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Archive for the ‘Trades’ Category

When the Cardinals had Bobby Shantz in their lineup, it was like having two players instead of one _ a reliable reliever and a fifth infielder.

Sixty years ago, on May 7, 1962, the Cardinals traded pitcher John Anderson and outfielder Carl Warwick to the Houston Colt .45s for Shantz.

A month earlier, Shantz, 36, was the starting pitcher for the Colt .45s in the franchise’s first regular-season game. The Cardinals got him for the bullpen.

A left-hander who baffled batters with precision pitches and fielded with graceful glovework, Shantz gave the Cardinals what they hoped. In three seasons with them (1962-64), Shantz was 12-10 with 15 saves and a 2.51 ERA, and became the first Cardinals pitcher to earn a Gold Glove Award for fielding excellence.

Big talent

Born and raised in Pottstown, Pa., Shantz moved with his parents to the Frankford neighborhood of Philadelphia after he graduated from high school. He was 19 when he joined the Army in December 1944, and was discharged two years later.

Shantz was playing sandlot baseball in Philadelphia when he was signed by the hometown Athletics in November 1947 on the recommendation of Tony Parisse, a butcher and former big-league catcher.

Though no more than 5 feet 6 and 140 pounds, Shantz showed a big-league assortment of pitches. Assigned to Lincoln, Neb., in 1948, Shantz was 18-7 in his lone season in the minors.

Shantz, 23, opened the 1949 season with the Athletics, managed by 86-year-old Connie Mack. After debuting in relief against the Senators on May 1, Shantz was told he was being sent to the minors, but the Athletics changed their minds when another pitcher developed a sore arm.

Bravo, Bobby

On May 6, Shantz appeared in his second big-league game and gave a performance that, as the Philadelphia Inquirer described, “bordered on the incredible.”

Relieving Carl Scheib with none out in the fourth and the A’s trailing, 3-1, Shantz pitched nine hitless innings against the Tigers. He allowed no hits from the fourth through the 12th.

After the Athletics went ahead, 5-3, with two runs in the 13th, Shantz gave up two hits and a run in the bottom half of the inning, but held on for a 5-4 win.

The game showcased Shantz’s fielding as well as his pitching.

In the eighth, “Bob Swift cracked Shantz’s shins with a line drive, and Johnny Lipon bowled him over with a screamer to the throat in the 10th,” the Inquirer reported. “Both times Bobby picked himself up, grabbed the ball and threw his man out. After that, local rooters were with the kid.”

In the bottom of the 13th, George Kell led off with a double and scored on Vic Wertz’s single. Attempting to move Wertz into scoring position, Hoot Evers bunted. The ball was popped up near the first-base line. Catcher Buddy Rosar lunged for it and missed, but Shantz vaulted over the fallen catcher, caught the ball and whipped a throw to first base to nab Wertz for a rally-killing double play. Shantz struck out the next batter, Swift, to secure his first big-league win. Boxscore

Doing it all

Following an 18-10 season for the 1951 Athletics, Shantz was 24-7 for them in 1952 and received the American League Most Valuable Player Award.

“He does everything you could ask any player to do,” Browns manager Rogers Hornsby told The Sporting News. “He pitches well, he fields superbly and he can hit the ball.”

(A right-handed batter, Shantz had 107 hits and 46 RBI in 16 years in the majors. His lone home run was a liner to left against Allie Reynolds at Yankee Stadium in 1950. Boxscore)

Yankees manager Casey Stengel called Shantz the greatest fielding pitcher. “The best I ever saw,” Stengel told the New York Journal-American. “He’s all over the infield.”

Shantz was with the Yankees the first time a Gold Glove Award was given in 1957. He won the award in eight consecutive seasons (1957-1964).

In four years with the Yankees (1957-60), Shantz was 30-18 with 19 saves and a 2.73 ERA. He pitched in six World Series games for them.

After the Senators claimed him in the American League expansion draft in December 1960, the Cardinals tried to acquire him, offering Bob Gibson, but the Senators dealt Shantz to the Pirates. After posting a 6-3 record, including a complete-game win against the Cardinals, for the 1961 Pirates, Shantz was selected by the Colt .45s in the National League expansion draft. Boxscore

Houston calling

Though The Sporting News described his fastball as “mostly a figure of speech,” Shantz, 36, dazzled with his all-around skills at spring training with the Colt .45s.

“That little fellow is a remarkable athlete,” manager Harry Craft said. “Have you ever noticed the way he moves toward every ball hit on the ground? He could play anywhere. I wouldn’t be afraid to let him catch. He’d be a darned fine catcher. Before the season is over, you may see him at third base.”

