John Roseboro of the Dodgers and Tim McCarver of the Cardinals were opposing catchers with similar styles. Both were former football players who viewed baseball as a contact sport.

As a standout high school athlete in Memphis, McCarver had football scholarship offers from the likes of Alabama and Notre Dame. Roseboro played football at Central State, a historically black college, in Ohio.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Roseboro was “generally recognized as the toughest plate blocker” in baseball. When he and McCarver collided one day at the plate, the force was unlike any they’d experienced on a baseball field.

Matter of pride

The Dodgers came to St. Louis in June 1963 for a three-game weekend series with the first-place Cardinals. A sweep could vault the Dodgers from 2.5 games behind into the lead.

In the June 21 opener, Sandy Koufax was on the verge of pitching his third consecutive shutout when McCarver, batting with two outs in the ninth, slammed a three-run home run onto the pavilion roof in right. A left-handed batter, it was McCarver’s first big-league home run against a left-handed pitcher.

The Dodgers escaped with a 5-3 victory. Boxscore

Full impact

The next day’s pitching matchup on June 22 featured rookie left-hander Nick Willhite for the Dodgers against Bob Gibson. In his Dodgers debut six days earlier, Willhite shut out the Cubs. Gibson was riding a streak of four wins in a row.

With the score tied at 1-1 in the fifth inning, McCarver was on third, one out, when Curt Flood tapped the ball toward third baseman Maury Wills. McCarver broke for the plate, but Wills got to the ball and tossed it to Roseboro. “I foolishly tried to score against him,” McCarver recalled in his autobiography, “Oh, Baby, I Love It.”

Roseboro, mentored by Roy Campanella, “was the best in baseball at blocking the plate,” pitcher Johnny Klippstein said in the book “We Played the Game.” “He was tough.”

McCarver knew that, too. In his autobiography, he said Roseboro “was as intransigent at home plate as a derrick.”

Favoring what The Sporting News described as a “rock-’em, sock-’em type of play,” McCarver gave no thought to turning back. As Roseboro protected the plate, bracing for a collision, McCarver barreled into him.

“He stood his ground, as always, his knee digging into me,” McCarver recalled in his book, “and the whole right side of my face opened up like a can of tomatoes. I had a long burn along one side of my face and he knocked my neck into a stiff state.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, McCarver came out of the crash with “a shiner, the size of a dollar.”

Roseboro lost a lens from his eyeglasses, but held onto the ball and tagged out McCarver. The impact “jammed Roseboro’s shoulder, hurt his knee and spiked his left ankle,” the Times reported. Roseboro told the newspaper it was the hardest he’d ever been hit _ “and I’ve got the bruises to prove it.”

In his 1987 book, McCarver said, “I still suffer from nerve damage in my neck, more than 20 years after that Roseboro collision. (Dodgers coach) Leo Durocher said it was the worst collision he’d ever seen.”

Another jolt

Both Roseboro and McCarver stayed in the game. Charlie James broke the tie with a solo home run for the Cardinals in the sixth.

Like McCarver, Roseboro batted left-handed. With left-hander Bobby Shantz pitching in the ninth, Dodgers manager Walter Alston sent Doug Camilli to bat for Roseboro. Camilli singled, but the Cardinals held on for a 2-1 triumph, evening the series. Boxscore

Though the Cardinals started a right-hander, Ernie Broglio, in the series finale, Alston gave Roseboro the day off. McCarver was in the Cardinals’ lineup and tripled, but the Dodgers prevailed, 4-3. Boxscore

Roseboro didn’t start a game for more than a week because of the damage caused by the crash with McCarver.

The day after the Dodgers left town, the Giants began a series at St. Louis. In the June 24 opener, after leadoff batter Harvey Kuenn tripled, Chuck Hiller grounded to second. When Kueen broke for home, Julian Javier threw to McCarver.

“As I took the throw, I looked to my left, and Kuenn’s belt buckle was about two inches from my face,” McCarver said in his book.

Kuenn crashed into McCarver, then reached over him, trying to touch the plate, but McCarver held him off and made the putout. Boxscore

“I believed in denying the runner the plate on bang-bang, very close plays,” McCarver said in his autobiography. “That was the way I was taught, and I continued to think that’s what I was being paid to do.”

Playing to win

The Dodgers and Cardinals turned out to be the two best teams in the National League in 1963. The Dodgers took control of the pennant race in late September when they swept a three-game series in St. Louis. They also swept the Yankees in the World Series. The Cardinals, with 93 wins, placed second to the 1963 Dodgers. They won the pennant with the same number of wins in 1964.

Roseboro and McCarver were the catchers for the National League champions in seven of the 10 World Series played between 1959 and 1968, the last year the best team in the league automatically went to the World Series.

Roseboro started in all 21 games the Dodgers played in four World Series in that stretch (six in 1959, four in 1963, seven in 1965 and four in 1966). McCarver also started in all 21 games the Cardinals played in three World Series during that period (seven apiece in 1964, 1967 and 1968).

