Archive for the ‘Trades’ Category

Getting dealt by a World Series champion put Dave Duncan and George Hendrick on a course toward helping the Cardinals win three World Series titles.

Fifty years ago, on March 24, 1973, the Athletics traded Duncan and Hendrick to the Indians for Ray Fosse and Jack Heidemann.

Duncan, a catcher, and Hendrick, an outfielder, played in the 1972 World Series for the Athletics, who prevailed in seven games against the Reds. Each wanted to be traded, but for a different reason. Duncan felt unappreciated and feuded with Athletics owner Charlie Finley. Hendrick wanted a chance to play every day.

The trade to Cleveland gave Duncan and Hendrick the opportunities they sought and positioned them for success with World Series champions in St. Louis _ Duncan as a coach for the 2006 and 2011 Cardinals and Hendrick as a player for the 1982 club.

Fed up

Duncan was the Athletics’ Opening Day catcher in 1972, slugging a home run against Bert Blyleven, but Gene Tenace replaced him in the last five weeks of the season. Though Duncan hit for power (19 home runs) and ranked second among American League catchers in fielding percentage (.993) in 1972, he batted .218.

Tenace was the starting catcher in the first six games of the 1972 World Series and hit four home runs, but manager Dick Williams shifted him to first base for Game 7 and put his best catcher, Duncan, behind the plate. Duncan threw out Joe Morgan attempting to steal second, Tenace drove in two runs, and the Athletics won, 3-2. Boxscore

Duncan, who was paid $30,000 in 1972, wanted $50,000 in 1973, $10,000 more than what Finley offered, The Sporting News reported. When Duncan remained unsigned during 1973 spring training, the Athletics looked to trade him, an action Duncan welcomed.

“I didn’t have a very good relationship with Finley,” Duncan said to The Sporting News. “We didn’t share the same philosophy. One of the things I’ve learned from Finley is how I don’t want to live my life. I consider myself a human being with an identity of my own, and I think he tries to strip this away from everyone surrounding him.

“Part of our bad relationship is that he never took the time to listen to me like a human being, and that’s all I ever wanted him to do _ listen to me.”

Unlimited potential

Hendrick made his big-league debut with the Athletics in June 1971 and primarily was a backup to Reggie Jackson. When Jackson was injured during the decisive Game 5 of the 1972 American League Championship Series, Hendrick replaced him and scored the winning run in the pennant-clinching victory versus the Tigers. Boxscore

With Jackson sidelined, Hendrick started in center in each of the first five games of the 1972 World Series. The Athletics won three of those.

“He’s on the threshold of being a star in this game,” Athletics manager Dick Williams told the Associated Press. “He can run, throw and hit with power to all fields. I’m not afraid to put him anywhere in my outfield. Whenever anyone talks trade with us, they mention Hendrick. We won’t even talk about him.”

Let’s make a deal

The Athletics changed their minds about not trading Hendrick when the Indians expressed a willingness to deal catcher Ray Fosse, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner. Though there were some who thought Fosse’s left shoulder never fully recovered from a 1970 All-Star Game collision with Pete Rose, the Athletics liked the idea of having him behind the plate and moving Tenace to first base.

“I’ve long had an eye on Fosse,” Finley told the San Francisco Examiner. “I consider him second only to Johnny Bench as an all-around outstanding catcher.”

To obtain Fosse, the Indians insisted on Hendrick being part of the deal. “They wouldn’t have gone for the trade, not one bit, if we offered Duncan even up,” Finley said to the Examiner. “Putting Hendrick in the pot was what did it.”

Comparing Hendrick to a young Hank Aaron, Indians manager Ken Aspromonte told The Sporting News, “There is nothing, absolutely nothing, George can’t do if he puts his mind to it.”

Hendrick said he wanted to be traded after Finley told him he’d open the 1973 season in the minors, The Sporting News reported. Duncan told the Examiner, “The A’s soured on Hendrick because they believed him to be lazy, but I don’t feel he is. What’s more, he has marvelous all-around talent.”

Five days after the trade, in a spring training game at Mesa, Ariz., in which orange baseballs were used as an experiment, Hendrick hit three home runs versus the Athletics. Two of the homers came against Catfish Hunter. Fosse also hit a home run in the game against his friend, Gaylord Perry.

Opportunity knocks

With Fosse as their catcher, the Athletics won two more World Series championships in 1973 and 1974. The trade helped Duncan and Hendrick, too. Duncan got to be a leader on the field, and Hendrick got to prove he could be a productive player.

“Being traded was the only answer to my problems,” Duncan told The Sporting News. “I had lost my taste for the game, but now I expect it to be fun again.”

Displaying leadership qualities that would make him a successful coach, Duncan earned the respect of his Indians teammates and manager Ken Aspromonte.

“He knows what he’s doing,” Aspromonte told the Sacramento Bee. “So I let him run things for me on the field. He moves the players around on defense and he always lets me know how the pitchers are doing _ whether to lift them or keep them in. I listen to him because I trust his judgment very much. I admire the fact that he tells the truth. He knows this game, and he doesn’t hesitate to tell me what he sees.”

Hendrick told The Sporting News, “We’re especially better because of Duncan.”

Hendrick was a big contributor, too. On April 17, 1973, he lined a pitch from the Brewers’ Billy Champion that carried 455 feet into the center field bleachers at Cleveland Stadium. Indians pitching coach Warren Spahn told The Sporting News, “We retrieved the ball and, so help me, it was flat where George hit it.” Boxscore

Two months later, Hendrick hit home runs in three consecutive at-bats against the Tigers’ Woodie Fryman, then drove in the winning run in the ninth with a single. Boxscore

Unfortunately, both Duncan and Hendrick fractured their right wrists when hit by pitches. Duncan, struck by Don Newhauser of the Red Sox, was sidelined from June 29 through Aug. 17. Hendrick missed the rest of the 1973 season after being struck by the Royals’ Steve Busby on Aug. 14.

