Archive for the ‘Trades’ Category

The 1970 Cardinals found the closer they needed, but, following a familiar pattern, gave up on him too soon.

Fifty years ago, on May 29, 1970, the Cardinals acquired reliever Ted Abernathy from the Cubs for infielder Phil Gagliano.

A right-hander, Abernathy, 37, threw underhanded with a delivery described as submarine style.

At 6 feet 4, he was a formidable presence when he whipped his right arm down low to the ground and sent the ball zipping toward the plate.

The Cardinals needed quality relief and Abernathy provided it. He made 11 appearances for them and was 1-0 with a save and 2.95 ERA.

Inexplicably, a month after the Cardinals acquired Abernathy, general manager Bing Devine dealt him to the Royals for pitcher Chris Zachary, who was assigned to the minor leagues.

Abernathy went on to pitch in 36 games for the 1970 Royals and was 9-3 with 12 saves and a 2.59 ERA for them. He joined Wayne Granger (Reds), Dave Giusti (Pirates), Joe Hoerner (Phillies) and Mudcat Grant (Athletics and Pirates) as premier relievers dealt by Devine during his second stint with the Cardinals.

In 1970, when the Cardinals ranked last in the league in saves (20) and their team leader was Chuck Taylor (eight), Granger, Giusti, Hoerner and Grant had a combined record of 32-16 with 94 saves.

Adapt and adjust

Abernathy threw overhand until he injured his right shoulder as a high school freshman and switched to a sidearm delivery.

After signing with the Senators in 1952, Abernathy made his major-league debut with them in 1955.

Near the end of the 1956 season, Abernathy hurt his right elbow. Trying to compensate for the pain, he put pressure on his shoulder and damaged it again. Weakened, Abernathy was 2-10 with a 6.78 ERA for the Senators in 1957.

Except for two appearances for the Senators in 1960, Abernathy spent the next five seasons (1958-62) in the minors. After undergoing shoulder surgery in 1959, he adopted the submarine delivery.

In 1963, Abernathy, 30, made it back to the majors with the Indians and experienced a career rebirth. With his arm strength restored and his submarine delivery perfected, Abernathy became a durable, effective big-league reliever.

“His delivery was sweeping so low it swept him to the top as a relief pitcher,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted.

Late bloomer

Abernathy was the National League leader in saves twice (31 for 1965 Cubs and 28 for 1967 Reds). He also led the league in games pitched three times (84 for 1965 Cubs, 70 for 1967 Reds and 78 for 1968 Reds).

Reliyng on a sinking fastball, curve and knuckleball he used as a changeup, Abernathy thrived on work. The more often he pitched, the better the results.

“If I don’t have to work more than a couple of innings, I can go for seven or eight days in a row, take a rest, and do it again,’ Abernathy told The Sporting News.

In 1970, during his second stint with the Cubs, Abernathy began the season as the setup reliever to closer Phil Regan.

On May 16, 1970, Abernathy relieved Cubs starter Ken Holtzman in the ninth inning of a game at St. Louis. With the Cubs ahead, 3-1, Abernathy was brought in to face slugger Richie Allen with the bases loaded and two outs.

With the count at 2-and-1, Abernathy needed to throw a strike, but his pitch sailed toward Allen. Though he tried to turn away, the ball struck Allen in the back of the head.

“I was surprised Allen didn’t get out of the way,” Abernathy told the Post-Dispatch. “I yelled to him, but I guess he didn’t hear me.”

Allen’s advancement to first allowed the runner from third to score, carrying the Cardinals to within a run at 3-2, but Regan came in and got Joe Torre to line out to center, ending the game. Boxscore

Come and gone

Two weeks later, the Cubs traded Abernathy to the Cardinals. Though Abernathy had a 2.00 ERA and a save in 11 games for the 1970 Cubs, manager Leo Durocher had lost confidence in him.

“The Cardinals were the only team who wanted Abernathy,” Durocher told the Chicago Tribune. “They needed relief pitching and were willing to take the chance. Maybe he’ll help them. I don’t know. All I know is that every time I put him in a game this year he was getting bombed.”

Before the Cardinals acquired Abernathy, five pitchers, Chuck Taylor, Tom Hilgendorf, Jerry Johnson, Sal Campisi and Billy McCool, earned saves for them in 1970. A week before Abernathy arrived, the Cardinals got another closer candidate, Frank Linzy, from the Giants.

“What they’re doing, of course, is indulging in a bit of wishful thinking when they claim anything in sight with a toeplate,” Bob Broeg wrote in the Post-Dispatch.

