FanPost

25 Players : 25 Seasons, 1935-1959

[READING TIME: >45 minutes - 30 pages!]

This is the second of what hopefully will be four installments of this series. The first of which was 25 Players : 25 Seasons, 1910-1934, an exercise (over a year ago) to go through the 25 teams in the era and choose one player from each year to fill all the spots on a 25-man roster.

The rules that are observed are:

1) One player must be chosen from each year, no more, no less - that means you can't skip 1988 because it sucked or pick McGee AND Tudor from 1985.

2) A player can only be chosen for the position that he played the majority of games that year - you can't claim Albert Pujols for 3B in '02 or 1B in '03.

3) The roster consists of 2 players at each position (C/1B/2B/3B/SS), six outfielders, five starters, and four relievers - you can't pick Clark AND Guerrero AND McGwire AND, uh, Jefferies at first base (dammit, I know I'm forgetting somebody).

4) A player may be only chosen for one year (and also one era) - you can't populate all six outfield slots (for the Giants) with Barry Bonds, or pick Musial in '48 AND '62.

I would ask that you please look over this roster, let me know what you think of it, and tell me where, how & why you would try to improve it. Take some time and learn about some of the history of our great franchise. I look forward to your comments.

[NOTE: I've tried my best to include as many links as possible for each player; at least those links that added something to the conversation. Common links are Wikipedia, Retrosheet, Baseball-Library (check out the Chronology page for each player), Baseball Almanac, Baseball In Wartime, the SABR Bio Project, and the official Hall of Fame website. I've also borrowed heavily from The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract.]

1935 – SP – Paul Dean #21 (BR/TR, 6’0", 175; played w/STL 1934-39) Like his brother, Paul "Daffy" Dean enjoyed early success with St. Louis before succumbing to injuries that shortened his career. Unlike his brother, Paul was shy & serious, and after his MLB career ended, he fled the spotlight that Dizzy craved so much.

Dean started playing professionally in 1931 when he was 17, then pitched for the Cardinals’ AA affiliate in Columbus for two years. He enjoyed a 22-7 campaign in 1933 prior to joining the big club. During spring training in 1934, Dizzy famously told reporters that "me ‘n Paul" would win forty-five games, even though the younger brother had yet to throw a pitch in the majors. The bold prediction actually fell short, as Dizzy would win 30 games and Paul debuted with 19 wins. The brothers would each win two games during the World Series, Paul winning Games #3 & #6.

In September of ’34, the Deans worked both halves of a doubleheader against the Dodgers. Dizzy pitched a 3-hit shutout in the opener, but Paul did him better, throwing a no-hitter in the second game. Dizzy was quoted as saying, "I wish I’da known Paul was goin’ to pitch a no-hitter. I’da pitched one, too."

Dean disliked the "Daffy" nickname reporters gave him in 1934 because it had no basis other than his brother was "Dizzy," though his brother, who was far more outgoing and an eager self-promoter, likely convinced him that a "Dizzy & Daffy" gimmick could sell tickets. The difference in the brothers’ outlooks was also demonstrated after the 1934 World Series. Dizzy celebrated by buying an airplane, while Paul bought a farm and married Dorothy Sandusky; they had four children.

Paul backed up his debut with another 19-win campaign in 1935, ranking 6th in the league in wins. The following spring, Dizzy planned to hold out for a larger contract and convinced Paul to join him, thinking their combined effort would help their cause. It worked, but by not participating in spring training Paul was out of shape and he tried to come back too quickly. This ruined his arm; he would win only 12 more major league games over the rest of his career.

Paul would pitch in the minors until 1946, attempting comebacks with the Giants in ’40 and the Browns in ’43. He tried his hand at managing in the lower levels, leading teams in Ontario, New Mexico, and his home state of Arkansas. He also coached at the University of Plano (TX). Paul Dean was statistically similar to Carmen Hill and Jered Weaver. Retro link

 

1936 – 1B – Ripper Collins #12 (BS/TL, 5’9", 165; played w/STL 1931-36) Undersized as a first baseman, James "Ripper" Collins was still a feared slugger for the Gashouse Gang, leading the league with 35 home runs in 1934 and setting the NL record for total bases by a switch-hitter that stood for fifty-three years.

Collins claims that he gained his nickname by hitting a ball that got snagged on a nail, ripping the cover. It is also speculated that, being a fun-loving guy off the field and a ringleader of the infamous Gashouse Gang, he acquired the well-used moniker as an adult, which means that he was a "night walker" – a curfew dodger and troublemaker. Either way, Ripper escaped the coal mines of Pennsylvania at 21 years old and worked his way up the St. Louis farm system. He won the Triple Crown for Danville in 1928, paced the International League with 38 homers the next year and, repeating the level as Jim Bottomley blocked his path to the majors, set an IL record that still stands with 180 RBI in 1930.

Collins began 1931 on the bench, finally breaking into the starting lineup in late May and holding down first base until an August injury effectively ended his season. The next year saw him split time between first and the outfield, but establishing himself as the best slugger on the team and ushering Bottomley out the door after the season.

With teammate Frankie Frisch managing the team in 1934, Collins had his greatest season. Batting 5th behind Frisch and young bopper Joe Medwick, Ripper led the league in homers (35, tie w/Mel Ott), extra bases (87), total bases (369) & slugging pct. (.615), was second in RBI (128), and third in runs scored (116) & hits (200). The total bases would remain an NL record for switch-hitters until Jimmy Rollins’ breakout 2007 campaign. He finished 6th in the MVP voting, losing out to teammate Dizzy Dean. Collins followed that up with a .367 batting average in the World Series victory over the Detroit Tigers.

Collins played well in 1935, putting up solid numbers, but slumped early the next season and ended up sharing duties with rookie Johnny Mize, eventually getting pushed to the outfield and the bench. He was traded in October ’36 to the Cubs (with Roy Parmelee) for Lon Warneke. He played two more years with them, providing league-average offense at first base. Demoted to the minors in favor of Rip Russell, Collins hit over .300 for Los Angeles of the PCL for two years, then was purchased by the Pirates during Spring Training 1941. Later, in ’44, he was the Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year at the age of 40, hitting .396 as the player/manager for the Albany Senators of the Int’l League.

Collins managed that Senators club from ’42-’46, along with the San Diego Padres, Pawtucket Slaters, Hartford Chiefs, and later the San Antonio Missions, then returning to the majors to coach the Chicago Cubs from 1961 to 1963. He also served as an executive with the Wilson Sporting Goods Company, which featured a first baseman’s glove endorsed with his autograph. Ripper finished his career as a baseball broadcaster. Ripper Collins was statistically similar to Zeke Bonura and Don Hurst. Wiki Retro B-Lib linky

 

1937 – OF – Joe Medwick #7 (BR/TR, 5’10", 187; played w/STL 1932-40, ‘47-48; HOF) The last National League player to complete the offensive Triple Crown, "Ducky" Medwick lashed home runs, triples and doubles around the park, still holding the NL record for two-base hits with 64 in 1936.

Joseph Michael Medwick grew up in Carteret, NJ, where he was a high school star in track, football, basketball and baseball. After school he turned down a football scholarship to Notre Dame to sign with the Cardinals organization. Medwick ran roughshod in his initial trial with Scottdale (PA) of the Mid Atlantic League, hitting .419 with 22 homers in 77 games. He then excelled for two years with the Houston Buffaloes, leading the Texas League with 19 bombs in 1931 and upping that total to 26 with a .354 average the next year before receiving a call-up in September.

Medwick quickly established himself as a fine hitter, leading the club in doubles, homers & RBI in 1933. The next year he led the National League with 18 triples while settling into the cleanup role for the Cardinals. During the ’34 World Series, Medwick homered and collected 4 hits in the opener. Later in Game 4 he slid roughly into 3rd base, spiking Tigers player Marv Owen. Irate Tiger fans in the temporary LF stands then launched a barrage of fruit at Medwick as he returned to his position, halting the game. With the game already 9-0 in favor of St. Louis in the 6th, Commissioner Landis had Medwick and Owen removed from the field for their safety.

A .353 average in ‘35, with increases in nearly every counting stat, saw Medwick gain real consideration for the league MVP, finishing 5th in the race behind teammate Dizzy Dean and winner Gabby Hartnett. The 1936 season would be his best so far, leading the NL with 138 RBI, 223 hits and 64 doubles, but those numbers would not be enough to overcome the stellar season of Carl Hubbell of the Giants, as Medwick placed 4th in the voting. (Joe equaled a league mark with 10 consecutive hits in July of that year.)

In 1937 Medwick would have one of the greatest Cardinal seasons of all time. Hitting cleanup all season, he led the league in games played (156), at bats (633), runs (111), hits (237), doubles (56), homers (31), RBI (154), BA (.374), SLG (.641), OPS (1.056), OPS+ (180), total bases (406), and bWAR (8.9). Surprisingly he barely edged out (70-68) Chicago Cubs catcher Gabby Hartnett for Most Valuable Player, with only two 1st-place votes to Hartnett's three; a trio from the pennant-winning NY Giants garnered the other top tallies. (This isn't really all that unusual - the Cubs finished two games out while the Cards were in fourth place, 15 games back.)

In his first five full seasons '33-37, Medwick collected 1064 hits, a record that still stands. (Ichiro Suzuki in 2004 matched Joe's '37 by having two 50-hit months in the same year.) Also, two significant games for Medwick occurred in 1937. On June 6th, the second game of a Sunday doubleheader was declared a forfeit in the Cards’ favor. The Phillies, trailing 8-2 with 2 outs in the 5th inning, stalled the game long enough to pass the 7 o’clock curfew. The forfeit negated a HR hit by Medwick, preventing him from securing the outright home run title. On July 7th, Joe was the first player to bang out four hits in an All-Star Game, but Earl Averill’s line drive off Dizzy Dean’s foot was the story of the day.

"Ducky" posted a fine season in '38 (.322/.369/.536, 47 doubles & 122 RBI - both NL-best), but the Cards fell to sixth place and he received only token MVP consideration. Medwick’s 48 doubles in 1939 marked the seventh straight season with 40 or more doubles, a record equaled by Wade Boggs in 1991. On June 12, 1940, with the farm system churning out players and GM Branch Rickey wanting to get the most out his deals, the St. Louis Cardinals sent Joe Medwick and Curt Davis to the Brooklyn Dodgers for four players and the then-astronomical figure of $125,000.

Six days later Medwick was beaned by Cardinal hurler Bob Bowman. Allegedly Medwick had been tipped off by 3B coach Charlie Dressen as to the pitch type. But more interesting was the allegation that Bowman had done it intentionally after having a fight with Medwick and Leo Durocher in a hotel elevator the night before. Dodgers executive Larry McPhail wanted Bowman banned for life and Rickey thought it was an attempt by the St. Louis players to ruin Medwick. Regardless, the beaning seemed to take the life out of Medwick’s hitting and he never again put up the numbers he did in St. Louis.

That's not to say that Medwick stopped hitting altogether; he still topped .300 in 1940, but failed to reach 100 RBI for the first time in seven years. The next year was a little better and his Dodgers fended off the Cardinals for the pennant, but it would be his last great season. The power dried up in 1942 (dropping from 10 triples and 18 homers to 4 & 4, respectively) and when Medwick failed to hit a dinger by the end of June '43, he was sold to the New York Giants. The batting average returned to a .337 mark in 1944, but with the team 20 games below .500 in fifth place, it would be Medwick's final All-Star season.

During a USO tour by a number of players in 1944, Medwick was among several individuals given an audience by Pope Pius XII. Upon being asked by The Pope what his vocation was, he replied, "Your Holiness, I’m Joe Medwick. I, too, used to be a Cardinal."

Getting used sporadically to start the 1945 season in New York, Medwick was then traded in mid-June to the Boston Braves for Clyde Kluttz; he would fail to hit a home run the rest of the year. Released in February of '46, he signed on with the St. Lous Browns but was cut before the start of the regular season. He eventually signed later that year with the Dodgers, where he mainly pinch-hit. In 1947, Medwick had one last hurrah with the Cardinals, driving in big runs as a bench player. He retired after the '48 campaign with a lifetime .324 batting average.

The origin of Medwick’s nickname "Ducky" has been attributed in several forms. The tamest versions claim that the way he walked (or swam) was rather duck-like. Another claimed that he was viewed by a female fan, who exclaimed, "Isn’t he just Ducky-Wucky?" This was picked up by the media (with whom Joe had several incidents) and they ran with it. Medwick hated the nickname with a passion, much preferring Mickey (off his middle name) or "Muscles" (because he had big ones).

Joe Medwick was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1968 and was selected as the New Jersey athlete of the century. He was statistically similar to Jim Bottomley and Heinie Manush. Bill James considers Medwick to be the 13th greatest leftfielder of all time. Wiki Retro B-Lib linkage

 

1938 – 1B – Johnny Mize #10 (BL/TR, 6’2", 215; played w/STL 1936-41; HOF) "Big Jawn" was one of the premier National League sluggers of his time. A feared batsman for the Cardinals, Giants & Yankees, Mize earned the nickname "The Big Cat" for his graceful & powerful displays of hitting & fielding. He was the first player in history to record six 3-homer games (since tied by Sammy Sosa) and homered in all 15 MLB parks in use during his career.

John Robert Mize was born on January 7, 1913, in Demorest, Georgia. Gifted at both tennis and baseball, he early on caught the attention of the baseball coach at nearby Piedmont College. Invited to join the team, Mize played as a ringer in his first college game when he was only fifteen. (The Johnny Mize Athletic Center and Museum, located on the campus of Piedmont College, is named in his honor.)

Mize signed with Greensboro in the Piedmont League late in 1930 and caught on with the Cardinals’ farm system in 1932. While hitting well at every level, he fought through injuries. In 1933, at Rochester in the International League, he suffered painful leg cramps that would haunt him for the next several years. Mize was actually sold to the Cincinnati Reds in December 1934, but was returned the next April due to a knee injury. That injury healed, he then underwent surgery to remove an upper-leg bone spur. Thus cured, he moved up to St. Louis for the 1936 season.

His rookie campaign was a success. Playing at first base and in the outfield, Mize finished 5th in the league with 19 home runs (despite playing in only 126 games) and was Top-10 in RBI, BA, OBP & SLG. The next year was his first of 6 consecutive 100 RBI seasons, as he made the All-Star team and finished 10th in MVP voting. During the 1938 season Mize led the league with 16 triples, becoming the only player ever with 15+ three-base hits but no stolen bases. He also paced the league with a .614 slugging percentage and 1.036 OPS.

In 1939, Mize won the home run crown with 28 dingers and led the league with a .349 batting average, but he lost the MVP to Cincinnati hurler Buck Walters as the Cardinals finished 4.5 games behind the Reds. He again won two legs of the Triple Crown in 1940 (43 HR, 137 RBI), but repeated as runner-up, this time to Reds’ first baseman Frank McCormick. The 43 home runs that year remained the St. Louis record until the 1998 season by Mark McGwire.

Mize was limited to 126 games in 1941, but still managed to lead the league with 39 doubles. In six years as a Cardinal, he managed a Top-10 finish in BA, OBP, SLG, HR & RBI. But general manager Branch Rickey was of the mind that it was better to trade a player a year early than a year late, so he was shipped off to the NY Giants for three middling players and $50,000. The move paid off for the team, with the club winning the World Series in 1942, but Mize still had plenty in the tank, again pacing the league in RBI and SLG.

Of course the world got real busy and baseball players responded. Mize enlisted in the Navy in March of 1943 and spent the next three years playing baseball at Great Lakes and in the Pacific. "Mize hit several [balls] right over the palm trees into the ocean," recalled Virgil Trucks to author Richard Goldstein.

[Complete aside: "Big Jawn" Mize was noted for his size, 6 foot 2 inches and 215 pounds. In this era (’35-59) there was only one other St. Louis player who was roughly as big as him, Walker Cooper (6’3", 210). Looking at the 1910-1934 25-for-25 team, there is no one that tall and heavy (Ed Konetchy, Slim Sallee, & Frank Snyder were 6’2"-6’3", but Mike Gonzalez was the sole 200-pounder). For the next squad, the biggest man on the squad is Steve Carlton (6’4", 210), with John Denny & George Hendrick at 6’3" and Orlando Cepeda & Joe Torre at 210+. But when you get to the modern era (1985-2009), there are eight players as big as Walker Cooper (a bit of a sneak preview – Todd Worrell, Lee Smith, Bob Tewksbury, Tom Henke, Mark McGwire, Scott Rolen, Albert Pujols, & Chris Carpenter), plus four other lighter guys that went 6’3" or more (Darryl Kile, Jason Isringhausen, Adam Wainwright, & Ryan Ludwick). This is a fairly small sample and it might be different when looking at other franchises, but one reason for the home run explosion of the last 25 years is that the athletes coming into baseball are just bigger (and more than likely stronger) and it is rarely ever brought up in conversation.]

Returning to baseball in 1946, Mize showed no slow-down. Playing in just over 100 games, he finished one home run behind Ralph Kiner and placed 9th in the RBI race. In 1947, Mize tied (with Kiner) for the NL home run crown with 51, as well as pacing the circuit in runs (137) and RBI (138). The home run mark would be the NL standard for lefties for 54 years until Luis Gonzalez hit 57 for Arizona in 2001 (since surpassed by Bonds in ’03 and Howard in ’06). He again fell short of the MVP award, losing out to Braves 3B Bob Elliott and Reds pitcher Ewell Blackwell.

In 1948, Mize once more topped the NL with 40 home runs, but was an afterthought in the awards race. By the next season he had slowed down considerably and was not capable of being the dominating player of years earlier. The Yankees had a need for a powerful bench bat and purchased him for $40,000 in August of 1949. Mize thrived in the part-time/platoon role, collecting pinch-hits and bashing home runs while the Yankees won the World Series each of his five years in pinstripes. He crushed 35 homers in 305 at-bats in 1950 and led the league in pinch-hits ’50, ’51 & ’52. After retirement, Mize served as a scout for the Giants and a coach for the Kansas City Athletics.

Teammate Stan Musial said of him, during Mize’s 1981 induction into the Hall of Fame: "Did you ever see a pitcher knock him down at the plate? Remember how he reacted when brushed back? He’d just lean back and on his left foot, bend his body back and let the pitch go by. Then he’d lean back into the batter’s box and resume his stance, graceful as a big cat." Johnny Mize was statistically similar to Todd Helton and Hank Greenberg. Bill James rated him as the 6th greatest first baseman of all time (later revised to 3rd). Retro B-Lib B.I.W. Blinky Pinky Inky Clyde

 

1939 – C – Don Padgett #16 (BL/TR, 6’0", 190; played w/STL 1937-41) A college-educated outfielder who twice lost his starting gig to a Hall-of-Famer, Padgett holds the mark for the highest Cardinal batting average (minimum 250 PA’s) since Rogers Hornsby (.399, 1939 as a newly converted catcher).

Don Padgett signed on with the St. Louis minor league system at 23 years old after a distinguished career as a three-sport star at Lenoir-Rhyne College (NC) and made the big league club two years later in ‘37, playing alongside Joe Medwick and hitting .314 with 10 home runs (good for 3rd on the team). The next year he struggled somewhat and lost playing time to Enos Slaughter, eventually getting converted to catcher at the end of the year.

In 1939, Padgett started the year on the bench, garnering his first start at catcher on June 11th. A quick hitting streak saw his average climb to .471 and got him a regular (platoon?) job behind the plate, despite never gaining real competence as a backstop. Padgett maintained his .400 average through the rest of the year, dipping below only during his final start, finishing with a slash line of .399 / .444 / .554.

His next season started well, getting starts behind the plate and hitting over .300 into mid-May. But a slump dropped his average 70 points and handed the majority of catching duties back to Mickey Owen. (Manager Billy Southworth, when asked by Padgett why he was being benched after hitting .399 the year before, said, "Because you’re a .399 fielder.") For the 1941 season, Padgett filled in at leftfield occasionally, but struggled in the second half and fell out of favor, especially with the ascension of Stan Musial to the starting outfield. On December 10th (three days after Pearl Harbor), he was sold to the Brooklyn Dodgers for $25,000. They lost him to the draft (Padgett eventually enlisted) before he ever played a game, causing the Dodgers to plead to Commissioner Landis to negate the deal (he ruled otherwise).

After 4 years in the U.S. Navy (playing for various Pacific fleet teams), he returned to baseball in 1946, playing 19 games for the Dodgers before being sold to the Boston Braves. The next year he was traded to the Phillies for Andy Karl and hit .316 in limited duty. Padgett took up managing in the minors after his playing career ended.

Don Padgett was considered a bit of a flop, starting out as an overhyped prospect out of college and then the minors. After being pushed out of the outfield mix, he was asked to convert to catcher while remaining in the majors, a near impossible task; that he managed to do so while hitting nearly .400 is unbelievable. He was statistically similar to Alex Cintron (hisssss) and Cotton Tierney. [Bit of trivia: Padgett appeared in a short film called "Columbia Panoramic: Tomorrow’s Stars", about a baseball school in Florida run by Joe Stripp. The film, which also featured Joe Tinker, was released in April 1940.] Retro B.I.W. B-Alm clink

 

1940 – OF – Terry Moore #8 (BR/TR, 5’11", 195; played w/STL 1935-42, ‘46-48) One of the best defensive centerfielders of his generation, Moore was captain of the ’42 & ’46 Championship teams and spent his entire playing career as a Cardinal.

Terry Bluford Moore was born in Vernon, AL, in 1912 and signed with St. Louis at the age of 20. He only played one full season in the minors before being brought to the majors in 1935. His rookie year featured one game with three doubles & a homer, as well as a 6-for-6 performance against the Boston Braves a week later. By the end of the season Moore had stolen the job centerfield job away from Ernie Orsatti.

Moore’s excellent defensive work ensured his place in the lineup his first few years. But starting in 1939 he began to post good offensive numbers, smacking 17 home runs and driving in 77 runners while hitting .295. Moore made the All-Star team and finishing in the Top-20 for MVP, the first of four consecutive years to receive both honors. In 1940, he stole a career high 18 bases and had his only .300 campaign (.304).

After two more solid seasons, World War II interrupted Moore’s career and he spent the next three years in the military. Returning to the majors in 1946 at the age of 34, he did not regain his previous offensive firepower and was never again the defensive marvel of his youth. He finished his playing days in 1948, hitting .232 in 91 games. Moore served as a coach with the Cardinals from 1949-52 (as well as ’56-58), then in 1954 started the year as a scout with the Phillies and ended up managing the ballclub the final 77 games (35-42).

Terry Moore was the defensive gold standard for center fielders in the late 30’s and before the war. He would have won several Gold Gloves if they existed at that time. He was statistically similar to contemporaries Mike Kreevich & Mule Haas, plus more recent players Darryl Hamilton & Terry Puhl. Bill James considers Moore to be the 60th best center fielder of all time. Wiki Retro B-Lib

 

1941 – SP – Ernie White #28 (BR/TL, 5’11½", 175; played w/STL 1940-43) After showing promise in the 1941 season, winning 17 games as a rookie, Ernie White struggled through freak injuries and a dead arm after returning from combat in Europe.

White played first base through high school, only switching to the mound for a semi-pro team in hometown Pacolet Mills, SC. He was discovered in 1937 by Frank Rickey, a scout with the St. Louis Cardinals and the younger brother of Branch Rickey. White pitched for two low-level clubs that summer and was moved to Portsmouth (OH) the following year, making a huge splash on June 3rd with a five-inning, 15-strikeout performance against the Johnstown Johnnies.

Pitching for the Houston Buffaloes in 1939, "Cabbage Head" White pitched a no-hitter and repeated his 15-6 record from the year before. The next season he impressed with a 13-4 record and a 2.25 ERA, good for 5th in the league. White also made a strong debut in St. Louis on May 9th, coming in for Murry Dickson in the second and pitching 7⅓ scoreless innings, going 3-for-3 at the plate with a walk, a run scored, and a stolen base, and collecting the win in a 8-4 Cardinals victory over the Phillies. He pitched decently for St. Louis in his month there, splitting two decisions and compiling a 4.15 ERA.

In his first full season, White would have an outstanding campaign. He finished with a 17-7 record and a 2.40 ERA, good for third in the league. On July 26th he beat the Boston Braves to collect his fourth victory in five days – a 20th-century major-league record (Cardinals manager Billy Southworth used his hot lefthander between starts). In all White set career highs in nearly every category and would place 6th in the 1941 MVP race, behind teammate Jimmy Brown and winner Dolph Camilli.

A sore arm sidelined White for part of the 1942 season, his problems beginning in spring training as he was trying to develop a curveball. Just as his arm was coming around in mid-season, he was hit by a line drive, which knocked him out for another four weeks. White finished the year with a 7-5 record in 26 games (19 starts) and a fine 2.52 ERA. After his sporadic achievements during the regular season, the highlight of White’s year – and career – occurred when he shut out the Yankees in the third game of the fall classic. The six-hit whitewashing was the first time that the Yankees had been shut out in post-season play since Jesse Haines did it in the ’26 Series.

The 1943 season wasn’t any better for White, as he was hampered by injuries once again. In a freak play on May 18th, he bumped into the dugout while backing up a throw, breaking a bone in his shoulder (a malady he did not realize until after the season). A 5-5 record, more walks than strikeouts, and a below average ERA were the results of a frustrating year.

In January of 1944, White was inducted into the U.S. Army and after initial training was assigned to Camp Pickett, VA, and played for the 78th Infantry division team. Later that year he was shipped overseas, where he fought at the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes. It was there that Corporal Ernie White "was pinned down in icy water for a day" and – perhaps as a result – ultimately reported to have lost his fastball. (An aside: there were 10 Cardinals pitchers (and several position players) who served in the military in ’44 & ’45. Johnny Beazley, a rookie phenom in ’42, ruined his arm while pitching an exhibition against St. Louis, seriously affecting his career. Neither Howie Krist nor Johnny Grodzicki sufficiently recovered from wounds suffered in battle or won another game in their careers. And prospect Hank Nowak paid the ultimate price, dying at the Battle of the Bulge on January 1, 1945.)

After returning from the war in 1946, White was released by the Cardinals during spring training due to continuing "dead arm" issues. The Braves scooped him up quickly, outbidding several other clubs. (Manager Billy Southworth, now with Boston, picked up six former Redbirds that year, leading the local media to refer to the team as the "Cape Cod Cardinals".) Trying to recover his arm strength, White was used as a coach while also pitching mostly for exhibitions. He didn’t pitch well in regular season action, but did help develop their pitching staff, led by Johnny Sain and Warren Spahn (a fellow veteran of the Bulge and a winner of the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart).

White continued to coach with the Braves in 1947, making one four-inning start in late September. With his arm apparently on the mend during spring training the next year, he was released as a coach and signed as a player. Used sparingly all year, White put up solid numbers, finishing the season with a 1.99 ERA over 23 innings. But his final appearance was as a pinch-runner on October 3rd, not pitching for the Braves in their World Series loss to the Cleveland Indians.

White went on to manage in the minor leagues for 15 seasons, winning three league championships. He returned to the majors in 1963, joining Casey Stengel’s staff in New York. He died at the age of 57 in May of ’74 due to complications from knee surgery. A classic "what-if" case, Ernie White was statistically similar to Slim Love and Frank Lange. Wiki Retro SABR B.I.W. B-Alm

 

1942 – SP – Mort Cooper #13 (BR/TR, 6’2", 210; played w/STL 1938-45) Mort Cooper was one of the best hurlers during the war years, but had his career cut short by painful bone chips in his elbow.

Morton Cecil Cooper was born March 2, 1913, in Atherton, MO, and grew up alongside his younger brother Walker. Mort signed with the Cardinals in 1933 and began play in the Western League. Despite poor numbers there, within the next year he had been promoted all the way to "AA" Columbus, where he would remain for four seasons with middling results. He had a breakout campaign in ’38 at "A1" Houston, where he went 13-10 with a 2.32 ERA in 202 innings pitched.

Mort was called up for a cup of coffee that September and would have a good rookie season in 1939, going 12-6 with a 3.25 ERA and leading the National League in HR/9 (0.3) and K/9 (5.6). The next year he pitched well (despite a losing record), but received a huge boost in the final games as his brother, a catcher, was called up and they formed one of the rare sibling battery combinations. In ’41 both brothers fought through injuries (Mort missed a month and a half in June & July), but Mort pitched effectively enough to win 13 games and drew some MVP consideration. Then again, twelve Cardinals received votes that November, so let’s not get too excited over a below-average ERA.

Two circumstances happened in 1941-42 to improve Mort’s performance. One, he was taught the forkball by Jim Weaver, a former Pirates hurler. The pitch fit Mort’s repertoire perfectly, as it allowed him to mess with hitters by tossing them the off-speed stuff. Secondly, Walker took over the top spot behind the plate in ’42 and caught nearly every game for his big brother. Few outside baseball understand the symbiotic relationship between a pitcher and catcher; a good hurler can be transformed into a great pitcher by a catcher who is utterly attuned to his best and worst stuff. Mort had in his brother a catcher who knew what pitches to call and what pitches to reject.

Mort’s 1942 campaign would go down as one of the greatest in Cardinal history. By the end of the first week in May, he had his earned run average below 2.00, where it would remain for all but three games all year. Nine consecutive wins got him selected to start the All-Star Game, where he would surrender two first-inning homers and be credited with the loss. Cooper hit a bit of a rough patch in July & August, allowing four or more runs in 6 of 8 starts, But he righted the ship, winning & completing 9 of his final 10 starts (including a 14-inning, 1-run performance against the Pirates on August 25th) as the Cardinals overtook the Dodgers for the pennant. Mort finished the regular season with 22 wins (22-7), a 1.78 ERA, and 10 shutouts, all NL-best marks. He would get shelled by the Yankees in the World Series, giving up five runs each in two starts, but St. Louis would claim its first title in eight years. Mort won the National League Most Valuable Player award over teammate Enos Slaughter and Giants slugger/manager Mel Ott.

Mort did much of the same in 1943: going 11-5 with a sub-2.00 ERA before the mid-season break; starting & losing the All-Star Game again (the only pitcher to lose consecutive contests); leading the NL in wins (21); and finishing fifth in MVP-voting, behind his brother Walker and winner Stan Musial. Unfortunately the Cooper family suffered a loss that fall, as their father passed away on October 6th, the day of Game Two which Mort was scheduled to start. He would win that game, but left for home a day later, returning in time to pitch the final game, losing 2-0 to Spud Chandler and the Yankees.

Mort failed to make the All-Star team in 1944, despite a 10-3 mark & a 2.45 ERA at the break, but finished the year with a league-leading seven shutouts and a 22-7 record. He received another top-10 placement in the MVP voting, just behind his brother Walker and winner Marty Marion. Mort split a pair of decisions in the World Series against the cross-town Browns, including a Game Five shutout with 12 strikeouts while scattering 7 hits.

Not all was going great for Cooper. He suffered from bone chips in his elbow that forced him to chew aspirins on the mound to dull the pain. He also was being jerked around by Cardinals owner Sam Breadon. Both Mort and Walker had their salaries frozen at $12,000 for three years and in April ’45 the two brothers quit the team in a dispute after Marty Marion had received a new contract for $13,500. St. Louis would trade Mort to the Braves for Red Barrett, who would go on to win 21 games for the Cardinals (23 total) that season. Limited by the injury, Mort would only pitch 101.2 innings all year and finish with a 9-4 mark.

Mort would rebound nicely in 1946, starting 27 games, making the All-Star team, and leading the NL in WHIP, BB/9 & K/BB ratio. But he struggled somewhat over the first two months in ’47 and was traded to the NY Giants, reuniting him with his brother Walker, who was having an outstanding campaign. The move did not pay off for his new team, though, as Mort went 1-5 with a 7.12 ERA the rest of the way. Fighting through the pain, he attempted a final comeback with the Cubs in 1949, serving up a 3-run homer to Duke Snider & failing to record an out in his sole appearance.

Mort Cooper ranks third on the Cardinals all-time list with 28 shutouts, behind Bill Doak and leader Bob Gibson. He died of a lung condition at the age of 45. He was statistically similar to Sal Maglie and former Cardinal hurlers Harry Brecheen & John Tudor. Bill James selected Cooper as one of the pitchers on his 1940-1949 MLB All-Star Team. Wiki Retro B-Lib B-Alm synch

 

1943 – C – Walker Cooper #15 (BR/TR, 6’3", 210; played w/STL 1940-45, ‘56-57) One of the best offensive catchers in National League history when he retired, Walker Cooper doesn’t quite have the credentials for Hall of Fame enshrinement, but still ranks well with the legends of the sport. Reds hurler Ewell Blackwell said, "He was just about the strongest man I’ve ever known."

William Walker Cooper was born January 8, 1915 in Atherton, MO, nearly two years after his brother Mort. The younger sibling signed with the Cardinal organization and began play in 1934 with Springfield (IL) of the Western League. Never a great defensive backstop, it took several years before he started really hitting, ripping 15 triples and posting a .336 batting average for Asheville of the Class "B" Piedmont League in ’39, followed by a .302 campaign with power for "AA" Columbus in 1940.

That same year "Walk" was called up to the majors in late September and reportedly complained to the umpire on the first pitch he ever saw; the same game he caught for his brother in relief. The following spring had him sharing catching duties with Gus Mancuso, but he was limited to 68 games due in part to a broken collarbone in mid-May; he did manage to catch Lon Warneke’s no-hitter on August 30th. Walker finally claimed the top catcher spot in ’42, hitting .281 over 125 games, making his first All-Star team, and finishing in the top ten in slugging, doubles and triples. Mort was the best pitcher in the league and won the NL MVP; Walker finished 11th in the voting.

It was time for "Big Coop" to shine in 1943, as he pushed his average to .318 with 81 RBI. Despite playing in only 122 games, he garnered five 1st-place votes and was the runner-up to MVP-winner Stan Musial. But bad news hit the Cooper family in October as their father passed away just prior to the World Series. The next year was more of the same in terms of baseball – almost identical slash numbers, another top-ten finish for MVP, and a third consecutive 105+ win season for the Cardinals as they defeated the cross-town Browns in the Series. From 1942-44 Cooper hit .300 in the postseason.

Walker lost most of the 1945 season to service with the US Navy and then had a contract dispute with owner Sam Breadon. On January 5, 1946 Cooper was sold to the NY Giants for $175,000, the largest cash-only deal at the time. In his first season there he split the catching workload with Ernie Lombardi as the Giants finished 32 games under .500. But the team revamped their offense and in ’47 set a major league record with 221 home runs, led by former Cardinal great Johnny Mize’s 51. Walker set career highs in home runs (35), RBI (122), runs, hits, triples, and games played. In June (shortly after being reunited with Mort after a trade from the Braves) he tied a record by hitting a home run in six consecutive games (seven in total).

[An odd quote from former Cardinal catcher Joe Garagiola: "Today’s catcher’s mitt is like a big, soft pair of pliers. But with the small pocket that we used, you really suffered the sting when you caught the ball. So you had to stuff some kind of padding into the glove to cushion the blow. While most catchers, including myself, used a sponge, Walker Cooper was a little more exotic. He used falsies. I’ve always tried to imagine how surprised the saleswoman must have been when this big guy, more than six feet tall and over 200 pounds of rawbone, looking like he stepped out of a John Wayne movie, asked for a D cup. One day Coop made a tag play at the plate, and his glove was knocked off. The falsie rolled out, made a perfect little turn, and landed right in the middle of the plate. The next day the fans sent him a lifetime supply."]

Limited by injury in 1948, Cooper played only 91 games for the Giants. A slow start the next year got him traded to the Reds in mid-June for Ray Mueller in a swap of catchers. Three weeks later he became the only backstop to ever record 10 RBI in the same game, going 6-for-7 with three homers, two doubles, and five runs scored. Walker’s offense recovered nicely with 16 homers, 62 RBI, and a .280 average in 82 games for Cincinnati. But another weak beginning in ’50 got him shipped off to the Boston Braves, where he played 102 games while putting up a .329/.389/.528 season and made his final All-Star Team (every year from ’42-50; no game in ’45).

Cooper continued playing for the Braves for three more years: a solid ’51 equal to his first season with the team, a weak ’52 which would be his last as a regular (but somehow received one vote for MVP), and, with the move to Milwaukee and the return/ascension of Del Crandall, a wasted ’53 stuck on the bench. ("When you get to be my age, you don’t hold out. You hold on.") Released in the offseason, Walker began 1954 with the Pirates, but only lasted one month before being claimed off waivers by the Cubs, the sixth NL club he played for. He hit for average and with power for Chicago, getting 48 starts as a backup in ’54 and 32 more in ’55. He returned to St. Louis as a bench presence and part-time coach in ’56 & ’57, where he played alongside future son-in-law Don Blasingame.

Starting in 1958, "Big Coop" began coaching in earnest, beginning with the Indianapolis Indians for two years, the Kansas City Athletics in ’60, and finally the Dallas-Fort Worth Rangers the next season. He died in Scottsdale, AZ, in 1991 at the age of 76, nearly thirty-three years after his brother passed on. He was statistically similar to Smoky Burgess and Mike Lieberthal. Bill James considers Walker Cooper to be the 33rd greatest catcher of all time. James also lists him as the catcher on his 1940-1949 Major League All-Star Team. Wiki Retro B-Lib B-Alm kink

 

1944 – OF – Johnny Hopp #12 (BL/TL, 5’10", 175; played w/STL 1939-45) Playing with abandon typical of the Gashouse Gang, diving into bases headfirst like Pepper Martin before him, Johnny Hopp was a sometimes first baseman, sometimes centerfielder who collected 4 World Series rings (’42 & ’44 with SLN, ’50 & ’51 with NYA) over a 14-year career.

Known to friends and teammates as Cotney due to his cotton-colored hair, Johnny Hopp grew up in Nebraska along with his brother Harry, a standout back with the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Detroit Lions. (Harry’s nickname, "Hippity", was applied to Johnny on occasion.) Neither his high school nor college had baseball teams, but Hopp played on legion and semi-pro teams in the area. Scouts noticed him and he was signed to Norfolk of the Nebraska State League, where he hit .361 with 26 HR and 36 SB in 107 games in 1936.

The Cardinals promoted Hopp to Rochester in 1937 and he hit well there, well enough to be invited to big league spring training the next year. But he developed a sore arm and returned to Rochester for the ’38 season. A move to Houston in ’39 came with a switch to first base to lessen the impact on his arm; hitting .312 for the Buffaloes got him a cup of coffee with the Cardinals at the end of the year. Johnny’s rookie year of 1940 saw him get 150 at bats, with spot starts at first, left and center.

Hopp’s ‘41 campaign was surprisingly effective, again bouncing between first (filling in for an injured Johnny Mize) and the outfield, and hitting anywhere in the first three spots of the order. Doing anything the team needed him to do, he hit .303 with some speed and impressed voters enough to finish 8th in the MVP race (one of 12 Cardinals to receive votes that year). He also impressed team management enough to ship out Mize and install Hopp at first. Johnny didn’t reward their optimism at the outset, putting up middling numbers in ’42 and worse in ’43, getting relegated to bench duty and spot starts all over.

The loss of Harry Walker to the war put Johnny Hopp back in the lineup and into centerfield in 1944, where he would have his finest all-around season. He hit .336 and set career highs in nearly every counting stat, while playing flawlessly in the outfield (NL-leading .997 fielding %). He only finished 18th in the voting (despite much better numbers than ‘41), well behind league MVP Marty Marion and the vastly superior Stan Musial. The Cardinals won 105+ games for a third year in a row, defeating the Browns in a cross-town World Series classic.

A fine 1945 season was capped by another top-15 MVP vote, but the return of Musial, Slaughter, Moore and company in ‘46 made Hopp expendable, getting traded to the Boston Braves for Eddie Joost (who never played with St. Louis and was traded at the end of the season). "Cotney" made the All-Star team for the only time, starting in center and hitting 3rd between Musial and Dodger Dixie Walker. Hopp finished 2nd in the batting race, hitting .332 as he bounced between 1B and CF his first year with the Braves before settling down in center in 1947.

Traded to the Pirates in November ‘47, Hopp put up league average numbers for two years before experiencing a revival in 1950. A .340 AVG (2nd in the NL) with some walks, power and a few steals got the attention of the Yankees and they purchased him in September (reuniting him with Mize). Hopp continued hitting (including a PH grand slam) and picked up another WS ring in October. He would be part of another title in ’51, but not through any contribution of his own; Johnny hit .206 as basically a pinch-hitter, then was released the next year and finished up his career with 42 games as a Tiger and a blown hamstring.

After his playing days ended, Hopp coached for the Tigers in ‘54, managed the Grand Forks Chiefs in’55, and returned to the Cardinals as a coach in ’56-‘57. He was statistically similar to his former skipper Billy Southworth and Mule Haas. Retro B-Lib lank lenk lunk

 

1945 – SS – Marty Marion #4 (BR/TR, 6’2", 170; played w/STL 1940-50; managed w/STL 1951) The greatest player at his position in franchise history before Ozzie Smith arrived, Marty Marion disproved the notion that shortstops had to be small men. Nicknamed "Slats", he had unusually long arms which reached for grounders like tentacles, prompting sportswriters to call him "The Octopus".

Martin Whiteford Marion was born on December 1, 1917, in Richburg, SC. He signed with Huntington of the Middle Atlantic League when he was 18 in 1936, then apprenticed for three years at "AA" Rochester. Marion joined the Cardinals in 1940 and settled in as the starting shortstop. The next year he started all 155 games at short and led the league in sacrifice bunts; that, combined with his outstanding defense, saw him get votes for MVP [looking at WAR totals that year, it was fairly apparent anybody for St. Louis who was still alive at the end of the season was eligible for MVP consideration].

The 1942 season would be Marion’s best offensive campaign, leading the NL with 38 doubles and setting career highs in OBP (.343) and SLG (.375). The Cardinals went on to win the pennant in a spirited battle with the Dodgers, finishing with a 43-8 kick, and Marion received much credit for it, finishing 7th in the MVP balloting. The next year he made the All-Star team for the first time (the first of 7 consecutive ASG’s) and hit .280 during the regular season and .357 in the playoffs, but St. Louis lost to the Yankees in the Series.

When Marion won the Most Valuable Player award in 1944, it marked the first time that a position player captured the honor while batting 8th in his lineup, showing the importance that the media gave to his defensive excellence. (And other than relief pitchers winning, it might have been the worst selection ever, as Marion (4.0 WAR, 15th in NL; 20 Win Shares) was far exceeded by his teammate Stan Musial (9.1 WAR, runaway 1st; 38 Win Shares).) In 1945, he basically repeated his ’42 batting marks and excellent fielding, placing once again in the Top 10 for MVP voting. (Marion did not serve during WWII due to a childhood injury that exempted him from active duty.)

While he still maintained his spot on the NL All-Star rosters, 1946 was the last excellent year for Marion. His offense, never great to begin with, started dropping and his fielding, while still good, fell below his usual standards for quality. He received some recognition in ‘49, as he amassed 70 RBI and pulled in a few MVP votes. But back issues cut into his effectiveness and availability in 1950 and for the next year.

Limited by the injury, Marion took over as the Cardinals full-time manager in 1951, leading the club to an 81-73 record. Released at the end of the season, he signed on as a player with the cross-town Browns, adding the title of manager when Rogers Hornsby left early in ’52. Marion would continue managing the next year, but was let go just as the team was moving to Baltimore. He coached for the White Sox in ’54, but was promoted to skipper when Paul Richards agreed to helm the Orioles. Marion’s teams in Chicago would finish third each year ’54-’56, after which he stepped down. In 1960, he tried his hand at a different side of baseball, purchasing the Houston Buffs of the American Association; he sold the "AAA" team back to the Cardinals a few years later.

Marty Marion was a hell of a defensive shortstop and was certainly sure of himself. During contract negotiations after the 1941 season, Branch Rickey told him, "Accept terms I have offered and I’ll take care of you"; Marion responded, "Give me what I want and I’ll take care of myself." Many years later, he was asked to compare The Wizard’s fielding to his own – "Ozzie Smith couldn’t carry my jockstrap. Anyone could field on a pool table."

Many people have called for Marion to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, receiving as much as 40% of the writers’ vote – I’m not sure if he deserves it. His career highs are .280 / .343 / .375 as mainly a 7th/8th-place hitter and his MVP award seems like both an over-valuing of defense (his specifically and overall) and a significant slight to Stan the Man (who was jobbed several times). That said, his legacy as a St. Louis shortstop is matched only by Ozzie Smith. Marion also holds the distinction as the oldest living Cardinal on this list, preceded by lesser players Don Lang and Freddy Schmidt, and followed by Musial and Schoendienst. He was statistically similar to Rafael Ramirez and Scott Fletcher. Bill James considers Marion to be the 45th best shortstop of all time. Wiki Retro B-Lib B-Alm plink slink klink

 

1946 – SP – Howie Pollet #11 (BL/TL, 6’1½", 175; played w/STL 1941-43, ‘46-51) Howie Pollet was a two-time 20-game winner for the Cardinals. Extremely intelligent, former teammate & manager Marty Marion once called him "the calmest person I ever saw."

Howard Joseph Pollet (normally pronounced poh-LAY, but spoken by the family as pol-LET) was born June 26, 1921, in New Orleans. He grew up as a next-door neighbor to Mel Parnell, who would eventually be a star with the Boston Red Sox. When Pollet was 15, his father died, leaving behind his widow, two younger sons and a daughter. Howie worked at a gas station in addition to attending high school and pitching for legion teams.

Pollet’s boss recommended him to a fellow oil man, Eddie Dyer, a Louisiana native, former big-league pitcher, and a minor league manager for the Cardinals at that time. When Dyer took the Houston Buffaloes post in 1939, he signed the 17-year-old Pollet. Eddie became Howie’s mentor and lifelong business partner. Pollet was soon shifted down to Class "D" Iberia, where he pitched well, notching 14 wins and a 2.37 ERA.

Pollet was moved back to Houston to start 1940 and he put up very good numbers, winning 20 games and posting a 2.88 ERA. But the Cardinals had a very deep farm system and insisted upon a long apprenticeship, so Howie returned to the Texas League for the ’41 season. Did he ever impress – he opened the year with three straight shutouts (including a no-hitter) and by mid-August had picked up his 20th win with a league-record 1.16 ERA. General Manager Branch Rickey broke his own rule against calling up players mid-season, given Pollet’s performance and the Houston team already 24 games out in front, and promoted the 20-year-old to the majors. Pollet sparkled in his debut, winning five of his first nine games (eight starts), but it wasn’t enough as the Cardinals fell short of the Brooklyn Dodgers for the pennant.

Pollet developed a sore arm during spring training in 1942 and was in & out of the starting rotation the first half of the year. But by September he was taking his regular turn, finishing with these numbers: 7-5 W-L, 2.88 ERA over 27 games (13 starts). During the World Series against the Yankees, Pollet came in to the sixth inning of Game Four with the score tied, threw one pitch and got out of the inning. The Cardinals rallied in the top half, so he was the pitcher of record, but the official scorer awarded the win to Max Lanier, who held the Bombers scoreless over the final three frames. Pollet’s full WS share of $6,192.53 was much more than he made during the regular season.

In the offseason, Pollet worked at a defense plant in his adopted hometown of Houston. When the draft board summoned him, he asked for a deferment from military service because he was supporting his widowed mother and sister. The 1943 season started off very well, going 8-4 with five shutouts (three of those consecutive), and entered the break with a 28 consecutive scoreless innings streak and a spot on the All-Star team. But his draft board classified him as 1-A, available for immediate induction, and Pollet enlisted into the Army Air Force the day the Mid-Season Classic was played. (At the end of the ’43 season he was awarded the ERA title at 1.75; he only pitched 118.1 innings, but met the league requirement of 10 complete games.) Pollet spent the war years playing for various military teams, never fighting in either Europe or the Pacific.

Eddie Dyer was named manager for St. Louis in 1946. Pollet was so close to Dyer that he had given the older man power of attorney while the pitcher was in military service. When Pollet returned to the Cardinals in spring training, he was immediately dubbed "Eddie’s boy". It was a tough year for the team; several of their top pitching options were wrecked by the war [see Ernie White – 1941]. Three players jumped the team to join the Mexican League and Stan Musial turned down a reported $50,000 signing bonus from them, nearly four times his big-league salary. Pollet offered to pick up some of the slack, working in relief in between starts, and Dyer took him up on the offer.

Pollet had perhaps his best season in ‘46, finishing the year with league-leading totals in wins (21), ERA (2.10), and innings pitched (266.0), but he hurt his arm in August when he entered a game in relief without a proper warmup, straining muscles in his shoulder. He finished the season well enough, but it haunted him in the World Series. In Game One, Pollet fought through the pain for nine innings, but Dyer sent him back out for the tenth and Rudy York touched him for a homer. Game Five was much worse, as three of the first four Boston hitters reached and Pollet was pulled after ten pitches. But the Cardinals would win the series in seven games and he would finish fourth in the MVP voting, behind teammates Enos Slaughter and winner Stan Musial.

Doctors treated Pollet’s shoulder in the offseason, but it was not enough as he struggled through his first few starts in ’47 and began adjusting his pitching motion to compensate, leading to the removal on bone spurs from his elbow after the year. The 1948 season wasn’t much better, a 13-8 record masking an ERA worse than league average. And Pollet gave up eleven runs in six innings to start ’49, so Dyer sent him to the bullpen, saying, "You’ve started your last game until you throw the damn ball hard."

Two-and-a-half weeks later, Pollet got his next start and returned to form, winning four straight games and allowing three runs over 35 innings. The Cardinals held onto first place from mid-August until the last week of the season, when they lost four straight. Pollet ran out of gas in September, not starting for twelve days before winning his twentieth in the final game. The Sporting News named him the NL Pitcher of the Year, notching a 20-9 record, an NL-best five shutouts and a 2.77 ERA. (Interestingly enough, his childhood friend Parnell was probably the AL’s best hurler that year as well, going 25-7.)

Pollet slipped to 14-13 with a decent 3.29 ERA in 1950, but the Cardinals fell all the way to fifth place and Dyer lost his job. Owner Fred Saigh cut salaries across the board; Pollet balked at this, so Saigh put Howie on the trading block. Used sparingly the first two months of ‘51, Pollet was traded to Pittsburgh in mid-June and struggled for the rest of the season. The next year wasn’t any better (the Pirates floundered to a 42-112 campaign) as his league average ERA led to a 7-16 record.

Branch Rickey, now the GM with Pittsburgh, was looking to trade Ralph Kiner (the 7-time defending home run champ) for a good return / to get rid of his salary, so Pollet, Kiner, and a mess of players & cash were exchanged with the Cubs. Howie pitched well in Chicago’s rotation for two years before bottoming out in 1955. The next spring he caught on with the White Sox (now helmed by Marty Marion) and did well in relief for them and (after being released in mid-July) the Pirates once again.

After the ’56 season Pollet retired from baseball and went back to work for Eddie Dyer. In 1959 the Cardinals hired as manager another Houston native, Solly Hemus, and Pollet was tabbed to be the team’s pitching coach. He was credited with converting Lindy McDaniel from a sidewinder to more of an overhead thrower and with tracking pitch counts in his pitchers’ exhibition outings. When Hemus wore out his welcome in ‘61, St. Louis hired Johnny Keane (also from Houston) and Pollet stayed on through the ’64 championship season. His friend Eddie Dyer died that same year, so Howie came home to Texas to coach with the Astros in 1965 & run the insurance business with Eddie Dyer, Jr. & former teammate Joffre Cross until he died in 1974.

Pollet was never much of a hitter, never hitting a home run in the majors, but managed to collect both of his career triples in the same game in 1947. And despite having never played a game there professionally, he was inducted into the New Orleans Zephyrs Hall of Fame in 2007. Howie Pollet was statistically similar to former Cardinal Joaquin Andujar and Johnny Antonelli. Wiki Retro B-Lib SABR Zelda

 

1947 – 3B – Whitey Kurowski #1 (BR/TR, 5’11", 193; played w/STL 1941-49) Limited by a childhood injury that left him with a right arm several inches shorter than the left, "Whitey" Kurowski was an all-star third baseman who was a catalyst for the great Cardinals clubs of the 1940’s, never playing on a St. Louis team that finished below second place and winning three World Series.

George John Kurowski grew up in Reading, PA, his already white hair gaining him his nickname. As a child, he fell off a fence into a pile of broken glass, cutting his right arm. This caused osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone that resulted in 3-4 inches of bone being removed by doctors. Kurowski developed the muscles in his forearm to overcome the condition and played softball & baseball non-stop as a youth.

Growing up in coal country, Whitey knew too well the hazards of the mining industry, losing his older brother to a mine cave-in as a teenager. But baseball scouts were leery of his maimed arm and no offers came after high school. Harrison Wickel, a manager down in Arkansas and a native of the Reading area, gave him a shot and Kurowski responded, hitting .339 at class-D Caruthersville in ’37 and .386 at class-C Portsmouth the next year. Three years at "AA" Rochester led him to be called up in late 1941, along with Stan Musial. The two youngsters hit well during the pennant race, but couldn’t lead the Cardinals past the Dodgers.

During spring training in 1942, Whitey’s father died of a heart attack. After returning from the funeral, he impressed enough to wrestle the third base job from veteran Jimmy Brown by late May. Spearheaded by farm products such as Musial, Kurowski, the Cooper brothers, & Marty Marion, the Cardinals won 106 games and played the Yankees in the World Series. The Bombers had won it all four of the previous five years, but St. Louis would capture the title, winning Game 5 on a two-run, ninth-inning HR by Kurowski off Red Ruffing to seal the deal. ''We nearly killed Whitey when he crossed the plate,'' the star Cardinal shortstop Marty Marion recalled. ''I remember tackling him, and we mobbed him until he begged for us to let him go.'' In the clubhouse, Kurowski was hoisted on his teammates' shoulders and then did something almost as audacious as sinking the Yankees: he mussed the white hair of the dignified and stern baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis. ''I messed up his hair pretty good, and that was a first,'' Kurowski remembered.

World War Two took away many of the great players of the day, but Kurowski’s condition made him ineligible to fight. His shorter right arm made it difficult for him to reach outside pitches, causing him to stand nearly on top of the plate, resulting in many HBP. He also pulled nearly every pitch, so much so that opposing second basemen shifted well to the left of the bag. Despite these limitations, Whitey was one of the best offensive third-sackers in baseball in the 40’s. He once held the NL record for most seasons at third base with 20 or more homers (three, ‘44/’45/’47) and hit over .300 three times as well. He received MVP votes five times, finishing fifth in the voting in 1945.

The Cardinals' owner Sam Breadon was a notorious skinflint when it came to player salaries and before the 1946 season, Kurowski was involved in a bitter pay dispute before finally accepting the club's offer. Meanwhile, the outlaw Mexican League had begun raiding major league rosters. The league's owners, the Pascual brothers, had targeted the Cardinals because of the club's abundance of talent and low salaries. In May star pitcher Max Lanier, second baseman Lou Klein and rookie pitcher Fred Martin took off for Mexico and rumors were flying that Kurowski, Stan Musial, and other Cardinal stars would soon follow. Kurowski took it upon himself to call a clubhouse meeting to clear the air. He told his teammates that he'd talked to Mexican League representatives and that he believed in getting every cent he was worth, but he felt honor-bound to fulfill his St. Louis contract. The players knew that Kurowski was no front office lackey, that he had battled the club and was dissatisfied with his salary. So his words meant something, and they apparently took them to heart.

Kurowski put up a fine campaign in 1946 (St. Louis won the World Series for the third time in five years) as the stars of baseball returned from Europe and the Pacific, but he really proved that his wartime numbers were no fluke in ’47, setting career highs in HR (27), Runs (108), RBI (104), BB (87), OBP (.420) & SLG (.544). From July 1st on, he put up a slash line of .346 / .452 / .664. Kurowski’s great year (9th in MVP voting, with numbers as good or better than winner Bob Elliott) was not enough as the Cardinals finished five games back of the Dodgers. Unfortunately, this was his last full season, as his arm woes (he had 13 arm surgeries to continue playing) caught up to him in 1948, dropping his OPS from .964 to .629 and limiting him to 77 games. He was demoted to the minors in ’49 and never returned to the majors.

Kurowski turned to managing in the minor leagues, starting with the Lynchburg Cardinals in 1950. In 11 seasons skippering clubs for St. Louis (’50-’55, ’58-’62), only one club failed to reach .500 and he won three league championships. He continued to coach and manage for other franchises until retiring from baseball in 1972.

Whitey Kurowski held the St. Louis record for most home runs in a month until it was broken by Mark McGwire. And like teammate Stan Musial, he is a member of the Polish National Sports Hall of Fame. He was statistically similar to Dave Nilsson and former Cardinal Les Bell. Bill James ranks Kurowski as the 50th greatest third baseman of all time. Wiki Retro SABR dink dunk

 

1948 – OF – Stan Musial #6 (BL/TL, 6’0", 175; played w/STL 1941-44, ‘46-63; HOF) From broadcaster Vin Scully – "How good was Stan Musial? He was good enough to take your breath away."

I am not going to go through a season-by-season recount of everything Stan Musial did with the Cardinals. Almost every year was good and most were excellent. Many of you know much of his career and life – and if you don’t now, educate yourself. What I will do is pass on some interesting information I’ve managed to collect from the interwebs: stats, quotes, anecdotes – my own personal tribute to "The Man".

• Stanislaw Franciszek Musial was born November 21, 1920, in Donora, PA. His father was a Polish immigrant; his mother was a first-generation American of Hungarian descent. His family and locals pronounced his family name "Mu-shill" as opposed to "Mu-si-al". His father gave him the Polish nickname "Stashu", shortened to "Stash" (pronounced more like "stush").

• When he started school, his name was Anglicized to Stanley Frank. He was never a good student, but his friendly disposition made him popular and he excelled at sports. Stan was a high school teammate of Buddy Griffey, father of Ken and grandfather of Ken, Jr. Bill James refers to Junior, who shares Musial’s birthday, as "the second-best left-handed hitting, left-handed throwing outfielder ever born in Donora, Pennsylvania on November 21."

• Musial started playing minor league baseball before he had officially graduated high school. His first two years he pitched with mixed results, notably very high walk totals. In 1939 he was sent to Daytona Beach where his manager was Dickie Kerr (one of the "clean" Black Sox). They hit it off famously; Stan’s first son, Richard, was named after his friend. Kerr used smaller rosters, meaning that Musial would play the outfield on his off-days. An August left shoulder injury was a blessing in disguise, as it killed his pitching career, but allowed him to focus on his hitting talents.

• Musial won the MVP award in 1943, 1946 & 1948, and could have won the award in ’44 (much better than the rest of the league and WAY better than Marion), ’49 (a respectable second to Jackie Robinson), ’51 (better than winner Campanella, but behind Robinson), & ’52 (third to Robinson & Robin Roberts).

• When it became obvious that Musial would be inducted into the military, Pete Reiser of the Dodgers tried to convince him to sign up with the Army. That way, Reiser could get Musial to Fort Riley where he could play with the service team. "I told Pete, ‘Naw, I’m going into the Navy’," he explained to author Frederick Turner. "I just liked the Navy for some reason – the water and all. You know where a lot of those guys wound up who were at Fort Riley? At the Battle of the Bulge." While at Pearl Harbor, Musial started playing first base and refined his power stroke to put on a better show for the G.I.’s.

• When he returned in ‘46, Musial was given a contract for $13,500 from owner Sam Breadon. Meanwhile during the season, the Pascual brothers of the Mexican League had begun raiding the major leagues and the Cardinals in particular. They offered Musial a five-year, $125,000 contract, plus a $50,000 bonus, to jump leagues. Stan turned down the offer and, after a discussion between manager Eddie Dyer and Breadon, he received a $5,000 raise later that year.

• After a May 7, 1948, article in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat criticized baseball players for appearing in cigarette advertisements, Musial made a personal decision to never again appear in such ads.

• Musial dominated the game through 1948, but was certainly no slouch after that. From 1949 through 1958, his average season consisted of a .335 average, .428 on-base percentage, a .583 slugging percentage, 194 hits, 39 doubles, 7 triples, 30 home runs, 107 runs, and 108 RBI. At least once during these ten years, Musial would lead the NL in each of these categories except home runs. Every year he finished in the top-10 in MVP balloting, as the runner-up four times.

• From Ty Cobb, in a 1952 Life magazine article: "No man has ever been a perfect ballplayer. Stan Musial, however, is the closest to being perfect in the game today … He plays as hard when is away out in front of a game as he does when they’re just a run or two behind."

• The only major league pitching appearance of Musial’s career occurred as a publicity stunt during the last Cardinals home game of the 1952 season. Manager Eddie Stanky had a reluctant Musial pitch to Frank Baumholtz, the runner-up to Musial for the best batting average in the NL that season. With Baumholtz batting right-handed for the first time in his career, Musial’s first pitch has hit so hard it ricocheted off the shin of third baseman Solly Hemus and into the left field corner. The play was ruled an error, and Musial was embarrassed enough by his complicity in the gimmick to avoid pitching again for the remainder of his career.

• At the time of his retirement, Musial held or shared 17 major league records, 29 NL records, and 9 All-Star Game records. Among those, he ranked as the major league career leader in extra-base hits (1,377) and total bases (6,134). He also held NL career marks in categories such as hits (3,630), games played (3,026), doubles (725), and RBI (1,951). Musial was also the first major league player to appear in more than 1,000 games at two different positions.

• From February ’64 to January ’67, Musial served as President Lyndon Johnson’s physical fitness adviser, a part-time position created to promote better fitness among American citizens. He also was named the Cardinals general manager before the 1967 season; the team won the World Series his first and only year in that capacity.

• Musial is noted for his harmonica playing, including his rendition of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame". Through the 1990’s, he frequently played the harmonica at public gatherings, such as the annual Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony and various charity events. He performed on the television show Hee Haw and in 1994 recorded 18 songs that were sold in tandem with a harmonica-playing instruction booklet.

• Musial is sometimes referred to as the most underrated or overlooked athlete in modern American sports history. He was one of 30 players selected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, but only after being added by a special committee when he finished 11th in fan voting among outfielders. When he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Musial received 317 of 340 votes (92.3%).

• From Bob Costas – "He didn’t hit a homer in his last at-bat; he hit a single. He didn’t hit in 56 straight games. He married his high school sweetheart and stayed married to her, never married a Marilyn Monroe. He didn’t play with the sheer joy and style that goes alongside Willie May’s name. None of these easy things are there to associate with Stan Musial. All Musial represents is more than two decades of sustained excellence and complete decency as a human being."

Stan Musial was the first foreigner to receive the Polish government’s Merited Champions Medal, their highest sports award. He was statistically similar to Carl Yastrzemski and Mel Ott. Bill James considers Musial to be the 2nd greatest leftfielder of all time, behind only Ted Williams. Wiki Retro B-Lib B.I.W. B-Alm SABR HOF

 

1949 – OF – Enos Slaughter #9 (BL/TR, 5’9", 192; played w/STL 1938-42, ‘46-53; HOF) In the decisive seventh game of the 1946 World Series, Enos Slaughter made his famous "Mad Dash", scoring from first base on a hit by Harry Walker and a delayed relay throw from Boston’s Johnny Pesky. It was the standard M.O. for "Country", who ran everywhere on the ballfield.

Enos Bradsher Slaughter was born April 27, 1916, in Roxboro, NC. He played basketball, football and baseball in high school, well enough to earn an athletic scholarship to Guilford College in nearby Greensboro, but decided to work alongside his brothers. Slaughter played for a local semi-pro team and drew the attention of the Cardinals; he attended a tryout in September ’34 and was signed.

Slaughter’s minor league career began in the Class "D" Bi-State League with Martinsville in 1935. The next year he played for manager Eddie Dyer in Columbus (GA); one day Enos came running in from the outfield and slowed to a walk as he neared the infield. Dyer told him, "Kid, if you’s tired, I’ll get you some help." For the rest of his career, Slaughter vowed to always hustle. He hit almost immediately - a .326 average and 20 triples in ’36, then 42 doubles, 26 homers, & 245 hits for "AA" Columbus (OH) in the American Association.

Slaughter was limited to a platoon role his first year in St. Louis, hitting .276 while getting the great majority of his starts playing RF & batting third in the lineup [ed. platoon hitter, batting third, ahead of Medwick and Mize?]. Handed the full-time job in ’39, he responded by whacking an NL-best 52 doubles and hitting .320 for the best offensive club in the National League. Slaughter put up similar numbers in ‘40 (fewer 2B, more 3B/HR) and ‘41 (only played 113 games).

"Country" had perhaps his finest season in 1942. Leading the NL in hits (188), triples (17), total bases and plate appearances, he helped the team set a franchise record with 106 victories. Slaughter was the runner-up in the MVP voting, finishing second to teammate Mort Cooper. In the World Series against the Yankees, he hit a home run in the deciding fifth game. Slaughter then joined the Army Air Force (he had enlisted back in August with a deferred induction), where he was assigned to the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center. "I wanted to be a pilot," he told author Frederick Turner, "but they said I was color blind. They wanted me to be a bombardier, but I said if I couldn’t be the one flying the plane, I’d just as soon not be flying. So, I became a physical education instructor in charge of about 200 troops." Slaughter would go on to play for various Army teams for three years, including travelling throughout the Pacific in 1945.

Returning to the states in ’46, Slaughter was once again excellent, leading the National League with 130 RBI while hitting .300 and smacking a career-high 18 home runs. Stan Musial deservedly won the MVP, but "Country" finished third in the voting, behind Dixie Walker and ahead of teammate Howie Pollet. He is best remembered, of course, for his daring baserunning in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. With two outs, Harry "The Hat" Walker hit the ball out to center (variously attributed as a single or a double) and Slaughter raced around the bases to score the go-ahead run.

The 1947 season marked the arrival of Jackie Robinson to the National League and Slaughter was noteworthy for two events that year. In May, a sportswriter alleged that Slaughter and Terry Moore, both Southerners, tried to persuade their Cardinal teammates to go on strike to protest Robinson’s admittance; no strike ever happened and the story was dismissed as rumor. Later that season, with Robinson playing first base for the Dodgers, Slaughter hit an easy groundball and was thrown out by several steps. But Robinson had to stretch for the ball and Slaughter spiked him in the thigh. Slaughter denied any intent and others suggested it was simply old-school baseball. Slaughter himself said, "I asked no odds and I give none. A guy got in my way, I run over him."

Although the final numbers for ’47 weren’t as spectacular as before, Slaughter was named to his fourth of ten straight All-Star Games (’41-42, ’46-53) and received token support in the MVP balloting. Raising his batting average to .321 to go along with 90 RBI, Slaughter finished 1948 7th in MVP voting as the Cardinals fell 6.5 games short of the pennant-winning Boston Braves.

Slaughter’s 1949 campaign was one of his best. He finished third in the NL batting race at .336, behind teammate Stan Musial and champion Jackie Robinson. With an NL-best 13 triples and 96 RBI, he again placed third in the same trifecta for league Most Valuable Player. Enos’s numbers were still respectable in ’50 (101 RBI) & ’51; that was followed by another top-10 finish for MVP in 1952. He made his tenth & last All-Star team in ’53, hitting .291 with 80 walks and 89 RBI, but it was his last season with the Cardinals. The team was impressed with rookie Wally Moon out of spring training, so St. Louis traded Slaughter to the New York Yankees just days before the start of the regular season.

Limited to a part-time role in The Big Apple, Slaughter had his worst season to date in 1954, made worse by a broken arm. The next year he was sold to the Athletics, recently moved to Kansas City; he recovered nicely, hitting .315 for the season and getting regular reps in the outfield. In mid-season ’56, the Yankees were hurting in their outfield and bought Slaughter back from their "farm team". He had several key hits down the stretch and in the World Series for the Bombers; he ended leading the AL with 16 pinch hits between both teams. He stayed on for two more pennants in New York before splitting the 1959 season with the Yankees and Braves.

Slaughter tried his hand at managing (& pinch-hitting) in the minors, first with Chicago’s "AAA" club in Houston in ‘61, then the Raleigh Capitals in ’62. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1985 and had his #9 jersey retired by the Cardinals in 1996. Enos Slaughter died in 2002 at the age of 86 after a long battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was statistically similar to Mickey Vernon and Mark Grace. Bill James considers Slaughter to be the 12th greatest rightfielder of all time. Wiki Retro B-Lib B.I.W. HOF rink

 

1950 – 3B – Tommy Glaviano #12 (BR/TR, 5’9", 175; played w/STL 1949-52) A favorite of Cardinal owner Sam Breadon, Tommy Glaviano was a speedy infielder who drew walks aplenty and threw balls from (and to) all over the ballpark.

Thomas Giatano Glaviano was born in Sacramento, CA, on October 26, 1923. He signed with the Cardinals as a 17-year-old and began play downstate in Fresno of the class-C California League. He struggled for two years, there and in Springfield (OH), where he played for future HOF manager Walter Alston. Glaviano then joined the Coast Guard for three years during World War II.

Returning to the States in 1946, Glaviano had his finest minor league season. Shifted back to Fresno, he won the league MVP award, batting .338 with 142 runs scored (in 126 games), 64 stolen bases, and a .616 slugging percentage. He backed this up with solid seasons in Houston in ’47 and Columbus in ’48, where he showed power and a fine batting eye.

Glaviano was called up to the majors in 1949 and backed up Eddie Kazak at third until Kazak was injured in late July. "Rabbit" hit well enough to hold down the job, although he opted for less of a pinch-hitter-not-pinch-walker mentality and more of a speedy, get-on-base-at-any-cost approach. This change in hitting philosophy resulted in a move to the leadoff position for the 1950 season and he put up fine numbers, drawing 90 walks and scoring 92 runs in 115 games, to go along with a .285 batting average and decent power.

Glaviano’s best attribute, his good speed, was neutered by baseball strategy at the time and he didn’t help his image with management and the fans with his poor fielding. In a light rain at Ebbets Field on May 18, 1950, he made four errors at third base, three of which came on successive plays in the ninth inning, allowing the Dodgers to rally and win. So when "Rabbit" stopped hitting for average in ’51, he lost his starting job to the newly-acquired Billy Johnson, a veteran of the Yankees. He got a few starts in 1952, but never did anything other than draw walks (77 walks against 340 AB’s his final three years). Glaviano was claimed on waivers by the Phillies after the ’52 season, but didn’t pan out there either.

Glaviano returned home to Sacramento and played in the PCL for two years, still unable to regain his hitting stroke. He retired from baseball in 1957. Tommy Glaviano was statistically similar to Kevin Orie and Felix Torres. Retro B-Lib B.I.W. mink

 

1951 – RP – Al Brazle #27 (BL/TL, 6’2", 185; played w/STL 1943, ‘46-54) A side-arming lefty who debuted spectacularly as a 29-year-old in 1943, Al Brazle fashioned a 10-year career by doing whatever needed to be done: starting, relieving or closing.

Brazle signed on with the Boston Red Sox in 1936 and pitched in their system (mainly in Little Rock) for five years, compiling a 44-56 record and never posting a winning campaign. Traded to the Cardinals after the 1940 season, he improved somewhat in two seasons with Houston of the Texas League. Brazle finally broke through in ’43 with an 11-8 mark and a league-leading 1.69 ERA for Sacramento in the PCL.

Called up to the big club in late July, Brazle went complete in his first game and posted an excellent 1.53 ERA over 88 innings, finishing 8 of 9 starts. The Cardinals were loaded with pitching that season, with Mort Cooper’s 21 wins, Max Lanier’s NL-best 1.90 ERA, and Harry Brecheen & Howie Pollet heading a staff that topped the National League with a 2.57 ERA. St. Louis ran away with the pennant that summer, winning the pennant (with 105 wins) by a whopping 18 games, but fell to the Yankees in the World Series. Brazle himself lost Game 3, victimized by his defense in a 5-run eighth.

A day after the Series ended, Brazle was inducted into the Army at the Jefferson Barracks in Lemay, MO. He played baseball for a year in Kansas before being shipped to Europe in January ’45. He, along with the 65th Infantry Division, breached the Siegfried Line in mid-March, crossed the Rhine at the end of the month, the Danube in late-April, and reached Austria in May 1945.

Brazle returned to the majors the next year, going 11-10 with a 3.29 ERA and losing his only appearance in the Series against the Red Sox, giving up five runs over 6.2 innings of relief after Pollet left four batters into the game. In 1947 he had perhaps his finest swingman season, winning 14 games and saving four more with a nifty 2.84 ERA. He started only 19 of his 44 appearances, but still completed seven of those. The next two years were much of the same: solid numbers while starting and relieving in roughly equal measure.

Starting with the 1950 season, Brazle (now 36 years old) was utilized as more of a reliever, collecting 26 starts from 50-52. He still pitched well, with a 3.09 ERA in ’51 and league-leading save totals in ’52 & ’53. After the 1954 campaign (during which he was the oldest NL player at 40) Brazle was released, finishing his major league career with a 97-64 record and only one losing season in 10 years.

Stan Musial in The Man’s Own Story – "Old Alfie was a terrific relief pitcher because he was a lefthander with good control and a great natural sinker that dipped better the more he worked and the more tired he became. He didn’t have much of a curve, but somehow his knee action when he sidearmed lefthanded hitters seemed to drive some pretty good ones crazy." Al Brazle was statistically similar to Don Mossi and Hank Aguirre. Wiki Retro B.I.W. B-Alm

 

1952 – SS – Solly Hemus #7 (BL/TR, 5’9", 175; played w/STL 1949-56, 1959; managed w/STL 1959-61) An intelligent player who would later player/manage the Cardinals, Solly Hemus was a fierce competitor whose greatest skill was getting on base in whatever way possible, topping the National League three times in times hit by pitch.

Solomon Joseph Hemus was born on April 17, 1923, in Phoenix, AZ. Originally signed with the Dodgers out of high school, he never made it out of spring training before being released (he clashed with management and was injured in a collision). After four years in the Navy in his hometown of San Diego, he was picked up in 1946 by St. Louis, who moved him to Class C Pocatello, where he excelled at second base. Hemus then spent three years with Houston of the "AA" Texas League, hitting well and getting a 20-game cup of coffee in ’49. He finished his apprenticeship with "AAA" Columbus the next year before moving up for good.

Tasked with replacing the great Marty Marion (now managing), Hemus posted a .395 on-base percentage in 1951, starting half of the team’s games in the leadoff role. (He tied the NL mark with five walks in one game 9/15/51.) The next season, he hit 15 homers, reached base over 270 times (including an NL-best 20 HBP), and scored 105 runs, tying for the league lead with Stan Musial. Hemus put up similar numbers in ’53, as he set career highs in runs, hits, 2B, 3B, & RBI.

In 1954 the Cardinals decided to give the majority of starts to the young, slick-fielding Alex Grammas, moving Hemus into more of a utility role. He took to it well enough, finishing with a .453 OBP (in 276 PA) that year. He handled two more seasons as a back-up until getting traded to the Phillies late in ’56. After a bad year pinch-hitting for them, Hemus rebounded with a .284/.390/.416 season as their second baseman. At the end of the year, St. Louis traded Gene Freese to Philly to get Solly back, this time with the intention of using him as their player-manager.

One of only seven men in the majors since 1959 to handle both roles, Hemus was limited mainly to pinch-hitting duties as a player. As a field leader, he did not have a ton of success. The ’59 club finished 71-83 in seventh place and the Cards ended up third in the NL in 1960 with an 86-68 record. 1961 saw the team start slowly at 33-41 and Hemus was replaced by Johnny Keane (who skippered the club to a 47-33 mark the rest of the way). He was a coach on Casey Stengel’s inaugural coaching staff with the Mets from 1962-63, the Indians in ’64 & ’65, and finally the next year with the Mets’ AAA club in Jacksonville.

Solly Hemus finished his career with a stellar .390 on-base percentage. He was statistically similar to Tony Graffanino & Marco Scutaro. Wiki Retro B-Lib fink

 

1953 – SP – Harvey Haddix #42 (BL/TL, 5’9½", 170; played w/STL 1952-56) Famous for his near-perfect game, Harvey Haddix originally came up as a Cardinal, winning 20 games in his first full season.

Harvey Haddix, Jr., was born in Medway, Ohio, on September 18, 1925, and was signed as an amateur free agent in 1947 (I can find no college information, so he might have been 3 years out of school). He went 19-5 with a 1.90 ERA for Class "C" Winston-Salem that first year, then was promoted all the way to "AAA" Columbus where he apprenticed for three years, wrapping up his time there with an 18-6, 2.70 ERA campaign. Haddix was delayed from joining the Cardinals by military service, missing all of ’51 and much of ’52.

Haddix debuted for the big league club in August of ’52, pitching well over 42 innings that season. The next year was even better as he went 20-9 with a 3.06 ERA and a league-leading six shutouts. Haddix was completely jobbed for the Rookie of the Year, losing out to Dodger Jim Gilliam (4.1 bWAR compared to 8.0 for Haddix), and was probably the third-best hurler in the NL behind workhorse Robin Roberts and Warren Spahn. Given his remarkable resemblance to teammate Harry "The Cat" Brecheen, Haddix was nicknamed "The Kitten".

Haddix continued his great work into the 1954 season, compiling a 12-4 mark over the first three months and running off 37 consecutive scoreless innings, but on July 1st he took a line drive off the bat of Joe Adcock and didn’t pitch as well the rest of the season, finishing 18-13 (he continued to take regular turns in the rotation, and spot relief appearances, the rest of the way, but lost his curveball because of the injury). He was selected for the 2nd of three straight All-Star games.

A 12-16 record in ’55 (partly due to hit luck, partly due to 1.5 fewer runs per game of support) ushered Haddix out of St. Louis, getting traded to the Phillies in May 1956. He continued to pitch well for Philadelphia in ’56 & ’57 before being shipped off to Cincinnati for Wally Post. Another solid season for the Redlegs (league-leading K/BB ratio, above average ERA, the first of three consecutive Gold Gloves) got him sent off to Pittsburgh in a seven-player deal (ultimately one of the worst deals in Reds history), just in time to join the up-&-coming Pirates.

In Milwaukee on May 26, 1959, Haddix hurled what many consider the greatest game ever pitched. He retired the first 36 Braves in a row, not needing any spectacular fielding plays behind him and relying on only two pitches, his fastball and slider. [All of this was done despite the Braves stealing signs from C Smoky Burgess all night.] Unfortunately, 3B Don Hoak started the 13th with a throwing error on an easy grounder by leadoff hitter Felix Milan, giving him first base. A sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk to Hank Aaron brought former nemesis Adcock to the plate. He sent Haddix’s last pitch over the fence for the win. The final score was initially reduced from 3-0 to 2-0 because Aaron left the basepath in elation, creating the second out; this was later switched to 1-0 due to Hammerin Hank’s miscue changing Adcock’s homer into a double (much like Robin Ventura’s infamous "grand-slam single"). Haddix was quoted, "I probably got more famous from losing the perfect game in thirteen innings than if I had won it in nine!"

The 1959 season was solidly good overall, finishing 12-12 with NL-best WHIP (1.061) and K/9 (7.6) rates. The next year saw his regular season performance slip somewhat, but he etched his name into Pirate lore, notching the win in relief in Game 7 of the World Series. Two more middling seasons as a starter pushed Haddix to the bullpen in 1963, where he registered a strikeout per inning amid other solid numbers. Swapped to the Orioles in the winter, he posted 10 saves and a 2.31 ERA with similar peripherals in ’64. He lost his trademark pinpoint control the next season and hung ‘em up afterward.

Haddix coached for the NY Mets in ’66 & ’67, for two minor league clubs in ’68, the Reds in ’69, the Red Sox in ’71, the Indians in ’75-78, and finally the Pirates in ’79-84. In 1991, an eight-man committee changed the definition of a no-hitter and his amazing performance loses its official distinction as a 9+ inning no-no. One of three brothers to play professional baseball, Haddix was statistically similar to Johnny Podres and former Cardinal Nelson Briles. Wiki Retro B-Lib B-Alm wink

 

1954 (UNFINISHED) – 2B – Red Schoendienst #2(BS/TR, 6’0", 170; played w/STL 1945-56, ‘61-63; managed w/STL 1965-76, ‘80, ‘90; HOF) In 2011, Red Schoendienst will have been in professional baseball for the 70th consecutive season as a player, coach, & manager (all but two with the Cardinals organization).

Albert Fred Schoendienst was born on February 2, 1923, in Germantown, IL. His father had been a catcher in the Clinton County League and "Red" grew up playing baseball at every opportunity. When he was 16, he quit school to join the Civilian Conservation Corp. While building fences for them, "Red" was hit in the eye with a nail; he pleaded to the doctors to not remove the badly damaged eye. After WWII started and the CCC disbanded at the start of 1942, he hitchhiked to a Cardinals tryout camp and was signed. That first year he played for Union City ("D" Kitty League) and Albany ("D" GA-FL League) before moving on in ’43 to Lynchburg ("B" Piedmont League) and Rochester ("AA" Int’l League), where he hit .337 with 20 stolen bases as a shortstop.

The 1944 season started well in Rochester again (.373 w/16 stolen bases in 25 games), but Schoendienst was called to join the Army. After infantry training, he was assigned to Pine Camp, NY, a prisoner of war camp for Italian soldiers. His crew was tasked, among other things, to build ballfields to entertain and occupy the prisoners. During a game there, "Red" injured his shoulder (a shallow shoulder socket that would continue to bother him); this malady and his limited vision in his damaged eye resulted in his medical discharge in January 1945.

After a brief rest, Schoendienst joined the Cardinals at their spring training site in Cairo, IL. He made the team, but with reigning MVP Marty Marion at short and young, slick-fielding Emil Verban at second, "Red" was thrown into a starting gig in left field. He hit .278 with a league-leading 26 stolen bases in ’45 and impressed enough that Verban was traded to the Phillies the following May (returning veteran Lou Klein jumped to the Mexican League as well). His sophomore season offensively was basically a repeat of his first, but the switch to the keystone was a boon for the Cardinals, as Schoendienst led the league in fielding (for the first of seven times) and he made his first All-Star team (where he won the Home Run Derby; ironically enough, he failed to homer all year otherwise).

Schoendienst struggled somewhat in 1947, but made the All-Star team again in ’48 & ’49, finishing the latter season tenth in MVP voting behind Musial, Slaughter, and winner Jackie Robinson. Selected for the Mid-Summer Classic in 1950, "Red" entered the game as a defensive replacement in the eleventh inning and homered to lead off the fourteenth, providing the deciding run in the NL’s 4-3 win. Later that month he had his 57-game (323 chances) consecutive errorless games streak ended. Never much of a power hitter, he did lead the league that year in doubles with 43 two-base hits.

Schoendienst continued to put up good numbers the next two years; in ’52 he hit .300 for the first time and posted another Top-10 MVP showing. "Red" would have perhaps his finest season in 1953, as he set career highs in runs (107), homers (15), RBI (79), and all of his counting stats (.342/.405/.502), falling two points short of Carl Furillo for the batting title. He received two first-place votes for MVP, but finished in fourth behind winner Roy Campanella.

Another .300 season in ’54 saw "Red" make another All-Star team and get recognition in the post-season awards, but the average slipped to .268 in 1955 and the now 32-year-old Schoendienst appeared to be slowing somewhat. Enter new GM "Trader Frank" Lane and the nine-time All-Star second baseman was moved in June ’56 to the New York Giants in a nine player deal. Between the two teams that year he set a National League record with a .9934 fielding percentage at second base (later eclipsed by Ryne Sandberg).

A year & a day had passed when Schoendienst was traded once again, this time to the up-&-coming Milwaukee Braves. Considered a huge improvement over the incumbent, Danny O’Connell, "Red" hit .310 the rest of the way and received a ton of credit for the team’s pennant-winning season. He would place third in the MVP race, behind Musial and teammate Hank Aaron.

The next season would result in another pennant for the Braves, but Schoendienst would be limited to 106 games while battling through a broken finger, bruised ribs, and pleurisy. Later that year he was diagnosed with tuberculosis; he had surgery to remove part of the infected lung and was hospitalized from Nov. ’58 to Feb. ’59. "Red", now 36 years old, fought all the way back to return to baseball in September, playing in only five games. He started most of the first half of 1960, but failed to hit and was limited to eight starts after July 1st. He was released by the Braves after the season.

Before the start of Spring Training in 1961, Schoendienst was signed by the Cardinals primarily as a player, but also as a supplemental coach for the team, joining Solly Hemus’ staff. He transitioned with the switch to new manager Johnny Keane, a long-time organization soldier, and flourished in his part-time role, hitting over .300 in ’61 & ’62. Basically done as a player starting in 1963 (garnering only six PA’s that year), "Red" became a full-time coach and was a part of the ’64 championship squad.

One day after the World Series, Keane abruptly resigned (Gussie Busch and Branch Rickey, newly hired as a consultant, cleaned house late in the season, firing or accepting resignations from almost every senior front office executive) and Schoendienst was given the job as field manager (despite rumors that Leo Durocher, a former player with the Cardinals and manager with the Dodgers & Giants, would be handed the job). "Red" would lead the club for two middling seasons before winning the World Series against the Boston Red Sox in ’67 and then the pennant in ’68 before succumbing to the Detroit Tigers in the Fall Classic.

Over the next seven years, Schoendienst skippered the club to three 2nd-place finishes and two sub-.500 campaigns, finishing no worse than fourth in the division. But the team slid to a 72-90 record in 1976 and he was let go. He left Mound City to coach with the Oakland Athletics in ’77-78 before returning to St. Louis to assist new manager Ken Boyer in 1979. The next year the Cardinals hired Whitey Herzog as manager, replacing Boyer (and interim manager Jack Krol) in mid-season, but when The White Rat took over GM John Claiborne’s job in late August, "Red" led the club over the final 37 games (Herzog claimed both titles after the year). Schoendienst continued on as bench coach with Herzog and filled in as acting manager when Whitey resigned during the 1990 campaign. In 1989 Schoendienst was selected for the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. He has remained as a coach with the organization to this day, both in an official capacity and as a special instructor & special assistant to the General Manager. His lifetime record through his three stints as Cardinals manager stands at 1,041-955.

Stan Musial said that Schoendienst had "the greatest pair of hands I’ve ever seen". He also had a "mirror" swing; it was said of him that you could take a picture of him batting right-handed, reverse the negative, and he looked exactly the same as he did batting left. His brother Paul played and managed in the minor leagues. "Red" was statistically similar to Tony Fernandez and HOFers Billy Herman & Nellie Fox. Bill James considers Schoendienst to be the 28th greatest second baseman of all time.

Wiki Retro B-Lib B.I.W. HOF

 

1955 – RP – Paul LaPalme #35 (BL/TL, 5’10", 184; played w/STL 1955-56) Paul LaPalme spent many years in the minors before taking up the knuckleball on the advice of Pittsburgh GM Branch Rickey. He parlayed that pitch into a seven-year major league career for the Pirates, Cardinals, Redlegs and White Sox.

Paul LaPalme signed with Bristol of the Appalachian League in 1941 at 17 years old and pitched well for two seasons before joining the US Army for three years. Upon returning to Bristol (now a NY Giants affiliate) in 1946, he posted a 20-2 record with 181 strikeouts and a 3.16 ERA. He continued in their system for the next two years before getting picked by the Boston Braves in the minor league draft (who in turn lost him to the Pirates a year later).

LaPalme bounced between New Orleans (AA, Southern) and Indianapolis (AAA, Amer. Assn.) in both 1950 & 1951, putting up good numbers that were enough to get a call up to Pittsburgh in late-May ’51. His first start was a shutout against the Braves, but that would be his lone win his first year, finishing with a 1-5 record and a 6.24 ERA. Better results in ’52 at both Hollywood and in the majors solidified a roster spot for two years with the Pirates, but these were not good teams in the Steel City and LaPalme suffered through 8-16 & 4-10 campaigns before getting traded to the Cardinals in January of 1955.

Freed from the last-place Pirates, LaPalme put up his best season in ’55, going 4-3 with a 2.75 ERA in 91.2 innings. Twice that year he hurled 7 or more innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win. Unfortunately his success did not continue into ’56, as his lone appearance with St. Louis was a ⅔-inning, two walk, two wild pitch, six run disaster that got him traded in May to the Redlegs for Milt Smith. After being claimed off waivers by the White Sox in June, LaPalme pitched well the rest of the year and into the next before being demoted in 1958. He held on for two seasons in the minors before calling it quits.

Paul LaPalme was statistically similar to Jerry Garvin and Bob Kipper. Wiki Retro lynk

 

1956 – OF – Wally Moon #20 (BL/TR, 6’0", 175; played w/STL 1954-58) Known best for his prominent unibrow and his "Moon Shots" over the leftfield screen at the old Coliseum in L.A., Wally Moon was an intelligent player who debuted spectacularly with the challenge of replacing Cards legend Enos Slaughter.

Wallace Wade Moon was born April 3, 1930, & grew up in Bay, Arkansas, the son of educators. He attended Texas A&M, where he starred at baseball and basketball, and received his undergraduate degree in 1950. He was signed by the Cardinals that summer and played three years in Omaha. While in the minors, Moon also completed his Masters degree in administrative education and coached freshman baseball back home at Lake City (AR).

Moon was promoted to "AAA" Rochester in 1953, where he played well, but when invites were sent out for spring training the following year, he was assigned to the minor league camp. He had a wife and family to think about, as well as a possible career in coaching, so Moon challenged management that he would go to big league camp and make the team or he would quit. Manager Eddie Stanky agreed and he played so well that the team traded longtime star Enos Slaughter to the Yankees two days before the start of the season.

"Country" was a boyhood idol of Moon, who grew up rooting for the Cardinals, so it was strange to be greeted by St. Louis fans on Opening Day 1954 with cheers of "We Want Slaughter". He responded by hitting a home run in his first plate appearance; surprisingly, he bookended his year with a final at bat, extra-inning, game-winning homer. Moon hit .304 with nine triples, 18 stolen bases, & 106 runs scored that first season, had two five-hit games, and went on to deservedly win the NL Rookie of the Year over Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, & Gene Conley.

Moon played very well his first four years in St. Louis, hitting .295 or better, with some power and speed, and good defense in the outfield. In 1957, he set a career high with 24 home runs and made his first All-Star team. But St. Louis fans never forgave him for Slaughter leaving, so when he struggled somewhat in ’58, the Cardinals traded Moon & pitcher Phil Paine to the Dodgers for Gino Cimoli - basically a swap of outfielders coming off disappointing seasons.

Coming to Los Angeles meant moving into the LA Coliseum, a temporary home rather unsuited for playing baseball. Right field was 440 feet away, but the left field corner was 251 feet down the line, so a 40-foot-high screen was erected to compensate. After consulting with friend and mentor Stan Musial, Moon adjusted his batting to emphasize hitting to left. The change paid off with 19 home runs (including 5 dingers over 4 games in September) and an NL-best 11 triples. Moon made his second All-Star team and finished fourth in the MVP voting, as the Dodgers went from seventh in ’58 to winning the pennant in ’59. He punctuated his great year with a two-run homer and an amazing catch in the deciding sixth game of the World Series win over the White Sox.

Moon continued to play well in 1960, nearly hitting .300 while winning the Gold Glove. The next season was even better, as he pushed his batting average to .328 and led the National League with a .434 on-base percentage; he received a few MVP votes in recognition of his great season. Unfortunately this was his last great year; the emergence of outfielders Tommy Davis, Willie Davis, and Frank Howard pushed Moon to first base and eventually the bench in 1962. He rebounded somewhat in ’63 (he did not play in the WS), but was relegated to pinch-hitting his last two years in the league.

After leaving the game, Moon spent the next dozen years as athletic director and baseball coach at John Brown University (AR). In 1976, he purchased the San Antonio Dodgers in the Texas League and owned them for four years. Starting in ’86, Moon returned to the minor leagues, coaching for the Springfield Cardinals, managing the Prince William Yankees (NYY) and Frederick Keys (BAL), and finally working as a roving hitting instructor with the Orioles in 1991. He continues to live near his alma mater in Bryan, TX.

Wally Moon finished his career with more walks than strikeouts and more advanced degrees (2) than eyebrows (1). He was statistically similar to Hank Bauer and Tillie Walker. Bill James considers Moon to be the 76th greatest leftfielder of all time. Wiki Retro B-Lib jink

 

1957 – 2B – Don Blasingame #3 (BL/TR, 5’10", 165; played w/STL 1955-59) A hustling second baseman, "The Blazer" holds two notable distinctions: he holds the 2nd highest ratio of at bats per double play (one every 123 at bats, behind Don Buford) and was the third American (after Wally Yonamine and Joe Lutz) to manage in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.

Also known as "The Corinth Comet", Don Blasingame signed with the Cardinals prior to the 1953 season, his baseball career delayed by military service the two years prior. Once he joined, he moved swiftly, reaching the majors in late 1955. Inserted as the starting shortstop in ’56, he moved to second base when Red Schoendienst was traded and Alvin Dark joined the team in mid-June. Blasingame failed to hit a home run his first year, but was fast, drew walks, and played excellent defense.

In 1957, Blasingame had his finest season. He hit 8 home runs (he would hit no more than 2 in any other season), stole 21 bases, and scored 108 runs. He would finish 12th in MVP voting, deservedly so given his tenth-best (NL) bWAR total of 5.2. The next year he made the All-Star team, but his defense began to lag and he was eventually traded in December ’59 to the Giants for Daryl Spencer and Leon Wagner.

Blasingame didn’t hit in San Francisco and lost his job to Joey Amalfitano, getting shipped off to Cincinnati the next year. (1960 wasn’t all bad – that year he married Sara Cooper, Miss Missouri 1957 & the daughter of ex-teammate Walker Cooper.) His offense didn’t improve in ’61, but he was the starting second baseman for the NL champion Reds. He hit a little better in 1962 and was a solid overall player, but lost out the next year to rookie Pete Rose (much to the displeasure of many of the veteran players on that ballclub), eventually being sold to the Washington Senators, where he stayed until 1966 (he did play 12 games with the KC A’s late that season).

Not ready to call it a career at that point, Blasingame signed on with the now-defunct Nankai Hawks, playing second base for three years before joining the coaching staff in 1969. A favorite of Hawks player-manager Katsuya Nomura, he ended up becoming a shadow manager for Nomura, calling most of the plays during his time there (through 1977). In ’78, he was a coach for the Hiroshima Carp. Blasingame managed the Hanshin Tigers in ’79 & ’80, then returned to Nankai to lead them in ’81 & ’82. As a manager for the two teams, he compiled a record of 180-208-28 (ties are played in Japanese baseball).

Four times Blasingame broke up no-hit bids (including twice in August ’63); only two players did it more often. He was statistically similar to Bill Wambsganss and former Cardinal Ted Sizemore. Bill James lists Blasingame as the 71st greatest second baseman of all time. Wiki Retro B-Lib oink

 

1958 – RP – Larry Jackson #39 (BR/TR, 6’2", 190; played w/STL 1955-62) A remarkably consistent starter who won at least 13 games in each of his last twelve seasons, Larry Jackson still holds the record for most NL victories (since 1900) for a pitcher who never pitched for a first-place team.

Lawrence Curtis Jackson was born June 2, 1931, in Nampa, ID, and signed with the Cardinals in 1951 after attending Boise Junior College and the University of Idaho. He put up an amazing year in ’52, winning the MVP by leading the Class "C" California League with 351 strikeouts and a 28-4 record for the pennant winning Fresno Cardinals. Two more years in the minors saw Jackson make the big league club out of spring training in 1955. A 9-14 mark and an ERA of 4.12 in 37 games (25 starts) pushed him into a relief role the next year, which wasn’t much better.

Jackson started 1957 in the bullpen, but by June he was getting regular turns in the rotation. He amassed a 10-4 record before the break and made the All-Star Game at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis. Jackson finished the year 15-9 with a 3.47 ERA. In 1958 he played in the mid-summer classic again, going 13-13 in 22 starts and 27 relief appearances.

Jackson finally graduated to a full-time starter in ’59 and had perhaps his best season. Starting 37 games and throwing 256 innings, his 14-13 record masked an excellent year, as he posted a career-best bWAR of 7.0. The next year he made the All-Star squad (he pitched in the second of two games played that year) as he led the NL with 38 starts and 282 IP, finishing the year 18-13 with a 3.48 ERA. Jackson then posted an ERA of 3.75 in both ’61 & ’62 before getting traded (with Lindy McDaniel) to the Cubs.

The trade worked for the Cubs, as they finished the year with 82 wins, their first winning season since 1946, the year after their last World Series appearance. Jackson set a career-best with a 2.55 ERA, but still wound up at 14-18. In 1964 he finished second in the voting for the Cy Young Award (one award for the majors, won by Dean Chance of the Los Angeles Angels), as he garnered nearly a third of all the Cubs victories, going 24-11 with a 3.14 ERA over 297 innings pitched. He also set a ML-record (now broken) with 109 fielding plays without committing an error for the season.

Jackson’s ’65 was not quite as good, as he became the first pitcher since Murry Dickson in 1951-52 to follow a 20-win season with a 20-loss year (the last was Jerry Koosman in ’76-’77). With the Cubs struggling to start 1966, Jackson was sent to Philadelphia as part of a package that brought Ferguson Jenkins to the Cubs. He continued to put up above-average numbers with the Phillies for three years. Prior to the 1969 season, Jackson was selected by Montreal in the expansion draft. Rather than play for the new franchise, he retired (the Expos received SS Bobby Wine instead) and returned home to Idaho, where he became a sportswriter and also served four terms in the Idaho House of Representatives (he unsuccessfully ran for governor in ’78).

Larry Jackson was statistically similar to former Cardinals Rick Wise and Curt Simmons. Bill James considers him to be the 89th greatest pitcher of all time. (James also noted, "In his career, as best I can determine, Larry Jackson was never in the vicinity of a humorous anecdote.") Wiki Retro B-Lib

 

1959 – RP – Lindy McDaniel #41 (BR/TR, 6’3", 195; played w/STL 1955-62) McDaniel was one of the great early relievers, retiring with the fourth most saves and 987 appearances, second only to Hoyt Wilhelm.

Lyndall Dale McDaniel grew up in Hollis, OK, and briefly attended the University of Oklahoma. He was signed as an amateur free agent and debuted as a 19-year-old "bonus baby" in September of 1955. McDaniel pitched well in relief the next year, but struggled as a spot starter, getting roughed up in several doubleheader nightcaps until going complete against the Cubs in the last week of the season.

McDaniel was 15-9 with a 3.49 ERA in 1957 as a 21-year-old starter, but his ERA swelled to 5.80 the next year and he spent part of the year in the minors (his only season doing so). In ‘59, Lindy started 7 games over the first six weeks before moving into a full-time relief role. He excelled as a reliever, more than doubling his K:BB ratio and cutting down on the longballs. McDaniel paced the National League with 15 saves (the stat would not be official until ’69) and won 13 games in relief (14 overall).

McDaniel’s 1960 campaign was amazing. Bill James considers it to be the 5th most valuable relief season of all time. Lindy saved 26 games (led NL) and finished with a 12-4 record and a 2.06 ERA over 116.1 innings. (Two of his four losses were picked up in his only two starts.) He made his only All-Star squad, finished tied for 3rd (with teammate Ernie Broglio) for the ML Cy Young award, and was fifth in voting for the NL Most Valuable Player (he did manage to win the inaugural Fireman-of-the-Year award, as well as in 1963).

McDaniel would struggle the next two years, posting ERA’s over 4.00. On September 1, 1962, he committed an error, breaking a streak of 225 consecutive games pitched without a miscue, an NL record. In the offseason, McDaniel was traded along with Larry Jackson to the Cubs for George Altman, Don Cardwell (part of the Dick Groat trade), and Moe Thacker.

Lindy returned to form in ’63, pacing the NL in games finished and saves (22), and posting a 13-7 mark as the Cubs had their first winning season in sixteen years. (On June 6th, he entered the game in the top of the 10th with the bases loaded and one out, picked Willie Mays off 2nd & struck out Ed Bailey for the third out, then led off the bottom half with a game-winning home run.) He scuffled somewhat in 1964 and lost his closer role the next year, although he performed well. Traded to the Giants in the offseason, McDaniel had a solid first season as their set-up man before pitching poorly in 1967. A rough first half in ’68 (19.1 IP, 7.45 ERA) caused San Francisco to trade him mid-season to the Yankees for Bill Monbouquette, a swap of washed-up 31-year-olds.

As a Yankee, McDaniel was reinvigorated, thanks in part to Ralph Houk’s inspired usage. That first year he once retired 32 consecutive batters (an AL record, since broken), including throwing seven perfect innings of relief against the Tigers 8/23/68 (2nd game of a doubleheader, called after 19 innings). Lindy worked 51.1 innings in New York, going 4-1 with a 1.75 ERA and ten saves. He had a so-so season in ’69 and began the next year in middle relief. A strong start had McDaniel picking up saves by early May and he finished the season with 29 of ‘em and a 2.01 ERA, getting token MVP consideration at year’s end. But McDaniel and the rest of the Yankee bullpen collapsed in ’71 (12 saves for the entire team), sparking a trade for Sparky Lyle.

Lindy flourished with less responsibility the next season, posting a 2.25 ERA over 37 appearances. On August 4th, 1973, Yankee hurler Fritz Peterson left the game after one inning in a game against Detroit at Tiger Stadium. McDaniel relieved him and worked the final 13 frames as New York won 3-2. It was his last great year, finishing with a 12-6 mark and a 2.86 ERA over 160.1 innings (despite only three starts all year). McDaniel was traded after the season to the Royals for the popular (both in KC and NYC) Lou Piniella, where he pitched for two more years before retiring.

Lindy’s brother Von, another STL bonus baby, helped him develop his signature pitch, the forkball. A third brother, Kerry Don, was a hitter/pitcher in the Cardinals organization. McDaniel was statistically similar to Ron Reed and Tom Gordon. Wiki Retro B-Lib sink sank sunk

 

Notable exceptions: Bob Bowman (1939), Harry Brecheen (1948), Jimmy Brown (1941), Joe Cunningham (1957), Lou Klein (1943), Sam Jones (1958), Ted Wilks (1948)

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