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Archive for the ‘Trades’ Category

As a youth in his native Kansas, Daryl Spencer was a Cardinals fan. His favorite player was Marty Marion, the shortstop on four pennant-winning Cardinals teams in the 1940s. Imagine then how special it was for Spencer when the Cardinals acquired him to play the position once held by his boyhood idol.

daryl_spencerSpencer, who became Cardinals shortstop in 1960, died Jan. 2, 2017, at 88. Decades before Edgar Renteria and Jhonny Peralta provided the Cardinals with home run threats at the position, Spencer, 6 feet 2, 190 pounds, was the prototype of the slugging shortstop.

Though his tenure with the Cardinals was short _ he played all of the 1960 season and part of 1961 _ Spencer was a prominent member of a lineup that featured Ken Boyer, Bill White, Curt Flood and Stan Musial.

Joining Giants

Spencer hailed from Wichita, Kan. “I was a Cardinals fan growing up and we’d listen to them on the radio,” Spencer told Bob Rives of the Society for American Baseball Research. “… My dad went to the World Series there in 1942 and had brought back some memorabilia for me that I really treasured.”

Inspired by Marion, who in 1944 became the first shortstop to win a National League Most Valuable Player Award, Spencer pursued a baseball career.

The Cardinals scouted Spencer, but it was the Giants who signed him after he’d had a successful season for the Pauls Valley Raiders, an independent team in the Class D Sooner State League in 1949.

Spencer made his big-league debut with the Giants in 1952 and hit 20 home runs for them in 1953. After two years (1954-55) in military service, Spencer was the Giants’ starting shortstop from 1956-58. He produced 17 home runs and 74 RBI for the 1958 Giants, but also committed the most errors (32) among NL shortstops.

In 1959, the Giants shifted Spencer to second base, but he preferred being a shortstop.

Ready to deal

The 1959 Cardinals finished next-to-last in the NL at 71-83. They ranked seventh in runs scored (641) and sixth in home runs (118).

Determined to add power _ Boyer was the only 1959 Cardinals player to hit 20 home runs _ general manager Bing Devine offered second baseman Don Blasingame and pitcher Larry Jackson to the Giants for Spencer and pitcher Johnny Antonelli, according to multiple published reports.

Loaded with power hitters (Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey and Willie Kirkland), the Giants were seeking defense and speed. Blasingame, who led the 1959 Cardinals in hits (178) and had 15 stolen bases, appealed to the Giants, but they were unwilling to trade Antonelli, who’d earned 19 wins in 1959.

Just when it appeared an agreement wouldn’t be reached _ “The deal somehow always moved away from us,” Giants owner Horace Stoneham said to The Sporting News _ Devine made a proposal that excluded Antonelli.

On Dec. 15, 1959, the Giants traded Spencer and outfielder Leon Wagner to the Cardinals for Blasingame.

Power source

“Blasingame will help the Giants at second base defensively and give them a leadoff man,” Cardinals manager Solly Hemus said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Spencer, bigger and stronger, will give us more punch.”

Hemus said he consulted with Musial and Boyer before the Cardinals made the trade. “They liked it,” Hemus said. “They felt we definitely were getting a plus. I respect their judgment.”

Hemus said Spencer would be the Cardinals’ starting shortstop in 1960 and Alex Grammas would shift from shortstop to second base.

Though Spencer, 31, was their primary target _ “Spencer is an aggressive guy whose desire to win won’t hurt,” Hemus said _ they were delighted to get Wagner.

Wagner, 25, hit 51 home runs for the minor-league Danville (Va.) Leafs in 1956 and combined for 30 home runs with Class AAA Phoenix (17) and the Giants (13) in 1958.

The Cardinals had attempted to acquire Wagner after the 1958 season, but he “was an untouchable,” Hemus told The Sporting News.

“We tried to get him instead of Bill White (whom the Cardinals acquired in March 1959 from the Giants),” Hemus said.

Key contributor

Spencer hit 16 home runs for the 1960 Cardinals. His on-base percentage (.365) ranked among the top 10 in the NL. He produced 131 hits and a team-high 81 walks in 148 games, but he also grounded into the most double plays (15) and committed 32 errors (31 at shortstop and one at second base).