Shantz was the Opening Day starting pitcher against the Cubs at Houston. The first batter he faced was Lou Brock, who struck out. Shantz pitched a five-hitter in a 11-2 win. Brock was 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly. Boxscore

(Two years later, Shantz was among the players the Cardinals dealt to the Cubs for Brock.)

In his next start, Shantz pitched 5.2 scoreless innings against the Mets before his shoulder tightened. Ten days later, he started against the Braves, allowed one earned run in six innings, but continued to experience tightness in his shoulder.

Short man

Because of the shoulder ailment, Shantz didn’t think he could pitch deep into games as a starter, but could be effective in short relief. The Cardinals determined he was worth the risk and traded for him.

“The only thing Shantz can’t do any more is pitch long or often,” Cardinals general manager Bing Devine told the Philadelphia Daily News.

In his Cardinals debut, Shantz pitched two scoreless innings against the Giants. Boxscore

(Shantz faced the Giants three times in 1962 and in each game Willie McCovey was lifted for a pinch-hitter against him. McCovey was 0-for-8 versus Shantz in his career.)

Special save

Shantz got his first Cardinals save with 1.2 scoreless innings against the Phillies on May 21.

With the Cardinals ahead, 4-1, in the eighth, the Phillies had Ted Savage on third and Johnny Callison on second, one out, when Shantz relieved Ray Washburn. Cleanup hitter Tony Gonzalez scorched a line drive toward the right of the mound. Shantz lunged, snared the ball backhanded, whirled and fired a strike to Ken Boyer at third, “doubling up a startled and stranded Savage, who had been on his way home, sure the ball would get through,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Boxscore

The Philadelphia Inquirer described it as “a play that had to be seen to be believed.”

Shantz “makes improbable plays look easy, and impossible plays just a trifle harder,” Stan Hochman wrote in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Bobby vs. Goliath

Shantz got his first Cardinals win on June 10 with three scoreless innings against the Giants. Boxscore

On Aug. 10, he had two infield hits and a RBI, and pitched four innings for the win against the Phillies. Boxscore

Shantz got a save in his final appearance of 1962. Trailing 7-4, the Giants had runners on first and third, two outs, in the bottom of the ninth when Shantz struck out Willie Mays. Boxscore

“Shantz caught Mays off-balance with a changeup for the third strike,” Curley Grieve of the San Francisco Examiner reported. “Catcher Gene Oliver called it a Stu Miller pitch _ all motion and nothing on the ball. The swing Willie took was just a gesture. He knew he was hooked.”

Shantz was 5-3 with four saves and a 2.18 ERA for the 1962 Cardinals.

The next year,  he appeared in 55 games for St. Louis and was 6-4 with 11 saves and a 2.61 ERA.

One of his highlights with the 1963 Cardinals occurred on July 16 when he struck out eight of 11 batters faced in a win against the Reds. Vada Pinson, 0-for-13 against Shantz in his career, struck out twice. Shantz also fanned Frank Robinson and Pete Rose. Boxscore

“He’s unbelievable,” Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver told the Post-Dispatch. “His control, his change of speed. I’ve never caught anybody who could change speeds like that.”

Shantz said, “I had about as good a curveball as I’ve had all year, but it still took a lot of luck. If they don’t swing at a lot of those balls, I’m in trouble because some of them were bad pitches.”

Shantz had a 1-3 record when he was sent to the Cubs in the Brock deal in June 1964. Two months later, his contract was sold to the Phillies, who were in first place. In 14 appearances with the Phillies, Shantz was 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA, but the Cardinals clinched the pennant on the last day of the season.

 

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Scipio Spinks had the talent and charisma to become a renowned player for the Cardinals, but injuries derailed his promising pitching career.

Fifty years ago, on April 15, 1972, in a swap of pitchers, the Cardinals sent Jerry Reuss to the Astros for Spinks and Lance Clemons.

The dispatching of Reuss was initiated by the Cardinals’ petty plutocrat, Gussie Busch, but general manager Bing Devine nearly straightened out the mess when he obtained Spinks.

A right-hander with an exceptional fastball and an ebullient personality, Spinks was as foreign to St. Louis as a hero of antiquity, but he quickly made his mark.

Notable name

Born and raised in Chicago, Scipio Spinks could trace his first name to Scipio Africanus Major, a Roman general who defeated the Carthage leader Hannibal in the Battle of Zama on the north coast of Africa in 202 BC.

“Spinks said the first male child in his father’s family has been named Scipio for a number of generations,” The Sporting News reported.

Spinks told the Associated Press the family name spanned a minimum of six generations. “I’m at least Scipio Spinks the sixth,” he said.

The south side of Chicago, where Spinks was from, was White Sox territory, but he rooted for the Cubs. “I liked Lou Brock a lot, even when he wasn’t hitting, because he could run and so could I,” Spinks told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “but my first favorite was Ernie Banks.”

(When Spinks joined the Cardinals, he and Brock became teammates.)

