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1926 Cardinals Season and Transactions Review Part One: Setting the Stage

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With the dearth of baseball topics on which to write, I though the readers might enjoy revisiting past St. Louis Cardinal playoff teams. What I propose to do in this series is to split it into parts. Part one will remind readers of the manager and the coaching staff for that upcoming season, and give a treatment of all off-season transactions to arrive at the Cards’ 40-man roster going into spring training. Part two will then cover the transactions leading up to opening day and then throughout the season. Either that article or a separate part three will describe the season in review and the interesting factors that led to the clinching of the pennant that year. Then I will recap every playoff game. Yes, this will take a long time, but at this point, what do we have other than time to reminisce?

The transactions part has proved to be a challenging assignment, as I have had to rely on archival research from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis Star, as well as the Sporting News, and then combine that research by examining Baseball Reference and Retrosheet. The sources were sometimes conflicting, but I believe I have put them together as best as can be done. The transaction rules were not well known at the time, and at times were covered imprecisely in the local papers, or in some cases not mentioned at all. The farm system was in its infancy then, with most minor league teams independently operated concerns that were not interested in subordinating their own interests to help a major league club. Although players were routinely sent to the minor leagues in various ways, there was no disabled list and nothing like the “Memphis shuttle,” that fans are used to now. Due to these factors, there is not an overwhelming number of transactions to discuss during these early seasons.

I begin the series with the 1926 season, the first pennant winner and World Series winner for the Cardinals. Although the Cardinals had been in the National League since 1892 and were descended from the St. Louis Browns of the old American Association, another club known as the St. Louis Browns entered the upstart American League in 1902 and was popular with fans. The Cardinals had been perennial “second-division” finishers until recent years. Everything changed in 1926.

Coaching Staff

Manager

Rogers Hornsby, arguably the greatest right-handed hitter of all time, became the player-manager of the Cardinals on May 31st, 1925. Branch Rickey, the legendary front-office executive of both the Browns and Cardinals, and later the Dodgers and Pirates, had been the field manager since 1919. The Cardinals after World War I were in serious financial trouble, and President Rickey—who had managed the cross-town Browns for part of 1913 and all of 1914 and 1915—hired himself as the field manager for the 1919 Cardinals to save a salary. Although Rickey had piloted the club to three winning seasons in a row from 1921-1923 (the first time the Cardinal franchise had even posted back-to-back winning seasons since it’s 1892 entry into the National League), the club slipped back to 65-89 and a sixth place finish in 1924. And at the close of play on May 29th, 1925, the club was in last place in the eight-team National League with a 13-23 record. Owner Sam Breadon thought Rickey had too many responsibilities on his plate.

Breadon, a member of the Cardinals’ board of directors, was named the President of the club in early 1920 and purchased a controlling interest in the Cardinals by the time the 1920 season rolled around. Rickey had been the Cardinals’ President since 1917, but the Board kept him on as Vice President, field manager and business manager, the latter position a designation for what we would now refer to as the general manager. Although Rickey had two more seasons after 1925 remaining on a five-year deal as field manager, Breadon had seen enough by May 30th, 1925. As he would tell the Post-Dispatch:

We have been disappointed over the showing of the team this year, and we have felt that Rickey was trying to do too much. He was trying to look after the business organization, with the many affiliations in minor leagues and at the same time trying to manage the team on the field. It was too much for one man, and we decided that we ought to have two men to do two men’s work.

The change was announced on May 30th the morning before a doubleheader at Pittsburgh, and took effect on Sunday, May 31st to start a 4-game series in St. Louis against the Cincinnati Reds. That Sunday was as good a time as any for Hornsby’s first game as manager, as Rickey had always been steadfast in keeping a promise to his mother to never go to the ballpark on Sundays, and had never managed on Sundays anyway. Hornsby piloted the Cardinals to a 64-51 record for the end of the 1925 season, to salvage a 77-76 end-of-season record. He also slashed .403/.489/.756 with 39 HRs and 143 RBIs, winning not only the “slash stat” triple crown, but his sixth National League batting title in a row, and his second National League Triple Crown. To this day, Hornsby is the only player in MLB history to win two National League Triple Crowns. He was also second in the league with 83 walks, led the majors with a 171 DRC+ and 208 wRC+, and was the leader in fWAR (10.8) and 3rd in WARP (5.8). At the time of his ascension to the managerial post, Hornsby joined Dave Bancroft (Boston Braves), Bill Killefer (Chicago Cubs), Bucky Harris (Washington Senators), George Sisler (St. Louis Browns), Ty Cobb (Detroit Tigers), Eddie Collins (Chicago White Sox) and Tris Speaker (Cleveland Indians) as major league player-managers. The Cards were looking forward to Hornsby’s first full season as field manager in 1926.

Other Coaches

Joe Sugden, a 12-year major league veteran catcher (including on the 1898 St. Louis Browns) left the Cardinals in December of 1925 and announced that he was accepting the pitching coach job with the Philadelphia Phillies to assist its manager, Collinsville, Illinois native Art Fletcher. Sugden was born and raised in Philadelphia. The sources conflict on how long he had been the Cardinal pitching coach. According to Retrosheet, he was a Cardinal coach from 1921-1925, but the Post-Dispatch claims that he had been the pitching coach since 1918. He would become a Cardinals scout later in life. One can assume that as a former catcher, Sugden also worked with the catchers. In one Post-Dispatch article from 1925, it was said that he warmed up the starting pitcher before every game, and then hustled to the bullpen to catch a pitcher that might be needed in relief.

Burt Shotton had been a long-time Branch Rickey protege. Shotton was in his third full season as the center fielder for the St. Louis Browns when Rickey took over as the manager of the Browns for the final 12 games of the 1913 season. Shotton served as Rickey’s “Sunday manager” during the 1914 and 1915 seasons when Rickey was at the helm of the Browns. When Rickey was in charge of the 1919 Cardinals, he claimed Shotton on waivers from the Washington Senators, and Shotton would remain with the club as a player through the 1923 season. Shotton was a player-coach in 1923, only appearing in one game as a pinch-runner that season, and stayed on as a coach through 1925. I can find no specific description of Shotton’s duties other than “Sunday manager,” and “Assistant Manager.” He can best be described as Rickey’s right-hand man for several years, managing the club in his absence and exercising control of spring training when Rickey had to be away on business. For the 1926 season, Rickey named Shotton manager of the Syracuse Stars, which at the time was the Cardinals’ top farm team in the AA International League. AA was the highest minor league classification at the time. Shotton would manage the Stars for two years, then manage and coach another 23 years in the major and minor leagues. He would be further connected to Rickey by managing the AA Rochester Red Wings for a half-season in 1935, and then the AA Columbus Redbirds from 1937-1941. He was perhaps most famous for managing the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947-1950 in street clothes, and being Jackie Robinson’s first skipper.

To replace Sugden and Shotton, the Cards hired Bill Killefer and Otto Williams. Killefer broke into the majors with the 1909 St. Louis Browns as a catcher, played for the Phillies for many years, and closed his playing career out as a player-manager for the Chicago Cubs in 1921, taking over on August 3rd of that year. He would manage the Cubs for the 1922 through 1924 seasons before being fired 75 games into the 1925 season. In addition to playing against one another and briefly managing against one another, Killefer had a connection to Rogers Hornsby that went back to 1909, when he played on the 1909 Houston Buffaloes minor league team with Hornsby’s older brother Everett. Killefer was to be assigned to handle the pitchers and catchers. Williams had a brief four-year major league career as mostly a middle infielder, and broke in with the 1902 St. Louis Cardinals. His last major league experience as a player was with the 1906 Washington Senators and he followed that with a lengthy minor league career. He had just served as the infield coach for the Detroit Tigers under Ty Cobb for the 1925 season. He was assigned to work with the infielders and outfielders. Coaches in those days did not have titles, and there were no designated base coaches, but was it was reported that Killefer would work the bases as well.

Transactions

10/8/25: Selected RHP Sylvester Johnson from the Vernon Tigers of the Class AA Pacific Coast League, 3B Tommy Taylor from the Memphis Chickasaws of the Class A Southern Association, and OF Charles L. (Chink) Taylor from the Shreveport Sports of the Class A Texas League, all in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft.

This draft was not known as the Rule 5 draft in those days. It’s official name was the Annual Selection Meeting, but everyone just called it “the draft.” At this point in the history of MLB, the draft was unrestricted, meaning that any player on a roster of a club of a minor league classification could be drafted, regardless of experience level. The only restriction was that each class AA and class A club could only lose one player to the draft. It behooved any major league club that had farm teams to add a player to its 40-man roster to avoid losing them, and failing that, to stock its prospects on the roster of the highest classification minor league club to avoid losing more than one player. As far as I can tell, the draft price that year was $4,000.

Each one of the players the Cardinals picked had prior MLB experience. Johnson had 101 career MLB games pitched under his belt for the 1922-1925 Detroit Tigers, including 35 starts. He had battled injuries all of his career to that point. His 1925 season was cut short after 6 games on May 29, 1925. Johnson entered the game in the bottom of the 9th at Comiskey Park against the Chicago White Sox with a 13-4 lead. After allowing two bunt singles, a 3-run homer and a walk, White Sox left fielder Bibb Falk came to the plate with 1 out and a man on 3rd base. Falk smacked a line drive that hit Johnson square in the eye, breaking eight bones in his face and knocking him down. There was no injured list in those days, and after he took three weeks off to recuperate, the Tigers optioned him to Vernon in the PCL to get down the 25-man player limit. Based on his performance in Vernon, the Tigers decided not to exercise the option to recall him by the deadline, and he was available for the draft. His selection by the Cardinals was a surprise to many, as he had an ugly 3-17 record for Vernon. But Cardinals chief scout Charley Barrett chalked it up to a combination of injuries, awful luck and Vernon being a last place squad that couldn’t score runs for Johnson. The records are incomplete, but in 168 IP, he allowed 186 H, 104 R, 87 ER, 53 BB, and an unknown number of strikeouts. Barrett scouted him personally and insisted he had the stuff to stick in the majors. This would be Johnson’s Age-25 season.

Tommy Taylor didn’t break into organized baseball until starting his minor league career at Age 27. He finally got a taste of major league action as a 31-year old rookie with the 1924 Washington Senators, who ended up beating John McGraw’s New York Giants in the 1924 World Series 4 games to 3. In late June of 1924, he was playing for Class A Memphis when he was traded to the Senators straight up for 3B Doc Prothro. Taylor got into 17 games at 3B with 14 starts, and despite injuring his hand about a month before the Series, ended up as the starting third baseman in Game 7 of the World Series. The Senators were losing 3-1 in the bottom of the 8th with 1 out, when Nemo Leibold came in to pinch hit for Taylor and started a rally that tied the game. He got into two other games that series, once as a pinch runner, and the other as a defensive replacement for Roger Peckinpaugh, who had to be carried off the field in the top of the 9th in Game 6 after injuring his leg. Taylor struck out twice in his only plate appearances in the series in Game 7, and also had an error that game. In December after the series was over, Taylor and Prothro were traded back for each other along with a couple of other players. Taylor only hit one home run for Memphis in 1925, but had 35 doubles and 23 triples, and led the squad with a .348 AVG and .522 SLG. The Post-Dispatch reported his age at about 29, but in reality, he was 33 years old when the Cards selected him. He was described as having an ideal arm for an outfielder and experienced in the outfield, although spending most of his career in the middle infield.

C.L. (Chink) Taylor led the Class D Texas-Oklahoma League in 1922 with a .369 AVG for the Paris Snappers, which attracted the attention of the major league clubs. After apparently being out of organized baseball in 1923, he hit 12 HR and 13 triples and slugged .500 for the Class A Beaumont Exporters in 1924. The Chicago Cubs drafted him in the 1924 Rule 5 draft. He made the Cubs’ 1925 opening day roster, but only got into 2 games in the outfield and had no hits in 6 trips to the plate before the Cubs sent him back to Beaumont in early June. The Cubs tried to trade him, but under a recent interpretation of the rules surrounding the draft, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis ruled that if the Cubs didn’t want Taylor, they had to return him to the club from which he was drafted. There seems to be a little confusion about where the Cards actually drafted him from, but the record does seem clear that the Cubs returned him to Beaumont in 1925, where he hit .367 and slugged .521 with 10 HRs. Unless all the sources I can find are mistaken, somehow he ended up on the reserve list of the Shreveport Sports (also in the Texas League) after the 1925 season, and was drafted by the Cards from that club.

11/25: Purchased the contract of RHP Russell Miller from the Syracuse Stars of the Class AA International League.

The Cardinals may have thought Miller was a couple of years younger than he really was. His official birth date is now considered to be March 25, 1900, but his Sporting News card listed 1902 as his date of birth. In 1925, the papers described him as recently graduated from Ohio State, and he actually pitched for the Cardinals in an exhibition game on June 30th, 1925 against the Class D Burlington Bees, going the distance in a 5-2 victory with 7 strikeouts and 2 walks. Although the Post-Dispatch suggested that he was on the roster of the Cardinals at the time, the better weight of the evidence jives with Miller’s Sporting News player card, which indicates that he was signed to a Syracuse contract in July of 1925 and purchased by the Cardinals in November. At Syracuse in his Age-25 season, he pitched in 13 games with a 4.38 ERA, while only walking 2.78 men per 9 innings.

12/11/25: Traded SS Jimmy Cooney to the Chicago Cubs for RHP Vic Keen.

Cooney was on the reserve list of the Boston Red Sox as early as 1913, when he was 18 years old. He was not intended for delivery to the Red Sox until September of 1913, but the club never did send for him that year. He cracked the 1914 opening day roster for the Red Sox, but was outrighted to the minors after 8 games. The Red Sox bought his contract back in September 1917 from the Providence Grays of the AA International League, and he appeared in 11 games, with 10 starts at 2B. After the season, however, he enlisted in the U.S. Army to fight for his country and was called to active duty in January of 1918. He did not return until April of 1919, but a month before his return, he was claimed on waivers by the Detroit Tigers and subsequently sold back to Providence. The New York Giants purchased his contract in September of 1919, and he got into only 5 games, with 4 starts at SS.

During spring training of 1920, the Giants outrighted Cooney to the Milwaukee Brewers of the Class AA American Association, where he played for 4 straight seasons, and was recognized as the best defensive shortstop in that league. The 1924 Cardinals opened the season with Howard Freigau at 3B and Lester Bell at SS, but after 19 games, manager Rickey was unsatisfied with his infield defense, and traded Bell and a reported $15,000 in cash to Milwaukee for Cooney on May 7th. Really it was a cash transaction, with Bell being merely sent to Milwaukee on an optional assignment. Cooney would get his first taste of the majors at age 29, starting 97 games at SS and slashing .295/.330/.397. The papers claimed that he broke Joe Tinker’s 1913 National League record for fielding percentage with a .969 mark for 1924.

During 1925 spring training, however, younger shortstop Tommy Thevnow beat Cooney out for the starting job. Although Cooney would be restored to the starting lineup in May when Thevnow failed to hit, he split his hand open in a June 4th game against the Giants, and while he was out of the lineup, he lost his job to George (Specs) Toporcer. Cooney only got 16 starts the rest of the year, mostly as a replacement for Hornsby at second base when Hornsby got hurt. Manager Hornsby decided to recall Thevenow, whom he viewed as a protege, in mid-August and handed him the shortstop job for the rest of the year. Cooney was optioned to Syracuse, where he would stay for the rest of the year. In 1925, his age-30 season, Cooney got a total of 34 starts at SS and 10 at 2B and in 202 PA, and slashed .273/.292/.353. Hornsby considered Thevenow to be the superior defender and Toporcer to be the more valuable utility infielder and with Cooney’s decline in hitting with no patience at the plate, he was deemed to be expendable.

Another major reason for the trade was that Hornsby wanted to shore up the pitching staff, and newly-hired coach Bill Killefer recommended that the club get Keen, who first broke into the major leagues by getting one start in August of 1918 for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics squad. Released to attend college at the University of Maryland, Keen resurfaced in organized baseball from the semi-pro circuit when he signed with the Chicago Cubs in September of 1921, who were by then managed by Killefer, the Cards’ new coach. Killefer caught him and managed him for parts of the next four seasons. Keen only pitched 5 games in September of 1921 and 7 games total in 1922, but he became a regular member of the Cubs’ pitching staff in 1923. Used as a swing man, he both started and relieved, pitching in 105 games from 1923-1925 with 53 starts. He didn’t strike out many and didn’t walk many, but he walked more than he struck out every year he pitched for the Cubs. His best season was probably 1923, when he started 17 out of 35 games, and posted a 4.05 FIP in 177 innings. He struggled in 1925, appearing in 30 games with 8 starts, walking 41 batters and only striking out 19 in 83.1 IP with a 5.54 FIP. Killefer assured the club that any arm trouble Keen had was only temporary, and he would be able to work with him. Keen would turn 27 years old in March.

1/4/26: Purchased RHP Walt Huntzinger from the New York Giants.

The actual purchase price was not disclosed, but it was said to be more than the waiver price because several clubs were after Huntzinger. At this point in his career, Huntzinger had never pitched in the minor leagues, coming straight to the New York Giants from the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in 1923. But Giants’ manager John McGraw didn’t use him very much, as across the 1923-1925 seasons, he only pitched 40 games over 104.2 IP with 4 starts. It was said that Giants’ manager John McGraw felt like Huntzinger did not have a serviceable breaking ball. He was also extra skinny at 6 feet tall and only 150 pounds, and it was said he did not have enough endurance to start. Hornsby, however, felt that new pitching coach Bill Killefer would be able to coax something useful out of him. It was interesting to see the press report that Huntzinger had good control. His walk percentage was low, but across his 3 major league seasons to that point, he walked 27 batters and struck out 27 batters. Huntzinger would turn 27 years old next month.

1/13/26: Sold RHP Guilford Paulsen to the San Antonio Bears of the Class A Texas League.

The record for Paulsen is difficult to track down because of alternate spellings. His record from Retrosheet and Baseball Reference uses Paulsen, but he has been referenced as “Paulson” in the newspapers. His Sporting News archival research card refers to him as “Paulson.” Some articles used both spellings in one article. Paulsen was signed out of Cornell College (Iowa) to a contract with the Sioux City Cardinals of the Class D Tri-State League in 1924, but according to a 1925 Post-Dispatch article, he jumped the club because he didn’t like his teammates. I found another article mentioning a player named “Wilford Paulsen” who had to be reinstated by Commissioner Landis for jumping the Fairbury, Nebraska club in the same year. There is no minor league record that I can find for a player of either name for 1924. Whoever it was went back home and pitched semi-pro ball, and did well enough that the Cards gave him another try. Brash and combative with manager Rickey, Paulsen lasted the whole 1925 spring training, and was cut on the last day possible, optioned to the Class C Forth Smith Twins to open the season.

Paulsen pitched 49 games and 341 innings for Fort Smith in 1925, finishing 24-15 with a 4.06 ERA. Recalled to the Cardinals when rosters were expanded in September of 1925, Hornsby kept the 22-year old Paulsen on the bench until calling on him to pitch in the second-to-last game of the season on October 3rd. With the Cards down 7-1 against the Cubs, Paulsen came in to pitch in the 7th inning and finished the game, allowing 1 single and hitting one man. He would never return to the majors.

1/14/26: Sold OF Ralph Shinners to the Oakland Oaks of the Class AA Pacific Coast League for $7,500.

The Cards drafted Shinners in the October 1924 Rule 5 draft from the Toledo Mudhens of the AA American Association. He had been purchased by John McGraw’s New York Giants from the Indianapolis Indians of the AA American Association after he hit .346 with a .522 SLG and 13 HRs in 1921. Said to have had blazing speed, Shinners was handed the CF job to start the 1922 season, but was beaned in the head by a pitch from Philadelphia Phillies hurler George Smith in a game on April 25th. With his eyesight affected, he lost his job towards the end of May, when he was slashing .271/.333/.336, and had slipped in the field to the point where his errors cost the club a couple of games. Shinners then got into a fist fight with McGraw in late June. Thirty-one year old Casey Stengel took over the long side of a platoon in center field, and Shinners was optioned to Toledo in early August. Although he was recalled in September, he was not eligible for the postseason roster and saw no action in the 1922 World Series victory over the Yankees. Shinners was apparently on the Giants’ roster for the entire 1923 season, but he only got 15 PA and no starts in the field and was used as pinch-running specialist. After seeing no action in the 1923 World Series, Shinners was outrighted to Toledo for the 1924 season.

With no center field candidate distinguishing himself in the 1924 season, the Cards decided to draft Shinners, who had hit .300 for Toledo. Favored to win the center field job for the 1925 club, he injured his ankle in spring training, and although he made the club, the 29-year old sat on the bench for the most part until he was given the starting job in July. He ultimately made 54 starts in the outfield, with 46 in center field, slashed .295/.330/.430 in 273 PA, and was 5th on the club with 7 home runs in limited duty. Still, with Ray Blades in LF, Chick Hafey in RF and younger players in Taylor Douthit, Wattie Holm and Heinie Mueller vying for the CF job, Hornsby did not figure Shinners would be able to crack the roster. Shinners would not make it back to the majors.

2/26: Outrighted SS Howard M. Bracken to the Fort Smith Twins of the Class C Western Association.

The signing of Bracken turned out to be controversial to the point that it reached the desk of Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Then 22 years old, Bracken spent the first 70 games of the 1925 season with the Monroe Drillers of the Class D Cotton States League, where he hit .234 with a .290 SLG and committed 34 errors in the field. The Monroe club then loaned him to the Jonesboro Buffaloes of the Class D Tri-State League, where Bracken hit .295 with a .324 SLG for 30 games. While Bracken was on loan to Jonesboro, Jonesboro sold Bracken to the Cardinals, and the Cardinals placed him on their reserve list in November of 1925. Initially, Monroe appeared to have sold Bracken to Jonesboro outright for $100, but the matter was reopened by telephone the next day, and the deal was converted to a loan for no payment, with Bracken to be returned to Monroe for the 1926 season. The loan agreement was entered into on August 3rd, 1925, and 6 days later, Jonesboro purported to sell Bracken to the Cardinals.

The matter reached Commissioner Landis, and in a decision on January 2nd, 1926, Landis found that Bracken tried to coax Monroe, through “misleading statements and misrepresentations,” into accepting a deal for his outright sale to Jonesboro, knowing that Jonesboro wanted to sell him to the Cardinals, and also knowing that Monroe did not know of Jonesboro’s proposed sale to the Cardinals. Apparently a “secret loan” not filed with the Commissioner’s Office was at that time was not approved under the rules, and normally that would have entitled Bracken to free agency. But because Landis found that the Cardinals were ignorant of the true facts and had paid value for Bracken, Bracken would not be granted free agency because he was complicit in the whole matter. Landis also ordered Jonesboro to forward to the Commissioner’s Office the money that the Cards had paid Jonesboro as well as the amount St. Louis was to pay “should it complete the deal with Monroe.” The last part of the quote raises a question about what kind of deal the Cards indeed made with Jonesboro, but I can’t find any more information about it. All I can demonstrate is that Bracken was on the reserve list as of November 1925, but was outrighted before spring training. Whether they cut bait because they reconsidered their need for him, or whether they begged off because they felt he was engaged in dishonest dealings, is a mystery that has been lost to time. He was not mentioned at all in the Post-Dispatch.

2/26: Optioned IF John Martin to AA Syracuse.

This John Martin is Johnny Leonard Roosevelt “Pepper” Martin, who would become part of the Gashouse Gang Cardinal teams of the 1930s and becoms known as the Wild Horse of the Osage. At this time, he was a 22-year old prospect who played the middle infield for the Greenville Hunters of the Class D East Texas League and the Fort Smith Twins of the Class C Western Association as a 21-year old in 1925, batting .341 with a .585 SLG and 23 HR across both levels. He was described as a speedy player who could play anywhere on the diamond, and even pitched a little.

2/26: Sold 3B Danny Clark to AA Syracuse for $10,000.

I had a heck of a time trying to figure out the exact nature of the transaction the Cards engaged in here. Clark had prior major league experience, first breaking into the majors with the 1922 Detroit Tigers, who selected him in the draft. He started 30 games at 2B and 5 in RF, slashing .292/.345/.432 in 209 PA. Mostly used as a pinch hitter, he was described as an excellent hitter but a poor fielder. After being traded to the Boston Red Sox and spending 1923 in the minor leagues, he resurfaced for the 1924 Red Sox and started 89 games at 3B for that club, slashing .277/.378/.385. He walked 51 times and only struck out 19 times. The Red Sox traded Clark to the San Antonio Bears of the Class A Texas League after the season. In 1925, the 31-year old Clark destroyed the Texas League, hitting .399 with 225 hits, 50 doubles, 31 HRs, a .677 SLG and 143 RBIs.

After the 1925 season, Clark ended up on the 40-man roster of the Cardinals, according to the Sporting News. He was described, however, as being obtained for Syracuse. There is no mention of him appearing for 1926 spring training or even being in the mix. He was also listed on the Cardinals’ reserve list after the 1926 season, and an article in the Post-Dispatch in September of 1926 stated that the Cardinals purchased Clark from Syracuse for $25,000. Clark’s page in the SABR Bio Project claims that Syracuse had paid $10,000 for him the previous winter.

Putting all the sources together, the only thing I can figure is that this was an outright sale to Syracuse, not an optional assignment. It wouldn’t make any sense for the Cards to have an optional agreement with Syracuse with the right of recall that would cost them $25,000. Because the Cardinals basically controlled the Syracuse club, what most likely happened was that the Cardinals bought Clark then sold him to Syracuse with a right of first refusal to buy him back. The part that remains confusing is the fact that the Cardinals would pay for Clark then risk losing him on waivers. As I understand it, even back then, outright assignments of players from the 40-man roster to a minor league club required the player to clear waivers. Perhaps an outright sale was an exception to the rule, and perhaps no other club was interested in a 31-year old player who was considered a poor fielder, even if he did tear up the Class A Texas League.

2/14/26: Outrighted OF Max Flack to AA Syracuse

Flack had been a right fielder for the Cards for the last 4 seasons, coming in trade from the Cubs in May of 1922, and 1925 was his Age-35 season. He was one of the few remaining active members of major league baseball that had actually played in the old Federal League. He also made 54 starts in the 1925 outfield. Although he did walk more than he struck out, he didn’t hit at all, slashing only .249/.309/.344. Flack never played in the majors again.

2/17/26: Outrighted RHP Leo Dickerman to AA Syracuse.

Dickerman came to the Cards in June of 1924 right at the trade deadline from the Brooklyn Robins for pitcher Bill Doak. He was a 6 foot 4 fireballer, born in DeSoto, Missouri, whose problem was always control. Although he had a decent season in 1924, his ERA shot up to 5.58 in 1925, and he walked over 5 men per 9 innings. He walked more than he struck out every stop he had in the big leagues. He pitched in 47 games for 2 seasons with the Cards with 31 starts, and never pitched in the majors again.

Next installment: Spring Training and Season Transactions