Still, he helped the 1960 Cardinals improve in the standings. St. Louis finished in third place at 86-68, seven games ahead of the fifth-place Giants. The Cardinals _ even without much contribution from Wagner (four home runs) _ ranked third in the NL in home runs (138), but scored two fewer runs (639) than they had in 1959.

Moving on

The next year, Spencer had a spectacular start to the season. In the Cardinals’ 1961 opener against the Braves at Milwaukee, Spencer hit a 10th-inning home run off starter Warren Spahn, carrying St. Louis to a 2-1 victory. Boxscore

The Cardinals, however, stumbled thereafter and looked to rebuild.

On May 30, 1961, with their record at 18-20, the Cardinals dealt Spencer to the Dodgers for infielder Bob Lillis and outfielder Carl Warwick.

Spencer generated 33 hits and 23 walks (a .366 on-base percentage) for the 1961 Cardinals, but his batting average with runners in scoring position was .214.

In 185 games with St. Louis, Spencer batted .257 with 20 home runs and 79 RBI. He had 164 hits, 104 walks and a .365 on-base percentage.

“I had a lot of friends on the Cardinals and I liked St. Louis, but L.A. is a good club to go to,” Spencer told the Post-Dispatch.

After stints with the Dodgers and Reds, Spencer continued his playing career in Japan. In seven seasons with the Hankyu Braves, Spencer batted .275 with 152 home runs and a .379 on-base percentage.

Previously: Jhonny Peralta tops home run mark of Edgar Renteria

Previously: Kolten Wong, Don Blasingame: Similar 2nd sackers

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Phil Gagliano, not Ernie Broglio, could have been the key player involved in one of the most lopsided trades in favor of the Cardinals.

phil_gaglianoIn spring 1964, Bing Devine, Cardinals general manager, offered Gagliano, a second baseman, to the Cubs for outfielder Lou Brock. The Cubs were seeking a second baseman to replace Ken Hubbs, 22, who died in a plane crash in February 1964.

“The Cardinals tried to lure Brock away for Phil Gagliano,” Jack Herman reported in The Sporting News.

At the time, Gagliano, 22, was a highly regarded prospect and would have been a potential fit to replace Hubbs, who won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 1962. Brock, meanwhile, had underachieved with the Cubs, but he appealed to the Cardinals, who were seeking a left fielder to replace the retired Stan Musial.

The Cubs turned down the Cardinals’ offer and instead acquired second baseman Joey Amalfitano, 30, from the Giants in a cash transaction in March 1964.

Three months later, in June 1964, the Cubs, needing pitching, agreed to deal Brock to the Cardinals, who, this time, were offering Broglio, an established starter.

The trade of Brock and pitchers Jack Spring and Paul Toth to the Cardinals for Broglio, reliever Bobby Shantz and outfielder Doug Clemens generally was considered then to be a steal for the Cubs until Brock developed into a Hall of Fame player who sparked St. Louis to three NL pennants and two World Series titles.

Gagliano didn’t develop into the standout that Brock became, but he was a part of those Cardinals championship clubs as a utility player.

Gagliano, who died Dec. 19, 2016, at 74, would play eight seasons (1963-70) with the Cardinals.

Six years after offering Gagliano for Brock, Devine did deal him to the Cubs in May 1970.

Terrific tutors

Gagliano was a friend and teammate of Tim McCarver at Christian Brothers High School in Memphis. Scouted by former big-league player Buddy Lewis, Gagliano and McCarver signed with the Cardinals as amateur free agents in 1959.

McCarver made his big-league debut with St. Louis that year and established himself as the Cardinals’ everyday catcher in 1963.

Gagliano debuted with the Cardinals in 1963. He could play all four infield positions and the corner outfield spots, but he fit best at second base and third base.

At the Cardinals’ Florida Instructional League camps in 1962 and 1963, Gagliano, a right-handed batter, caught the attention of instructors Joe Schultz, Eddie Stanky, Grover Resinger, Harry Walker and George Kissell.

“That’s where I learned to hit,” Gagliano told The Sporting News. “I learned to handle the bat in the Instructional League. I learned how to handle the outside pitch and I learned the strike zone there.”

