Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The punishing rushes of Green Bay Packers fullback Jim Taylor shredded a daring defense of the St. Louis football Cardinals.

Taylor, who died Oct. 13, 2018, at 83, was a bruising rusher for the championship Packers teams of the 1960s. Paired in a backfield with “Golden Boy” halfback Paul Hornung, Taylor was a powerful force who twice led the NFL in rushing touchdowns and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In 1962, Taylor topped the NFL in rushing yards with 1,474 in 14 games. He faced the St. Louis Cardinals for the first time that season and his rushing and pass-catching skills were key to enabling the Packers to overcome a challenging defensive scheme.

Game plan

The Cardinals and Packers each had 1-0 records entering their game on Sept. 23, 1962, at Milwaukee County Stadium. The Packers were the reigning NFL champions and the Cardinals were looking to establish themselves as contenders.

Cardinals head coach Wally Lemm and his staff devised a plan to apply pressure on Packers quarterback Bart Starr by having St. Louis defensive players use stunting maneuvers and blitzing schemes.

The stunting meant two or more Cardinals defenders would alter their usual paths to the quarterback in an effort to confuse the Packers’ offensive linemen.

The blitzing freed a defensive back or linebacker to leave his usual post and become an extra pass rusher. New York Giants linebacker Donald “Red Dog” Ettinger is credited with being the first player to use the technique from 1948-50 and blitzes came to be known as “red dogging.” In 1960, Cardinals defensive backs coach Chuck Drulis designed a blitz using safety Larry Wilson and named it “wildcat.”

Pressuring Pack

The blitzing and stunting of Cardinals defenders confused the Packers in the first half of their 1962 game. Starr “was under considerable pressure from the Cardinals’ determined rush, including red-dogging defensive halfbacks,” the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported.

Packers offensive tackle Forrest Gregg said the Cardinals “were doing a lot of jumping around in there and we weren’t picking them up.”

Said Packers coach Vince Lombardi: “Their defense upset us in the beginning. We had a hell of a time trying to find them. They did a lot of stunting in there … It was new to us. We hadn’t seen it before this year.”

Lombardi and his staff tried to make adjustments during the first half, but were unsuccessful in communicating effectively during the helter-skelter pace of the game. The best the Packers could do was to hold on until they could regroup in the locker room at halftime. “We had to put it on the (chalk) board,” Lombardi said.

The Packers’ fierce defense, led by linemen Willie Davis and Henry Jordan, shut down the Cardinals’ attack and Green Bay led, 3-0, at halftime on Hornung’s field goal.

Fast learners

Using the chalkboard to illustrate what needed to be done to counter the Cardinals’ aggressive blitzing and stunting, Lombardi and his staff instructed their offensive linemen to block in assigned areas rather than man against man, and they told Starr to turn Taylor loose to rumble and mix in short passes to Taylor and tight end Ron Kramer.

The adjustments worked. Taylor, 6 feet and 215 pounds, pounded the Cardinals with runs up the middle and put the Packers in position to score a pair of touchdowns.

“In three years, nobody has run through our middle as the Packers did,” defensive tackle Frank Fuller, who played for the Cardinals from 1960-62, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Taylor “turned the tide with his powerful smashes in the second half,” the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported. Taylor “punished the Cardinals’ defense with his hard hitting … His thrusts up the middle helped the (Packers) loosen up the Cardinals’ defense and thus make their passing work.”

Taylor finished with 122 yards rushing on 23 carries and also had four catches for 40 yards. Hornung had a three-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, Starr connected with Max McGee on a 19-yard scoring strike in the fourth quarter and the Packers won, 17-0. Boxscore

“We adjusted between halves,” Lombardi said. “In the second half, we zone blocked and area blocked. The boys picked them up real well.”

Said Taylor: “We just got to zone blocking in the second half and they changed their defense. They weren’t red-dogging so much and the red dogs were not real hard to pick up.”

One of a kind

Lemm praised the Packers as “the best-balanced team in football. Father Time is the only thing that’s going to beat the Packers.”

The Cardinals were held to 16 yards rushing and their top receiver, Sonny Randle, had one catch for five yards. Halfback John David Crow had nine yards on nine carries.

“We don’t have a Taylor,” Lemm lamented.

The 1962 Packers repeated as NFL champions and Taylor also played for league champions in 1965 and 1966. The Cardinals finished 4-9-1 in 1962.

Taylor played two more regular-season games against the Cardinals in his career.

On Oct. 20, 1963, he rushed for 67 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-7 Packers victory, and on Dec. 12, 1967, in his final NFL season with the Saints, the former Louisiana State standout had 34 yards rushing in a game the Cardinals won, 31-20.

Read Full Post »

In a football game featuring an inordinate number of big plays, Philadelphia Eagles flanker Tommy McDonald produced one nearly every time he touched the ball.

On Dec. 16, 1962, McDonald made four catches, three for touchdowns, in a game versus the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. In a NFL career filled with achievements, it was McDonald’s best performance against the Cardinals.

McDonald, who died Sept. 24, 2018, at 84, was one of the NFL’s most amazing players. At 5 feet 9, 175 pounds, he was a prolific pass catcher who consistently produced touchdowns.

Walking tall

McDonald was born in Roy, New Mexico, and his father was a farmer and electrician who set up a spotlight outside the barn “so his sons could play basketball after milking the cows each night,” according to The Daily Oklahoman.

A multi-sport athlete in high school, McDonald was recruited by the University of Oklahoma and was a running back for coach Bud Wilkinson on three consecutive unbeaten teams from 1954-56. McDonald scored 17 touchdowns, 16 rushing and one receiving, for the 1955 national champions. McDonald’s success at Oklahoma earned him election to the College Football Hall of Fame.

“There are worlds of people with potential physical abilities greater than McDonald’s,” Wilkinson said to Sports Illustrated. “About his only real advantages are quickness and extraordinary determination.”

The Eagles selected McDonald in the third round of the 1957 NFL draft and converted him to a receiver.

McDonald was undersized but tough. On Oct. 4, 1959, a week after he broke his jaw and had it wired shut, McDonald played against the New York Giants and scored four touchdowns _ three on receptions and the other on a punt return.

As a teen, McDonald lost the tip of his left thumb in a motorbike accident, the New York Times reported, but he was as sure-handed as any receiver in the NFL.

McDonald also benefitted from learning the proper way to go down after being tackled by much larger defensive players. “I fall like 175 pounds of spaghetti,” McDonald said.

“He has the balance of a gymnast,” Sports Illustrated observed, and as teammate Tom Brookshier said, “The little rat is strong as a bull.”

Good chemistry

Eagles quarterback Norm Van Brocklin, traded by the Rams to the Eagles in 1958, mentored McDonald “in the art of running pass patterns,” the Times reported, and McDonald became Van Brocklin’s favorite receiver.

McDonald led the NFL in touchdown receptions (nine) in 1958.

In the 1960 NFL championship game against the Packers, McDonald caught three passes from Van Brocklin for 90 yards and a touchdown in a 17-13 Eagles victory.

“If I had to pick one guy to throw the ball to with the game on the line, I’d pick McDonald,” Van Brocklin told Ray Didinger, author of “The Eagles Encyclopedia.”

Van Brocklin retired after the championship season and his protege, Sonny Jurgensen, took over as Eagles quarterback. Jurgensen and McDonald were friends and clicked on the field. McDonald led the NFL in receiving yards (1,144) in 1961.

Jurgensen, McDonald and Van Brocklin all would be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“I wound up with two great quarterbacks _ Van Brocklin and Jurgensen,” McDonald told The Daily Oklahoman. “You couldn’t go in a chemistry lab and mix up two better arms.”

Thrill ride

The Eagles and Cardinals each entered the 1962 regular-season finale with a 3-9-1 record. Played on a sunny St. Louis Sunday with a temperature of 40 degrees and before a crowd of 14,989, the game quickly became what the Philadelphia Daily News described as “a spectator’s dream but a coach’s nightmare.”

Among the highlights:

_ McDonald made four catches for 162 yards. Three of those grabs were for touchdowns of 56, 60 and 40 yards, the latter “a remarkable diving catch,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

_ Jurgensen threw for 419 yards and five touchdowns. He did most of that damage from a shotgun formation designed to buy time against the Cardinals’ blitzes, according to the Inquirer.

_ Timmy Brown, the Eagles’ halfback, rushed for 50 yards and caught five passes for 199 yards, including touchdown receptions of 60 and 82 yards.

_ John David Crow, the Cardinals’ running back, rushed for three touchdowns and snared a 16-yard touchdown toss from quarterback Charley Johnson.

_ Johnson threw for 386 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a touchdown.

_ Sonny Randle, a Cardinals split end, made three catches for 134 yards and a touchdown.

_ Taz Anderson, a Cardinals flanker, totaled 175 yards on eight receptions.

The Cardinals led, 31-28, at halftime and won, 45-35. Game summary

“I’ve never seen a shoddier defensive show by two teams,” said Eagles coach Nick Skorich.

Cardinals coach Wally Lemm said, “It seemed both teams wanted to give the game away, didn’t it?”

The teams combined for 1,087 total yards _ 589 for the Cardinals and 498 for the Eagles.

“The defensive indolence gave the illusion of offensive excellence,” the Philadelphia Daily News concluded.

Finding the end zone

McDonald six times made three touchdown catches in a game _ five times for the Eagles and the other for the Rams.

He played 12 years in the NFL for the Eagles (1957-63), Cowboys (1964), Rams (1965-66), Falcons (1967) and Browns (1968). His last regular-season game was for the Browns against the Cardinals on Dec. 14, 1968.

McDonald finished his NFL career with 495 catches for 8,410 yards and 84 touchdowns. When he retired, his 84 touchdown receptions were the second-most in NFL history, behind the 99 for the Packers’ Don Hutson. McDonald was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.

“I think catching passes is judgment, mostly,” McDonald said. “I’ve got good vision, good peripheral vision. I think sometimes I can see things the defensive back doesn’t see.”

In 1957, McDonald married Ann Campbell, who was Miss Oklahoma in 1955 and a finalist in the 1956 Miss America pageant. They divorced three year later. In 1962, McDonald wed Patricia Gallagher, raised four children together and were married for 55 years until she died on Jan. 1, 2018.

Read Full Post »

The departure of Jack Clark enabled the Cardinals to take a chance on Brian Jordan.

Thirty years ago, on June 1, 1988, the Cardinals chose Jordan with a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds of baseball’s amateur draft. Jordan was a junior at the University of Richmond and excelled there at football and baseball.

Though Jordan was an intriguing talent as an outfielder, there was a genuine risk he would pursue a full-time career in professional football. The Cardinals, however, were in a position to take that risk because they had three picks among the top 30 in the draft.

When Clark, their top slugger, became a free agent and signed with the Yankees after the 1987 World Series, baseball’s basic agreement with the players’ union required the Cardinals to be compensated with two additional draft picks _ one in the first round and another in the supplemental round.

Using the Yankees’ first-round pick, the 22nd overall, as compensation for Clark, the Cardinals drafted University of Illinois pitcher John Ericks. With their own first-round pick, the 23rd overall, the Cardinals drafted Virginia Tech pitcher Brad Duvall.

After 26 players were drafted in the first round, four supplemental selections were made before the start of the second round. The Indians, Orioles and Giants made their choices before the Cardinals, with the 30th overall pick of the draft, took Jordan.

Oh, Canada

The selection of Jordan received little public notice. Instead, the headlines went to the Cardinals’ first-round picks, Ericks and Duvall. Ericks struck out 108 in 87.1 innings as a junior at Illinois. Duvall, a Virginia Tech senior, was touted by Cardinals director of scouting Fred McAlister to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as “kind of a country boy who brings it. You should see him pitch.”

On June 28, 1988, Jordan still hadn’t signed and the Post-Dispatch speculated he “may return to Richmond to play football” rather than play in the Cardinals’ system. A week later, on July 7, more than a month after he was drafted, Jordan signed with the Cardinals after it was agreed he could play football at Richmond his senior season.

The Cardinals dispatched Jordan to their Class A farm club in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and he got into 19 games, batting .310. After bruising a bone in his right foot, he returned to school.

Jordan had a solid senior season for Richmond’s football team, got invited to play in the Senior Bowl and suffered an ankle injury. The Buffalo Bills selected him in the seventh round of the 1989 NFL draft.

Sidelined by the injured ankle, Jordan was limited to playing in 11 games for the Cardinals’ Class A St. Petersburg affiliate in 1989 before he reported to Bills training camp in July.

Hanifan helps

The Bills waived Jordan on Sept. 4, 1989, and he was signed by the Atlanta Falcons the next day. On Sept. 9, the Falcons placed Jordan, a defensive back, on injured reserve because of a broken foot.

After the Falcons lost nine of their first 12 games in 1989, head coach Marion Campbell resigned and an assistant, Jim Hanifan, was named interim head coach. Hanifan was head coach of the NFL St. Louis Cardinals from 1980-85.

One of Hanifan’s first moves after replacing Campbell was to place Jordan on the active roster. Jordan made his NFL debut on Dec. 3, 1989, against the defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers. Hanifan gave him his first NFL start on Dec. 24 in the season finale against the Detroit Lions. Jordan lined up at strong safety and made three tackles.

Falcons vs. Cardinals

The Cardinals, eager to evaluate Jordan on the diamond, invited him to their major-league spring training camp in 1990. Liking what they saw, they assigned him to their Class AA Arkansas club to start the 1990 season.

“This is going to be a big year for him,” said Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog. “If he does well in Double-A, then he’s going to have to decide between the two sports.”

Jordan’s baseball season, however, was a bust. He batted .160 in 16 games for Arkansas and injured his right wrist in May. After a stint on the disabled list, Jordan was sent to Class A St. Petersburg. He played in nine games, batted .167 and was sidelined for the remainder of the season when it was discovered he’d broken a bone in his wrist.

Jordan reported to training camp with the 1990 Falcons, who hired Jerry Glanville as head coach, earned a starting job and played in all 16 regular-season games, intercepting three passes.

The Cardinals again invited Jordan to their major-league spring training camp in 1991, though general manager Dal Maxvill openly wondered whether football was gaining the upper hand.

“He’s making more money with them (Falcons) now,” Maxvill said. “Obviously, we’re trying to get as good a look as possible. Hopefully, he’ll have some success and develop a real love for (baseball) because I can see him very shortly, if he’s in the $400,000 to $500,000 range, saying, ‘I’m going to pass on baseball.’ ”

Let’s make a deal

The Cardinals sent Jordan, 24, to their top farm club, Class AAA Louisville, to start the 1991 season. He batted .264 in 61 games before reporting to Falcons training camp.

Jordan was a starter for the 1991 Falcons, played in all 16 games and had two interceptions.

When he went to spring training in 1992, Jordan hoped to earn a spot on the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster. Instead, he was sent to Louisville, but, soon after the season opened, Cardinals outfielder Felix Jose and first baseman Andres Galarraga got injured and Jordan was called up to St. Louis.

After batting .281 in May, the Cardinals in June gave Jordan a $2.3 million three-year contract, with the stipulation he quit playing football.

With his NFL career ended, Jordan went on to play seven seasons for St. Louis and batted .291. His best St. Louis seasons were 1996 (.310, 104 RBI) and 1998 (.316, 25 home runs, 91 RBI).

Read Full Post »

Along with Bob Gibson and Ray Sadecki, Don Choate was a prized pitching prospect who was projected to be in the Cardinals’ plans entering the decade of the 1960s, but he never got the chance to play for them in the regular season.

Instead, Choate went to the Giants in the trade that brought future all-star Bill White to the Cardinals.

Choate, a right-hander who reached the major leagues with the Giants in 1960, died Feb. 4, 2018, at 79.

A native of Potosi, Mo., Choate grew up in East St. Louis, Ill. He signed with the Cardinals in 1956, the year he turned 18, and made his professional debut that season with their minor-league club in Peoria, Ill.

In February 1957, Cardinals general manager Frank Lane cited Choate as one of the “talented kids from the St. Louis area in the Cardinals organization,” The Sporting News reported.

Assigned to the Billings, Mont., team in the Cardinals’ farm system, Choate had a breakout season in 1957, posting a 19-8 record. At 19, he pitched 20 complete games and 240 innings. On successive days, Aug. 30-31, Choate pitched shutouts against Salt Lake City. He pitched a one-hitter in a 5-0 victory cut to five innings because of rain, then came back the next night with a three-hitter in another 5-0 triumph in the seven-inning opener of a doubleheader.

Choate pitched in spring training exhibition games for the Cardinals in 1958 and was touted by The Sporting News as an “impressive” prospect. He split the 1958 season between Cardinals farm clubs in Omaha and Houston. When Choate retired 19 consecutive batters in a game against Denver, The Sporting News reported he “scintillated on the mound.”

After producing a combined record of 12-11 in 34 games for Omaha and Houston in 1958, Choate played winter ball for the Licey team in the Dominican Republic. He won his first six decisions and had a 1.54 ERA. Choate “has developed into the Dominican loop’s leading hurler,” The Sporting News reported.

George Silvey, Cardinals assistant minor-league director, said Choate “is sneaky fast and his curve has been improving. He’s a pitcher, not a thrower. A definite big-league prospect.”

Cardinals manager Solly Hemus and minor-league director Walter Shannon went to the Dominican Republic to see the top players. Hemus filed a favorable report on Choate. As the Cardinals prepared for spring training in 1959, Choate seemed a likely candidate to earn a spot on the big-league team.

While in the Dominican Republic, Hemus and Shannon also saw Bill White, who was in the Giants’ organization, and were impressed by his power, run production and versatility at first base and in the outfield. Eddie Stanky, a Cardinals scout who managed White in the minor leagues, also recommended him.

On March 25, 1959, the Cardinals traded Choate and a starting pitcher, Sam Jones, to the Giants for White and utility player Ray Jablonski. Most analysts said the deal favored the Giants. Bob Broeg, sports editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, predicted Choate “eventually might make the grade” as a major-league pitcher.

“There’s no doubt in my mind we’ve improved our pennant chances tremendously with Jones coming to our team,” Giants manager Bill Rigney told United Press International. Rigney added, “It was the most important pitching deal we’ve made since I’ve been manager.”

Said Bing Devine, who replaced Lane as Cardinals general manager, “We believe White will solve our outfield problem and give us the added power at the plate we have been looking for.”

White became one of the Cardinals’ best players and a premier first baseman in the National League. The Giants didn’t become pennant winners with Jones.

Choate was assigned to the Giants’ farm club at Phoenix in 1959 and was 4-7 in 22 appearances.

In 1960, after posting a 10-15 record for minor-league Tacoma, Choate was called up to the Giants in September. He made four relief appearances for them, including a one-inning scoreless stint against the Cardinals at St. Louis on Sept. 17, and had a 0-0 record and 2.25 ERA.

Choate pitched one more season, 1961, with Tacoma, hurt his arm and was finished as a professional player at 23. He had a second career as a professional firefighter.

Read Full Post »

During his prime years with the Cubs, pitcher Guy Bush was an archrival of Cardinals ace Dizzy Dean. Imagine the surprise then when, within a span of two months, Bush joined the Cardinals and Dean went to the Cubs.

Eighty years ago, on Feb. 5, 1938, Bush was acquired by the Cardinals from the Braves in a cash transaction. In April that year, the Cardinals dealt Dean to the Cubs.

Bush, nicknamed the Mississippi Mudcat, was among the best pitchers in the National League in the 1930s. For 10 consecutive years (1926-1935), he achieved double-digit win totals each season. His peak years with the Cubs were 1932 (19-11, 3.21 ERA) and 1933 (20-12, 2.75 ERA).

Dean, the Cardinals’ brash future Hall of Famer, and Bush were matched in intense duels during their primes. In 1933, Bush challenged Dean to a fight during a game, according to the Society for American Baseball Research. “I get more satisfaction out of beating that guy once than I do winning from anyone else twice,” Bush said.

When Bush joined the Cardinals, though, he was on the back end of his career. Bush, 36, was 8-15 for the 1937 Braves. Dean, only 28, also was in decline, losing the zip on his fastball after getting injured in the 1937 All-Star Game. Dean was dealt to the Cubs on April 16, 1938, and went 16-8 over four seasons with Chicago.

As spring training approached in 1938, the Cardinals were looking for a reliever who could make spot starts. They acquired Bush “for protection around the edges of our pitching staff,” Cardinals executive Branch Rickey said to The Sporting News.

Dean and Bush pitched in the Cardinals’ second spring training exhibition game, a 8-1 victory over the Yankees. The Sporting News wrote of Bush, “He hasn’t the stuff that once made him one of the stars of the Cubs, but he knows the hitters in the league and has developed a fairly effective slow ball.”

Once the regular season began, however, the Cardinals quickly grew unimpressed by Bush. He made six relief appearances, posting an 0-1 record and 4.50 ERA, before he was released on May 7. Seven years later, with rosters depleted by calls to military service during World War II, Bush, 43, surfaced again in the major leagues for a stint with the Reds.

Bush has a big-league career record of 176-136 with a 3.86 ERA. His career mark versus the Cardinals is 19-23.

Previously: Why Cardinals dealt ace Dizzy Dean to Cubs


Read Full Post »

Oscar Gamble twice teamed with a future member of the 1982 World Series champions to help the Padres beat the Cardinals.

Gamble, a pop culture favorite among baseball fans because of a distinctive Afro hairstyle and a name like a character in a detective novel, died Jan. 31, 2018, at 68. He was an outfielder in the major leagues for 17 seasons (1969-1985), including five years in the National League with the Cubs (1969), Phillies (1970-1972) and Padres (1978).

Gamble was the Opening Day left fielder on a Padres team that included future Cardinals Ozzie Smith at shortstop, George Hendrick in center field and Gene Tenace at catcher. Smith, Hendrick and Tenace went on to play for the 1982 World Series champion Cardinals. In 1978, though, Smith and Tenace paired with Gamble in providing prominent production in wins over the Cardinals.

The first of those games was May 5, 1978, at St. Louis. The Padres won, 2-1, and Gamble and Smith played key roles versus starter John Urrea. Smith, the shortstop, batting second, had two triples, a single and a stolen base. Gamble, the right fielder, batting third, drove in the winning run with a triple. The game was the sixth for Ken Boyer as Cardinals manager.

Mike Tyson, Cardinals second baseman, deprived Gamble of a second RBI when, in the eighth inning, he dived for Gamble’s hard smash, snared the ball, leaped to his feet and threw out Smith, who was attempting to advance from third base to home.

Two months later, on July 28, 1978, at San Diego, Gamble and Tenace were culprits in defeating the Cardinals. Gamble, the right fielder, batting fifth, had a RBI-double against starter John Denny and a two-run single off Buddy Schultz. Tenace, catching and batting sixth, drove in five runs and scored twice. He produced a RBI-single and solo home run against Denny and a three-run homer off Aurelio Lopez.

It was the 10th time in a row the Cardinals lost to the Padres at San Diego.

For his career, Gamble batted .254 (30-for-118) against the Cardinals.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »