In Memory of Former Cardinals: 2008

Our annual feature remembering 17 former St. Louis Cardinals that passed away during the past year.

January 2: Gerry Staley, age 87.  (related article)

Staley enjoyed a 15-year career as a major league hurler, including the unique honor of making the All-Star Game as both a starter and reliever. After joining the organization in 1942, the right-hander broke into the bigs with the 1947 Cardinals. Staley remained with St. Louis through the 1954 season, having earned All-Star berths as a starter in both 1952 and 1953. His career was reborn as a reliever with the "Go-Go" Chicago White Sox of the late ‘50s and early ‘60's.

 

 

January 14: Don Cardwell, age 72.

The right-handed pitcher might be best known for his rotation role with the 1969 Amazin' Mets, but Cardwell was also Cardinals property for just over a month in the 1962-1963 off-season. He came over from the Cubs in the Larry Jackson trade and was spun off to the Pirates as part of the Dick Groat deal.

 

 

January 22: Lance Clemons, age 60.

A name most Cardinals fans will not remember, Clemons' major league career lasted but 19 games, of which three were spent as a member of the 1972 Cards. Allowing six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings marked his time with St. Louis. Clemons also had brief appearances with the Royals and Red Sox.

 

His primary claim to fame was in being a part of the disastrous trade of Jerry Reuss to Houston due to Gussie Busch's anger over the latter's beard. In addition to Clemons, the Cards received Scipio Spinks in the deal. Reuss would go on to win 198 more games in his career that ran through 1990. Spinks and Clemons would win seven more games in total between them.

 

 

February 19: Bob Howsam, age 89.

The long-time major league executive's primary claim to fame was as the general manager of Cincinnati's Big Red Machine of the 1970's. Yet, his first MLB GM job was in St. Louis, where he ran the Cardinals from August 1964 into early 1967.

 

In an example of the craziness of the time, owner Gussie Busch sacked popular GM Bing Devine against the wishes of senior consultant Branch Rickey, promoting Howsam. Howsam's first order from Busch was to fire Rickey, his mentor.

 

In 1966, Howsam cut payroll by trading away All-Star infielders Ken Boyer, Bill White and Dick Groat. He resigned after that season in a move that was generally welcomed in St. Louis. Howsam's replacement as GM was the ever-popular Stan Musial.

 

 

March 16: Bob Purkey, age 78.

The knuckleballer and three-time All-Star starred for the Cincinnati Reds in the late ‘50's and early ‘60's. Purkey was nearing the end of his 13-year career when traded to the Cardinals prior to the 1965 season. He was 35 years old. Purkey had his worst career season in St. Louis, posting a 5.79 ERA as a swingman who won ten and lost nine in '65.

 

 

April 8: Hersh Lyons, age 92.

OK, I admit it. I had never heard of Lyons, either. Yet he deserves to be here due to the fact he pitched in one game, for 1 1/3 scoreless innings during World War II, specifically in April 1941. He was 25 at the time. Lyons pitched for ten years in the minor leagues, but never reached the bigs again.

 

 

May 14: Floyd Wooldridge, age 79.

The right-handed pitcher, a resident of Springfield, MO, signed with the Cardinals prior to the 1950 season. Wooldridge made it to the majors in 1955 at the age of 26, when he appeared in 18 games for the Cardinals. It would be his only major league experience.

 

 

June 17: Billy Muffett, age 77.

The right-hander appeared on the mound in 58 games, mostly in relief, with the 1957 and 1958 Cardinals after having been selected from the Cubs in the 1955 Rule 5 Draft. Muffett would go on to contribute to one of the greatest Cardinals trades ever when he went to San Francisco in 1958 in the deal that brought Ernie Broglio to St. Louis.

 

After retirement, Muffett rejoined the Cardinals as a minor league pitching coach in 1966 and was a coach for the Cardinals from 1967 to 1970. After a long stint with the Angels, he went on to be pitching coach under former Cardinals minor league skipper Sparky Anderson with the Detroit Tigers from 1985 through 1994.

 

 

July 4: Julio Gotay, age 69.

Earlier, I mentioned the 1962 trade in which Don Cardwell moved to Pittsburgh for shortstop Dick Groat. The Cardinals also gave up their regular shortstop from 1962, Julio Gotay, in the swap. His 1962 spent in St. Louis was the only time in the Puerto Rican's major league career that spanned part of ten seasons in which he received 235 or more at-bats.

 

 

July 11: Chuck Stobbs, age 79.

