Archive for the ‘Trades’ Category

Chuck Taylor patiently persevered in the minor leagues for most of a decade before getting a chance to pitch for the Cardinals. Joining Cardinals staffs featuring Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton, Taylor emerged as a versatile contributor.

Taylor, who died June 5, 2018, at 76, was utilized as a starter as well as a reliever by the Cardinals. In three seasons (1969-71) with St. Louis, Taylor pitched in 126 games, 21 as a starter, and compiled a 16-13 record with 11 saves and a 2.99 ERA.

After the 1971 season, Taylor was traded by the Cardinals and pitched for the Mets (1972), Brewers (1972) and Expos (1973-76) in an eight-year major-league career.

Valuable lesson

Taylor was enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University when he was signed by Cardinals scout Buddy Lewis for $4,000 in 1961.

On Feb. 17, 1964, after three seasons in their minor-league system, Taylor was traded by the Cardinals, along with outfielder Jim Beauchamp, to the Houston Colt .45s for outfielder Carl Warwick.

A year later, on June 15, 1965, the Cardinals reacquired Taylor. In a trade of four pitchers, the Cardinals sent Ron Taylor and Mike Cuellar to Houston for Hal Woodeshick and Chuck Taylor.

Taylor’s return to the Cardinals didn’t appear to help him. The Cardinals assigned him to the minor leagues and he wasn’t prominent in their plans.

The Cardinals loaned Taylor to Indianapolis, a White Sox farm club, in 1967 and that’s when he turned around his career. Eli Grba, a former pitcher for the Yankees and Angels, was with Indianapolis and he showed Taylor how he threw a slider.

“I’d been in pro ball since 1961, but it wasn’t until Grba showed me the right way to throw a slider in 1967 that I began to make much progress,” Taylor said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I had thrown it as early as 1963, but the elbow got awfully sore and I gave up on the slider. Grba, though, taught me the right way.”

In 1968, pitching for manager Warren Spahn with the Cardinals’ Tulsa farm team, Taylor was 18-7 with a 2.35 ERA. He pitched 16 complete games, five shutouts and issued 38 walks in 230 innings. Still, the Cardinals, on their way to a second consecutive National League pennant, didn’t bring him to the big leagues.

Taylor went to spring training with the Cardinals in 1969 and pitched well, but didn’t make the Opening Day roster. Before Taylor went back to Tulsa, Cardinals general manager Bing Devine promised him he’d be called up to the big leagues “in four or five weeks” if the pitcher did well with the minor-league club.

Hitting his spots

Taylor did his part. Selected to start Tulsa’s 1969 season opener on April 18, his 27th birthday, Taylor earned a complete-game win against Denver. On May 9, Taylor, with Ted Simmons catching, pitched 11 innings and got the win against Oklahoma City.

After beating Indianapolis with a four-hitter on May 22 and improving his record to 5-1, Taylor was called up to the Cardinals to replace injured pitcher Dave Giusti.

In his first 13 appearances for the 1969 Cardinals, all in relief, Taylor posted a 1.59 ERA. He got his first big-league win on July 6 with 6.1 scoreless innings in relief of Mike Torrez in a 6-3 Cardinals victory over the Cubs at St. Louis. Boxscore

“Taylor made it easy for me to catch because he was able to get both his fastball and his slider over the plate almost any time he wanted to,” said Cardinals catcher Joe Torre.

About a month after Taylor was promoted to the Cardinals, another Chuck Taylor, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and a goodwill ambassador for Converse for more than 40 years, died at 68 on June 22, 1969. No relation to the Cardinals pitcher, basketball’s Chuck Taylor remains prominent as the brand name of the iconic Converse All-Star sneakers.

The Cardinals gave their Chuck Taylor his first major-league start on July 15, 1969, against the Phillies and he earned a complete-game win, striking out nine in an 8-2 St. Louis victory. Taylor also got his first big-league hit and drove in two runs. Boxscore

Taylor continued to produce strong starts for the 1969 Cardinals. On July 28, he yielded no earned runs in a complete-game win against the Padres and on Aug. 13 he pitched his first major-league shutout, a six-hitter against the Dodgers. Boxscore Taylor improved his record to 6-1 with a two-hitter against the Reds on Aug. 20. Boxscore

“Chuck upsets the hitters’ rhythm,” said Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver. “He threads the corners so well that the batters always have to reach for the ball. Chuck doesn’t even know where the middle of the plate is.”

