Archive for the ‘Trades’ Category

Looking to cut costs during the Great Depression and open a spot at first base for the aptly named Rip Collins, the Cardinals decided the time was right to peddle a player who was popular and productive.

On Dec. 17, 1932, the Cardinals traded their future Hall of Fame first baseman, Jim Bottomley, to the Reds for pitcher Ownie Carroll and outfielder Estel Crabtree.

Nicknamed Sunny Jim for “his friendly disposition,” as the Associated Press described it, Bottomley had been a consistent run producer in 11 seasons with the Cardinals, and though there had been indications he was being shopped, it was thought he’d bring more than what St. Louis got for him.

Style and substance

Bottomley was born in Oglesby, Ill., and settled with his family in Nokomis, Ill., a farming and mining town. Bottomley’s father and brother worked in the mines. Bottomley’s brother was killed in a cave-in, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

When Bottomley was 16, he quit high school and clerked in a grocery store, the Associated Press reported. According to the Post-Dispatch, he also worked on a farm and as a blacksmith’s helper.

In his spare time, Bottomley played semipro baseball for $5 a game, walking eight miles each way to the home ballpark, the Associated Press reported. A St. Louis policeman saw him hit two home runs and three triples in a game and told Cardinals executive Branch Rickey he should give Bottomley a look. Invited to a Cardinals tryout camp in 1920, Bottomley excelled and was awarded a contract.

During 1922, his third season in their farm system, Bottomley got called up to the Cardinals and became their first baseman. He made an immediate impression with the fans because of his strut and the way he wore his cap.

“He was the only man I ever knew who could strut while he was crouched in the batter’s box,” Rickey told the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

As for the cap, it “was never pulled down to shade the eyes like most ballplayers wore it,” the Globe-Democrat observed. “Sunny Jim’s was always cocked at a rakish angle.”

Before long, nearly everyone who followed the Cardinals knew Bottomley simply as Sunny Jim. He “smiled and swaggered his way into the hearts of baseball fans,” J. Roy Stockton noted in the Post-Dispatch.

According to the Associated Press, “Sunny Jim was one of those rare ballplayers who combined genuine color with honest-to-goodness ability.”

Playing to win

A left-handed batter, Bottomley hit for power, using a choked grip on a heavy bat.

On Sept. 16, 1924, Bottomley drove in 12 runs in a game against the Dodgers. Boxscore Since then, the only player to match that feat has been another Cardinal, Mark Whiten, versus the Reds on Sept. 7, 1993. Boxscore

Bottomley helped the Cardinals to four National League pennants (1926, 1928, 1930 and 1931) and two World Series titles (1926 and 1931). He won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1928 when he led the league in triples (20), home runs (31), RBI (136) and total bases (362).

Bottomley hit better than .300 in nine of his 11 seasons with the Cardinals. (In the other two years, he hit .299 and .296.) He ranks fourth in career RBI as a Cardinal (1,105). Only Stan Musial (1,951), Albert Pujols (1,397) and Enos Slaughter (1,148) produced more RBI for the franchise.

As for his fielding, “It doesn’t make any difference how wide or how high they are thrown to Sunny Jim. He always manages to get them,” the Dayton Daily News reported.

Time to go

Bottomley’s best friend on the Cardinals, another future Hall of Famer, left fielder Chick Hafey, was traded to the Reds on the eve of the 1932 season opener. Rip Collins, a natural first baseman, replaced Hafey in left field on Opening Day.

After Bottomley started slowly, hitting .158 with no home runs in April, manager Gabby Street benched him and moved Collins to first base.

Collins, 28, went on to lead the 1932 Cardinals in hits (153), home runs (21), RBI (91), runs scored (82) and total bases (260). Bottomley, 32, hit .296 with 11 homers.

With Collins making a convincing claim for the first base job, the Cardinals began making plans to move Bottomley. In September 1932, the last-place Reds revealed that manager Dan Howley would depart after the season. Reds owner Sidney Weil was an admirer of Bottomley and sought permission from the Cardinals to interview him for the job.

At the urging of Branch Rickey and Cardinals owner Sam Breadon, Bottomley went to Cincinnati on Sept. 23, 1932, while the season still was being played, and interviewed with Weil for the role of player-manager, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. Donie Bush, a veteran manager, eventually got the job, but Weil was determined to acquire Bottomley to play for the Reds.

After Cardinals shortstop Charlie Gelbert was shot in a hunting accident in November 1932, the Cardinals offered Bottomley to the Reds for shortstop Leo Durocher and starting pitcher Si Johnson, a 13-game winner, the Enquirer reported.

When the Reds deemed the price too high, the Cardinals settled for Ownie Carroll (10-19 in 1932) and Estel Crabtree (.274, two home runs, in 1932). It was suspected the Reds sent the Cardinals a stack of cash as well.

Asked whether the Cardinals got cash in the deal, Breadon told Red Smith of the St. Louis Star-Times, “I wouldn’t want to say anything on that.”