Before the 1964 season, Gagliano was named by Cardinals writers as the hardest worker in spring training camp.

In May 1965, George Silvey, Cardinals scouting director said, “Phil moved up faster than we expected because he always had so much poise.”

Red’s guy

Gagliano had his most productive season with the 1965 Cardinals. Filling in for starting second baseman Julian Javier, who broke his right hand in June when struck by a pitch from the Pirates’ Vern Law, Gagliano was batting .273 entering August before he tailed off. Overall, Gagliano batted .240 with eight home runs and 53 RBI in 122 games, including 48 starts at second base.

Red Schoendienst, the former second baseman who became Cardinals manager in 1965, liked Gagliano. “This kid is a tremendous player,” Schoendienst said of Gagliano in April 1965.

Said Gagliano: “I like to hit the way Red Schoendienst wants me to. He says to go up and swing the bat _ don’t be a defensive hitter.”

New York calling

In spring 1967, Gagliano again almost was traded. This time, it was Devine who tried to acquire him.

The 1967 Mets were seeking a second baseman. Devine, who had been fired by the Cardinals in August 1964, was the Mets’ president. He contacted Musial, the Cardinals’ general manager, and inquired about Gagliano or infielder Jerry Buchek, according to a report by Jack Lang in The Sporting News.

“Gagliano is the man the Mets want,” Lang wrote. “The Cards, however, want to wait.”

On April 1, 1967, the Cardinals traded Buchek, pitcher Art Mahaffey and infielder Tony Martinez to the Mets for shortstop Eddie Bressoud, outfielder Danny Napoleon and cash.

Buchek became the Mets’ starting second baseman. Gagliano remained a valued backup to Javier at second base and, especially, to Mike Shannon at third. Shannon had converted from right field to third base after the Cardinals acquired Roger Maris from the Yankees.

Mentored by Schoendienst on fielding, Gagliano said, “I’ve been working mostly on the double play, getting my body in the proper position to throw. I had been throwing off balance too much. Red has worked hard with me and I feel I’ve improved a lot on the pivot.”

On April 11, in the Cardinals’ 1967 season opener against the Giants at St. Louis, Gagliano, replacing an ailing Shannon, hit a solo home run off Juan Marichal, supporting Bob Gibson’s shutout in a 6-0 triumph. Boxscore

Though Gagliano hit just 14 home runs _ all for St. Louis _ in a 12-year big-league career with the Cardinals, Cubs, Red Sox and Reds, three of those came against future Hall of Famers: two off Marichal and one off Jim Bunning.

Devine intervention

Gagliano appeared in the 1967 and 1968 World Series for the Cardinals but was hitless in four at-bats.

On May 29, 1970, Devine, back for a second stint as Cardinals general manager, dealt Gagliano to the Cubs for Ted Abernathy, 37, a relief pitcher.

“It’s a shock … but I have no regrets,” Gagliano said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The next day, May 30, 1970, Gagliano made his Cubs debut and produced a two-run pinch-hit single off Dave Roberts, helping Chicago to an 8-7 victory over the Padres at Wrigley Field. Boxscore

Previously: Use of Daniel Descalso recalls Julian Javier, Bo Hart

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Seeking a backup to Tim McCarver, the Cardinals acquired a catcher who ranked among the top sluggers at the position and considered himself an everyday player.

johnny_romanoThe Cardinals envisioned Johnny Romano as a key contributor when they obtained him from the White Sox 50 years ago on Dec. 14, 1966. Romano, 32, had led all American League catchers in home runs (15) in 1966.

However, though he spent the entire regular season with a Cardinals club that won the 1967 National League pennant and World Series title, Romano seldom played and, when he did, he rarely produced a hit.

His most important contribution to the 1967 Cardinals occurred off the field: It was Romano who provided the tip that enabled Lou Brock, the Cardinals’ catalyst, to end a slump.

Catcher with clout

Romano debuted in the big leagues with the 1958 White Sox. He hit 15 or more home runs in six of seven seasons in a stretch from 1960-66 with the Indians and White Sox. An AL all-star in 1961 and 1962, Romano achieved career highs in home runs (25) and RBI (81) with the 1962 Indians.