Tailoring his role

In 27 appearances, including 13 starts, for the 1969 Cardinals, Taylor was 7-5 with a 2.56 ERA. Only Gibson (2.17) and Carlton (2.18) had better earned run averages for the club.

Taylor followed that with a 6-7 record and 3.11 ERA for the Cardinals in 1970. He led the team in saves (eight) and games pitched (56).

In 1971, the Cardinals mostly used Taylor in relief and he produced a 3-1 record with three saves and a 3.53 ERA.

On Oct. 18, 1971, seven years after the Cardinals traded Taylor and Beauchamp to Houston, they again packaged those two in a deal. In addition to Taylor and Beauchamp, the Cardinals sent pitcher Harry Parker and infielder Chip Coulter to the Mets for outfielder Art Shamsky and pitchers Jim Bibby, Rich Folkers and Charlie Hudson.

Mets manager Gil Hodges said he intended to use Taylor in long-inning relief, the New York Daily News reported.

After pitching for the Mets and Brewers in 1972, Taylor joined the Expos in 1973. He was their closer in 1974, posting a 6-2 record and 2.17 ERA and leading the Expos in saves (11) and games pitched (61).

Read Full Post »

The Cardinals became a bridge for Sal Maglie, enabling him to transition from being a pitcher to a coach.

Sixty years ago, on June 14, 1958, the Cardinals acquired Maglie from the Yankees for minor-league pitcher Joe McClain and $20,000.

Maglie was nicknamed The Barber “for the close shaves he gave hitters with high and tight pitches designed to intimidate,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explained.

With a scowl and heavy, dark stubble, the sight of Maglie glaring at batters from the mound “resembles Jack Dempsey stepping into the ring,” Bob Broeg wrote.

“When I throw at a guy, I put it right here,” Maglie said, swiping his hand under his chin, “so he can’t hit it, but I never throw to hit a man.”

Maglie, 41, was past his prime when the Cardinals got him to be a spot starter, but he still was a prominent name and his acquisition attracted attention.

Traveling man

Maglie reached the major leagues in 1945 with the Giants and was mentored by pitching coach Dolf Luque. The next year, Maglie jumped to the Mexican League, even though it meant he would be banned from returning to the major leagues.

In Mexico, Maglie’s manager with the Puebla Parrots was Luque, who taught him a variety of curveballs. Described by Broeg as “chorus girl curves,” Maglie’s assortment of off-speed pitches ranged from slow and sweeping to sharp and darting.

After pitching in Mexico in 1946 and 1947, Maglie returned to the United States and played in 1948 for a barnstorming team of former major-leaguers against semipro clubs. In 1949, Maglie pitched in an independent professional league in Canada.

When baseball commissioner Happy Chandler lifted the ban on players who defected to the Mexican League, Maglie, 33, rejoined the Giants and thrived, compiling records of 18-4 in 1950, 23-6 in 1951 and 18-8 in 1952.

Maglie pitched in three World Series and was the hard-luck Dodgers starter who opposed Don Larsen when he pitched a perfect game for the Yankees in 1956.

Maglie pitched for the Giants (1945 and 1950-55), Indians (1955-56), Dodgers (1956-57) and Yankees (1957-58) before joining the Cardinals. He was the last player to appear with the Giants, Dodgers and Yankees while all three were based in New York.

When the Cardinals acquired him, Maglie had a career record of 117-56 and his winning percentage of .678 was the best among active pitchers.

Good start

Maglie was 1-1 with a 4.63 ERA when Yankees manager Casey Stengel summoned him into his office and informed him he was being sent to St. Louis.

“I told him it was my fault because I didn’t produce for him when he gave me the chance,” Maglie told The Sporting News. “I’m the kind of fellow who has to work regularly to make the ball break the way I want it to and also to have control.”

Said Cardinals general manager Bing Devine: “We expect to be able to give him more work than the Yankees could.”

Maglie was dealing with dental issues and an income tax problem when the trade was made. The Cardinals approved his request to resolve those situations and to drive his family from New York to their home in Niagara Falls before reporting to the team.