Winning touch

Duncan played two seasons with the Indians, then was traded to the Orioles for Boog Powell in February 1975. (Eleven months later, the Indians reacquired Fosse from the Athletics.)

Hendrick spent four seasons with the Indians, topping 20 home runs in three of those, before being dealt to the Padres.

The Cardinals acquired Hendrick in 1978 and four years later he helped them win a World Series title. Hendrick hit .321 in the 1982 World Series against the Brewers and drove in the winning run in Game 7. Boxscore (Gene Tenace also was a member of that Cardinals championship team.)

Duncan became a prominent pitching coach on teams managed by Tony La Russa. With Duncan as their pitching coach, the Athletics won three American League pennants (1988-90) and a World Series title (1989).

In 1996, La Russa’s first season as Cardinals manager, Duncan was pitching coach and Hendrick was hitting coach. The Cardinals won a division title that year for the first time since 1987.

Hendrick joined the Angels’ coaching staff in 1998. He went on to coach for 14 seasons in the majors, primarily with the Rays.

With Duncan as their pitching coach, the Cardinals won three National League pennants (2004, 2006, 2011) and two World Series championships (2006 and 2011). He spent 34 years in the majors as a coach.

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Dan McGinn didn’t sign with the Cardinals when they drafted him, but they got to know one another quite well.

A left-handed pitcher, McGinn did some of his best work against the Cardinals during his first full season in the majors with the 1969 Expos, a National League expansion team.

McGinn was 2-1 with a save and a 1.29 ERA in six relief appearances versus the 1969 Cardinals. In both wins, he delivered hits that were pivotal to the outcomes.

In five seasons in the majors, McGinn pitched with the Reds, Expos and Cubs. He was the first Expos player to hit a home run in the regular season, and he was the winning pitcher in their first home game. He finished his playing career in the Cardinals’ system. McGinn was 79 when he died on March 1, 2023.

A touch of blarney

McGinn earned varsity letters in baseball, basketball and football at Cathedral High School in Omaha. A quarterback, he signed a letter-of-intent to accept a football scholarship to the University of Nebraska, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

When McGinn changed his mind and took a scholarship offer from Notre Dame head coach Joe Kuharich instead, Nebraska head coach Bob Devaney said the quarterback was making a mistake. “We play his type of football and Notre Dame does not,” Devaney told United Press International.

In 1963, McGinn’s sophomore year and his first varsity season, junior John Huarte was Notre Dame’s quarterback. Hugh Devore, who replaced Kuharich as head coach, made McGinn the punter. The left-handed passer was a right-footed kicker. After the football season, McGinn pitched for Notre Dame’s baseball team and was 5-2 as a sophomore.

Ara Parseghian, Notre Dame’s third head coach in three years, took over in 1964 and immediately revived the football program. Parseghian built an offense around two seniors, Huarte and receiver Jack Snow. He also gave Snow the punting duties. Huarte won the Heisman Trophy and Snow was an all-America. McGinn was a backup to Snow.

McGinn’s chance to shine came on the baseball field. He was 8-3 his junior season. The Cardinals chose him in the 21st round of the June 1965 amateur draft. “The Cards wanted me to sign right away, but I felt I had to get my degree,” McGinn told the Dayton Daily News.

He said no to the Cardinals, and returned to Notre Dame for his senior year. With Jack Snow gone to the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, Parseghian made McGinn the punter for the 1965 team. “It was a great privilege to play for Ara Parseghian,” McGinn told the Tampa Times. “He’ll do anything to help any of his players.”

In January 1966, a month after the football season ended, the Reds selected McGinn in the first round of the secondary phase of the amateur draft. When the Reds agreed to let McGinn remain at Notre Dame to complete the work for his degree before reporting to the minors, he signed with them.

Signing the contract meant he had to give up his senior baseball season at Notre Dame, but he did graduate in June with a degree in communication arts.

Rude welcome

Assigned to Class AA Knoxville, McGinn was put in the starting rotation and had a 5.23 ERA in 1966 and a 6-13 record in 1967. “Frankly, we’d given up on McGinn as a major-league prospect,” Reds general manager Bob Howsam told the Dayton Daily News.

The Reds sent McGinn to the Class AA Asheville (N.C.) Tourists in 1968 and it changed the course of his career. Asheville manager Sparky Anderson and pitching coach Bunky Warren converted McGinn into a reliever and he flourished.

McGinn posted a 2.29 ERA in 74 appearances for Asheville, winner of the Southern League championship. Bunky Warren “helped Dan McGinn more than anyone knows,” Sparky Anderson told The Sporting News.

On Sept, 3, 1968, McGinn was called up to the Reds. He arrived at Crosley Field in Cincinnati just as that night’s game against the Cardinals was starting, and slipped into a uniform with no time for introductions to his new teammates.

In the 10th inning, manager Dave Bristol sent McGinn to run the bases for first baseman Don Pavletich. In the 11th, McGinn, who never had played in a pro game outside the Southern League, was on the mound, facing the Cardinals.

He walked the first batter, Ed Spiezio, on five pitches, “and then, as the nervous lefty worked the count to 2-and-0 on Lou Brock, Bristol replaced him with Billy McCool,” the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. McCool completed a walk to Brock (charged to McGinn), and the Cardinals went on to score twice in the inning.

McGinn was the losing pitcher in his initiation to the majors. Asked why he chose to use McGinn with the game on the line, Bristol told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “He has to be baptized in the big league sometime.” Boxscore

Tres bien

A month later, the Expos selected McGinn in the National League expansion draft.