A standout high school athlete who ran the 100-yard dash in 9.5 seconds, Spinks said he wrote to the Cubs multiple times, asking for a tryout, but they were uninterested. He was 18 when he signed with the Astros as an amateur free agent in 1966.

Spinks made his major-league debut with the Astros in September 1969. He got called up again in May 1970 and made five appearances, including a start against the Cardinals in which he gave up a home run to Dick Allen. Boxscore

The Astros had two terrific prospects, Spinks and 6-foot-8 J.R. Richard, at their Oklahoma City farm team in 1971. Richard was 12-7 with 202 strikeouts in 173 innings. Spinks was 9-6 with 173 strikeouts in 133 innings.

“Oklahoma City foes say Scipio Spinks throws harder than teammate J.R. Richard,” The Sporting News reported.

Spinks pitched in five September games for the 1971 Astros and beat the Braves for his first win in the majors.

Idiot wind

At spring training with the 1972 Astros, managed by ex-Cardinal Harry Walker, Spinks earned a spot in a starting rotation of Don Wilson, Larry Dierker, Dave Roberts and Ken Forsch. Roberts gave Spinks the nickname “Bufferin” because his fastball worked faster than aspirin, The Sporting News reported.

Meanwhile, Reuss, a St. Louisan who had 14 wins for the 1971 Cardinals, came to spring training unsigned in 1972. A petulant Busch threw a fit in February when pitcher Steve Carlton dared to negotiate a contract rather than bend to Busch’s will. Busch ordered Devine to trade Carlton.

Next on Busch’s Schlitz list was Reuss. In addition to trying to negotiate an upgrade on the $20,000 salary offered by the Cardinals, Reuss, 22, made the mortal sin of growing a moustache. Busch was apoplectic. His narrow mind went into bully mode and he pressured Devine to deal Reuss, too.

Devine announced the trade at 6 p.m. following the Cardinals’ Opening Day loss to the Expos before 7,808 spectators at Busch Memorial Stadium. Boxscore

Seven years earlier, when Bob Howsam was general manager, the Cardinals traded another left-hander, Mike Cuellar, to the Astros and came to regret it. The Reuss deal had the same vibe.

Fitting in

Spinks, 24, was put into a starting rotation with Bob Gibson, Rick Wise and Reggie Cleveland. He lost his first start, then won his next three decisions, including a May 9 game against the Astros. Boxscore

“His fastball was just dynamite,” Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons told The Sporting News.

Brock said, “He seems to be able to challenge the hitters consistently better than most pitchers with his experience.”

Brock and Gibson took a liking to Spinks, whom The Sporting News described as “a great crowd-pleaser and a bubbling personality.” Their good-natured needling became a clubhouse staple.

“Big-name stars are the easiest to kid,” Spinks told the Associated Press. “Brock, Gibson, Joe Torre – people of that caliber – take it, then they dish it back. It keeps everybody smiling.”

In his book “Stranger to the Game,” Gibson said, “I admired Spinks’ energy and appreciated the fact he apparently thought he could become a better pitcher by hanging around me.”

Spinks bought a large stuffed gorilla in a hotel gift shop, dubbed it “Mighty Joe,” and displayed the good-luck charm in his clubhouse locker. The other players eventually adopted Mighty Joe as a team mascot.

After beating the Phillies on June 30, Spinks was 5-4 with a 2.33 ERA and was being hailed, along with the Mets’ Jon Matlack, as a strong candidate for the 1972 National League Rookie of the Year Award.

“I’ve been in baseball 30 years and I’ve seen a lot come and go, but this guy Spinks is one of the greatest I’ve seen break in,” umpire Ed Sudol told The Sporting News. “Besides that fastball, he has a snapping curve.”

Reds coach Alex Grammas, the former Cardinals shortstop, said, “Spinks can throw as hard as Nolan Ryan and Bob Gibson.”

Wounded knee

On July 4 at Cincinnati, Spinks streaked from first base to the plate on a Luis Melendez double and slid into the shin guards of catcher Johnny Bench. The collision knocked the ball from Bench’s glove and Spinks was ruled safe, but he tore ligaments in his right knee. Boxscore

Spinks had knee surgery two days later and was done for the season. At the time of his injury, Spinks ranked third among National League pitchers in strikeouts, behind Carlton and Tom Seaver.

Spinks was 5-5 with a 2.67 ERA in 16 starts for the 1972 Cardinals. In his five wins, his ERA was 1.20 and all were complete games.

In 1973, Spinks returned to the Cardinals’ starting rotation, lost his first four decisions and then got a measure of revenge against the Reds, earning a win with six shutout innings. Boxscore

It would be Spinks’ last win in the majors. In June, he went on the disabled list because of a shoulder injury and was shut down for the season. In eight starts for the 1973 Cardinals, Spinks was 1-5 with a 4.89 ERA.

