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Archive for the ‘Pitchers’ Category

(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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Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus lost his place in the starting lineup when he lost the confidence of manager Tony La Russa. Then Rasmus lost his spot on the club.

Ten years ago, on July 27, 2011, Rasmus was the marquee name in a multi-player trade the Cardinals made with the Blue Jays. The Cardinals dealt Rasmus and pitchers Trever Miller, Brian Tallet and P.J. Walters for pitchers Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski and outfielder Corey Patterson.

Rasmus underachieved with the Blue Jays. The trio of pitchers acquired for him all earned wins in the 2011 postseason, helping the Cardinals become World Series champions.

Family feud

A left-handed batter, Rasmus was chosen by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2005 amateur draft.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, within the Cardinals’ organization, Rasmus became known as “Luhnow’s boy” because he was the first draft pick of scouting director Jeff Luhnow. Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. became enamored of Luhnow, a data-driven analyst who clashed with general manager Walt Jocketty, and put him in charge of the Cardinals’ player development group.

Rasmus was 22 when he debuted in the majors with the Cardinals in 2009. He hit .251 with 16 home runs as a rookie.

In July 2010, La Russa and Rasmus had a heated exchange in the dugout. Rasmus requested a trade on more than one occasion. The Cardinals kept him and he batted .276 with 23 home runs for the season, but with more strikeouts (148) than hits (128). No other player on the 2010 Cardinals struck out 100 times.

The relationship between Rasmus, La Russa and the coaches deteriorated in 2011. La Russa said coaches Mark McGwire and Mike Aldrete offered to help Rasmus but were rejected. Rasmus instead took instruction from his father, Tony Rasmus, a high school coach who played three seasons in the Angels’ farm system.

“It’s just a fact,” La Russa told the Post-Dispatch. “He was listening to someone else about his hitting.”

Colby Rasmus told Toronto’s National Post, “My dad coached me all the way growing up. He has a big interest in my baseball, wants me to play good and knows my swing pretty well.”

Tony Rasmus was discovered in the Busch Stadium clubhouse video room after working with his son in an indoor batting cage, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Rasmus struggled to make consistent contact. In mid-July, his batting average dropped to .241. Fed up, La Russa benched him and started Jon Jay in center.

Time to act

Concerned Rasmus was becoming what the Post-Dispatch described as “an eroding asset,” the Cardinals made him available for trade.

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak “believed he had to cash in Rasmus now or risk seeing the trade chip lose more value idling on the bench,” Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz noted.

The Blue Jays, White Sox and Rays showed the most interest.

The Cardinals talked to the White Sox about pitchers Edwin Jackson and Matt Thornton. The Rays offered pitchers Jeff Niemann, J.P. Howell and a prospect, but lost interest when Mozeliak wanted another pitcher, Jeremy Hellickson or James Shields, the Post-Dispatch reported.

The Blue Jays became front-runners for Rasmus when they acquired Edwin Jackson from the White Sox, and packaged him with Dotel, Rzepczynski and Patterson.

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos “has long coveted Rasmus, and he moved heaven, earth and a passel of players to get him,” the National Post reported.

On the day of the trade, the Cardinals (55-48) were in first place, a half-game ahead of the Brewers (55-49) in the National League Central Division.

“The soap opera triangle between Tony La Russa, Colby Rasmus and Tony Rasmus is gone, along with whatever distractions it caused,” declared the Post-Dispatch.

In announcing the deal, Mozeliak said, “This is a window to win.”

Miklasz noted, “In dealing Rasmus, the Cardinals should have secured a No. 2 starter and an elite prospect. This deal has short-term value. It makes sense for 2011.”

In conclusion, Miklasz wrote, “The Cardinals clearly wanted to get Colby and his daddy as far away as possible.”

Anthopoulos told the National Post, “We think we’re getting a player who has a chance to be part of this core. They’re hard to add.”

In three seasons with St. Louis, Rasmus batted .259 and had 330 hits and 320 strikeouts. “I might not have done as well as some people wanted me to, but I played hard and, looking back on it, that’s all I can say,” Rasmus said. “I’m happy with what I did.”

Tony Rasmus went on Toronto radio programs and criticized La Russa and the Cardinals. In response, Miklasz advised that Colby Rasmus “already has a reputation for letting his father control him and fight battles for him. By going off on Toronto radio shows, Tony Rasmus is only reinforcing the opinion that Colby is immature and in need of protection by daddy.”

Return on investment

Rasmus batted .173 for the 2011 Blue Jays and had more strikeouts (39) than hits (23).

