Archive for the ‘Trades’ Category

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.

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.”


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.

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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Great expectations followed David Green from Nicaragua to the United States, creating golden opportunities along with a multitude of pressures.

Green had successes, but his drinking held him back, and his recklessness had devastating consequences.

A member of the Cardinals’ 1982 World Series championship team, Green was 61 when he died on Jan. 29, 2022.

Dad’s influence

Green’s father, Eduardo Green, was an outfielder on the Nicaraguan national teams in the 1940s and 1950s. Nicknamed “The Black Gazelle,” Eduardo was described by sportswriter Edgard Tijerino as having “the soul of a ballet dancer” and “the reflexes of a panther,” according to the Society for American Baseball Research.

In 1951, Eduardo joined the Dodgers at their minor-league spring training camp in Daytona Beach, but left because of the racism he encountered in Florida.

Eduardo and Bertha Green had 10 children. One of their five sons, David, was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and named in honor of his paternal grandfather, a missionary who immigrated from Jamaica.

Like his father, David Green developed into an exceptional athlete. “Soccer was my best sport,” he told the San Francisco Examiner.

He played baseball, too, and Eduardo advised him to pursue a career in the sport.

Prime prospect

David Green was playing for the Nicaraguan national team in 1978 when he caught the attention of Ray Poitevint, the Brewers’ director of scouting and player development. “He’s got Willie Mays’ physical abilities,” Poitevint told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Green was 17 when he signed with the Brewers in September 1978.

“He has all the tools _ not only to be a big-league player, but a big-league star,” Poitevint said to The Sporting News. “If you were a betting man, you would have to bet on this kid.”

Eduardo Green died in September 1980. His son had just completed his second season in the Brewers’ farm system and was rated their top prospect.

Whitey Herzog, Cardinals manager and general manager, envisioned Green as a center fielder who could become the centerpiece of the team.

The Brewers wanted to make a trade, but were reluctant to give up Green. 

In the book “You’re Missin’ a Great Game,” Herzog said, “He was so good that some of the Brewers executives damn near came to blows over giving him up.”

Years later, Herzog told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he’d heard from a Brewers scout that Green had a drinking problem, but Herzog wanted him anyway.

In his book “White Rat: A Life in Baseball,” Herzog said, “He was absolutely the key to the deal.”

On Dec. 12, 1980, the Cardinals traded two future Hall of Famers, Ted Simmons and Rollie Fingers, and a future Cy Young Award winner, Pete Vuckovich, to the Brewers for Green, Dave LaPoint, Lary Sorensen and Sixto Lezcano.

“I had a little buyer’s remorse afterward,” Brewers general manager Harry Dalton told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I wondered if I had done the right thing.”

Ups and downs

Promoted to the Cardinals in September 1981, Green was the first National League player born in Nicaragua. The first in the American League was Orioles pitcher Dennis Martinez in 1976.

Green, 20, got his first big-league hit, a single, against the Pirates’ Luis Tiant, 40. Boxscore

At spring training in 1982, Green “probably was the Cardinals’ best player in camp,” The Sporting News reported, and he won the center field job.

“He had more raw ability than any young player I’ve ever managed,” Herzog said in “White Rat.” Video

Green, 21, began the 1982 season with a flourish, hitting .381 in April. His batting mark was at .316 on May 7 when he tore a hamstring.

While Green was on the disabled list, Willie McGee took over in center. McGee did so well he kept the job when Green returned.

The Cardinals sent Green to the minors for two months so that he could play every day. He was back with the Cardinals for their pennant push.

In the pivotal Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the Braves, Green led off the ninth inning with a single, moved to second on a bunt and scored the winning run on Ken Oberkfell’s hit. Boxscore

Facing the Brewers in the World Series, Green had two hits, a double and a triple, in Game 5 versus Mike Caldwell. Boxscore

Dealing with change

At spring training in 1983, Herzog told The Sporting News, “We’ve got to find a place for Green. It’s almost a must.”