In their first regular-season game, on April 8, 1969, against the Mets at Shea Stadium in New York, McGinn relieved starter Mudcat Grant in the second inning. In the fourth, facing Tom Seaver, McGinn broke a 3-3 tie with his first big-league hit, a home run at the 371-foot mark in right. Video

“It was a one-in-a-million shot,” McGinn told the Montreal Star. “I just guessed fastball on the first pitch and let ‘er rip.” Boxscore

A week later, the Cardinals were the opponent for the Expos’ first home game. McGinn relieved the starter, ex-Cardinal Larry Jaster, in the fourth and pitched 5.1 scoreless innings for the win, his first in the majors. The feat was extra sweet, coming against the team that beat him in his debut. “I’ve waited for this chance to get even and it sure feels good,” McGinn told the Montreal Star.

McGinn’s single in the seventh against Gary Waslewski scored ex-Cardinals prospect Coco Laboy and broke a 7-7 tie. Boxscore

The King and I

When the Expos came to St. Louis for the first time a week later, McGinn was involved in a game-deciding controversy.

With the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals had the bases loaded, two outs, when McGinn was brought in to face Tim McCarver. After McGinn made five warmup tosses, McCarver asked plate umpire Shag Crawford to examine the ball. Crawford tossed the ball away and gave McGinn another “that was slicker than Yul Brynner’s scalp,” McGinn told the Montreal Star.

McGinn asked for a different ball but the request was denied. McGinn then purposely heaved his final warmup pitch over the head of catcher John Bateman and into the screen, hoping to have it removed from the game, the Star reported.

Crawford kept the ball in play. “Next, Bateman rubbed it against his shoe to get black polish on it and force Crawford to change the ball,” the Star reported.

Crawford tossed out the ball but gave McGinn another shiny one.

McGinn worked the count to 3-and-2 on McCarver, then walked him on a pitch high and inside, forcing in the winning run. McGinn blamed himself, not the ball. “I just couldn’t get the ball over (the plate),” McGinn said to the Star. Boxscore

That sinking feeling

McGinn’s second win against the Cardinals in 1969 was a lot like his first. On June 26 at Montreal, McGinn pitched 6.2 innings in relief, allowing one unearned run, and sparked a two-run rally in the sixth with a single against Ray Washburn.

Of the 20 outs McGinn recorded, only one was on a fly ball to an outfielder. The rest were strikeouts or “dime store ground balls,” the Montreal Gazette noted.

“When McGinn’s sinker is right, you’ll see 9,000 ground balls and some strikeouts,” Expos catcher Ron Brand told the Post-Dispatch. “There was no way anyone could have hit some of McGinn’s sinkers in the air.” Boxscore

After pitching in 88 games in 1968 (74 for Asheville and 14 for the Reds), McGinn pitched in 74 for the 1969 Expos _ a total of 162 appearances over two seasons.

Lamb to lion

McGinn had a dreadful beginning to the 1970 season. His ERA after 11 relief appearances was 11.77.

On May 11, Expos rookie Carl Morton (3-0, 2.64 ERA) was scheduled to start against Tom Seaver (6-0, 2.10) and the Mets. Seaver had won 16 consecutive regular-season decisions dating to August 1969.

Expos manager Gene Mauch preferred saving Morton for an easier matchup, so he picked McGinn to start against Seaver.

“He was the lamb being led to slaughter,” Red Foley wrote in the New York Daily News, “but apparently neither the Mets nor Tom Seaver were informed of the scheduled sacrifice. As far as they’re concerned, the lamb turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

McGinn pitched a three-hit shutout for the win. Mauch told The Sporting News, “He’s the most enigmatic young man I’ve ever met.” Boxscore

Two months later, McGinn was matched against Bob Gibson in a start at St. Louis. Like McGinn, Gibson was born and raised in Omaha. McGinn played against Gibson in an Omaha industrial basketball league, the Post-Dispatch reported.

In the third inning, with the score tied at 1-1, the Cardinals had the bases loaded, two outs and Mike Shannon at the plate. McGinn threw a wild pitch, resulting in a run. It turned out to be the decisive run in the Cardinals’ 2-1 triumph. Boxscore

In April 1972, McGinn was traded to the Cubs, and a year later he was sent to the minors. The Cardinals acquired him on May 26, 1973, and McGinn, 29, spent the rest of that season, his last, with their farm club in Tulsa.

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About the same time that fans of Milwaukee baseball learned the Braves planned to abandon them, the club’s most prominent pitcher, Warren Spahn, got cast aside, too.

So, when Spahn returned to Milwaukee for the first time as a member of the Mets, the fans there came out to cheer for him and against the Braves.

The drama didn’t end there. Spahn was matched that night against his protege and former road roommate, Wade Blasingame. Both were destined to wind up with a Cardinals farm team.

Mr. Brave

A left-hander who developed into a consistently big winner, Spahn began his major-league career with the 1942 Boston Braves (managed by Casey Stengel), served in combat during World War II, and moved with the club to Milwaukee in 1953. He was revered in Milwaukee for being the staff ace and for helping the Braves win two National League pennants (1957 and 1958) and a World Series title (1957).

“No individual made a greater contribution to the fabulous Milwaukee baseball story,” The Sporting News reported on Spahn. “He was truly Mr. Brave.”

Spahn won 20 or more 13 times, including six years in a row (1956-61). He was 42 when he won 23 for the 1963 Braves.

Trouble developed for both Spahn and the Milwaukee fan base in 1964. Spahn quit winning, and was shifted to the bullpen against his wishes by manager Bobby Bragan. Spahn finished the season at 6-13 with a 5.29 ERA.

“He was dead on his feet,” Bragan told The Sporting News. “His legs were gone. He couldn’t get off the mound, and they were bunting him silly.

“If any other pitcher had been shelled the way he was,” Bragan said, “he would have been shipped to (minor-league) Denver.”