According to The Sporting News, the trade garnered the Cardinals “a sizeable sum of money.” The Post-Dispatch informed its readers, “Close followers of baseball did not have to be told that it was a cash transaction.”

In addition to reaping the cash, the Cardinals also rid themselves of Bottomley’s $13,000 salary, about double what most players were making in 1932.

Worth the price

The Reds proposed to Bottomley a salary of $8,000, a $5,000 cut, for 1933, The Sporting News reported. After a negotiation, Bottomley, who wed St. Louis beauty shop owner Betty Brawner in February 1933, eventually signed for $10,000.

In May 1933, the Cardinals got the Reds to trade them Leo Durocher. (Three years later, the Cardinals also got Si Johnson from the Reds.)

Bottomley delivered what the Reds hoped from him. He led the 1933 Reds in triples (nine), home runs (13) and RBI (83). He had 16 RBI in 22 games versus the Cardinals. The following year, with the 1934 Reds, Bottomley was their leader in doubles (31), triples (11) and RBI (78). He hit .313 versus the Cardinals.

After a third season with Cincinnati, Bottomley was traded to the St. Louis Browns, finishing his career with them, including a stint as manager in 1937.

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Brett Tomko was a sketch artist who made his living painting corners as a pitcher.

On Dec. 15, 2002, the Cardinals got Tomko from the Padres for reliever Luther Hackman and a player to be named (pitcher Mike Wodnicki).

A right-hander, Tomko was a durable, but hittable, member of the Cardinals’ 2003 starting rotation, earning 13 wins despite some rough outings.

Arts and crafts

In 1970, three years before Brett was born, his father Jerry entered a contest to name the new Cleveland NBA franchise. His suggestion, Cavaliers, was selected from more than 11,000 entries submitted, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. His prize for naming the team was a pair of season tickets for the club’s first year.

When Brett was 3, he moved with the family from Euclid, Ohio, to Placentia, Calif., near Anaheim, and developed skills in baseball and in art. 

An art communications major at Florida Southern College, Tomko had a 15-2 record for the baseball team in 1995 and was named NCAA Division II player of the year, pitching a shutout in the national championship game.

When not playing baseball, he’d sometimes spend his nights at the campus art studio. “I’d stay until 4 in the morning, drawing and painting,” he recalled to the Dayton Daily News. “It relaxes me totally.”

He said to the Tampa Tribune, “I’ve always taken art courses. It’s come easy to me, like majoring in baseball.”

The Reds chose Tomko in the second round of the 1995 June amateur draft. After he reached the majors with them in May 1997, art remained a part of his life. “Tomko always carries with him a sketch pad and charcoals,” The Cincinnati Post reported. On road trips, he visited art museums. “I am the biggest nerd in major league baseball,” Tomko told Peter Gammons of the Boston Globe.

Before long, Tomko “dazzled teammates with his charcoal drawings,” Jeff Horrigan of The Cincinnati Post reported. Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News wrote, “Tomko drew beautifully in charcoal.”

(On April 15, 2007, the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson integrating the big leagues, each fan attending the Dodgers game that day received a copy of Tomko’s drawing of Robinson, the Los Angeles Times reported.)

Traveling man

Tomko had 11 wins for the Reds his rookie season and 13 the next year. In April 1999, the Dayton Daily News reported, the Reds could have acquired Jim Edmonds from the Angels for Tomko but refused to part with him. (The next year, Edmonds was traded to the Cardinals.)

In February 2000, the Mariners made the Reds an offer they couldn’t refuse, sending them Ken Griffey Jr. for a package of players, including Tomko. The Mariners used him primarily as a reliever before shipping him to the Padres in December 2001.

Tomko was 10-10 with a 4.49 ERA in 32 starts for the 2002 Padres, but Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan noticed he was developing an effective sinkerball. “When he was in Cincinnati, he would just rear back and fire,” La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We saw that he has really started to move the ball around and pitch.”

Shopping for pitching at the baseball winter meetings in December 2002, the Cardinals talked to the Giants about a trade of second baseman Fernando Vina for either starting pitchers Russ Ortiz or Livan Hernandez, the Post-Dispatch reported, but the Giants instead opted to sign free-agent second baseman Ray Durham.

Turning to the Padres, the Cardinals discussed swapping Vina for Tomko and another pitcher, Kevin Jarvis, before scaling back the framework of the deal, according to the Post-Dispatch.

The Cardinals projected Tomko, 29, to join a starting rotation with Matt Morris, Woody Williams, Garrett Stephenson and Jason Simontacchi.

“He’s a guy who we’re getting in the prime of his career,” La Russa said to the Post-Dispatch.

Skeptics noted that Tomko was joining his fourth team in five years and only once posted an ERA below 4.44, but Dave Duncan told the newspaper, “He’s a low-ball pitcher, gets a lot of ground balls, and we have a good defense. I think he has pitched in some other places where the defense wasn’t so good and he had to suffer through that and paid a penalty for it.”