The 2011 Cardinals surged in September, posting an 18-8 record for the month and finishing at 90-72. Though they placed second in their division and fourth overall in the league, the Cardinals qualified for the playoffs.

In the National League Division Series, Edwin Jackson, who was 5-2 for the Cardinals in the regular season, started and won Game 4 against the Phillies. Boxscore

Octavio Dotel, who had three wins and a save for the Cardinals in September, had two wins in the playoffs. He beat the Phillies in Game 2 of the Division Series Boxscore and won Game 5 against the Brewers in the National League Championship Series. Boxscore

Marc Rzepczynski was the winning pitcher in the pennant-clinching Championship Series Game 6 versus the Brewers. Boxscore. He also pitched 2.2 scoreless innings in four appearances in the World Series against the Rangers.

Rasmus went on to play four seasons with the Blue Jays, batting .234 with far more strikeouts (447) than hits (342).

He also played for the Astros, Rays and Orioles. He was 31 when he played his last game in the majors.

Though he never played in a World Series or got named an all-star, Rasmus received $47.4 million in salary during his career in the majors, according to baseball-reference.com. In 10 seasons, he batted .241 with 891 hits and 1,106 strikeouts. Video of career highlights

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Dizzy Dean always could talk a good game, so given the choice of being a coach or a broadcaster, the former Cardinals ace grabbed the microphone.

Eighty years ago, on July 7, 1941, Dean quit as Cubs coach and signed a three-year deal with Falstaff Brewing to call Cardinals and Browns home games on St. Louis radio station KWK.

“I can make enough in radio in three years to put me on easy street,” Dean told The Sporting News. “There is no future coaching in baseball.”

Desperate measures

Dean made a dazzling debut in the majors with the Cardinals in 1930 and went on to become one of the game’s best and most popular players. He led National League pitchers in strikeouts four times and had 30 wins for the 1934 Cardinals, plus two more in the World Series.

A right-hander, he was 27 when he injured his pitching arm in 1937. A year later, in April 1938, the Cubs sent $185,000 and three players to the Cardinals to acquire Dean.

“When the Cubs purchased Dean, they said they made the move with their eyes wide open,” The Sporting News noted. “They knew his arm was bad, but were confident that proper treatment would take care of everything. It didn’t.”

Dean was 7-1 in 1938 for the National League champion Cubs and 6-4 in 1939, but his arm ached and his availability was limited.

In June 1940, with his ERA for the season at 6.18, Dean, 30, accepted a demotion to the Cubs’ Tulsa farm club.

“Diz is supposed to have made the suggestion,” The Sporting News reported. “He told club officials he wanted to develop a new sidearm delivery.”

The Cubs assigned scout Dutch Ruether, a former big-league pitcher, to work with Dean at Tulsa. “It will be Ruether’s job to keep an eye on Dean’s conduct and assist him in his professed aim to master the sidearm delivery,” The Sporting News reported.

Dean returned to the Cubs in September but “still had the nothing ball,” according to the Chicago Tribune. He was 3-3 with a 5.17 ERA for the 1940 Cubs. All three losses were to the Cardinals.

Different role

Dean, whose top salary as a player was $25,000 in 1935 with the Cardinals, signed with the Cubs for $10,000 in 1941, according to The Sporting News.

Cubs manager Jimmie Wilson, a former catcher who was Dean’s teammate with the Cardinals, endorsed the signing, saying Dean provided the club with “color and pep.” Wilson indicated he’d start Dean against second-division opponents. “Whatever he wins is gravy,” Wilson told The Sporting News.

On April 25, 1941, Dean started against the Pirates, pitched an inning and gave up three runs. Boxscore

“The arm simply went dead and the best doctors in the country couldn’t fix me up,” Dean told the St. Louis Star-Times.

Dean, 31, wrote a letter to Cubs general manager Jim Gallagher, asking to be placed on the voluntary retirement list.

“I have tried everything I know about to get my arm in shape, and this is a step I deeply regret having to take,” Dean wrote. “I sincerely and gratefully appreciate the many kindnesses the club have extended me. I only hope some day, some way, I may be able to repay in part, at least, the debt I owe it.”

On May 14, 1941, the Cubs gave Dean his unconditional release and then signed him to be a coach.

“Dean’s wife had urged him to retire for several weeks before he took the step that made him a coach,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

According to The Sporting News, “Arrangements were made for the remainder of his season’s salary to go into an annuity and a new salary was agreed for the coaching job.”

Follow the money

Dean’s coaching role primarily was to “pitch batting practice and lead cheers in the dugout,” the Chicago Tribune noted.

After a couple of weeks, The Sporting News declared, “Dean is taking his new job as coach as seriously as Diz could be expected to take anything.”