In 1966, Romano still was a starting catcher and power hitter. He produced six home runs and 11 RBI during an eight-game White Sox winning streak from Aug. 3-12.

Asked by The Sporting News to explain his hot hitting, Romano, foreshadowing his failures with the Cardinals, said, “Don’t forget the importance of playing regularly. When you play every day, you feel more comfortable at the plate. Timing and confidence are the answers to batting success and you can’t have it if you don’t play.”

On Aug. 17, Romano hit his 14th home run of the 1966 season and was batting .266. Hampered by a bruised left hand, he hit just one more home run that season and his batting average fell to .231. Still, Romano finished second on the White Sox in home runs (15) and slugging percentage (.404) _ only Tommie Agee was better _ and he ranked third among AL catchers in fielding percentage (.993).

The White Sox, though, were grooming Duane Josephson to become their everyday catcher. Romano also had clashed with White Sox manager Eddie Stanky, who wanted him to hit behind the runner instead of swinging for the fences.

A proposed trade of Romano to the Red Sox was discussed, but the talks ended when the White Sox sought outfielder Carl Yastrzemski, The Sporting News reported.

New role

Meanwhile, the Cardinals wanted a backup catcher who could reduce the workload of their starter, McCarver, and generate offense against left-handed pitching.

McCarver, who caught in 148 games, had 19 doubles, 13 triples and 12 home runs for the 1966 Cardinals, but his batting average against left-handers (.238) was 50 points lower than against right-handers (.288). His backup, Pat Corrales, batted .181 overall and hit no home runs.

A week after acquiring another AL slugger, Roger Maris, from the Yankees, Cardinals general manager Bob Howsam got Romano and pitcher Leland White from the White Sox for reliever Don Dennis and outfielder Walt Williams, who had won the Pacific Coast League batting title in 1966.

“Romano likes to hit against left-handers (.255 in 1966) and he will give McCarver a chance to rest once in a while,” Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst said.

Said Howsam: “Romano should give us some right-handed power.”

Bob Broeg, in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, concluded that “the Cardinals appeared to help themselves … at no sacrifice” when they acquired Romano.

The Sporting News, however, noted that Romano “understandably sounded upset when informed that he would be a No. 2 catcher.”

Tough task

At spring training in 1967, the combination of McCarver and Romano received praise.

Cardinals coach Joe Schultz said St. Louis’ catchers “could be the best in the league, offensively and defensively.”

Asked to rank the catching staffs in the NL, Astros manager Grady Hatton said, “I’d have to rate McCarver and Romano as No. 1.”

In its April 1, 1967, edition, The Sporting News again cautioned that “Romano isn’t overly delighted with his second-fiddle rating,” but added, “It’s inconceivable that the sturdy right-handed swinger still doesn’t have some thunder left in his big bat.”

When the season got under way, Romano struggled to adapt to being a reserve. He produced two hits in his first 25 at-bats. Romano was 1-for-16 in April and 2-for-18 in May.

“It’s tough when you don’t get to play often,” Romano said.

By June, Dave Ricketts took over as the backup catcher and Romano spent most of his time warming up pitchers in the bullpen.

Batting coach

In mid-June, the Pirates offered to trade outfielder Manny Mota, catcher Jim Pagliaroni and pitcher Al McBean to St. Louis for outfielder Curt Flood, pitcher Hal Woodeshick and Romano, but the Cardinals rejected it, The Sporting News reported.

In July, Brock, the Cardinals’ leadoff batter, went into a hitting funk. On June 21, Brock’s batting average was .318. On July 21, it was .275.

As the slump continued, Brock became more rigid at the plate. Romano detected the flaw. “I noticed that Lou was locking his elbows before he swung and he was fouling off a lot of good pitches to left field,” Romano said. “I remind Lou every game about locking his elbows.”

Brock “applied Romano’s tip and went on a long-awaited surge,” The Sporting News reported. “Starting July 24, he went on a 24-for-56 binge, a .429 clip, and he hit safely in 13 straight games through Aug. 6.”

With Brock igniting the offense _ he generated 113 runs, 206 hits and 52 stolen bases _ the Cardinals cruised to a championship.