After seeing Tomko pitch in spring training with the Cardinals, Duncan said to the Post-Dispatch, “I feel good about everything about him. I like the way he’s throwing. I like the way he goes about his business, his willingness to work, his drive to win. All the ingredients are there.”

Like he had elsewhere, Tomko continued his art work while with the Cardinals. Among his projects was a portrait of teammate Woody Williams.

“The moments when Tomko has a charcoal pencil in his hand are among the most relaxing he can imagine,” Stu Durando wrote in the Post-Dispatch.

Good, bad, ugly

Tomko’s 2003 season with the Cardinals was a mix of gems and duds. He pitched complete games in wins against the Marlins (Boxscore) and Rockies (Boxscore). He also gave up nine runs in a game three times _ versus the Rockies (Boxscore), Red Sox (Boxscore) and Yankees (Boxscore).

Tomko finished the season with a 13-9 record and ranked second on the club in wins, but he gave up more hits (252) and more earned runs (119) than any pitcher in the National League. He allowed 35 home runs and batters hit .305 against him, helping account for a 5.28 ERA. Video

At times, Tomko impressed as much with his bat as he did with his arm. He hit .286 with nine RBI for the Cardinals. 

Granted free agency after the season, Tomko signed with the Giants _ the fifth of 10 clubs he pitched for in 14 seasons. The others: Dodgers, Royals, Yankees, Athletics and Rangers.

Tomko finished with a career mark of 100-103. His 13 wins for the Cardinals tied his single-season career high.

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Ken Griffey Jr. should have been in the lineup for the Padres when the Cardinals faced them in the 2005 and 2006 National League playoffs. Instead, Griffey remained with the Reds, a team that never reached the playoffs during his nine seasons with them.

In November 2002, the Reds and Padres agreed to a trade of Griffey for Phil Nevin. Griffey would have been a Padre if Nevin hadn’t blocked the deal by invoking a no-trade clause in his contract.

The idea of trading Griffey for a journeyman such as Nevin would have been deemed preposterous a few years earlier, but the Reds were ready to cut their ties with a player once considered to be the best in baseball.

Special treatment

With the Mariners from 1989 to 1999, Griffey four times led the American League in home runs, and won 10 Gold Glove awards and a Most Valuable Player honor, but he wanted out of Seattle.

Born in the the same town (Donora, Pa.) and on the same date (Nov. 21) as Stan Musial, Griffey grew up in Cincinnati, where his father played for the Reds, and eventually relocated to Orlando. After the 1999 season, he rejected an eight-year, $140 million offer from the Mariners, saying he wanted to play for a team closer to his Florida home.

Though the Cardinals tried to acquire him, Griffey was traded to the Reds. According to Bill Madden of the New York Daily News, Reds general manager Jim Bowden “made no secret of the fact that Griffey was going to get special treatment, a grievous mistake … Numerous Reds, past and present, have blasted Griffey as being self-absorbed and an island unto himself in the clubhouse.”

Limited to 70 games because of leg injuries in 2002, Griffey produced eight home runs and 23 RBI.

Content in California

A few days after Griffey turned 33, the Reds agreed during the Thanksgiving weekend to swap him to the Padres for Nevin, the Associated Press reported.

Primarily a third baseman and first baseman, Nevin had come to the Padres after stints with the Astros, Tigers and Angels. After producing 41 home runs and 126 RBI for the 2001 Padres, Nevin, 31, totaled 12 homers and 57 RBI in 2002.

The Reds viewed Nevin (due $31 million for the next four years) as a less expensive alternative to Griffey (due $86 million for the next six years). Also, Nevin was friends with Reds manager Bob Boone.

“Boone and Nevin have a longstanding friendship dating to Nevin’s childhood, when he grew up in the same Southern California neighborhood where Boone lived,” The Cincinnati Post reported.

Nevin’s agent, Barry Axelrod, said his client rejected a trade to the Reds because he wanted to remain on the West Coast, The Cincinnati Post reported.

Acting on orders from the Reds’ front office, Boone met with Nevin for lunch and tried to convince him to change his mind, but was unsuccessful, according to the Dayton Daily News.

Bargain basement

The Reds initially denied trying to trade Griffey, but came clean after Nevin confirmed to reporters he had blocked the deal.

Reds chief operating officer John Allen said the trade, orchestrated by Bowden, had the support of team owner Carl Lindner, The Cincinnati Post reported.

According to USA Sports Weekly, after the proposed deal with the Padres collapsed, the Reds offered Griffey to the White Sox for outfielder Magglio Ordonez, but were quickly turned down.

Among the reactions to the Reds’ attempts to peddle Griffey:

_ Mike Anthony, Hartford Courant: “How quickly Griffey has fallen off the map of baseball stars in three years with the Reds. The minute he left Seattle, he got old. He’s been injured and, at times, unhappy.”

