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Archive for the ‘Trades’ Category

Eight months after striking out in their efforts to acquire Matt Holliday from the Rockies, the Cardinals got him from the Athletics, completing a series of transactions designed to boost their offense and bolster their chances of returning to the postseason after a two-year absence.

Ten years ago, on July 24, 2009, the Athletics dealt Holliday to the Cardinals for three prospects: corner infielder Brett Wallace, pitcher Clayton Mortensen and outfielder Shane Peterson.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa put Holliday in left field and batted him in the cleanup spot between Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick.

Holliday was the third prominent position player acquired by the Cardinals in a span of one month. On June 27, 2009, they got third baseman Mark DeRosa from the Indians for pitchers Chris Perez and Jess Todd, and on July 22, 2009, they acquired infielder Julio Lugo from the Red Sox for outfielder Chris Duncan.

“Tony pushes these guys to be successful,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “My job is to make sure he has the right players to do so.”

Aggressive suitor

The Cardinals’ pursuit of Holliday intensified in November 2008 at the general managers meetings at Dana Point, Calif.

Holliday won a National League batting title in 2007, hitting .340, and led the league in hits (216), doubles (50), RBI (137) and total bases (386) for the pennant-winning Rockies. He became expendable after the 2008 season because the Rockies couldn’t get him to commit to a long-term contract and he was eligible to become a free agent a year later.

“The Rockies arrived at the meetings intent on building momentum for a deal involving Holliday,” the Post-Dispatch reported, and the Cardinals were an “aggressive suitor.”

Mozeliak, who worked for the Rockies before joining the Cardinals after the 1995 season, acknowledged the pursuit of Holliday. “For me to say there were not serious discussions would be inaccurate,” he said to the Post-Dispatch.

The Cardinals offered Ludwick for Holliday, the Post-Dispatch reported, but the Rockies also wanted utility player Skip Schumaker and pitcher Mitchell Boggs included in the deal.

According to the Post-Dispatch, “misgivings existed within some quarters of the organization about committing multiple players for Holliday” because he could depart as a free agent after the 2009 season.

Unable to come to terms with the Cardinals, the Rockies traded Holliday to the Athletics on Nov. 10, 2008, for outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and pitchers Huston Street and Greg Smith.

Big deal

The Athletics posted losing records in each of the first three months of the 2009 season and entered July in last place in the American League West. Out of contention and facing the likelihood Holliday could walk away after the season, the Athletics shopped him and the Cardinals made the best offer.

Wallace, the Cardinals’ 2008 first-round draft pick, was the “keystone of the deal” for the Athletics, Mozeliak told the Post-Dispatch.

“Wallace is not the type of hitter you’re going to replace easily,” Mozeliak said.

Wallace hit a combined .337 for two Cardinals farm clubs in 2008 and .293 for Class AAA Memphis in 2009.

The Cardinals, who were 52-46 and in first place in the National League Central, 1.5 games ahead of both the Astros and Cubs, were willing to give up prospects for the opportunity to qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2006.

Asked whether he was concerned Holiday would depart as a free agent, Mozeliak responded, “Let him get a taste of St. Louis.”

How big a deal was it for the Cardinals to get Holliday? “It’s as big as his biceps,” pitcher Adam Wainwright told the Post-Dispatch.

Loaded lineup

Holliday was informed of the trade the morning of July 24, 2009, by text at a hotel in New York, where the Athletics were staying for a series with the Yankees.

Accompanied by his wife and two sons, Holliday took a train from Manhattan to Philadelphia and joined the Cardinals in time for their night game against the Phillies.

La Russa posted a revamped batting order of Lugo at second base, DeRosa at third, Pujols at first, Holliday in left, Ludwick in right, Yadier Molina at catcher, Rick Ankiel in center, Brendan Ryan at short and pitcher Joel Pineiro.

At the time of the trade, Pujols had received 34 intentional walks on the season, or 21 more than any other major-league batter, according to Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz.

“By getting Holliday to follow Albert Pujols in the lineup, the Cardinals clearly raised their profile as a National League contender,” the Philadelphia Inquirer observed.