Romano, who batted .121 (7-for-58) with no home runs and two RBI for the 1967 Cardinals, was left off their World Series roster. The Cardinals, who clinched the title with four wins in seven games against the Red Sox, voted Romano a full World Series share of $8,314.81, according to The Sporting News.

On Oct. 20, 1967, the Cardinals released Romano. When no other teams showed interest, he retired.

Previously: Cardinals helped Walt Williams return to majors

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Johnny Mize, the franchise’s all-time best left-handed power hitter, practically was given away by the Cardinals after he ran afoul of management.

johnny_mize6Seventy-five years ago, on Dec. 11, 1941, the Cardinals traded Mize, a first baseman, to the Giants for pitcher Bill Lohrman, catcher Ken O’Dea, first baseman Johnny McCarthy and $50,000.

Though the Cardinals didn’t receive fair value for Mize _ McCarthy never played for the Redbirds, Lohrman earned one win in five appearances with them and O’Dea primarily was a backup _ the deal didn’t hurt them. Buoyed by the emergence of their all-time best player, outfielder Stan Musial, the Cardinals won three consecutive National League pennants and two World Series championships from 1942-44. Meanwhile, Mize missed three prime seasons (1943-45) while serving in the Navy during World War II.

Still, trading a player who set the franchise standard for slugging by a left-handed batter and who would earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame remains one of the most lopsided and controversial in Cardinals lore.

Pace setter

In six years (1936-41) with the Cardinals, Mize produced a .336 batting average (1,048 hits in 854 games) and a .419 on-base percentage, but what made him extra special was his power.

In 2016, Mize remains the Cardinals career leader for:

_ Highest career slugging percentage (.600) by a left-handed batter. Among Cardinals, only right-handed batters Mark McGwire (.683) and Albert Pujols (.617) are ahead of him.

_ Most home runs (43) in a season by a left-handed batter. Only McGwire (70 in 1998 and 65 in 1999) and Pujols (49 in 2006, 47 in 2009 and 46 in 2004) hit more than 43 as Cardinals.

With the Cardinals, Mize also won a NL batting title (.349 in 1939), a NL RBI title (137 in 1940), two NL home run titles (28 in 1939 and 43 in 1940) and three times led the NL in slugging percentage, total bases and extra-base hits.

However, the Cardinals never won a pennant in any of Mize’s six seasons with them.

Bad vibes

After the 1940 season, Mize got crossways with club owner Sam Breadon and general manager Branch Rickey when he held out in a failed effort for a substantial increase to his annual salary of $16,000.

“When you hold out a couple of times against the Cardinals, you know you’re finished with the organization,” Mize told Donald Drees of the St. Louis Star-Times. “I sensed the change in attitude toward me during the (1941) season. I was pretty certain I wouldn’t be with the club in 1942.”

Also, with the Cardinals battling the Dodgers in the pennant stretch, Mize was out of the lineup for the final 10 games of the 1941 season because of an arm injury. During his recovery, Mize watched Cardinals games from the grandstand instead of from the dugout. That disappointed Cardinals manager Billy Southworth, who wanted Mize in uniform and on the bench in case needed as a pinch-hitter, according to Dick Farrington of The Sporting News.

Though Mize still was producing at a high level _ he hit .317 with 39 doubles, 16 home runs and 100 RBI in 126 games for the 1941 Cardinals _ and, at 28, just entering his prime, the Cardinals made it known he was available.

The Cardinals were confident Johnny Hopp or Ray Sanders, both 25 and left-handed batters, could take over for Mize at first base. Hopp hit .270 in 80 games for the 1941 Cardinals. Sanders had 40 doubles and 120 RBI for the Cardinals’ Columbus (Ohio) farm team in 1941.

Double dealing

The Dodgers, who won the 1941 pennant and finished 2.5 games ahead of the runner-up Cardinals, appeared poised to acquire Mize at the baseball winter meetings in Chicago.

What the Cardinals wanted most for Mize was cash and a catcher.

Larry MacPhail, Dodgers general manager, offered to deal first baseman Dolph Camilli and catcher Herman Franks for Mize, with the understanding the Cardinals would send Camilli to the Braves for a substantial amount of cash, The Sporting News reported.