On May 30, 1970, Abernathy made his Cardinals debut at St. Louis against the Dodgers and pitched 3.1 innings in relief of starter Santiago Guzman. Boxscore

Abernathy got a save a week later in a game Bob Gibson won against the Padres at St. Louis. Boxscore

On June 27, 1970, in his last Cardinals appearance, Abernathy worked out of a bases-loaded jam he inherited and got the win versus the Phillies at St. Louis. Boxscore

Four days later, he was traded to the Royals.

Royal gift

“I was pitching well for the Cardinals,” Abernathy said. “At least I thought I was pitching pretty well. I asked Bing Devine (about the trade) and he told me, ‘That’s baseball. You move around.’ ”

When Abernathy reported to the Royals, he said to manager Bob Lemon, “I need work.” Lemon replied, “You came to the right place.”

Abernathy pitched five times in his first six days with the Royals and was 3-0 with a save and 0.96 ERA. In his first 9.1 innings, he allowed a run and struck out 13.

“Christmas has come a little early,” Lemon said.

Lemon, an ace for the Indians when Abernathy debuted in the American League 15 years earlier, knew how to utilize his reliever. Abernathy was 5-3 with four saves in July, 2-0 with four saves in August and 2-0 with four saves in September. Right-handed batters hit .202 against him.

Abernathy’s combined 1970 record with the Cubs, Cardinals and Royals was 10-3 with 14 saves and a 2.60 ERA.

Abernathy pitched for the Royals again in 1971 and 1972, ending his 14 years in the majors with a 63-69 record and 149 saves.

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Opening the way to a pipeline of talent, second baseman Julian Javier was the first player from the Dominican Republic to play for the Cardinals.

Sixty years ago, on May 27, 1960, the Cardinals acquired a pair of Pirates prospects, Javier and reliever Ed Bauta, for starting pitcher Vinegar Bend Mizell and infielder Dick Gray.

Making the leap from the minor leagues to the Cardinals’ lineup, Javier became the third player born in the Dominican Republic to play in the major leagues. Before him were Ozzie Virgil of the 1956 Giants and Felipe Alou of the 1958 Giants.

Javier was the Cardinals’ second baseman for 12 years and contributed to three National League pennants and two World Series titles. Dominican Republic natives who followed him to the Cardinals included Albert Pujols, Joaquin Andujar, Pedro Guerrero and Tony Pena.

Opportunity knocks

Javier was born and raised in San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic. Located in the northeast section of the Caribbean island country, his hometown is one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa beans. A son of a truck driver, Javier had seven siblings.

In 1956, when he was 19, Javier attended a Pirates tryout camp in the Dominican Republic and was offered a contract by scout Howie Haak. Javier signed for $500, The Sporting News reported.

“We didn’t know about bonuses then,” Javier said in 1967. “Today, I would ask for $50,000.”

Javier began the 1960 season, his fifth in the Pirates’ farm system, with their Columbus, Ohio, club. The Pirates had a future Hall of Famer, Bill Mazeroski, as their second baseman and were planning to convert Javier to shortstop, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

When the 1960 Pirates got off to a fast start, winning 12 of their first 15 games, general manager Joe Brown began looking for ways to keep the team in contention. To bolster the starting pitching, he made Javier available for trade.

Infield shift

In 1960, Alex Grammas, 34, moved from shortstop to second base for the Cardinals to make room for Daryl Spencer, who was acquired from the Giants. Shortstop was Spencer’s preferred position, but Grammas “did not adjust too well to second base,” The Sporting News reported.

“I think Grammas is more at home at shortstop,” Cardinals manager Solly Hemus told the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

On May 9, 1960, Hemus said Grammas would go back to shortstop and Spencer would shift to second “to tighten our defense.”

The switch “caught Cardinals brass by surprise” and Spencer “felt he was being made a scapegoat,” according to The Sporting News.

Cardinals general manager Bing Devine sought a better solution. He wanted to acquire a young middle infielder, either a second baseman or a shortstop, who would provide long-term stability.

According to Bob Broeg of the Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals pursued Reds shortstop prospect Leo Cardenas, “the tall, skinny kid who looks as though he might be another Marty Marion.” Rejected, the Cardinals’ focus turned to Javier.

Help wanted

Cardinals director of player procurement Eddie Stanky, a former second baseman, scouted Javier and recommended him. Stanky said Javier was “one of the best prospects in the minors” and “his speed was second only to that of Vada Pinson of the Reds,” The Sporting News reported.

“He’s one of the fastest right-handed batters I’ve ever seen,” Stanky told the Post-Dispatch.

The Cardinals weren’t the only club interested. The Phillies wanted a second baseman, too, and were talking to the Pirates about a swap of pitcher Don Cardwell for Javier. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Phillies scouted Javier for 10 days, but “the scout reported back to the front office that Javier struck out too often and had a tendency to become injured.”