Pujols called Holliday “a professional hitter” and said, “He’d make any lineup better.”

Holliday went 4-for-5 in his Cardinals debut, producing three singles and a double, with one RBI and a run scored in an 8-1 triumph over the Phillies. Boxscore

“I can’t imagine being a pitcher and having to pitch to Pujols and looking on deck and seeing Holliday,” Athletics infielder Mark Ellis said to the New York Daily News. “That’s incredible.”

Dodgers manager Joe Torre, taking a good-natured jab at La Russa, said to the Post-Dispatch, “That lineup is pretty deep now. Tony won’t have to bat the pitcher eighth anymore.”

Happy Holliday

After batting .286 with 54 RBI in 93 games for the 2009 Athletics, Holliday hit .353 with 55 RBI in 63 games for the 2009 Cardinals.

With Holliday, the Cardinals were 39-25 and won the 2009 division title with an overall mark of 91-71, finishing 7.5 games ahead of the second-place Cubs.

Holliday, 29, became a free agent after the season, but returned to the Cardinals. In 2010, he hit .312 with 45 doubles, 28 home runs and 103 RBI.

He played in the postseason in six of his eight years with the Cardinals, missing only in 2010 and 2016, and helped them to two National League pennants and a World Series title.

Holliday’s numbers as a Cardinal: .293 batting average, 1,048 hits, .380 on-base percentage.

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The NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals may have rejected a chance to acquire running back Jim Brown.

On Feb. 4, 1961, the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported the Cleveland Browns twice offered to trade Brown to the Cardinals for running back John David Crow, but were turned down.

The Cardinals confirmed the story and the Browns denied it.

In retrospect, the Cardinals should have done the deal if given the chance, but at the time the decision wasn’t so obvious.

First-round picks

The potential blockbuster featured two of pro football’s premier players.

Brown, who played college football at Syracuse, was selected by the Browns in the first round of the 1957 draft and went on to lead the NFL in rushing in eight of his nine seasons.

Crow, the 1957 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, was selected by the Chicago Cardinals in the first round of the 1958 draft. He was the first Heisman Trophy winner to play for the Cardinals, who moved to St. Louis after the 1959 season.

Crow had a permanent scowl he “received upon birth when a midwife struggled to remove the 18-inch umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, resulting in nerve damage that prevented him from closing his left eye, even when sleeping,” the Houston Chronicle reported.

Laughing matter

In 1960, Brown, 24, led the NFL in rushing for the fourth consecutive season, gaining 1,257 yards on the ground in 12 games. Crow, 25, had a breakout season for the 1960 Cardinals, with 1,071 yards rushing in 12 games. He also made 25 catches for 464 yards and completed nine of 18 passes for two touchdowns.

Crow led the NFL in yards per carry (5.9) in 1960, edging Brown (5.8).

Two months after Crow completed the 1960 season by rushing for 203 yards on 24 carries against the Steelers, the Globe-Democrat broke the story of the proposed offer for Brown.

According to the Globe-Democrat, the Cardinals “refused” to trade Crow. Paul Brown, head coach and general manager of the Browns, proposed a Crow-for-Brown swap twice in 10 days, the Globe-Democrat reported. The first time was in person to Cardinals managing director Walter Wolfner at the NFL meetings and the second time was by telephone.

When contacted by the Associated Press about the report, Paul Brown replied, “Pardon me while I laugh.”

Paul Brown suggested the Globe-Democrat story was based on “jesting conversations” he had with Wolfner at the NFL meetings.

“We were talking about Crow not starting in the Pro Bowl game,” Paul Brown said. “Walter seemed put out about it and I asked him if he wanted to trade Crow. So he kept the kidding going by bringing up the name of Jim Brown.”

Paul Brown added, “Jim is not up for trade.”

Do or don’t

Walter Wolfner and his wife, Violet, the Cardinals’ majority owner, “still insist Paul Brown offered his great fullback, Jimmy Brown, for Crow, even up,” Bob Broeg reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

According to published reports, the Browns could have been shopping Jim Brown because he was unhappy in Cleveland.