The Braves wanted Spahn to stop pitching and offered him several jobs in the organization, including a radio broadcasting gig, The Sporting News reported. Spahn wanted to play instead.

Then the Braves delivered a double salvo of damaging decisions to the fans of Milwaukee baseball:

_ In October 1964, the Braves’ board of directors voted to approve a move of the franchise to Atlanta. The Braves were ready to go, but the National League ordered them to play one more season in Milwaukee in 1965, putting them in a lame-duck position with a furious fan base.

_ A month later, the Braves sold Spahn’s contract to the Mets, a move the scorned fans viewed as thankless.

“They got rid of me because of the money, my salary,” Spahn told The Sporting News. According to the New York Daily News, Spahn was paid $85,000 in 1964.

Double duty

The Mets’ manager, Casey Stengel, gave him the dual role of pitcher and pitching coach. “Pitching is first, then coaching,” Spahn told The Sporting News. He said to Dick Young of the Daily News, “I think I’m still a 20-game winner.”

Whitey Ford, who attempted to be both pitcher and pitching coach for manager Yogi Berra’s 1964 Yankees and found it daunting, delivered a message to Spahn through The Sporting News: “You’ll be sorry.”

(Berra, who was fired by the Yankees after the club was defeated by the Cardinals in the 1964 World Series, joined Spahn as a coach on Stengel’s 1965 Mets staff. Berra played in four May games for the 1965 Mets, then stuck solely to coaching.)

Spahn, 44, won his first two decisions with the 1965 Mets. Both were complete games _ one against the Dodgers Boxscore and the other versus the Giants. Boxscore

(In his first start versus the Cardinals as a Met, Spahn was matched against Bob Gibson. Lou Brock hit a two-run home run and the Cardinals won, 4-3. Boxscore and radio broadcast)

Out for revenge

Spahn was 3-3 with a 3.51 ERA heading into his return to Milwaukee to oppose the Braves. The fans there were showing their contempt about the impending move to Atlanta by staying away from County Stadium. 

After a paid crowd of 33,874 attended the 1965 home opener, subsequent April and May Braves home games drew an average paid attendance of 3,000. Paid attendance figures for the Cardinals’ three-game series at Milwaukee April 27-29 were 1,677, 1,324 and 2,182.

The turnout for the Thursday night game with the Mets on May 20, 1965, was a lot bigger _ 19,140 total (17,433 at full price, 1,707 youngsters admitted for 50 cents each) _ and most were there to pay tribute to Spahn.

“They made no secret of the fact they were rooting not for the Braves but for Spahn,” The Sporting News reported. “They cheered when his name was announced, when he took the mound and when he threw so much as a strike. They gave him a standing ovation when he went to bat.”

Dick Young of the Daily News observed, “He was to be their instrument of revenge. They came just for him, hoping, praying, he would beat the Braves.”

Several brought homemade banners and placards, including one with the message, “Down the Lousy Saboteurs. C’mon, Spahn, Mow Down the Betrayers,” the Daily News reported.

The Braves’ lineup that night featured Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Joe Torre, Felipe Alou and 21-year-old starting pitcher Wade Blasingame. A left-hander, Blasingame got called up to the Braves in June 1964 and roomed on the road with Spahn, who became a mentor. Blasingame was 9-5 (including a shutout of the pennant-bound Cardinals Boxscore) for the 1964 Braves.

“There is a growing feeling (Blasingame) is about to become the new Spahn,” The Sporting News reported.

Spahn “taught me more in a year than I ever knew before,” Blasingame told United Press International.

All business

Blasingame and Spahn waged a scoreless duel for four innings. Then, in the fifth, Spahn became unglued. The Braves scored twice, then loaded the bases for Eddie Mathews, the left-handed slugger who was, according to George Vecsey of Newsday, “one of Spahn’s closest friends.”

When the count got to 1-and-1, “I couldn’t afford to get behind,” Spahn explained to United Press International. “He had been looking bad on the slider all night, but I second-guessed myself and threw him a fastball. Trouble was, I was indecisive about whether to throw it down and in, or down and away. So I came right over the plate.”

Mathews clobbered it _ “a mile past the bleachers in right,” the Daily News reported _ for a grand slam, giving the Braves a 6-0 lead.

“Spahn kicked the top of the mound to dust, and picked up the resin bag and slammed it down,” Dick Young noted.

Mathews said to Newsday, “If I felt something special about hitting a home run against Spahn, I’d tell you. I didn’t. He’s just another pitcher.”

In his book, “Eddie Mathews and the National Pastime,” Mathews said, “Spahnie and I went out and drank together after the ballgame, but there was no sentiment while he was on the mound.”

Hank Aaron followed with a single, stole second and eventually scored on Rico Carty’s second double of the inning, capping the seven-run outburst.

Spahn completed the inning, then was lifted for a pinch-hitter.

Blasingame held the Mets hitless until the seventh when, with two outs, Ron Swoboda singled, scoring Billy Cowan, who had walked and moved to second on a wild pitch.

Blasingame, who finished with a one-hitter, told George Vecsey he felt bad for Spahn: “I know he wanted to beat us very much _ maybe more than I wanted to beat them.” Boxscore

Tulsa time

Four days after his loss at Milwaukee, Spahn pitched a complete game, beating Jim Bunning and the Phillies. Boxscore Then he lost eight in a row, and the Mets placed him on waivers. In 20 games with the Mets, Spahn was 4-12.

The Giants claimed him and he finished the 1965 season, his last, with them, going 3-4. Spahn’s 363 career wins are the most by a left-handed pitcher. 

“I never did retire from pitching,” Spahn told writer Roger Kahn. “It was baseball that retired me.”

Wade Blasingame was 16-10 for the 1965 Braves, but never achieved another double-digit win season. In 10 years with the Braves, Astros and Yankees, he was 46-51.