Stobbs spent much of the 1950's as a member of the pitching staff of the woeful Washington Senators, but also joined the Cardinals for 17 games in 1958. His primary claim to fame, other than pitching for 15 years in the majors, was in giving up the famous 1953 home run to Mickey Mantle. That ball left Washington's Griffith Stadium and was estimated to have traveled 565 feet, the longest long ball in MLB history.

 

 

July 13: Dave Ricketts, age 73.

Signed by the Cardinals in 1957, the catcher with the large, black-framed glasses made the big league club in 1963. Though Ricketts served parts of five seasons backing up starter Tim McCarver, he never saw 100 at-bats in a major league season.

 

Ricketts was dealt to the Pirates after the 1969 season, but after playing and coaching there, he returned to the Cardinals. The St. Louisan coached there in two stints, from 1974-1975 as well as from 1978-1991. Beloved by Cardinals players and coaches, Ricketts continued to work with Cardinals catchers well into this decade as an instructor.

 

 

September 7: Don Gutteridge, age 96.  (related article)
Exactly 72 years to the day after he began his Major League Baseball career as a second baseman with the Cardinals in 1936, Don Gutteridge passed away due to complications from pneumonia. He was the oldest living Cardinal at the time, seventh oldest former MLB player and the last surviving St. Louis Brown from their 1944 World Series club.

Gutteridge was best known as the last surviving member of the rough-and-tumble Gas House Gang Cardinals from the 1930's. He moved over to the Browns in 1942 where he played in the World Series against the Cards in 1944 and for the Boston Red Sox again vs. St. Louis in the 1946 Series. He ended his 12-year MLB playing career with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1948.

 

The Kansan remained active in the game for the next 40 years, managing the Chicago White Sox for 281 games in 1969 and 1970 and scouting for the Kansas City Royals, the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

 

 

October 7: George Kissell, age 88.  (related articles #1 and #2)

While I have covered Kissell's life and untimely death in considerable detail in multiple articles, I have several additional details about his life to share, courtesy of the fine folks at Baseball-Reference.com.

 

Kissell didn't become an instructor in the minors until 1976. Most of the time from his retirement as a player in 1946 until then was spent managing in the Cardinals minor leagues, from Triple-A Omaha all the way down to the Gulf Coast League. Kissell also scouted and served six years as a big-league coach under Red Schoendienst.

 

Among the managers encouraged to enter that profession by Kissell are Hall of Famer Earl Weaver and future Hall of Famer Tony La Russa.

 

 

November 9: Preacher Roe, age 93.

The Arkansas native was signed to a Cardinals contract by Branch Rickey in 1938. Later known for his success with the Brooklyn Dodgers "Boys of Summer" while featuring the outlawed spitball, Roe originally came up with the 1938 Cardinals for just one game. The left-hander didn't return to the majors, where he would eventually win 127 games, until 1944, when the Cards dealt him to the Pirates.

 

 

November 24: Tom Burgess, age 81.

The Canadian first baseman signed with the post-war Cardinals in 1946 and finally made it to St. Louis for just 17 games in 1954. Burgess remained in the minors with the organization until 1959, when he moved to the Pirates. He finally made it back to the bigs with the fledgling Angels in 1962 when he appeared in 87 games.

 

Burgess managed in the Cardinals minor league system from 1969 through 1975. The member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame coached for Team Canada in the World Cup competitions in 2001 and 2003.

 

 

November 28: Fred McAlister, age 80.

Few served the Cardinals in more diverse and important roles than Fred McAlister, who began as a player, then a manager, scout and finally farm director for a over dozen years, from 1981 through 1993.

 

"He was one of the best judges of amateur talent in the history of the game," said former Cardinals manager/general manager Whitey Herzog, who promoted McAlister to be his scouting director. McAlister was with the Cardinals' organization from 1945, when he signed out of high school. The organization's annual scout of the year award is named in his honor.

 

 

December 11: Sal Yvars, age 84.

After spending parts of seven seasons with the New York Giants as a back up catcher, Yvars was purchased by the Cardinals during the 1953 season. He remained with the club through the 1954 season, after which he was traded to Detroit, but would not play in the majors again.

 

In addition to the unusual last name, pronounced "E-vers", Yvars also had a statistical oddity as a Cardinal. In both the partial 1953 and full 1954 seasons, he went an identical 14-for-57, .246, at the plate.

 

 

2007 article:  link

 

 

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com.

 

© 2009 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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