Syndicated columnist Murray Olderman of the Newspaper Enterprise Association noted Jim Brown was discouraged by Paul Brown’s “robot system” of offense and was threatening to play out his option after the 1961 season. Jim Brown also failed to show at some public team functions and was challenging authority.

According to Philadelphia Daily News columnist Larry Merchant, Jim Brown “has warned the Browns he intends to play out his option” and “realizes his worth on the open market.”

(Years later, in the 1979 book “PB: The Paul Brown Story,” Paul Brown said, “Before the 1962 season, we were considering trading Jim, but all of us agreed we could never get comparable value for him.”)

Asked his opinion of the Cardinals’ rejection of a proposed deal, Chicago Bears quarterback Bill Wade told the Hagerstown (Md.) Daily Mail, “The Cardinals did the right thing. Brown is a great runner, but Crow is the better all-around player. I would say Crow is the complete football player who does everything well.”

At a sports banquet in Wilmington, Del., several NFL players were asked their reactions to the proposed trade. According to the Wilmington News Journal, the responses included:

_ Chuck Bednarik, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker: “They’re almost equally hard to tackle. Crow can run almost _ and I say almost _ as hard as Brown. He’s a terrific passer and a better blocker. I like Crow more because of his versatility.”

_ Ben Scotti, Washington Redskins defensive back: “Brown undoubtedly is the best ball carrier in the league, but Crow could do more things well. Crow is an excellent runner, better blocker and better pass receiver, and he can pass as well.”

_ Paul Hornung, Green Bay Packers running back: “I don’t believe they’d make such a trade. I think each team is satisfied with what it has.”

_ Nick Pietrosante, Detroit Lions running back: “I wouldn’t trade either. They’re too valuable in their particular type of offenses. Brown is the best runner. Crow is a great all-around player.”

Bad breaks

Crow told the Post-Dispatch he “was flattered” the Cardinals turned down an offer for Brown.

Crow was close to Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams, fueling speculation he might consider playing out his option and joining them, but he told the Post-Dispatch he didn’t want to leave the Cardinals.

“The Wolfners not only have treated me well, but the Cardinals are a great gang and I like St. Louis,” Crow said.

Crow broke his left leg in 1961 and was limited to eight games. He came back strong in 1962, scoring 17 touchdowns for the Cardinals, but underwent right knee surgery in 1963.

In January 1965, Crow, dissatisfied with the amount of playing time he got, asked to be traded, the Post-Dispatch reported. A month later, the Cardinals dealt him to the San Francisco 49ers for defensive back Abe Woodson. Crow played four years with the 49ers. Video highlights of Crow with Cardinals

Jim Brown remained with the Browns and went on to earn induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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After failing to qualify for the postseason in 2007 and 2008, the Cardinals were determined to show they’d do whatever it took to give themselves a chance to return to the playoffs in 2009.

Ten years ago, on June 27, 2009, the Cardinals acquired third baseman Mark DeRosa from the Indians for reliever Chris Perez and a player to be named, pitcher Jess Todd.

The deal helped extinguish skepticism about management’s willingness to make moves to contend and inspired an array of other acquisitions. After getting DeRosa, the 2009 Cardinals traded for left fielder Matt Holliday from the Athletics and infielder Julio Lugo from the Red Sox, and signed pitcher John Smoltz.

Those moves sparked the 2009 Cardinals to a National League Central Division championship.

Wanted: Bat man

The Cardinals opened the 2009 season with a pair of utility players, Brian Barden and Joe Thurston, platooning at third base in place of Troy Glaus, who was projected to be sidelined for several months after having right shoulder surgery.

Without Glaus, who had 27 home runs and 99 RBI for the 2008 Cardinals, manager Tony La Russa wanted a proven run producer to join Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick in the heart of the batting order.

The Indians, who lost 16 of their first 25 games in 2009 and didn’t figure to contend, were shopping DeRosa, who was eligible to become a free agent after the season. In late May 2009, the Cardinals and Indians discussed a deal for DeRosa, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, but couldn’t agree on terms.