(Blasingame and Jim Bouton were Astros teammates in 1969. In his book, “Ball Four,” Bouton wrote, “Today, Blasingame was wearing a blue bellbottom suit, blue shirt, a blue scarf at his throat and was smoking a long thin cigar, brown. Teammate Fred Gladding said, ‘Little boy blue, come blow my horn.’ Everybody on the bus went ‘Oooooh.’ Blasingame feigned indifference.”)

In 1967, Cardinals general manager Stan Musial hired Spahn to be manager of the Tulsa farm club. Spahn held the job for five years, but was gone by March 1973, when the Cardinals acquired Blasingame from the Yankees and assigned him to Tulsa.

Blasingame was 1-0 with an 0.90 ERA in two months with Tulsa before being traded to the Cubs’ Wichita farm team for another left-hander, Dan McGinn.

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Following a formula that worked well for them before, the Cardinals went looking for an old pro who was trying to cap his career with a championship. The character they found was as charismatic as he was competent.

Ninety years ago, on Feb. 8, 1933, the Cardinals acquired pitcher Dazzy Vance and shortstop Gordon Slade from the Dodgers for pitcher Ownie Carroll and infielder Jake Flowers.

Vance was a strikeout artist who dominated National League batters in the 1920s with a fastball the New York Times described as on par with Walter Johnson’s in the American League.

Though a month away from turning 42 when the Cardinals obtained him, the club was hoping Vance could replicate the success achieved from the acquisitions of pitchers Grover Cleveland Alexander, 39, in 1926 and Burleigh Grimes (nearly 37) in 1930. Alexander helped the Cardinals win two National League pennants (1926 and 1928) and a World Series title (1926). With Grimes, the Cardinals won two more pennants (1930 and 1931) and another World Series crown (1931).

Worth the wait

Dazzy Vance was born in Orient, Iowa, a town that also was the birthplace of Henry Wallace, vice president of the United States during the third term of President Franklin Roosevelt.

Reports vary about whether Vance was named Arthur Charles Vance, Charles Arthur Vance or Clarence Arthur Vance. When he was 5, he moved with his family to Nebraska and eventually settled in Hastings, according to the New York Daily News. As a boy, Vance got his nickname because of his mimicry of a neighboring plainsman who pronounced “Daisy” as “Dazzy,” the New York Times reported.

He was 21 when he entered pro baseball in 1912 with the York Prohibitionists of the Nebraska State League. Vance got to the majors with the Pirates in April 1915, pitched in one game and was sent to the Yankees. He appeared briefly with them but spent much of the next seven seasons in the minors until he was acquired by the Brooklyn Dodgers.

A right-hander, Vance was 31 when he got his first big-league win with the Dodgers in April 1922. Manager Wilbert Robinson, the convivial former catcher, “doted on big pitchers who could throw hard. The Dazzler qualified,” the New York Times noted.

“When he pitched, he kicked his leg high in the air and leaned back as far as possible, then released either a fastball or a hard curveball, with the same motion, making it next to impossible for a batter to ascertain which was bearing down on him,” David Hinckley wrote in the New York Daily News.

“He wore a chopped up undershirt under his uniform, and its tatters would flutter as he threw. In that same spirit, his favorite day to pitch was Monday, when the housewives in the apartment houses behind Ebbets Field hung out the wash and provided one more waving white element to camouflage the ball.”

Vance was the National League strikeout leader seven straight seasons (1922-28). In 1924, he topped the league in wins (28), ERA (2.16), strikeouts (262) and complete games (30). Rogers Hornsby hit .424 for the Cardinals that year, but Vance beat him out for the National League Most Valuable Player Award and, according to The Sporting News, the $1,000 in gold that went with the honor.

In a game at Brooklyn in 1925, Vance struck out 17 Cardinals, including Hornsby and Jim Bottomley three times each, hit a homer and drove in the winning run.

Described by the New York Times as a “hard and shrewd businessman” and “one of baseball’s most stubborn (contract) holdouts,” Vance negotiated a 1929 salary of $25,000, the highest paid a pitcher.

Dazzy with daffies

The Brooklyn ballclub sometimes was known during Dazzy’s days there as the Daffy Dodgers. The New York Times described them as an “assortment of crackpots,” but pointed out that Vance “was not a screwball.”

Vance was “a natural schmoozer and raconteur,” David Hinckley observed.

Arthur Daley of the New York Times described him as “a whimsical, homespun philosopher with the dry wit of a Will Rogers.”

On Aug. 15, 1926, at Ebbets Field, the Dodgers loaded the bases against the Braves. With Hank DeBerry on third, Vance on second and Chick Fewster on first, Babe Herman smacked a ball to deep right. Vance and Fewster hesitated, making sure the drive wasn’t caught.

The ball crashed against the fence, and DeBerry scored easily. According to the New York Daily News, Vance rumbled around third, then turned back. Vance slid into the third-base bag as Fewster arrived there from first. Herman, running full steam, slid into third, too. Ed Taylor, the Braves’ astonished rookie third baseman, tagged “everyone in sight, including the umpire,” the New York Times reported.

Vance was ruled safe, but Fewster and Herman were called out, resulting in Herman having doubled into a double play. Boxscore

A month later, against the Cubs, Vance became the first National League pitcher to strike out the first five batters in a game, a feat later matched by the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson. One of Vance’s strikeout victims that day was slugger Hack Wilson, “the Dazzler’s favorite pigeon,” the New York Times reported. Wilson whiffed 45 times in his career versus Vance. Boxscore

Veteran presence

After the Cardinals acquired Hack Wilson from the Cubs in December 1931, they attempted to flip him to the Dodgers for Vance or pitcher Watty Clark. When the Dodgers balked, the Cardinals sent them Wilson for cash and a prospect.

