Left Side Savvy

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering George Brunet

George Brunet was a journeyman southpaw who finally got his chance to start regularly with the California Angels in the mid-1960s. He was a consistently effective pitcher for struggling Angels teams, and his record as a starter for California reflected his team’s struggles more than his own abilities.

A low ERA didn’t translate into victories for George Brunet. Pitching for the California Angels from 1965-1968, Brunet was 46-60 with a combined 3.03 ERA.

A low ERA didn’t translate into victories for George Brunet. Pitching for the California Angels from 1965-1968, Brunet was 46-60 with a combined 3.03 ERA. Brunet led the American League with 17 losses in 1968 – despite a 2.86 ERA.

Prior to the 1955 season, Brunet was acquired by the Kansas City Athletics from Seminole in the Sooner State League. He made his major league debut with the A’s in 1956, appearing in only 10 games over the next two seasons. He was traded to the Milwaukee Braves in 1960, winning both decisions in only 17 appearances. He pitched in only 22 games for the Braves over two seasons, and then was dealt to the Houston Colt .45s, where he was 2-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 17 games, including 11 starts. In 1963 he moved from Houston to the Baltimore Orioles, where he was 0-1 in 16 relief appearances. From 1956 to 1963, playing for four different major league teams, Brunet had compiled a record of 4-11 in only 73 appearances.

His break came in 1964 when he was purchased by the Los Angeles Angels and was put into the Angels’ starting rotation, going 2-2 with a 3.61 ERA over the last six weeks of the 1964 season. He made 26 starts for the Angels in 1965, going 9-11 with a 2.56 ERA and three shutouts. He was 13-13 in 1966 with a 3.31 ERA, pitching eight complete games with a pair of shutouts.

When Dean Chance was traded to the Minnesota Twins prior to the 1967 season, Brunet took over as the team’s workhorse, pitching 250 innings in 37 starts. His record was 11-19, leading the American League in losses in 1967 despite a respectable 3.31 ERA. He followed in 1968 with a 13-17 record on a 2.86 ERA, with eight complete games and five shutouts.

During the 1969 season, Brunet’s contract was purchased by the Seattle Pilots, and he compiled a combined record of 8-12 with a 4.44 ERA. He split the 1970 season between the Washington Senators and the Pittsburgh Pirates, going 9-7 with a 4.21 ERA. In January of 1971, he was traded with Matty Alou to the St. Louis Cardinals for Nelson Briles and Vic Davalillo. He was released by St. Louis after seven appearances, and retired.

Brunet finished his 15-year career with a 69-93 rhttps://baseball1960s.leadpages.co/top-10-pitchers-chance/ecord and a 3.62 ERA.

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The Cardinals’ Strong Right Arm

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Bob Gibson

Hard-throwing, dominating, intimidating: throughout the 1960s, no pitcher was as consistently effective as the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson.

In a decade loaded with great pitchers, no one won more games than Gibson in the post-season. A power pitcher with great control and a seemingly indestructible arm, Gibson only got better as the decade progressed, and continued his dominance of hitters into the 1970s.

Bob Gibson won 251 games and pitched 56 career shutouts – more than any other St. Louis Cardinals pitcher.

Bob Gibson won 251 games and pitched 56 career shutouts – more than any other St. Louis Cardinals pitcher.

Gibson was called up to the Cardinals in 1959. By 1961, he was a member of the starting rotation, a job he would keep for the next 15 years. The next year he won 15 games with an ERA of 2.81. He had 15 complete games, and he led the majors with five shutouts. He also struck out 208 batters that season, and would strike out 200 or more batters in a season nine times in his career.

Gibson posted 18 victories in 1963. In the Cardinals’ championship season of 1964, Gibson won 19 games during the regular season. In the 1964 World Series, he posted two complete game victories, including the deciding seventh game. His performance earned him the Series Most Valuable Player Award. At the end of 1964, Gibson was clearly the Cardinals’ ace, and his best years were still ahead of him.

In 1965 and 1966, Gibson won 20 and 21 games, respectively. He was on his way to another 20-victory campaign in 1967 when a Roberto Clemente line drive fractured his leg and sidelined him for the second half of the season.

The Cardinals cruised to the National League pennant even without Gibson, who was able to come back and pitch in the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. In Game One, Gibson struck out 10 batters and allowed only six hits en route to a 2-1 victory. He returned in Game Four, this time giving up only five hits in pitching a 6-0 shutout. In the seventh game, he dominated again, taking his third World Series victory by a score of 7-2, with 10 strikeouts and surrendering only three hits. For the second time in the decade, Gibson was selected as the World Series MVP.