DeRosa, who could play multiple infield and outfield positions, began his major-league career with the Braves in 1998. He reached his peak in a three-year stretch when he hit .296 with 74 RBI for the 2006 Rangers, .293 with 72 RBI for the 2007 Cubs and .285 with 87 RBI and 103 runs scored for the 2008 Cubs.

The Cardinals and Indians resumed trade talks on June 19 and set a deadline of June 28 to get a deal done.

Future is now

DeRosa, 34, cost the Cardinals two top pitching prospects.

Perez was chosen by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2006 amateur draft from the University of Miami and was projected as a closer. Perez was 3-3 with seven saves and 3.46 ERA in his rookie season with the Cardinals in 2008 and 1-1 with one save and a 4.18 ERA in 2009.

“His fastball is 93 to 95 mph and he has touched 98,” Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said to the Akron Beacon Journal. “He also has a swing-and-miss slider.”

Todd was the Cardinals’ second-round selection in the 2007 amateur draft from the University of Arkansas and was the franchise’s minor-league pitcher of the year in 2008. He made his major-league debut with the Cardinals on June 5, 2009, pitching 1.2 innings of relief versus the Rockies.

The Cardinals determined they could part with Perez and Todd because they were confident in their closer, Ryan Franklin, and were grooming Jason Motte to be his eventual successor. According to the Post-Dispatch, Cardinals coaches told general manager John Mozeliak they preferred to have Motte over Perez.

“Sometimes you do have to make short-term decisions,” Mozeliak said. “Sometimes you have to take off the visionary hat. I think that’s how you have to look at the deal.”

Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz wrote, “Acquiring DeRosa was the correct thing to do.”

Puzzle part

The Cardinals got a bad break when DeRosa injured his left wrist in his third game with them on June 30. He didn’t return to the lineup until July 18.

Hitless in his first nine at-bats before the injury, DeRosa was hitless in his first six at-bats after returning from the disabled list, making him 0-for-15 as a Cardinal, before he snapped the skid with a single against the Astros on July 20.

“I just want to be a piece of the puzzle,” DeRosa said to the Associated Press.

Mozeliak did the rest, swapping outfielder Chris Duncan for Lugo on July 22, trading three prospects for Holliday on July 24 and signing Smoltz on Aug. 19 after the Red Sox released him.

The Cardinals won 20 of 26 games in August on their way to clinching the division title.

DeRosa hit .228 with 10 home runs and 28 RBI in 68 games with the Cardinals. He made 58 starts at third base, two starts in the outfield and one at first base. He also played two games at second base as a substitute.

In the 2009 National League Division Series versus the Dodgers, DeRosa hit .385, but the Cardinals didn’t advance.

Short stay

DeRosa, saying he wanted to test the open market, was granted free agency after the 2009 season. The Cardinals were interested in re-signing him, although Mozeliak said rookie David Freese should get first shot at earning the 2010 Opening Day third base job.

DeRosa “still intrigues the Cardinals, but may fit more neatly as an alternative in left field than at third base,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Holliday also became a free agent after the 2009 season and the Cardinals saw DeRosa as a Plan B in left field if Holliday didn’t return.

Unwilling to wait for the Cardinals to make up their minds, DeRosa signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Giants in December 2009. After that, the Cardinals reached a deal with Holliday.

DeRosa played four more seasons with three teams _ Giants, Nationals and Blue Jays. In 16 years in the big leagues, he batted .268. He was at his best in the postseason, batting .358 with 19 hits in 22 playoff games for the Braves, Cubs and Cardinals.

Perez had the most success of the two pitchers acquired by the Indians in the DeRosa deal.

In five seasons with the Indians, Perez had 124 saves and a 3.33 ERA. He was an American League all-star in 2011 and 2012. He spent his last season with the 2014 Dodgers.

Todd pitched in 24 games over two seasons for the Indians and was 0-1 with a 7.43 ERA. The Cardinals reacquired him in 2011 and he pitched for their Memphis farm club for two seasons.

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Mudcat Grant began the 1969 season as the top starting pitcher for the Expos and ended it as the top right-handed relief pitcher for the Cardinals.