Toward the end of spring training, McGee separated a shoulder and began the season on the disabled list, opening a starting spot for Green in the outfield.

In June, after first baseman Keith Hernandez was traded, Herzog moved right fielder George Hendrick to first and Green took over in right.

Two months later, Green told the Post-Dispatch that an older brother, Edward, was jailed in Nicaragua. In September, Green’s mother, Bertha, and a younger brother, Enrique, joined him in the U.S.

Green led the 1983 Cardinals in triples (10) and had 34 stolen bases.

Wrong direction

Just before the start of spring training in 1984, Green’s mother died. That is when “Green’s downfall began,” the Post-Dispatch noted.

Herzog moved Hendrick back to right field and started Green at first base. In May, Green went into a funk. “He’s really gone downhill the last two or three weeks,” Herzog told The Sporting News. “His reactions were not good. Balls (thrown to him) were hitting him on the wrist.”

The Cardinals suspected Green’s drinking was to blame and convinced him to enter a rehabilitation center in St. Louis.

In “White Rat,” Herzog said, “The young man developed a real problem with alcohol. Everybody on the club knew it. He’d show up late, hung over real bad … His tolerance for booze was about zero.”

Green spent three weeks in the rehabilitation center. He told the Post-Dispatch, “I didn’t need to go, but I went anyway because somebody had to do it.”

Herzog told the Post-Dispatch, “He didn’t give himself much of a chance. You spend only 10 or 12 days there and you’re not going to be cured.”

In “You’re Missin’ a Great Game,” Herzog recalled an incident that occurred soon after Green completed his rehabilitation stint.

“I’m driving home from the ballpark and I end up a couple of car lengths behind him on the highway,” Herzog said. “He doesn’t see me. I’m keeping a safe distance. Pretty soon, here come the beer cans flying out of the car. One right after the other, every five minutes. We drove past the hospital where he did rehab. More cans!

“When they get hooked on this stuff, they turn into con artists. They’re conning themselves, and they expect you to swallow their bull, too.”

Moving on

In February 1985, in a deal that put them back on the championship track, the Cardinals traded Green, Dave LaPoint, Jose Uribe and Gary Rajsich for Jack Clark.

“Of all the players I’ve had the opportunity to manage, David Green has more ability than anyone as far as hitting, hitting with power, speed and throwing arm,” Herzog told The Sporting News after the deal. “Garry Templeton and George Brett are in that category, but Green has more power than either, he runs better than either, and he throws better than George.”

Asked about his time with the Cardinals, Green told the San Francisco Examiner, “They were expecting too much of me and then they didn’t play me. Sometimes they called me the franchise, then they played Andy Van Slyke. I think I did great in the outfield, then they moved me to first base.”

The Giants started Green at first base but he had a dreadful beginning to the 1985 season. His batting average on May 11 was .080.

“It’s a matter of concentration,” Giants hitting coach Tom McCraw told the Examiner. “I tell him something in the dugout, and he says, ‘Yeah,’ and by the time he gets to the plate he’s forgotten it.”

The Giants traded Green to the Brewers after the season, but he was released at the end of spring training in 1986.

Comeback try

After playing in Japan and Mexico, Green contacted the Cardinals and asked for a tryout with the Class AAA Louisville club.

Green signed in July 1987, hit .356 for Louisville and was called up to the Cardinals, who were contending for a division crown, in September.

The Cardinals projected him to compete for an outfield spot in 1988.

“This is my last chance,” Green told The Sporting News, “and I’m trying to take advantage of it.”

He was only 27 when he arrived at spring training in 1988, though speculation had swirled for years that his December 1960 birthdate was inaccurate.

In the book “Whitey’s Boys,” Herzog said, “David might have been a couple of years older than we thought he was. I don’t know anybody who has ever seen his birth certificate from Nicaragua.”

Cardinals general manager Dal Maxvill said to the Post-Dispatch, “He might be anywhere between 28 and 32, but I don’t care if he is 32, if he does the job.”