MacPhail “thought he had the Mize situation well in hand,” wrote J. Roy Stockton of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

However, as the winter meetings neared an end, a hitch developed in the proposed deal and talks stalled. Breadon told Rickey “to waste no further time dickering and to take any fair offer for (Mize),” according to the Post-Dispatch.

The Giants had been trying to get the Cardinals to trade Hopp to them, The Sporting News reported. When Rickey dangled Mize and the Giants agreed to include $50,000, the deal was done.

“Larry MacPhail probably was the most surprised person … when it was announced that Mize had been traded to the Giants,” wrote the Post-Dispatch.

Young and affordable

In response to criticism of the trade, Breadon told the Star-Times, “We haven’t weakened our club at all.”

“It has always been our policy to move up young men and we feel that either Hopp or Sanders will do a fine job,” Breadon said.

Noting that the Mize deal followed the 1930s trades of two other hard-hitting St. Louis first basemen, Jim Bottomley and Rip Collins, the Post-Dispatch opined, “Mize was disposed of by the Cardinals in accordance with their policy of getting rid of veterans when young and promising replacements are available.”

Mize batted .305 with 26 home runs and 110 RBI for the 1942 Giants, who finished in third place at 85-67 but 20 games behind the champion Cardinals (106-48).

Though neither Hopp (.258 batting average, three home runs, 37 RBI) nor Sanders (.252 batting average, five home runs, 39 RBI) produced exceptional numbers, the 1942 Cardinals were boosted by superb pitching and the excellence of Musial (.315 batting average, 32 doubles, 10 triples, 10 home runs) in his first full season with the club.

Previously: How Johnny Mize almost didn’t play for Cardinals

Previously: How Mark McGwire learned about Johnny Mize

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Weakened by injuries that stripped him of his power and reduced his mobility, Roger Maris appeared unwanted and was considering retiring after the 1966 season, five years after he hit 61 home runs for the Yankees and broke Babe Ruth’s major-league record. Unexpectedly, the Cardinals took a chance on him.

roger_maris3Fifty years ago, on Dec. 8, 1966, in a deal made by Bob Howsam and sealed by Stan Musial, the Cardinals acquired Maris from the Yankees for third baseman Charlie Smith.

Though Maris was a marquee name, he no longer was a marquee player. His diminished skills, along with a reputation for surliness, caused some to wonder why the Cardinals wanted him.

Damn Yankees

In 1965, Maris, who’d broken the hamate bone in his right hand, hit .239 with eight home runs in 46 games. The hand still was weak when he returned in 1966. Then he injured his left knee in a collision at home plate with Tigers catcher Bill Freehan. Maris hit .233 with 13 home runs in 119 games for the 1966 Yankees.

Unhappy in New York and embarrassed by his declining performance, Maris planned to assess his future during the off-season and make a decision about whether to continue playing.

At 32, Maris was “almost positive” he would retire, according to the book “Roger Maris: Baseball’s Reluctant Hero.”

In November 1966, Yankees general manager Lee MacPhail called Maris and asked about his plans. Maris said he wanted to wait until spring training to declare his intentions, then added, “If you’re going to trade me, tell me now and I’ll send in my retirement papers to you right away.”

MacPhail told Maris the Yankees didn’t intend to trade him.

Let’s make a deal

A month later, at the baseball winter meetings in Columbus, Ohio, Howsam, the Cardinals’ general manager, was having lunch when he was approached by Yankees manager Ralph Houk, who had managed the Denver Bears in the 1950s when Howsam was the minor-league club’s top executive.

“I started to kid Ralph and said, ‘Hey, when are we going to make a trade?’ ” Howsam told Neal Russo of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Houk then said, ‘Would you be interested in Maris?’ I told him that I’d have to think it over. When I got on the plane heading back to St. Louis, I figured we might be able to use Maris.”

In St. Louis, Howsam met with Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst and asked him whether he’d like to have Maris on the club. Replied Red: “Who wouldn’t?”

Mike Shannon, the Cardinals’ right fielder, had worked in Florida during the off-season on learning to play third base. Howsam and Schoendienst were certain Shannon could make the move to third, opening right field for Maris.