On June 3, 1969, the Expos traded Grant to the Cardinals for pitcher Gary Waslewski.

Grant, 33, preferred to start but the Cardinals needed bullpen help.

As a reliever, Grant appeared in 27 games for the 1969 Cardinals and was 6-3 with seven saves and a 3.22 ERA. He also made three starts and was 1-2 with a 7.62 ERA. Overall, in 30 appearances for the 1969 Cardinals, Grant was 7-5 with a 4.12 ERA.

“Our bullpen did OK once we got Mudcat Grant,” Cardinals pitching coach Billy Muffett said to The Sporting News.

Pointing to his forehead, Muffett added, “He has it up here.”

Name game

James Timothy Grant was at a Cleveland Indians minor-league camp in Daytona Beach when a colleague, mistakenly assuming the Florida native was from Mississippi, began calling him Mudcat, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.

The nickname stuck like Mississippi mud on a catfish’s whiskers.

Grant made his major-league debut with the Indians in 1958 and got traded to the Twins in 1964. He had his best season in 1965, posting a 21-7 record, and made three starts in the World Series against the Dodgers. Grant won Games 1 and 6 and lost Game 4.

In November 1967, the Twins traded Grant to the Dodgers and they converted him from a starter to a reliever. Grant did well in the role, posting ERAs of 0.98 in August and 0.77 in September. As a reliever, Grant appeared in 33 games for the 1968 Dodgers and was 5-2 with three saves and a 1.80 ERA. He also made four starts. Overall, in 37 appearances for the 1968 Dodgers, Grant was 6-4 with a 2.08 ERA.

Playing our song

The Expos selected Grant in the National League expansion draft and wanted him to be a starter. “Mudcat will win more games than any pitcher ever on a first-year expansion team,” Expos manager Gene Mauch predicted to the Montreal Gazette.

Grant impressed by yielding one earned run in spring training and was chosen to start the Expos’ first regular-season game on April 8, 1969, against the Mets at New York. Matched against Tom Seaver, Grant lasted 1.1 innings, surrendering three runs, but the Expos won, 11-10. Boxscore

Grant, a professional singer who toured with the group, “Mudcat and the Kittens,” said he planned to open a discotheque in downtown Montreal. “I’ve been in a lot of countries and a lot of states, but I’ve never felt as free as I feel right here in Montreal,” he said.

Though his record for the Expos was 1-6 with a 4.80 ERA, Grant “made a big impression” with Cardinals scout Bob Kennedy, who recommended the club acquire him to bolster the bullpen, The Sporting News reported.

Initially, Grant was displeased with the trade. “I’ll have to go back to the bullpen and I don’t dig that,” he said to the Montreal Gazette.

Grant told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “All pitchers prefer to start. Man, that’s where the action is.”

Action man

Grant got decisions in his first three relief appearances for the Cardinals.

In his Cardinals debut, on June 7, 1969, at Houston, Grant relieved Ray Washburn in the seventh inning with the score tied at 2-2, yielded a two-run single to former Cardinal Johnny Edwards and was the losing pitcher in a 4-2 Astros victory. Boxscore

On June 11, 1969, Grant pitched seven innings in relief of starter Mike Torrez and was the winning pitcher in the Cardinals’ 10-5 triumph over the Reds at Cincinnati. Boxscore

Grant’s third Cardinals appearance was June 19, 1969, versus the Expos at St. Louis and he got the win with 5.1 scoreless innings in relief of Washburn in a 5-3 Cardinals victory. Boxscore

Six days later, Grant started the second game of a doubleheader against the Expos at Montreal, pitched a complete game and got the win in an 8-3 Cardinals triumph.

Grant was “loudly booed” by the crowd of 28,819 at Jarry Park, the Post-Dispatch reported. After the game, as Grant walked near the stands, a spectator threw a cup of beer in his face and Grant retaliated

“I let him have a Joe Frazier right-cross right on the back of the ear,” Grant said. “I buckled him.” Boxscore

After losing each of his next two starts, to the Cubs and Mets, Grant returned to a relief role.