At spring training in 1974, the Cardinals traded Spinks to his hometown Cubs for pinch-hitter Jim Hickman. On his way out, Spinks gave “Mighty Joe” to Bernie Carbo, a former Cardinals teammate who was with the Red Sox.

Spinks never played in another big-league game. He tore a thigh muscle and spent the 1974 season in the Cubs’ farm system. His last season, 1975, was with minor-league teams of the Astros and Yankees.

Lance Clemons, the other pitcher acquired for Reuss, appeared in three games for the 1972 Cardinals and was traded to the Red Sox in March 1973.

Reuss played 22 seasons in the majors, primarily with the Pirates and Dodgers, and earned 220 wins. He was 14-18 with five shutouts versus the Cardinals.

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The Cardinals traded the National League batting champion, who also had the best outfield arm in the game, because they didn’t want to pay him.

Ninety years ago, on April 11, 1932, six months after they became World Series champions, the Cardinals dealt left fielder Chick Hafey to the Reds for pitcher Benny Frey, first baseman Harvey Hendrick and cash.

The trade was made by Cardinals executive Branch Rickey, with approval from club owner Sam Breadon, because for the second consecutive year Hafey was prepared to sit out the start of the season in a contract dispute.

At a time when players had little leverage to negotiate other than holding out, Hafey was fed up with being underpaid by the Cardinals and was determined to get what he considered fair compensation for performance that eventually earned him election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Special talent

Born and raised in Berkeley, Calif., Hafey was a 20-year-old pitching prospect when the Cardinals signed him in 1923 on the recommendation of Charles Chapman, a University of California professor and friend of Rickey, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.

Impressed by Hafey’s hitting at Cardinals training camp that spring, Rickey, the club’s manager, made him an outfielder.

Hafey went into the farm system, hit .360 for Houston in 1924, and was called up to the Cardinals in August that year. He took over as the Cardinals’ left fielder in 1927 and went on a torrid five-year run, even though he suffered from severe sinus problems that weakened his vision.

J. Roy Stockton of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch described Hafey as “a man who hit line drives against the fences, one of the most powerful hitters ever to wear a Cardinals uniform.”

One of the first players to use eyeglasses, Hafey hit .329 or better each year from 1927 to 1931.

“He was, next to Rogers Hornsby, the best right-handed hitter I ever saw, even though he really couldn’t see well,” Cardinals infielder Andy High told Bob Broeg of the Post-Dispatch.

In the book “The Gashouse Gang,” Spud Davis, a National League catcher for 16 seasons, said in rating the best right-handed hitters, “The greatest I ever saw was Chick Hafey. He was one of the greatest all-around players, too. He could do everything. He had that arm! He could stand against the fence in left in St. Louis and throw strikes to the plate all day long. The ball came in light as a feather. If his eyes had been good, there’s no telling what he could have done.”

Broeg wrote, “His throwing arm might have been the most powerful ever.”

Moneyball

After hitting .336 with 107 RBI for the 1930 Cardinals and helping them reach the World Series for the third time in five years, Hafey sought an increase in his $9,000 salary.

Unimpressed by what Breadon and Rickey offered, Hafey sat out spring training in 1931 before signing for $12,500 after the regular season started. Because he didn’t play his first game until May 16, the Cardinals docked him $2,000, cutting his salary to $10,500, the Post-Dispatch reported.

In his book, “Memories of a Hall of Fame Sportswriter,” Broeg said, “Hafey was most unfortunately underpaid, a victim, in part, of the Great Depression, and the Cardinals’ tendency to play Scrooge.”

Hafey treated the club better than management treated him. He won the 1931 National League batting title, hitting .349 in 122 games, and helped the Cardinals win the pennant. Hafey also contributed 95 RBI and a .404 on-base percentage.

Hafey figured his performance merited a raise. According to the Post-Dispatch, he wanted a $17,000 salary in 1932 _ $15,000 as a base and $2,000 extra for the amount the Cardinals cut him the year before.

The Cardinals offered $13,000 and “labeled him privately as an ingrate who should have been thankful he’d played on four pennant winners in a six-year period, blithely ignoring his contributions,” Broeg noted.

Take a hike

When it became clear to Breadon and Rickey that Hafey wasn’t going to sign before the start of the 1932 season, they decided to trade him against the wishes of manager Gabby Street, the Dayton Daily News reported.

At 8 p.m. on April 10, 1932, Rickey called Reds owner Sidney Weil, who had been trying to acquire Hafey for almost two years, The Sporting News reported. They talked into the wee hours of the morning and came to an agreement.

What the Cardinals wanted most was cash. In addition to offering pitcher Benny Frey and first baseman Harvey Hendrick, Weil agreed to give the Cardinals “a tremendous amount of cash,” The Sporting News reported.