_ Dan O’Neill, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Seems hard to believe Ken Griffey Jr., considered hands-down the best player in the game a few years back, is now being shopped like a used lawn mower.”

_ Bill Simmons, ESPN.com: “He’s 33, plagued by injuries, miserable and bitter, on the downside of his career, and his team can’t even give him away.”

_ Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati Enquirer: “Griffey can be paranoid when he has no reason. Now, he has plenty of reason.”

Still got game

Three years later, in July 2005, the Padres traded Nevin to the Rangers. He went on to play for the Cubs and Twins, too. In 12 years in the majors, Nevin hit 208 home runs. During the 2022 season, he replaced Joe Maddon as Angels manager.

Griffey had more injury-marred seasons in 2003 and 2004 (when he hit his 500th career home run versus the Cardinals), but returned to form in 2005, when he was named the National League Comeback Player of the Year with the Reds.

Griffey produced 35 home runs and 92 RBI for the 2005 Reds. If he had been with the Padres that season, he would have been their team leader in home runs and RBI. The 2005 Padres, with top producers Ryan Klesko (18 home runs) and Brian Giles (83 RBI), qualified for the playoffs but were eliminated by the Cardinals in the first round.

In 2006, Griffey slugged 27 home runs for the Reds, three more than the Padres’ team leader, Adrian Gonzalez. The Padres again were eliminated by the Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs.

The Reds traded Griffey to the White Sox in July 2008. Granted free agency after the season, he returned to the Mariners for two more years. In 22 seasons in the majors, Griffey batted .284 with 2,781 hits, 630 home runs and 1,836 RBI, but never played in a World Series.

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A power struggle within the front office nearly cost the Cardinals a chance to get the shortstop they needed to win a championship.

On Nov. 19, 1962, the Cardinals acquired shortstop Dick Groat and reliever Diomedes Olivo from the Pirates for pitcher Don Cardwell and shortstop Julio Gotay.

With his exceptional hitting and base running, Groat helped the Cardinals become World Series champions in 1964.

At the urging of manager Johnny Keane, Cardinals general manager Bing Devine made the trade over the objections of consultant Branch Rickey.

From a baseball perspective, Devine and Keane made the right move _ Groat was a key contributor to the Cardinals becoming contenders _ but it cost them. The trade widened a rift between Devine and Rickey, and Keane and Groat eventually had a falling out.

Terrific talent

Born and raised in the Pittsburgh area, Groat went to Duke University and became an all-America in baseball and basketball. A 5-foot-10 guard, he averaged 26 points and 7.6 assists per game as a senior for the basketball team.

Branch Rickey was the Pirates’ general manager when Groat signed with them in June 1952 and went directly from the Duke campus to the major leagues. Picked by the Fort Wayne Pistons in the first round of the NBA draft, Groat played in 26 games for them in the 1952-53 season, averaging 11.9 points.

After two years of military service, Groat chose to focus on baseball and resumed his big-league career with the Pirates in 1955.

The Pirates nearly traded Groat to the Athletics for Roger Maris in December 1959, but called off the deal at the last minute. The Athletics then swapped Maris to the Yankees. Groat won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1960, Maris was named the American League MVP, and the Pirates prevailed in the World Series against the Yankees.

Your move

On Oct. 7, 1962, Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch broke the story that the Cardinals offered starting pitcher Larry Jackson to the Pirates for Groat.

Jackson led the 1962 Cardinals in wins (16) and innings pitched (252.1). Groat produced 199 hits, including 34 doubles, and batted .294 for the 1962 Pirates.

According to The Pittsburgh Press, the Pirates countered, offering backup shortstop Dick Schofield, a former Cardinal, but Devine and Keane were interested only in Groat.

When the Pirates dawdled, the Cardinals on Oct. 17 dealt Larry Jackson, Lindy McDaniel and Jimmie Schaffer to the Cubs for George Altman, Don Cardwell and Moe Thacker.

Pirates general manager Joe Brown admitted the swap of Jackson to the Cubs “surprised him” and he “didn’t know the trade was in the making,” The Sporting News reported, but he liked Cardwell as much as he did Jackson.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Brown called Devine and said he thought there was still basis on which the clubs could make a trade.”

Power plays

While Devine was trying to acquire Groat, Cardinals owner Gussie Busch was on a business trip to Los Angeles and met with a friend, Bob Cobb, owner of the Brown Derby restaurant. Cobb suggested to Busch that he should hire Branch Rickey, 80, as a consultant, the Post-Dispatch reported. “He’ll help you win a pennant more than any other person could,” Cobb said to Busch.

The Cardinals hadn’t won a pennant since Busch bought the franchise in 1953 and he was tired of waiting. Acting on the advice of the restaurateur, Busch hired Rickey, who had built the Cardinals into a powerhouse before departing for the Dodgers in October 1942. In the consultant role, Rickey would advise Devine on player personnel matters and report to Busch.