That’s entertainment

Grant made as big a splash in St. Louis with his singing as he did his pitching. On July 12, 1969, Grant performed at an event sponsored by the St. Louis Pinch-Hitters, wives and friends of Cardinals players, before more than 1,200 people at the Stouffer’s Riverfront Inn.

Under the headline, “Mudcat Grant Steals Show At Ball-B-Que,” the Post-Dispatch reported Grant performed solo and did numbers such as “I’m Going To Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter,” and “If I Had A Hammer.”

Four nights later, on Teen Night at Busch Stadium, Grant sang with the Bob Kuban band before a July 16 game. Video of Mudcat Grant singing “Wonderful World” at 2011 memorial for Harmon Killebrew

Grant’s best month with the 1969 Cardinals was August when he was 2-1 with a save and a 2.19 ERA. In September, he had five saves.

“Mudcat is sneaky out there,” said Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver. “He showed me he knows the hitters and he showed me he likes to pitch.”

On Dec. 5, 1969, the Cardinals sold Grant’s contract to the Athletics for what The Sporting News described as “considerably in excess of” the $25,000 waiver price.

Grant played 14 seasons in the big leagues for the Indians, Twins, Dodgers, Expos, Cardinals, Athletics and Pirates, producing a 145-119 record and 3.63 ERA.

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A different role in a different league revived the playing career of outfielder Vic Davalillo.

On May 30, 1969, Davalillo was traded by the Angels to the Cardinals for outfielder Jim Hicks.

Davalillo had been a starter in the American League since making his major-league debut with the Indians in 1963. He won a Gold Glove Award in 1964 and was an all-star in 1965.

The Cardinals acquired him to be a pinch-hitter and backup outfielder and it was a role Davalillo, 32, embraced. A left-handed batter, he developed into a premier pinch-hitter and played in the major leagues until September 1980 when he was 44 years old.

Power arm

Davalillo, a native of Venezuela, followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Pompeyo “Yo-Yo” Davalillo, who was a shortstop in the American League for the 1953 Senators.

The Reds signed Vic as a left-handed pitcher and he began his professional career in their minor-league system in 1958. He had a 16-7 record and 2.45 ERA for Palatka of the Florida State League in 1959. He also batted .291.

After the 1961 season, the Reds sold Davalillo’s contract to the Indians, who converted him into an outfielder. Though Davalillo was slight at 5 feet 7 and 150 pounds, he had a powerful throwing arm and made consistent contact at the plate.

After batting .346 with 200 hits as an outfielder for Jacksonville of the International League in 1962, Davalillo became the starting center fielder for the American League Indians in 1963. His best big-league season was 1965 when he hit .301 with 26 stolen bases for the Indians.

On June 15, 1968, the Indians traded Davalillo to the Angels for power hitter Jimmie Hall. Davalillo led the 1968 Angels in batting average (.298) and stolen bases (17).

Health problems

Davalillo returned to Venezuela after the 1968 big-league season and played winter ball there until he was stricken with what was described as “nervous exhaustion and a stomach disorder,” The Sporting News reported. He spent two weeks in a hospital.

“Everything seemed to make me ill,” Davalillo said. “Then I began to worry and soon I was very nervous.”

When Davalillo got to spring training with the Angels in 1969, he struggled to perform at the level he was accustomed.

In March 1969, the Angels offered to deal Davalillo and others to the Senators for slugger Frank Howard, according to The Sporting News, but when the Senators countered by asking for a different package of players the Angels refused.

Davalillo opened the regular season by going hitless in his first 13 at-bats for the Angels. On May 2, Royals rookie Dick Drago threw a brushback pitch at Davalillo, who responded by going toward the mound while carrying the bat at his side. Royals catcher Jim Campanis grabbed Davalillo from behind and prevented an incident.

Versatile player

Davalillo was batting .155 in 33 games when the Angels dealt him to the Cardinals. The Los Angeles Times described him as “a major disappointment, a man beset with personal problems.”

Cardinals general manager Bing Devine made the deal because he projected Davalillo as “a qualified backup man for Curt Flood in center field” who provided the club “something it was sadly lacking _ a fleet pinch-hitter,” The Sporting News reported.

Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst told the St Louis Post-Dispatch, “You can do a lot of things with him because he can run well and play anywhere in the outfield and also do a good job of pinch-hitting.”

The Angels were happy to get Hicks, 28, in exchange for Davalillo because he gave them a potential power bat. Though Hicks batted .182 in 19 games for the 1969 Cardinals, he led the Pacific Coast League in hitting (.366) in 1968 when he played for Tulsa.

Both Davalillo and Hicks got off to storybook starts with their new teams.

On June 1, 1969, in his first at-bat as a Cardinal, Davalillo hit a three-run home run against Reds left-hander Gerry Arrigo at St. Louis. “I’ll say one thing about the little guy _ he takes a good cut and hits the ball hard,” said Schoendienst. Boxscore

Two days later, playing in his second game as an Angel, Hicks delivered his first hit for them _ a two-run home run against John Hiller of the Tigers at Anaheim. Boxscore

Hit man

The deal worked out much better for the Cardinals than it did the Angels.

Hicks batted .083 in 37 games for the 1969 Angels and ended his big-league career with four at-bats for the 1970 Angels.

Davalillo produced five hits in his first eight at-bats as a Cardinal. On July 2, 1969, pinch-hitting for Julian Javier, Davalillo hit a grand slam against Mets reliever Ron Taylor, a former Cardinal who was Davalillo’s teammate with Jacksonville in 1962. Boxscore

Davalillo batted .265 in 63 games for the 1969 Cardinals.

In 1970, Davalillo returned to the Cardinals and hit .311 in 111 games. He was amazing in the clutch, batting .393 with runners in scoring position and .727 (8-for-11) with the bases loaded. As a pinch-hitter in 1970, Davalillo batted .324, with 23 hits.

In his book, “Stranger to the Game,” Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson described Davalillo as “a skilled veteran, a popular teammate and in 1970 the best pinch-hitter in the National League.”

Gibson also told an anecdote about a day in Chicago when Davalillo’s friends “had to bring him directly to the ballpark after a long night of festivities.”

“When we saw the condition Davalillo was in, we dressed him, pulled him up the dugout steps and took him to the bullpen where we could cover him with warmup jackets,” Gibson said.

Davalillo quietly napped in the bullpen until late in the game when Schoendienst, unaware of Davalillo’s condition, told coach Dick Sisler he wanted Davalillo as a pinch-hitter. Sisler suggested Schoendienst try someone else, but the manager was insistent.

Davalillo “had a habit of picking up his right foot when he swung the bat,” Gibson recalled, “and when he picked up his foot to swing at the first pitch that day, a strong gust of wind came up and blew him right on his ass.”

As Davalillo lay sprawled across the batter’s box, Sisler said to Schoendienst, “I told you you didn’t want Davalillo.”

On Jan. 29, 1971, the Cardinals traded Davalillo and pitcher Nelson Briles to the Pirates for outfielder Matty Alou and pitcher George Brunet. Davalillo hit .285 for the 1971 Pirates and helped them win the World Series championship.

The 1971 World Series was the first of four in which Davalillo played. He also played in the World Series in 1973 with the Athletics and in 1977 and 1978 with the Dodgers.

Davalillo finished his major-league career with a .279 batting average and 1,122 hits, including 95 as a pinch-hitter.

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A friendship with general manager Bing Devine enabled first baseman Bill White to finish his playing career with the Cardinals.

Fifty years ago, on April 2, 1969, the Cardinals reacquired White from the Phillies for infielder Jerry Buchek and utility player Jim Hutto.

The trade gave White, 35, the opportunity to return to the team for whom he’d achieved the most success.

White no longer was an everyday player and he was preparing to transition into a television career in Philadelphia, but Devine wanted him to fill a bench role and White was willing to do so as a favor to his friend and to bring closure to his playing days.

Ties that bind

In White’s first stint with the Cardinals, from 1959-65, he topped 100 RBI three times, hit 20 or more home runs five years in a row and won the Gold Glove Award six times as a first baseman. He also was a National League all-star in five of his seasons with the Cardinals and helped them become 1964 World Series champions.

