The closing days of every year are painful when reviewing those former St. Louis Cardinals who left us during the prior 12 months, but 2020 was worse than most. The team lost beloved stars Lou Brock and Bob Gibson, among seven MLB Hall of Famers who passed during the year.
Among a dozen other Cardinals to have passed away during 2020 are one-time teen pitching star Lindy McDaniel and slugger Dick Allen. Off-field notables include Dr. Stan London and scout Charles Peterson.
Those Cardinals still with us include 1954 pitcher Bill Greason, the oldest living former Cardinals player. The right-hander celebrated his 96th birthday on September 3rd.
A short remembrance of each of the 14 follows along with one 2019 leftover. We conclude with a brief look at the St. Louis Browns, as is our annual custom.
2020 Cardinals deaths
December 27, 2019, Dick Bokelmann, age 93
I learned of the passing of Bokelmann after last year’s article was published, so he will be recognized now.
Over the three seasons of 1951-1953, the right-handed pitcher appeared in 34 games for the Cardinals, all but one in relief. That was his only big league action, as the former Northwestern University hurler logged a 4.90 career ERA.
Bokelmann’s contract was sold to the Reds, but after another year in the minors, he retired at age 28 and returned to his Chicago-area home.
January 10, Ed Sprague, age 74
Sprague was an original member of the Oakland A’s in 1968 and went on to pitch for four clubs in his eight-year MLB career. During his three-team 1973, the right-hander appeared in eight games for St. Louis, registering a 2.25 ERA.
In his later years, Sprague owned the minor league Stockton Ports. Ed Sprague Jr. followed in his Dad’s footsteps, playing in MLB for 10 years before working in several team front offices.
March 20, Bob Stephenson, age 91
The Oklahoma native’s MLB career lasted one season, 1955, following two years in the Army. With the Cardinals, the infielder played in 67 games, batting .243. Back in Triple-A in 1956, Stephenson was traded to the Giants. He retired following the season and worked as a geologist in the oil industry. In his later years, Stephenson was a benefactor to the University of Oklahoma’s sports programs.
April 22, Rich Hacker, age 72
The Belleville, IL native had the briefest of MLB careers, just 16 games with the 1971 Expos after having been traded from his original organization, the Mets. Back in the minors, he then transitioned to a junior college coach to scout to coach back to minor league player before ending his playing career in 1979.
Hacker then scouted and managed for the Jays before spending four seasons managing in the Cardinals system. Hired by Whitey Herzog, Hacker managed the Johnson City Cardinals for three seasons and Erie for another. Whitey then promoted Hacker to his big league staff and he remained as first, then third base coach, from 1986 until a year after Herzog resigned in 1989.
Hacker moved on to Toronto as third base coach and later scouted for the Twins and Padres. He passed away due to leukemia.
May 1, Matt Keough, age 64
The right-hander pitched for five teams over nine big-league seasons, including four games for the 1985 Cardinals (4.50 ERA). His standout year had been with the Oakland A’s of 1980, when he won 16 games with a 2.92 ERA.
After his playing career concluded in Japan, Matt worked as an executive for the A’s. He and his family later became reality television subjects. He died from a pulmonary embolism.
June 4, Bobby Locke, age 86
After three years with the Cleveland Indians, the right-handed pitcher from Pennsylvania appeared in just one game for the 1962 Cardinals, tossing two scoreless frames. Three weeks after he had been acquired in trade that April, he was dealt away again.
Locke played a total of 18 seasons of professional ball, including parts of nine campaigns in the majors, going 16-15 with a 4.02 ERA.
June 8, Dr. Stan London, age 94
Dr. London was a member of the Cardinals medical staff for over 40 years, starting in 1956, and served as head team physician from 1968-1997. The Springfield, IL native had earned his M.D. degree from Washington University in 1949.
For the 11 years the St. Louis Hawks competed in the NBA (1956-57 through 1966-67), Dr. London was that club’s team physician, as well.
June 24, Eddie Kasko, age 88
Later known as the manager of the Boston Red Sox, the infielder played in the minors starting in 1949 (minus two years for military service) until he was acquired by the Cardinals following the 1955 season.
After a Triple-A All-Star berth in 1956, Kasko made his MLB debut with the 1957 Cardinals. After two seasons, he was dealt to the Reds, with whom he spent five years before finishing in Houston and Boston (in 1965).
Kasko became the Red Sox’ Triple-A manager in 1966 and by 1970, took over the big-league club, a job he held for four seasons. He then led Boston’s scouting department and remained with the club until 1994. In 2010, Kasko was named a Red Sox Hall of Famer.
September 6, Lou Brock, age 81
Brock played 19 seasons in the majors, including parts of 16 years with the Cardinals from 1964-1979. The Louisiana native had been acquired from the Chicago Cubs on June 15, 1964, generally believed to be the greatest trade in franchise history.
The fan-favorite still holds the National League record with 938 career stolen bases and the big league record of 12 seasons with 50 or more steals. Brock was a career .293 batter with 3,023 hits. Eight times he batted .300 or better in a season.
Brock was at his best in postseason play. The outfielder’s .391 career batting average (34-for-87) is the seventh-best in World Series history, while his 14 stolen bases are tied for the most ever in Fall Classics.
Among Cardinals hitters all-time, Brock ranks first in stolen bases (888); second in games played (2,289), at-bats (9,125), runs (1,427) and hits (2,713), third in doubles (434) and total bases (3,776), fourth in triples (121), sixth in walks (681) and 11th in RBI (814). His 21 career leadoff home runs are the second-most in club annals.
Brock’s uniform no. 20 was retired by the Cardinals in 1979. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1985 and therefore was part of the inaugural class of the Cardinals Hall in 2014.
September 13, Charles Peterson, age 46
COVID claimed the life of a valued member of the Cardinals scouting staff. In addition to his amateur scouting duties, Peterson had served as a volunteer football coach in his hometown of Columbia, South Carolina.
As a player, Peterson was a first-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1993, but never reached the majors. He loved the game, playing in independent ball in the US and Canada, as well as in Mexico and China.
Peterson’s last major signing for the Cardinals was 2020 first-rounder Jordan Walker.
October 2, Bob Gibson, age 84
Less than two months after the death of his long-time teammate Lou Brock, Gibson followed his friend in passing.
Simply put, Gibson holds the undisputed title of greatest pitcher in Cardinals history.
Gibson, who was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, ranks first all-time among Cardinals pitchers in wins (251), games started (482), complete games (255), shutouts (56), innings pitched (3,884.1) and strikeouts (3,117) along with a 2.91 ERA.
Gibson, the National League Most Valuable Player in 1968, was a nine-time All-Star, a nine-time Gold Glove Award winner, and won the NL Cy Young Award in both 1968 and 1970. The Omaha, Nebraska native was a member of three (1964, 1967, 1968) Cardinals World Series teams, with his club winning the title in both 1964 and 1967.
His signature year was 1968, when Gibson authored the greatest season by a pitcher in modern history. His 1.12 ERA established an all-time record for 300 or more innings.
Gibson’s uniform number 45 was retired by the Cardinals in 1975, the year he retired as a player. He was a first-ballot National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee in 1981 and an inaugural member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014.
October 11, J.W. Porter, age 87
The Oklahoma-born catcher and utility man first reached the majors with the 1952 Browns and concluded his big-league career with the 1959 Cardinals. The reserve batted .212 in 23 games. In doing so, Porter became the last player to don the uniform of both St. Louis clubs.
In between, Porter spent two years in the service and played for the Tigers, Indians and Senators. He retired to Jupiter, Florida and often attended spring training games until his later years.
October 29, Jim Hicks, age 80
After seeing brief action with the 1964-1966 White Sox, the outfielder-first baseman was purchased by the Cardinals following the 1967 season. Following a year in Triple-A in which he was named Pacific Coast League MVP, Hicks appeared in 19 games for St. Louis early in the 1969 season. He batted just .182 before being traded to the Angels for Vic Davalillo that May.
After closing his career in Japan, Hicks spent over 30 years working for Continental Airlines in Houston.
November 14, Lindy McDaniel, age 84
COVID-19 claimed the life of another former Cardinal. As a 19-year old, McDaniel debuted with the 1955 Cardinals later in the same season he signed and pitched for St. Louis for eight seasons. The right-hander led the Major Leagues in saves in back-to-back seasons with the Cardinals in 1959 and 1960, and he earned All-Star honors in 1960.
To conclude his 21-year MLB career consisting of 987 games, McDaniel later played for the Yankees, Cubs, Giants and Royals.
December 7, Dick Allen, age 78
The long-time Phillies slugger and 1964 NL Rookie of the Year was traded to St. Louis in 1970, but remained a Cardinal for just one year. With St. Louis, he slammed 34 home runs and plated 101.
Over his 15-year career from 1963-1977, Allen slashed .292/.378/.534/.912 with 351 home runs and 1,119 RBI. The seven-time All-Star was also with the Dodgers, White Sox and A’s, including an MVP 1972 season for the Pale Hose.
December 31, Derian Gonzalez, age 25
Unfortunately, this recap of 2020 losses to the Cardinals extended family grew to 15 with the passing of former prospect pitcher Derian Gonzalez. He died in a motorcycle accident in his native Venezuela. The right-hander had become a free agent last fall and was set to join the Atlanta Braves in 2021.
The ranks of former St. Louis Browns players still living got off on a rough note with the passing of Don Larsen on New Year’s Day 2020. The aforementioned J.W. Porter followed in October and Billy Demars died on December 10.
The three losses during 2020 reduced the count of living Browns to just six – from the 764 men who once played for the team.
The former Brownies still with us are George Elder, Frank Saucier, Johnny Groth, Ed Mickelson, Al Naples and Billy Hunter. The eldest is appropriately Elder at 99 years of age, per the St. Louis Browns Historical Society and Fan Club.
Last year’s article
Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation
Not yet a member?
If you enjoyed this article, please consider joining The Cardinal Nation to receive the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.
© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.