All posts by Marilyn Green

St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of June 22-28

photo: John Brebbia (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports Images)

The St. Louis Cardinals prepare to resume pre-season preparation for a shortened 60-game schedule, with news of a major injury and a roster announcement. Our history feature highlights two Cardinals Hall of Famers who each hit for the cycle.

The Return of Baseball

After a three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, baseball is finally returning.  The shortened season will be 60 games in length and will end on September 27, with playoffs to begin in October.  The playoffs will not be expanded.

The lead-up to the final agreement for the return was fraught with contentiousness and verbal sparring in the media between the owners, represented by Commissioner Rob Manfred, and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA), represented by President Tony Clark.  At times it appeared hopeless that we would see baseball at all before 2021.  The primary obstacle was how many games would be played and how much the players would be paid.

The dispute centered around an agreement between MLB and the MLBPA made in late March after Spring Training had been halted due to the spread of the coronavirus.  That agreement included, among other things, a clause that the players would be paid a pro-rated salary based upon the number of games played.

What appeared to be a straightforward arrangement later became a heated squabble as to interpretation.  The owners contended that the provision only applied if fans were in attendance at the games.  The MLBPA argued otherwise and disputed MLB’s interpretation.  What ensued was public bickering that left many who watched believing the parties were an embarrassment and were causing great harm to the sport.  Sides were taken and the war was on for many weeks.

When all the smoke cleared, neither side agreed to either rate of pay or length of season. So, under the March agreement terms, the Commissioner imposed a season of 60 games with pro-rated pay for players.  The players had wanted more games, and the owners had wanted further pay cuts; so neither side completely got what they wanted.

One could argue the merits of either party’s position.  The players believed they had an agreement that the owners then tried to amend.  The owners contended they would lose billions of dollars by playing games without fans in the stands and therefore pay cuts were required.  Who was right now seems irrelevant with the coronavirus still raging all over the country and even the 60-game season not a certainty.

In any event, the plan is for players to report to training camp beginning July 1.  Each team will have camp at their own home ballparks (except for the Toronto Blue Jays, who will likely play in Toronto, but that plan is not final).  The season will begin on July 23 with two games, and the remainder of the games on July 24.  The full schedule has not yet been released to the public.

Particulars of the 2020 Season

The 60-game 2020 season will be vastly different than what fans are used to seeing.  The presence of an infectious virus that continues to rage throughout the country has made it impossible for baseball to be played normally.  Here are some of the particulars of what 2020 baseball will look like.

NL and AL teams will play each other in these 60 games based on geography in order to eliminate cross country travel.  The season will be divided up into three zones which consist of all AL and NL West teams, all NL and AL Central teams, and all NL and AL East teams.  For example, the Cardinals will play only their regular NL Central opponents the Cubs, Reds, Brewers, and Pirates, plus the Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, and Cleveland Indians.  There will be 40 games against the NL Central teams, and 20 interleague games against the AL Central teams.

Each team is allowed a 60-player pool.  The 60 may or may not include all 40-man roster players.  Not all of the Cardinals’ 60 players will be at training camp in St. Louis.  Each team is allowed to have a separate camp close by.  The Cardinals have chosen to have their alternate camp at Hammons Field in Springfield.  An initial list of the players in the pool was required to be submitted by 3 pm CT on Sunday, June 28.  Teams are not required to fill all 60 slots.  The Cardinals submitted an initial list of 44 players.  Additional players up to 60 total will be added later.  Full details can be found here.

St. Louis Cardinals Name 44-Player Summer Camp Roster

Teams may add any player in the organization to the pool, including newly signed 2020 draftees.  Once the pool is finalized, the regular roster rules regarding subtracting players will apply.  For example, a player subtracted from the pool will be subject to release, trade, or waivers. The exception is for injury or suspension.  If a 60-man pool player is injured or tests positive for the coronavirus, he may be placed on the regular injured list (10-day or 45-day for 2020) or the newly created coronavirus injured list (no specified length).

The active roster will contain 30 players for the first two weeks of the season.  After two weeks, the roster will be reduced to 28 players, and two weeks after that will be set at 26 players for the remainder of the season.  Any pool player who is not on the 40-man roster will have to be added before that player can be on the active roster.  A 27th player can be added for double-headers.  All teams will be permitted to travel with a taxi squad of up to three players, of which one must be a catcher.  The identity of the taxi squad players need not be disclosed.

The regular rules will be applied to the active roster.  A player may be optioned to the alternate camp and a new player called up.  An optioned player must remain at the alternate camp for 10 days unless called up to replace an injured player.

The coronavirus injured list does not count against the roster.  Players on the active roster testing positive will be replaced by players on the 60-man at the alternate camp.  Should there not be enough players at the alternate camp due to an outbreak of coronavirus, MLB can permit teams to replace the open spots with other organizational players not on the original 60-man list or with free agents.

The trade deadline is August 31.  Only 60-man pool players can be traded.  A traded player must be placed in the acquiring team’s 60 man player pool.

There will be a universal designated hitter for the 2020 season.  In tie games after nine innings, the minor league rule requiring a man on second base to start each inning will be implemented.  The new rule for pitchers to pitch to a three-batter minimum will be applied.  Pitchers will be allowed to have a wet rag in their pocket to wet their fingers in lieu of licking them.  Games that are stopped with less than five innings completed due to weather will be suspended and continued at a later date (as opposed to starting over from the beginning).

Training camp games will have rule changes as well.  Managers will be allowed to end an inning for their pitchers before three outs are made as long as the pitcher has thrown at least 25 pitches.  A plate appearance must be completed before this can be done.  Substitution rules are relaxed, allowing pitchers to re-enter later. At this time, the Cardinals do not plan to play any external camp games, though teams are allowed as many as three.

All teams will be subject to strict health protocols.  MLB and the MLBPA agreed to a 100+ page health protocol.  Some items included are masks for coaches and staff at all times in the dugout and on the field, all players and coaches must keep a distance of at least six feet from umpires at all times, no spitting, no high-fiving or fist bumping, and social distancing should be practiced in the clubhouse.

Games will be played with no fans in the stands to begin the season.  A possibility for some fans to be allowed later on has been left open.

Players who are at high risk for coronavirus may opt out of the season and receive pay and service time.  Players who live with someone at high risk may opt out but service time and pay will be at the discretion of the team.  Players not in one of these categories may opt out but would receive no service time or pay.  The deadline for players to opt out is 3 pm CT on Sunday, June 28.

More details on some of these issues can be seen at TCN.

Sorting out Major League Baseball’s Rules for 2020

John Brebbia has Tommy John surgery

In a surprise announcement made by the Cardinals this past week, right-handed pitcher John Brebbia underwent Tommy John surgery on June 8. This means Brebbia will miss the 2020 season and potentially some of the 2021 season as well.

John Brebbia

Brebbia felt a pull in his elbow in a March 11 game against the Mets.  This turned about to be the day before camp was shut down due to the coronavirus.  Brebbia underwent an MRI which revealed a tear in his UCL in his right arm.  The reliever subsequently received a platelet-rich plasma injection as an alternative to surgery.

When Brebbia began throwing again, the discomfort in his elbow returned.  At that point it was decided he would have the surgery.  The 30-year old reliever will remain in Florida for his rehab.

Brebbia finished the 2019 season with an ERA of 3.59 in 66 appearances.  He was considered a candidate to participate in what may be a closer committee for 2020.

Jordan Hicks is among the 44 players in the pool, returning from his Tommy John surgery last June. He should also be in contention for closer duties.  Hicks, a Type 1 diabetic, is at high risk for coronavirus complications, so the team will proceed cautiously with him for multiple reasons.

In other injury news, Miles Mikolas, who missed almost a month of spring training with a strained flexor tendon appears to have fully recovered and will be available to start the season.  He has already been working out at Busch Stadium in informal workouts with other Cardinals players.

The health of left-handed pitcher Brett Cecil, who is in the final year of his contract, remains unknown.  President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak has stated Cecil’s readiness will be evaluated when the team reports to camp.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions 

  • 6/27 The Cardinals placed RHP John Brebbia on the 45-day injured list. Right ulnar collateral ligament tear.
  • 6/28 Though there has been no official announcement yet, RHP Jordan Hicks is among the 44 players active for Summer Camp. He had been on the 60-day injured list since Spring Training Camp 1.0.

Injury Report

  • RHP John Brebbia underwent Tommy John surgery on June 8. He will miss the entire 2020 season.
  • LHP Brett Cecil (hamstring) has been working out in Jupiter, Florida. Cecil’s health will be assessed when players report to training camp.
  • RHP Miles Mikolas (right foream flexor tendon) is reportedly ready to go and available to start the season.
  • RHP Jordan Hicks (Tommy John surgery) is throwing bullpens and was placed on the 44-man camp roster. Hicks, a Type 1 diabetic, will be monitored closely due to high risk of coronavirus complications.

Looking Ahead

Players are set to report to training camp in St. Louis starting on July 1.  All players will be tested for COVID-19 upon reporting.  Full workouts will start on July 3.  Players and coaches will be tested every other day throughout camp.

An alternate camp will be set up at Hammons Field in Springfield for those players in the 60-man pool who will not participate in camp at St. Louis.  This alternate camp will begin on July 14.  44 players will be at the St. Louis camp, with the remaining 16 at the alternate camp, augmented by those cut from St. Louis during July.

At this time, it appears all games during camp will be intrasquad games.  Teams have the option of playing up to three games against zone opponents.  The Cardinals do not plan on playing any games of this type, but that could change.

St. Louis’ regular season will start either July 23 or 24.  No schedule has been released to the public.


Blast from the Past

We return to the regular Blast from the Past piece as the baseball season nears a return.  This week’s segment looks at two games from the past in which a prominent Cardinal hit for the cycle.

On June 27, 1973, St. Louis played the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh. The Cardinals defeated the Pirates 15-4.

The starting lineup was as follows:  Lou Brock LF, Ted Sizemore 2B, Joe Torre 1B, Ted Simmons C, Ken Reitz 3B, Bill Stein RF, Jose Cruz CF, Mike Tyson SS, and Reggie Cleveland P.

Joe Torre

In the top of the first, Brock singled to CF, Sizemore singled to CF, and Joe Torre doubled to CF, scoring Brock and Sizemore. Torre’s double was the first of his four hits.

Torre came to the plate for the second time in the top of the third.  He hit a solo home run to deep RF.  Simmons followed with a solo home run to LF. Reitz singled, Stein doubled. Cruz singled to score Reitz and Tyson singled to score Stein. Tyson later scored on a wild pitch.

In the top of the fourth, Torre triple and scored on a sac fly by Simmons.  Torre completed the cycle by hitting a single to CF in the top of the ninth. He finished with three RBI and 10 total bases and became the 11th player to hit for the cycle in franchise history.

On June 23, 1984, St. Louis played the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Cardinals lost 12-11 in 11 innings.

The starting lineup was Lonnie Smith LF, Ozzie Smith SS, Willie McGee CF, George Hendrick RF, David Green 1B, Tom Herr 2B, Art Howe 3B, Darrell Porter C, and Ralph Citarella P.

Willie McGee, 1983

McGee’s initial at bat was a groundout in the first inning. In the top of the second, McGee tripled, driving in two runs.

In the top of the fourth, McGee singled, but no runs crossed the plate that inning. McGee came to bat for a fourth time in the top of the sixth and launched a two-run home run.

McGee’s fifth at bat was another groundout in the top of the eighth. In the top of the 10th, McGee added an RBI double. He went 4-for-6 with six RBI and 10 total bases. McGee was the 13th Cardinal to hit for the cycle in franchise history.

Both Torre and McGee are members of the Cardinals Hall of Fame. Torre was inducted in 2016 and McGee was part of the first fan-elected class in 2014.

16 Cardinal players have hit for the cycle.  The most recent was Mark Grudzielanek on April 27, 2005 and the first was Cliff Heathcote on June 13, 1918.  The only Cardinal to hit for the cycle twice was Ken Boyer – on September 14, 1961 and June 16, 1964.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Flores Executes Cardinals Draft Plan within a Plan


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Follow Marilyn Green on Twitter @Marilyncolor.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past – Blix Donnelly

 1944 St. Louis Cardinals team photo. Donnelly is second from the left in the back row.

In this week’s St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past, we remember a pitcher who made his major league debut at the age of 30 after toiling nine years in the minor leagues.  This right-hander made significant contributions to the Cardinals’ World Series Championship season in 1944, including most specifically his performance in World Series win over the neighboring St. Louis Browns.

Sylvester Urban Donnelly was born on January 21, 1914 in Olivia, Minnesota.  Donnelly was the eldest of three sons born to Charles and Elizabeth Donnelly. Charles Donnelly was a barber by trade and his son acquired the skill which he used in his baseball off-seasons.  Donnelly was blessed with the nickname “Blix” from his father as well.

Blix played football, basketball, and baseball at Olivia High School, from which he graduated in 1932.  Donnelly spent his following summers pitching for an Olivia town team, and in 1934 he was spotted by an umpire named George Thompson. The arbiter invited him to attend a baseball school in Nicollet Park, Minnesota, where he was seen by the manager of the Double-A Minneapolis Millers from the Western League of the American Association.  Blix did not get a tryout with the Millers but did ultimately latched on with the Superior Blues of the Northern League in 1935.

Blix Donnelly

Blix pitched in 39 games for the Blues in 1935, in which he posted a record of 15-15 in 228 innings pitched.  Donnelly led the league with 184 strikeouts.  After the Blues traded Blix to Duluth, he pitched in 38 games for the Dukes, with a 1936 record of 11-19.  At the end of that season, the Dukes were purchased by Branch Rickey and became part of the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

Donnelly was assigned to the Bloomington Bengals to begin the season, but that team folded mid-season and Blix was sent to pitch for the Decatur Commodores to finish 1937.  Donnelly posted a season record of 18-7 with an ERA of 1.74.  He pitched one inning for Decatur in 1938 and was then sent to the Daytona Islanders of the Florida State League to finish the season.  Blix returned to pitch in Daytona for the 1939 season as well, where he was selected to pitch in the midseason All-Star Game.

Donnelly’s next minor league destination was the Springfield, Illinois Cardinals of the Class C Western Association.  Blix spent two seasons in Springfield, where he led the league in innings pitched, complete games, wins and strikeouts in 1941 as he went 28-6, 2.26.  Late in 1941, he was sent to the Sacramento Solons of the Pacific Coast League, where he picked up win no. 29.

Donnelly returned to Sacramento in 1942, pitching to a record of 21-10 for manager Pepper Martin.  Martin became the manager of the Rochester Red Wings in 1943 and Blix went from one Triple-A team to the other with him.  Donnelly finished the season with a record of 17-8 and an ERA of 2.40, including a no-hitter against the New Jersey Giants.

Blix went to Spring Training with the Cardinals in 1944 and made the roster to start the season.  He made his major league debut on May 6, 1944 at the age of 30 in a game against Cincinnati, and pitched a scoreless ninth inning in the 2-0 loss to the Reds.

Though Blix spent most of his minor league career as a starter, he pitched primarily out of the bullpen for the Cardinals in 1944.  Donnelly made 27 appearances that season, only four as a starter.  Blix had two good pitches, a fastball and a curve, but his control was inconsistent.  Despite the control issues, Donnelly had a good 1944, ending the regular season with an ERA of 2.12.

The highlight of his rookie year came in the World Series, however, as he pitched two scoreless innings in Game 1 and was the winning pitcher in Game 2.  HIs defensive play in the 11th inning of Game 2, when he fielded a bunt with his bare hand down the third base line and made the throw to get the runner out, was heralded as the best defensive play of the Series.  The Cardinals defeated the St. Louis Browns in six games to take the World Championship.

Blix Donnelly

Blix returned to pitch for the Cardinals in 1945, and finished with a career-high 23 starts, a record of 8-10 and an ERA of 3.52.  He pitched a one-hitter against the Phillies on June 27.

In 1946, Donnelly hoped to make the starting rotation but ended up back in the bullpen.  He missed time due to a sore arm, and by mid-season he was placed on waivers and claimed by the Phillies.  Blix pitched mostly out of the bullpen to begin the 1947 season, but a mid-season injury to a starter gave him the opportunity to join the rotation.  He started in 10 games that season with a record of 4-6.

In 1948, Donnelly started in 19 games out of 26 appearances.  He posted a record of 5-7 and an ERA of 3.69.  Injuries in 1949 limited his appearances to 23, 10 as a starter.  Minor injuries and the emergence of the eventual 1950 NL MVP winner Jim Konstanty as the Phillies top relief pitcher left Donnelly to make only 14 appearances.

In 1951, with Donnelly 37 years of age, the Phillies sold his contract to the Boston Braves, for whom he made only six appearances before being released on May 12.  He returned to the Phillies, and they sent him to their Baltimore farm team.  He finished his baseball career there, retiring at the end of the 1952 season at the age of 38.

Donnelly returned to his hometown of Olivia where he worked in a barbershop, and then moved on to several sales jobs.  He passed away on June 26, 1976 from cancer at the age of 62.  He was survived by his wife Helen and son James.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Minor League Batting Average Leaders Since 1960


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Follow Marilyn Green on Twitter @Marilyncolor.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past – Bill Greason

photo: Bill Greason (St. Louis Cardinals)

In last week’s Blast from the Past, we remembered the first African-American player signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, Tom Alston, a position player.

St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past – Tom Alston

This week, we recall the first African-American pitcher signed by the Cardinals.  His career with the team was very brief, and it encompassed the entirety of his major league career.  His life after baseball was one of service to his community and service to the cause of Civil Rights for African-Americans in the United States.

Bill Greason

William Henry Greason was born on September 3, 1924 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Bill was the middle child of five born to James and Lizi Greason.  Greason’s family was poor, and his parents and four siblings lived across the street from the family of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Bill graduated from Booker T. Washington High School five years before Dr. King.

Like many of his peers, Greason’s baseball career began on the neighborhood sandlots where his natural talent showed through.  His parents instilled in him the value of love and respect for others, no matter the color of their skin, a value that would lead him to his ultimate post baseball vocation as a Minister of God.

Greason joined the Marine Corps in 1943 and fought in World War II in the Pacific Theater.  After the war, Bill player semipro football for a couple of years.  A manager of a Negro Leagues team, the Atlanta Black Crackers, got Greason into baseball and he began the 1947 season with the Nashville Cubs, where he posted a pitching record of 14-2 that season.

Bill began the 1948 season with the Asheville Blues, where he was spotted during spring training by the Birmingham Barons, who acquired him from the Blues.  The Barons won the Negro Leagues American League playoff against the Kansas City Monarchs in a 4-3 series.  Greason was the winning pitcher in the clinching game.  The Barons faced the Homestead Grays in the World Series, which was the last Negro League World Series ever played.  The Barons were soundly defeated by the Grays, but Bill was the winning pitcher in the only game the Barons won.

Greason spent the 1949 and 1950 seasons with the Barons, but the Negro Leagues were seeing much defection of talent to the major leagues in the years following the signing of Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. After playing winter ball in Mexico and Cuba, Bill was granted a tryout with the Pacific Coast League’s Oakland Oaks in spring 1951.  Greason failed to make the team and returned to play in Mexico. He left Mexico early in the season and returned to the Barons.

Bill was recalled to active duty with the Marines in late summer 1951.  He continued to play baseball for the Camp LeJeune baseball team.  A marine sergeant who was stationed in Oklahoma told the owner of the Oklahoma City Indians of the Double-A Texas League about Greason and the Indians signed him to a contract on July 28, 1952. The Texas League had become integrated with the signing of former Negro League pitcher Dave Hoskins with the Dallas Eagles in early 1952.  Greason became the first black baseball player in Oklahoma upon his signing.  Greason faced Hoskins in a game on August 3, and Bill won the day, earning his second win.

Greason recounted that his reception in Oklahoma was fine, with most treating him with kindness and respect while playing at home.  He received a different reception on the road, however. Bill remarked that road fans would call him names he never heard before.

Bill’s pitching in Oklahoma City drew attention from several major league teams, most notably the Yankees and the Red Sox.  The owner of the Indians turned down $50,000 offers from both teams, because it was suspected he wanted to run up the price.

Though Bill’s 1953 season with the Indians began slowly, he ended up finishing with a 16-13 record, but with a somewhat bloated ERA of 3.61.  The Indians’ owner’s plans were thwarted, and he ended up selling Greason’s contract to the St. Louis Cardinals for $25,000 plus four players, a price less than expected.

Greason made his major league debut with St. Louis on May 31, 1954, several months after Alston, the Cardinals first black player acquisition, who began the 1954 season on the Cardinals’ roster.  Bill’s ascension to the major league roster turned out to less than he expected, as he was forced to take a $300 month pay cut from what he was making in the minor leagues.  Despite his protests, the Cardinals front office told him to take it or leave it.

Greason’s pay dispute, in addition to his treatment by manager Eddie Stanky, who never really gave Bill much of a chance, likely led to his poor performance in his first two games.  He pitched a scoreless inning of relief in what turned out to be his final major league game on June 20.  Greason was returned to the minors to finish the 1954 season.  For his three major league appearances, Bill pitched a total of four innings and posted an ERA of 13.50.

Greason played winter ball in Puerto Rico, where he had better success.  He played in Puerto Rico for seven years while still under contract with St. Louis and playing in both AA and AAA teams from 1955-1959.   He played with future Hall of Famer Bob Gibson on the Rochester Red Wings in 1958.

Greason retired from baseball after the 1959 season.  He returned to Birmingham and began working for Pizitz Department Store.  While there, Bill enrolled in Birmingham Easonian Bible College and earned a degree in religion.  He also did post-graduate work at Samford University in Birmingham before joining the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where he began preaching in 1963.  The Sixteenth Street Church became famous as the meeting place for civil rights activists, including his former neighbor Dr. King.  The church was the site of a racially motivated bombing by the Ku Klux Klan, a crime that resulted in the death of four black girls.

Bill was heavily involved in civil rights activism during this time but was not at the church on the day of the bombing.  He continued his ministry by starting the New Hope Baptist Church in Bessemer, Alabama, and eventually became the pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church of Bethel Points in Birmingham, where he continues to live today at the age of 95. Greason is in fact the oldest living former Cardinals player.

He has received various awards, including the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award, on June 12, 2012.  On September 21, 2014, the Cardinals held a ceremony to commemorate the 60th anniversary of his debut as the Cardinals’ first African-American pitcher.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

St. Louis Cardinals Minor League History Series – Best Seasons – 1963-2019


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Follow Marilyn Green on Twitter @Marilyncolor.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past – Tom Alston

Jackie Robinson is famous for being a Hall of Fame baseball player but even more so for being the first black ballplayer to be signed to a major league team, the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.  After Robinson, other clubs began signing black players as well, including eventually the St. Louis Cardinals.

This week’s Blast from the Past looks at the brief baseball career of St. Louis’ groundbreaker, Tom Alston, signed in 1954 to play first base.  While important in Cardinals history, Alston’s heartbreaking story included poverty and mental illness.

Tom Alston

Thomas Edison Alston was born to Shube and Anna Alston in Greensboro, North Carolina on January 31, 1926.  Thomas was one of their seven children, five sons and two daughters.  Young Tom developed his love for baseball both from reading stories in the newspapers his mother brought home from the houses she cleaned as a maid, and the broomstick bat and tennis ball games he played in his neighborhood.  His high school, poor and segregated, had no baseball team.

Alston joined the Navy in 1944 and played baseball on organized teams there.  After his return from the military, Tom attended North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College.  During this time, Alston began playing on a traveling team called the Goshen Red Wings.  He later joined the Jacksonville Eagles, managed by a former Negro Leagues pitcher named Chet Brewer.

Alston earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1951, and shortly thereafter went to play in Indian Head, Saskatchewan with several other Eagles players and the manager.  His team won several Canadian tournaments.

Tom returned to organized baseball in the U.S. with the all-black Porterville Comets of the Southwestern International League in 1952.  Alston hit .353 and was soon after signed by the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League.

At 6’5” and 200 pounds, Alston was a good defender at first base for San Diego, but his hitting was lacking.  He batted only .244 in 1952, but manager Lefty O’Doul worked with him and saw improvement.  In his first 50 games in 1953, Tom hit 15 home runs and had an average nearing .300.  Issues with high fastballs and left handed pitching sent him into a slump mid-season, but he bounced back to finish the season batting .297/.353/.446 with 101 RBI in 180 games.

After playing winter ball in Mexico, Alston returned in January 1954 to a new team, as his contract was purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals.  Alston was reportedly incredulous that he would be a teammate of Stan Musial.

The Cardinals were late to sign black players as owner Fred Saigh refused to act in the handful of years he owned the team following the signing of Robinson by the Dodgers.  Further, the Cardinals were the last major league team to abolish segregated seating in their ballpark.

After August Busch Jr. bought the team in 1953, he ordered a scout to find some black players to sign.  Busch was motivated by money rather than any liberal open-mindedness.  He saw the opportunity of selling beer from his brewery to a larger segment of baseball fans and believed black faces on the team would draw more fans of all races.

Alston had a modest debut with the Cardinals in 1954, hitting .246 with four home runs and 34 RBI.  The consensus was that Alston did not play well enough to justify the $100,000 the Cardinals paid for his contract.  He began the 1954 season platooning at first base with Steve Bilko, the incumbent first baseman.  In his first week, Alston hit two home runs, the second of which was a three-run game winner on April 18 against the Cubs.  He began playing every day, and by the end of the month the Cardinals sold Bilko to the Cubs.  Tom hit .442 in the next two weeks after Bilko was gone.

By June, Alston was slumping and the Cardinals sent him to Triple-A Rochester.  That year, Tom began hearing voices and suffering periods of debilitating fatigue.  He was treated for a thyroid ailment doctors thought caused his fatigue.  He spent most of the next two seasons in the minor leagues, appearing in only 16 games with the Cardinals, 13 in 1955 and three in 1956.

During the 1956 offseason, after hitting .306 with Omaha, Tom started hearing the voices again.  He made a suicide attempt with a razor blade to his wrist, but a law enforcement officer found him got ,him medical treatment, then sent him home.

Alston appeared in four games to begin the 1957 season, but his erratic behavior led the Cardinals to send him for medical attention.  A doctor put him in the hospital for a “nervous condition” and he received shock treatments by a psychiatrist.

After returning to the team in September, he hit 4-for-13 in the next five games.  Rather than stay in St. Louis to continue treatment, Tom decided to return home to live with his father.  He never returned to play baseball.

In 1958, Alston was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon and spent 30 days in jail.  Later that year he burned down a Methodist Church in Goshen, North Carolina.  A judge ordered a psychiatric exam and he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.  Tom spent the next eight years in a state mental hospital.  He was released in 1967 but returned two months later after he set fire to his apartment.  He was released a second time in 1969.

For the rest of his life, Alston took medication and visited mental health clinics to control his illness.  He lived in poverty, subsisting on Social Security disability benefits because he could not hold down a job due to his erratic behavior, sometimes lucid, sometimes not.

Alston was living in a nursing home in 1990 when a visit by Joe Garagiola led to Tom being invited to throw out the first pitch in a game in June.  He received a warm welcome from fans and the Cardinals arranged for him to earn some money at an autograph show.

Alston passed away from prostate cancer three years later, on December 30, 1993.  His tombstone is decorated with the Cardinals’ Birds on the Bat logo.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Where are they now? St. Louis Cardinals Pitcher P.J. Walters


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St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past – Gene Paulette

In this week’s St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past, we remember a former Cardinal whose career in St. Louis was marked by controversy with ties to one of the biggest stains on major league baseball in its history.  This first baseman played three seasons for the Cardinals, and his career ended ignominiously several years later as a result of conduct with its genesis in the underbelly of St. Louis in the early decades of the 20th Century.

Eugene Edward Paulette was born on May 26, 1891 in Centralia, Illinois, the 11th of 12 children born to Joseph and Marguerite DeServe Paulette.  Gene’s parents were French-Canadian immigrants.  During Gene’s childhood the family moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, where Joseph’s career as a railroad engineer took them.  Unlike many of his peers in the early years of the 20th Century, Gene was able to graduate from high school in Little Rock and finish one year of college.

Gene Paulette

Paulette began his baseball career on the sandlots of Little Rock, where a New York Giants scout found him in 1911.  Gene was a catcher with a good arm when he was signed to play for manager John McGraw’s Giants, but he never made an appearance behind the plate in New York, instead making his debut on June 16, 1911 as a third base defensive replacement.  Gene appeared in only 10 games during the regular season and saw no action in the 1911 World Series, which the Giants lost to the Philadelphia A’s in six games.

Gene came to the Giants’ spring training camp in 1912 but did not continue his major league career at that time.  Instead Paulette was sent to play for the Class AA Providence Grays of the International League.  Gene spent the next two seasons with the Class A Mobile Seagulls, then was sold to the Cleveland Naps in 1914, and sent to play for the Class AA Cleveland Bearcats.  During this period in the minor leagues, Gene played all over the infield but was weak at the plate.  When Paulette was sent to the Nashville Volunteers in 1915, he showed some defensive chops at first base and his hitting also improved.  He was hitting .286 with the Memphis Chickasaws in 1916, when his contract was bought by the St. Louis Browns.

Back in the big leagues, Paulette appeared in only five games for the Browns during the remainder of the 1916 season. In the first half of 1917, Gene was a utility man who appeared in only 12 games.  In June, he was placed on waivers and was picked up by the St. Louis Cardinals.  Paulette became the starting first baseman for St. Louis and hit a creditable .265 with 34 RBI.

Paulette’s career renaissance with the Cardinals also had its dark side.  His visibility in St. Louis brought him into contact with some disreputable characters in the local gambling scene.  The big boss of St. Louis gambling at that time was a man named Henry “Kid” Becker.  Two associates of Becker, Elmer Farrar and Carl Zork, entered Gene’s life during this time. The two gamblers approached the cash-strapped first baseman early in the 1919 season with the idea of engaging in game-fixing, reinforced by the reward of an indeterminate amount of cash.  Paulette communicated by letter with Farrar that he could persuade two other Cardinal players to join him in the scheme.

After two decent seasons with the Cardinals, Gene began the 1919 season poorly at the plate, hitting only .215 in 43 games.  In mid-July, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies.  Paulette’s batting numbers improved while with the Phillies and he had his best career season in 1920, hitting .288 with 36 RBI.

Paulette’s association with Farrar and Zork appeared to be known to both the Cardinals and Phillies organizations.  At some point while Gene was in Philadelphia, Phillies owner William Baker came into possession of Gene’s letter to Farrar about the potential game-fixing scheme, one that did not come to fruition because of the trade in 1919.  The two additional Cardinals Paulette promised to recruit were never identified.

In September 1920, a grand jury was called to investigate suspicions that the 1919 World Series between the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds was fixed by a group of White Sox players led by Chicago first baseman Chick Gandil, in cahoots with the gambling syndicate of Arnold Rothstein of New York.  The players were indicted but later acquitted by jurors in July 1921.  The “Black Sox” scandal led to the appointment of the first Commissioner of Baseball, Kennesaw Mountain Landis, in January 1921.  Shortly after that, the Phillies owner turned the Farrar letter over to Landis.

Landis demanded that Paulette come to meet him in March 1921, at which time Gene denied he had engaged in any misconduct with respect to Farrar, insisting he only accepted a loan from the bookmaker.  Landis was not convinced and told Gene he would require a second meeting.  In the interim, the trial for the White Sox players met with delays and other issues and Landis became otherwise occupied.  These frustrations infuriated Landis and three weeks after the first meeting, the second meeting was scheduled.  Paulette failed to appear for the required subsequent meeting, provoking Landis to take the unprecedented step of banning Gene permanently from the game of baseball.

Carl Zork, the other gambler with whom Paulette planned the game fix, was swept up in the Black Sox scandal and there were rumors that Farrar and Gene would also be charged.  Paulette was spared this further indignity, however, and managed to get himself signed to an Industrial League team in Massillon, Ohio.  He lasted only a month due to the public uproar and the threatened boycott of Massillon by other teams in the league. Gene was released by Massillon and was done with baseball at the age of 30.

Paulette returned to Little Rock and found employment with the Missouri Pacific Railroad.  Gene passed away of a heart attack on February 8, 1966 at the age of 74.  He was survived by his wife Mary, and two children, daughter Mary and son Eugene Jr.


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St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past – Ray Blades

In this week’s St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past, we remember a former player, coach and manager of the club.  He spent 10 seasons as an outfielder and seven seasons as either a coach or manager in the organization.  His coaching and managing career extended beyond his time with St. Louis to stints in that capacity with three other teams.

Ray Blades

Francis Raymond Blades was born on August 6, 1896, one of eight children of Francis Marion and Mary Magdalene Blades in McLeansboro, Illinois.  Blades’ baseball career genesis was being spotted by Branch Rickey, then the manager of the St. Louis Browns, in a sandlot game in 1913 when Ray was a teenager.  Six years later, when Rickey was managing the St. Louis Cardinals, the club traveled to Mount Vernon, Illinois to play an exhibition game against the local semipro team, the Carbuilders.  Blades played second base for the Mount Vernon team, which beat the Cardinals, 2-1.

Rickey was impressed with several players on the Carbuilders, and he signed three of them, including Blades. At that time, Ray was 23 years old and already a veteran of World War 1.  Blades was a small man, only 5’7”, weighed 163 pounds, and was a switch hitter.

Ray began his professional baseball career in 1920 with the Memphis Chicks of the Southern Association.  In 1921, he was moved to the Houston Buffaloes of the Texas League.  While with Houston, Blades abandoned switch hitting and became a right handed hitter only.

Blades was called up to St. Louis on August 18, 1922 and debuted the next day against Philadelphia in Sportsman’s Park.  Ray was hitting a league-leading .330 in Houston before the call up, and after 37 games in his rookie season with St. Louis, he batted an even .300.

Rays played second base in Houston, but his defense left a little to be desired.  He committed 142 errors over three minor league seasons, and the presence of Rogers Hornsby in St. Louis meant Blades had to change positions.  Ray tried third base but was no better defensively there than at second.  The Cardinals decided that his best shot to remain in St. Louis was to move to the outfield.

The team’s left fielder, Austin McHenry, had been sent home in June of 1922 to recover from an illness that consisted of persistent balance issues and vision problems.  He was later diagnosed with a brain tumor and passed away in November of that year.  This loss, though tragic, left an opening in the outfield that Blades filled.  After much hard work and practice, Ray became quite successful in the outfield defensively.

Ray Blades

Blades played in 98 games in 1923, then topped 100 games each season from 1924 to 1926.  His best season was 1925, in which he hit .342/.423/.535 in 462 at bats.  He reached base in 54 consecutive games in one stretch that season and was recognized as one of the best leadoff hitters in the game.

On August 17, 1926, Blades attempted to climb a fence to catch a fly ball and caught his spike in some chicken wire strung along the top of the fence.  He had to leave the game with a knee injury that ended his season and kept him out of the World Series win.  Ray had surgery on the knee in the offseason, and though the surgery was a success, he walked with a slight limp the rest of his life.

Though Blades returned for the 1927, the injury caused him to lose much of his speed and his play in the outfield, as well as at the plate, suffered.  Ray played in only 102 games across 1927 and 1928 and had just one plate appearance in the 1928 World Series.  In 1929, he was sent back to the minor leagues.

Ray returned to St. Louis in 1930 as a player-coach but did not see much action.  He had 101 at bats in 1930, and only 81 in 1931, as the Cardinals won the NL pennant both seasons.  Another outfield wall collision in 1932 shortened his season and his major league career was effectively over.  The 36-year old became player-manager of the Columbus Redbirds in 1933 and 1934, winning the Junior World Series title both years.

Ray had a temper and was suspended three times for abusive language toward umpires.  In 1935, he was suspended again for having his players stall in a game against Minneapolis.  Blades continue to manage in the minors through the 1938 season.

In November 1938, the Cardinals brought Blades up to St. Louis to succeed manager Frankie Frisch.  The Cardinals finished the 1939 season in second place behind the Cincinnati Reds with a record of 92-61.  Ray was reupped to manage in 1940, but that season did not go well, as the Cardinals fell farther and farther behind in the standings.  By June, owner Sam Breadon had had enough and fired Ray on June 7, replacing him with Billy Southworth.

Blades spent the next eight years as a coach in the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds organizations.  He replaced Charlie Dressen as third base coach for the Dodgers in 1947 and became interim manager for one game in 1948 after Leo Durocher left for the New York Giants.

Ray was removed as a coach for Brooklyn in August 1948 and assigned to scouting.  He continued with the Dodgers through the 1950 season.  That November, new St. Louis manager Marty Marion hired Blades, his first manager, as third base coach, but Blades was let go after one season.

Blades was hired as a coach/scout by the Chicago Cubs in 1953 and remained through the 1956 season, retiring from baseball entirely that October at the age of 60.  He appeared at various reunions and events for the Cardinals until he passed away at the age of 83 on May 18, 1979. He was survived by his second wife Ruth and a stepdaughter.


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St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past – Bill Sherdel

photo: Bill Sherdel

This week’s St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past recognizes the lengthy career of a left-hander notable for his slow pitching that confounded batters left and right.  A small man, reported to be 5-foot-8 and around 150 pounds, he was nicknamed “Wee Willie”.

William Henry Sherdel was born on August 15, 1896 in Midway, Pennsylvania, and grew up in nearby Hanover, the son of William and Margaret Stetzer Sherdel.  Bill was the third of four children, two boys and two girls, born to the Sherdels, who were German immigrants.

Sherdel started playing baseball on local sandlots as a catcher for his older brother Frederick.  Bill attended Hanover High School, where he pitched.  Sherdel attended Gettysburg College briefly in 1914 but left in 1915 to play baseball in the newly formed Class D Blue Ridge League.  As a pitcher for the Hanover Hornets, the 18-year old Sherdel posted a record of 15-3 in 77 games.  Known as the “Marvel of the Blue Ridge League,” Bill returned to pitch for Hanover the next season, winning 14 games.

A scout for the Milwaukee Brewers, then a minor league team in the American Association, purchased Sherdel’s contract in August 1916.  Bill was a fastball pitcher in Hanover but developed a “slowball” (changeups and slow curveballs) in Milwaukee to better overpower the more veteran hitters in the American Association.

Bill Sherdel

The development of his slowball in Milwaukee was a setback for Sherdel in his first season with the Brewers.  Enmeshed in a 10-game losing streak to begin the 1917 season, Bill was in danger of being sold to a Class A team in Little Rock.  As luck would have it, Cardinals president Branch Rickey was in Milwaukee to scout another player and spotted Sherdel.  Rickey offered to purchase Sherdel for the same price as the Brewers would get from Little Rock, provided Bill was allowed to finish the season in Milwaukee.  The Brewers agreed and Sherdel ended the season on a hot streak with 11 consecutive wins and a team high 19 for the year.

Sherdel debuted with the Cardinals on April 22, 1918 in a 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Bill pitched a scoreless inning of relief, giving up two hits. On April 28, he made his first start, pitching in an eight inning rain shortened game against the Reds.  Bill earned his first big league win in that 4-2 victory in Cincinnati.

The 1918 season was played with the threat of war looming.  Sherdel reported to the draft board in July for a physical and after his return, things went south as he ended the month with a 2-10 record.  He bounced back in August, the final month of the season, posting a 1.00 ERA in 54 innings.

The 1919 season began with Rickey acting as manager. In 1920, Sam Breadon bought the club and the team moved from Robison Field to Sportsman’s Park.  From 1919 to 1921, Sherdel pitched primarily out of the bullpen with stints as a spot starter along the way.  He averaged 39 games and 151 innings during that period.  Sherdel led the league in saves with six in 1920

Bill broke out in 1922 with 31 starts over 242 innings pitched, but he struggled in 1923, as his ERA ballooned to 4.32 in 225 innings.  Rickey actively shopped him during the offseason, but a potential trade to the Boston Braves fell through.  In his first start in 1924 against the Chicago Cubs, Sherdel gave up 16 hits in a 7-4 loss.  Rickey sent Bill back to the bullpen, and he finished the season with only 10 starts in 35 appearances.

Rickey was removed as manager in 1925 after a 13-25 start, replaced as skipper by Rogers Hornsby.  Bill blossomed under Hornsby, and from June to the end of the season, Bill was the ace starter, finishing the season with a 15-6 record and an ERA of 3.11.  His .714 winning percentage led the league.

Sherdel’s 1926 was inconsistent, but he pitched well in important games.  Bill’s sixth win was on August 19 against the Brooklyn Robins, a win that put the Cardinals in a tie with the Pirates.  On September 24, Sherdel relieved starter Flint Rhem after one inning.  Bill allowed only seven hits and one run in eight innings against the Giants to clinch the pennant.

Bill was named the Game 1 starter in the World Series against the Yankees.  He walked three of the first four batters, but then surrendered only six hits and two runs in seven innings.  The Cardinals nevertheless lost the game 2-1.  Game 5 was a comedy of errors.  A collision between Chick Hafey and Taylor Douthit and a misplayed Lou Gehrig fly ball by shortstop Tommy Thevenow led to a 2-2 tie.  In the 10th inning, Sherdel intentionally walked Gehrig but the maneuver backfired, and the Cardinals lost 3-2.  The Cardinals came back to win Games 6 and 7 to take the series, however, despite the woes of Sherdel.

Bill had strong seasons in 1927 and 1928 under new manager Bill McKechnie (Hornsby had been traded to the Giants in the 1926 offseason).  The Cardinals once again faced the Yankees in the 1928 World Series.  In Game 4, Sherdel faced Babe Ruth, and quick pitched him (the quick pitch was legal in the NL but not the AL and was therefore banned in the Series).  The pitch was a strike, but the umpire made no call as he ruled that he had called time. An angry Sherdel sent Ruth a fastball on the next pitch which Ruth blistered over the fence in right field to tie the game.  Gehrig followed with a home run and Sherdel was done.  The Cardinals lost the game 7-3 to give the Yankees the 4-0 series win, and Bill was tagged with the loss.

Sherdel’s 1929 season did not go well.  He finished with a record of 10-15 and a career high ERA of 5.93.  In June of 1930, Sherdel was traded to the Boston Braves for Burleigh Grimes. After a year and a half in Boston, Bill was released by the Braves in May of 1932 and signed with the Cardinals as a free agent.  He pitched in only three games for the Cardinals before being sent to the Rochester Red Wings to end his 15-year baseball career.

Sherdel returned to Pennsylvania, where he operated a diner and also served as a bartender.  He remained a local hero of sorts, pitching in local semipro and town leagues.  He and his wife Marguerite raised two children.

In 1962, the ailing Sherdel (his leg was amputated the previous year) was honored by the St. Louis BBWAA with the Brian P. Burnes Nostalgia Award.

Sherdel passed away on November 18, 1968 from cerebral anoxia at the age of 70.  He was inducted posthumously in 1977 into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.


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St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past – George Dockins

photo: George Dockins

This week’s St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past recollects a left handed pitcher who spent five seasons in the minor leagues before getting his chance.  This southpaw pitched one strong rookie season in St. Louis, but arm troubles were his downfall.

George Woodrow Dockins was born May 5, 1917 in Clyde, Kansas, one of four children born to Joseph and Ida Moffatt Dockins.  George’s education ended after eighth grade, but a love of baseball in his youth led him to his future in the sport.

George Dockins

Cardinals general manager Branch Rickey signed Dockins to a professional baseball contract in 1939.  He began his career with the Class D Hamilton (Ontario) Red Wings of the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League (PONY).  In his debut, Dockins posted a record of 15-5 with an ERA of 2.93 in 29 games.

George spent his next two seasons with the Mobile Shippers of the Class B Southeastern League.  In 1941, Dockins won 20 games and was the league’s top pitcher with a record of 20-6 and an ERA of 2.05.  He tossed 233 innings that season, his career high.

In 1942, Dockins was promoted to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings of the International League, but after a lackluster start, he was sent down to the Double-A New Orleans Pelicans of the Southern League.  George went 14-5 in New Orleans, with only 20 walks in 160 innings pitched.

Dockins was added to the Cardinals winter roster in September 1942.  He was expected to make the big league club to start 1943, and was pegged by the Associated Press as one of the Cardinals best rookie pitching bets for 1943.  Instead, George pitched for the Cardinals new Double-A affiliate, the Columbus Red Birds, having been optioned there subject to 24 hour recall.  That call to the big leagues did not come that season.  He won 16 games in Columbus and was named to the league’s All Star team.

In 1944, Dockins was placed on the voluntary retired list with a sore left elbow.  The next season, his elbow remained sore but the Cardinals took a chance and put him on the big league roster, anyway.  After a couple of moderately successful outings, he left the team for two weeks for treatment of his elbow, returning at the end of May.

Dockins pitched in relief throughout June and most of July.  A 6 2/3 inning relief outing on June 23 earned George his second win of the season.  Following six shutout relief innings against the Dodgers on July 22, St. Louis manager Billy Southworth decided to try Dockins as a starter.  In his first start on July 29, he pitched a complete game for a 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Two more complete game victories followed against the Pirates and the New York Giants on August 3 and August 8.  The outing on August 8 was a six-hit shutout.

On September 1, Dockins picked up his fourth complete game win against the Cubs in Sportsman’s Park.    He won his eighth game of the season against the Boston Braves on September 7, yielding only three hits and one walk.

The Cardinals ended the 1945 season in second place, three games back of the Cubs.  George posted a record of 8-6 with a 3.21 ERA in 31 games, 12 as a starter.

In April 1946, Branch Rickey, then with the Brooklyn Dodgers, picked up the pitcher he originally signed for the Cardinals on waivers for $7,500.  Rickey had been impressed with George’s effectiveness against his Dodgers and against the Cubs.  Unfortunately, Dockins’ arm troubles returned, and he was optioned to the Fort Worth Cats, the Dodgers Double-A affiliate, on May 1 without having thrown a pitch for Brooklyn.  He left for arm treatment after his second start and did not return to Fort Worth until mid-July.  Once he returned, however, he pitched well, finishing the season with a 12-6 record and a 2.16 ERA.

The sore arm returned to start the 1947 and he once again was put on the voluntary retired list.  George was well enough by June to apply for reinstatement.  His Dodgers debut on June 29 did not go well, as Dockins gave up consecutive home runs in the eighth inning in a 9-5 loss to the New York Giants.  George made only three more appearances as a mop-up man, with his final major league appearance during an 11-3 loss to the Cardinals on August 19.

Dockins spent the 1948 and 1949 seasons back in Fort Worth.  Realizing he was not likely to make a major league team again with his arm issues, George retired from baseball in March 1950 at the age of 32.

Dockins returned to his hometown of Clyde, Kansas, working in several occupations before retiring from Hutchinson Manufacturing Company in 1980.  He was named to the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame in 1959.  George passed away on January 22, 1997 at the age of 79.  He was survived by his wife Lucy, his son Kenneth, and two grandchildren.


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St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past – Ted Wilks

photo: Ted Wilks

In this week’s St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past, we remember a pitcher who was a late bloomer, but after an arm injury ended his starting career, he turned into one of the best relief pitchers in the National League.

Theodore (Ted) Wilks was born on November 13, 1915 in Fulton, New York, the middle child of three born to Thomas and Rekla Wilks.  The Wilks were polish immigrants and made a living working in a local factory. Ted and his family lived in factory-owned housing and were of modest means.

Ted Wilks

Ted attended Fulton High School and pitched for his school’s baseball team.  When his parents became ill, Ted had to quit school after two years to help support the family.  Wilks didn’t quit baseball, however, and pitched for a local semipro team.  His coach was a former catcher from the New York Yankees 1926 team named Honey Barnes.  Barnes helped Ted learn to pitch with more speed and better control.

In 1937 Wilks went to a tryout camp for the Rochester Red Wings of the American Association, an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Cardinals signed him, and he played for the Red Wings in the spring of 1938.  Wilks was 22 years old.

Wilks was assigned to the Houston Buffaloes mid-season in 1938.  He was primarily a relief pitcher at that time.  Ted pitched in Houston until 1942, and was known for consistency and remarkable control.

Wilks was promoted to the Columbus Red Wings in 1942 and posted the league’s second best ERA of 2.41 and won 12 games.  Ted was invited to St. Louis’ spring training camp in 1943 but was sent back to Columbus to start the season.

Ted was not invited to spring camp in 1944, but when the Cardinals lost several pitchers to the war, Wilks was called up as a replacement. He had been designated 4-F by the military as unfit for service because of chronic stomach ulcers.  He made his major league debut on April 25, 1944 at the age of 28 as a reliever in a 10-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.  Ted made his first start five days later, pitching a complete game in a 7-5 win over the Chicago Cubs in Sportsman’s Park.

Wilks pitched out of the bullpen for the next two months, but again got his chance to start when Red Munger was called for military service in July.  He made 18 starts, of which 15 were complete games, and won 14.  He posted an ERA of 2.67 in 167 innings.  On August 6, a line drive struck Wilks in the ear and bounced 40 feet in the air.  Teammate Whitey Kurowski caught the ball.  Ted spent the night in the hospital but was back for his next start.  He ended the 1944 season with a 17-4 record and a 2.64 ERA, tying Giants pitcher Bill Voiselle as the best rookie pitcher in the league.

Wilks’ second season started badly and ended worse. He developed elbow problems early and was effectively shut down midseason.  In the offseason, Ted had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow.

Wilks did not bounce back from surgery as he had hoped.  His first few starts were poor and he complained of discomfort.  At that point, new manager Eddie Dyer decided to convert Wilks to a reliever. In 1946, Ted posted an 8-0 record, the NL’s longest winning streak that season.  The Cardinals won the World Series – the second time in two years.  Wilks made only one appearance in the Series, in the Game Three loss to the Red Sox.

Ted pitched only 50 1/3 innings in 1947, as his elbow discomfort returned.  In the offseason, Wilks lost 40 pounds and reported to spring camp in the best shape of his life.  The lost weight, mostly in his upper half, put less pressure on his arm.  He posted a record of 6-6 with a career best ERA of 2.62 in 57 appearances in 1948.  His 1.91 ERA in the first half earned him an invitation to the All-Star Game.

In 1949, Ted led the league in saves with nine (saves was an unofficial stat at that time).  Catcher Joe Garagiola is credited with giving Wilks his nickname “The Cork”, a nod to all the rallies he stopped.  The Sporting News dubbed Ted “the best reliever in baseball” during a dominating stretch in the middle of 1949.  The season didn’t end as well, as he suffered bone spurs in his right heel, requiring offseason surgery, and a recurrence of elbow issues.

Another surgery for bone chips left Ted on the sidelines for most of the 1950 season.  Wilks began the 1951 season on a provisional contract with the Cardinals, and on June 15, was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates along with Garagiola, infielder Dick Cole, outfielder Bill Howerton, and pitcher Howie Pollet.  The Cardinals received pitcher Cliff Chambers and utility player Wally Westlake in return.

Wilks again topped the league in saves in 1951 with 13. He also made a league-leading 65 appearances and posted a 2.86 ERA.  In 1952, the Pirates were well on their way to one of the worst seasons in major league history (finishing with a record of 42-112 eventually) and Wilks was traded on August 18 to the Cleveland Indians.  Ted made only seven appearances with the Indians in 1952, and four in 1953.  He was placed on waivers in August 1953, two months short of qualifying for a full pension.  He was sent to the Indians’ Indianapolis farm team, where he finished the season.  Ted never made it back to the major leagues.

Wilks became a player-coach for Indianapolis in 1954 and 1955.  His pitching career ended in 1956 after a stint as player-coach for the Austin Senators of the Texas League.  He continued to coach with various clubs until 1961, when he retired from baseball.

Ted returned to his family, wife Sophie and two children, in Houston, where they had lived since the late 1940s.  He got a job with the Harris County Sheriff’s office and he retired again in 1978.  Wilks passed away on August 21, 1989 at the age of 73.


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St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past – Taylor Douthit

photo: Taylor Douthit

This week’s Blast from the Past takes the reader to the era before the Gashouse Gang to the decade in which the St. Louis Cardinals won their first World Series title. The subject is an outfielder who was not only considered one of baseball’s top defensive outfielders in his time, but still today, ranks first among all major league outfielders all time in range factor.

Taylor Lee Douthit was born on April 22, 1901 in Little Rock Arkansas as the eldest child of Abram Lee Douthit and Annie Taylor Douthit. When Taylor was 17 months old, his family moved to Oakland, California.

After a growth spurt, Douthit started playing baseball in his senior year at Oakland Technical High School. That season, the outfielder and his team won the 1919 state championship.

At the University of California at Berkeley, Douthit earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture. He was an outfielder on the varsity team and hit .400+ his senior year, 1923. A professor of history at Berkeley, Charles Chapman, was also a part-time scout for Branch Rickey, then manager of the Cardinals. Chapman persuaded Rickey to offer Douthit a contract. The 22-year old signed on the dotted line 10 days after his graduation.

Douthit was initially assigned to Fort Smith (Arkansas) in the Class C Western Association. In 94 games, the right-handed batter hit .304, which earned him a call up to St. Louis in September. He debuted on September 14, 1923, singling to center and scoring a run in the Cardinals’ 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Sportsman’s Park.

Taylor Douthit

Douthit was reassigned to Class A St. Joseph (Missouri) in 1924. The agreement to send him down included a recall, but the Cardinals failed to do so by the stipulated deadline. This error allowed Douthit’s contract to become the property of the minor league club and made him eligible to offers from other major league teams. The business manager of the St. Joseph Club, Warren Giles, did the Cardinals a favor, however, and allowed St. Louis to recall him for less than offers received from other major league clubs.

Later, Rickey rewarded Giles by hiring him to run the Cardinals top farm teams – the Syracuse Stars (1926-27), and the Rochester Red Wings (1928-36).  Giles went on to become the general manager of the Cincinnati Reds, and eventually the president of the National League.

Douthit spent most of 1925 at Class AA Milwaukee and was again called up in September. Douthit dazzled in center field and made the team out of spring training in 1926. He was the backup to the regular in center, Heinie Mueller. On May 6, manager Rogers Hornsby started Douthit in center field, and he remained there the rest of the season. He led the National League in outfield putouts that season with 440. Douthit hit .308 with 52 RBI, stole 23 bases and scored 96 runs. He also led the NL that season in sacrifice hits with 37.

The Cardinals won the pennant in 1926, and Douthit, batting in the leadoff spot, hit .321 with a .390 OBP. In the World Series against the Yankees, he was injured in the fourth inning of Game 4 in a collision with left fielder Chick Hafey. Douthit stayed in the game but was injured enough to miss the rest of the Series.

1926 St. Louis Cardinals

(Douthit is at the far right of the center row)

The remainder of Douthit’s Cardinals career was marked by inconsistency. 1927 became his worst season but he returned in 1928 to play in all 154 games. He led the league in plate appearances with 752 and set the major league record for putouts in a single season with 547, a record that still stands. The Cardinals won the pennant the 1928 but lost the Series to the Yankees. Douthit hit only 1-for-11 and made a critical fielding blunder in Game 3.

The center fielder had solid seasons in 1929 and 1930, but once again slumped in the World Series in 1930, which the Cardinals lost to the Philadelphia Athletics in six games. Rumors swirled that Douhit’s days as a Cardinal were numbered, despite owner Sam Breadon’s denials.

(Douthit is second from the right in the front row)

Douthit got off to a slow start in 1931, then injured his hip. He was replaced by Pepper Martin, who took advantage of his opportunity to shine. When the June 15 trade deadline arrived, Douthit was shipped off to Cincinnati for outfielder Wally Roettger and cash.

Douthit played for the Reds through the 1932 season but was claimed by the Chicago Cubs off waivers in April 1933. That June, the Cubs traded him to the Kansas City Blues, a minor league team in the American Association.  Douthit chose to retire from baseball rather than return to the minors.

He left the game entirely, returning to California to work at his family’s insurance and real estate company. Two years later he became a full-time partner and the firm name was changed to Douthit Insurance Agency. The firm was sold in 1970.

Douthit passed away in Fremont, California on May 28, 1986 at the age of 85.


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Cardinals Blast from the Past – Whitey Kurowski

This week’s Blast from the Past takes a look at another St. Louis Cardinals standout from the decade of the 1940s.  This third baseman played his entire nine-year major league career with St. Louis.  Arm issues ended his playing days at the age of 31.

George John “Whitey” Kurowski was born on April 19, 1918 in Reading, Pennsylvania.  He was the sixth of 10 children born to Anthony and Victoria Kurowski.  When George was seven years old, he fell off a fence and cut his right arm on a pile of broken glass.  The cut became infected and in turn he came down with osteomyelitis, which is an infection of the bone.  Doctors removed four inches of infected bone and muscle in order to save the arm from amputation.  The result was a right arm that was several inches shorter than the left as he grew into adulthood.

Whitey Kurowski

Kurowski’s father was a coal miner, and his older brother was killed in a mine cave-in when George was a teenager.  He wanted nothing to do with the mines and turned to baseball.  Kurowski played the game in high school and in American Legion ball, but after high school he didn’t get any offers because scouts were leery of his shortened arm.  The manager of the Cardinals Class D Northeast Arkansas League affiliate finally gave 19-year old George a shot in 1937.

George obtained his nickname “Whitey” early in life because his hair turned prematurely white.  Whitey hit for a .339 batting average in his first year of professional baseball.  The next year, with the Portsmouth Red Birds of the Mid-Atlantic League, he topped the Class C circuit in batting average (.386), hits (209) and runs scored (133).

Kurowski played for the Rochester Red Wings of the Triple-A International League for the next three seasons.  During the St. Louis’ 1941 pennant race, Kurowski was called up.  At the age of 23, Whitey made his major league debut on September 23, 1941, a week after teammate Stan Musial.

Kurowski began spring training with the Cardinals in 1942, but had to leave to make funeral arrangements for his father, who died of a heart attack.  After his return to camp, Whitey landed the starting third base job over veteran Jimmy Brown.

The Cardinals won the pennant and played the Yankees in the 1942 World Series.  Kurowski became the hero when his deciding home run in the ninth inning of Game 5 off future Hall of Famer Red Ruffing broke a 2-2 tie.

Kurowski was an integral part of that championship dynasty which went on to win the World Series again in 1944 and 1946.  Whitey was considered one of the best third baseman in baseball during that time and was an All-Star in every season except 1945, when the Game was suspended due to World War II.  He hit more than 20 home runs in three seasons to set a major league record for third basemen, and batted over .300 three times.  Other accomplishments included leading the National League in putouts three times, fielding percentage twice, and double plays once.  He received MVP votes in  five years.

When several other Cardinals left to play for the Mexican League before the 1946 season because of a salary dispute with owner Sam Breadon, Whitey refused to follow, as he felt honor bound to his contract with St. Louis.  Kurowski urged other players to do the same and no more players left the team.  The Cardinals won the pennant and the World Series that year, beating the Red Sox in seven games.

Whitey Kurowski

Kurowski’s best season was 1947, when he slashed .310/.420/.544 in with 27 home runs and 104 RBI.  The home runs and RBI, plus 108 runs scored and 87 walks, were all career highs.  It also turned out to be Kurowski’s last full season, as his right arm began to give him serious problems.  He developed a pinched nerve and muscle damage that required 13 surgeries.  That led to Kurowski playing in only 77 games in 1948 and hitting only .214.

Whitey spent most of the 1949 season in the minor leagues trying to rehab his arm.  He played in only 10 games for the Cardinals that season, and his playing career was at an end at the age of 31.

Kurowski’s time in baseball was not over, however, as he began a second, even longer career starting in 1950 as a minor league manager and coach.  Kurowski worked for the Cardinals organization for a decade before joining the newly-created New York Mets organization.  Whitey continued in baseball until 1972, when he retired and returned to Pennsylvania.

Kurowski passed away on December 9, 1999 at the age of 81.  He was survived by his wife Joan, four children, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.


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Cardinals Blast from the Past – Walker Cooper

photo: Walker Cooper

In the fourth week of The Cardinal Nation’s Blast from the Past solo series, we move up a decade into the 1940’s and introduce you to an eight-time All-Star catcher who both started and ended his baseball career with the St. Louis Cardinals.

William Walker Cooper was born on January 8, 1915 in Atherton, Missouri to Robert J. Cooper and Verne Frasier Cooper.  He was the third of six children. His older brother, Mort Cooper, pitched for St. Louis and served as his battery mate during most of his five seasons as a Cardinal.

Walker and Mort Cooper

Cooper’s professional baseball career began in the Cardinals farm system.  Signed as an amateur free agent in 1935, Cooper bounced around on various minor league teams in both the Texas League and the Pacific Coast League from 1935 through much of the 1940 season.  Cooper was finally called up to the big league club on September 25, 1940 at the age of 25.  The story is that in his first big league at bat, Cooper complained to the umpire, Beans Reardon, about the first pitch he saw.  He played in six games that season, hitting .316 in 19 at bats.

Walker Cooper

Cooper suffered a broken collarbone during the 1941 season and was only able to play in 68 games.  He hit only .245 during that time, in 200 at bats.

In 1942, Cooper bounced back with an All-Star season, slashing .281/.327/.434 in 438 at bats.  That August 30th, Cooper caught Lon Warneke’s no-hitter.   He finished the season among the top ten in the National league in slugging, doubles, and triples while helping to lead the Cardinals to the National League pennant. Cooper hit .286 in the World Series, including driving in the winning run in Game 4 against the Yankees.  The Cardinals defeated New York for their first World Series title in eight years.

Cooper was again an All-Star in 1943 and finished second in the Most Valuable Player vote to teammate Stan Musial. Cooper hit .318 that season, his career high, finished third in the National League in slugging and fifth in RBI.  The Cardinals repeated as National League pennant winners but lost the World Series to the Yankees.

The Cardinals won another World Series title in 1944.  Cooper finished the regular season with a line of .317/.354/.504 with 13 home runs and 72 RBI.  He hit .318 in the World Series against cross town rivals the St. Louis Browns and scored the first run in the Game 6 clincher, which the Cardinals won, 3-1.

Cooper’s Cardinals career was interrupted by service in World War II in 1945.  He played in only four games, from April 17-22 before leaving to serve in the Navy.  Before he could return for the 1946 season, a salary dispute with the front office led to his contract being sold to the New York Giants in January 1946 for $175,000 (more than $2 million in today’s dollars). This was a cash only transaction; no other players were involved.

Cooper had his best offensive season with the Giants in 1947, hitting 35 home runs and driving in 122 runs.  He was an All-Star in each of his first four seasons with New York, from 1946-1949.  The Giants traded Cooper in June 1949 to the Cincinnati Reds.  Three weeks later, on July 6, Cooper became the only catcher in major league history to record 10 RBI in a single game.

The Reds dealt Cooper to the Boston Braves in May 1950.  On August 11, 1950, Cooper caught his second no-hitter, this one thrown by Vern Bickford.  Cooper remained with the Braves through their move to Milwaukee in 1953.

Cooper signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1954 but was placed on waivers in May and claimed by the Chicago Cubs.  He played as a backup catcher and pinch hitter for the Cubs through the 1955 season.

Walker Cooper

Cooper returned to the Cardinals in 1956 and played his final two major league seasons with St. Louis before ending his playing career in October 1957.  Cooper’s daughter Sara married teammate Don Blasingame in 1960, leading Cooper to reportedly say, “You know you are getting too old when your daughter marries one of your teammates.”

Walker was considered one of the top catchers in baseball during the 1940’s and early 1950’s.  He led all NL catchers in range factor three times, and twice in caught stealing percentage.  At the time he retired, Cooper ranked 10th in the NL in games played (1,223) and putouts (5,166).  He also set a record by hitting grand slams with five different teams (a record later tied by Dave Kingman and Dave Winfield).

After his playing days ended, Cooper became a manager in the minor leagues for the Indianapolis Indians (1958-59) and the Dallas-Fort Worth Rangers (1961) and coached with the Kansas City Athletics in 1960.

Cooper was on the Hall of Fame ballot for 10 years starting in 1968, but never received as much as 15 percent of the vote. He passed away on April 11, 1991 in Scottsdale, Arizona.


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Cardinals Blast from the Past – Ripper Collins

photo: Ripper Collins

The third installment in our Blast from the Past solo series introduces you to another member of the “Gashouse Gang” of the 1930s era St. Louis Cardinals.  This first baseman first played for the Cardinals, then went on to the Cubs, and finally ended his career in Pittsburgh.

Ripper Collins

James Anthony Collins was born on March 30, 1904 in Altoona, Pennsylvania.  Collins was the oldest of three children born to William and Elizabeth Collins.  The family moved to Johnstown, Pennsylvania when James was a child in elementary school.  His father William played semipro baseball and young James wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps after watching him play.  Collins practiced his father’s craft when he could and would often field ground balls off a basement wall.

Collins dropped out of school at the age of 14 and took a job in the shipping department of the coal mine where his father worked.  His father played baseball on the company team and the son soon joined him, with Jimmy in center field and his father in left field.  William Collins taught his son how to switch hit, which he continued to do throughout his baseball career.

Collins took on the nickname “Ripper” when a ball he hit struck a nail protruding from the outfield fence.  The nail caused a partial tear in the cover of the ball, a “rip” if you will.  When retrieving the ball, the opposing outfielder was asked who hit it. His reply was, “It was the ripper”.

Collins began playing minor league ball in 1922 and continued off and on in that journey until 1930.  While with the Rochester Red Wings, a long time Cardinals farm club, Collins’ prowess with the bat (.376 average with 40 home runs in 1930) was noticed and in 1931, he was called up to the big league club.

Collins made his major league debut on April 18, 1931 with St. Louis. He played in 89 games at first base that season as the backup to future Hall of Famer Jim Bottomley.  Collins appeared in 149 games in 1932.  The Cardinals were happy enough with Collins’ performance that they traded Bottomley to Cincinnati prior to the 1933 season.

Ripper Collins, Pepper Martin, Jack Rothrock

Ripper’s breakout season was in 1934.  He played in all 154 games to lead the National League.  He also led the NL in home runs with 35 (tied with Mel Ott), and in slugging and OPS, with .615 and 1.008, respectively.  Collins became the first switch hitter to hit 30 home runs in a season.  That record was surpassed by Mickey Mantle in 1955.  The Cardinals won the pennant and the 1934 World Series, where Collins hit .367.

Collins was an active prankster and a member of the The Mudcat Band, a group started by Pepper Martin.  Collins’ performances included singing on KMOX Radio in St. Louis.

Frenchy Bordagaray, Bill McGee, Ripper Collins, Pepper Martin (seated), Bob Weiland (rear)

Collins also began writing a series of articles for the local St. Louis newspaper during the 1934 pennant race.  The articles provided baseball news and commentary from his roommate, Pepper Martin.  After striking out in one game, his manager, Frankie Frisch, told him, “Next time, swing your typewriter”.

In 1935, Collins hit career home run number 74, which was the major league record for switch hitters at that time.  On August 21, Collins played an entire game at first base without a putout.

Collins’ playing time with the Cardinals dwindled in 1936 with the arrival of Johnny Mize, who played in 129 games at first base that season.  Following the 1936 season, the Cardinals traded Collins to the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Lon Warneke (the subject of last week’s Blast from the Past).

Collins played for the Cubs through the 1938 season and then was sold to the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League.  Collins returned to the major leagues in 1941 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, for whom he played in 49 games.  That would be Collins’ finale in major league baseball, as he was released at the end of the season.  In four of his nine big-league seasons, Collins hit over .300 and his 135 home runs led all MLB switch-hitters until Mantle’s success.

Collins became a player-manager of the Albany Senators of the Eastern League, where he remained through the 1944 season, then became the manager only until November 1946.  Collins managed the Pacific Coast League San Diego Padres for one season. His final managerial stint was with the Hartford Chiefs of the Eastern League for the 1949 and 1950 seasons.

Collins left managing to go into broadcasting as a color commentator in Baltimore. He became a roving minor league instructor for the Cubs in the early 1960s.  His final job in professional baseball was as a scout for the Cardinals.  He remained in that position until his death.  In the spring of 1969 Collins suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized.  On April 15, 1970, Collins passed away of a fatal heart attack in New Haven, New York at the age of 66.


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Cardinals Blast from the Past – Meet Lon Warneke

photo: Lon Warneke

In the second installment of our solo Blast from the Past series, we introduce you to Lon Warneke, a pitcher who played for the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals in his 15-year major league career.  Warneke appeared in two World Series for the Cubs and spun a no-hitter while with the Cardinals.

Lonnie Warneke was born March 28, 1909 in Owley, Arkansas.  Owley was a farming community that consisted of 15 families, located six miles south of Mount Ida, the county seat of Montgomery County.  Warneke was born the fourth of five children to Louis and Martha Warneke.  He learned to play baseball during his elementary school days, but upon entering high school, he was denied a spot on the baseball team because he was not considered good enough. Warneke persisted and made the team the following year, initially playing first base.  During the summer of 1927, as Warneke played for the Mount Ida town team, the manager decided to try him as a pitcher.  He proceeded to strike out five of the six best opposing hitters.

Warneke made his way into professional baseball through his sister Kate, a beautician in Houston, Texas.  One of Kate’s customers was the wife of Fred Ankenman, the president of the Houston Buffaloes, a Class A farm team of the Cardinals. Kate told Mrs. Ankenman about her brother who played baseball, and the message was relayed to Mr. Ankenman.

Warneke decided to move to Houston and live with his sister and her husband for the purpose of attempting to get a tryout with the Buffaloes.  Eventually Warneke met the manager of the Buffaloes, Frank Snyder, and convinced him to give him a trial at first base.  Snyder was not impressed with his infielding skills but asked him to pitch instead.  Snyder liked what Warneke had to offer on the mound and signed him to a contract.  He was just 19 years old.

Lon Warneke

Warneke was sent to play for a team in Laurel, Mississippi, where he pitched a couple of games before being released.  He went to Shreveport, Louisiana and was signed to pitch for a team in Alexandria that was affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds. Warneke finished the 1928 season there and returned for 1929.  At the end of that season, the Chicago Cubs bought his contract for $7,500.

Warneke made his major league debut with the Cubs on April 18, 1930.  He played for Chicago from 1930-1936, and then again from 1942-1945 with a year off in 1944 to serve in the military in a civilian supporting role during World War II.  Warneke posted a record of 109-72 with an ERA of 2.84 in his 10 seasons with the Cubs.  He pitched in two World Series, 1932 and 1935, was named the outstanding National League pitcher in 1932 and was named to three All-Star Games while with Chicago.

Lon Warneke

In October 1936, the Cubs traded Warneke to the Cardinals for infielder Ripper Collins and pitcher Roy Parmalee.  It was an unpopular trade with Cubs fans.

In his first season with the Cardinals, in 1937, Warneke posted a record of 18-11 with an ERA of 4.53.  In six St. Louis seasons, he posted a record of 83-49 with an ERA of 3.67.  He was named to two more All-Star teams, in 1939 and 1941.  On August 30, 1941, Warneke pitched a no-hitter in a 2-0 shutout of the Cincinnati Reds.

Lon Warneke (right)

A sportswriter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Roy Stockton, dubbed Warneke “The Arkansas Hummingbird” due to his darting fastball.  It was a nickname that stuck.  He fit right in with the Cardinals, joining a band assembled by Pepper Martin called the “Mississippi Mudcats”. Warneke played guitar along with Martin, Bob Wieland, Frenchy Bordagaray, Bill McGee, and Max Lanier.

In 1940, Warneke was recruited for umpire duties when a rescheduled rained out game against the Reds had no umpires because National League President Ford Frick neglected to assign any.  One umpire was found preparing to board a train, but two more were needed, so one player from each team was selected to assist.  Warneke was the Cardinals’ choice.

The Cardinals traded Warneke back to the Cubs on July 18, 1942.  After returning from his stint in the military, he pitched for Chicago starting in June 1945 but retired at the end of the season.

Warneke became an umpire for the Pacific Coast League from 1946-48, then in the National League from 1949 through 1955.  He umpired in the 1952 All-Star Game and the 1954 World Series.

Warneke returned to Arkansas and became a businessman and then county judge of Garland County, Arkansas from 1963 to 1972.  He passed away on June 23, 1976 at his home in Hot Springs, Arkansas.


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Cardinals Blast from the Past – Meet Clyde Shoun

photo: Clyde Shoun

Our Monday St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past feature here at The Cardinal Nation goes solo for awhile as we wait for baseball to reconvene when the time is appropriate and safe.

The series will introduce readers to old time Cardinal players, ones who most fans have likely never heard of.  The first of these old timers is a pitcher named Clyde Shoun, who played for five teams in his 15-year baseball career, including St. Louis, of course.

Clyde Shoun

Clyde Mitchell Shoun was born on March 20, 1912 in Mountain City, Tennessee.  He was the fifth of 13 children, four of whom died in infancy.  Shoun was nicknamed “Hardrock”, perhaps because of his fastball.  Clyde’s brother Miles, also known as “Slim”, played professional basketball for the Firestone Rubber company team, prior to the founding of the NBA.

Shoun pitched for some local teams before reaching the pros.  His first year as a professional was with a semi-pro team in South Carolina’s Textile League in 1934.  The left-hander was signed by the Birmingham Barons of the Southern Association in 1935 and he pitched very well, so well that his contract was purchased by the Chicago Cubs in the latter part of the season. He debuted with the Cubs on August 7, 1935.  Shoun tossed two innings in his debut, a game the Cubs lost to Pittsburgh, 6-0.  He made his first start that August 19 against the Phillies.

Shoun began 1936 with the Cubs but was sent back to Birmingham in May.  He returned to the major leagues for good in 1937 and finished that season with a record of 7-7 and an ERA of 5.61.

In 1938, Shoun went to Spring Training with the Cubs, but before the season began the Cubs traded him to the Cardinals.  The Cubs received Dizzy Dean in return.  Along with Shoun, the Cubs sent two other players and $185,000 in cash to St. Louis, representing one of the largest cash transactions in baseball to that point.

Shoun started 12 games for the Cardinals in 1938, then was primarily used out of the bullpen the remainder of the season.  He posted a record of 6-6 with a 4.41 ERA. In 1939, Shoun was again mostly deployed out of the bullpen, leading National League pitchers in games (53), games finished (25) and saves (9).  He led league hurlers in games again in 1940 with 54.  Shoun also made two starts in 1939 and 19 in 1940.

Shoun’s playing time was diminished in 1941 due to injury.  In 1942, he pitched in only two games before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds.

It was with Cincinnati that Shoun reached his career pinnacle – but very few saw it. On May 15, 1944, in front of just 1,014 fans at Crosley Field, the lefty tossed a no-hitter against the Boston Braves. Had it not been for a lone third-inning walk to the opposing pitcher, Shoun would have completed a perfect game. It is reportedly the sparsest crowd to see an MLB no-hitter in at least the last century.

Shoun remained with the Reds, with a hiatus for service in the Navy late in World War II, until the 1947 season, when dealt to the Boston Braves.  Shoun’s final MLB season was in 1949, when he was traded to the Chicago White Sox and later released. He returned to Triple-A to finish 1949 and remained at the highest minor league level until he concluded his playing career in 1951.

Following baseball, Shoun returned to Mountain City where he farmed tobacco and owned a commercial dog kennel.  He had two daughters with his first wife Anna.

Shoun passed away on his 56th birthday, March 20, 1968 in a veteran’s center in Johnson City, Tennessee.


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of March 9 – 15

photo: Paul DeJong (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals finished the first part of spring training with a 10-9-1 record before the players dispersed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Stats leaders include Paul DeJong, Kwang-Hyun Kim and Tyler Webb. Our history feature highlights past MLB interruptions and a Cardinal who passed away in a prior pandemic.


Spring training game recaps

Monday, March 9 – Cardinals 3 at Twins 0

The Cardinals blanked the Twins in Fort Myers to begin the week.  Kwang-Hyun Kim got the start and tossed three scoreless innings, allowed no hits and struck out four.  Daniel Ponce de Leon followed with five scoreless innings with no hits allowed, two strikeouts and two walks.  Alex Reyes pitched the ninth and gave up two hits in a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.

John Nogowski got St. Louis on the board in the third inning on a ground out RBI.  In the fourth, Austin Dean hit a solo home run.  Max Schrock’s sac fly in the fifth delivered the third and final Cardinal score.

Justin Williams was picked off first base.  Andrew Knizner had a passed ball error.


Tuesday, March 10 – Cardinals 2 at Red Sox 3

The Cardinals remained in Fort Myers to take on the Red Sox on Tuesday.  The offense scored both of its runs in the first inning on a single by Brad Miller.  There was six St. Louis hits in total, two singles from Paul DeJong and singles from Rangel Ravelo, Nolan Gorman, and Max Schrock in addition to the Miller RBI single.

Jack Flaherty

Starter Jack Flaherty pitched three scoreless innings, allowed three hits, struck out five and walked two. Johan Oviedo, Jake Woodford, Junior Fernandez, Roel Ramirez, Giovanny Gallegos, and Tyler Webb followed. Oviedo surrendered one run before Fernandez yielded two.

Ravelo and Lane Thomas each stole a base.  Tyler O’Neill was caught stealing.  Jose Godoy made a passed ball error.


Wednesday, March 11 – Cardinals 3 at Mets 7

The Cardinals returned to the Atlantic Coast Wednesday to face the Mets in Port St. Lucie.  Carlos Martinez took the mound and had a rocky start.  Martinez pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up six runs on six hits while fanning six and walking one. John Brebbia, Brett Cecil, Evan Kruczynski, Ryan Helsley and Kodi Whitley succeeded Martinez on the mound.  Helsley yielded the seventh Mets run.

St. Louis’ offense was kept off the board until the fourth inning when Matt Carpenter hit a solo home run to left field.  Lane Thomas had his own solo shot in the eighth, and John Nogowski plated a run on a single in the ninth.

Austin Dean made an outfield assist at second base.


Thursday, March 12 – Cardinals 3, Marlins 0

The Cardinals blanked the Marlins in what turned out to be the final game of spring training.  The game was scoreless on both sides until Justin Williams’ double in the sixth inning got St. Louis on the board.  Dennis Ortega followed with a two run single to make the final score 3-0.

Adam Wainwright

Starter Adam Wainwright tossed five scoreless innings, allowed two hits and struck out three.  John Gant, Tyler Webb, and Giovanny Gallegos combined for the final four run-free frames.


The Big Picture

The Cardinals began the shortened week with a record of 8-7-1 and ended the week and the first part of spring training 10-9-1.  The final game was anticlimactic in that the announcement that spring training was ending was made while the game was in progress.

The Cardinals as a team ranked 13th of 30 teams in OPS at .749, with a team slash line of .242/.337/.412.  Of all 40-man players, Paul DeJong led the offense with a slash line of .464/.484/.929.  Last was Dexter Fowler, with a slash line of .097/.176/.097.  Among prospects, Dylan Carlson slashed .313/.436/.469.  Right behind him was Nolan Gorman, with a slash line of .308/.357/.500.

Paul DeJong

In pitching, the Cardinals ranked fifth of the 30 teams with a team ERA of 3.55.  Potential rotation member Kwang-Hyun Kim posted a 0.00 ERA in four appearances, two as a starter. In the reliever category, Tyler Webb had a 0.00 ERA in six appearances.  Other standouts included Daniel Ponce de Leon (0.69), Ryan Helsley (1.29), Genesis Cabrera (1.50), and Austin Gomber (2.25).

Kwang-Hyun Kim

These numbers should be taken in the context of a shortened spring training, however.  When baseball returns, there will likely be spring training preparation before the season starts of approximately two weeks, whether back in Florida or possibly in St. Louis.


Baseball delayed indefinitely

In light of the public health crisis in the United States (and elsewhere) and the very real risks involved with mass gatherings, the Commissioner’s office, in conjunction with the MLBPA, made the decision to end spring training as of 4:00 pm ET on Thursday, March 12.  The regular season was also delayed for at least two weeks, until April 9.

Players were given the choice of either: 1) remaining at spring camps; 2) returning to the team’s home city; or 3) returning to the player’s offseason home.  All spring training camps were closed and shut down to the general public.

The Cardinals met on Friday to decide as a team what they would do.  It was reported that from 15-25 players would likely be remaining in Jupiter.  There would be informal workouts planned, said manager Mike Shildt, and a “good, healthy presence of staff”.

All Cardinals minor leaguers were sent home and there will be no minor league camp for the foreseeable future.

The Cardinals share the Roger Dean Stadium Complex in Jupiter, and the Marlins have shut down their camp completely.  Players have been discouraged from even holding workouts outside the complex.

On Sunday morning, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that MLB is expected to issue guidelines advising teams to not hold workouts at spring training sites or home ball parks.  The guidelines are expected to allow camps to remain open for individual needs, but with limited staff.

Should these guidelines be issued as expected, the Cardinals’ plans will have to change.

The public health situation remains at crisis levels and is expected to get worse.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a recommendation that all mass gatherings over 50 people be cancelled for the next eight weeks, to mid-May.

Many states have closed schools, restaurants and bars and more are expected to follow.  Given the extent of the crisis, the likelihood of baseball returning by April 9 is almost zero.  The CDC directive plus the time to run what the Cardinals are calling “Camp 2” suggests a June 1 restart of regular season play may be the most optimistic target at this point.

Obviously, the situation remains fluid.


Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.


Transactions 

There are no transactions to report.


Injury Report

  • Early in camp, RHP Miles Mikolas (right flexor tendon) had a second PRP injection in his right arm to battle a recurrence of inflammation in his right flexor tendon. The last update was that Mikolas would likely be out until mid-April but would be able to start throwing again soon.  Given the delay in the start of the season, Mikolas could be available when the season starts.
  • RHP Jordan Hicks (Tommy John surgery) was placed on the 60 day injured list and is expected to be out until after the All-Star Break.
  • LHP Andrew Miller (left arm) pitched a bullpen session on Wednesday of last week and felt he was on the right track. Whether he will be available for Opening Day depends on continued improvement with no setbacks.
  • LHP Brett Cecil (right hamstring strain) was scheduled for an MRI last Thursday. Manager Mike Shildt stated that the injury is fairly significant but is not a full tear.  He has stated he expects Cecil to be out “multiple weeks”. So are all players at this point.

Looking Ahead

Spring Training has ended early and Opening Day is postponed.  On Thursday, March 12, Commissioner Rob Manfred and the MLBPA came to an agreement to end spring training and delay the beginning of the regular season for at least two weeks due to public health concerns over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).  When baseball will resume is unknown at this time.  Given the severity of the public health situation, a June re-start is not out of the realm of possibility. How the delay will affect the post-season is one of many, many open questions.


Blast from the Past

Major League Baseball faces a shortened season for 2020, potentially losing months off the season calendar, due to the current coronavirus public health crisis that has gripped the world in a global pandemic.

Baseball has experienced shortened seasons before, with most having been of minor consequence – labor issues.  The first player strike in the game’s history occurred in 1972. A dispute over pension payouts delayed the start of the season by two weeks.  The owners relented after 13 days, but 85 games in all were missed in those two weeks, all of which were never made up.

In 1981 there was a player walkout on June 11 over a free agency dispute.  Play did not resume until August 10.  A two-day strike in 1985 related to the pension fund and a salary cap in arbitration.  The games missed were made up.  1990 brought a brief lockout that caused opening day to be postponed for a week.  The games were made up.

Then there was the big one, in 1994-95.  Negotiations over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement went badly, and the schedule was cancelled following games on August 11.  There were no playoffs and no World Series in 1994.  This was the first and only time since 1904 there was no October Classic.  The strike continued until April 2, 1995.  The start of the season was postponed for three weeks to give the players an abridged spring training.  Opening Day was on April 25, and the season was shortened to 144 games.

The only other time prior to 2020 when the season was threatened was in 1918.  World War I had begun in 1917, but the baseball season was not affected all that much.  Some players were either drafted or enlisted but the season went on as scheduled.  However, by the time the 1918 season came around, the reality of war had set in, and owners decided to reduce the season from 154 games to 140.  By May, the War Department needed more soldiers for the War, and though owners tried to get an exemption for baseball players, they were unsuccessful.  The season was cut short by another two weeks and the season ended early, on September 2.  The World Series was played from September 5-11.

Harry Glenn

The 1918 season was also the year of the Spanish flu – the greatest global pandemic in history which killed millions of people worldwide.  The disease didn’t hit the United States until the fall, so it didn’t affect the season the way the War did.  An estimated 675,000 Americans died of the disease.

While the flu did not affect the season, baseball players individually were affected.  A handful of players, including one who played for the Cardinals, died of the Spanish flu.  Harry Glenn played baseball from 1910 to 1918, mostly in the minor leagues, but he did play in six major league games for the Cardinals in 1915.  Glenn was a catcher.  He was drafted into the military in August of 1918 and was training in St. Paul, Minnesota when he caught the Spanish flu and died of it on October 12, 1918.

The Spanish flu also felled sportswriters and umpires as well as players.

The shortened 2020 season will be the first season affected by a global pandemic.  How much the season will be shortened is unknown.  While baseball seasons come and go, let us hope no baseball player is a victim the way Harry Glenn and others were in 1918.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Sign Minors Free Agent Pitcher, Say Goodbye to Catching Trio


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© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of March 2 – 8

photo: Dakota Hudson (David Dermer/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals had a strong 5-1-1 week as the offense has come to life. The outfielders are hitting well, with the exception of Dexter Fowler and Justin Williams. Yairo Muñoz left the team and was released.  Dakota Hudson leads the pitching staff. Our history feature highlights Cardinals number 17.


Spring training game recaps

Monday, March 2 – Cardinals 6, Twins 1

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the visiting Minnesota Twins 6-1 in the first meeting of both teams in Grapefruit League play.   Tyler O’Neill’s single in the first inning plated the first run.  In the second, Edmundo Sosa’s sac fly, a double by Tommy Edman, and a single off the bat of Yadier Molina brought three runs home.  Jose Godoy added a two-run single in the seventh.

Yadier Molina

Genesis Cabrera got the start for the Cardinals but only pitched one inning, exiting early with a cracked fingernail.  Cabrera allowed one hit, struck out one and walked two.  Jose Ramirez. Brett Cecil, Johan Oviedo, Zack Thompson, Alex FaGalde, and John Brebbia followed.  FaGalde yielded the lone Twins run.


Tuesday, March 3 – Cardinals 6, Astros 3

When the Astros came to Roger Dean Stadium, the Cardinals jumped out to a lead and kept it throughout.  Starter Dakota Hudson pitched four innings, yielding one run on two hits with two strikeouts and one walk.  Alex Reyes, Matthew Liberatore, Tyler Webb, Giovanny Gallegos and Jesus Cruz pitched in relief.  Reyes and Gallegos surrendered a run each.

St. Louis’ offense got on the board in the second inning on a force out RBI by Dylan Carlson and a Max Schrock double.  Paul Goldschmidt hit a solo home run in the third, and Matt Wieters did the same in the fourth.  Kolten Wong plated a run on a ground out also in the fourth and Schrock scored on a wild pitch for the third score in that inning.

Elehuris Montero committed a throwing error. Evan Mendoza stole his first base of the spring.


Wednesday, March 4 – Cardinals 1 at Mets 4

The Cardinals fell to the Mets 4-1 in Port St. Lucie on Wednesday.  The only Redbird score came in the eighth inning on a solo home run by Nolan Gorman.

Jack Flaherty started and tossed four innings, giving up three runs on five hits.  The right hander struck out two and walked one.  Daniel Ponce de Leon and Junior Fernandez followed with Ponce de Leon pitching three innings and Fernandez taking the eighth.  Ponce de Leon relinquished the fourth Mets run in his outing.

Tommy Edman was caught stealing for the first time this spring.  Austin Dean was picked off second base.


Thursday, March 5 – Cardinals 7 (split squad), Mets 7

One of two Thursday split squad games ended in a tie with the Mets in Jupiter.  Adam Wainwright took the mound to start and hurled four innings, yielding five runs on eight hits.  The right hander walked one. Kwang-Hyun Kim, Johan Oviedo, John Brebbia and Kodi Whitley pitched the rest of the way.  Brebbia gave up the tying runs in the eighth.

St. Louis’ offense played catch up in a big way after falling behind 5-0.  In the fourth, Paul DeJong began with a solo home run, and Lane Thomas followed with a three-run shot.  Not to be outdone, Matt Carpenter sent a two-run blast over the center field wall to give the Redbirds the 6-5 lead.  Aaron Antonini added a sac fly in the seventh to increase the lead to 7-5.

Kolten Wong stole his first base of 2020.  Harrison Bader committed a throwing error.


Thursday, March 5 – Cardinals 11 (split squad) at Nationals 0

Just down the road from Jupiter, the Cardinals blew out the Nationals in an evening game in Palm Beach.  St. Louis plated three runs in the second inning on an Austin Dean double and a two-run home run by Andrew Knizner.  Tommy Edman hit a two-run shot in the fifth and Tyler O’Neill doubled in a run to make it 6-0.  Edman added an RBI single in the sixth for a seventh score.  In the seventh inning, doubles by Rangel Ravelo and Dean, and a two-run home run by Justin Williams ran the score up to 11-0.

Carlos Martinez

Carlos Martinez was excellent in his start, going five scoreless innings, allowing three hits and fanning two.  Zack Thompson, Jake Woodford, and Ryan Helsley combined for the remaining four scoreless frames.


Friday, March 6 (off day)


Saturday, March 7 – Cardinals 5, Astros 1

The Cardinals welcomed the Astros back to Jupiter on Saturday, and the Redbirds were the victors, 5-1. Starter John Gant tossed four scoreless innings, yielding one hit, fanning three and walking two.  Austin Gomber followed the next three innings and gave up the lone Astros score.  Tyler Webb and Giovanny Gallegos followed with a scoreless inning each.

John Gant

Matt Wieters put the first Cardinals run on the board on a force out in the second inning.  Wieters then doubled in the fourth to plate another.  Kolten Wong added a two-run double, also in the fourth.  In the seventh, Edmundo Sosa’s solo home run closed the scoring.

Wieters stole his first spring base, as did Tommy Edman.  Matt Carpenter made a throwing error and Justin Williams had a fielding miscue.


Sunday, March 8 – Cardinals 7, Marlins 3

The final spring game of the week was a 7-3 win for the Cardinals over stadium mate Miami.  The first inning included Paul Goldschmidt’s double that plated two, followed by an RBI single from Yadier Molina.  Molina plated his second run on sac fly in the fifth.  Also in that inning, Tyler O’Neill was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and Harrison Bader singled to score two more.

Dakota Hudson started and hurled 3 2/3 innings.  The right hander surrendered one run on two hits, struck out five and walked three.  Hudson yielded to Junior Fernandez, Genesis Cabrera, Brett Cecil, John Brebbia, and Kodi Whitley.  Cabrera and Brebbia gave up a run each.

Dexter Fowler had an outfield assist, nailing a runner at third base.


The Big Picture

The Cardinals began the week with a 3-6 record and ended the week 8-7-1, going 5-1-1 in the process.  The team lost to the Mets on Wednesday and tied them in a Thursday split squad game.  The Cardinals won twice over the Astros, once each against the Twins, Nationals, and Marlins.

The Cardinal are 12th of 30 MLB teams in offense with a team slash line of .258/.352/.443.  The team is ninth of 30 teams in pitching with a team ERA of 3.75.

Dylan Carlson

Dylan Carlson stands out among all position players in offense, leading in average (.357) runs scored (10), OBP (.471) and OPS (1.006).  Carlson has yet to hit a home run, however. Paul DeJong leads in that category with four.  DeJong also leads in RBI (8), and hits (11).  Tyler O’Neill leads in slugging at .560.  Carlson, Austin Dean, and Rangel Ravelo are tied for the most doubles at three each.  Carlson, Andrew Knizner, and Max Schrock each have one triple.  Carlson, Schrock and Harrison Bader are tied with the most walks at six each.

In pitching, Dakota Hudson is the standout.  He leads in ERA (2.92), strikeouts (12), WHIP (0.97), and innings (12.1).

Dakota Hudson

With multiple players battling for an outfield spot, veteran Dexter Fowler has shown little in the spring to justify starting, hitting a mere .080/.179/.080 for a .259 OPS.  On the other hand, Tyler O’Neill is slashing .280/.438/.560 with a .998 OPS and Harrison Bader is slashing .296/.441/.481 with a .923 OPS.  The other top contender, Lane Thomas, is hitting .259/.375/.519 with an .894 OPS.  Justin Williams is struggling, however, hitting .091/.167/.364 with a .530 OPS.  Others in the mix – Austin Dean and Rangel Ravelo – are also having good springs at the plate.

With 14 games left in spring training, things could change, but the question arises whether Fowler’s veteran status and high dollar contract will be enough to overcome his poor spring training showing.  In addition, Carlson’s standout performance so far is making the decisions even more difficult for the Cardinals to make.


Cardinals make spring cuts, release Munoz

The first cuts of spring were made on Saturday, with 13 players either optioned or reassigned to minor league camp.  LHP Ricardo Sanchez and 3B Elehuris Montero were optioned to Springfield, while RHP Alvaro Seijas was optioned to the Palm Beach.

Reassigned to minor league camp were non-roster players Akeem Bostick, Nabil Crismatt, Seth Elledge, Alex FaGalde, Griffin Roberts, Angel Rondon, and Ramon Santos, all RHP.  First baseman Luken Baker and catchers Julio Rodriguez and Alexis Wilson were also reassigned.

57 players remain in camp with just over two weeks remaining in spring training.  More cuts will be forthcoming in the next several weeks.

Yairo Muñoz

In addition to the cuts, a surprising announcement was made concerning injured utility player Yairo Munoz.  The Cardinals placed Munoz on release waivers on Saturday, due to him leaving camp without notice and returning to his home in the Dominican Republic.

Munoz injured his hamstring on a run to first base a week ago.  He was scheduled for an MRI but did not show up.  Munoz texted a teammate and informed him that he had flown home to the DR with no indication of returning.   Munoz had complained about his playing time last season and was apparently frustrated with what he saw as limited opportunities going forward.  Munoz was battling for a roster spot with other utility infielders, notably Tommy Edman, Edmundo Sosa, and the newly signed Brad Miller.

Munoz’ release leaves a spot open on the 40 man roster.


Cardinals settle contracts with 0-3 year players

On Sunday, the Cardinals announced that they agreed to terms and signed one-year contracts for the 2020 season with their 24 pre-arbitration players. The team also renewed the contract of pitcher Jack Flaherty. For the second consecutive year, the staff ace disagreed in protest of the current player compensation system in place across MLB.

More details here.

Cardinals Finalize 2020 Contract Terms with Pre-Arbitration Players


Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.


Transactions 

  • 3/7 The Cardinals optioned 3B Elehuris Montero to the Springfield Cardinals.
  • 3/7 The Cardinals optioned LHP Ricardo Sanchez to the Springfield Cardinals.
  • 3/7 The Cardinals optioned RHP Alvaro Seijas to the Palm Beach Cardinals.
  • 3/7 The Cardinals released Yairo Munoz.

Injury Report

  • RHP Miles Mikolas (right flexor tendon) had a second PRP injection in his right arm to battle a recurrence of inflammation in his right flexor tendon early in camp. The latest update is that Mikolas will not be ready to start the season and will likely be out until mid-April.
  • RHP Jordan Hicks (Tommy John surgery) was placed on the 60-day injured list and is expected to be out until after the All-Star break.
  • IF Brad Miller (back stiffness) continues to be held out of spring games out of caution but is taking some swings. Miller participated in a full workout on Sunday, and will be evaluated on Monday for a return to play.
  • LHP Andrew Miller (left arm nerve problem) is doubtful for opening day. Tests were performed but no results have been announced. Miller threw a light bullpen session on Saturday.
  • LHP Genesis Cabrera had been day to day with a cracked fingernail but appeared in relief in Sunday’s game.
  • 2B Kolten Wong exited Sunday’s game after being hit by a pitch on his left leg. The diagnosis was left calf contusion.  Wong is day to day, and will be reevaluated on Monday.

Looking Ahead

On Monday, March 9, the Cardinals travel to the Gulf Coast to take on the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.  Kwang-Hyun Kim is scheduled for the start.  On Tuesday, the Cardinals will face the Red Sox at JetBlue Park, also in Fort Myers.

The Cardinals return to the Atlantic Coast to play the Mets on Wednesday in Port St. Lucie.  On Thursday, St. Louis as the home team will take on the Marlins.

The Astros return to Roger Dean Stadium on Friday.  On Saturday, the “visiting” Cardinals will face the Marlins again.

The Red Sox travel to Jupiter to play the Cardinals on Sunday.

The full spring training game broadcast schedule can be found at TCN here.


Blast from the Past

We return to the series on Cardinals player nicknames with another standout from the Gashouse Gang era.

Jay Hanna Dean, a/k/a Jerome Herman Dean was born on January 16, 1910 in Lucas, Arkansas.  Dean only attended school through the second grade.  His younger brother, Paul, also played baseball for the Cardinals.

Dizzy Dean

Dean may be best known as the last National League pitcher to win 30 games in a season.  Dean debuted for the Cardinals on September 28, 1930 and was with the Cardinals through the 1937 season.  During his time in St. Louis, Dean led the league in innings pitched in 1932, 1935, and 1936, and in strikeouts from 1932-35.  He was the National League MVP in 1934 and a four-time All Star.

Dean was known for his eccentric personality. The story behind his nickname “Dizzy” was that he enlisted in the Army in 1926 by lying about his age, and a sergeant gave him the nickname after he had done something stupid.

With the Cardinals, he demonstrated his quirky personality on many occasions.  Once on a hot July day, Dean built a fire in the dugout and covered himself with a wool blanket as a mocking gesture to the heat.  He and teammate Pepper Martin used to throw bags of water out of hotel windows on walkers below. Another time he brought a black cat to the ballpark to put a hex on the opposing team.

Dean suffered an arm injury in 1937 after changing his pitching motion to compensate for a fractured toe.  Dean was never the same pitcher after, and in 1938 the Cardinals traded him to the Cubs. He remained with the Cubs for the next two seasons, then pitched in only one game in 1941 to end his playing career.

From there, Dean went into broadcasting.  He called games for the Cardinals from 1941-1946, the Yankees from 1950-51, and the Braves from 1966-68.  He also called national games for ABC and CBS from 1953-1965.  He was well known for butchering the English language.

Dean was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953 and was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in the 2014 inaugural class.

After retiring from broadcasting in the late 1960s, Dean returned to his home in Bond, Mississippi.  He passed away on July 17, 1964 in Reno, Nevada of a heart attack and was buried in the Bond Cemetery.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Six Cardinals Top Prospect Acceleration Candidates – 2020


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of February 24-March 1

photo: Paul DeJong (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals are just 3-6-1 on the spring, with pitching and hitting in the middle of the MLB pack. A number of pitchers are performing well, with Paul DeJong leading the offense. Our history feature highlights a trio of leap year day-born Cardinals.


Spring training game recaps

Monday, February 24 – Cardinals 3 at Marlins 6

The Cardinals fell to the Marlins on Monday by the score of 6-3.  John Gant took the mound to begin the game and pitched two innings, giving up one unearned run following his error on a pickoff attempt.  Gant was followed by Ryan Helsley, Junior Fernandez, Zack Thompson, Matthew Liberatore, Bryan Dobzanski, and Kodi Whitley.  Liberatore had a rough first spring outing, giving up five runs on three hits.

St. Louis’ initial runs were produced in the second by an RBI single from Rangel Ravelo and a force out RBI by John Nogowski.  Nogowski drove in his second run on a single in the fifth.  Ravelo had an outfield assist.

Lane Thomas was picked off first base.


Tuesday, February 25 – Cardinals 6, Nationals 9

The Cardinals were outhit by the Nationals 16 to seven in a three-run home loss on Tuesday.  The Redbirds scored six runs, five of which came via the long ball.  Paul DeJong blasted a three-run shot in the third inning, and Yairo Munoz thumped a two-run blast in the fifth.  DeJong also plated a run on a sac fly in the first, for a total of four RBI on the day.

Austin Gomber made his first spring start, going two innings and giving up one run on three hits.  Pitching in relief were Seth Elledge, Alex Reyes, Roel Ramirez, Brett Cecil, Tommy Parsons, Johann Oviedo, and Alex FaGalde.  Elledge, Reyes, and Cecil were charged with two runs each.


Wednesday, February 26 – Cardinals (split squad) 7 at Astros (split squad) 5

The Cardinals defeated the Astros in one of two split squad games on Wednesday.  The Astros were also playing split squads.  Genesis Cabrera started and spun two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and fanning two.  Cabrera was succeeded by Angel Rondon, Ramon Santos, Griffin Roberts, Jesus Cruz, Nabil Crismatt, and Bryan Dobzanski.  Rondon yielded three runs in his two innings pitched.

Genesis Cabrera

Home runs by Lane Thomas and Justin Williams contributed three of the Cardinals’ seven runs.  Thomas hit a two run shot, while Williams’ was a solo shot, both in the second inning.  Williams also had an RBI on a bases loaded walk in the fifth.  Singles by Brad Miller and Ivan Herrera drove in three more in the fifth.


Wednesday February 26 – Cardinals (split squad) 7, Marlins 8

In the other split squad contest, the Cardinals were edged 8-7 by the Marlins in their shared stadium in Jupiter.  Nolan Gorman had a good day at the plate, driving in runs on a force out with an error in the second inning, a double in the sixth, and a single in the seventh.  A third inning force out off the bat of Edmundo Sosa brought home a run, as did a Yairo Munoz single in the fifth, and a Dennis Ortega single in the sixth.

Kwang-Hyun Kim got the start and he pitched two scoreless, hitless innings, striking out three.  John Brebbia, Tyler Webb, Giovanny Gallegos, Rob Kaminsky, Ricardo Sanchez, and Akeem Bostick followed.  Gallegos and Sanchez yielded three runs apiece.


Thursday, February 27 – Cardinals 1 at Braves 3

The Cardinals took a bus ride to the Gulf Coast to take on the Braves at their new stadium in North Port.  Jack Flaherty got the start, pitching 2 2/3 innings and giving up one run on two hits while walking two, and striking out one.  Relievers were Alex FaGalde, Dakota Hudson, Roel Ramirez, Junior Fernandez, and Kodi Whitley.  Hudson surrendered two runs in his 2 2/3 innings.

The only Redbirds run came on a double by Yairo Munoz, who also stole his first base of the spring.  Lane Thomas was caught stealing for the second time.  Nolan Gorman committed a fielding error and Max Schrock made a throwing miscue.


Friday, February 28 – Cardinals 2 at Mets 3

The Cardinals suffered a one run loss to the Mets in Port St. Lucie on Friday.  Solo home runs by Paul Goldschmidt and Austin Dean were the Redbirds’ only scores.  Harrison Bader went 2-for-4 and was the only Cardinal with multiple hits.

Adam Wainwright took the mound and pitched three innings.  The right hander was charged with one run on four hits, walking one and fanning two.  Daniel Ponce de Leon, Andrew Miller, and Alex Reyes followed.  Miller and Reyes each surrendered a run.


Saturday, February 29 – Cardinals 6, Nationals 3

St. Louis beat the visiting Nationals in Jupiter on Saturday.  Carlos Martinez got the start and pitched three scoreless innings with no hits, three walks and four strikeouts.  Tyler Webb and Ryan Helsley followed with three scoreless innings, one from Webb and two from Helsley.  Jake Woodford gave up all three Nationals runs in his two innings of work.  Giovanny Gallegos tossed a scoreless ninth.

Carlos Martinez

Paul DeJong hit a solo home run in the second inning to get the Cardinals on the board. In the fifth, John Nogowski plated a run on a single, as did Tommy Edman.  Edman got his second RBI with a single in the seventh.  One run in the seventh scored on a fielding error, and Andrew Knizner plated a run on a sac fly.

Kolten Wong was caught stealing.


Sunday, March 1 – Cardinals 4 at Astros 5

The Cardinals took a tough loss to the Astros on Sunday in Palm Beach.  The Cardinals were leading 3-0 through the fifth inning on home runs by Paul DeJong (two run shot) and Tyler O’Neill (solo shot).  The Astros tied it in the sixth with three runs on a triple and a wild pitch.  Dennis Ortega gave the Cardinals the lead back in the top of the ninth with a solo home run, but the Astros took advantage of Cardinal pitching issuing too many free passes in the bottom of the ninth to win.

Austin Gomber made the start and he pitched three scoreless innings, allowing one hit, and striking out four.  John Gant followed and gave up three runs in 2 2/3 innings pitched.  Jesus Cruz, Junior Fernandez, and Kodi Whitley combined for 2 1/3 scoreless innings.  Rob Kaminsky started the ninth and issued four walks and got two outs.  Nabil Crismatt pitched to one batter and issued a walk that scored the winning run.  Two runs scored in the final inning, both charged to Kaminsky.

Tyler O’Neill was caught stealing.


The Big Picture

The Cardinals are 3-6-1 through their first 10 games of the spring and their team stats have them in the middle of the MLB pack. Across the 30 teams, St. Louis is 19th in batting average at .245 and 16th in OPS at .764. Team pitching ranks 14th in ERA at 4.57.

Offensively, Paul DeJong is the early leader with three home runs and seven RBI to go with a .545 average and a 1.993 OPS. Dylan Carlson is batting .500, Yairo Muñoz is hitting .375, with Brad Miller and Tyler O’Neill at .300 each. The latter has two long balls. Muñoz four RBI is second-highest on the team.

Paul DeJong

Pitchers with at least three mound innings who are unscored upon include Genesis Cabrera, Junior Fernandez, Kwang-Hyun Kim, Ryan Helsley, Kodi Whitley and Daniel Ponce de Leon. Austin Gomber and Jack Flaherty have ERAs under 2.00.

On the struggler’s end, Brett Cecil, Giovanny Gallegos and Alex Reyes are off to tough early starts. Among the hitters at or below the Mendoza line are Edmundo Sosa, Tommy Edman, Andrew Knizner, Paul Goldschmidt, Austin Dean and Dexter Fowler.


Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.


Transactions 

There are no transactions to report.


Injury Report

  • RHP Miles Mikolas (right flexor tendon) had a second PRP injection in his right arm to battle a recurrence of inflammation in his right flexor tendon. The latest update is that Mikolas will not be ready to start the season and will likely be out until mid-April.
  • 3B Matt Carpenter has been held out of games for the last several days due to back tightness. Carpenter is considered day to day and will likely return to spring games this coming week.
  • IF Brad Miller was a late scratch from the lineup in Sunday’s game against the Astros, due to lower back stiffness. Manager Mike Shildt estimates Miller will be unavailable for at least three days, according to Goold.
  • IF Yairo Munoz injured his left hamstring running to first base in Saturday’s game. It is reported to be a hamstring strain. Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch reported that Munoz’ availability for Opening Day is doubtful.

Yairo Muñoz


Looking Ahead

The Cardinals begin the second full week of Grapefruit League play on Monday, as the Minnesota Twins travel to Jupiter. Kwan-Hyun Kim is scheduled to start. Following his three innings/50 pitches are scheduled to be Genesis Cabrera (3/50), Brett Cecil (1/25), Andrew Miller (1/25) and John Brebbia (1/25).

The Cardinals will play the Astros again on Tuesday in Jupiter.  The team travels to Port St. Lucie on Wednesday to take on the Mets.  A Redbirds split squad plays the Mets again on Thursday at Roger Dean Stadium while the second squad takes on the Nationals in Palm Beach.

The Cardinals will take Friday off. On Saturday, the Astros return to Jupiter, and on Sunday the Cardinals (as the home team) take on their stadium mates the Marlins.

The full spring training game broadcast schedule can be found at TCN here.


Blast from the Past

This week’s Blast from the Past takes a brief detour away from the series on Cardinal nicknames to commemorate an event that doesn’t occur every year.  Leap year comes every fourth year when the month of February has 29 days instead of 28. 14 major league players were born on Leap Day.   This segment looks at two Cardinals in franchise history who have February 29 birthdays (one with a nickname) and one sort of Cardinal also born on Leap Day.

Pepper Martin (St. Louis Cardinals)

Pepper Martin is the longest tenured of the Leap Day Cardinals.  Born Johnny Leonard Roosevelt Martin on February 29, 1904 in Temple Oklahoma, Martin played 13 non-consecutive seasons for St. Louis.  The origin of Martin’s nickname “Pepper” is unclear, though he may have first been called that by the owner of the minor league team in Fort Smith where he played in 1925.

He made his major league debut with the Cardinals on April 16, 1928.  Martin played in 39 games that year and made one appearance as a pinch runner in the 1928 World Series.  The Cardinals were swept in four games by the Yankees.

Martin was sent back down to the minor leagues.  Martin appeared in six games for St. Louis in 1930 but had only one plate appearance.  Martin returned in 1931 and stayed, playing with the notorious “Gas House Gang” through the remainder of the decade.  Pepper led the league in runs scored in 1932, and in stolen bases in 1933, 1934, and 1936.  Martin’s rough style of play took a toll on his body, and in 1940 he was sent to the minor leagues as player-manager of Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League.

Martin returned to the Cardinals in 1944 at the age of 40 because of a player shortage due to World War II.  He played in 40 games that year and helped the Cardinals clinch the National League Pennant, but he did not play in the World Series.

Martin passed away on March 5, 1965 at the age of 61.  He was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2017.

The second Cardinal born on Leap Day was Roy Parker, who was born in Union, Missouri on February 29, 1896.  Parker played for the Cardinals in only two games in September of 1919, following his service in World War I.  Parker was a pitcher, and he tossed only two innings in those two games, in which he gave up seven earned runs in total for a major league ERA of 31.50.

Dickey Pearce

Finally, Richard J. Pearce, known as “Dickey” was born on February 29, 1836 in Brooklyn, New York.  Pearce played professional baseball for 22 years, beginning with the Brooklyn Athletics in 1856.  Pearce may have been the first baseball player to earn money for playing the game.  He is credited with pioneering the position of shortstop.  He also invented the bunt, called the “tricky hit”.

Pearce played from 1875-1877 for the St. Louis Brown Stockings.  The Brown Stockings were basically the forerunner of the Cardinals.  The original Brown Stockings went bankrupt in 1877, but a few of the former players convinced St. Louis merchant Chris von der Ahe to buy the team in 1881.  The team and five others became the American Association.  The Brown Stockings became the Browns, who became the Perfectos in 1899 and ultimately the Cardinals in 1900.  The Browns moved to the National League in 1892 and it is from that year that current ownership recognizes the beginning of the Cardinals.

So, Pearce was only “sort of” a Cardinal, playing for a predecessor of today’s Cardinals.  Pearce passed away on September 18, 1908 in Wareham, Massachusetts at the age of 72.  He didn’t start, but finished, his professional baseball career in St. Louis.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

How Minor League Options Impact the Cardinals 2020 Roster


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of February 17-23

photo: Tyler O’Neill (Scott Rovak/USA TODAY Sports)

The St. Louis Cardinals picked up a win and a tie in their first two spring training games, as the pitching appears to be ahead of the offense. However, the depth will be tested, as starter Miles Mikolas will be out for some time. Our history feature highlights Hall of Famer Ducky Medwick.


Spring training game recaps

Saturday, February 22 – Cardinals 2, Mets 0

In the first game of the 2020 Grapefruit League schedule, the St. Louis Cardinals blanked the New York Mets 2-0 at Roger Dean Stadium. A solo home run by Tyler O’Neill in the second inning got the Cardinals on the board. The score remained 1-0 until the eighth inning when Andrew Knizner tripled to right field and Dylan Carlson followed with an RBI single to center to make it 2-0.  Carlson went 2-for-2 as did Matt Carpenter.

Tyler O’Neill

On the bump to begin the game was Jack Flaherty.  Flaherty pitched two scoreless innings, giving up two hits and fanning three.  Dakota Hudson, Kwang-Hyun Kim, Brett Cecil, Evan Kruczynski, Rob Kaminsky, and Genesis Cabrera followed.  Hudson tossed two scoreless innings, and each of the others added a scoreless inning each in a strong staff showing.

Lane Thomas was caught stealing.

Sunday, February 23 – Cardinals 3 at Mets 3

The Cardinals and the Mets played again on Sunday, this time at the home of the Mets in Port St. Lucie.  The game ended in a tie in regulation.

Adam Wainwright made his first Grapefruit League start and scuffled a bit. The veteran right hander pitched 1 2/3 innings and gave up one run on two hits.  The Mets tally came on a solo home run by Jake Marisnick.  Following Wainwright on the bump was Angel Rondon, Carlos Martinez, Ramon Santos, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Jesus Cruz, and Jake Woodford.  Martinez struggled in his spring debut, giving up two runs on four hits.

Edmundo Sosa

On the offensive side, leadoff hitter Harrison Bader took the second pitch he saw from Steven Matz deep over the left field wall for a solo home run to give the Redbirds a 1-0 lead.  Bader went 2-for-3 with a third inning leadoff double to go with the long ball.  The Mets took a 3-1 lead into the eighth inning, but it ended there when Edmundo Sosa thumped a line-drive two-run home run to left to tie the game at 3-3.  The game came to a close in regulation in the ninth still knotted up 3-3.

New outfielder Austin Dean was caught stealing in his first spring attempt.


Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.


Transactions 

There are no transactions to report.


Injury Report

    • RHP Miles Mikolas (right flexor tendon) had a second platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection in his right arm to battle a recurrence of inflammation in his right flexor tendon. The latest update is that Mikolas will not be ready to start the season and will likely be out until at least mid-April. Kim is his likely replacement in the rotation.

Miles Mikolas

  • 1B Paul Goldschmidt (right elbow soreness) is being limited to appearances as a designated hitter in spring games in early action. The injury is not deemed serious, but the team is being cautious and limiting his throwing for the first few games.

Looking Ahead

The first two games of spring training were played over the weekend.  Both were against the Mets, with the first at Roger Dean Stadium and the second in Port St. Lucie. A win and a tie ensued.

The Cardinals return to Jupiter on Monday for a game against the Marlins.  St. Louis will be the visiting team.   The Nationals visit Jupiter on Tuesday, then the Cardinals as the home team play a Marlins split squad on Wednesday.

The Cardinals travel to the Gulf Coast to play the Braves in North Port on Thursday.  To finish the week, the team returns to the Atlantic Coast to play the Mets again in Port St. Lucie, followed by a contest against the Nationals in Jupiter, and a Sunday game in Palm Beach against the Astros.

The full spring training game broadcast schedule can be found at TCN here.


Blast from the Past

In the second installment of the series on former Cardinals nicknames, this week’s Blast from the Past looks at the career of a member of the Cardinals infamous “Gashouse Gang’’ of the 1930s.

Ducky Medwick

The son of Hungarian immigrants, Joe Medwick was born on November 4, 1911 in Carteret, New Jersey.  Medwick excelled in several sports as a youth, and almost played football at Notre Dame for coach Knute Rockne.  Medwick chose, however, to play baseball rather than attend college.  After spending a couple of years in the minor leagues with the Houston Buffaloes, Medwick was called up by the Cardinals in September of 1932.

Medwick excelled in 11 seasons with St. Louis – for nine years to start his career, and two more at the end.  In those 11 years, Medwick put up a slash line of .335/.372/.545, with 152 home runs and 923 RBI.  He led the league in RBI for three straight years in 1936, 1937 and 1938.  He won the “Triple Crown” in 1937, leading the league in batting average, home runs, and RBI.  He was the National League MVP in 1937 and was a seven time All-Star with St. Louis.

The Cardinals traded Medwick to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1940.  He played with the New York Giants, the Boston Braves, and the Dodgers for a second time before returning to the Cardinals in 1947.  Medwick ended his MLB career in St. Louis in 1948.

Medwick was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1968.  He was a hitting coach in the Cardinals’ minor league system and was acting in that role when he passed away from a heart attack in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1975.  Medwick is buried in St. Louis.

Medwick got his nickname “Ducky” while he was playing with the Houston Buffaloes.  His teammates in Houston noticed he waddled like a duck when he walked, and they started calling him “Ducky”.  The nickname stuck.  Medwick was known to hate the nickname, but he never shook it, as sportswriters picked up on the name and referred to him as Ducky throughout his career.

Medwick was among the inaugural class inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Breaking Down Cardinals Reserve Decisions – 2020


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of February 10-16

photo: Miles Mikolas (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals added a left-handed bench bat, and experienced their first potentially significant injury of 2020 this past week. Our history feature highlights a “Creepy” period from the team’s past.



Cardinals sign free agent infielder Brad Miller

The St. Louis Cardinals placed emphasis on obtaining another left handed bat for the roster, and with Spring Training underway, they finally found what they were looking for.  This past Wednesday the team announced it had signed free agent infielder Brad Miller to a one-year contract for a reported $2 million.

Brad Miller

The 30-year old has spent his seven-year MLB career playing primarily shortstop but has logged time at all other infield positions as well as the outfield.  Miller began 2019 with the Cleveland Indians but played in only 13 games before being designated for assignment. He then played in the Yankees minor league system and was traded to the Phillies on June 13.  Miller ended the season in the majors with the Phillies and was granted free agency.

Miller will be competing for an infield spot on the roster with switch hitter Tommy Edman, and right handed hitters Yairo Munoz and Edmundo Sosa. Miller has no minor league options left and while Edman, Munoz, and Sosa all have options, Edman is almost assuredly guaranteed a spot on the roster due to his performance in 2019.

To open up a 40-man roster spot, the Cardinals placed RHP Jordan Hicks on the 60-day injured list.  Hicks is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is expected to be ready to play after the All Star break.


Mikolas battling arm issues

Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas is experiencing the return of arm soreness in this first week of spring training that will slow his readiness for the season.  The right hander pitched through issues with his right flexor tendon at the end of 2019 and received a platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection at the end of the season.  Mikolas also had an MRI that found no ligament damage.

Miles Mikolas

The flexor tendon problem has cropped up again.  Mikolas did not throw a scheduled bullpen session but a second MRI on Saturday again found no issues with the ligament.  A second PRP injection is a possibility.

The arm issues will delay Mikolas pitching in Grapefruit League games, which begin on Saturday, February 22.  It is unclear whether Mikolas’ start to the regular season will also be impacted.  The Cardinals have sufficient pitching depth in camp to cover any innings Mikolas will miss, with newcomer Kwang-Hyun Kim the most likely candidate to step into the rotation if needed.


Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch reports that 2B Kolten Wong is open to discussing an extension of his contract with the Cardinals.  The 29 year old Wong has one more year left on his current contract that he signed four years ago.  The Cardinals have a $12.5 million dollar option on Wong for 2021.

Continuing the longest-running rumor of the off-season, now spring training, President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak addresses ongoing questions about Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado.


Transactions 

  • 2/11 2B Ramon Urias was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles.
  • 2/12 The Cardinals placed RHP Jordan Hicks on the 60-day injured list. Recovering from right elbow Tommy John surgery.
  • 2/12 The Cardinals signed free agent 2B Brad Miller.

Injury Report

  • RHP Miles Mikolas will have his spring training work delayed due to flexor tendon soreness in his right arm. An MRI found no damage to the ligament.  Mikolas suffered with the same issues at the end of last season and received a PRP injection to address the problem then.  A second PRP injection is being considered.

Looking Ahead

Spring Training is underway, with both pitchers and catchers as well as position players having reported.

A total of 73 players are in major league camp – 41 rostered players (including Hicks) and 32 non-roster invitees.  The list of 32 NRIs are available at TCN here.

The first of 31 spring training games will be played on February 22 against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.  The full spring training schedule can be viewed here.

The full spring training game broadcast schedule, including 24 games to be televised, can be found at TCN here.


Blast from the Past

This week’s Blast from the Past is the first in a series that will discuss former Cardinals players with unusual nicknames.  We begin with one of the weirder nicknames in Cardinals lore, one that sounded worse than it actually was.

This player was born Frank Angelo Joseph Crespi on February 16, 1918 in St. Louis, Missouri, a hometown boy who played his entire five-year major league career with the Cardinals.  Crespi was an infielder and made his big league debut at second base for the Cardinals on September 14, 1938.

Frank “Creepy” Crespi

Crespi only played in 25 major league games in his first three seasons, from 1938-40.   His only full season was 1941, in which he played in 146 games and posted a slash line of .279/.355/.379.  In his final season, 1942, he played in 93 games.  Crespi appeared in one game in the 1942 World Series against the Yankees.  He was a pinch runner in Game 1 and scored a run.  The Cardinals won that series 4-1.

Crespi’s unusual nickname was “Creepy”.  He is listed on his Baseball Reference page as “Creepy Crespi”. In a 1977 interview with Jack Buck, Crespi explained that he was given the nickname by a sportswriter because of the way he crept up low on a ground ball when fielding it.  This is probably not the first meaning one would assume upon hearing the nickname for the first time.

Crespi was drafted into the US Army in World War II, refusing a deferment to care for his elderly mother.  Unfortunately for Creepy, his left leg was fractured three times during this period, once during an Army baseball game, a second time during a training accident, and a third time in a hospital wheelchair race.  A nurse accidentally burned Crespi’s leg with boric acid and he suffered a permanent limp as a result.  Crespi had 23 surgeries on the leg in total.

Needless to say, Crespi’s baseball career was over, so he went to work for McDonnell Douglas, where he remained employed for 20 years.  After his retirement, he discovered he had not been officially retired from baseball but had been on the disabled list the entire time.  As a result, Crespi qualified for his major league pension.

Crespi passed away on March 1, 1990 in Florissant, Missouri after suffering a heart attack.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

BaseballHQ’s 2020 Cardinals Prospects – Debuts and Ceilings


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of February 3-9

photo: Ricardo Sanchez (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals finalized their fan ballot for the team Hall of Fame and made a 40-man roster change this past week. Spring TV schedules are filling out as players report to camp. Our history feature highlights former Cardinals outfielder Specs Toporcer, an MLB trailblazer.



Cardinals Hall nominees announced

The slate of Modern Era nominees for the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame class of 2020 was announced this past Wednesday.  Seven players will be on the fan ballot for two slots in the 2020 class: Steve Carlton, Keith Hernandez, Tom Herr, Matt Morris, Edgar Renteria, Lee Smith, and John Tudor.  Of these seven, four are returnees from last year’s ballot, Hernandez, Morris, Renteria, and Tudor. Carlton and Smith were on an earlier ballot, making Herr the only first-timer.

To be eligible for the Modern Era ballot, players must have been a Cardinal at least three seasons, be retired from Major League Baseball at least three years and have retired within the last 40 years.  The HOF was created in 2014 and there are currently 43 members.

The slate of candidates was selected by a Red Ribbon Committee of experts. Fan voting will began on March 1 and continue through April 17 at Cardinals.com/HOF. The two players ultimately selected by fans will be inducted in a ceremony on August 29 at Ballpark Village.

The induction class will include one or two others – a veteran player selected by the Red Ribbon Committee, and possibly a fourth non-player who is an important figure in club history selected by ownership.  The class will be announced on May 8 at 6 pm on Fox Sports Midwest and in a pre-game ceremony at Busch Stadium.

More info here:

2020 St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Ballot Announced


Cardinals add to pitching depth

The Cardinals made an addition and a subtraction to the 40-man roster this past week just prior to the beginning of Spring Training.  On Thursday, the club claimed left-handed pitcher Ricardo Sanchez off waivers from the Seattle Mariners.  In a corresponding move to open up a spot for Sanchez, the Cardinals designated second baseman Ramon Urias for assignment.

Sanchez, 22, was originally an international signing by the Los Angeles Angels in 2013 out of Venezuela.  The Angels traded Sanchez to the Braves on January 8, 2015.  Sanchez remained in the Braves minor league system until he was traded to the Seattle Mariners on November 28, 2018.  The left hander pitched for the Mariners Double-A affiliate in 2019, tossing 146 innings and posting a record of 8-12 with an ERA of 4.44.  The Mariners designated Sanchez for assignment on January 30, 2020.

Sanchez was placed on the Cardinals 40-man roster and will join the Cardinals big league camp on Tuesday.  He joins two other newly acquired lefties in Spring Training – Kwan-Hyun Kim, who the Cardinals signed out of Korea in December, and prospect Matthew Liberatore, acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays in January.

Urias, 25, was a signing out of the Mexican League by the Cardinals in 2018.  He slashed .263/.369/.424 in 96 games for Triple-A Memphis in 2019.  Urias is mostly a second baseman, but also played innings at shortstop and third base.  Urias is essentially blocked as a utility infielder for the Cardinals by both Tommy Edman and Yairo Munoz.

Should Urias clear waivers in the next few days and is not traded or released, he would remain in the Cardinals organization.

More details for members of The Cardinal Nation can be found here:

Cardinals add LHP Sanchez on Waivers, DFA Infielder Urias


Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.


Transactions 

  • 2/6 The Cardinals claimed LHP Ricardo Sanchez off waivers from the Seattle Mariners.
  • 2/6 The Cardinals designated 2B Ramon Urias for assignment.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.


Looking Ahead

Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Jupiter, Florida this Tuesday, February 11, with the first workout on Wednesday.  Position players will report on February 16, with first workout the next day.  These are the mandatory reporting dates with some players having been in Jupiter for a while now.

There will be a total of 72 players in major league camp – the members of the 40-man roster plus 32 non-roster invitees.  The list of 32 NRIs are available at TCN here.

The first spring training game will be played on February 22 against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.  The full spring training schedule – including 21 televised contests, 15 of which will be on FOX Sports Midwest – can be viewed in the following article:

Cardinals Announce 2020 Spring TV and Radio Schedule


Blast from the Past

In a nod to trivia buffs in Cardinal Nation, this week’s Blast from the Past looks at a former Cardinals player and minor league manager, widely believed to be the first major league baseball position player to wear eyeglasses on the playing field.

George “Specs” Torporcer was born on February 9, 1899 in New York, NY.  Torporcer loved baseball, becoming hooked on the sport at the age of six when he attended the 1905 World Series.  Torporcer’s history teacher in the seventh grade formed a baseball team, but Specs was turned down from playing on it due to his small build and poor eyesight.  Torporcer went to all the games, and on one occasion he was the only spectator and the team was short one player, so Specs was drafted to play center field.  During the game he had two hits and made a difficult catch.

Torporcer had to help in the family business after his father passed away, so he did not attend high school. He began playing semi-pro baseball in New York and New Jersey in 1920, and eventually signed with the Syracuse Stars, the team that became the Cardinals first minor league team in a deal with Branch Rickey.

George “Specs” Toporcer

Rickey selected Torporcer from the Syracuse roster to play for the Cardinals after Milt Stock refused to report to Spring Training in 1921.  Rickey moved Rogers Hornsby to third base and put Torporcer at second base.  Stock returned to the team before the start of the season, so Rickey put Stock at third and Hornsby in the outfield, leaving Torporcer to make his major league debut on April 13, 1921 at second base as the first major league position player to wear spectacles.

Specs played for the Cardinals from 1921-1928, playing in 546 games and posting a hitting line of .279/.347/.373 over eight seasons.  In addition to second base, Torporcer also played shortstop, third base, first base, and right field.

Torporcer moved down to the Cardinals Triple-A affiliate in Rochester from 1928-1932.  He became player-manager there in 1932 and continued in that dual role until 1934, when he left the organization after a financial dispute with Rickey.  Specs continued to play with other minor league teams until 1941.  After 1941, he was named farm director for the Boston Red Sox, then in 1948, he became the farm director for the Chicago White Sox.

Specs became completely blind in 1951 following a fifth operation to try to save his failing eyesight.  Both the Cardinals and the Red Sox organizations helped to pay the expenses of the surgeries.  Torporcer became a motivational speaker and was known as “Baseball’s Blind Ambassador”.

Torporcer wrote an autobiography entitled “Baseball—From Backlots to Big Leagues” in 1944.  He passed away on May 17, 1989 at the age of 90 from injuries sustained at a fall in his home in Huntington Station, NY.  He was the last surviving member of the 1926 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.


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Cardinals Prospects on 2020 National Top 100s


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of January 27-February 2

photo: Brian Jordan (Getty Images)

The St. Louis Cardinals finalized their spring training camp invitee list of 72 players. As the Super Bowl concluded the football season, our history feature highlights former Cardinals who also played in the NFL.


Cardinals announce 32 non-roster invitees

The Cardinals announced 32 non-roster invitees to major league spring training this past week.  Among them are the top three prospects in the system – Dylan Carlson, Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore.

The Cardinals will have a total of 72 players in major league camp, a departure from how things have been done in past years.  Previously, the Cardinals had a separate camp for minor leaguers by invitation only that began one or two weeks after the start of big league camp, called STEP Camp or Spring Training Early Program.  STEP Camp was for top prospects believed to be close to contributing at the major league level.

This year, because of the early start to big league camp – full squad workouts begin on Feb. 17 and the first spring training game on Feb. 22 – and the March start to minor league camp, the team decided to increase the size of major league camp by eight players and not hold STEP Camp.

Further details, including the full list of NRI players can be found at TCN.

Cardinals Spring Training Camp Swells to 72 Players


Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.


Transactions 

The list of non-roster invitees include two pitchers signed to minor league contracts. Both were in other teams’ major league camps in 2019.


Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.


Looking Ahead

Spring Training is right around the corner. The semi-trailer trucks loaded with equipment are scheduled to depart from St. Louis, heading for Florida, on Tuesday, February 4.

Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report in 16 days, on February 11, with the first workout on February 12.  Position players will report on February 16, with their first workout on February 17.

There will be a total of 72 players in major league camp, 40 rostered players and 32 non-roster invitees.  The list of 32 NRIs are available at TCN here.

The first spring training game will be played on February 22 against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.  The full spring training schedule can be viewed here.

The Cardinal Nation features an early, partial look at Cardinals spring training games to be televised here.


Blast from the Past

In last week’s Blast from the Past, we looked at former St. Louis Cardinals who also played in the NBA.  This week, in honor of the Super Bowl, we look at former St. Louis Cardinals who also played in the NFL.

There has been a total of 67 athletes who have played in both MLB and the NFL.  Eleven of those 67 played for the NFL in its inaugural year of 1920.  Only seven have played in both MLB and the NFL since 1970.   Of the 67 players, seven are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. None of the 67 are in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Brian Jordan

The most well-known of these dual sport athletes to play for the Cardinals is Brian Jordan, the team’s first round draft pick in 1988.  Jordan made his major league debut with St. Louis on April 8, 1992.  The outfielder posted a slash line of .291/.339/.474 in seven seasons, with 84 home runs and 367 RBI. Jordan became a free agent in 1998 and signed with the Atlanta Braves.

Jordan also played in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons as a defensive back from 1989 to 1991, during the time he was playing in the minor leagues for the Cardinals. He gave up football to play baseball full time in 1992.

Pitcher Chad Hutchinson was drafted in the second round by the Cardinals in 1998.  Hutchinson was drafted out of high school by the Atlanta Braves in 1995 but chose to attend Stanford University on a football scholarship instead.  The quarterback left Stanford and football with two seasons of eligibility remaining to play baseball for the Cardinals.

Hutchinson spent the majority of his baseball career in the minor leagues but made his major league debut with the Cardinals on April 4, 2001.  He pitched in only three games for St. Louis and was sent down to Triple-A for the rest of the season.  Hutchinson left baseball and returned to football.  He was signed by the Cowboys in 2002 and played two bumpy seasons with Dallas and one in Chicago.

Matt Kinzer pitched for the Cardinals in eight games during the 1989 season.  He had been the second round draft pick of St. Louis in 1984.  Kinzer was traded to the Detroit Tigers in December of 1989.  Earlier, Kinzer played in one NFL game as a punter for the Detroit Lions during the NFL strike in 1987.

Ernie Vick was a catcher for the Cardinals from 1922-1926 but appeared in only 57 major league games during that time, including 24 games during the 1926 World Championship season.  Vick played for the Detroit Panthers (now Detroit Lions) in 1925, then for the Chicago Bears from 1927-28.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Capsules in the Fantasy Baseball Guide 2020


Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

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© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of January 20-26

photo: Larry Walker and Scott Rolen (Ford-Mobley.com)

Former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Larry Walker joins the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2020 as Scott Rolen improves his standing considerably. Free agent Marcell Ozuna signed with Atlanta and Matt Wieters’ St. Louis return was finalized. As the sports world mourns the passing of Kobe Bryant, our history feature highlights former Cardinals who also played in the NBA.



Larry Walker elected to the Hall of Fame

On Tuesday, January 21, the results of the voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2020 were announced.  Former Cardinal Larry Walker, in his final year on the ballot, received 304 votes, which exceeded the minimum 75% threshold for election by six votes.  Former Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter was also elected in his first year on the ballot, falling one vote short of a unanimous selection.

Larry Walker (Getty Images)

Walker joins former Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons in the 2020 Hall of Fame class.  Simmons was selected back in December by the Modern Baseball Era Committee along with former Players’ Union head Marvin Miller.

Walker played in the major leagues for 17 years with three teams, the Montreal Expos, the Colorado Rockies, and finally the St. Louis Cardinals to end his career.

The Canadian born Walker was not eligible to participate in the MLB draft out of high school, as Canadian players did not become eligible until 1991.  Instead, Walker was signed as a free agent in 1984 by the Montreal Expos for $1,500.  Walker made his major league debut with the Expos on August 16, 1989 and played there for six seasons.

He was signed as a free agent by the Colorado Rockies in 1994 and played in Denver for the next 10 years.  Walker was traded to the Cardinals in August 2004 and played for the Cardinals through 2005, his final major league season.  He slashed .286/.387/.520 with 26 home runs during his short time with St. Louis.

Former Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen received increased support in his third year on the ballot, garnering a 35.3% of the vote, up from 17.2% the previous year.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on July 26, 2020, in Cooperstown, NY.

Note: This past weekend, Walker participated in Cardinals Fantasy Camp in Jupiter, FL and spoke about what being selected to the Hall means to him.


Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Marcell Ozuna (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Despite persistent rumors that the Cardinals were pursuing free agent and former Cardinal Marcell Ozuna, the outfielder agreed to a one-year, $18 million deal with the Atlanta Braves this past week.

His new salary is only $200,000 more than the $17.8 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals that Ozuna rejected in November.  There are rumors that Ozuna turned down longer bids at lower annual value.

The Cardinals will receive a compensation draft pick in this summer’s draft for the loss of Ozuna.  The pick will occur following the Competitive Balance Round B and is the #71 pick in the draft.


Transactions 

  • 1/22 The Cardinals signed free agent Matt Wieters. This was disclosed last week, but the club did not make the catcher’s return official until Wednesday, likely when he passed his physical exam.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.


Looking Ahead

Spring Training is right around the corner. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report in 16 days, on February 11, with the first workout to begin on February 12.  Position players will report on February 16, with first workout on February 17.

The first spring training game will be played on February 22 against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.  The full spring training schedule can be viewed here.


Blast from the Past

At the time of this writing, the sports world is mourning the untimely and tragic death of former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.  Numerous current players and fans are followers of the NBA, most notably Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, a southern California native and Lakers fan.  Though this writer is not among those who follow basketball, the sad and tragic death of Bryant led me to investigate former St. Louis Cardinals who also played in the NBA.

As a result of this cursory search, this week’s Blast from the Past introduces Richard James (“Dick”) Ricketts Jr, player for the St. Louis Hawks from 1955-56 (currently the Atlanta Hawks) and the Rochester/Cincinnati Royals from 1956-1958 (currently the Sacramento Kings).  Ricketts is also the brother of the late Dave Ricketts, catcher for St. Louis as well as manager and coach in the Cardinals minor league system.

Dick Ricketts was signed as an amateur free agent pitcher by the Cardinals in 1955.  Rickets played basketball and baseball simultaneously through 1958.  Most of Ricketts’ Cardinals baseball career was spent in the minor leagues.

Ricketts made his major league debut on June 14, 1959 at the age of 25.  His major league career with the Cardinals was short lived, as he pitched in only 12 games for St. Louis, including nine starts. He appeared in his final major league game on July 27, 1959.  In his 12 games, Ricketts posted a record of 1-6 with an ERA of 5.82.

On September 20, 1960, the Cardinals traded Ricketts to the Philadelphia Phillies.  Ricketts finished his baseball career in the Phillies minor league system in 1964.

Ricketts was one of 13 athletes to play in both the NBA and MLB.  He died of leukemia in 1988.

Former Cardinals shortstop Dick Groat (1963-1965) played one season in the NBA for the Fort Wayne Pistons (currently the Detroit Pistons) in 1952-53.

Ron Reed pitched in 24 games for the Cardinals in 1975.  He had a record of 9-8 with an ERA of 3.23.  The Cardinals acquired Reed from the Braves on May 28, 1975, then traded him to the Phillies in December 1975.  Reed played for the Detroit Pistons from 1965-67.

These three former Cardinals all played in the NBA at some point in their athletic careers, but only Ricketts played baseball and basketball at the same time.

Two Cardinals Hall of Famers also played basketball professionally, but not in the NBA.  Bob Gibson and Lou Brock toured with the Harlem Globetrotters.


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of January 13-19

photo: Matt Wieters (Kim Klement/Imagn)

This past week, the St. Louis Cardinals added two players with two other moves long-rumored but not yet happening. Our history feature highlights the late team Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Forsch.


Cardinals reunite with backstop Wieters

On Sunday, the Cardinals reached a deal with catcher Matt Wieters for a return as backup catcher to Yadier Molina, according to national reporter Jon Heyman.  It had been rumored for much of the offseason that the Cardinals and the Oakland A’s were competing for the services of the switch hitter.

Matt Wieters

The terms for Wieters, 33, are reportedly one year for $2 million with incentives worth an additional $1 million.  In 2019, Wieters played in 67 games with a slash line of .214/.268/.435.  The catcher hit 11 home runs and drove in 27.

Cardinals catching prospect Andrew Knizner, no. 5 in TCN’s 2020 rankings, may begin the season with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds or the Cardinals could use the new 26th roster spot on a third catcher.

The team has not confirmed the move yet, perhaps waiting until a physical has been taken.


Cardinals acquire outfielder from Miami

The Cardinals announced this past Tuesday that outfielder Austin Dean was acquired from the Miami Marlins in exchange for minor league outfielder Diowill Burgos.  This move follows the trade of two from the Cardinals outfield depth in the trade of Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena to the Tampa Bay Rays for LHP prospect Matthew Liberatore. Earlier in the off-season, Adolis Garcia was traded and Marcell Ozuna became a free agent.

Austin Dean

The 26 year old Dean played 64 games with the Marlins in 2019 and slashed .225/.261/.404 with a .665 OPS.   Dean put up better numbers in Triple-A, slashing .337/.401/635 with a 1.036 OPS in 73 games with Miami’s Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans.  The right handed outfielder was the Marlins Minor League Player of the Year in 2018.

Dean was added to the Cardinals 40-man roster and will compete with other outfielders for a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Burgos, 18, was a 2017 international signing by the Cardinals.  The young outfielder played in 58 games between the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast Cardinals in 2019 and slashed .316/.420/.579.

For more details…

Craig Mish Dishes on New Cardinal Austin Dean


Cardinals Winter Warm-Up

The Cardinals annual Winter Warm-Up began on Saturday and continues through Monday at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in St. Louis.  The event features individual autograph signings by current and former Cardinals players and coaches as well as interviews, live and silent auctions, and question and answer sessions with Cardinals staff.

The Cardinals Caravans are operating in conjunction with the Winter Warm-Up. In them, current players, alumni and media personalities travel to a number of cities in the Midwest to meet and answer questions as well as sign autographs for young fans. TCN’s Derek Shore recapped the events at the Friday stop in Springfield, MO.

Hicks, Thomas and Fernandez Lead Cardinals Caravan into Springfield

You can view full coverage of the Warm-Up at TCN, with daily summaries of the events as well as photos and audio interviews.


MLB Network’s documentary on the Whiteyball Era

A new documentary entitled “Birds of a Different Game:  The ‘80s Cardinals” is a film which highlights the successes of the Cardinals teams of the 1980s, a/k/a “Whiteyball”, after the Cardinals manager of that time, Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog.

The film will air on MLB Network on January 28, but Cardinals fans were treated to an early screening of the film at Ballpark Village on Saturday.

Whitey Herzog

Following the viewing, Herzog, as well as former players Ozzie Smith, John Tudor, and Tom Herr conducted an onstage Q&A.

The documentary features the hiring of Herzog as manager in 1980, and how he put together the roster.  It includes the 1982 trade for Ozzie Smith, acquired by the Cardinals from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Garry Templeton.

The film also includes interviews with Herzog, Smith, and former Cardinals first baseman Keith Hernandez, as well as other former Cardinals.  Broadcasters Bob Costas and Al Michaels, Post-Dispatch writer Rick Hummel, author Doug Feldman, and actor and Cardinals fan Jon Hamm, are also showcased in the film.

The film will air on MLB Network at 7 pm CT on January 28.


Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals continue to explore outside additions, but no move is imminent.  Free agent Marcell Ozuna remains on the Cardinals’ radar, though Goold states that sources have indicated that the Cardinals would have to increase their offer for Ozuna to sign.

As for the possibility of trading for Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, his availability is uncertain, as he would have to waive his no trade clause. Further, the opt out in his contract after 2021 may remain as a road block.  Further, acquisition of Arenado means Matt Carpenter may have to be traded to make room.  Carpenter also has a no trade clause in his contract, but Carpenter told Goold this weekend that he “wouldn’t stand in the way of doing what I thought was right for the organization”.  However, the rumors of a trade of Arenado to St. Louis have lost steam in recent days, making a trade of the All Star third baseman seem more unlikely.


Transactions 

  • 1/14 The Cardinals acquired OF Austin Dean from the Miami Marlins for OF Diowill Burgos.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

TCN’s Winter Warm-Up coverage on Sunday includes injury updates on Cardinals Austin Gomber, Lane Thomas, Jordan Hicks and more.


Looking Ahead

Spring Training is less than a month away.  Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report on February 11, with the first workout to begin on February 12.  Position players will report on February 16, with first workout on February 17.

The first spring training game will be played on February 22 against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.  The full spring training schedule can be viewed here.


Blast from the Past

Over the weekend a new documentary celebrating the St. Louis Cardinals teams of the 1980s was shown to Cardinals fans at Ballpark Village on Saturday.  The film, entitled “Birds of a Different Game:  The ‘80s Cardinals” showcases the era of “Whiteyball” a decade during which the Cardinals appeared in three World Series and won one.

Bob Forsch

This week’s Blast from the Past remembers one pitcher who was instrumental in the success of that decade.  His name was Bob Forsch and were he still alive, he would have celebrated his 70th birthday this past week.

Robert Herbert Forsch was born January 13, 1950 in Sacramento, California.  He attended Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento and went on to attend Sacramento City College. Forsch was selected by the Cardinals in the 26th round of the 1968 draft.  He was drafted as a third baseman but was converted to a pitcher while in the minor leagues.

Forsch made his major league debut on July 7, 1974.  His most memorable performance of his rookie season was in a game against the Montreal Expos on September 30, when he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning.

Forsch pitched his only 20-win season in 1977, in which he went 20-7 with a 3.48 ERA.

Forsch reached the postseason for the first time in 1982.  He started Game 1 of the NLCS against the Braves, striking out six and limiting the Braves to three hits.  Forsch pitched two games in the World Series but lost both.  The Cardinals nevertheless won the Series in seven games over the Milwaukee Brewers.  Forsch pitched in the postseason two more times in that decade, in both 1985 and 1987.

One notable postseason event for Forsch was in the 1987 NLCS against the San Francisco Giants.  In Game 3, Forsch hit Giants outfielder Jeffrey Leonard in the back with a fastball.  Leonard was nicknamed “One Flap Down” for his habit of trotting around the bases after a home run with one arm down at his side.  This stunt enraged Cardinals fans, and after Forsch plunked Leonard, the St. Louis media began calling Leonard “Both Flaps Down”.  Forsch was unrepentant, insisting that he was “only trying to come inside”.

In 16 seasons with the Cardinals, Forsch posted a record of 168-136 with an ERA of 3.76.  Forsch had two career no-hitters, both at Busch Stadium.  He also won two Silver Slugger Awards as a pitcher.  Forsch was one of the better hitting pitchers in the league, with 12 career home runs on his resume.

Bob Forsch (Getty Images)

Forsch was the author of a book entitled Bob Forsch’s Tales from the Cardinals Dugout.  Forsch passed away on November 3, 2011 from an aortic aneurysm, less than a week after he threw out the first pitch in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series at Busch Stadium. He was named to the Cardinals team Hall of Fame in 2015.


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of January 6-12

photo: John Gant (Michael McLoone/Imagn)

This past week, the St. Louis Cardinals signed two players and made one trade amid rumors of a bigger one still ahead. With spring training approaching, our history feature highlights prior Cardinals Grapefruit League locales.


Trade with Tampa Bay Rays

On Thursday, January 9, a trade between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Rays was announced.  The Cardinals received left-handed pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore, minor league catcher Edgardo Rodriguez, and a Competitive Balance Round B draft pick from the Rays.  In exchange, the Rays received outfielders Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena, plus a Competitive Balance Round A draft pick.

St. Louis had a glut of outfielders on the major league roster and in the minor leagues, a position of considerable depth in the system.  The Cardinals traded from this depth to obtain left handed pitching, an area of lesser depth in the system.

The 20 year old Liberatore was a first round draft pick by the Rays in 2018 and a top prospect in their system.  Liberatore is a close friend of the Cardinals’ 2018 first round pick, Nolan Gorman.  The two have been friends since the age of five and often played baseball together growing up.  In 2019, Liberatore pitched for the Rays’ Class A affiliate in Bowling Green, posting an ERA of 3.10 in 16 appearances with a record of 6-2.  The left hander is ranked by The Cardinal Nation as the Cardinals No. 3 prospect.

Comparing and Ranking Cardinals Lefties Liberatore and Thompson

Rodriguez, 19, was a 2017 international signing by the Rays out of Venezuela. He played 10 games in the Gulf Coast League in 2019, and prior to that he logged 51 games in the Dominican Summer League, where he hit .330 with six home runs.

Martinez was acquired by the Cardinals from the Royals for cash considerations in May 2016.  He made his major league debut that September.  In four seasons with the Cardinals, Martinez slashed .298/.363/.453 in over 1,200 plate appearances.  Martinez was a below average defensive player, which hampered him from being a regular in the starting lineup.  Martinez’ profile is more suited as a designated hitter in the American League.

The 24 year old Arozarena was the Cardinals’ no. 7 prospect according to The Cardinal Nation and debuted with St. Louis last season.  The outfielder put up excellent offensive numbers with the Cardinals’ Double-A and Triple-A clubs in 2019 and was TCN’s system-wide Player of the Year. However, he had a challenging road ahead for playing time with St. Louis due to the glut of outfielders.

The possibility of a return of Marcell Ozuna to the outfield mix, in addition to the possible 2020 debut of outfield prospect Dylan Carlson may have also figured into the reasoning behind the trade.

The trade reduced the Cardinals 40-man roster to 38 players, giving them flexibility for additional roster tweaking for 2020.


Gant avoids arbitration hearing

Pitcher John Gant reached an agreement on a one-year contract and avoid arbitration with the Cardinals prior to the deadline to submit salary numbers on Friday, January 10.  Gant was the Cardinals’ only arbitration eligible player following the release of pitcher Dominic Leone in November.

Gant will make $1.3 million in 2020, his first of three arbitration-eligible years.

John Gant

Gant spent the entirety of the 2019 season in the Cardinals bullpen after losing the competition for the fifth rotation spot in Spring Training. Gant was acquired by the Cardinals in the December 2016 trade of Jaime Garcia to the Braves.  Gant went 11-1 with a 3.66 ERA in 66 1/3 innings out of the bullpen in 2019.  He struggled in the second half, posting a 6.55 ERA during that period and was left off the postseason roster.

The settlement with Gant leaves no player on the 40-man roster unsigned for the 2020 season.


Backup catcher still uncertain

As of this writing, the identity of the backup for catcher Yadier Molina in 2020 remains uncertain.  The Cardinals have prospect Andrew Knizner on the roster as a possibility, and the Cardinals have stated an interest in a reunion with the 2019 reserve Matt Wieters.

Matt Wieters

Wieters is a free agent, but it has been reported for the last month that both the Cardinals and the Oakland Athletics have interest in signing the veteran backstop.  After Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic recently reiterated the interest by both teams, St. Louis beat writer Derrick Goold confirmed that not only are the Cardinals hoping for a return of Wieters, but they are keeping a locker open for him.

The veteran catcher is no doubt holding out for a full time gig and as much money as possible, but should that not pan out, the position as Molina’s backup, with the limited playing time that comes with it, remains an option.  Wieters logged 67 games with the Cardinals in 2019, much of that due to Molina’s month long stint on the injured list with a groin injury.

In addition to Knizner, the Cardinals added some insurance by signing catcher Oscar Hernandez to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.  Hernandez, 26, spent time with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Boston Red Sox, but hasn’t played in major league game since 2016.  The catcher will be assigned to the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds.  Hernandez is known more for his defensive ability than for offense.

Cardinals Sign Catcher Oscar Hernandez


Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Nolan Arenado (Allan Henry/Imagn)

Matt Spiegel, columnist for Chicago AM radio’s 670 The Score, tweeted on Saturday that the station’s baseball analyst Bruce Levine heard the Cardinals made a trade offer for Rockies’ third baseman Nolan Arenado. This offer allegedly included Dakota Hudson, Carlos Martinez, Tyler O’Neill, and newly acquired pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore.

Later that day, Rockies beat writer Patrick Saunders from the Denver Post tweeted that trade rumors concerning Arenado are dart throws and should be taken with a grain of salt.  Additionally, Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak stated in an interview with KMOX on Sunday morning that the rumors are “90% to 95% untrue”.

On Saturday, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal tweeted about the Cardinals’ continued interest in free agent catcher Matt Wieters, who spent the 2019 season as the Cardinals’ backup to Yadier Molina.  Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch confirmed the Cardinals’ interest in Wieters in a subsequent tweet.

The Cardinals have been linked all offseason to free agent and former Cardinals left fielder Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna declined the qualifying offer from the Cardinals and thus comes with the loss of a draft pick attached.  While the Cardinals maintain an interest in Ozuna, he remains a free agent for now.    Ozuna recently told a Dominican television reporter that his decision is down to either the Cardinals or the Texas Rangers.  Ozuna stated that if the Cardinals “step up” he would prefer to return to St. Louis.   The exact definition of “step up” is unclear, but it has been reported the Cardinals are not interested in a long-term deal for the outfielder.


Transactions 

  • 1/7 The Cardinals signed C Oscar Hernandez to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.
  • 1/9 The Cardinals traded RF Jose Martinez, LF Randy Arozarena, and a Round A Competitive Balance draft pick to the Tampa Bay Rays for LHP Matthew Liberatore, C Edgardo Rodriguez, and a Competitive Balance Round B draft pick.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.


Looking Ahead

The annual Winter Warm-Up fan festival is scheduled for January 18-20 at the Hyatt Regency in St. Louis.  Admission and autograph tickets are currently on sale at mlb.com/cardinals/fans/winter-warm-up .

In conjunction with the Winter Warm-Up, the annual Cardinals Caravan takes place the same weekend, with groups of players and former players making 20 stops in towns across the Midwest.  The full slate of dates, times, places, and players participating are available here.

Spring Training is a month away.  Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report on February 11, with the first workout to begin on February 12.  Position players will report on February 16, with first workout on February 17.

The first spring training game will be played on February 22 against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.  The full spring training schedule can be viewed here.


Blast from the Past

Spring Training is just around the corner, and as Cardinals players prepare for a return to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter Florida, this week’s Blast from the Past recalls prior Spring Training venues in St. Louis Cardinals history.

The Cardinals have had their spring training home in Jupiter since 1998.  Roger Dean Stadium was built that year and has a capacity of around 7,000. The Cardinals share the facility with the Miami Marlins.  In addition to the Cardinals, the Roger Dean complex is host to four minor league teams:  the Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins Class A-Advanced), the Palm Beach Cardinals (Cardinals Class A-Advanced), the Gulf Coast Cardinals, and the Gulf Coast Marlins.

From 1947 to 1997, the Cardinals held spring training in Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida, with a capacity of 7,500.  It was built primarily for baseball but has hosted other sports in its history.  The Cardinals shared Al Lang Stadium with various other MLB teams throughout their history there, including the New York Yankees, the New York Giants, the New York Mets, and the Baltimore Orioles.  The Tampa Bay Rays took over the facility for its spring training in 1998 and remained there through 2008.  The stadium is currently the host of the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team.

Exterior of Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, FL (National Baseball Hall of Fame)
Cardinals spring training in St. Petersburg, FL (National Baseball Hall of Fame)
Jim Konstanty, Vern Rapp, Shelden Bender and George Kissell

The Cardinals made their spring training home at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida from 1930-1936.  LECOM Park was known as Florida’s version of Fenway Park.  This was the spring training era of the Cardinals “Gashouse Gang”.  The stadium had a capacity of 2,000. Future Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean liked Bradenton so much he bought a local gas station there and had a home there.  It was said the Cardinals sent Dean to Bradenton weeks before spring training to keep him out of trouble and sent a local sportswriter to keep an eye on him.

Other spring training facilities used by the Cardinals include Ban Johnson Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas (1900), Herald Park in Houston (1904), and West End Park in Houston (1906-08).

The Cardinals held spring training in other cities at various times, including St. Louis (1901-02), Dallas (1903), Marlins Springs, TX (1905), Little Rock, Arkansas (1909-1910), West Baden, Indiana (1911), Jackson, Mississippi (1912), Columbus, Georgia (1913), St. Augustine, Florida (1914), Hot Wells, Texas (1915-17), San Antonio, Texas (1918), St Louis, again (1919), Brownsville Texas (1920), Orange, Texas (1921-22), Bradenton, Florida (1923-24), Stockton, California (1925), San Antonio, again (1926), Avon Park, Florida (1927-29), Daytona Beach, Florida (1937), St. Petersburg’s Waterfront Park (1938-42), Cairo, Illinois (1943-45), and St. Petersburg Athletic Park (1946).


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of December 16-22

photo: Kwang-Hyun Kim and John Mozeliak (St. Louis Cardinals)

The St. Louis Cardinals added a new left-handed pitcher from Korea while saying goodbye to a Cuban-born outfielder. Our history feature highlights five other Cardinals, current and former, with Asian roots.


Korean lefty signs two-year deal

The Cardinals announced on Tuesday, December 17 that Korean left hander Kwang-Hyun Kim has agreed to terms on a two-year contract.  Kim pitched for the Korean Baseball Organization for the past 12 years, and sought a move to MLB for the 2020 season.  The deal is worth $8 million plus incentives with 20% percent additional ($1.6 million) going to his former team as a posting fee.

Kwang-Hyun Kim

The 31-year old left hander, nicknamed “KK”, posted an ERA of 3.27 with 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings in his KBO career.  Kim had Tommy John surgery in 2017, but returned healthy for the 2018 season, posting an ERA of 2.98.  The lefty throws a mid-90s fastball and a slider that is his best pitch.

Kim’s role in the KBO was as a starter, but his role in St. Louis is yet to be determined.  The health and effectiveness of Carlos Martinez may be the determining factor of whether Kim heads to the rotation or the bullpen.

To make room on the 40-man roster, Memphis outfielder Adolis Garcia was designated for assignment, then traded to the Texas Rangers for cash considerations.  Garcia was one of a plethora of outfielders in the upper levels of Cardinals system and spent the entire 2019 season at Memphis.

Adolis Garcia


Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak told reporters this past week that the team was still in the mix for free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna.  Ozuna has reportedly fielded interest from several other teams, including the Cincinnati Reds, and is thought to be seeking a multi-year deal.

Mark Saxon of The Athletic recently tweeted that it appeared unlikely the Cardinals will sign their former left fielder, given their preference for a left handed bat, but in a later chat, pegged Ozuna’s odds of returning to St. Louis at 50 percent.  The length of contract the outfielder is seeking may be a hindrance to the Cardinals re-signing him.

Marcell Ozuna


Transactions 

  • 12/17 The Cardinals signed free agent LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim.
  • 12/18 The Cardinals designated OF Adolis Garcia for assignment.
  • 12/21 The Cardinals traded OF Adolis Garcia to the Texas Rangers for cash considerations.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.


Looking Ahead

The next important date on the MLB offseason calendar is January 10.  This is the date when teams and their arbitration eligible players both submit salary amounts for arbitration.  The Cardinals have only one arbitration eligible player, John Gant.

Should the Cardinals not reach agreement with Gant on a 2020 salary, an arbitration hearing to determine his salary will be held some time in February.

The annual Winter Warm-Up fan festival is scheduled for January 18-20 at the Hyatt Regency in St. Louis.  Admission and autograph tickets are currently on sale at mlb.com/cardinals/fans/winter-warm-up .


Blast from the Past

This past week the Cardinals signed Korean left handed pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim to a two-year major league contract.  Kim is one of three Asian players signed as international free agents by the Cardinals in franchise history, and one of six Cardinals players of Asian descent. This week’s Blast from the Past briefly looks at the history of Asian players for the Cardinals.

So Taguchi (Getty Images)

The Cardinals have signed three Asian players as international free agents over the recent past. So Taguchi was the first Asian player signed by the Cardinals. Taguchi, born and raised in Japan, joined the Cardinals in January 2002 as a free agent. Prior to that, Taguchi played for the Orix Blue Wave from 1992-2001 and was a teammate of Ichiro Suzuki.

Taguchi played the first half of 2002 for the Cardinals Triple-A affiliate, the Memphis Redbirds.  He made his major league debut with St. Louis on June 10, 2002 at the age of 32. Taguchi was re-signed in free agency on December 22, 2004 and remained with the Cardinals through the 2007 season. The Cardinals declined Taguchi’s 2008 option and released him on December 5, 2007. Taguchi signed a one-year deal with the Phillies on December 23, 2007.

In his six seasons with the Cardinals, Taguchi slashed .283/.336/.391 with 19 home runs and 154 RBI. Taguchi played one year with the Phillies and one year with the Chicago Cubs. He then returned to Japan and concluded his career with his old team, the Orix Blue Wave. Taguchi announced his retirement from baseball on July 31, 2012.

Seung-Hwan Oh (USA TODAY Sports)

On January 11, 2016, the Cardinals signed Korean RHP Seung-Hwan Oh to a two year contract. Prior to that, Oh played for the Samsung Lions of the KBO from 2005-2013, and then pitched two seasons for the Hanshin Tigers of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan.

In two seasons with the Cardinals, Oh worked out of the bullpen and posted an ERA of 2.85, saving 39 games.  He pitched 139 innings with a strikeout rate of 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings.  Oh became a free agent at the end of the 2017 season and signed for 2018 with the Toronto Blue Jays.  Toronto traded him mid-season to the Colorado Rockies, where he remained until his release in July 2019.  Oh returned to Korea in August 2019 and signed with the Samsung Lions.

In addition to Taguchi, Oh, and now Kim, the Cardinals have drafted three players of Asian descent who have made the major leagues.  Kolten Wong, whose father is of Chinese descent, was drafted by the Cardinals in 2011 and currently plays second base for the team.  Wong is a native of Hawaii.

Tommy Pham was drafted by the Cardinals in 2006 and made his major league debut with the Cardinals in 2014. Pham’s father is Vietnamese.  Pham was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018 and dealt again to the San Diego Padres earlier this month.

Tommy Edman was drafted by the Cardinals in 2016.  He made his major league debut on June 8, 2019 and remained on the team through the regular season and postseason.  Edman was drafted as an infielder and played the infield in the minor leagues but also appeared in the outfield for St. Louis.  Edman’s mother is Korean.


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2019-2020 Cardinals Winter Ball Pitchers Report – December 19


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of December 9-15

photo: Rob Kaminsky (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Welcome to The Cardinal Nation’s quick but complete recap of the prior week’s St. Louis Cardinals news, posted each Monday morning and soon heading into its fifth consecutive year.


News and Notes

  • The Cardinals announced the promotion of Patrick “Packy” Elkins from the position of professional scout to the Cardinals major league staff. Elkins will take on a newly created position of Major League Internal Player Strategist.  Elkins was formerly an infielder in the Cardinals minor league system from 2010-2012, reaching the High A level in Palm Beach.  The duties of the newly created position are to synthesize video and statistical data for the use of players and coaches.

More details can be found here.

  • The Cardinals have signed one of their former pitching prospects, Rob Kaminsky, to a minor league deal. Kaminsky first joined the Cardinals in the first round of the 2013 draft as a high schooler and was traded in 2015 to the Cleveland Indians for Brandon Moss. Kaminsky, whose career was slowed by injury, is expected to provide bullpen depth from the left side at Memphis.

Rob Kaminsky

  • The Rule 5 draft was held on Thursday, December 12 in San Diego. The Cardinals lost no players in the major league phase of the draft, and could not make a pick in that phase, as the major league roster is full.  The Cardinals did choose three players in the minor league phase of the draft, all right handed pitchers.  From Milwaukee the Cardinals drafted RHP Jordan Brink, a 26 year old hard thrower who has been clocked from 97-99 mph.  Also drafted were right handed pitchers Enrique Saldana and Jacob Bosiokovic from Colorado.  The Cardinals lost two players in the minor league phase, catcher Brian O’Keefe and first baseman Dariel Gomez.

More details on Kaminsky and the Rule 5 draft for TCN members here.


Trade and Acquisition Rumors

MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweeted during the Winter Meetings that the Cardinals are interested in left handed free agent pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu.  The 32 year old former Dodgers starter has been reported to be seeking a three- to four-year deal.

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported that the Cardinals are among several teams that may have had trade discussions with the Red Sox about pitcher David Price.  The left-handed pitcher has three years and $96 million remaining on his contract, which had been the largest in MLB history for a pitcher until this off-season.  The Cardinals offered Price a seven-year deal in 2015, before the Red Sox topped the Cardinals bid, but now the Sox are looking to shed salary.

Mark Saxon of The Athletic reports that the Cardinals have “heavily scouted” free agent Shogu Akiyama and could be suitors for the Japanese center fielder and leadoff candidate.

Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch writes that the Cardinals are “intrigued” by left handed pitcher Dallas Keuchel.  Keuchel and Ryu are among the top left handed starters available on the free agent market.


Transactions 

There are no transactions to report.


Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.


Looking Ahead

The next important date on the MLB offseason calendar is January 10.  This is the date when teams and their arbitration eligible players both submit salary amounts for a one-year contract.  The Cardinals have only one arbitration eligible player, John Gant. Should the two sides not reach agreement, a hearing to determine his 2020 salary will be held some time in February.

The annual Cardinals Care Winter Warm-Up fan festival is scheduled for January 18-20 at the Hyatt Regency in St. Louis.  Admission and autograph tickets are currently on sale at mlb.com/cardinals/fans/winter-warm-up. More details here.


Blast from the Past

The Winter Meetings took place this past week in San Diego.  The Cardinals left without making any additions to the roster, though the team was the subject of several rumors during the meetings.  This week’s Blast from the Past looks at memorable trades in franchise history during this mid-December time period.

On December 9, 1980, the Cardinals acquired future Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter from the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Leon Durham and infielder Ken Reitz. Sutter spent four seasons with the Cardinals and was the NL saves leader in 1984 with 45 saves.

Garry Templeton and Ozzie Smith (Getty Images)

On December 10, 1981, the Cardinals acquired shortstop Ozzie Smith from the San Diego Padres for Garry Templeton, Sexto Lezcano, and Al Olmstead. Future Hall of Famer Smith played his final 15 seasons with St. Louis, amassing 14 All Star appearances, 11 Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger award.

Ted Simmons (Getty Images)

On December 12, 1980, the Cardinals traded Ted Simmons, Rollie Fingers, and Pete Vuckovich to the Milwaukee Brewers for David Green, Dave LaPoint, Sixto Lezcano and Lary Sorensen. This Whitey Herzog-driven trade was widely considered one of the worst made by the Cardinals.  Both Fingers and Vuckovich won Cy Young Awards with the Brewers and Simmons was one of the best catchers in franchise history, recently selected as part the 2020 class of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Simmons was previously inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame.

Adam Wainwright and Busch Stadium fans (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)

On December 13, 2003, the Cardinals acquired Adam Wainwright, Ray King, and Jason Marquis from the Atlanta Braves for J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero. Wainwright was the centerpiece of the trade and has had a long and distinguished career as a Cardinal, which continues to the present day.

David Freese (USA TODAY Sports Images)

On December 14, 2007, the Cardinals traded outfielder Jim Edmonds to the San Diego Padres for third baseman David Freese. Freese went on spend five seasons in St. Louis and is of course best known as the hero of the 2011 World Series.  Freese was the MVP of both the NLCS and the World Series.  Edmonds had played for eight seasons with the Cardinals and won six Gold Glove awards in center field, but finished his illustrious career as a journeyman.  Edmonds is currently a color analyst for Fox Sports Midwest and was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014.


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