According to the book “The Spirit of St. Louis,” the amount was $50,000.

On April 11, 1932, the eve of the season opener, the crowd “cheered wildly” when Weil announced the trade in Cincinnati at a joint luncheon of the chamber of commerce and Kiwanis Club, according to The Sporting News.

There was no such cheering in St. Louis, just bad vibes.

In the book “The Pilot Light and the Gashouse Gang,” Broeg described the Cardinals’ treatment of Hafey as “pathetic.”

Post-Dispatch columnist John Wray, siding with management, called Hafey “a chronic conscientious objector” who “sulked himself out of a job with a championship outfit.”

Rickey shamelessly portrayed himself the victim.

“I am not saying Hafey owed anything to this club,” Rickey said to Sid Keener of the St. Louis Star-Times. “He made the hits at the plate and I realize I didn’t swing the bat for him. Nevertheless, it’s kind of tough in this business when a ballplayer loses all traces of loyalty. That’s what hurts me in trading Hafey.”

Hafey signed a $15,000 contract with the 1932 Reds and said to the Associated Press, “I’m ready to go back and bear down.”

Coming and going

A first baseman, Rip Collins, opened the season in left field for the Cardinals. Eventually, 10 players started in left for them in 1932.

On April 24, 1932, the Cardinals stumbled into Cincinnati with a 3-7 record. Hafey had asked manager Dan Howley to let him make his Reds debut in the series opener, according to The Sporting News.

Batting cleanup, Hafey had three singles in four at-bats against his former team and snared Pepper Martin’s deep drive to left. Boxscore

Hafey went on to hit .303 against the Cardinals in his career.

In September 1932, the Cardinals called up slugger Joe Medwick, who took over in left. Like Hafey, Medwick would have a Hall of Fame career. He also would run afoul of Breadon and Rickey regarding pay _ and was traded to the Dodgers primarily for cash, of course.

(Rickey had a personal incentive to trade players for cash because his contract called for him to get a percentage of the sale as remuneration in addition to his salary.)

Neither Frey nor Hendrick lasted long with the Cardinals. Within two months of acquiring them, the Cardinals returned both to the Reds for _ you guessed it _ more cash.

Hafey hit .344 for the 1932 Reds but a bout with influenza limited him to 83 games.

In 13 seasons with the Cardinals and Reds, Hafey hit .317. He hit more home runs from the No. 5 spot in the batting order than any player in Cardinals history, according to researcher Tom Orf.

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A trade for a minor-league pitcher gave the Cardinals a lift in their quest for a World Series championship.

Forty years ago, on April 1, 1982, the Cardinals acquired Jeff Lahti and another minor-league pitcher, Oscar Brito, from the Reds for big-league pitcher Bob Shirley.

Called up to the Cardinals two months later, Lahti added valuable depth to a bullpen featuring Bruce Sutter, Jim Kaat and another ex-Red, Doug Bair.

Promising prospect

Born and raised in Oregon, Lahti was taken by the Reds in the fifth round of the 1978 amateur baseball draft. A right-hander, he became a reliable reliever in the minors, posting ERAs of 2.67 in 1979, 2.77 in 1980 and 2.97 in 1981.

“Lahti has very good ability, and he has that intangible _ competitiveness,” Reds manager John McNamara told the Dayton Journal Herald in 1981.

After watching Lahti pitch for Class AAA Indianapolis in 1981, Cardinals scout Mo Mozzali recommended him.

A chance to acquire Lahti came during spring training in 1982 when left-hander Dave LaPoint earned a position on the Cardinals’ pitching staff as a spot starter and reliever.

LaPoint’s performance made left-hander Bob Shirley expendable. For the Cardinals in 1981, Shirley was 6-4, including 2-0 against the Reds. Including his four seasons with the Padres before being dealt to the Cardinals, Shirley had a 12-7 record and two saves versus the Reds.

When the Reds learned Shirley was available, they agreed to send Lahti and Brito, another right-hander, to the Cardinals.

“This was a big decision for us to make to give up two young prospects like this,” Reds general manager Dick Wagner told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Brito is one of the highest-regarded prospects in the game, period. They were very important to us. It was a tough decision.”

Fired up

The Cardinals assigned Lahti and Brito to Class AAA Louisville to begin the 1982 season. In June, Lahti was called up when reliever Mark Littell accepted a demotion to Louisville.

Lahti, 25, brought a rookie’s enthusiasm that was embraced by the contending Cardinals. Between pitches, he “stomps around the mound like a bull protecting a pasture,” Hal McCoy wrote in the Dayton Daily News.

“I try to keep myself pumped up, but I’m not conscious of my actions,” Lahti told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Maybe it’s my second being. They say there are two sides to everybody. Maybe that’s my second side. On the mound, I’m a monster.”