After the Phillies dealt Cardwell to the Cubs for second baseman Tony Taylor, the Cardinals offered Mizell to the Pirates for Javier. Pirates general manager Joe Brown viewed Mizell, 29, as a good fit to join a rotation with Bob Friend, Vern Law and Harvey Haddix. Mizell was 1-3 for the Cardinals in 1960, but he had five seasons of double-digit win totals in his previous six with them.

“We are sacrificing a future for the present because in Mizell we have a known quantity,” Brown said.

The Pittsburgh Press noted, “Javier wouldn’t have made it with the Pirates for two or three years, but the team needed pitching help now.”

Javier, 23, hit .288 for Columbus in 1960 and Devine called him “an outstanding glove man as well as an improving hitter,” the Globe-Democrat reported.

“We consider this a major addition to the Cardinals’ regular lineup now and for the future,” said Devine.

In the Post-Dispatch, Bob Broeg concluded, “It took courage to give up a player of some reputation for one with none at the major-league level, an almost unknown.”

Hot start

On May 28, 1960, Javier made his debut in the majors at second base for the Cardinals against the Giants at St. Louis. He had six putouts, three assists and helped turn a double play. Batting eighth, Javier singled twice versus Billy O’Dell. Boxscore

Hemus used Javier’s arrival to make other moves. Spencer shifted back to shortstop and Grammas was benched. Bill White went from center field to first base, replacing Stan Musial, and Curt Flood took over in center.

With White and Javier solidifying the right side of the infield, and Flood in center, the Cardinals improved. On the day they got Javier, the Cardinals were 15-20. After the trade and the moves to upgrade the defense, they were 71-48.

“Javier knows how to make the tough double play,” Hemus told the Post-Dispatch. “He makes the club solid. Not many balls are falling in with him and Curt Flood out there. Those two have helped make our pitching better.”

In addition to showing good range in the field on grounders and pop-ups, Javier hit safely in 10 of his first 11 games. In his third game, on May 30 at Los Angeles, he hit his first big-league home run, leading off the fourth versus Clem Labine of the Dodgers. Boxscore

On June 3, Javier hit two triples versus the Giants’ Mike McCormick at San Francisco, “amazing everybody with his breathtaking speed,” The Sporting News observed. Boxscore

“I used a heavier bat, Carl Sawatski’s, because I broke my bat last night,” Javier said.

Four days later, on June 7, Javier’s wife came from the Dominican Republic to St. Louis and saw her husband play in the majors for the first time. Javier raked the Phillies for three singles. Boxscore

Stellar career

The 1960 Cardinals finished at 86-68, nine games behind the champion Pirates, who were 95-59. Mizell, in his last good season, was 13-5 for the 1960 Pirates.

Javier hit .237 with eight triples and 19 stolen bases for the 1960 Cardinals. His 15 sacrifice bunts led the league. Though he also made the most errors among National League second basemen, Javier was named to the Topps all-rookie team.

In 12 seasons with St. Louis, Javier batted .258 with 1,450 hits, twice led National League second basemen in putouts and twice was named an all-star, including 1963 when he was part of a Cardinals starting infield with Bill White, Dick Groat and Ken Boyer.

In Game 7 of the 1967 World Series, Javier’s three-run home run versus Jim Lonborg of the Red Sox was a key blow in the Cardinals’ championship clincher.

Javier was traded to the Reds for pitcher Tony Cloninger in March 1972. As a utility player, he helped the Reds win the pennant in his last season in the majors.

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Johnny Lindell faced the Cardinals in a World Series as a Yankees outfielder and in a regular season as a pitcher for the Pirates and Phillies. He also played for the Cardinals for a couple of months when they sought power for their lineup.

On May 15, 1950, the Cardinals purchased the contract of Lindell from the Yankees for the $10,000 waiver price.

Lindell was an intriguing player because of the multiple roles he performed. He began his professional career as a pitcher, moved to outfielder and went back to pitching again.

A strapping 6 feet 4 and 225 pounds, Lindell batted and threw right-handed. Talented as well as versatile, he pitched for one pennant-winning Yankees team and played outfield for another. As a hitter, he twice led the American League in triples and as a pitcher he once led the National League in most walks issued.

Pitching prospect

Lindell developed his athletic skills in high school at Monrovia, Calif., near Pasadena. He was offered a chance to play football at the University of Southern California but signed with the Yankees when he was 19 in 1936. The Yankees sent him to their farm club in Joplin, Mo., and he posted a 17-8 record.

Working his way through the minor leagues, Lindell became a prominent pitching prospect. He was 18-7 with a 2.70 ERA for the Kansas City Blues in 1940.

Lindell began the 1941 season with the Yankees, made his major-league debut in a pinch-hitting appearance on April 18 and was sent to their farm club in Newark, N.J. Lindell was 23-4 with a 2.05 ERA for Newark in 1941 and the Yankees made plans to have him on their pitching staff in 1942.

