St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of November 25-December 1

photo: Jack Flaherty (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Tickets for the St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-Up and Baseball Writers’ Dinner are now on sale, where Jack Flaherty will be among honorees. The subject of our history feature is the legal troubles of former team owner Fred Saigh.

Flaherty among many honorees at BBWAA dinner

The annual St. Louis Baseball Writers’ Dinner is set for January 19, 2020 at Marriott Grand Hotel in St. Louis.  Cardinals starting pitcher Jack Flaherty is among those to be honored.

Jack Flaherty (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Flaherty will receive the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, which is for the St. Louis baseball Man of the Year.  Also to be honored at the event are Kolten Wong, who will receive his Gold Glove Award, and manager Mike Shildt, who will be given his National League Manager of the Year award.  Pitchers Dakota Hudson and Giovanny Gallegos, and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt are other Cardinals to be honored at the dinner.

Former Cardinal Ted Simmons will be awarded the Red Medal for invaluable service to baseball. The medal is named for the late Red Schoendienst.  Will Clark will receive the Burnes Nostalgia award.

Tickets for the dinner can be bought through Metro Tix, or by calling 314-534-1111.  Those who wish to attend the event can also send a check or money order to St. Louis BBWAA, 2721 South Kingshighway, St. Louis, MO 63139.  Tickets are priced at $150 or $250 for individuals.  Tables of 10 are available for $1,500 and $2,500.

Cardinals radio announcer John Rooney will be the Master of Ceremonies.

Tickets on sale for Winter Warm-Up

The annual Cardinals Winter Warm- Up is scheduled for January 18-20 at the Hyatt Regency at the Arch in St. Louis.  Admission tickets went on sale on Friday, November 29.  Tickets may be purchased online here at a price of $40 for an adult and $10 for children.

Autograph tickets will go on sale on Monday, December 9 at 12 pm CT.  The tickets are available online only on December 9.  Tickets will be made available for sale at the Busch Stadium Box Office beginning Tuesday, December 10.

All proceeds from the Winter Warm-Up benefit the Cardinals Care charity.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.


11/25 The Cardinals released RHP Dominic Leone. Leone had been designated for assignment on November 20.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

The non-tender deadline is December 2.  The Cardinals now have only one player, John Gant, who is arbitration eligible.  The likelihood of Gant being non-tendered is low but remains a possibility should the Cardinals feel a roster spot opening is necessary.  Other players on the 40-man roster could also be removed at any time for this purpose.

The Winter Meetings are scheduled for December 9-12 in San Diego.  Transactions such as trades and the signing of free agents are often accomplished at these meetings.  The last day of the meetings, December 12, is when the Rule 5 Draft takes place.  Because the Cardinals have a full 40-man roster, they cannot make a pick in the major league phase of the draft unless further subtractions from the roster occur before that date.

Also occurring during the Winter Meetings is the meeting of the Modern Baseball Era Committee, to be held of December 8. The group will consider 10 veteran candidates for Hall of Fame election for the Class of 2020 – Dwight Evans, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Marvin Miller, Thurman Munson, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons and Lou Whitaker.

Following the Winter Meetings, 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. Again, the Cardinals have only one arbitration eligible player, John Gant.

Blast from the Past

This week’s Blast from the Past tells the tale of the sale of the St. Louis Cardinals on November 25, 1947 to an owner whose shady dealings to obtain the team came back to haunt him.

Sam Breadon

The owner of the Cardinals at the time of the 1947 sale was Sam Breadon, who had owned the team since 1920.  Breadon, who was sick with prostate cancer, made it known he was ready to sell.  Breadon had been trying to buy land on which to build a new ballpark but was unsuccessful in his attempts.  Breadon had been renting Sportman’s Park from the St. Louis Browns since he purchased the team in 1920.

Robert Hannegan

St. Louis attorney and investor Fred Saigh let Breadon know he was interested.  Breadon had set aside $5 million dollars to build the new ball park but the deadline to build the park before taxes became due on the $5 million was nearing.  Saigh persuaded Breadon to sell the team to him by assuring him he would not have to pay the taxes.  Saigh brought in St. Louis businessman Robert Hannegan as a minority partner to facilitate the sale.  Hannegan was a former US Postmaster General and friend of President Harry Truman.  Breadon agreed to sell the team to Saigh and Hannegan for $4 million dollars.

In January of 1949, Hannegan sold his share to Saigh.  Hannegan suffered from heart disease and died in October of that year.  Saigh became the sole owner of the Cardinals.

Fred Saigh

Saigh’s tax dodge on the sale of the team was soon revealed, and in April of 1952 he was indicted on federal tax evasion charges.  He was charged with evading $49,260 in taxes between 1946 and 1949.  Saigh pleaded no contest to two federal tax evasion charges in January 1953 and was sentenced to 15 months in prison.  Saigh served five months in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana and was paroled in November 1953.

Saigh was pressured by Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick to sell the team after his indictment.  In February 1953 he put the Cardinals up for sale.  No credible offer from any St. Louis interest was put forth for some time, so it appeared the team would have to be sold and moved from St. Louis.  A consortium of businessmen from Houston made an offer.

Just before a final agreement was reached with the Houston group, an offer came from the St. Louis based Anheuser-Busch brewery, an offer that was substantially less than the Houston offer.  Saigh agreed to sell the team to the brewery.  Saigh had reportedly wanted the team to remain in St. Louis and willingly accepted the lesser offer.

Shortly after Anheuser-Busch took control of the team, they bought Sportsman’s Park from the St. Louis Browns.  With their leverage now gone, and with the knowledge that they couldn’t compete with the resources of Anheuser-Busch, the Browns left St. Louis and moved to Baltimore to become the Orioles.

Thus ends the saga of how the St. Louis Cardinals almost moved to Houston and how the Baltimore Orioles came to be.  All because an owner made a shady deal and went to prison for his efforts.

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