After Don Coryell left the NFL Cardinals, he appeared in St. Louis one time as an opposing head coach. It was an experience he could have done without.

On Nov. 20, 1983, Coryell brought the San Diego Chargers to Busch Stadium to play the Cardinals.

This was no tender homecoming. Too much weird mojo, and too many factors Coryell couldn’t control, not the least of which was an injured quarterback.

Air Coryell

In five seasons with Coryell as their head coach, the Cardinals were 42-27-1 and reached the playoffs twice. “We weren’t the best football team when Don was here,” his quarterback, Jim Hart, said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “but we were the most exciting. We did the unexpected.”

Coryell departed following the 1977 season after a falling out with club owner Bill Bidwill. Subsequently, the Cardinals had four consecutive losing seasons before going 5-4 in strike-shortened 1982.

The Chargers had winning records in Coryell’s first five seasons as their head coach, leading the NFL in passing each of those years. In the words of Sports Illustrated, Coryell masterminded “revolutionary game plans, new formations every week and unrelenting air attacks,” building a resume that earned him election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Chargers challenges

A torn muscle in the right shoulder of Dan Fouts, the quarterback who put the air in Air Coryell, changed the course of the Chargers’ season in October 1983. His replacement, Ed Luther, was in his fourth season with the Chargers but never had started a NFL game.

After Luther took over, the Chargers lost three of his four starts before heading to St. Louis. Fouts remained unavailable, and the Chargers also were without another injured player, James Brooks, a multiple threat as a rusher, receiver and kick returner.

The Chargers still had running back Chuck Muncie, receivers Wes Chandler and Charlie Joiner, and tight end Kellen Winslow, a St. Louis native who was raised in East St. Louis, Ill., and attended the University of Missouri.

With that talent, coached by Coryell, the Chargers were formidable. “He instills pride in all of us,” Muncie told The Sporting News. “We don’t ever think about not winning. He won’t let us.”

Friends and enemies

Jim Hanifan was head coach of the 1983 Cardinals. He and Coryell first met in 1956 at Fort Ord in California. Coryell coached the football team on the Army post and Hanifan was a player.

They became friends and colleagues. Hanifan was an assistant coach for Coryell with San Diego State in 1972 and in all five seasons Coryell was in St. Louis. He also was Coryell’s assistant with the 1979 Chargers before becoming Cardinals head coach in 1980.

Coryell had no desire to coach against him. “Jim Hanifan and I are buddies,” Coryell told the Post-Dispatch. “I’d rather play against somebody I hate.”

On the eve of his return to St. Louis, Coryell said to the Los Angeles Times, “I don’t like this game at all. I am coaching against Jim Hanifan, a good friend, and this is where I started coaching in the pros. I have a lot of emotional ties in St. Louis. Heck, I even love that emblem they have with the little ornery bird on the helmet. He sort of has that mean look in his eye, and I think he’s kind of cute. I would just much rather be playing somebody else.”

Hanifan told the Times, “As a coach you try to go into a ballgame like always. When you know the guy across the field is a dear friend, it does make it difficult. I imagine it will be a weird feeling with him coming back to St. Louis and looking at him across the field.”

Told that Coryell said, “I have nothing but warm, wonderful feelings of St. Louis,” Bidwill replied to the Post-Dispatch, “I guess he doesn’t remember the snowstorms.”

Hostile territory

Most of the 40,644 spectators booed the mention of Coryell’s name in pregame introductions, the Times reported. Then the Chargers imploded. They committed six turnovers, four in the second quarter, and the relentless Cardinals cruised to a 37-0 lead. “A nightmare,” Luther told The Sporting News.

Ahead, 10-0, Hanifan called for an onside kick and the Cardinals recovered, surprising the Chargers and sending them reeling. “It was a great call,” Coryell told the Los Angeles Times.

The Cardinals sacked Luther six times and intercepted three of his passes. David Galloway and Curtis Greer had two sacks each. Bubba Baker had an interception and recovered a fumble.

Cardinals quarterback Neil Lomax threw for two touchdowns and ran for two touchdowns. Ottis Anderson rushed for 113 yards and a score.

The final was 44-14. “San Diego is still a fine team,” Hanifan told the Times, “but it is not the same without Fouts.” Game stats and Video

Coryell “looked as if he were in shock, although it might be argued that is his usual appearance,” Post-Dispatch columnist Kevin Horrigan wrote.

Denver Broncos head coach Dan Reeves told The Sporting News, “Don Coryell must be dying inside. He’s such a competitive person.”

In remarks to the Post-Dispatch, Coryell congratulated the Cardinals, then added, “We should have made a better game of it.”

The Los Angeles Times called the rout “the club’s low point under Coryell.”

The loss dropped the Chargers’ record to 4-8. They finished 6-10, Coryell’s first losing season since his first year with St. Louis in 1973.