Healthy outlook

Maris learned of the trade from a news photographer who showed up at the Maris house in Independence, Mo., to get reaction shots.

Contacted by the Post-Dispatch, Maris said, “I wouldn’t say I’m overjoyed about the trade.”

In an article for the Post-Dispatch, Joe McGuff, a Kansas City journalist who knew Maris well, explained, “Maris is concerned about his physical condition and he doesn’t want to play if he feels he can’t give the Cardinals a good effort … At this stage, pride is more important to Maris than money. It would mean a great deal to Maris to bow out with a big year.”

McGuff added: “If Maris decides to play for the Cardinals, he will be a definite asset. If he is sound physically, he could bring them a pennant.”

Johnny Keane, who had managed the 1964 Cardinals to a World Series championship before becoming Maris’ manager with the 1965-66 Yankees, told Post-Dispatch sports editor Bob Broeg, “If Roger is interested, if he’ll be aroused by this challenge, he could do a big job for the Cardinals.”

Said Schoendienst: “Maris is a real threat. He’ll help in more ways than one. He’s a good outfielder and has good judgment on the bases.”

The reaction in New York, though, was that Maris was through.

In his syndicated column, Red Smith wrote of Maris, “More surprising than yesterday’s deal and the modest price accepted was the fact that the Yankees found a club willing to accept their damaged goods. There was no secret about the guy’s being marked disposable … When Lee MacPhail dropped his name into conversations at the recent winter meetings, people walked away.”

Smith concluded, “He could have owned New York. Now he’s gone and won’t be missed. He was a demigod. Now he is a line in the record book, with an asterisk.”

Cardinal Way

Soon after the trade, Howsam left the Cardinals to join the Reds. Musial, who had become a team vice president after ending his illustrious playing career in 1963, replaced Howsam. One of Musial’s first moves as general manager was to invite Maris and his wife, Pat, to St. Louis for lunch with Stan and his wife, Lil.

When Maris returned home, he received in the mail from Musial a 1967 contract for $75,000, an increase from what the Yankees had paid him.

Maris, though, still was in no rush to commit. Musial didn’t pressure him. Impressed, Maris told Musial in early February he’d report to the Cardinals.

At spring training, Maris gained the trust of Cardinals players by working hard and selflessly on the field and interacting happily and humbly off the field.

Wrote Russo: “He meshed well with his new teammates, joining them in barbecues and chatting and joking often with them at the club’s motel.”

With defense, hustle, smart baserunning and solid fundamentals, Maris’ value to the Cardinals transcended statistics. They won two National League pennants and a World Series title in his two seasons with the club.

Maris produced 18 doubles, seven triples, nine home runs, 55 RBI and hit .261 in 125 games in 1967. In the World Series against the Red Sox, Maris hit .385 (10-for-26) with three walks, a home run and seven RBI.

Maris played in 100 games in 1968 and had 18 doubles, five home runs, 45 RBI and hit .255.

Previously: With last homer, Roger Maris helped Cards clinch title

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Seeking an upgrade at first base, the Cardinals gambled on Andres Galarraga, hoping he wasn’t an out-of-shape retread who couldn’t handle the slider and instead still was an elite hitter who just needed a nurturing environment and a stretch of good health.

andres_galarragaThe Cardinals, it turned out, were correct about Galarraga, but, in a cruel twist, it was the Rockies, not St. Louis, who benefitted from his best work.

Twenty-five years ago, on Nov. 25, 1991, the Cardinals traded pitcher Ken Hill to the Expos for Galarraga.

The trade was controversial because some thought the Cardinals should have signed a free-agent first baseman, kept Hill and avoided the risk of investing in Galarraga, who had experienced a subpar 1991 season after having established himself as a premier first baseman.

Glory days

Galarraga averaged 23 home runs and 88 RBI each year from 1988 to 1990 with the Expos. He also won Gold Glove awards for his fielding in 1989 and 1990.

When Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog selected Galarraga for the 1988 National League all-star team, he called him “one of the best righthanded-hitting first basemen in this league since Gil Hodges and a sure Hall of Famer unless he has a career-threatening injury,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In 1988, Galarraga led the NL in hits (184), doubles (42) and extra-base hits (79).