On June 6, 1941, Dean was ejected from a game at Brooklyn for arguing that Dodgers batter Billy Herman interfered with a throw from catcher Clyde McCullough. After being tossed, Dean headed for the clubhouse but returned and had to be chased a second time, The Sporting News reported. League president Ford Frick punished Dean with a $50 fine and five-day suspension. Boxscore

Three weeks later, Cubs first-base coach Charlie Grimm resigned to become manager of a farm team in Milwaukee and Dean replaced him.

Dean was the first-base coach for two weeks before he, too, resigned to accept the offer to become a broadcaster in St. Louis.

According to The Sporting News, Dean would be paid $5,000 to broadcast for the remainder of the 1941 season and $10,000 per season for the next two years.

“I only hope I’m as great an announcer as I was a pitcher,” Dean said to national columnist Walter Winchell.

Meet me in St. Louis

After attending the 1941 All-Star Game in Detroit, Dean boarded a train to St. Louis to begin his broadcasting job. When he arrived at Union Station at 8 a.m. on July 9, he was greeted by a band playing and a welcoming committee of about 300 people, the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported.

Arriving on the train with Dean was Joe DiMaggio, who played in the All-Star Game and was joining the Yankees in St. Louis for a series with the Browns.

According to the St. Louis Star-Times, “A parade was formed and Dizzy was taken to the Park Plaza hotel for a breakfast reception. DiMaggio joined in the festivities.”

Dean’s first broadcast on KWK was the July 10 game between the Yankees and Browns at Sportsman’s Park. He joined sportscasters Johnny O’Hara and Johnny Neblett in describing the 1-0 Yankees victory. The game was called after five innings because of rain, but DiMaggio got a single in the first, extending his record hitting streak to 49 games. Boxscore

Dean was an immediate hit that summer. The Sporting News credited him with attracting “many new listeners because of his conversational style.”

Some examples of Dean’s style:

_ On the inability of Red Sox pitcher Mickey Harris to throw strikes: “A pitcher can’t pitch that way in the majors, or in the minors either, and parade up to the cashiers window every first and fifteenth.”

_ On Red Sox slugger Ted Williams: “I don’t know if Ted’s got a nickname, but I’m going to give him one: Goose. That’s what he looks like to me _ tall, skinny, loose-jointed.”

_ On batters who complain about an umpire’s strike zone: “It just don’t do you any good to think when you’re up there hitting that the ump has given you a bum call. The ump does his thinking first and that settles it all.”

Dean went on to have a long career in broadcasting, including national telecasts for ABC and CBS.

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The distance from Clinton, Iowa, to St. Louis is 285 miles, but it took Tom Hilgendorf a decade to complete the trek.

A left-handed pitcher who was born and raised in Clinton, Hilgendorf was 18 when he signed with the Cardinals in 1960. He was 27 when he finally got to pitch for them in the big leagues in 1969.

Hilgendorf’s route to the majors was filled with detours, including illness and a career change, but he persevered.

In six big-league seasons with the Cardinals, Indians and Phillies, Hilgendorf was 19-14 with 14 saves. His most important save occurred off the field while on a road trip with the Indians when he rescued a youth from drowning.

Hilgendorf was 79 when he died on March 25, 2021.

Traveling man

Hilgendorf’s baseball talent was evident early. According to The Sporting News, he pitched for the St. Mary’s High School varsity team when he was 13.

After signing with the Cardinals when he graduated from high school, Hilgendorf began an odyssey through their farm system.

While with Winnipeg in 1961, he played outfield on some days he didn’t pitch. Hilgendorf told the Philadelphia Daily News that farm director Walter Shannon and outfielder Stan Musial scouted him on a Cardinals off-day during the season.

“Musial came to Winnipeg to see me hit,” Hilgendorf said. “He had tagged me as just the kind of hitter he was when he quit pitching in the minors. The next week I was back to pitching. They were overloaded with outfielders and short on arms.”

After the 1965 season, Hilgendorf went to Nicarauga to play winter baseball.

“I was sitting in the dugout and (teammate) Mel Queen said, ‘Hey, your eyes are yellow,’ ” Hilgendorf told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I went and looked in a mirror and he was right. Then I noticed my arms were yellow, too.”

Hilgendorf had hepatitis. He returned to Iowa and said he spent a week in a hospital and four months in bed at home.

The Cardinals put Hilgendorf on the restricted list and he sat out the 1966 season. According to the Post-Dispatch, “he lost 45 pounds and started to think about a different future.”