The Cardinals improved to 5-6-1 and jump-started their season. They won three of their last four, finishing 8-7-1, their most wins since Coryell’s 1976 team had 10.

From his first regular-season game as a head coach in the NFL with the St. Louis Cardinals, Don Coryell showed signs of being special. He got the Cardinals to play with confidence and collective pride.

When he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Feb. 9, 2023, Coryell correctly was hailed as an innovator whose offenses with the Cardinals, and later the San Diego Chargers, were thrilling to watch and nerve-wracking to defend.

Those progressive schemes were just part of his skillset. Coryell also was an effective leader who got players to buy into his philosophies and to execute consistently within a framework of selfless collaboration.

Meet the new boss

The season opener between the Cardinals and Eagles on Sept. 16, 1973, at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia marked the NFL head coaching debuts of Coryell and Mike McCormack.

Coryell came to the Cardinals from the college coaching ranks. In 15 years as a college head coach, Coryell never had a losing season. His record was 127-24-3, including 104-19-2 in 12 seasons at San Diego State.

Like Coryell, McCormack would be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but, unlike Coryell, he got in as a player, not as a coach. An exceptionally quick and strong right tackle on the Cleveland Browns’ offensive line, McCormack protected quarterback Otto Graham and blocked for running back Jim Brown. In his autobiography, Browns head coach Paul Brown said, “I consider McCormack the finest offensive tackle who ever played pro football.”

(Paul Brown told the story of how another Browns quarterback, Milt Plum, had trouble staying in the pocket before releasing the ball. At practice one day, a frustrated McCormack picked up Plum by the neck, shook him, cursed him and put him back down. After that, “our passing game improved considerably,” Brown told The Sporting News.)

McCormack had been an assistant coach for seven seasons with the Washington Redskins, but never a head coach.

The 1973 opener also was the Eagles debut of quarterback Roman Gabriel, 33, who got traded to Philadelphia after 11 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams.

(Gabriel, a glamour boy in Los Angeles, still was effective. He would lead the NFL in passing yards, completions and touchdown passes as an Eagle in 1973.)

During training camp, Coryell made a favorable impression as a coach of “unquenchable spirit and unflagging energy.” The Sporting News reported. Cardinals director of operations Joe Sullivan told the publication, “He’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever seen.”

On the eve of the season opener, Coryell said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “I think we’ll be pretty darn potent this season. We’ll have the capability of breaking things open.”

Will to win

The fired-up Cardinals charged out to a 21-0 lead in Coryell’s debut. Jim Hart threw touchdown passes to Donny Anderson and Mel Gray, and Anderson also rushed for a score.

“The Eagles came after Hart with a vengeance, and the veteran quarterback proceeded to waste them with draws and screens,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Cardinals turnovers (two fumbles and an intercepted pass) helped the Eagles rally. They got within a point, 24-23, in the fourth quarter.

Recent Cardinals clubs might have panicked, but the Coryell Cardinals kept their poise. Hart moved them into position for a Jim Bakken 20-yard field goal, extending the lead to 27-23 with 1:10 to play. When the Eagles’ Tom Sullivan fumbled the ensuing kickoff, the Cardinals recovered. Anderson capped a 34-23 victory with another scoring run, his third touchdown of the game.

Though describing the Eagles as “a poor team,” the Post-Dispatch noted that the Cardinals “showed the ability to move under pressure, to capitalize on opposition mistakes and to make the big offensive play, three areas sadly lacking for them in recent years.”

Anderson, the former Green Bay Packer acquired in a trade for MacArthur Lane, had 66 yards receiving, 58 yards rushing and also was praised by Coryell for his blocking. “He has such a great understanding and concept of our offense,” Coryell told the Post-Dispatch.

Terry Metcalf, a third-round draft choice making his NFL debut, rushed for 133 yards and added another 25 yards with a catch. Plus, “he was blocking on me all afternoon,” Eagles linebacker Dick Cunningham told the Inquirer. “He will stick his head into you.” Video

Coryell said to the Philadelphia Daily News that Metcalf “is quick, tough, agile and has a heart as big as a lion.” Game stats and Game video

In a “rah-rah-sis-boom-bah” locker room celebration after the victory, the Inquirer reported, tight end Jackie Smith presented Coryell with the game ball and said, “This is for the man with the most enthusiasm.”

High praise

After the Cardinals scored 34 points again in winning their home opener against the Redskins, defensive tackle Bob Rowe said to the Post-Dispatch, “We have a confidence in ourselves, a confidence that Coach Coryell built. He has made us believe we’re football players. He has made us respect one another.”

Recalling his days playing for Packers head coach Vince Lombardi, Donny Anderson told Rich Koster of The Sporting News, Lombardi “was more than a coach. He was a man who taught you to become a man. You seemed to grow up faster and accept the responsibilities that you have as a player. In Coach Coryell, I think we have a man who in many respects is like Lombardi. Both loved people, and that’s the biggest thing in relating to players.”