Green’s bid to make the Opening Day roster failed. Sent back to Louisville, he hit .216, clashed with manager Mike Jorgensen and was waived in June 1988.

Fatal accident

Seven years later, in January 1995, Green was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in a car accident in suburban Country Club Hills, Mo. 

According to the Post-Dispatch, a passenger in the car Green struck, Gladys Yount, 85, of Jennings, Mo., suffered a fractured pelvis in the accident and died of a heart attack two hours later.

Green was charged with involuntary manslaughter and served six months in jail, the Post-Dispatch reported.

He went on to help operate a dog grooming business in south St. Louis and was a youth baseball instructor.

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In the span of eight months, Bob Cain was the starting and winning pitcher in two of the most unusual baseball games _ one against the St. Louis Browns and the other for them.

On Feb. 14, 1952, Cain was acquired by the Browns in a trade with the Tigers.

Six months earlier, when baseball’s greatest showman, Browns owner Bill Veeck, devised the stunt of sending 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel to bat in a game versus the Tigers, Cain was the pitcher who stood on the mound in disbelief.

The following spring, as a member of Veeck’s Browns, Cain used artistry instead of antics to make a mark, prevailing against Bob Feller in a duel of one-hitters.

Cain is able

Born in Longford, Kansas, Cain was a youth when his family moved 35 miles south to Salina, Kansas, the heart of wheat country. His father operated a taxicab company. Cain impressed in amateur baseball and was 18 when he signed with the Giants.

A left-handed pitcher, Cain played one season of minor-league ball at the Class D level in 1943 before serving two years (1944-45) in the military. When he returned, the Giants kept him in their farm system until he was traded to the White Sox in June 1949.

Called up by the White Sox in September 1949, Cain, 24, made his debut with three scoreless innings of relief against the Red Sox. He struck out Ted Williams the first time he faced him. In the book “We Played the Game,” Cain recalled, “He was surprised a rookie would throw a 3-and-2 curveball.” Williams would hit .200 in 10 career at-bats versus Cain. Boxscore

In May 1951, Cain was traded to the Tigers. A month later, he pitched a shutout against a Yankees lineup featuring Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra. It was the first time the Yankees failed to score that season. Boxscore

Two weeks later, Cain held the Indians to two runs, but was a hard-luck loser. The opposing starter, Bob Feller, pitched a no-hitter. Boxscore

Then came the encounter with Eddie Gaedel.

Show time

Cain was the Tigers’ starter against the Browns in the second game of a doubleheader on Aug. 19, 1951, at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis.

The Browns posted a lineup with rookie Frank Saucier as the leadoff batter, but, when it came time for him to bat in the first inning, Bill Veeck, always eager to upstage the buttoned-down Cardinals, sprung his surprise with Eddie Gaedel.

Wearing a uniform with the fraction one-eighth as his number and holding a toy bat, Gaedel, 26, who worked in Chicago as a courier for a livestock business journal, approached the plate with strict instructions from Veeck to not swing at any pitches.

When plate umpire Ed Hurley saw Gaedel in the Browns uniform of 9-year-old Bill DeWitt Jr. (the current Cardinals owner who was the son of Browns general manager Bill DeWitt Sr.), he went toward the Browns’ dugout and demanded an explanation from manager Zack Taylor. After Taylor showed Hurley the paperwork proving Gaedel had signed a Browns contract that was sent to the American League office, Hurley permitted Gaedel to bat.

“You should have seen the look on the face of Bob Cain,” Gaedel told The Sporting News. “His jaw dropped and his eyes almost popped out of his head.”

Cain called out to his catcher, Bob Swift, “Got any idea what to do with this fellow?”

Swift, who, like Cain, hailed from Salina, Kan., went to the mound for a conference with his pitcher.

When Swift went back behind the plate, he stretched out on his stomach to give Cain a low target, but Hurley told him to get up. So Swift knelt on both knees.