In his autobiography, “The Memoirs of Bing Devine,” Devine said, “To be honest, I rather resented that Rickey was back … I was still in charge, but Rickey still had Busch’s ear.”

The relationship was rocky from the start. Rickey acted like he was Devine’s boss, and they disagreed on personnel matters.

Devine had gotten the Pirates to agree to trade Groat, 32, but Rickey thought the Cardinals would be better keeping Julio Gotay, 23, as their shortstop.

“Rickey hated giving up young players for veteran players,” Devine said in his book. “I had to set it up so that Rickey would approve the Groat deal and take it to Mr. Busch.”

At the Florida Instructional League in St. Petersburg, director of player development Eddie Stanky, coach Harry Walker and others joined Devine in approaching Rickey and making a case for Groat.

In his book, Devine recalled that Rickey said to him, “You’ve kind of loaded this meeting for me, haven’t you?”

Devine replied, “I know it looks like that way, but we need Groat to make this team go.”

After a long discussion, Rickey said, “I’ll talk to the boss … I’ll tell him you feel strongly about it and that he should do what he wants to do.”

Busch approved the trade for Groat, but Rickey wasn’t happy. “The Groat trade started cooling the relationship between Rickey and me,” Devine said in his book.

Getting it done

Though, as The Sporting News noted, “Groat still has the reputation of being the best hit-and-run man in the league,” he led National League shortstops in errors five times with the Pirates. Devine and Keane were hoping Groat’s knowledge of playing the hitters would compensate for the errors and a lack of range.

Pittsburgh Press sports editor Chester L. Smith wrote of Groat after the trade, “Maybe he has slowed up a half stride or so, perhaps his hands aren’t quite as sure as they once were, but he plays the hitters so well that he minimizes any loss of speed. He reminds you a great deal of Lou Boudreau when the artful codger was on the downside of the hill and was using his head to get the results his legs had produced in his youth.”

As it turned out, Groat was everything Devine and Keane hoped he’d be for the 1963 Cardinals, who placed second with 93 wins, their most since 1949.

In the book “We Played the Game,” Groat said, “I went to St. Louis with the intention of showing Joe Brown that he made a very bad mistake trading me. In 1963, I had the best year of my career, a better year than in 1960. I hit the ball with more authority.”

Groat produced career highs in hits (201), doubles (43), triples (11), RBI (73) and on-base percentage (.377) for the 1963 Cardinals. He and teammates Bill White, Julian Javier and Ken Boyer were the starting infielders for the National League in the All-Star Game. “We were really proud of that because we were chosen by our peers, not the fans,” Groat told author Danny Peary.

In his autobiography “Stan Musial: The Man’s Own Story,” Musial said, “I’d learned to respect Dick playing against him, but not until I played with him my last year did I realize fully how smart and thorough he is … Groat and Bill White are the best players the Cardinals obtained by trade in my many years with the club.”

In his book “Few and Chosen,” Tim McCarver said of Groat, “I learned more about base running from him than from anybody else … I never saw anybody as good as Groat going from first to third. He did everything instinctively on the bases.”

Plots and schemes

The underachieving Cardinals had a losing record at the all-star break in 1964 and a rift developed between Groat and Keane. Because of how well Groat could handle a pitch, Keane allowed him to call a hit-and-run play when he wanted to while batting. Eventually, Keane decided Groat abused the privilege and took it away. That angered Groat and he sulked. In his book “October 1964,” author David Halberstam wrote that Keane “saw Groat as a challenge to his control.”

At a team meeting in the clubhouse, Keane confronted Groat, accusing him of undermining the manager. Groat apologized, and the the matter appeared settled.

A month later, Gussie Busch learned of the incident from his daughter, who heard about it from the player she was dating, Braves third baseman Eddie Mathews. Petty and paranoid, Busch accused Devine of hiding the matter from him. Meanwhile, Rickey, on the outs with Devine, was advising Busch to get another general manager.

On Aug. 17, 1964, Busch fired Devine and replaced him with Rickey’s choice, Bob Howsam. Busch schemed to replace Keane with Leo Durocher after the season.

“That Groat situation was an issue,” Devine said in his autobiography, “but I don’t think that’s why Busch fired me. I really think it had more to do with us being so far back in August.”

Helped by Groat, who hit .282 in September and .417 in October, the Cardinals surged and won the National League pennant on the last day of the season. After prevailing in the World Series against the Yankees, Keane quit and became Yankees manager.

Groat hit .292 with 35 doubles and 70 RBI for the 1964 Cardinals but he also made a career-high 40 errors.

After the 1965 season, he was traded by Howsam to the Phillies.

Groat had 2,138 hits in 14 seasons in the majors and batted .302 against the Cardinals.

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In his return to the Cardinals, Tim McCarver was hoping to be their first baseman, even though he’d never played the position in the big leagues.