The biggest negative was he struck out too much. Galarraga struck out the most of any NL batter in each of three consecutive seasons: 1988 to 1990.

By 1991, his performance declined significantly. Plagued by a pulled groin muscle and coming off arthroscopic knee surgery, Galarraga batted .219 with nine home runs in 95 games for the 1991 Expos. He was booed often by fans in Montreal. “He’s a sensitive guy,” said Expos teammate Tim Wallach, “and you could tell he was hurting a lot.”

Potential trouble

The Cardinals, meanwhile, were in the market for a first baseman. Pedro Guerrero, who held the position in 1991, was 35 and the Cardinals wanted a younger replacement with better fielding skills.

Among the available free agents were Wally Joyner, Bobby Bonilla and Danny Tartabull. However, Cardinals general manager Dal Maxvill told Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch, “We have decided we are not going to bid on any major free agents.”

Instead, the Cardinals pursued a trade for Galarraga. “We’ve been trying to make this deal for two months,” Maxvill said.

Dan Duquette, Expos general manager, wanted Cardinals pitcher Rheal Cormier, a native Canadian, for Galarraga. “We talked long and hard about Cormier,” Duquette said. “They told me they would not give up Cormier.”

Hill, 25, was a good consolation prize. He was 11-10 with a 3.57 ERA in 30 starts for the 1991 Cardinals and led the staff in strikeouts (121). He yielded only 147 hits in 181.1 innings, but also issued a team-high 67 walks.

“At times, Hill pitches like Don Drysdale and at other times he pitches like Don Knotts,” wrote Post-Dispatch columnist Dan O’Neill. “… Hill is still young but patience is wearing thin.”

Said Cardinals manager Joe Torre: “It’s tough to give up an arm like Kenny Hill, but he’s been inconsistent.”

Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz, though, thought the Cardinals made a bad deal.

“The Cardinals are taking a risk, sending Hill’s live arm to Montreal for Galarraga’s dead bat,” Miklasz opined.

Noting that Hill is “capable of rolling up a sequence of monster seasons,” Miklasz said, “This is the danger: Hill is still on the way up. Galarraga has been on the way down.”

Of Cardinals management, Miklasz concluded, “They prefer to part with prospects instead of profits.”

Tough break

Galarraga raised hopes for a comeback season with a strong spring training showing in 1992. He batted .314 with 12 RBI in exhibition games.

On April 6, as Galarraga came to bat for the first time in the season opener against the Mets at St. Louis, George Grande said to Cardinals broadcast partner Jack Buck, “I think fans will like him in St. Louis, don’t you, Jack?”

Replied Buck: “If he hits.”

Hopes for a hot start for Galarraga crumbled in Game 2 of the season. In the fourth inning, Galarraga suffered a broken right wrist when hit by a pitch from Mets reliever Wally Whitehurst.

Galarraga returned to the lineup May 22, but he pressed at the plate and went into a deep funk. Galarraga entered July with a .185 batting average and no home runs.

Though he performed better in the second half, it still was a dismal season for Galarraga. He hit .243 with 10 home runs in 95 games and had almost as many strikeouts (69) as hits (79). He batted .191 with runners in scoring position and had an abysmal overall on-base percentage of .282.

Hill, meanwhile, was 16-9 with a 2.68 ERA in 33 starts for the 1992 Expos, who finished in second place, four games ahead of the Cardinals, in the NL East Division.

Rockies revival

After the 1992 season, Cardinals hitting coach Don Baylor became Rockies manager and Galarraga became a free agent.

Baylor encouraged the expansion club to sign Galarraga. In the second half of the 1992 season, Baylor had convinced Galarraga to stop pulling the ball and hit to right field. Galarraga batted .301 in his final 146 at-bats with the Cardinals from July 24 to Oct. 4.

With Baylor continuing to work with him, Galarraga was the 1993 NL batting champion, hitting .370 for the Rockies. He also produced 22 home runs, 98 RBI and a .403 on-base percentage in 120 games.

Despite bouts with cancer, Galarraga went on to a productive playing career that lasted until 2004. He finished with 2,333 hits, 399 home runs and 1,425 RBI.

Previously: The unproductive reunion of Ken Hill, Cardinals

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