photo: Derian Gonzalez (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
Former Cardinal minor leaguer dies in accident
On New Year’s Eve, former St. Louis Cardinals minor league pitcher Derian Gonzalez was killed in a motorcycle accident in his native Venezuela.
The 25-year old right hander was signed by the Cardinals in 2012. Gonzalez posted a 2.76 ERA in 13 games at Double-A Springfield in 2018 but shoulder problems cut his season short. He missed the entire 2019 season and was not part of the 60 man player pool for the 2020 season. The right hander was added to the 40 man roster in 2017 but never made the major leagues. He was outrighted off the roster the following year.
Gonzalez became a free agent last fall and had been pitching in winter ball in Venezuela at the time of the accident. He reportedly had signed a contract with the Atlanta Braves a few days prior to his death.
Top stories of 2020 and 2021
In case you missed it, check out The Cardinal Nation’s annual assessment of the top stores of 2020 and a look ahead to the potential biggest newsmakers of 2021, as well.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweeted that the Cardinals remain interested in Kolten Wong, even after the team declined his 2021 option and sent him to free agency. Heyman reported that the decision to cut Wong loose was about the price of the option, not about Wong. This tweet suggests the Cardinals would be open to sign him at a reduced price. Other teams have also expressed interest in the second baseman, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner.
There are no transactions to report.
There are no new injuries to report.
Dates for key offseason events:
- 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have five arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes. All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible. Gant, who is in his second year of eligibility, has already reached agreement with the Cardinals on a 2021 contract, avoiding arbitration. John Brebbia was originally in this group as well, but was instead non-tendered and since signed with San Francisco. Hearings will occur in February for players who have not yet come to terms with their employer.
- The annual Winter Warm-Up fan festival is going virtual for 2021. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at com/wwu. The events will take place from January 16-18, 2021.
Blast from the Past
This week’s Blast from the Past takes a detour from in-depth looks at former Cardinals greats and instead presents a brief remembrance of a St. Louis short termer from the past. This tall catcher from the early days of the team had a major league career that spanned 15 years, but his two stints as a Cardinal were brief and memorable in a non-baseball way.
John Bannerman McLean was born on July 18, 1881 in New Brunswick, Canada, but grew up in Boston. McLean was nicknamed Larry early in his career because of a resemblance to Larry “The Frenchman” LaJoie, a second baseman for both Philadelphia and Cleveland. He played his first professional baseball in Canada but made his major league debut with the Boston Americans in April 1901, only to be released in July of that year. He returned to Canada to play and in 1903 he was acquired by the Chicago Cubs.
After playing one game in Chicago, Larry was traded to the Cardinals. McLean was a catcher and large one at that, standing 6’ 5’’ and weighing nearly 230 pounds. He played for the Cardinals in 27 games in 1904 and then was demoted to the Pacific Coast League. McLean played for the Portland Giants of the PCL and helped them win the 1906 pennant.
McLean was already showing signs of a troubled life off the field. He battled alcoholism and Portland withheld $200 from his salary with a promise to remain sober. At the end of the 1906 season, Portland sold McLean to the Cincinnati Reds. During his time with Cincinnati, his battles with alcohol continued. His off field life was a sore spot for the Reds, who reportedly hired a private detective to follow him. The Reds suspended him in 1910 causing Larry to write a letter of resignation. He returned after a one week suspension and a promise to do better. The Reds held back 40 percent of his salary as a sobriety bonus.
McLean remained in Cincinnati until September 1912, when he failed to show up for an exhibition game and was suspended. The Reds had enough, and at season’s end traded him to the Cardinals.
Larry could not control his addiction. A few weeks before Cardinals spring training, McLean broke his arm in a poolroom brawl. After McLean recovered, he played in 48 games in 1913. In 48 games, he slashed .270/.297/.329 in 158 plate appearances.
On August 6, 1913, the Cardinals traded McLean to the New York Giants. McLean played well for the Giants and got along with manager John McGraw until June 1915 when he was again suspended for drinking. The Giants were in St. Louis at the Buckingham Hotel and McLean confronted McGraw about the suspension. He accused scout Dick Kinsella of spying on him and then got into a brawl with McGraw, which ended in damages at the hotel and McLean fleeing. McLean’s baseball career was over.
What happened after baseball was not well known until on March 24, 1921, McLean got into an argument in a Boston speakeasy. He attempted to climb over the bar and the bartender grabbed a pistol and shot him. McLean died on the street outside. He was 39 years old.
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