He informed the Cardinals he wouldn’t play in 1967 either. “I went to work for DuPont’s cellophane plant in Clinton,” Hilgendorf told the Wilmington (Del.) News Journal.

“The hours were great and the money good,” said Hilgendorf, who operated a slicer, “but I couldn’t see myself sitting behind a machine all my life, never seeing the sun until I get off work.”

Hilgendorf returned to the Cardinals’ farm system in 1968. He began the season at Arkansas before moving to Class AAA Tulsa, managed by Warren Spahn

Back with Tulsa in 1969, Hilgendorf didn’t appear prominent in the plans of the Cardinals, whose bullpen ace was another left-hander from Iowa, Joe Hoerner.

“My mother and father would ask me why the Cardinals wouldn’t trade me to some team that would use me, or they’d say, ‘Why don’t you find yourself a nice job?,’ ” Hilgendorf said to the Wilmington News Journal.

Major achievement

In August 1969, Hilgendorf finally got the call from the Cardinals.

With prominent sideburns and a beefy physique, Hilgendorf “looks like a guy who just wheeled an 8-axle semi rig up to a truck stop somewhere on Route 66 and said to Marge the Waitress, ‘How’s tricks, Sweetie? Rustle me up a cheeseburger and black coffee,’ ” Bill Conlin wrote in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Hilgendorf made his major-league debut with an inning of scoreless relief against the Braves. Boxscore

The next month, Hilgendorf earned saves in consecutive games versus the Expos. The second one preserved the first win for Jerry Reuss, who was making his major-league debut. Boxscore

In six appearances covering 6.1 innings for the 1969 Cardinals, Hilgendorf had a 1.42 ERA.

After the 1969 season, the Cardinals dealt Joe Hoerner to the Phillies. Hilgendorf became “the prime candidate” to replace Hoerner as the top left-handed reliever, The Sporting News declared.

Hilgendorf opened the 1970 season with the Cardinals, but it didn’t work out. He was 0-4 with three saves for them and spent part of the season back at Tulsa, pitching for Spahn.

On Dec. 2, 1970, the Cardinals traded Hilgendorf to the Royals for pitcher Ike Brookens.

Fork it over

The Royals assigned Hilgendorf to the minors and left him there. In July 1972, they traded him to the Indians. The deal reunited Hilgendorf, 30, with Spahn, the Indians’ pitching coach.

“He’s got a good arm,” Spahn told The Sporting News. “He throws strikes, keeps the ball low.”

Facing a stretch with multiple doubleheaders, the Indians gave Hilgendorf his first start in the big leagues versus the Brewers. He pitched a six-hitter for his his first major-league win. Boxscore

Hilgendorf was 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA in 19 appearances for the 1972 Indians. In five starts for them, he was 2-1 with a 2.72 ERA.

The next year, Hilgendorf was 5-3 and led the Indians in games pitched (48), ERA (3.14) and saves (six). Hilgendorf credited a forkball, a pitch described by The Sporting News as “a no-spin pitch with a sharp drop,” with helping him get established in the majors.

Big save

Hilgendorf was 4-3 with three saves for the 1974 Indians. The highlight came on July 6 when the Indians were in Anaheim to play the Angels.

Hilgendorf was returning from dinner at 11:20 p.m. when he noticed a boy at the bottom of the motel swimming pool, the Long Beach Independent reported.

According to the newspaper, 13-year-old Jerry Zaradte of San Francisco was playing in the pool when he was overcome with cramps and sank to the bottom. Hilgendorf dived fully clothed into the pool to rescue him.

“I got him up once, but he slipped back,” Hilgendorf told the Long Beach Independent. “The second time, I made it. He’s a lucky kid. Normally, I wouldn’t have passed by the pool, but I decided to take a shortcut because it was getting late.”

Hilgendorf “was credited with saving the life” of the youth, The Sporting News reported.

Philadelphia story

In March 1975, the Indians traded Hilgendorf to the Phillies.

“I’ve been after Hilgendorf for two years,” Phillies general manager Paul Owens told The Sporting News. “He can pitch.”

In joining the Phillies, Hilgendorf crossed paths again with former Cardinals teammate Joe Hoerner. With Tug McGraw sidelined because of a back ailment, Hoerner and Hilgendorf were the left-handers in the Phillies’ bullpen.

Hilgendorf was 7-3 with a 2.14 ERA in 53 appearances for the Phillies. In seven games versus the Cardinals, he was 1-1 with a 1.76 ERA.

The Phillies released Hilgendorf, 34, just before the start of the 1976 season. The Pirates signed him, but he never returned to the majors.

After his playing career, Hilgendorf was a self-employed carpenter in Iowa.

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