Gaedel crouched in the batter’s box, making the strike zone microscopic. Standing in against Cain was a risk for any batter. He finished second in the league that year in most batters hit by pitches (14).

In “We Played the Game,” Cain said, “I didn’t know whether to throw the ball underhanded or overhanded to Gaedel. I just wanted to be careful not to hit him. Dizzy Trout told me later that if he’d been the pitcher he’d have thrown the ball right between his eyes.”

While Swift was urging him to get the ball lower, Cain threw four overhanded pitches, all high, and Gaedel was awarded first base.

“The balls I threw to him, they were over his head, even though they’d have been strikes on normal batters,” Cain told the Salina Journal. “He was bending over to where the strike zone was only about an inch.”

In “We Played the Game,” the left-hander said, “I’d have given my right arm just to have gotten one strike on him.”

Gaedel later told Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that as he made his way to first, “For a minute, I felt like Babe Ruth.”

Gaedel was lifted for pinch-runner Jim Delsing and Cain settled down. He allowed no earned runs in 8.1 innings and got the win in the Tigers’ 6-2 victory. Boxscore

Cain was 11-10 for the 1951 Tigers. He ranked second on the club in wins, but his ERA was 4.70 and he totaled more walks (82) than strikeouts (58).

Pair of aces

Looking to shake up the roster after finishing 73-81 in 1951, the Tigers traded Cain, pitcher Gene Bearden and first baseman Dick Kryhoski to the Browns in February 1952 for pitcher Dick Littlefield, first baseman Ben Taylor, outfielder Cliff Mapes and catcher Matt Batts.

“Cain was the most valuable parcel the Tigers gave up in the deal,” the Detroit Free Press declared.

The last-place Browns (52-102) were happy to get a pitcher of Cain’s caliber. Veeck told The Sporting News, “He’s a bona fide starter. Just what we need.”

Cain liked the Browns because Veeck gave him the salary he wanted. In “We Played the Game,” Cain said, “Veeck was one of the nicest, most honest men in baseball, a great guy to play for.”

Cain’s first regular-season start for the Browns came against his former team, the Tigers, at Detroit. He yielded one run in nine innings and got the win. Boxscore

A week later, Cain was matched in a start versus Bob Feller for the first time since Feller pitched his no-hitter against him the year before.

Cain pitched a one-hitter. So did Feller.

The win went to Cain, who pitched a shutout in a 1-0 Browns victory at St. Louis.

“I owed this one to Feller,” Cain told The Sporting News. “It was just my turn to get the good break.”

It was the second time two pitchers achieved one-hitters in the same game in the majors. In 1906, the Cubs’ Mordecai Brown and the Pirates’ Lefty Leifield did it in a 1-0 Cubs triumph. Boxscore

The Browns got their run against Feller in the first inning. Bobby Young led off with a triple over the head of left fielder Jim Fridley. Marty Marion followed with a hard grounder to third baseman Al Rosen, who bobbled the ball for an error, enabling Young to score. Boxscore

It was the 11th of Feller’s 12 one-hitters in the majors, and the only one he lost. Feller also pitched three no-hitters.

The Indians’ lone hit was a single by Luke Easter in the fifth inning. Easter tormented Cain, hitting .368 with five home runs against him in his career.

In “We Played the Game,” Cain said, “I’d like people to remember how I pitched against Bob Feller. Being able to pitch against someone I knew would be a Hall of Famer gave me inspiration.”

Cain finished the 1952 season with a 12-10 record for the Browns. He and Satchel Paige, 48, tied for the team lead in wins.

The next year, his last in the majors and the last for the Browns in St. Louis, Cain was 4-10 with a 6.23 ERA.

After his playing career, Cain worked for Kraft Foods.

In June 1961, when Eddie Gaedel died at 36, Cain and his wife drove from their home near Cleveland to attend the funeral in Chicago. Veeck was ill and unable to be there. Cain was the only baseball person who went.

“I never even met him,” Cain said, “but I felt obligated to go.”

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