Though he pitched in 23 games for the 1942 Yankees and was 2-1 with a 3.76 ERA, Lindell’s fastball and curve no longer were effective and manager Joe McCarthy lost confidence in him. Lindell didn’t pitch in the 1942 World Series versus the Cardinals.

According to The Sporting News, McCarthy told Lindell after the season, “Johnny, it does not look as if you ever will be a really good pitcher. However, you have the makings of a hitter.”

Lindell worked on his hitting in winter ball in California and reported to spring training in 1943 as an outfield candidate.

New role

The Yankees’ center fielder, Joe DiMaggio, and right fielder, Tommy Henrich, entered military service in 1943 and the club needed outfielders. Lindell was the Yankees’ 1943 Opening Day right fielder and remained in the lineup throughout the season. Lindell started 64 games in right, 52 in center and four in left for the American League champions. He led the league in triples (12) and was named to the all-star team.

In the 1943 World Series against the Cardinals, Lindell hit .111 but was involved in a critical play.

After the teams split the first two games, the Cardinals led, 2-1, in Game 3. Lindell led off the eighth inning with a single and advanced to second when center fielder Harry Walker bobbled the ball. George Stirnweiss bunted to first baseman Ray Sanders, whose throw to third arrived ahead of Lindell.

As third baseman Whitey Kurowski went to apply the tag, Lindell “came into the bag like a 10-ton truck,” crashing into Kurowski and knocking the ball loose, The Sporting News reported. The impact snapped Kurowski’s head back.

Lindell said the collision was unavoidable because Kurowski positioned himself in front of the base. “What was I to do? Beg his pardon?” Lindell asked.

Said Cardinals manager Billy Southworth: “Lindell played ball the way I like to see it played.”

The play woke up the Yankees, who scored five runs in the inning and won, 6-2.  Boxscore

Lindell had his best season in 1944. As the Yankees’ center fielder, he hit .300 with 33 doubles, 18 home runs and 103 RBI. He led the league in triples (16), extra-base hits (67) and total bases (297).

After spending part of 1945 in military service, Lindell returned to the Yankees in 1946 and was their Opening Day left fielder. In 1947, Lindell batted .500 in the World Series against the Dodgers, collecting nine hits in 18 at-bats and driving in seven runs in six games, despite cracking a rib in Game 5.

Right fit

Lindell’s playing time decreased when Casey Stengel became Yankees manager in 1949. After starting in left field on Opening Day in 1950, Lindell struggled, hitting .190 in 21 at-bats.

The 1950 Cardinals were stocked with left-handed hitters, led by Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter, and were looking for a power bat from the right side. Lindell, 33, was an available candidate.

“He’s a good competitor, a clutch player,” Cardinals manager Eddie Dyer told The Sporting News.

Though he had spent 15 years in the Yankees’ organization, Lindell welcomed the move to St. Louis. “I wanted to be traded because I didn’t fit Casey Stengel’s idea of a ballplayer,” Lindell told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Not enough obvious spark, I guess.”

Lindell reported to the Cardinals 15 pounds over his regular weight of 225, the Post-Dispatch noted, but Dyer played him immediately in left field.

In his Cardinals debut, Lindell went 0-for-4 against the Dodgers’ Preacher Roe, but in his next game he hit a two-run home run into the upper deck in left at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn against rookie Billy Loes. Boxscore

A month later, on June 24, 1950, Lindell’s 10th-inning home run against Bob Chipman gave the Cardinals a 7-6 triumph over the Braves at Boston. Boxscore

Though 12 of Lindell’s 21 hits for the Cardinals were for extra bases, including five home runs, he batted .186 in 36 games and “his fielding had slipped along with his hitting,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

On July 17, 1950, the Cardinals sent Lindell to their farm team at Columbus, Ohio. After playing in five games there, the Cardinals accommodated his request to be sent to a Pacific Coast League club closer to his California home and traded him to the Hollywood Stars, a farm team of the Dodgers.

On the mound again

In 1951, Lindell went back to pitching and was 12-9 with a 3.03 ERA for Hollywood. Relying on a knuckleball, Lindell was dominant in 1952, posting a 24-9 record and 2.52 ERA for Hollywood, which had become a Pirates affiliate.

Lindell returned to the big leagues in 1953 as a member of the Pirates’ starting rotation. On May 3, 1953, he earned his first National League win, a four-hitter against the Cardinals at Pittsburgh. Boxscore

After posting a 5-16 record and 4.71 ERA for the Pirates, Lindell’s contract was sold to the Phillies on Aug. 31, 1953. He earned one win for the Phillies and it came against the Cardinals at St. Louis. Lindell struck out 11, walked eight and ignited the winning rally in the ninth with a run-scoring single. Boxscore

Lindell “would have had a far easier time if his catchers had been able to hold” the knuckleball, the Post-Dispatch reported.