Bob Gibson won seven World Series games, the most by any pitcher in the 1960s. He was named World Series MVP in both 1964 and 1967.

Bob Gibson won seven World Series games, the most by any pitcher in the 1960s. He was named World Series MVP in both 1964 and 1967.

A healthy Bob Gibson no doubt looked forward to pitching a full season in 1968, but he could not have imagined the kind of season he would experience. In leading the Cardinals to another National League pennant, Gibson went 22-9 with a microscopic 1.12 ERA. He led the league in strikeouts (268) and led the majors in shutouts (13), pitching 28 complete games. He won both the Cy Young and Most Valuable Player Awards.

In the 1968 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, Gibson struck out a record 35 batters in 27 innings pitched. He won his initial two starts in that Series, though he lost a Game Seven, only the second World Series loss of his career. It would be Gibson’s last World Series appearance.

Gibson closed out the 1960s by going 20-13 in 1969, with an ERA that “ballooned” to 2.18. His last 20-victory season was 1970, when 23-7 earned him his second Cy Young Award. In his 17-year career, Gibson won 251 games and registered over 3,000 strikeouts. He also pitched 56 shutouts and won nine Gold Gloves.

Bob Gibson was twice named the National League Cy Young Award winner, in 1968 (22-9 with a 1.12 ERA) and in 1970 (23-7 with a 3.21 ERA).

Bob Gibson was twice named the National League Cy Young Award winner, in 1968 (22-9 with a 1.12 ERA) and in 1970 (23-7 with a 3.21 ERA).

Gibson finished as the Cardinals’ career leader in nearly every pitching category, including victories, complete games (255), games started (482), shutouts (56), and strikeouts (3,117). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, his first year of eligibility.

 

 

 

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Heady Hustle

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Cookie Rojas

While certainly not the most athletically talented infielder of his era, Cookie Rojas carved a 16-year career out of baseball smarts and hustle, and hitting that improved with accumulated at-bats.

Cookie Rojas was signed by the Cincinnati Reds and played two seasons with the Reds before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. He led the Phillies with a .303 batting average in 1965.

Cookie Rojas was signed by the Cincinnati Reds and played two seasons with the Reds before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. He led the Phillies with a .303 batting average in 1965.

Rojas was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1956. He spent six years moving steadily through the Reds’ farm system, and made the team as a utility player (capable of playing any position) in 1962.

He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Jim Owens and started a seven-year tour with the Phillies in 1963, hitting .221 in 64 games. He got more playing time with the Phillies in 1964 (and hit .291), and in 1965 he became the Phillies’ starting second baseman and the team’s leading hitter at .303. In 1967, he led the National League with 16 sacrifice hits.

Following the 1969 season, Rojas was traded by the Phillies with Dick Allen and Jerry Johnson to the St. Louis Cardinals for Byron Browne, Curt Flood, Joe Hoerner and Tim McCarver. He played in only 23 games for the Cardinals, and then was traded to the Kansas City Royals for Fred Rico.

Rojas spent the next eight seasons with the Royals, as the team’s starting second baseman for six of those seasons. He hit .300 for the Royals in 1971, the first of four consecutive years when he would be named to the American League All-Star team. His best season for all-around offensive performance came in 1973, when he hit .276 with six home runs and 69 RBIs. He also had 29 doubles and 18 stolen bases, both career highs.

Rojas was released by the Royals after the 1977 season. He signed briefly with the Chicago Cubs, but never played for them, opting instead to retire to coaching and later managing and a broadcasting career.

Leading with Hands and Heart

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Red Schoendienst

In more than 60 years in a major league uniform (as a player, coach and manager), no individual was unanimously more respected for his talent and his heart than Red Schoendienst. He was a good hitter and a great fielder, a leader of winners whether on the field or from the dugout.

Red Schoendienst led the National League with 26 stolen bases as a rookie with the Cardinals in 1945. His .342 batting average in 1953 was second to Brooklyn’s Carl Furillo.

Red Schoendienst led the National League with 26 stolen bases as a rookie with the Cardinals in 1945. His .342 batting average in 1953 was second to Brooklyn’s Carl Furillo.

Schoendienst played 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, batting a combined .289 and was named to the National League All-Star team nine times. His best season offensively for the Cardinals came in 1953, when he batted .342 with 15 home runs and 79 RBIs.

In 1956 Schoendienst was traded by the Cardinals with Jackie Brandt, Dick Littlefield and Bill Sarni to the New York Giants for Al Dark, Ray Katt, Don Liddle and Whitey Lockman. He hit a combined .302 in 1956 and hit .309 in 1957, playing the last 93 games with the Braves after being traded to Milwaukee for Ray Crone, Danny O’Connell and Bobby Thomson. He finished the 1957 season with 200 hits, tops in the major leagues. He was a key ingredient in the Braves’ success, being named to the All-Star team for the tenth time and finishing fourth in the Most Valuable Player balloting.