On Nov. 6, 1972, the Cardinals traded outfielder Jorge Roque to the Expos for McCarver.

As the Cardinals’ catcher during their glory days in the 1960s, McCarver played on two World Series championship clubs and three National League pennant winners. He hit .311 in 21 World Series games for the Cardinals, In the 1964 classic against the Yankees, McCarver hit the game-winning home run in the pivotal Game 5 and had a steal of home in Game 7.

When the Cardinals reacquired him, it appeared his role would be as a reserve, but McCarver, 31, had other ideas.

Changing places

The Cardinals traded McCarver and Curt Flood to the Phillies for Dick Allen in October 1969. Flood refused to report, triggering the antitrust challenge that led to free agency for players. McCarver became the Phillies’ catcher. Limited to 44 games in 1970 because of a broken hand, he came back the next season, hit .278 and got into a fight with former Cardinals teammate Lou Brock.

In 1972, McCarver slumped, entering June with a .208 batting average, and fell into disfavor with manager Frank Lucchesi. “The Phillies had been trying since the end of the 1971 season to trade McCarver,” The Sporting News reported. “Lucchesi was not satisfied with McCarver’s receiving or throwing.”

McCarver sank deeper into Lucchesi’s doghouse when he argued with him in the lobby of a Pittsburgh hotel about the manager’s decision to ban beer on a charter flight from Montreal. In his book, “Oh, Baby, I Love It,” McCarver recalled, “I told him that the players deserved to be treated as adults.”

The Expos were interested in McCarver as a utility player. Though McCarver never had played a position other than catcher since entering the majors with the Cardinals at 17 in 1959, Expos manager Gene Mauch wanted him to play third base and left field as well as back up rookie catcher Terry Humphrey.

Mauch phoned McCarver to find out whether he’d be willing to try other positions. In his book, McCarver said Mauch told him, “If (former teammate) Mike Shannon can do it, you can.”

After McCarver agreed, the deal was made.

On June 14, 1972, Lucchesi informed McCarver he’d been traded to the Expos for catcher John Bateman. In his book, McCarver said he replied, “If you didn’t get any more for me than Bateman, you got fucked.”

In his Expos debut, McCarver started in left field. A week later, he started at third base against the Cardinals at St. Louis. “If fellows like Joe Torre and Yogi Berra could make the transition, there’s no reason McCarver can’t,” Mauch told The Sporting News. “Tim is a much better all-round athlete than those fellows.”

In August, McCarver replaced Humphrey, who was batting below .200, as the Expos’ catcher. “I know there are catchers who can throw better than I can,” McCarver said to The Sporting News, “but I can produce something that will help the team.”

On Oct. 2, 1972, McCarver was catching when Bill Stoneman pitched a no-hitter against the Mets. Boxscore

McCarver hit .251 for the 1972 Expos. He made 13 starts in left field, five at third base and 42 as catcher.

Mix and match

The Cardinals, who finished 21.5 games behind the division champion Pirates in 1972, were looking to strengthen many areas, including the bench. One position that didn’t need improvement was catcher. Future Hall of Famer Ted Simmons was stationed there.

So, when they traded for McCarver, the conventional wisdom was he’d be a utility player and pinch-hitter. McCarver thought otherwise. “I’ve got plenty of baseball left in me and I don’t like people categorizing me as a reserve,” he told The Sporting News.

McCarver went to the Cardinals’ Florida Instructional League camp in St. Petersburg and got lessons from teacher George Kissell on how to play first base.

When the Cardinals gathered for spring training in 1973, McCarver arrived in top shape after a winter of workouts. Manager Red Schoendienst needed to determine whether it would be better to open the season with Joe Torre at first base and rookie Ken Reitz at third, or shift Torre to third and start McCarver at first.

Reitz impressed with his fielding, so Torre stayed at first.

For the first two weeks of the 1973 season, McCarver was used as a pinch-hitter, but on April 22, in the second game of a Sunday doubleheader at Philadelphia, it felt like old times when the Cardinals started Bob Gibson on the mound and McCarver behind the plate. In the eighth inning, with the Phillies ahead, 1-0, Gibson walked, stole second and scored on McCarver’s single versus Dick Ruthven. The Phillies won on Mike Schmidt’s walkoff home run against Gibson with two outs in the ninth, dropping the Cardinals’ record to 1-12. Boxscore

Desperate, Schoendienst went for offense over defense in the Cardinals’ next game against the Dodgers, starting Ted Simmons in right field for the first time as a big-leaguer and McCarver at catcher. The Cardinals scored only twice, but Rick Wise pitched a shutout for them. Boxscore

A week later, Schoendienst tried Simmons at first base, and McCarver got to catch Gibson in his win versus the Padres. Boxscore

At that point, McCarver still hadn’t played at first base, but change was coming.