The next winter, the Cardinals again shopped for Vance. Max Carey had replaced Wilbert Robinson as Dodgers manager in 1932 and was willing to deal Dazzy, who, at 41, was 12-11 that year.

After Vance was traded to St. Louis, published reports predicted the Cardinals would send him to the Giants before spring training. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the Giants agreed to pay $15,000 for Vance, but then called off the deal.

Cardinals manager Gabby Street didn’t want Vance either. “I figured he’d be a terrible load on my team and I was eager for a trade that would get him off my squad,” Street said to the Post-Dispatch.

However, Cardinals executive Branch Rickey told the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, “If Dazzy Vance shows that he wants to pitch for us to the best of his real ability, we’ll keep him. I think he’s still a great pitcher.”

The relationship teetered when the Cardinals asked Vance to accept a $5,000 salary. “I wrote Branch Rickey that I couldn’t be bothered with any $5,000 offer,” Vance told the Post-Dispatch.

When he finally signed on March 17, terms were not disclosed.

The addition of Dazzy gave the 1933 Cardinals a colorful cast that included a Dizzy (Dean), a Ducky (Medwick), a Pepper (Martin), a Rajah (Hornsby), a Flash (Frankie Frisch) and a Rip (Collins).

Vance, 42, also joined a pitching staff that would come to include two others who turned 40 during the 1933 season, Burleigh Grimes and Jesse Haines.

Gabby Street soon changed his mind about Vance. “There ain’t a man on the club with a better spirit … He’s worked as hard as any man on the roster,” Street told the Post-Dispatch. “He’s done everything he’s been asked to do and a lot more.”

Dazzy delivers

Vance got a mix of starts and relief stints with the Cardinals, even though, as the New York Times noted, “he abhorred” pitching in relief. In August, he pitched a four-hitter against the Reds. Boxscore In September, he struck out nine in a complete game against the Cubs, fanning his former Dodgers crony, Babe Herman, three times. Boxscore

In 28 appearances, including 11 starts, for the 1933 Cardinals, Vance was 6-2 with three saves. Despite his distaste for the role, he was quite good as a reliever (3-0, 2.97 ERA).

The Cardinals, who finished fifth in the league at 82-71, placed Vance on waivers after the season and he was claimed by the Reds. The Cardinals got him back in June 1934 and he contributed to the pennant-winning Gashouse Gang, posting a 1-1 mark and a save. The win was a complete game against the Braves in which he retired the last 10 batters in order. Boxscore

At 43, Vance got to pitch in a World Series for the only time in his 16 years in the majors, appearing in relief in Game 4 versus the Tigers. Vance is one of five players 40 or older to appear in a World Series for the Cardinals. 

Vance, 44, went back to Brooklyn for a last hurrah with manager Casey Stengel’s Dodgers in 1935. His final win, No. 197 of his career, came against the Cardinals, a relief stint in which he allowed one run in 5.1 innings. Boxscore

Vance was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.

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Frank Thomas, a slugging outfielder for the 1950s Pirates, came close to being acquired by the Cardinals, but it would have come at a hefty price.

In 1957, Cardinals general manager Frank Lane was ready to deal Ken Boyer to the Pirates for Thomas and third baseman Gene Freese. When the deal got put on hold by Cardinals hierarchy, Lane quit and became general manager of the Cleveland Indians.

A right-handed batter, Thomas played for seven teams during 16 seasons in the majors, belting 286 home runs. He hit 30 or more home runs in a season three times, twice topped 100 RBI and never struck out as many as 100 times. Thomas was 93 when he died Jan. 16, 2023.

Different uniform

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Thomas developed a passion for baseball at an early age. In the book “We Played the Game,” Thomas recalled, “My mother said I never went to bed without a bat or ball in my hand. I first used my dad’s pick hammer for a bat.”

Thomas said he attended the games of the Pirates and the Negro League Homestead Grays at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field. “I got my first baseball from (Negro League catcher) Josh Gibson. He gave me two,” Thomas told author Danny Peary.

When Thomas was 12, he was sent by his parents to a Catholic seminary in Niagara Falls, Ontario, to study for the priesthood. He quit the seminary when he was 17, returned to Pittsburgh and played sandlot baseball. Six months later, after he turned 18, the Pirates signed him in July 1947. “It was like a miracle,” Thomas said in “We Played the Game.”

In his first professional season, playing for a 1948 minor-league Tallahassee team managed by former Cardinals outfielder Jack Rothrock, Thomas produced 132 RBI. Three years later, he made his debut in the majors with the 1951 Pirates.

Possessing power and a strong throwing arm, Thomas was a good player on mostly bad Pirates teams. In 1954, when he earned the first of three all-star honors, Thomas batted .298 with 32 doubles, 23 homers and 94 RBI.

Shopping list

During the 1957 season, the Cardinals shifted Ken Boyer from third base to center field. Boyer led National League center fielders in fielding percentage but his hitting declined. He batted .265 with 19 home runs and 62 RBI in 1957 after putting up better numbers (.290, 23 homers and 89 RBI) the year before.

At the 1957 World Series between the Braves and Yankees, Cardinals general manager Frank Lane met in New York with his Pirates counterpart, Joe Brown, and discussed a trade of Ken Boyer for Frank Thomas, The Pittsburgh Press reported. A pull hitter who stood close to the plate, Thomas hit .290 with 23 home runs and 89 RBI for the Pirates in 1957.

Lane said he and Cardinals manager Fred Hutchinson had two four-hour talks with Brown and Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh about the proposed trade, according to The Sporting News. The talks continued into the fall.

In the book “Ken Boyer: All-Star, MVP, Captain,” biographer Kevin D. McCann noted, “Lane had been Boyer’s biggest supporter and harshest critic. He expected much from him and felt he should be as good as _ or even better than _ Yankees slugger Mickey Mantle. He wasn’t timid about publicly chastising what he perceived to be Ken’s lack of competitive hustle and aggressiveness.”