Maglie made his first appearance for the Cardinals in a June 22 start against the Braves at Milwaukee. He pitched seven innings and earned the win in a 2-1 Cardinals victory. Boxscore

“He showed me what I really wanted to see, that his arm is OK,” said Cardinals broadcaster Joe Garagiola, a Giants catcher in 1954 when Maglie pitched for them.

In his second start, on June 28 at Philadelphia, Maglie won again, pitching a complete game against the Phillies in an 8-1 Cardinals triumph. Maglie had a shutout until Carl Sawatski hit a home run with one out in the ninth. Boxscore

Barber trimmed

Maglie left the Cardinals in July to be with his wife, who had surgery for cancer. When he returned, he wasn’t the same. After posting a 2-0 record and 1.12 ERA for the Cardinals in June, Maglie was 0-3 with a 6.48 ERA in July and 0-3 with a 6.20 ERA in August.

“First, my teeth bothered me. Then my wife became desperately ill,” Maglie said. “It wasn’t the physical or mental environment in which to win.”

Maglie finished with a 2-6 record and 4.75 ERA in 10 starts for the Cardinals.

“I feel I have another year of big-league pitching in me,” Maglie told columnist Dick Young.

Maglie reported to spring training with the Cardinals in 1959, hoping to impress manager Solly Hemus, but he yielded seven runs in the eighth inning of an exhibition game against the Phillies.

Maglie was released, but the Cardinals weren’t done with him.

Teaching role

On April 13, 1959, the Cardinals hired Maglie to be their minor-league pitching instructor. Asked which Cardinals prospects impressed him, Maglie cited Bob Gibson. “All he needs is to improve his changeup to go with his speed,” Maglie said.

In June, Cal Browning, a minor-league left-hander, credited Maglie with correcting a flaw in his leg motion. In August, Bob Miller was called up to the Cardinals and said Maglie “helped me a lot with my breaking stuff.”

Reflecting on his season as Cardinals minor-league instructor, Maglie said, “I couldn’t concentrate on a player or a problem for more than three or four days at a time. No sooner would I get into a town than I’d have to leave for another. The kids did what I told them to do as long as I watched them, but slipped into their old ways as soon as I left.”

Maglie became Red Sox pitching coach in 1960 and was in that role in 1967 when Boston produced the American League Cy Young Award winner, Jim Lonborg, won the pennant and advanced to the World Series against the Cardinals. However, Maglie and manager Dick Williams clashed, and Maglie was fired after the World Series.

In 1969, Joe Schultz, who’d been a minor-league manager in the Cardinals system when Maglie was minor-league pitching instructor, became manager of the Seattle Pilots and hired Maglie to be pitching coach.

Read Full Post »

George Hendrick revived his career with the Cardinals and gave them the consistent run producer they were lacking in the outfield.

Forty years ago, on May 26, 1978, the Cardinals acquired Hendrick from the Padres for pitcher Eric Rasmussen.

Platooned in right field by the Padres, Hendrick made it known he wanted to be traded to a team that would play him regularly. The Cardinals were happy to oblige.

Looking for lumber

The Cardinals opened the 1978 season with a starting outfield of Lou Brock in left, Tony Scott in center and Jerry Morales in right. None hit for power or average that season. Their totals: Brock (.221 batting average, no home runs), Scott (.228, one home run) and Morales (.239, four home runs).

The Cardinals needed another big bat to join catcher Ted Simmons and first baseman Keith Hernandez in the heart of the order.

Hendrick became available when he followed a strong 1977 season with a slow start in 1978 and fell out of favor with Padres manager Roger Craig.

The Padres opened the 1978 season with a starting outfield of Oscar Gamble in left, Hendrick in center and Dave Winfield in right. After batting .311 with 23 home runs and 81 RBI as the everyday center fielder for the 1977 Padres, Hendrick hit .230 in April 1978.

Meanwhile, Craig determined catcher Gene Tenace and first baseman Gene Richards were playing out of position. In May, Craig moved Tenace to first base and Richards to left field, shifted Winfield from right to center and put Hendrick and Gamble into a platoon in right.