On-the-job training

On May 17, 1973, Torre injured his left leg in a collision at the plate with Cubs catcher Randy Hundley. McCarver made his debut as a first baseman, replacing Torre in the second inning. Boxscore

While Torre was sidelined for two weeks, McCarver filled in, hitting .316 for the month of May and fielding like a catcher. In his book, McCarver said, “I was trained to block balls thrown in the dirt, not catch them. At first base, I blocked a hell of a lot of balls, but I didn’t actually catch too many.”

Nonetheless, when Torre returned, Schoendienst sometimes shifted him to third in order to get McCarver into the lineup at first base.

On June 2, 1973, McCarver, batting for Ken Reitz, hit his first home run of the season, a grand slam against the Astros’ Fred Gladding, lifting the Cardinals to a 6-2 victory. McCarver hit .500 (7-for-14) with the bases loaded for the 1973 Cardinals. Boxscore

The next day, McCarver, playing first base, scored the tying run in the ninth and drove in the winning run in the 10th versus the Astros. “The Cardinals have won 14 of their last 16 games and tough Timmy has been a sparkplug in the resurgence,” Dick Kaegel wrote in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Boxscore

On July 26, 1973, McCarver caught Gibson for the final time. He replaced Simmons in the seventh and caught the last three innings in a 13-1 rout of the Mets. According to baseball-reference.com, McCarver caught more of Gibson’s games (214) than any other catcher. Boxscore

Make or break

First base was the position McCarver played the most in 1973, though he never felt quite comfortable there.

Recalling a game against the Phillies, McCarver said in his book, “With a runner on second, two out, a ground ball was hit three steps to my right. I should have fielded it, but, of course, didn’t. Fully realizing there’d be no play at the plate, I thought it a good time to try to figure out how I missed the ball. Jose Cruz, the right fielder, had other ideas. Trained to hit the cutoff man _ me _ that’s exactly what he did, right in the back.

“Bobby Wine, the first base coach, fell to his knees laughing as I yelled out to Cruz, ‘That’s the first time you’ve hit the cutoff man all year.’ “

In September, when the Cardinals had a chance to finish first in a weak division, McCarver did his best to help. He made 17 September starts at first base and committed no errors. For the month, McCarver hit .333 with 14 RBI and had an on-base percentage of .405.

The Cardinals finished 81-81. McCarver hit .266 overall but .291 as a first baseman. (He batted .205 as a pinch-hitter and .171 as a catcher.) He made 68 starts at first base and 10 at catcher.

McCarver rarely played the next season. He hit .217 in 106 at-bats for the 1974 Cardinals and was sent to the Red Sox in September.

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The Cardinals acquired the player who might have helped them win a division title in 1973, but gave him away before he played a game for them.

On Oct. 26, 1972, the Cardinals got outfielder Larry Hisle from the Dodgers for pitchers Rudy Arroyo and Greg Milliken.

Hisle might have been a fit to join a Cardinals outfield with Lou Brock and either Jose Cruz or Bake McBride.

Instead, on Nov. 29, 1972, a month after acquiring him, the Cardinals traded Hisle to the Twins for reliever Wayne Granger.

Hisle fulfilled his potential with the Twins and later with the Brewers. Granger, in his second stint with St. Louis, was a disappointment.

The 1973 Cardinals, who ranked last in the National League in home runs, finished 1.5 games behind the division champion Mets. Hisle’s 15 home runs for the 1973 Twins would have made him the team leader on the 1973 Cardinals.

Prized prospect

Born in Portsmouth, Ohio, Larry Hisle was named by his mother, a baseball fan, in honor of Larry Doby, who became the first black player in the American League, according to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). Hisle’s parents died when he was a youth and he was adopted by Orville and Kathleen Ferguson, “two of the finest people in the world,” Hisle told United Press International.

Hisle played youth baseball with two other future big-leaguers, Al Oliver and Gene Tenace, according to SABR, but he also was a standout prep basketball player. When Oscar Robertson, recruiting for the University of Cincinnati, called, “I almost dropped the phone,” Hisle told The Sporting News.

After agreeing to play basketball at Ohio State, Hisle was picked by the Phillies in the second round of the 1965 baseball draft and signed with them. A right-handed batter, he played two seasons at the Class A level in the minors, then reported in 1968 to Phillies spring training camp, where he roomed with Bill White.

In choosing Hisle, 20, to be the Phillies’ 1968 Opening Day center fielder, manager Gene Mauch told The Sporting News, “Hisle is the best center fielder I’ve ever had.”

The experiment didn’t last long. Though he hit .364 in 11 at-bats for the 1968 Phillies, Hisle was sent to the minors before the end of April.

Rookie season

The Phillies named Hisle their center fielder for 1969, but he had a shaky start. He hit .159 in April and removed himself from a game because of what the team physician described to The Sporting News as “acute anxiety.”

“We’re all aware he’s a very intense, high-strung young man who is going to take a little longer to adjust up here,” Phillies manager Bob Skinner said to The Sporting News.