On July 16, 1982, in a game Shirley started for the Reds, Lahti won for the first time in the majors, pitching 3.1 innings in relief of Steve Mura before Bruce Sutter came in to close.

In the ninth, when Sutter got Paul Householder to ground into a double play, Lahti raced from the dugout onto the field. “He was halfway to the foul line before realizing there were only two outs,” the Dayton Daily News reported.

Lahti called his first big-league win “the thrill of my life.”

“I never thought my first victory would be against the Reds,” he said. “I always thought it would be for them.” Boxscore

Getting it done

On Aug. 9, 1982, Lahti pitched six scoreless innings in relief of Dave LaPoint for a win against the Mets. Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog told the Post-Dispatch, “I like him because he comes in and gets after people. He’s a good jam pitcher.” Boxscore

From then on, according to the Cardinals media guide, Herzog referred to Lahti as “Jam Man” for his ability to work out of tight situations.

A month later, on Sept. 18, Lahti again pitched six innings of relief for a win versus the Mets. Boxscore

In his last five regular-season appearances, totaling 4.1 innings, Lahti yielded one run, helping the Cardinals secure a division title for the first time.

Lahti was 5-4 with a 3.91 ERA in 33 games for the 1982 Cardinals. Excluding his one start, his season ERA as a reliever was 3.04.

Key contributor

Bob Shirley finished 8-13 in 1982, his lone season with the Reds. He went on to pitch for the Yankees and Royals.

Oscar Brito never made it to the big leagues.

Despite persistent shoulder pain, Lahti pitched well for the Cardinals from 1982 through 1985. He led them in saves (19) and ERA (1.84) in 1985, and was the winning pitcher in the pivotal Game 5 of the National League Championship Series which ended on Ozzie Smith’s iconic walkoff home run. Boxscore

After apearing in four games in 1986, Lahti underwent shoulder surgery. “The surgeon found a torn rotator cuff, with which Lahti had pitched for several years, and also bone chips that no one had detected before,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

The shoulder never regained full strength and Lahti’s pitching career was finished.

His career numbers with the Cardinals: 17-11 record, 20 saves and a 3.12 ERA. Against the Reds, Lahti was 4-1 with a save and a 1.66 ERA.

According to the Post-Dispatch, Lahti returned to Hood River Valley in Oregon, operated a bottling company, owned an apple orchard and coached baseball.

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In December 1960, the Cardinals made a bid to acquire catcher Elston Howard from the Yankees. While they were at it, they tried for pitcher Whitey Ford, too.

It was an audacious attempt, coming two months after a World Series in which Howard hit .462 and Ford pitched a pair of shutouts, but Cardinals general manager Bing Devine indicated the Yankees gave him reason to try.

The Cardinals offered pitchers Larry Jackson and Ron Kline, plus catcher Hal Smith, for Ford, Howard and pitcher Ryne Duren.

The Yankees said no _ and, as it turned out, were mighty glad they did so.

Local connection

The Cardinals were in the market for a power hitter because in 1960 only one player, Ken Boyer, hit more than 17 home runs for them. Howard hit for power and played multiple positions _ catcher, outfield and first base.

“Anybody who can play two or three positions capably is going to be able to write his own ticket, and Howard can do that,” Devine told Bob Burnes of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. “He’s probably the best catcher in the American League, but can do almost as well in the outfield or at first base.”

Born and raised in St. Louis, Howard did well in a tryout with the Cardinals after he graduated from Vashon High School in the late 1940s, but the club wasn’t signing black players then and never made him an offer.

When Howard reached the big leagues in 1955 at 26, he was the first black Yankees player _ eight years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Dodgers and one year after the first black, Tom Alston, played for the Cardinals.

In 1960, Howard was an American League all-star for the fourth consecutive season. Devine “tried hard to land him,” the Globe-Democrat reported.

Connecting the dots

After losing to the Pirates in the 1960 World Series, the Yankees replaced manager Casey Stengel with Ralph Houk and general manager George Weiss with Roy Hamey.

The Yankees had three catchers, Howard (31), fellow St. Louisan Yogi Berra (35) and Johnny Blanchard (27), and Houk was considering moving Berra to the outfield, the Globe-Democrat reported.

According to The Sporting News, “The Cardinals had heard reports that, because of the rapid development of Johnny Blanchard, the Yankees might be willing to trade Howard.”

If that was so, Devine figured, Cardinals catcher Hal Smith, a defensive specialist, might appeal to the Yankees as an experienced backup to Blanchard.

Also, reliever Ryne Duren, who had 67 strikeouts in 49 innings for the 1960 Yankees, appeared obtainable to the Cardinals because of reports he “was in the doghouse with Houk,” The Sporting News reported.