Hendrick and Gamble were unhappy with the arrangement and Gamble suggested he or Hendrick should be traded. When Padres general manager Bob Fontaine asked Hendrick whether he’d accept a trade, Hendrick said yes, The Sporting News reported.

Good deal

The Cardinals, Giants and Mets showed the most interest in Hendrick, Fontaine told the Associated Press. The Giants offered pitcher Jim Barr, but wanted to renegotiate the remainder of the three-year, $500,000 contract Hendrick signed in 1977, Padres owner Ray Kroc said to the Dayton Daily News.

After the Cardinals met with Hendrick’s agent, Ed Keating, an agreement was reached and the trade was made.

“He’s pleased to be coming here or he wouldn’t have approved of the deal,” Cardinals general manager Bing Devine said of Hendrick. “It was a good trade. There was no gun to our head. We wouldn’t have made it if there had been.”

Hendrick, 28, batted .243 with eight RBI in 36 games for the 1978 Padres. Rasmussen, 26, was 2-5 with a 4.18 ERA for the 1978 Cardinals after posting an 11-17 record the year before.

Cardinals manager Ken Boyer said Hendrick would be the everyday center fielder and would bat third in the order, with Simmons fourth and Hernandez fifth.

“If Hendrick decides to give 100 percent, the deal could be Bing Devine’s best since he gave up Ernie Broglio for Lou Brock 14 years ago,” columnist Dick Young wrote in The Sporting News.

Joe Amalfitano, who was a coach with the 1977 Padres when Hendrick had his stellar season, told the Post-Dispatch: “He’s a disciplined hitter. He’s a good base runner. He knows where he is at all times. He knows how to play this game. He never alibis. He never caused us any trouble.”

Special delivery

The Cardinals had lost 15 of their last 16 games and had a 15-31 record when Hendrick made his debut with them on May 29 in a doubleheader against the Mets in New York.

In a rare interview, Hendrick told Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch, “When I played against the Cardinals last year, my observation was that if they had somebody in the lineup who could protect Ted Simmons and hit 20 home runs and drive in 80 or 90 runs, I thought they could contend. I’m not saying I’m that guy, but I’m going to try to be.”

Hendrick delivered for the 1978 Cardinals, batting .288 with 27 doubles, 17 home runs and 67 RBI in 102 games.

In seven seasons with St. Louis, Hendrick hit .294 and twice had more than 100 RBI in a season (109 in 1980 and 104 in 1982). He batted .321 in the 1982 World Series and drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning of the decisive Game 7 against the Brewers.

Rasmussen, joining a rotation that included Gaylord Perry and Randy Jones, was 12-10 with a 4.06 ERA for the 1978 Padres. He was 5-0 in July and 0-5 in September.

Rasmussen was reacquired by the Cardinals in December 1981 and pitched for them briefly in 1982 and 1983 before finishing his major-league career with the 1983 Royals.

Read Full Post »

Pete Mikkelsen pitched against the Cardinals in a World Series and, four years later, helped them return to another while revitalizing his career.

Fifty years ago, on April 22, 1968, in a trade involving four pitchers, the Cubs sent Mikkelsen and Dave Dowling to the Cardinals for Jack Lamabe and Ron Piche.

Mikkelsen, who was a rookie for the Yankees in 1964 when they played the Cardinals in the World Series, appeared in five games for the 1968 Cardinals, who won the National League pennant and advanced to the World Series against the Tigers.

Though Mikkelsen spent most of the 1968 season with the Cardinals’ minor-league Tulsa Oilers affiliate, it turned around his career. Placed in the starting rotation by Tulsa manager Warren Spahn, Mikkelsen developed an effective palmball, a pitch that helped him return to the major leagues in 1969 with the Dodgers and launched him into a successful rebirth as a reliever.

Turnaround in Tulsa

After posting a 7-4 record with 12 saves for the American League champion Yankees in 1964, Mikkelsen appeared in four games for them against the Cardinals in the World Series. He was the losing pitcher in Game 5, yielding a three-run home run to Tim McCarver in the 10th inning. Boxscore

Traded by the Yankees to the Pirates for pitcher Bob Friend in December 1965, Mikkelsen, a right-hander, made 71 appearances for Pittsburgh in 1966 and was 9-8 with 14 saves. In May 1967, Mikkelsen injured his back in a car accident, lost his effectiveness and was claimed on waivers by the Cubs in August.