Hisle did better in May, producing four hits, two RBI, two runs and two stolen bases in a game against the Cardinals. Boxscore

Before a game in Philadelphia, the Giants’ Willie Mays chatted with Hisle and told him, “Open your stance, take it easy and concentrate on just meeting the ball,” The Sporting News reported. Hisle responded with four hits and two RBI that day. Boxscore

Phillies teammate Dick Allen aided Hisle, too, and became a mentor. “I’ll never forget how much he helped me,” Hisle told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Hisle hit .266 with 20 home runs and 18 stolen bases for the 1969 Phillies.

Too far, too fast

Dick Allen was traded to the Cardinals after the 1969 season in a deal involving center fielder Curt Flood, who refused to report.

With neither Allen nor Flood, the Phillies needed Hisle to step up, but he didn’t, hitting .205 in 1970 and .197 in 1971.

“I put too much pressure on myself,” Hisle said to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I doubted my ability.”

In October 1971, the Phillies dealt Hisle to the Dodgers for Tommy Hutton.

Hisle “was built up as the potential superstar who would lead the Phillies out of the wilderness, and he wasn’t ready to handle the role,” Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Frank Dolson wrote. “The enormous pressures beat him down, sent his batting average plummeting, and turned the fans who had cheered him as a rookie into a booing mob that virtually chased him out of town.”

Mind games

At spring training in 1972, Hisle was the last player cut by the Dodgers, according to the Albuquerque Journal. Rather than go to the minors, Hisle said he considered quitting baseball. He was attending Ohio University in the off-seasons, studying math and physical education, “and has thought of teaching and social work,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

A voracious reader of authors as diverse as B.F. Skinner and James Joyce, Hisle “dabbles in analytic geometry, and worries about what happened to his hitting,” the Los Angeles Times noted. “He may be, he says, too much of a thinker for his own good.”

The Dodgers assigned Hisle to Albuquerque, hoping the manager there, Tommy Lasorda, would help him overcome self-doubts.

Playing for Lasorda, “I learned that the most important thing a person can say about himself is, ‘I believe in myself,’ ” Hisle told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Hisle hit .325 with 23 home runs and 91 RBI for Albuquerque in 1972.

The Twins tried to acquire him after the season, but the Dodgers wanted pitcher Steve Luebber in return. Luebber was rated the best pitching prospect in the Twins’ system and they didn’t want to trade him, so the Dodgers dealt Hisle, 25, to the Cardinals.

Coming and going

“Hisle could play a big part in the youth movement of the Cardinals,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch declared. 

The Cardinals brought Hisle to St. Louis and told him “they were hoping I could help the outfield defense,” Hisle told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “From what I heard, it needed help. I was really happy to join the Cardinals.”

General manager Bing Devine also was seeking help for the bullpen, and approached the Twins about Wayne Granger, a former Cardinal. Granger’s 19 saves for the 1972 Twins were six more than Cardinals pitchers totaled that year.

“We had talked with the Twins about Granger shortly after the season ended, but they wanted a hitter in return and we didn’t have anyone available,” Devine told The Sporting News. “After we got Hisle, they expressed a strong interest in him.”

The Twins hardly could believe their good luck. Granger “had not endeared himself to the front office with charges that the Twins weren’t a first-class organization,” The Sporting News reported, and they were eager to trade him.

“It was fortunate for us that Bing Devine was interested in Wayne Granger,” Twins owner Calvin Griffith told columnist Sid Hartman. “We talked to Devine about Hisle. He was reluctant to give him up, but he wanted Granger.”

Devine said to The Sporting News, “We really had figured on Hisle as an extra man on the club because he can do so many things.”

Nothing personal

Hisle was at home when the Cardinals called, informing him of the trade to the Twins. “I was disappointed and hurt,” he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

According to the newspaper, “Hisle later received a handwritten note from Bing Devine. Devine apologized for the quick trade to Minnesota, explaining it was not intentional nor a snub at Hisle, but merely something which Devine felt could help the Cardinals. Hisle appreciated the letter, and still has it.”

The Twins made Hisle feel at home, naming him their center fielder. “I’m getting a chance to play regular here,” he told the Minneapolis newspaper. “I don’t know if I would have played every day for the Cardinals.”

Hisle scored 88 runs and drove in 64 for the 1973 Twins. His 230 total bases ranked third on the team, behind only Rod Carew and Tony Oliva.

Granger was 2-4 with five saves and a 4.24 ERA for the 1973 Cardinals before he was traded to the Yankees in August.

Hisle had big seasons for the Twins in 1976 (96 RBI, 31 stolen bases) and 1977 (28 home runs, 119 RBI). Granted free agency, he signed with the Brewers and had 34 home runs, 115 RBI and 96 runs scored for them in 1978.

A two-time all-star, Hisle played 14 seasons in the majors. He was the hitting coach for the World Series champion Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993.

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