The Yankees had expressed interest in Cardinals pitcher Ron Kline, according to The Sporting News.

Devine approached Hamey with an offer of Smith and Kline for Howard and Duren. The Yankees wanted more, and that’s how Larry Jackson and Whitey Ford got mentioned, The Sporting News noted.

Expanding the offer

Ford (32) was the Yankees’ ace, but he experienced shoulder problems during the 1960 season and finished 12-9, his lowest winning percentage (.571) since entering the majors in 1950. Before he shut out the Pirates in Games 3 and 6 of the World Series, the Yankees talked to the Giants about a swap of Ford for pitcher Johnny Antonelli, the Associated Press reported.

That gave Devine the idea Ford may be obtainable in exchange for another quality starter. In order to expand the deal for Howard, Devine offered Larry Jackson, an 18-game winner for the Cardinals in 1960, if the Yankees would swap Ford.

On Dec. 5, 1960, a headline in the Globe-Democrat declared, “Redbirds May Land Ford, Howard.”

“The possibility of a Cardinals-Yankees trade, involving major athletes on both sides, picked up steam,” Jack Herman reported in the Globe-Democrat. “One thing that’s been established is the fact that Ford is on the block.”

According to John Fox, sports editor of the Binghamton (N.Y.) Press and Sun-Bulletin, the Cardinals said “the offer stood only if Ford was inspected first by a physician of their naming.”

Ford told the Associated Press, “I don’t know if I’d quit or not if I were traded. It all depends on where I was traded.”

Howard said, “I don’t want to be traded. I’m happy where I am.”

No deal

On Dec. 6, 1960, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Yankees co-owner Dan Topping “turned thumbs down” on the Cardinals’ proposal. “We won’t deal Howard,” he said.

Though Houk told The Sporting News that “talk of our considering any offer which included Ford was based on hot air,” the Binghamton newspaper reported the reason the proposal was rejected “was not the idea of including Duren or Ford, but the request for Howard.”

The Cardinals’ chances for a deal also were hampered by the entrance of the Dodgers into trade talks for Howard. “We got a better proposition from the Dodgers,” Houk told The Sporting News. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers offered pitcher Johnny Podres and outfielder Duke Snider for Howard.

If the Yankees added rookie pitcher Bill Short to the package, the deal with the Dodgers would have been made, United Press International reported.

Instead, the Yankees stayed pat, and got rewarded.

In 1961, Ford was 25-4, got two more wins in the World Series against the Reds and received the Cy Young Award. Howard batted a career-high .348 with 21 home runs. Two years later, he won the 1963 American League Most Valuable Player Award.

Hal Smith developed a heart ailment and had to quit playing in June 1961. Larry Jackson had four fewer wins (14) in 1961 than he had the year before, and Ron Kline got sent to the Angels.

 

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After giving Curt Flood a chance at the center field job, the Cardinals decided they needed an upgrade at the position. The player they wanted was Bill Bruton.

A left-handed batter, Bruton became the Braves’ center fielder in 1953 and helped transform them into National League champions in 1957 and 1958. 

In December 1960, the Cardinals made multiple offers for Bruton, including one that likely involved trading Bob Gibson.

Impact player

Bruton got his start in pro baseball when his father-in-law, future Hall of Fame third baseman Judy Johnson, put out the word about him, The Sporting News reported. Bruton was 24 when Braves scout Johnny Ogden signed him in 1950.

Bruton made an impact his first season in the minors, swiping 66 bases for Eau Claire. The next year, he had 27 triples for Denver.

“I’ve seen no player in baseball today who is as fast as Bruton,” Braves scout Walter Gautreau told The Sporting News.

With Class AAA Milwaukee in 1952, Bruton totaled 211 hits and scored 130 runs.

Before the 1953 season, the Braves relocated from Boston to Milwaukee and Bruton was named their Opening Day center fielder.

Splendid start

The Braves began the 1953 season at Cincinnati. Bruton, 27, had a dazzling debut. Batting leadoff, he had two hits, a stolen base and scored a run.

Described by the Cincinnati Enquirer as a “mercury-footed” outfielder who covered center “like the morning dew,” Bruton made six putouts, “two of them only short of sensational.”

“In the third inning, he leaped high in front of the center field seats to take what looked like a surefire double away from Willard Marshall,” the Enquirer reported. “He repeated the performance at the expense of Bobby Adams in the ninth.” Boxscore

The Braves took a flight to Milwaukee after the game and were greeted at the airport by 1,500 admirers, according to United Press.

Heroics at home

The next day, in their first regular-season home game since moving from Boston, the Braves played the Cardinals, and Bruton again was sensational.