Red Schoendienst led the National League with 26 stolen bases as a rookie with the Cardinals in 1945. His .342 batting average in 1953 was second to Brooklyn’s Carl Furillo.

Red Schoendienst led the National League with 26 stolen bases as a rookie with the Cardinals in 1945. His .342 batting average in 1953 was second to Brooklyn’s Carl Furillo.

Schoendienst played four seasons in Milwaukee, hitting a combined .278, and was released by the Braves following the 1960 season. He signed with St. Louis and finished his career where it started, hitting .300 in 1961 and .301 in 1962 as a part-time player. He retired six games into the 1963 season to become a Cardinal coach and, later, the team’s manager.

Schoendienst finished his 19-season career with 2,449 hits for a .289 batting average. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.

 

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Johnny Clutch

 

The Glove Club – Johnny Edwards

For more than a dozen years, Johnny Edwards was one of the best defensive catchers in the National League.

Johnny Edwards was the National League’s Gold Glove catcher in 1963 and 1964. He led the league in fielding percentage four times.

Johnny Edwards was the National League’s Gold Glove catcher in 1963 and 1964. He led the league in fielding percentage four times.

Edwards was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, and was signed by the Cincinnati Redlegs in 1959 after playing in college for the Ohio State Buckeyes. He was called up to Cincinnati in 1961, batting .186 in 52 games as the backup to Jerry Zimmerman. By 1962, he was Cincinnati’s starting catcher, hitting .254 with eight home runs, 50 RBIs and a career-best 28 doubles.

From 1962 through 1965, Edwards averaged 130 games per season and batted a combined .265. He also averaged 11 home runs and 56 RBIs per season, while appearing in three All-Star games. He also won the Gold Glove in 1963 and 1964.

His best season with the Reds came in 1964. Edwards batted .281 with seven home runs and 55 RBIs.

In February of 1968, the Reds traded Edwards to the St. Louis Cardinals for Pat Corrales and Jimy Williams. In his lone season in St. Louis, Edwards batted .239 with three home runs and 29 RBIs. Then he was dealt to the Houston Astros for Dave Adlesh and Dave Giusti. In his six seasons in Houston, Edwards batted a combined .237 while averaging four home runs and 33 RBIs.

What kept Edwards in the lineup was not his bat as much as his durability and his defense. He averaged 126 games from 1969 through 1972, and during that period he led the league twice in assists and in putouts in 1969. Edwards led the league in assists four times during his career and once more in putouts (1963).

Edwards retired after the 1974 season with a .242 career batting average.

 

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Speed Wizard

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Jose Cardenal

Jose Cardenal built an 18-year major league career on speed: bat speed, speed in the outfield, and speed on the base paths. A line-drive hitter with an accurate throwing arm, Cardenal provided solid, consistent play for nine different major league teams.

Jose Cardenal’s best season came in 1972 when he 17 home runs with 70 RBIs for the Chicabo Cubs. He batted a combined .301 for the Cubs from 1972-1976.

Jose Cardenal’s best season came in 1972 when he 17 home runs with 70 RBIs for the Chicago Cubs. He batted a combined .301 for the Cubs from 1972-1976.

Cardenal was signed by the San Francisco Giants in 1960 and made his debut with the team at the end of the 1963 season. The Giants traded Cardenal to the California Angels in November 1964, and Cardenal became the Angels’ starting center fielder in 1965, hitting .250 with 37 stolen bases (second in the American League to his cousin, Bert Campaneris). He hit .276 for the Angels in 1966 with 16 home runs and 48 RBIs.

Injuries limited his productivity in 1967, and Cardenal was traded to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Chuck Hinton. He hit .257 for Cleveland in each of the next two seasons. His 40 stolen bases in 1968 were second highest in the American League (again to Campaneris). Then Cardenal was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Vada Pinson.

Jose Cardenal stole 40 bases for the Cleveland Indians in 1968, finishing second to league leader Bert Campaneris for the second time.

Jose Cardenal stole 40 bases for the Cleveland Indians in 1968, finishing second to league leader Bert Campaneris for the second time.

Cardenal split the next two seasons between the Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers. He hit .293 for St. Louis in 1970, and had a career high 80 RBIs in 1971. Prior to the 1972 season, Cardinal was traded to the Chicago Cubs, where he stayed for six seasons, his longest tenure with any single team. He hit .291 for the Cubs in 1972 with 17 home runs (career high) and 70 RBIs. He hit .303 in 1973, .293 in 1974, and .317 in 1975, averaging 70 RBIs per season in his first four seasons with the Cubs.

From 1978 through 1980, Cardenal played for the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets and Kansas City Royals. He retired in 1980 with 1,913 hits and a .275 career batting average.

What’s the Man Really Worth?

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(January 21, 1960) It’s something you haven’t seen in a half-century … and will likely never see again.

The first National League player to make $100,000 in a season, Stan Musial believed he was being overpaid and insisted on a $20,000 pay cut for the 1960 season.

Stan “The Man” Musial today told the St. Louis Cardinals that he was being overpaid and insisted on a $20,000 pay cut for the 1960 season.

Musial believed that he actually was overpaid for 1957 (.351 for his seventh National League batting title, 29 home runs, 102 RBIs) and 1958 (.337, 17 home runs, 62 RBIs), as well as for his 1959 performance (.255, 14 home runs, 44 RBIs in only 114 games).

In 1958, Musial became the first National League player to sign a contract for $100,000. But his poor (for Musial) productivity in 1959 compelled the 20-time All-Star to ask for the pay cut. His hitting numbers rebounded somewhat in 1960 (.275, 17 home run

Even as his batting skills may have been on the decline in the 1960s, you couldn’t knock Musial’s integrity.

No wonder he was “The Man.”

 

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Boffo Bonus Baby

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Ray Sadecki

The era of the “bonus baby” force-fed a number of talented kids into the major leagues before they were ready, leaving more potential shattered than fulfilled. One of the exceptions was Ray Sadecki, a talented left-hander who adapted early and well to major league competition and delivered quickly on the St. Louis Cardinals‘ investment in him.
Ray Sadecki was 20-11 for the pennant-winning Cardinals in 1964.

Ray Sadecki was 20-11 for the pennant-winning Cardinals in 1964.

The Cardinals signed Sadecki in 1958 and he made his debut with the team in 1960 as a 19-year-old, going 9-9 with a 3.78 ERA and 7 complete games. In 1961 he went 14-10 with 13 complete games and a 3.72 ERA.

His major challenge was his control, as he averaged over four walks per nine innings both seasons. He spent part of the 1962 season back in the minors, going 6-8 with a 5.54 ERA for St. Louis. He finished the 1963 season at 10-10 with a 4.10 ERA.

Sadecki’s breakout season was 1964, when the Cardinals took the National league pennant. Part of a strong starting trio that included Bob Gibson and Curt Simmons, Sadecki led the team with a 20-11 record and a 3.68 ERA. He was the winning pitcher in the first game of the 1964 World Series against the New York Yankees.
Sadecki’s record slipped to 6-15 in 1965, and early in the 1966 season he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Orlando Cepeda. Sadecki had a combined 5-8 record for 1966, but rebounded for the Giants in 1967 with a 12-6 record and a 2.78 ERA. In 1968, despite a 2.91 ERA, Sadecki posted a 12-18 record, tied for the most losses in the majors.
Traded to the Mets in 1970, Ray Sadecki was 30-25 with a 3.36 ERA in six seasons in New York.

Traded to the Mets in 1970, Ray Sadecki was 30-25 with a 3.36 ERA in six seasons in New York.

The Giants traded Sadecki to the New York Mets following the 1969 season. He pitched for the Mets for six seasons as a spot starter and long reliever, with a combined record of 30-25 and a 3.36 ERA. Following the 1974 season, the Mets traded him to the Cardinals for Joe Torre. From 1975 through 1977, Sadecki pitched for six different teams (including the Kansas City Royals twice and the Mets again) before retiring during the 1977 season.

He pitched a total of 18 years in the major leagues, compiling a 135-131 record and a 3.78 ERA.

Holding Down First

 

The Glove Club: Bill White

For a dozen seasons, Bill White matched All-Star talent with relentless consistency as a first baseman for the San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies. He was a heads-up player who was a solid runs producer and Gold Glove defender at first.

In eight seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Bill White averaged 20 home runs and 90 RBIs per season. He was an All-Star five times.

In eight seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Bill White averaged 20 home runs and 90 RBIs per season. He was an All-Star five times.

White was signed by the New York Giants in 1953. His rookie season came in 1956, when he hit .256 with 22 home runs and 59 RBIs for the Giants. Military service put his baseball career on hold in 1957 and 1958, and just before the 1959 season he was traded with Ray Jablonski to the St. Louis Cardinals for Don Choate and Sam Jones.

It was in St. Louis where White blossomed into one of the league’s most accomplished first basemen. He hit .302 in his first season in St. Louis, with 12 home runs and 72 RBIs. He hit .324 in 1962, with 20 homers and 102 RBIs. In 1963, he drove in a career-best 109 RBIs on 27 home runs and a .304 batting average. In eight seasons in St. Louis, White hit .300 or better four times. He averaged 20 home runs and 90 RBIs per season as a Cardinal.

Following the 1965 season, White was traded with Dick Groat and Bob Uecker to the Philadelphia Phillies for Pat Corrales, Alex Johnson and Art Mahaffey.  He had a strong season for the Phillies in 1966, with 23 home runs and 103 RBIs while collecting his seventh consecutive Gold Glove award. However his batting average slipped to .276, the lowest since his rookie season but the highest it would be for the rest of his career. His numbers declined dramatically over the next two years, and the Phillies shipped him back to St. Louis, where White played one more season before retiring in 1969.

Bill White won seven consecutive Gold Gloves from 1960 to 1966.

Bill White won seven consecutive Gold Gloves from 1960 to 1966.

Following his playing career, White was a sportscaster calling New York Yankees games on both radio and television. From 1989 to 1994, he served as President of the National League.

In 13 big league seasons, White hit for a career average of .286 with 202 home runs and 870 RBIs. And no other National League first baseman could match his glove work. While he doesn’t have Hall of Fame numbers for his career, White nonetheless may be the best first baseman not in the Hall of Fame.

 

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How Lou Flew to St. Loo

 

Swap Shop: Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio

It was probably the most lopsided trade of the 1960s. (After all, Milt Pappas was 30-29 in two-plus seasons for the Cincinnati Reds.)

At first, it looked like a “steal” for the Chicago Cubs. It turned out that the St. Louis Cardinals added a base thief who would be pivotal in helping them steal the 1964 National League pennant.

Ernie Broglio was the key player the Chicago Cubs coveted in the Lou Brock deal. Coming off an 18-8 season with the Cardinals in 1963, Broglio would win only seven games for the Cubs before retiring in 1966.

Ernie Broglio was the key player the Chicago Cubs coveted in the Lou Brock deal. Coming off an 18-8 season with the Cardinals in 1963, Broglio would win only seven games for the Cubs before retiring in 1966.

The Cardinals sent two former 20-game winners, Ernie Broglio and Bobby Shantz, along with outfielder Doug Clemens, to the Cubs for pitchers Jack Spring and Paul Toth, and an outfielder named Lou Brock.

From the Cubs’ perspective, Broglio was the key player in the deal. He was a proven winner, notching 21 victories in 1960 and leading the Cardinals in 1963 with an 18-8 record and a 2.99 ERA. From 1960-1963, Broglio averaged 15 wins and 218 innings per season, with a combined ERA of 3.15.

But that wasn’t the Ernie Broglio that the Cubs received in exchange for Brock.

In 11 starts for the Cardinals in 1964, Broglio was 3-5 with a 3.50 ERA. A change of scenery didn’t help. Over the rest of the 1964 campaign, Broglio was 4-7 with a 4.04 ERA for the Cubs.

And the other players acquired by the Cubs didn’t help to compensate for Broglio’s slide. In 20 relief appearances with the Cubs, Shantz was 0-1 with a 5.56 ERA and a single save. And Clemens batted .279 with two home runs and 12 RBIs in 54 games.

(In August, the Cubs sold Shantz to the Philadelphia Phillies. He retired at the end of the 1964 season.)

For Brock, the move to St. Louis launched him on his Hall of Fame career as he led the Cardinals to the World Series. In 103 games, he hit .348 and scored 84 runs, with nine triples, 12 home runs, 44 RBIs and 33 stolen bases.

Lou Brock was a speedy outfield prospect when he was acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964. Sixteen seasons later – all with the Cardinals – he would retire with seven stolen base titles, more than 3,000 hits, and a place reserved in Cooperstown.

Lou Brock was a speedy outfield prospect when he was acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964. Sixteen seasons later – all with the Cardinals – he would retire with seven stolen base titles, more than 3,000 hits, and a place reserved in Cooperstown.

In the World Series against the New York Yankees, Brock was instrumental in helping St. Louis take the championship, batting .300 with 5 RBIs and nine hits in seven games, including two doubles and a home run.

Brock would be a standout performer for the Cardinals for the next decade and a half, batting a combined .297 (while batting .300 or better seven times), leading the league in stolen bases seven times and collecting over 2,700 hits (on his way to 3,023 hits for his career).

It was a trade that neither team – or its fans – would ever forget. (Or, in the case of Cubs’ fans, forgive.)

 

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