The win was Lindell’s last as a pitcher. He was 1-1 with a 4.24 ERA for the Phillies. His combined record for the Pirates and Phillies in 1953 was 6-17 with a 4.66 ERA, and in six starts versus the Cardinals he was 2-4 with a 3.64 ERA. Lindell led National League pitchers in allowing the most walks (139) and wild pitches (11).

In 1954, Lindell didn’t pitch, made seven plate appearances, all as a pinch-hitter, for the Phillies and was released on May 10.

In 12 big-league seasons, Lindell hit .273 and had a pitching record of 8-18.

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Mike Torrez, a big guy with big talent, capped a hot personal stretch for the Cardinals with his most dominant pitching performance.

Fifty years ago, on April 15, 1970, Torrez pitched a one-hitter for the Cardinals against the Expos at St. Louis. The win was the 11th in a row for Torrez. He won his last nine decisions of 1969 for the Cardinals and his first two of 1970.

A 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander, Torrez joined Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton and Jerry Reuss in a Cardinals rotation primed to become one of baseball’s best, but it didn’t work out.

The Cardinals traded Carlton because of a contract squabble, Reuss because he wouldn’t shave his moustache and Torrez because he couldn’t control his pitches.

Wild thing

Born in Topeka, Kansas, Torrez was 18 when he signed with the Cardinals in September 1964.

In 1967, his fourth season in the Cardinals’ farm system, Torrez was assigned to Tulsa, whose manager was pitching legend Warren Spahn.

At mid-season, Torrez was 3-8 and struggled to get pitches over the plate. Torrez said Spahn helped him to focus. Hand-written on Torrez’s glove were four words: think, concentrate, throw strikes.

“I know I’ve got one of the best arms in the organization,” Torrez told The Sporting News.

Torrez turned around his season, winning six consecutive decisions, and became the Pacific Coast League’s “most exciting pitcher,” The Sporting News reported.

“At last, I’m throwing strikes and thinking out there,” Torrez said.

The Cardinals, on their way to the 1967 National League pennant, called up Torrez in September. He made his big-league debut in relief against the Pirates and was picked to make his first start on Sept. 22 against the Braves.

“I had time to think about what could happen to me and I got nervous,” Torrez told Sports Illustrated. “You look around and all of a sudden you are in the major leagues. They were all there _ Cepeda, Maris, Flood, Brock _ and I knew they were yelling for me, but you feel so alone.”

Torrez’s nervousness showed in the first inning when the first three Braves batters reached base, but he limited the damage to one run. He went five innings and didn’t give up another run after the first. Boxscore

Gobbling up wins

Torrez opened the 1968 season with the defending World Series champion Cardinals, was 2-1 in five games and got sent down to Tulsa.

In 1969, Torrez stuck with the Cardinals. He was 10-4, but had almost as many walks (61) as strikeouts (62).

If Torrez could control his pitches, the Cardinals figured, he could be a big winner. “His potential is unlimited,” Cardinals pitching coach Billy Muffett told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in March 1970.

Torrez also had a big appetite. On the eve of his first start in 1970, he dined out in Montreal and “put away a 20-ounce steak,” the Post-Dispatch reported. “The restaurant charged by the ounce and the price was 75 cents an ounce, or $15.”

The next night, Torrez, well-fortified, won, limiting the Expos to one earned run in 8.1. innings.

Wild but wily

The Expos were the opponent again when Torrez made his next start at St. Louis.

Relying primarily on a fastball, Torrez held the Expos hitless through seven innings.

“I was conscious of the no-hitter in the sixth inning,” Torrez told the Montreal Gazette. “I thought I could do it.”

The No. 8 batter in the order, Adolfo Phillips, led off the eighth for the Expos.

“I had been pitching him inside all night and I was trying to jam him,” Torrez told the Post-Dispatch, “but I put the ball right over the plate.”

Phillips lashed at the fastball and sent a grounder skimming along the AstroTurf between third baseman Richie Allen and shortstop Dal Maxvill. Neither could reach it and the ball rolled through for a single.

Torrez went on to complete the first shutout of his career in the majors and his only one-hitter. He walked six and struck out three. Boxscore

“Mike’s fastball was really quick,” said Cardinals catcher Joe Torre. “He was consistent with it, even with all the walks. It sounds funny, but he wasn’t as wild as he had been. He put the fastball in good spots and had it moving good.”

Said Torrez: “I felt my control was good, but I’m relatively new in the league and the umpires don’t know me. I thought they took a few good pitches away from me.”

According to the Post-Dispatch, Torrez threw 117 pitches, including 98 fastballs. He registered 60 balls and 57 strikes.

“Torrez has got to be a strong boy to make that many pitches and still throw a one-hitter,” said Expos manager Gene Mauch. “He has good life in his fastball.”

Torrez also contributed as a hitter to the 10-0 victory. In four plate appearances, he had three singles and was hit on the left arm by a Ken Johnson knuckleball. Torrez scored twice and had a RBI.

Overcoming adversity

Lacking command, Torrez couldn’t sustain his early success in 1970. He finished the season 8-10 with a 4.22 ERA and had more walks (103) than strikeouts (100).

In 1971, his career nearly unraveled. In nine games for the Cardinals, Torrez was 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA, walking 30 and striking out eight. On June 15, 1971, the Cardinals traded Torrez to the Expos for reliever Bob Reynolds. The Expos sent Torrez to the minors and his struggles continued. He was 2-4 with an 8.16 ERA for Winnipeg, walking 52 and striking out 45.

Torrez revealed he was having marital problems and admitted he’d become overweight.

“I was all mixed up,” Torrez told The Sporting News. “I used to lie awake nights wondering what to do about my marriage. I wondered what was going on back home. I didn’t know if I should be there and forget baseball. It was difficult to concentrate.”

Torrez and his wife divorced and he went on a diet. In 1972, Expos pitching coach Cal McLish helped Torrez develop a slider and sinking fastball.

The results were immediate. Torrez was 16-12 with a 3.33 ERA for the 1972 Expos, working 243.1 innings.

Torrez went on to pitch 18 years in the majors. Though he became known for throwing the pitch Bucky Dent of the Yankees hit for an improbable home run to beat the Red Sox in a one-game playoff for a division title, Torrez had more success than failure.

He had a career record in the majors of 185-160 and 10 times had seasons of double-digit wins, including 1975 when he was 20-9 for the Orioles. In 1977, Torrez made two starts for the Yankees in the World Series against the Dodgers and won both.

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The Cardinals tried to acquire Don Zimmer to be their second baseman but were outmaneuvered by the Cubs.

Sixty years ago, on April 8, 1960, the Dodgers told Zimmer he would be traded later in the day to either the Cardinals or the Cubs. Zimmer said he preferred to go to the Cubs because they would play him at third base, his favorite position.

The Cardinals offered the Dodgers a pair of minor-league players and cash. The Cubs offered three minor-leaguers and cash.

After weighing both offers, the Dodgers chose the Cubs, dealing Zimmer for pitcher Ron Perranoski, infielder John Goryl and outfielder Lee Handley. Only Goryl had big-league experience, but Perranoski was the prize. The left-hander became a prominent reliever for the Dodgers.

The Cardinals’ failure to land Zimmer turned out to be fortuitous. A month later, they made a trade with the Pirates for Julian Javier, who developed into an all-star and was their second baseman on three National League championship clubs.

Hard knocks

In December 1959, the Cardinals traded second baseman Don Blasingame to the Giants for shortstop Daryl Spencer and outfielder Leon Wagner. With the acquisition of Spencer, the Cardinals planned to shift Alex Grammas from shortstop to second base.

Near the end of spring training in 1960, when the Dodgers started shopping Zimmer, the Cardinals saw an opportunity to upgrade at second base. Zimmer (29) was five years younger than Grammas (34). The Cardinals thought it would be better to have Grammas in a utility role.

Zimmer was available because Maury Wills had taken over the Dodgers’ shortstop job and Bob Lillis was a capable backup.

In 1953, Zimmer was beaned in a minor-league game, suffered a skull fracture and needed a plate inserted in his head. He made his debut in the majors with the Dodgers in 1954 and two years later suffered a broken cheekbone when beaned again by a pitch from Hal Jeffcoat of the Reds.

Zimmer “just doesn’t get out of the way,” pitcher Sal Maglie said to the Associated Press.

After being used primarily as a backup at second, third and short, Zimmer became the Dodgers’ starting shortstop in 1958 and hit .262 with 17 home runs.

“A colorful fielder, Zimmer looks like a chubby Nellie Fox, always yelling encouragement about the infield with a wad of chewing tobacco bulging in his jaw,” the Associated Press observed.

Zimmer returned as Dodgers shortstop in 1959, but struggled to hit for average. “Likable little Zimmer never has ceased stubbornly to swing for the fences,” Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted.

In June 1959, the Dodgers called up Wills from the minors and the speedster supplanted Zimmer, who never got untracked and finished the season with a .165 batting mark for the National League champions.

Time to go

At spring training in 1960, Zimmer choked up on the bat and shortened his swing. “I’ve never seen Zimmer look better,” Dodgers manager Walter Alston told The Sporting News.

Alston may have been trying to prop up Zimmer’s trade value. He and Zimmer weren’t getting along.

“I wanted to get away, especially from Alston,” Zimmer told the Associated Press. “I know he doesn’t care for me. That’s because I’m always after him to play me or trade me.”

The Cardinals and Cubs were the most ardent suitors for Zimmer. The Cubs wanted him as the third baseman to replace Al Dark, who they traded to the Phillies in January 1960.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Zimmer “stated frankly he was not interested in going to the Cardinals when he learned they planned to play him at second base. He prefers third.”

The Dodgers “were understood to be seeking a suitable place for Zimmer in the major leagues,” the Tribune reported, “and his preference for the Cubs undoubtedly was taken into consideration.”

The Cardinals offered two minor-league players and cash to the Dodgers for Zimmer, the Post-Dispatch reported, adding the identities of the players were unknown. It’s possible pitcher Jim Donohue and outfielder Duke Carmel were the minor-leaguers offered because two months later the Cardinals dealt them to the Dodgers for outfielder John Glenn.

According to the Associated Press, Dodgers general manager Buzzie Bavasi told Zimmer, “You’re going to either the Cubs or the St. Louis Cardinals. I can’t tell you yet. I’ll be able to tell you later on.”

A few hours later, Zimmer learned he was a Cub.

“I would have liked to have had Zim because he can play three infield positions well and I like his fire,” Cardinals manager Solly Hemus told the Post-Dispatch.

Foiled in their attempt to acquire Zimmer, the Cardinals turned their attention to a Pirates prospect, Julian Javier, whose path to the majors was blocked by Bill Mazeroski, a future Hall of Famer. On May 28, 1960, the Cardinals dealt pitcher Vinegar Bend Mizell and infielder Dick Gray to the Pirates for reliever Ed Bauta and Javier, who became their mainstay at second base for more than a decade.

Crowd pleaser

Zimmer was the third baseman when the Cubs opened the season on April 12, 1960, against the Dodgers at Los Angeles. In his first at-bat as a Cub, Zimmer hit a home run against his former teammate, Don Drysdale.

“The crowd of 67,550 stood and cheered Don as he rounded the bases,” The Sporting News reported.

Zimmer told the Los Angeles Times, “I can’t think of anything that has happened to me in baseball that gave me a bigger thrill, and I hit it off one of my best buddies.” Boxscore

The next day, Zimmer was chatting with Drysdale at the ballpark when Dodgers outfielder Duke Snider approached and informed them his wife stood and applauded for Zimmer when he hit the home run.

Zimmer replied, “I can top that one. I saw Ginger Drysdale outside the dressing room after the game and she gave me a kiss and a hug.”

In June 1960, the Cubs called up prospect Ron Santo from the minors, put him at third base and moved Zimmer to second. Zimmer eventually played for the Mets, Reds, Dodgers again, and Senators before ending his playing career in 1965.

From 1971 through 2006, Zimmer was in the major leagues as either a coach or manager. He had a 906-873 record as manager of the Padres, Red Sox, Rangers, Cubs and Yankees.

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The Cardinals had Willie Montanez in their organization, lost him, got him back, lost him again and made another attempt to reacquire him.

On April 8, 1970, the Cardinals sent Montanez to the Phillies as partial compensation for Curt Flood’s failure to report after being traded.

A first baseman and outfielder in the Cardinals’ farm system, Montanez became a prominent player for the Phillies.

He spent 14 seasons in the majors with nine teams, but not the Cardinals.

Big leap

Cardinals scout Chase Riddle, who signed Steve Carlton and who also opened the talent pipeline for the club in Latin America, discovered Montanez in Puerto Rico. Montanez signed with the Cardinals on March 1, 1965, a month before he turned 17. He spent the 1965 season with a Cardinals club managed by George Kissell in the Florida Rookie League.

Years later, Montanez admitted he too often flashed a temper in those development years. “I was really bad then,” Montanez said to the Philadelphia Daily News. He also told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “I wouldn’t take anything from anybody and I’m sure that’s what held me down in the minor leagues.”

Left off the Cardinals’ 40-man major-league roster, Montanez was selected by the Angels in the November 1965 Rule 5 draft. The move was a surprise because Montanez had little professional experience and, under the rules, would have to remain with the Angels throughout the 1966 major-league season or be offered back to the Cardinals.

Montanez, 18, was on the Angels’ Opening Day roster and made his debut in the majors on April 12, 1966, as a pinch-runner for Norm Siebern. Boxscore

He appeared in eight games for the Angels, had two at-bats and struck out both times. On May 5, 1966, the Angels returned Montanez to the Cardinals, who sent him to their farm club at Rock Hill, S.C. A month later, in June 1966, Rock Hill placed Montanez on a 10-day inactive list so he could return to Puerto Rico and graduate with his high school class, The Sporting News reported.