Mikkelsen opened the 1968 season as a Cubs reliever, but he allowed home runs in each of his first three appearances and fell out of favor with manager Leo Durocher.

When the Cardinals acquired him, they assigned Mikkelsen, 28, to Tulsa. On May 5, he made his first start in three years and pitched a five-hit shutout for the Oilers. After posting a 6-2 record and 1.36 ERA for Tulsa, Mikkelsen was promoted to the Cardinals on June 10, 1968.

Short stay

The Cardinals wanted Mikkelsen for their bullpen. He made his Cardinals debut on June 12, 1968, against the Braves in Atlanta and pitched 1.2 scoreless innings in relief of starter Nelson Briles. Boxscore

Mikkelsen’s most impressive outing for the Cardinals came on June 23, 1968, in the first game of a doubleheader against the Braves at St. Louis. Briles started, faced five batters and was lifted without recording an out. Mikkelsen relieved and pitched eight innings, allowing one unearned run and three hits.

However, Mikkelsen also committed two errors in that game. “The fans cheered derisively for Mikkelsen when he fielded a ball cleanly,” the Post-Dispatch reported. Said Mikkelsen: “I never had been cheered by so many people just for making a catch.” Boxscore

When pitcher Dick Hughes came off the disabled list on June 30, the Cardinals returned Mikkelsen to Tulsa, even though he’d yielded only two earned runs in 16 innings (1.12 ERA).

Championship caliber

Back with the Oilers, Mikkelsen was returned to the starting rotation by Spahn. Using the palmball, Mikkelsen pitched like an ace. “I do not have the greatest fastball and I do not have the great curve,” Mikkelsen told the Los Angeles Times. “I have to have something different … My palmball really started doing things.”

Mikkelsen finished with a 16-4 record and 1.91 ERA in 184 innings pitched for Tulsa. He had three shutouts among his 12 complete games. Tulsa won the Pacific Coast League title and Spahn credited Mikkelsen and outfielder Gary Geiger “for supplying the leadership in weaving the Oilers’ blend of experience and young talent into championship proportions,” The Sporting News reported.

“Mikkelsen has certainly earned another major-league opportunity,” Spahn said.

Mikkelsen wasn’t called back to the Cardinals, but he was pictured in their official 1968 team photo. Positioned in the middle row, Mikkelsen stood between catcher Johnny Edwards and pitcher Wayne Granger. Though Mikkelsen wasn’t awarded a full share of $7,078.71 for the Cardinals finishing in first place in the National League, he was given a cash grant of $1,000.

Accepting his role

In October 1968, the Cardinals traded Mikkelsen to the Dodgers for pitcher Jim Ellis. Two Dodgers right-handed relievers, Mudcat Grant and Jack Billingham, were taken by the Expos in the expansion draft and Mikkelsen was acquired to help fill those gaps.

“God didn’t mean for me to be a star,” Mikkelsen said. “I guess He just meant for me to pitch. I am resigned to that fact now. I thought it wasn’t so a few years ago.”

Mikkelsen spent four years (1969-72) with the Dodgers and was 24-17 with 20 saves. In nine big-league seasons, Mikkelsen was 45-40 with 48 saves.

Read Full Post »

Desperate for pitching, the 1943 Athletics turned to Carl Scheib, a 16-year-old with a strong arm. Eleven years later, the 1954 Cardinals, desperate for pitching, took a chance on Scheib, then a 27-year-old with a damaged arm.

Scheib, who died March 24, 2018, at 91, finished his major-league career with the Cardinals after a brief, unsuccessful stint with them.

The Cardinals’ pitching in 1954 was so bad they were willing to try just about anything to give the staff a boost. On May 7, 1954, in a creative cash transaction, the Cardinals acquired Scheib from the Athletics on a conditional basis. The Cardinals agreed to give Scheib a look in exchange for a small amount of cash to the Athletics. If the Cardinals kept Scheib for 30 days, they would increase the amount of compensation to the Athletics.

Teen-age wasteland

Scheib, born Jan. 1, 1927, became the youngest player to appear in an American League game when he debuted with the Athletics in the ninth inning of the second game of a doubleheader against the Yankees on Sept. 6, 1943. Boxscore

The 1943 Athletics had the worst pitching staff (4.05 ERA) in the league and the team, managed by Connie Mack, finished in last place at 49-105.