In the eighth inning, with the score tied at 1-1, the Cardinals had two on and two outs when Stan Musial drove a Warren Spahn pitch into left-center. Bruton made a running catch, depriving Musial of a two-run double.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Braves had two outs and none on when Bruton, described by The Sporting News as the “Jesse Owens of the baselines,” hit an inside fastball from Gerry Staley over the head of right fielder Enos Slaughter for a triple. Sid Gordon’s single scored Bruton, giving the Braves a 2-1 lead.

The Cardinals tied the score in the ninth.

Batting with one out and none on in the 10th, Bruton got a knuckleball from Staley. “Man, it just hung there,” Bruton told the Associated Press.

Bruton drilled the pitch to deep right. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Slaughter “ran back to the waist-high wire fence, reached up and almost made the catch, but as his fingers began to close on the ball, his elbow struck sharp prongs protruding from the wire barrier.”

The impact jarred the ball loose and it dropped over the fence for a home run, Bruton’s first in the majors. It also turned out to be his only home run of the season and his only walkoff home run in 12 years in the big leagues. Boxscore

As Bob Broeg of the Post-Dispatch noted, Bruton’s dramatics made him “as popular in Milwaukee as beer and cheese.”

Multiple talents

Bruton was the Braves’ center fielder for eight years (1953-60). Hank Aaron, who joined the Braves in 1954, was his outfield teammate for seven of those seasons.

The Braves won the pennant in 1957 but Bruton sat out the World Series because of a knee injury. The next year, when the Braves repeated as National League champions, Bruton had a .545 on-base percentage in the World Series, reaching base 12 times (seven hits and five walks) in 22 plate appearances.

Bruton led the National League in stolen bases three times: 1953 (26), 1954 (34) and 1955 (25).

In 1960, Bruton, 34, had one of his best seasons, leading the league in runs scored (112), triples (13) and assists by a center fielder (11). He also ranked fourth in hits (180).

The Braves, though, had been searching for a second baseman ever since Red Schoendienst came down with tuberculosis, and general manager John McHale decided Bruton’s trade value would bring an experienced infielder.

Determined to deal

The Cardinals preferred Bruton to Flood.

In three seasons as Cardinals center fielder, Flood’s batting average and on-base percentage decreased every year: 1958 (.261 batting average, .317 on-base percentage), 1959 (.255 and .305) and 1960 (.237 and .303). He also had a mere two stolen bases in both 1958 and 1959, and none in 1960.

“We’ve been interested in Bruton for some time,” Cardinals general manager Bing Devine told the Post-Dispatch.

According to The Sporting News, the Cardinals offered their shortstop, Daryl Spencer, for Bruton. Spencer had been a second baseman with the Giants.

When the Braves reacted unenthusiastically, the Cardinals approached the Phillies about making a three-way trade with the Braves.

According to the Associated Press, the Braves were interested in Phillies second baseman Tony Taylor and reliever Turk Farrell. In exchange, the Phillies wanted outfielder Wes Covington from the Braves, and first baseman Joe Cunningham and pitcher Bob Gibson from the Cardinals, the Philadelphia Daily News reported. Bruton would go to the Cardinals.

(Later that month, the Cardinals offered Gibson to the Senators for Bobby Shantz.)

According to The Sporting News, the three-way deal “went down the drain” when the Phillies “stepped up their demands.”

“We wanted to make a deal,” Cardinals manager Solly Hemus said, “but it wound up with the Phillies wanting too many of our established players. We would have had to give up four or five, and would have gotten one or two.”

The Cardinals tried again to interest the Braves in a swap of Spencer for Bruton. “The Braves began to warm up to his possibilities,” The Sporting News reported, but then the Tigers entered the picture.

Flood is the answer

When the Tigers proposed dealing second baseman Frank Bolling to the Braves for Bruton, talks with the Cardinals ceased. Braves general manager John McHale had been general manager of the Tigers and he was an admirer of Bolling.

“When I was at Detroit, I thought Bolling was just as valuable to the club as Harvey Kuenn or Al Kaline,” McHale told The Sporting News.

To ensure the Tigers didn’t waver, McHale sweetened the deal. On Dec. 7, 1960, the Braves traded Bruton, catcher Dick Brown, infielder Chuck Cottier and pitcher Terry Fox for Bolling and a player to be named, outfielder Neil Chrisley.

According to the Sporting News, Hemus contacted Tigers manager Bob Scheffing and asked whether the Tigers would flip Bruton to the Cardinals, but was told no.

Don Landrum, acquired from the Phillies in September 1960, opened the 1961 season as the Cardinals’ center fielder. The Cardinals also tried Don Taussig and Carl Warwick there.

In July, Hemus was fired and replaced by Johnny Keane, who committed to Flood in center. Flood rewarded Keane’s confidence by hitting .324 in July, .330 in August and .355 in September. He went on to be the center fielder on Cardinals clubs that won three league championships and two World Series titles.

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