Feeds:
Posts
Comments

In his major-league debut for the Cardinals, a batter named Paris faced a pitcher from Paris and sparked a winning rally.

On Sept. 1, 1982, Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog sent Kelly Paris to bat for pitcher Doug Bair to lead off the 13th inning of a game against the Dodgers at Los Angeles.

Paris, appearing in the big leagues for the first time after eight seasons in the minors, stepped into the right side of the batter’s box, peered out to the mound and prepared to face Dodgers reliever Ricky Wright, a rookie left-hander who was born and raised in Paris, Texas.

Not exactly a French connection, but a neat bit of serendipity nonetheless.

Paris, 61, died on May 27, 2019. He played four seasons in the big leagues as an infielder with the Cardinals, Reds, Orioles and White Sox.

His debut game, when he got a hit in his first at-bat and scored the winning run for the Cardinals, stands out as an enduring highlight.

Traveling man

Paris was a high school baseball teammate of future Hall of Famer Robin Yount in Woodland Hills, Calif. In 1975, Paris, 17, was chosen by the Cardinals in the second round of the June amateur draft.

Projected to play shortstop, Paris developed a circulatory problem in his right arm and it slowed his development.

He found his stride in 1979 when he hit .284 with 53 RBI for Class A St. Petersburg. He followed up by batting .301 in 1980 for Class AA Arkansas and, after breaking an ankle in 1981, rebounded to hit .328 with 83 RBI for Class AAA Louisville in 1982.

“I definitely have seen a lot of small towns,” Paris said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “A lot of them more than once.”

Paris was rewarded when the Cardinals brought him to the big leagues for the final month of the 1982 regular season.

Rally starter

The Cardinals were in first place in the National League East Division, 2.5 games ahead of the Phillies, entering September.

In the finale of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium, the Cardinals rallied with a run in the ninth inning, tying the score at 5-5.

When Paris led off the 13th in his major-league debut, he bounced a grounder up the middle and beat the throw from shortstop Alex Taveras for an infield single.

“I’ll take them any way I can,” Paris said to the Post-Dispatch.

After Paris advanced to second on Tommy Herr’s sacrifice bunt, Mike Ramsey struck out and George Hendrick was walked intentionally, bringing Ozzie Smith to the plate.

When the count got to 3-and-2, Smith looked for a fastball from Wright, got it and drove a hard grounder up the middle. Second baseman Steve Sax attempted a backhand play, got his glove on the ball but couldn’t secure it.

“The only play was to backhand the ball and get rid of it as quickly as he could,” Smith said. “It was going to be a tough play for him and I think he rushed it.”

Paris, running hard, rounded third and headed for the plate. Taveras yelled for Sax to throw home, but Sax held onto the ball and Paris scored, giving the Cardinals a 6-5 lead.

The Dodgers got a single and a double in the bottom half of the inning but failed to score and the Cardinals had a valuable win on their way to their first postseason berth in 14 years. Boxscore

Parting ways

The Cardinals won the 1982 National League pennant and World Series championship. Paris wasn’t on the postseason roster but he did receive a World Series ring for his help in September.

At spring training in 1983, Paris and Rafael Santana competed for a reserve infielder spot on the Opening Day roster and Paris felt the stress to impress.

“I feel as if I’m on stage all the time,” Paris said. “I find myself trying to do too much. This is the first chance I’ve had at making the major leagues. I guess I’m trying too hard at-bat. It’s stupid and I’m not a dumb person.”

Said Herzog: “I thought he’d be a pretty good right-handed pinch-hitter … but he hasn’t shown it.”

Santana won the job and Paris no longer was in the Cardinals’ plans.

On March 31, 1983, the Cardinals traded Paris to the Reds for pitcher Jim Strichek and the rights to retain pitcher Kurt Kepshire, whom they’d drafted from the Cincinnati system three months earlier.

Wakeup call

On Dec. 26, 1986, Paris nearly was killed when he “lost control of his sports car, driving it over the side of the road and into a ravine near his home in Gastonia, N.C.,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

According to the newspaper, Paris suffered a broken back, broken sternum and broken ribs. He needed extensive plastic surgery to repair cuts around his left eye. “Only his spirit remained intact,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

Paris admitted he was driving under the influence of alcohol and vowed to quit.

“I thank God for it, really,” Paris said of the accident. “It was a valuable lesson to learn.

“After the accident, I quit drinking … Your priorities change immensely when you’re that close to death.”

On a sultry Sunday in St. Louis, Bill Buckner handled the high heat of Al Hrabosky.

Buckner, 69, died May 27, 2019. He played 22 seasons in the major leagues, primarily as a first baseman, and was a premier hitter, winning a National League batting title in 1980 and generating a career total of 2,715 hits. A left-handed batter with a .289 career average, Buckner never struck out more than 39 times in a season.

Though widely known for an error at first base in the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series that enabled the Mets to score the winning run against the Red Sox, Buckner played his first 16 seasons in the National League, with the Dodgers and Cubs, and produced 172 hits in 173 career games against the Cardinals.

Perhaps his most prominent at-bat versus the Cardinals came on July 3, 1977, against Hrabosky, the left-handed reliever known as the “Mad Hungarian.”

Pitchers prevail

The game between the Cubs and Cardinals was played on what the Chicago Tribune described as a “hot, humid Mississippi River afternoon” on the steamy artifical turf surface at Busch Memorial Stadium.

Starting pitchers Rick Reuschel of the Cubs and Eric Rasmussen of the Cardinals were in top form.

The game was scoreless when Reuschel was forced to depart with two outs in the seventh inning because of a blister on his pitching hand. Bruce Sutter relieved, walked the first batter he faced, Ken Reitz, loading the bases, and struck out Jerry Mumphrey to end the threat.

In the eighth, Sutter, batting with one out and the bases empty, singled against Rasmussen for his first major-league hit.

“Now that I’ve got my hitting stroke down, anything can happen,” Sutter said.

After Ivan De Jesus popped out to first baseman Keith Hernandez for the second out, Greg Gross singled to right, advancing Sutter to third. According to the Chicago Tribune, Sutter barely beat Reitz’s tag at third and was jolted so hard “the spikes were knocked out of his shoes.”

With Buckner up next, Cardinals manager Vern Rapp called for Hrabosky to relieve Rasmussen.

Fastball hitter

Before delivering a pitch to Buckner, Hrabosky went into his “Mad Hungarian” routine, turning his back on the batter and doing a self-psyching meditation before pounding the ball into his mitt and whirling around to face his foe.

Herman Franks, in his first season as Cubs manager, said to the Associated Press, “I’d never seen that ‘Mad Russian’ act before. That’s got to be embarrasing when it doesn’t work.”

After Hrabosky got ahead on the count, 1-and-2, catcher Ted Simmons went to the mound and urged him to throw a pitch down and away to Buckner, hoping he’d chase it and strike out, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Instead, the ball bounced to the plate and Simmons blocked it to keep Sutter from scoring from third.

Buckner looked for a fastball on the next pitch, got it and lined it into the right-field seats for a three-run home run. The Cubs added a run in the ninth against Rawly Eastwick and won, 4-0. Boxscore

The home run was Buckner’s second of the season.

“Most of my homers this season have gone foul,” he said, “but I was ready for this fastball and got it just right.”

Buckner’s two best seasons against the Cardinals were in 1980 and 1983 with the Cubs. In 1980, he batted .313 versus the Cardinals, with 21 hits in 17 games, and in 1983 his batting average against them was .359, with 28 hits in 18 games.

After saying adios to the Cardinals, pitchers Max Lanier and Fred Martin and infielder Lou Klein returned from exile three years later and helped the club challenge the Dodgers in a down-to-the-wire National League pennant race.

Seventy years ago, on June 5, 1949, baseball commissioner Happy Chandler granted amnesty to 18 major-league players and six minor-leaguers who defected to the Mexican League, lifting their five-year bans and allowing them to apply for reinstatement to professional baseball in the United States.

The trio of Cardinals who defected _ Lanier, Martin and Klein _ all asked to come back and the Cardinals agreed.

“They’ve been punished enough and we’ll be glad to give them a chance to prove they’re still major leaguers,” Cardinals manager Eddie Dyer said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Crossing the border

In 1946, Lanier, Martin and Klein broke their contracts with the Cardinals and jumped to the rival Mexican League in pursuit of more lucrative salaries. Chandler banned them all from returning to professional baseball in the U.S. for five years.

In addition to the three Cardinals, the most prominent defectors were Giants pitcher Sal Maglie and Dodgers catcher and former Cardinal Mickey Owen.

Lanier, Martin and another defector, Giants outfielder Danny Gardella, filed lawsuits against Major League Baseball, challenging the legality of the reserve clause that bound a player to the team holding his contract.

In explaining why he lifted the bans on the defectors, Chandler said he decided “to temper justice with mercy,” United Press reported.

Roster revamp

On the day Chandler granted amnesty, the Cardinals beat the Braves, improving their record to 23-19 and putting them 1.5 games behind the first-place Giants. The Cardinals figured to get a boost from the three Mexican League refugees.

Lanier, 33, was a left-handed pitcher who debuted with the Cardinals in 1938 and developed into a consistent winner. He posted records of 15-7 in 1943 and 17-12 in 1944 for pennant-winning Cardinals clubs. His ERA of 1.90 in 1943 was best in the National League. Lanier also was the winning pitcher for the Cardinals against the Browns in the Game 6 championship clincher of the 1944 World Series.

In 1946, Lanier was 6-0 with a 1.93 ERA for the Cardinals when he joined Martin and Klein in bolting to the Mexican League in May.

Martin, 33, was a right-handed pitcher who was 2-1 with a 4.08 ERA as a Cardinals rookie in 1946.

Klein, 30, was a second baseman who debuted with the Cardinals in 1943 and had a big rookie season, batting .287 with 180 hits. In 1946, he was the Cardinals’ Opening Day second baseman before he slumped and was replaced by Red Schoendienst.

Dyer envisioned Lanier as a starting pitcher for the 1949 Cardinals, with Martin in the bullpen and Klein backing up Schoendienst at second and Marty Marion at shortstop.

“I don’t know of any player on the club who holds anything against them and won’t be happy to see them come back,” Cardinals outfielder Stan Musial said to the St. Louis Star-Times.

Helping hands

All three prodigal Cardinals helped the club in 1949. Lanier won five consecutive decisions between Aug. 28 and Sept. 21. Martin, who moved into the starting rotation, was 3-0 in August and 2-0 in September. Klein batted .323 with runners in scoring position.

In August 1949, Lanier and Martin dropped their antitrust suit against Organized Baseball. Two months later, Gardella also discontinued his lawsuit and signed with the Cardinals as a free agent.

On Sept. 20, 1949, after Martin improved his record to 6-0 with a win against the Phillies, the Cardinals were in first place, 1.5 games ahead of the Dodgers. Boxscore

The next day, Sept. 21, 1949, the Dodgers and Cardinals played a doubleheader at St. Louis. Lanier pitched a five-hit shutout in the opener and the Cardinals won, 1-0. Boxscore

The Dodgers won the second game, 5-0, behind the pitching of Preacher Roe, a former Cardinal, and a two-run triple by Luis Olmo, one of the defectors to the Mexican League who was allowed back. Boxscore.

After losing five of their next seven, the Cardinals went into the last day of the regular season a game behind the first-place Dodgers.

The Cardinals won their finale, 13-5 versus the Cubs at Chicago, but the Dodgers also won, beating the Phillies, 9-7, at Philadelphia on 10th-inning RBI-singles by Olmo and Duke Snider, and clinched the pennant. Boxscore

As for the trio who came back to the Cardinals from Mexico:

_ Lanier had a son, Hal Lanier, who became a major-league infielder for the Giants and Yankees, a coach with the Cardinals from 1981-85 and manager of the Astros from 1986-88.

_ Martin became a Cubs pitching instructor and taught the split-fingered pitch to prospect Bruce Sutter, who went on to a Hall of Fame career highlighted by his stint with the 1982 World Series champion Cardinals.

_ Klein managed the Cubs for parts of 1961-62 and 1965.

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

Fifty years ago, on June 3, 1969, the Expos traded Grant to the Cardinals for pitcher Gary Waslewski.

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

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

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

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

Name game

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

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

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

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

Playing our song

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

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

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

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

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

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

Action man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s entertainment

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

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

Four nights later, on Teen Night at Busch Stadium, Grant sang with the Bob Kuban band before a July 16 game.

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

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

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

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

Tom Underwood began his major-league career with Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, but nothing prepared him for the challenge he and his sibling faced.

Forty years ago, on May 31, 1979, Tom and his younger brother, Pat Underwood, opposed one another as starting pitchers in Pat’s major-league debut.

Brothers have faced one another as starting pitchers in big-league games before and since, but the matchup of the Underwoods was the only time a pitcher made his major-league debut against his brother.

The family affair occurred at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, with Tom, 25, starting for the Blue Jays against Pat, 22, starting for the Tigers.

Both left-handers rose to the challenge and pitched superbly. Pat prevailed, getting the win in a 1-0 Tigers victory.

Major talents

Tom and Pat were born and raised in Kokomo, Ind.

Tom debuted in the major leagues with the Phillies in 1974 and made his first big-league start on April 13, 1975, with a shutout against the Cardinals at Philadelphia. Boxscore

On June 15, 1977, the Phillies traded Tom and outfielders Dane Iorg and Rick Bosetti to the Cardinals for outfielder Bake McBride and pitcher Steve Waterbury.

Tom was 6-9 with a 4.95 ERA for the 1977 Cardinals. After the season, on Dec. 6, 1977, the Cardinals dealt Tom and pitcher Victor Cruz to the Blue Jays for pitcher Pete Vuckovich and a player to be named, outfielder John Scott.

Pat was selected by the Tigers in the first round of the 1976 June amateur draft. He was the second overall choice after the Astros took pitcher Floyd Bannister with the top pick.

The Tigers promoted Pat to the big leagues in May 1979 after he pitched for manager Jim Leyland at their Evansville farm club.

All in the family

When Tigers manager Les Moss chose to have Pat start against his brother, Tom was not pleased.

“I think it’s stupid,” Tom said to the Detroit Free Press. “It will be the first game of his major-league career and they’re making him start against his brother.

“I’m not sure it’s really fair to Pat. There’s enough pressure on you when you’re pitching your first game in the big leagues without worrying about your brother.”

Helen Marie Underwood, the mother of Tom and Pat, said, “I prayed for rain.”

The skies were all clear, though, in Toronto for the Thursday night game. Helen Marie told the Free Press, “Now I’m just hoping for a shutout _ on both sides.”

Tom and Pat got together the day of the game and Tom said to his brother, “Pat, let’s put on a show. We’ve got center stage tonight and we may never have it again. Let’s make the most of it.”

Mirror image

Pat retired the first 12 Blue Jays batters in a row before yielding a leadoff double to 39-year-old Rico Carty in the fifth inning.

Tom was equally effective and the game was scoreless until the eighth when Jerry Morales, a former Cardinal, led off with a home run over the left-field wall for the Tigers.

In the bottom of the ninth, after Alfredo Griffin doubled with one out, Moss went to the mound and Pat said, “I told him I was feeling really good even before he had a chance to say anything.”

Moss had two relievers ready and opted to replace Pat with Dave Tobik. After Tobik retired Bob Bailor on a fly out, John Hiller relieved and struck out Roy Howell, preserving the win for Pat.

After Pat congratulated Hiller with a handshake, he went across the field, put his arm around Tom and together they walked over to where their family was seated.

“I feel awfully happy for Pat,” Tom told the Free Press. “I’m just sorry it was at my expense.”

In remarks to the Associated Press, Tom said, “I taught him how to throw a slider and changeup while he was in high school. When I looked out, I felt like I was watching myself.”

Pat’s line: 8.1 innings, three hits, no runs, one walk and four strikeouts.

Tom’s line: nine innings, six hits, one run, two walks, six strikeouts. The loss dropped Tom’s record for the season to 0-7. Boxscore

Sibling rivalries

According to Baseball Almanac, other brothers who started a game against one another in the big leagues were Virgil and Jesse Barnes, Phil and Joe Niekro, Gaylord and Jim Perry, Greg and Mike Maddux, Pedro and Ramon Martinez, Andy and Alan Benes, and Jered and Jeff Weaver.

The Benes brothers, Andy for the Cardinals and Alan for the Cubs, started against one another on Sept. 6, 2002. Andy got a complete-game win in the Cardinals’ 11-2 victory. Boxscore

Bob Forsch of the Cardinals and his brother, Ken Forsch of the Astros, pitched against one another but didn’t start against one another.

Tom Underwood pitched in the major leagues for 11 seasons with six teams, Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Yankees, Athletics and Orioles, and had a career record of 86-87 with 18 saves and a 3.89 ERA.

Pat Underwood pitched in the major leagues for four seasons, all with the Tigers, and had a career record of 13-18 with eight saves and a 4.43 ERA.

An encounter with St. Louis Cardinals defensive back Jimmy Hill put Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr out of action.

Starr, who led the Packers to five NFL championships and twice was named winner of the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award, died on May 26, 2019, at 85. A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Starr played in 10 postseason games and the Packers won nine of those.

On Oct. 20, 1963, the Packers played the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis and Starr started at quarterback for the 44th consecutive game.

In the third quarter, Starr was flushed out of the pocket by the Cardinals’ pass rush and took off running. After a gain of 15 yards, Starr was headed out of bounds when Hill swung a forearm into him. The force of the blow knocked both Starr and Hill off their feet.

As Starr fell, he used his right hand to try to soften the impact with the ground and a bone snapped. He suffered a hairline fracture to his throwing hand.

Entangled with Hill on the ground, Starr kicked his leg and struck Hill in the mouth. Hill punched Starr in the face.

“I know he didn’t mean it and I know I shouldn’t have hit him,” Hill said to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Hill was ejected by the officiating crew and Starr, unable to continue, was replaced by a former Cardinal, John Roach.

“I apologized to him after the game and we shook hands, but it still makes me feel badly,” Hill said. “It was a refex action, I guess.”

Said a dazed Starr: “I don’t remember what happened out there.”

According to the book “Bart Starr: America’s Quarterback,” when Starr leaned down to retrieve his helmet, he couldn’t lift it. “That’s when I realized my hand was hurt,” he said.

Using a ground game to gain 225 yards rushing, the Packers (5-1) went on to a 30-7 victory over the Cardinals (4-2). The Packers’ top rushers were Elijah Pitts (77 yards), Jim Taylor (63 yards and two touchdowns) and Tom Moore (60 yards and a touchdown). Game stats

Starr was sidelined for four games and the Packers were 3-1 in his absence. He returned for the last four games of the season and though the Packers were 3-0-1 in those games, they finished in second place, behind the Chicago Bears, in the West Division. They missed the playoffs despite an 11-2-1 mark.

Two decades later, Starr was part of a group trying to bring a NFL expansion team, the Phoenix Firebirds, to Arizona, but the effort ended when Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill moved his franchise from St. Louis to Phoenix for the 1988 season.