From 1966-69, Montanez made a steady rise through the Cardinals’ system. In 1969, he hit .375 in 14 games for Class AAA Tulsa before he fractured his right knee sliding into second base, ending his season.

Compromise solution

In October 1969, the Cardinals traded Flood, Tim McCarver, Joe Hoerner and Byron Browne to the Phillies for Richie Allen, Cookie Rojas and Jerry Johnson. Flood refused to report and filed an antitrust lawsuit, challenging baseball’s reserve clause.

At spring training in 1970, when it became obvious Flood wouldn’t reconsider, the Cardinals and Phillies opened talks regarding a player to replace him in the trade. The Phillies were interested in third baseman Mike Shannon, the Post-Dispatch reported, until medical tests revealed he had a kidney ailment.

With Shannon unavailable, the Cardinals submitted a list of players for consideration, but the Phillies rejected it because “we felt the players listed were no better than the players we already had,” Phillies general manager John Quinn told the Post-Dispatch. “In some cases, we felt they weren’t even quite as good as the players we had.”

The Phillies suggested to the Cardinals some alternative names, including Montanez. Phillies manager Frank Lucchesi had seen Montanez while managing winter baseball in Puerto Rico and urged the Phillies to take him, the Sporting News reported.

“Montanez was more or less a compromise name,” Cardinals general manager Bing Devine told the Post-Dispatch.

The Phillies got Montanez and the right to choose another Cardinals prospect. On Aug. 30, 1970, the Phillies took pitcher Jim Browning.

Fantastic Phillie

Montanez spent the 1970 season in the minors before being called up to the Phillies in September. He went to spring training in 1971 “with only an outside chance of winning a job as a utility man,” The Sporting News reported.

Instead, Montanez was the surprise of training camp and opened the 1971 season as the Phillies’ center fielder.

On April 25, 1971, when the Phillies were in St. Louis to play the Cardinals, Montanez made an over-the-shoulder catch of a Jose Cardenal liner and “collapsed to the warning track, the breath knocked out of him by the head-on collision with an unyielding wall,” the Philadelphia Daily News reported. Boxscore

Five months later, on Sept. 13, 1971, Montanez had five hits and a walk in six plate appearances against the Cardinals at St. Louis. Besides two singles and a double, Montanez hit two home runs. The first, against Reggie Cleveland, tied the score in the seventh and the second, against Don Shaw in the 10th, gave the Phillies a 6-5 victory. Boxscore

Montanez finished the 1971 season with 30 home runs and 99 RBI for the Phillies. The next year, he tied for the National League lead in doubles (39).

Near deal

In May 1975, the Phillies traded Montanez to the Giants for Garry Maddox.

Montanez didn’t like San Francisco’s weather or its stadium, Candlestick Park. He chose to play the 1976 season without a contract. The Giants, concerned Montanez intended to play out his option and become a free agent, decided to trade him. Montanez’s agent, Dennis O’Brien, told the Giants his client would play in St. Louis, Pittsbugh, Philadelphia or New York, the Post-Dispatch reported.

On June 12, 1976, the Cardinals and Giants made a deal “on the condition that Montanez would sign with the Cardinals,” the San Francisco Examiner reported, but the Cardinals backed out when Montanez indicated he would stay unsigned.

“Montanez’s agent called and said we appreciate the opportunity but we’ve decided to play out our option,” Devine told the Post-Dispatch.

Montanez said to the Examiner, “I never did say I’d sign with the Cardinals … I might have signed with St. Louis if the price had been right.”

According to the Examiner, the Cardinals intended to send Reggie Smith to the Giants for Montanez. The Post-Dispatch reported the Cardinals would have sent Smith or Keith Hernandez.

A year earlier, the Cardinals traded Ken Reitz, a San Francisco native, to the Giants. Hernandez, also a San Francisco native, told the Post-Dispatch he wouldn’t have been surprised if he had been dealt to the Giants for Montanez. “They’re looking for Bay Area products,” Hernandez said. “That’s why they got Reitzie. They’re looking for people who’ll bring fans into the park.”

The next day, June 13, 1976, the Giants traded Montanez to the Braves for Darrell Evans. Two days after that, the Cardinals swapped Smith to the Dodgers for Joe Ferguson.

Extra mustard

Montanez batted .275 with 1,604 career hits for the Angels, Phillies, Giants, Braves, Mets, Rangers, Padres, Expos and Pirates. He developed a reputation for flamboyant catches and bat flips.

Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News concluded Montanez “has all the subtlety of a peacock.”

“He walks toward the plate twirling his bat, almost like a baton,” The Sporting News noted.

Padres second baseman Tito Fuentes said, “He’s headed for the hot dog hall of fame. Nobody else is close to him.”

Said Montanez: “Some players do those things, they call them colorful. I do them, they say I am a hot dog.”

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