A year later, on June 10, 1944, Joe Nuxhall, 15, became the youngest player to appear in a major-league game when he debuted with the Reds in the ninth inning against the Cardinals.

Scheib pitched for the Athletics from 1943-45 and from 1947-54. His best season was 1948 when he had a 14-8 record and 3.94 ERA with 15 complete games. He also experienced two particularly dreadful seasons in 1950 (3-10 record, 7.22 ERA) and 1951 (1-12, 4.47).

Bargain shopping

When Scheib got to spring training in 1954, it was evident to the Athletics he was experiencing weakness in his right shoulder, according to a biography by the Society for American Baseball Research. After making his final spring training appearance, Scheib didn’t appear in another game for more than a month until given a regular-season start against the White Sox on May 3, 1954. Scheib yielded five runs in two innings and took the loss. Boxscore

Four days later, on May 7, 1954, the Cardinals made the conditional deal to land Scheib.

Cardinals pitchers gave up 34 runs in their last three games prior to acquiring Scheib. The staff would finish the 1954 season with a 4.50 ERA. Their relievers formed the worst bullpen in franchise history.

Cardinals manager Eddie Stanky said Scheib was “the best we could do because we couldn’t get a big-name pitcher without giving up too much playing strength in return.”

Two days after the deal was made, Scheib reported to the Cardinals in Cincinnati and threw pitches to coach Johnny Riddle while Stanky watched. Scheib “showed speed, a sweeping curve and promising knuckler,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Said Reds manager Birdie Tebbetts, a former American League catcher who had faced Scheib often: “Don’t worry about his record. He was with a poor ball club over there. If waivers had been asked on him, I’d have claimed him.”

Short stay

Scheib made his first Cardinals appearance in a start against the Phillies in the second game of a doubleheader on May 16, 1954, at Philadelphia. He struck out the first two batters, but gave up five runs, including back-to-back home runs by Johnny Wyrostek and Del Ennis, in two innings and was the losing pitcher. Boxscore

Cardinals general manager Dick Meyer said catcher Del Rice “didn’t think Scheib was as bad as those five early runs would indicate.”

Scheib was used twice in relief by the Cardinals, pitching two scoreless innings against the Reds on May 22 and yielding a home run to Cubs catcher Joe Garagiola in a stint that lasted two-thirds of an inning on May 24.

By then, the Cardinals decided Scheib wasn’t effective enough to pay additional compensation to the Athletics. On May 27, they returned Scheib to the Athletics. Two days later, the Athletics asked waivers on Scheib for the purpose of giving him an unconditional release.

Unclaimed and free to make his own deal, Scheib signed with the Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League. He spent two years (1954-55) with Portland and two more (1956-57) with the San Antonio Missions, managed by future Cardinals coach Joe Schultz, of the Texas League before ending his playing career.

Read Full Post »

Dick LeMay was a pitcher who impressed Carl Hubbell, earned a complete-game win in his first major-league start against Bob Gibson and was the ace on Cardinals minor-league teams managed by Warren Spahn.

Unlike Hubbell, Gibson and Spahn, who were Hall of Fame pitchers, LeMay was a journeyman. Though he pitched in the big leagues for the Giants and Cubs, LeMay spent a significant portion of his playing career in the Cardinals’ system.

LeMay, who died March 19, 2018, at 79, pitched for Cardinals Class AAA clubs during a five-year period (1964-68) when the major-league team won three National League pennants.

Screwball specialist

A Cincinnati native, LeMay, 19, received an offer to begin his professional career with the Reds, but he chose to sign with the Giants as an amateur free agent in 1958 because they offered the most money, a $12,000 signing bonus.

LeMay was toiling in the Giants’ system when, in 1961, Hubbell, the organization’s director of player development, scouted him and filed a favorable report. Like Hubbell, who had been a Giants ace in the 1930s, LeMay was left-handed and threw an effective screwball.

“When I looked at LeMay, I discovered he had a good forkball and screwball, wasn’t too fast, but could consistently get his breaking ball over,” Hubbell told The Sporting News.