In October 1965, Cardinals general manager Bob Howsam traded White to the Phillies. He had 22 home runs and 103 RBI for them in 1966, but he injured an Achilles tendon in 1967 and his production declined considerably.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, White decided in August 1968 he would retire after the season, but Phillies general manager John Quinn convinced him to play another year.

At spring training in 1969, when the Phillies shifted Richie Allen from third base to first base, White asked Quinn what the club planned to do with him. Quinn said the Phillies wouldn’t cut White from the roster but might trade him to the Cardinals.

“Bing Devine has expressed an interest in you,” Quinn told White.

Devine was Cardinals general manager in March 1959 when the club acquired White from the Giants. Devine and White developed a mutual respect and their bond remained strong, even after Devine was fired by Cardinals owner Gussie Busch in August 1964.

In 1967, when White was with the Phillies and Devine was with the Mets, Devine visited White at his home to offer support and encouragement while White was attempting to recover from the Achilles tendon injury. “I think a lot of him,” White said to the Inquirer.

Welcome back

In his 2011 autobiography, “Uppity,” White said, “At first I said no to the proposed trade, but Bing was persuasive.”

White told Quinn he agreed to the trade because of Devine, who returned to the Cardinals after the 1967 season. “I wouldn’t have gone to any other team,” White said to the Inquirer. “I wouldn’t even have gone to St. Louis if it were not for Bing Devine.”

The Philadelphia Daily News described the two-time defending National League champion Cardinals as “a dynasty.” Joe Torre, acquired from the Braves for Orlando Cepeda, was the first baseman for the 1969 Cardinals and Devine saw White as being an ideal backup as well as a left-handed pinch-hitter.

“Bill fits the bill,” Devine said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In a 2011 interview, White told me another reason Devine wanted him back with the Cardinals is he hoped to groom him to become a manager when White was done playing, but White wasn’t interested.

“Bing brought me back because he wanted me to manage at (Class AAA) Tulsa and eventually manage the Cardinals,” White said. “I didn’t want to manage. I didn’t want to try to tell 25 other guys how to play the game. I’d rather do something where the success depends on me, not on other people.”

Open and shut

White wore No. 12 for most of his first seven seasons with St. Louis, but backup outfielder Joe Hague had that number with the 1969 Cardinals. White asked for and received No. 7 because he liked low numbers, he said to the Post-Dispatch.

“I’m ready to do anything they want me to _ even pitch batting practice,” White said to the Post-Dispatch.

“This isn’t a knock at the Phillies’ organization _ they’ve been good to me _ but the difference between playing in St. Louis and Philadelphia is night and day,” White said to the Inquirer. “It’s depressing playing in that Philadelphia ballpark. Heck, my locker was over a sewer … And it’s depressing to hear your teammates booed.”

On April 8, 1969, the Cardinals opened the season against the Pirates at St. Louis. In the 12th inning, with the score tied at 2-2, two outs and Mike Shannon on first base, Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst sent White to bat for second baseman Julian Javier.

White was “cheered loudly” as he stepped to the plate, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Facing right-hander Ron Kline, White lined a pitch to left-center.

“What appeared to be a sure double turned out to be a mere out because the ball hooked toward” left fielder Willie Stargell, who made a one-handed catch while on the run, according to the Post-Dispatch.

If the ball had eluded Stargell, Shannon likely would have circled the bases and scored the game-winning run.

“That could have been a great way to open up,” hitting coach Dick Sisler said to White.

White replied, “Yeah, that would have carried me all year.”

Instead, the Pirates scored four runs in the 14th against Mel Nelson and won, 6-2. Boxscore

The 1969 season turned out to be disappointing for the Cardinals, who finished in fourth place in a six-team division, and for White. He suffered sore ribs and cuts to his left elbow in a car accident in St. Louis on May 3. For the season, White hit .211 with no home runs and four RBI in 57 at-bats. As a pinch-hitter, he batted .167 (5-for-30).

White retired as a player after the 1969 season and launched a broadcasting career before becoming president of the National League.

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