Though the Cardinals faded, finishing 4-9-1 in Coryell’s first season, the players recognized he had changed the clubhouse culture for the better.

“We’ve got great life on our team, as opposed to what it used to be,” linebacker Jamie Rivers said to The Sporting News.

Jim Hart told the publication, Coryell “is a great man. He won’t pull any punches with you privately, but he’ll defend you to the letter publicly.”

In five seasons with Coryell, the Cardinals posted a 42-27-1 record and twice qualified for the playoffs. Those were the Cardinals’ first playoff berths since 1948 and their first division titles since moving from Chicago to St. Louis in 1960.

Coryell continued to have success with the Chargers in San Diego. His overall record as a NFL head coach is 115-89-1. According to the College Football Hall of Fame, Coryell was the first head coach to win 100 games at both the college and pro levels.

Following a formula that worked well for them before, the Cardinals went looking for an old pro who was trying to cap his career with a championship. The character they found was as charismatic as he was competent.

Ninety years ago, on Feb. 8, 1933, the Cardinals acquired pitcher Dazzy Vance and shortstop Gordon Slade from the Dodgers for pitcher Ownie Carroll and infielder Jake Flowers.

Vance was a strikeout artist who dominated National League batters in the 1920s with a fastball the New York Times described as on par with Walter Johnson’s in the American League.

Though a month away from turning 42 when the Cardinals obtained him, the club was hoping Vance could replicate the success achieved from the acquisitions of pitchers Grover Cleveland Alexander, 39, in 1926 and Burleigh Grimes (nearly 37) in 1930. Alexander helped the Cardinals win two National League pennants (1926 and 1928) and a World Series title (1926). With Grimes, the Cardinals won two more pennants (1930 and 1931) and another World Series crown (1931).

Worth the wait

Dazzy Vance was born in Orient, Iowa, a town that also was the birthplace of Henry Wallace, vice president of the United States during the third term of President Franklin Roosevelt.

Reports vary about whether Vance was named Arthur Charles Vance, Charles Arthur Vance or Clarence Arthur Vance. When he was 5, he moved with his family to Nebraska and eventually settled in Hastings, according to the New York Daily News. As a boy, Vance got his nickname because of his mimicry of a neighboring plainsman who pronounced “Daisy” as “Dazzy,” the New York Times reported.

He was 21 when he entered pro baseball in 1912 with the York Prohibitionists of the Nebraska State League. Vance got to the majors with the Pirates in April 1915, pitched in one game and was sent to the Yankees. He appeared briefly with them but spent much of the next seven seasons in the minors until he was acquired by the Brooklyn Dodgers.

A right-hander, Vance was 31 when he got his first big-league win with the Dodgers in April 1922. Manager Wilbert Robinson, the convivial former catcher, “doted on big pitchers who could throw hard. The Dazzler qualified,” the New York Times noted.

“When he pitched, he kicked his leg high in the air and leaned back as far as possible, then released either a fastball or a hard curveball, with the same motion, making it next to impossible for a batter to ascertain which was bearing down on him,” David Hinckley wrote in the New York Daily News.

“He wore a chopped up undershirt under his uniform, and its tatters would flutter as he threw. In that same spirit, his favorite day to pitch was Monday, when the housewives in the apartment houses behind Ebbets Field hung out the wash and provided one more waving white element to camouflage the ball.”

Vance was the National League strikeout leader seven straight seasons (1922-28). In 1924, he topped the league in wins (28), ERA (2.16), strikeouts (262) and complete games (30). Rogers Hornsby hit .424 for the Cardinals that year, but Vance beat him out for the National League Most Valuable Player Award and, according to The Sporting News, the $1,000 in gold that went with the honor.

In a game at Brooklyn in 1925, Vance struck out 17 Cardinals, including Hornsby and Jim Bottomley three times each, hit a homer and drove in the winning run.

Described by the New York Times as a “hard and shrewd businessman” and “one of baseball’s most stubborn (contract) holdouts,” Vance negotiated a 1929 salary of $25,000, the highest paid a pitcher.

Dazzy with daffies

The Brooklyn ballclub sometimes was known during Dazzy’s days there as the Daffy Dodgers. The New York Times described them as an “assortment of crackpots,” but pointed out that Vance “was not a screwball.”

Vance was “a natural schmoozer and raconteur,” David Hinckley observed.

Arthur Daley of the New York Times described him as “a whimsical, homespun philosopher with the dry wit of a Will Rogers.”

On Aug. 15, 1926, at Ebbets Field, the Dodgers loaded the bases against the Braves. With Hank DeBerry on third, Vance on second and Chick Fewster on first, Babe Herman smacked a ball to deep right. Vance and Fewster hesitated, making sure the drive wasn’t caught.

The ball crashed against the fence, and DeBerry scored easily. According to the New York Daily News, Vance rumbled around third, then turned back. Vance slid into the third-base bag as Fewster arrived there from first. Herman, running full steam, slid into third, too. Ed Taylor, the Braves’ astonished rookie third baseman, tagged “everyone in sight, including the umpire,” the New York Times reported.

Vance was ruled safe, but Fewster and Herman were called out, resulting in Herman having doubled into a double play. Boxscore

A month later, against the Cubs, Vance became the first National League pitcher to strike out the first five batters in a game, a feat later matched by the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson. One of Vance’s strikeout victims that day was slugger Hack Wilson, “the Dazzler’s favorite pigeon,” the New York Times reported. Wilson whiffed 45 times in his career versus Vance. Boxscore

Veteran presence

After the Cardinals acquired Hack Wilson from the Cubs in December 1931, they attempted to flip him to the Dodgers for Vance or pitcher Watty Clark. When the Dodgers balked, the Cardinals sent them Wilson for cash and a prospect.

The next winter, the Cardinals again shopped for Vance. Max Carey had replaced Wilbert Robinson as Dodgers manager in 1932 and was willing to deal Dazzy, who, at 41, was 12-11 that year.

After Vance was traded to St. Louis, published reports predicted the Cardinals would send him to the Giants before spring training. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the Giants agreed to pay $15,000 for Vance, but then called off the deal.

Cardinals manager Gabby Street didn’t want Vance either. “I figured he’d be a terrible load on my team and I was eager for a trade that would get him off my squad,” Street said to the Post-Dispatch.

However, Cardinals executive Branch Rickey told the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, “If Dazzy Vance shows that he wants to pitch for us to the best of his real ability, we’ll keep him. I think he’s still a great pitcher.”

The relationship teetered when the Cardinals asked Vance to accept a $5,000 salary. “I wrote Branch Rickey that I couldn’t be bothered with any $5,000 offer,” Vance told the Post-Dispatch.

When he finally signed on March 17, terms were not disclosed.

The addition of Dazzy gave the 1933 Cardinals a colorful cast that included a Dizzy (Dean), a Ducky (Medwick), a Pepper (Martin), a Rajah (Hornsby), a Flash (Frankie Frisch) and a Rip (Collins).

Vance, 42, also joined a pitching staff that would come to include two others who turned 40 during the 1933 season, Burleigh Grimes and Jesse Haines.

Gabby Street soon changed his mind about Vance. “There ain’t a man on the club with a better spirit … He’s worked as hard as any man on the roster,” Street told the Post-Dispatch. “He’s done everything he’s been asked to do and a lot more.”

Dazzy delivers

Vance got a mix of starts and relief stints with the Cardinals, even though, as the New York Times noted, “he abhorred” pitching in relief. In August, he pitched a four-hitter against the Reds. Boxscore In September, he struck out nine in a complete game against the Cubs, fanning his former Dodgers crony, Babe Herman, three times. Boxscore

In 28 appearances, including 11 starts, for the 1933 Cardinals, Vance was 6-2 with three saves. Despite his distaste for the role, he was quite good as a reliever (3-0, 2.97 ERA).

The Cardinals, who finished fifth in the league at 82-71, placed Vance on waivers after the season and he was claimed by the Reds. The Cardinals got him back in June 1934 and he contributed to the pennant-winning Gashouse Gang, posting a 1-1 mark and a save. The win was a complete game against the Braves in which he retired the last 10 batters in order. Boxscore

At 43, Vance got to pitch in a World Series for the only time in his 16 years in the majors, appearing in relief in Game 4 versus the Tigers. Vance is one of five players 40 or older to appear in a World Series for the Cardinals. 

Vance, 44, went back to Brooklyn for a last hurrah with manager Casey Stengel’s Dodgers in 1935. His final win, No. 197 of his career, came against the Cardinals, a relief stint in which he allowed one run in 5.1 innings. Boxscore

Vance was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.

In their quest for an elusive World Series title, the Cardinals created a pipeline to the 2002 champion Angels. The first player they tapped was Orlando Palmeiro.

In February 2003, the Cardinals signed Palmeiro, a free agent, to fill the same role he’d performed so well for the Angels. A left-handed contact hitter, Palmeiro was a reliable reserve outfielder whose team-oriented approach contributed to the Angels in 2002 becoming World Series champions for the first and only time since the franchise started in 1961.

The Cardinals, who hadn’t won a World Series title since 1982, liked the style of winning baseball played by the 2002 Angels. Eventually, the Cardinals would acquire the entire starting infield from those champion Angels _ first baseman Scott Spiezio, second baseman Adam Kennedy, shortstop David Eckstein and third baseman Troy Glaus _ as well as their closer (Troy Percival) and a starting pitcher (John Lackey). The Angels’ catcher, Bengie Molina, became a Cardinals coach.

Eckstein and Spiezio helped the Cardinals become World Series winners in 2006, and Molina was a hitting coach for the 2013 National League champion Cardinals.

Palmeiro didn’t experience a championship with the 2003 Cardinals, but they were pleased with the job he did for them.

Fully charged

Born in Hoboken, N.J. (also the birthplace of Alfred Kinsey and Frank Sinatra, and site of the first organized baseball game played in June 1846 between the Knickerbocker Club and New York Nine), Palmeiro grew up in Miami.

Although the 2003 Cardinals media guide and several other baseball sources list him as a cousin to another big-league player, Cuban-born Rafael Palmeiro, the two aren’t related, Orlando Palmeiro told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I don’t have any relation to him that I know of,” Orlando Palmeiro said to the Associated Press.

(Rafael and Orlando Palmeiro share a last name, but were dissimilar as ballplayers. Rafael hit 569 home runs in the majors. Orlando hit 12.)

Playing for University of Miami in 1990, Orlando Palmeiro hit .365 and was “the embodiment of Hurricanes baseball with his slap-and-scrap style,” Dan Le Batard reported in the Miami Herald.

Described as “Miami’s ultra-hyper center fielder,” Palmeiro “has more energy than any of us,” Hurricanes teammate Jorge Fabregas (who also teamed with Palmeiro on the Angels) told the Herald. “He’s like a rechargeable battery.”

Or, as Miami coach Ron Fraser said to the newspaper, “Orlando is our catalyst.”

Though he wasn’t chosen by the Angels until the 33rd round of the 1991 baseball draft, Palmeiro became a prominent prospect, hitting better than .300 in five consecutive seasons in the minors. His hitting coach with the Vancouver Canadians, former Cardinals outfielder John Morris, said to the Vancouver Sun, “The thing that impresses me about Orlando is he’s not afraid to go deep into the count. He’s not afraid to take a strike or two waiting for his pitch. He’s extremely disciplined at the plate.”

Promoted to the Angels in July 1995, Palmeiro made his debut at Oakland against manager Tony La Russa’s Athletics. Batting in the ninth for third baseman Carlos Martinez (father of future Cardinals player Jose Martinez), Palmeiro singled to center in his first big-league plate appearance. Boxscore

Angel in the outfield

Palmeiro wasn’t going to displace any of the Angels’ starting outfielders (Garret Anderson, Jim Edmonds, Tim Salmon, or later, Darin Erstad), so he worked to become the best role player he could be. 

Los Angeles Times columnist Diane Pucin observed, “You notice the weaknesses first with Palmeiro. The speed of his bat just doesn’t seem big league. Looks like a batter with too much Judy, not enough Punch, (but) Palmeiro grows on you … He is what good baseball teams need. A man who will do what is asked and not complain when not much is asked.”

Angels pitcher Jarrod Washburn told the Los Angeles Times, “He’s really underrated. I bet he averages more pitches per at-bat than anybody in the big leagues. He gets two strikes and fouls off about five pitches. I would never be able to throw enough strikes to him.”

In 2002, when he filled in for Erstad and Salmon when they were injured, Palmeiro hit .300 overall and .329 with runners in scoring position, helping the Angels stay in the title chase.

After the Angels became World Series champions, Palmeiro became a free agent. In eight seasons with them, he hit .281 and had an on-base percentage of .361.

Man in motion

After right fielder J.D. Drew had knee surgery in October 2002, the Cardinals went into 2003 looking for experienced role players who could fill in for Drew and back up Albert Pujols in left and Jim Edmonds in center.

In February 2003, the Cardinals signed two outfield free agents who played for the 2002 Angels _ Palmeiro and Alex Ochoa. (Two weeks later, Ochoa was released so that he could accept a more lucrative deal with Japan’s Chunichi Dragons.)

Paid $1 million by the 2002 Angels, Palmeiro, 34, got a one-year contract from the Cardinals for a guaranteed $700,000, with another $200,000 possible if he achieved incentives, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Columnist Bernie Miklasz hailed Palmeiro’s arrival as a “terrific signing,” and Cardinals assistant general manager John Mozeliak told the Post-Dispatch that Palmeiro was a player “we didn’t really think we’d have a shot at landing a couple months ago.”

Describing Palmeiro as “master of a short, quick swing,” the Post-Dispatch’s Joe Strauss noted, “Palmeiro’s appeal is his bat control, his ability to play all outfield positions despite an underwhelming arm and willingness to accept a support role.”

On Opening Day against the Brewers in 2003, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa started an outfield of Pujols, Edmonds and converted catcher Eli Marrero. In the eighth inning, with the Brewers ahead, 7-5, Marrero on first and one out, Palmeiro made his Cardinals debut. Batting for reliever Russ Springer, Palmeiro tripled against Luis Vizcaino, driving in Marrero, and scored the tying run on Fernando Vina’s double. The Cardinals prevailed, 11-9. Boxscore

Later that week, Palmeiro made his first Cardinals start. La Russa batted him third in the order, just ahead of Pujols and Scott Rolen. “He’s proven to me that he does a lot of things you want a No. 3 hitter to do,” La Russa said to the Post-Dispatch. “He’s got a good eye. He uses the whole field.”

Palmeiro responded with two hits, a walk and scored a run in the Cardinals’ 6-4 triumph over the Brewers. Boxscore

“The Cardinals are built on power,” Joe Strauss wrote in the Post-Dispatch, “but Palmeiro allows them to put the game in motion.”

Job well done

Another highlight for Palmeiro came on July 27, 2003, when he entered in the seventh inning, drove in three runs and scored the game-winner, igniting a Cardinals comeback from a 3-0 deficit against the Pirates. Boxscore

Asked about his role, Palmeiro told the Associated Press in 2003, “I understand there are guys like Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds, and I don’t have that type of talent. I’m aware those guys are horses and I might be a little pony. The asset I bring is I can help the team in a lot of situations without being noticed. To me, that’s the best way.”

Palmeiro was involved in two noteworthy plays late in the 2003 season. In August, he was one of the base runners when Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal turned an unassisted triple play. In September, at Wrigley Field in Chicago, he leaped into the ivy at the wall in left to rob Ramon Martinez of a bases-loaded hit with two outs in the ninth. Boxscore

With the 2003 Cardinals, Palmeiro established single-season career highs in games played (141), RBI (33) and total bases (110). He even hit three home runs, matching in one year with the Cardinals what he totaled in eight seasons with the Angels.

Palmeiro played in 112 games in the outfield for the Cardinals, including 36 starts in right field, 19 starts in left and 10 starts in center. He fielded flawlessly, making no errors in 171 chances.

The 2003 Cardinals (85-77) failed to qualify for the playoffs. Palmeiro became a free agent after the season and signed with the Astros, helping them to a National League pennant in 2005.

(Updated Feb. 13, 2023)

Seven years after he integrated major league baseball, Jackie Robinson led an effort to end discrimination at the Chase Hotel in St. Louis.

In 1954, the Cardinals had their first black player, first baseman Tom Alston. The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional. Despite these milestones, the Chase Hotel still prohibited blacks from using its dining room, bar or pool.

Robinson took a stand in trying to uproot the hotel’s segregationist policies when the Dodgers came to St. Louis to play the Cardinals in 1954, but it created friction with other blacks on the team.

White lodge

Located at the corner of Lindell and Kingshighway and across the street from Forest Park, the elegant Chase Hotel was built in 1922 by Chase Ullman and became known for its luxury, glamour, fine dining and entertainment. Features included a roof garden, Turkish steam baths and “rubbing rooms” for men and women, St. Louis Magazine noted. The roof garden eventually was enclosed and turned into the Zodiac Room Lounge.

A Mediterranean-style swimming pool became another popular feature of the Chase. The pool was “about the shade of the gold lame briefs Rudolf Nureyev is rumored to have worn there,” according to St. Louis Magazine. Pirates baseball broadcaster Bob Prince dived into the pool from a third-floor guest room to settle a $20 bet, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, prompting the hotel to erect metal barriers on the windows facing the pool.

In 1929, the rival Park Plaza was built next door to the Chase. The two merged into the Chase Park Plaza in 1961. Today, the Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta Hotel boasts on its Web site: “Upholding the grand tradition of early 20th century style and gracious hospitality.”

Until the 1950s, the hospitality was extended only to whites. The hotel didn’t accept black guests, but it did entertain its white customers with top black performers such as Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Dorothy Dandridge, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne and Eartha Kitt.

Horne told the Washington Post, “The first time I worked at the Chase, I couldn’t come in through the front door.”

In 1952, Dandridge demanded to be the first black performer to stay at the hotel. Though Chase officials “reluctantly agreed,” parts of the building remained off limits to her and all blacks. She was required to use the service elevator before and after each performance rather than walk through the lobby to the guest elevators, according to the website Vanguard of Hollywood.

Strings attached

After Jackie Robinson integrated the major leagues with the Dodgers in 1947, the Chase didn’t permit the black players of visiting ballclubs to stay there. If a ballclub chose to stay at the Chase, it meant the white team members went there and the blacks went to another hotel, usually a so-called black hotel.

“For years, St. Louis has been the only city on the circuit where Negro players lived apart from the team,” Lou Smith reported in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

In 1953, the Chase altered its policy and allowed the entire New York Giants team to stay there, including its three black players _ Ruben Gomez, Monte Irvin and Hank Thompson, the Baltimore Afro American newspaper reported. (Willie Mays wasn’t with the Giants in 1953 because of military service.)

The Giants’ black players “didn’t care for” the restrictions placed on them at the Chase, The Sporting News reported. The restrictions included no use of the bar, dining room or swimming pool, author Neil Lanctot noted in his book “Campy,” a biography of Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella.

Nonetheless, the Dodgers declared they would stay at the Chase in 1954. When the ballclub arrived in St. Louis on April 26, the Dodgers’ six black players (Sandy Amoros, Joe Black, Roy Campanella, Jim Gilliam, Don Newcombe and Jackie Robinson) were given the option by traveling secretary Lee Scott of staying at the Chase with its restrictions or going to the Adams Hotel, which catered to blacks.

If the black players stayed at the Chase, they would have to eat all meals in their rooms instead of the dining room, stay out of the bar and the pool, and not appear in the hotel lobby except for going to and coming from the ballpark and the train station, The Sporting News reported.

Split decision

Robinson was the only one of the six black Dodgers to agree to stay at the Chase. Though he bristled at the restrictions, Robinson said he believed staying there was an important step toward ending discrimination.

In a column by Sam Lacy of the Baltimore Afro American, Robinson said, “Other fellows coming along behind me will benefit by this opening wedge. If you don’t get your foot in the door, you’ll never force it open.”

The other black Dodgers disagreed. Roy Campanella and Joe Black persuaded Sandy Amoros, Jim Gilliam and Don Newcombe to go to the Adams Hotel in the Gaslight Square entertainment district, the Baltimore Afro American reported.

“The Chase is not for me,” Campanella said to Sam Lacy. “As I see it, they didn’t want us down there for seven years. So as far as I’m concerned, they can make it forever.”

Campanella also told Wendell Smith of the Pittsburgh Courier, “I’m not going to stay there. If they didn’t want us before, they won’t get my business now.”

Campanella and the others had additional reasons for preferring the Adams.

“The manager of the (Adams) had been good to us for years,” Newcombe told Dick Young of the New York Daily News in May 1954. “He even supplies us with a car to get to and from the ballpark. Why should we let him down now? We’re not trying to set any precedents.”

In an interview with Neil Lanctot, Dodgers executive Buzzie Bavasi said the Adams “had a superstretch limo pick up the black players, usually with a blonde or two in the backseat.”

Dodgers divided

Robinson, who viewed Campanella as being too timid on civil rights issues, was upset with his teammate’s decision to choose the familiar comfort of the Adams. According to Neil Lanctot, “The issue of segregation at the Chase destroyed whatever little remained of their relationship.”

Dick Young wrote in the Daily News, “A lively argument ensued in the clubhouse _ Robinson against Newcombe and Campanella.”

According to Young, Campanella said, “I’m no crusader. I’m a ballplayer and I’m happy right where I am,” and Newcombe said of Robinson, “He thinks we owe him something because he was the first. We owe him nothing.”

(Decades later, in interviews with the Daily News and Los Angeles Times, Newcombe claimed he joined Robinson in trying to reverse discrimination at the Chase.)

When the Pirates arrived at the Chase after the Dodgers departed, their black second baseman, Curt Roberts, registered, went to the dining room and waited 45 minutes without being served. Frustrated, he checked out and went to the Adams, the Pittsburgh Courier reported.

“Within a few days, the situation at the Chase had become a national story in the black press,” according to the Campanella biography. (Most of the mainstream newspapers, including the two St. Louis dailies, provided little or no coverage of the issue.)

Change for the better

The Pirates, whose general manager, Branch Rickey, was the Dodgers executive who brought Robinson to the majors, acted quickly to defend Curt Roberts. Pirates traveling secretary Bob Rice told Chase officials the ballclub wouldn’t return there unless Roberts was given the same treatment as other team members, the Pittsburgh Courier reported.

Jackie Robinson told Dodgers traveling secretary Lee Scott he would insist on being served in the Chase dining room the next time the ballclub went there. Dodgers management pledged support, the Baltimore Afro American reported.

Just before the Dodgers and Giants returned to St. Louis for games in June 1954, they received letters from Chase management, assuring them blacks no longer would be restricted from using the dining room or lobby, and could attend shows in the roof garden, according to the Baltimore Afro American.

(The bar and pool remained off limits to blacks as late as 1957, according to Neil Lanctot. In his autobiography, “I Had a Hammer,” Hank Aaron of the Braves said, “Even after we moved to the Chase … we always had rooms facing a brick wall or the alley where they threw the garbage.’)

The St. Louis NAACP (National Association for Advancement of Colored People) and two weekly newspapers, St. Louis Argus and St. Louis American, had protested to Chase management about discriminatory policies, “and this, along with the undesirable publicity, is believed to have influenced the hotel’s capitulation,” Sam Lacy reported.

When the Dodgers went to St. Louis in June 1954, the entire team, including all the black members, stayed at the Chase. It was the first time since 1946 that every member of the Dodgers stayed in the same St. Louis hotel.

It would not have happened when it did “if Robinson had not been made of sterner stuff than Campanella, Gilliam and Newcombe,” Clifford McKay concluded in the Baltimore Afro American.