Backed by Hubbell’s endorsement, LeMay was promoted to the Giants and he made his major-league debut for them on June 13, 1961, with 2.2 innings of scoreless relief against the Dodgers. After two more scoreless relief stints, LeMay got his first big-league start on June 24, 1961, versus the Cardinals at St. Louis.

The game matched LeMay against Gibson, who was in his third big-league season and starting to emerge as a consistent winner.

LeMay shut out the Cardinals until the ninth, when he yielded a run-scoring single to Carl Warwick. Powered by home runs from Orlando Cepeda (a three-run shot off Gibson) and Willie McCovey, the Giants prevailed, 6-1. LeMay got the complete-game win. Gibson went five innings and gave up five runs. Boxscore

Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported LeMay threw “soft breaking stuff with a big motion, using a screwball and forkball more than he did a fast one.”

Appearing with Cardinals broadcaster Harry Caray on a post-game radio show, LeMay said he hoped Giants manager Al Dark “lets me get back in the bullpen. You get in more games that way.”

Ups and downs

After LeMay was shelled for seven runs in 5.2 innings in a start against the Cardinals on July 8, he returned to the bullpen. He got a win against the Cardinals on July 20, with 3.1 innings in relief of starter Sam Jones. LeMay gave up a bases-loaded double to Bill White in the sixth (two of the runs were charged to Jones), but shut out the Cardinals over the last three innings. With the score tied at 6-6 in the eighth, LeMay sparked a four-run rally against Lindy McDaniel by drawing a walk on five pitches. Boxscore

LeMay posted a 3-6 record with three saves and a 3.56 ERA for the 1961 Giants.

He made nine relief appearances for the 1962 Giants and was 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA. The loss came against the Cardinals on Sept. 20 when LeMay was unable to protect a 4-3 lead in the ninth. Boxscore

Upset by the loss, Dark “knocked a box containing three dozen hardboiled eggs off a table and scattered them about the clubhouse,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

After the 1962 season, the Giants traded LeMay to the Colt .45s. Toward the end of spring training in 1963, the Colt .45s (who later became the Astros) dealt LeMay to the Cubs. The Cubs loaned LeMay to the Atlanta Crackers, a Class AAA affiliate of the Cardinals, and he was 3-3 with a 2.22 ERA for that club before being called up by the Cubs. LeMay made nine appearances, three versus the Cardinals, for the 1963 Cubs and was 0-1 with a 5.28 ERA.

Stuck in minors

The Cubs cut loose LeMay and he signed with the Cardinals, who invited him to their 1964 major-league spring training camp as a non-roster player. When the season began, LeMay was assigned to the Class AAA Jacksonville Suns and he did well for them (12-7 record, 2.81 ERA). The Cardinals rewarded LeMay by placing him on their 40-man big-league winter roster, putting him in the mix to earn a relief job in 1965.

Before the start of spring training in 1965, The Sporting News said of the defending World Series champion Cardinals, “The bullpen shapes up pretty well, with Barney Schultz and Ron Taylor as the bellwethers and such men as Bob Humphreys, Mike Cuellar, Fritz Ackley and Dick LeMay available.”

The Cardinals, however, returned LeMay to Jacksonville for the 1965 season and he again did well (17-11, 3.19) for the Suns.

Though he was excelling at the highest level of their farm system, LeMay wasn’t prominent in the Cardinals’ plans. Left-handers such as Steve Carlton and Larry Jaster surpassed LeMay as premier prospects. LeMay, who turned 28 in 1966, spent that season with the Tulsa Oilers, a Cardinals Class AAA club, and was 14-13 with a 4.35 ERA.

In 1967, Spahn, who retired as the all-time leader in wins among left-handed pitchers, became manager of the Oilers. LeMay was Spahn’s most durable starter in 1967 (13-18, 3.48) and 1968 (16-10, 3.29).

After that, LeMay went back to the Cubs organization, pitched two more seasons at the Class AAA level, retired from playing and managed the Class A Quincy (Ill.) Cubs of the Midwest League in 1971 and 1972.

LeMay pitched in 45 major-league games, nine versus the Cardinals. He was 2-1 with a 5.13 ERA against St. Louis. His overall career mark in the big leagues is 3-8 with a 4.17 ERA.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »