds. 

When Williams was the Reds’ pitching coach, they developed a trio of intimidating relievers called the “Nasty Boys.”

In 1976, Williams’ son, Stan Jr., a high school pitcher and outfielder, was chosen by the Cardinals in the 11th round of the amateur baseball draft. Stan Jr. opted to attend the University of Southern California. He signed with the Yankees after they drafted him in the 38th round in 1981 and pitched for two seasons in their farm system.

Read Full Post »

St. Louis was a special place for Juan Pizarro. He got his first and 100th wins in the majors there against the Cardinals.

A left-hander who pitched 18 seasons in the big leagues, Pizarro died on Feb. 18, 2021, at 84.

Pizarro was 20 when he got his first win in the majors for the Braves in a start versus the Cardinals at the original Busch Stadium. He also got his first big-league hit, a home run, in that game.

The Cardinals thought so highly of Pizarro that they tried to trade for him that season.

Ten years later, Pizarro, 30, got his 100th win in the big leagues for the Pirates in a start versus the Cardinals at Busch Memorial Stadium.

Prime prospect

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Pizarro was signed by Braves scout Luis Olmo, the former outfielder.

In 1956, his first season in the minors, Pizarro, 19, was 23-6 with a 1.77 ERA for Jacksonville, a Class A club in the South Atlantic League. With future Cardinals pitching coach Mike Roarke doing most of the catching, Pizarro struck out 318 batters in 274 innings.

Rollie Hemsley, a former catcher who managed Charlotte in the South Atlantic League, told Sports Illustrated that Pizarro is “the nearest thing to Bob Feller I’ve ever seen.”

Bill Terry, the Hall of Fame first baseman who was president of the South Atlantic League, said, “He could be just as great as Warren Spahn.”

Big leap

While playing winter baseball in Puerto Rico, Pizarro said teammate Ruben Gomez, a Giants pitcher, taught him to throw the screwball. Pizarro added the pitch to an arsenal that included a fastball and curve. He reported to spring training with the Braves in 1957, trying to make the leap from Class A ball to the majors.

The Miami News declared Pizarro the most exciting rookie in spring training: “His every pitch is being watched with high expectancy.”

Pizarro posted a 3.31 ERA in five spring training games and made the Braves’ Opening Day roster. “He has proved to me he can pitch major-league ball,” Braves manager Fred Haney told The Sporting News.

After Pizarro’s final exhibition game, Haney said, “He’ll be another Warren Spahn some day.”

First win

The Braves opened the 1957 season on April 16, but Pizarro sat for three weeks before making his big-league debut in a start against the Pirates at Pittsburgh on May 4. He limited the Pirates to a run in seven innings, but Pittsburgh won, 1-0, on Vern Law’s two-hit shutout. Boxscore

Six days later, on May 10, Pizarro made his second big-league appearance with a start versus the Cardinals at St. Louis.

The start of the Friday night game was delayed 31 minutes because of rain and neither team took batting practice.

In the second inning, with the Braves ahead, 3-0, Pizarro swung at the first pitch he saw from Cardinals starter Sam Jones and hit the ball onto the roof of the pavilion behind right field for a home run.

Ken Boyer tagged Pizarro for a solo home run in the second. With the Braves up, 6-1, in the fourth, the Cardinals’ Wally Moon walloped a three-run home run in the fourth. The Moon shot carried out of the ballpark and across Grand Avenue before crashing into a window pane.

“He had to rely on his fastball and he had a tendency to relax when we had a pretty good lead, especially in the fourth,” Braves catcher Del Crandall told the Associated Press. “After that, he became more determined and began firing again.”

Though Pizarro wobbled, he never lost the lead and he continued to contribute with his bat. After Pizarro led off the sixth with a single, Eddie Mathews won a matchup of future Hall of Famers when he hit a two-run home run against reliever Hoyt Wilhelm. The ball cleared the roof and landed on Grand Avenue.

In the ninth, the Cardinals, trailing 10-5, loaded the bases with two outs, but Pizarro struck out Del Ennis and sealed his first win.

Pizarro gave up nine hits and issued four walks, but the Cardinals stranded eight.

Unimpressed, Cardinals manager Fred Hutchinson told the Associated Press, “He’d better be better than that. If that’s all he can do, then I’ve got news for him. He won’t stay up here … He was only throwing, not pitching.”

Cardinals backup catcher Walker Cooper, who at 42 was 22 years older than Pizarro, batted against him in the ninth as a pinch-hitter and singled. “I could hit that guy with baling wire at midnight with the lights out,” Cooper boasted.

Among the Cardinals held hitless by Pizarro were Al Dark and Stan Musial. Pizarro ended Dark’s 15-game hit streak. Musial, who entered the game with a batting mark of .403 for the season, was 0-for-4 with a walk.

Pizarro was “awfully quick,” Musial said. “There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be a winner up here.” Boxscore

No deal

Later that month, the Braves and Cardinals had trade talks focused on outfielder Del Ennis. The Associated Press reported the Braves offered three players for Ennis. They gave the Cardinals their choice of a starting pitcher, either Ray Crone or Gene Conley, plus reliever Dave Jolly and outfielder Chuck Tanner.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals asked for Crone and outfielder Wes Covington, and the Braves countered with Conley and Tanner.

“Before I let a guy like Ennis go, I’d want a lot of pitcher in return,” Cardinals general manager Frank Lane told the Associated Press.

Lane said he was interested in Pizarro and another pitcher, Bob Trowbridge. The Braves wouldn’t give up Pizarro, and the talks ended.

On July 3, the Braves sent Pizarro to the minors to get more work. He went 4-0 and was back with the Braves on July 26.

Pizzaro lost twice to the Cardinals in 1957. The second of those defeats occurred on Aug. 18 when Musial beat him with a two-run home run in the 10th inning at Milwaukee. Pizarro never lost to the Cardinals again. Boxscore

Better with age

In his book “Stranger to the Game,” Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson, who played winter ball with Pizarro in Puerto Rico, called him “an immensely talented” teammate.

On April 30, 1967, Pizarro, in his first season with the Pirates, started for them against the Cardinals and pitched a four-hit shutout at St. Louis for his 100th win in the majors.

Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst, who was Pizarro’s teammate with the Braves from 1957-60, told the Associated Press, “He used to be much faster but very wild then. He has much better control now. The big difference was in the old days if you stayed close to him you could beat him. Now he can protect a one- or two-run lead.” Boxscore

Pizarro was 3-0 with two saves and a 1.07 ERA versus the 1967 Cardinals, who won the National League pennant and became World Series champions. He earned saves in both games of a doubleheader against them on Labor Day, Sept. 4.

In 1971, Pizarro, 34, had one more gem versus the Cardinals. He pitched a six-hit shutout for the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Boxscore

“He makes pitching an art,” Cubs manager Leo Durocher said.

Pizarro finished with a career mark against the Cardinals of 7-2. Overall, he was 131-105.

Read Full Post »

In February 2021, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak answered questions submitted to him from members of the United Cardinal Bloggers. Through the efforts of Daniel Shoptaw, founder of the group, Mozeliak has been accessible to bloggers for many years.

In remembrance of the late Lou Brock and Bob Gibson, I asked Mozeliak if he would share anecdotes about them. Here is his response:

“When I think back to my time with both those individuals _ and, really, you have to throw Stan Musial and Red Schoendienst into that group _ it was so unique for those of us that have been with the organization over the years to be able to say hello or sit down and talk baseball with them.

“The one thing I will say about Lou and Bob was that anytime you talked baseball with them, I would always leave there going, ‘Wow, I just picked up some wisdom about this game.’

“Their baseball IQ was off the charts and they understood the game. And, even though they weren’t necessarily attending our games, they were still watching. If you asked them a question, they were always willing to answer.

“That’s what I admired most about both of them. They genuinely cared about this organization. They understood their place in history and for all of us that were fortunate enough to be around them we should consider ourselves very lucky.”

Here is a link to answers Mozeliak gave to questions from blogger colleague Eugene Tierney: More from Mozeliak.

Here are links to other insights Mozeliak offered in response to questions I got to ask him over the years:

_ On what it is like to be a Cardinals front-office executive.

_ On how he rates the success of player acquisitions.

_ On the Cardinals’ global strategy and international approach.

_ On the special challenges of the 2020 season just before it was learned the Cardinals had an outbreak of CoVid.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »