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.


Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Prospects on 2020 National Top 100s


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