On Oct. 23, 1957, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Lane was willing to trade Ken Boyer and pitcher Willard Schmidt to the Pirates for Frank Thomas and Gene Freese.

“Boyer is reported to have told friends in St. Louis that he had been alerted by the Cardinals not to be surprised if he were traded,” The Sporting News reported. “He was expecting to come to Pittsburgh.”

Boyer told the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, “After the season I had, I had made up my mind that I was going to be traded by Lane.”

Too many chiefs

Lane said he and Joe Brown talked trade until the first week of November 1957 “and, for his part, was ready to make the deal,” The Sporting News reported, but there was a hang-up.

In 1956, after swapping Red Schoendienst to the Giants and trying to deal Stan Musial to the Phillies for pitcher Robin Roberts, Lane was told any trades he wanted to make must be approved by club owner Gussie Busch and team executive vice president Dick Meyer. “Lane was unhappy with the handcuffs on him,” The Sporting News reported.

Lane told The Pittsburgh Press that Busch “has too many advisers to suit me. If I’m the general manager, I want to stand or fall on my own decisions. Before I’d make a deal, I’d always tell Busch. Then his vice-presidents would call a meeting and in three or four days I’d get an answer.”

According to the Sporting News, when Lane sought permission to make the trade of Boyer and another player (possibly Schmidt) for Thomas and Freese, “the okay wasn’t forthcoming.”

“The Cardinals’ brass shuddered every time I’d mention Boyer in a trade,” Lane told The Pittsburgh Press, “but they should have known if I traded him I’d get somebody good in return.”

Lane told The Sporting News, “I had a tough time selling the Cardinals officials on the prospect of trading Boyer, but I believe I finally won them over,” but Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that “high command turned down the deal.”

Though he had a year remaining on his Cardinals contract, a frustrated Lane quit in November 1957 and accepted an offer to be general manager of the Cleveland Indians, who agreed not to restrict his ability to make trades. Lane’s assistant, Bing Devine, replaced him as Cardinals general manager.

Just say no

Devine had no interest in pursuing the trade Lane had put together with the Pirates. “Stan Musial is the only player not tradeable, but Boyer comes close to it,” Devine said to The Sporting News.

Cardinals manager Fred Hutchinson had other ideas. Asked by the Post-Dispatch whether he would have made the deal with the Pirates that Lane had proposed, Hutchinson said, “I’d still be inclined to give it a considerable amount of attention. Boyer has potential, all right, but I don’t know whether he’s determined enough to achieve that potential.”

In December 1957, the Phillies offered outfielder Richie Ashburn and pitcher Harvey Haddix (a former Cardinal traded by Lane) for Boyer, but Devine declined, the Globe-Democrat reported.

Boyer said to the Post-Dispatch, “I told my wife that if I’d have been the Cardinals, I’d have made that trade.”

(In his autobiography, “The Memoirs of Bing Devine,” Devine said Lane had initiated talks with the Phillies about Ashburn for Boyer before departing St. Louis.)

Bob Broeg of the Post-Dispatch also revealed that the Pirates approached Devine with an offer of outfielder Bill Virdon (another former Cardinal traded by Lane) and Freese for Boyer, but that was rejected, too.

Returned to third base in 1958, Boyer hit .307 with 23 home runs and 90 RBI, and won the first of five Gold Glove awards. He remained a force for the Cardinals, powering them to a World Series title in 1964 and winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award.

Thomas had a big year in 1958 for the Pirates, batting .281 with 35 home runs and 109 RBI, but was traded to the Reds after the season.

Breaks of the game

After stints with the Cubs and Braves, Thomas was a Met when he hit a walkoff home run to beat the Cardinals’ Curt Simmons on July 9, 1964. Pinch-hitting with one on, two outs and the Cardinals ahead, 3-2, in the bottom of the ninth, Thomas pulled a changeup over the wall at Shea Stadium in his first at-bat since developing a glandular infection May 31. Boxscore

A month later, Thomas was traded to the first-place Phillies, who wanted him as their first baseman for the pennant stretch. Thomas provided a spark, hitting .294 with seven home runs and 26 RBI in 143 at-bats before fracturing his right thumb on Sept. 8.

The Phillies, who held a six-game lead at the time Thomas was injured, went into a slide soon after, allowing the Cardinals to overtake them and win the pennant.

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In their first venture into free agency, the Cardinals pursued a closer, Bill Campbell, but were unprepared for what it would cost to get him.

Campbell signed with the Red Sox instead of the Cardinals in November 1976.

Nine years later, when the Cardinals acquired Campbell in a trade with the Phillies, he became part of a bullpen by committee constructed to replace closer Bruce Sutter.

Campbell helped the Cardinals win a National League pennant in his only season with the club. He was 74 when he died on Jan. 6, 2023.

From battlefield to diamond

After serving with the Army in the Vietnam War, Campbell was playing semipro baseball in California when the Twins signed him in September 1970.

Two years later, when he was a starting pitcher in the Twins’ system, Campbell told Bob Padecky of the Charlotte News, “Vietnam is still something that lives with me. The Charlies had this rocket over there you could hear coming for miles. Even now, I still flinch occasionally from a loud noise.”

A right-hander who featured a screwball, Campbell, 24, reached the majors in July 1973 with the Twins, who converted him into a reliever. After the 1975 season, when he played for $22,000, Campbell sought an $8,000 raise, but Twins owner Calvin Griffith said no, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

Until then, Campbell would have had to accept Griffith’s terms or quit, but in December 1975 arbitrator Peter Seitz had overturned baseball’s reserve system, opening the way for eligible players to become free agents in November 1976.

Campbell could become a free agent if he didn’t sign and played out his contract at the $22,000 salary offered by the Twins in 1976. That’s what he decided to do. 

With Campbell piling up wins and saves for the 1976 Twins, Griffith approached him during the season and offered him what he had asked, the Star Tribune reported, but now it was Campbell’s turn to say no.

Campbell posted a 17-5 record with 20 saves in a league-leading 78 relief appearances for the 1976 Twins.

“It’s all in his delivery,” Twins manager Gene Mauch said to the Star Tribune. “Take all the pitchers in the league and time their fastball on a speed machine and there won’t be much difference. It’s where the ball comes from that counts. Good delivery equals consistency and endurance and deception.”

Top dollar

Campbell was the free agent who interested the Cardinals the most in November 1976. They envisioned him joining Al Hrabosky in giving them a dominant pair of late-inning stoppers _ Campbell from the right side and Hrabosky from the left.

“Campbell is an impressive individual, physically and personally,” Cardinals general manager Bing Devine said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Cardinals officials, including owner Gussie Busch, met with Campbell and his agent, LaRue Harcourt. “They asked me if I would give them the first shot,” Campbell told Peter Gammons of Sports Illustrated.

Campbell said to the Post-Dispatch, “Money will be the most important factor in my decision. You consider location and you want to play with a contender, but money comes first.”

Because the Cardinals “seemed more interested” than any other club, Campbell told Gammons he was “resigned to playing with the Cardinals.”

Then the Red Sox entered the bidding. Assistant general manager John Claiborne led the negotiations for Boston. (Claiborne had been mentored by Devine in St. Louis and would replace him there in 1978.) Once Campbell and his agent heard the Red Sox’s proposal, they quickly accepted it.

The reliever who played for $22,000 in 1976 got from the Red Sox a five-year contract worth $1.075 million. Campbell received a $250,000 signing bonus and yearly salaries of $165,000, Gammons reported.

Asked why Campbell didn’t sign with the Cardinals, agent LaRue Harcourt said to the Boston Globe, “Not enough money. That was St. Louis. Not enough money.”

As Bob Broeg noted in the Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals “weren’t in the ballpark financially in the bidding.”

Big in Boston

Campbell’s bonanza was stunning in a day when the average salary for a big-league ballplayer was $51,500. “No player is really worth what they’re paying me,” Campbell told Sports Illustrated, “but if they want to, then fine.”

Red Sox followers had high hopes for a $1 million reliever. Or, as columnist Leigh Montville put it, “He was expected to deliver instant pitching salvation.”

His first appearance for the 1977 Red Sox, on Opening Day at Fenway Park, drew boos. Tasked with protecting a 4-2 lead, Campbell gave up a two-run home run to Buddy Bell in the ninth. The Indians went on to win, 5-4, in 11 and Campbell was the losing pitcher. Boxscore

He was the losing pitcher again in the second game of the season. Boxscore

Campbell was 0-3 with a 6.94 ERA in eight appearances in April 1977. “His public image fell somewhere between that of an auto repairman and a politician under indictment,” Montville wrote.

A month later, he was a darling of the Red Sox faithful, posting a 4-0 record and five saves in May. “He comes in, and it’s like Christmas morn,” Red Sox pitching coach and former Cardinal Al Jackson told the Globe.

Campbell finished the 1977 season with 13 wins and a league-leading 31 saves.

Wiley veteran

After fulfilling his contract with the Red Sox (1977-81), Campbell pitched for the Cubs (1982-83) and Phillies (1984).

That’s when the Cardinals came back into the picture. Bruce Sutter, who had 45 saves for the 1984 Cardinals, became a free agent and went to the Braves. The Cardinals wanted a veteran reliever to join holdovers Jeff Lahti and Ken Dayley in forming a bullpen corps that manager Whitey Herzog could use to fill the closer vacancy created by Sutter’s departure.

On April 6, 1985, the Cardinals traded pitcher Dave Rucker to the Phillies for Campbell and shortstop Ivan DeJesus.

Campbell, 36, used a herky-jerky motion to deliver an assortment of pitches, primarily the screwball. “It’s tough for hitters to decipher because they’re seeing a lot of arms and legs,” Campbell told the Post-Dispatch. “My leg hits the ground and then my arm comes through … It looks like I’m jumping out there.”

In his first two saves for the Cardinals, Campbell pitched three scoreless innings against the Giants Boxscore and four scoreless innings versus the Braves. Boxscore

“He throws all the pitches _ screwball, slider, curveball, fastball,” Cardinals pitching coach Mike Roarke said to the Post-Dispatch. “He uses his pitch selection well. When he’s going good, it can be very confusing for a hitter.”

Campbell was at his best during the Cardinals’ drive for a division title. On Sept. 14, 1985, he was the winning pitcher with three scoreless innings against the Cubs, a victory that vaulted the Cardinals ahead of the Mets and into first place in the National League East. The Cardinals remained on top the rest of the season. Boxscore

For the month of September, Campbell pitched in nine games for the Cardinals and had an 0.93 ERA.

During the season, he allowed just six of 39 inherited runners to score. From Aug. 18 to Sept. 28, he pitched 13.1 innings without yielding a run.

Campbell finished the season with a 5-3 record and four saves in 50 appearances. Seven Cardinals relievers _ Jeff Lahti (19), Ken Dayley (11), Todd Worrell (five), Campbell (four), Bob Forsch (two), Neil Allen (two) and Ricky Horton (one) _ combined for 44 saves, basically matching the total of 45 Sutter had for them the year before.

Campbell pitched in the 1985 National League Championship Series (no runs allowed in three games) and in the 1985 World Series (one run in three games). Those were his only postseason appearances in 15 years in the majors.

Released by the Cardinals in November 1985, Campbell pitched for the Tigers (1986) and Expos (1987). He ended up with 83 wins and 126 saves in 700 games in the majors.


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