Harry Caray’s rumored affair with the daughter-in-law of the Cardinals owner helped forge two Hall of Fame Careers

July 20th, 2018

By Jim Smiley, CooperstownExpert.com Famed announcer Harry Caray was the voice of the Cardinals for a quarter century. Beloved in St. Louis, he was known as a womanizing man-about-town. That penchant for sharing time with beautiful women just may have ended his career with his hometown team and solidified the career of Jack Buck. The unsubstantiated rumor – that Carey never denied – is that an affair with August Busch III’s wife led to the announcer’s dismissal. Proof of the affair supposedly came to light after Caray was hit by a car on November 3, 1968 and nearly lost his life. The Busch family phone bill for the month showed many calls to Caray’s hospital room. The charges were traced to Susan Busch, the young wife of August Busch III who was the son of the team owner. The story continues that the Busch family hired a private investigator who confirmed that Mrs. Busch was indeed romantically linked to Caray, who was then in his 50s. Whether the story is true or not, Susan and August Busch III were divorced in 1969, the same year the Cardinals opted not to renew the contract of the immensely popular Caray. On October […]

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Inducted into Cooperstown’s Honor Rolls of Baseball in 1946, Bill Carrigan managed Boston to back-to-back World Series titles

August 2nd, 2017

Every summer the baseball world pauses and takes notice as Hall of Fame induction weekend puts the village of Cooperstown on display. Players, managers, executives, owners, and umpires who are deemed worthy receive a plaque and along with it, baseball immortality. The election process during the Hall’s infancy bears little resemblance to today. For the first decade of induction, Cooperstown recognized only its players with the exception of pioneer Henry Chadwick. Wanting to recognize non-playing personnel, the Hall established the Honor Rolls of Baseball in 1946 as a second level of induction. That year the museum’s Permanent Committee voted to include 39 non-players into the Honor Rolls including 11 umpires, 11 executives, 12 sportswriters, and 5 managers. Of the five skippers, four have since gained full induction with plaques in Cooperstown. The lone manager not so recognized is former Red Sox pilot Bill Carrigan. Born in Maine in 1883, Carrigan broke in with Boston in 1906 as a backup catcher. In time he became a favorite of the pitching staff, catching the likes of Cy Young, Bill Dinneen and a young Babe Ruth for the Red Sox. Soon Carrigan was one of the game’s most respected players, earning votes in Most Valuable […]

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There was no champagne for Red Sox, Lonborg in ‘67

July 20th, 2017

World Series championships are won on the field, not in the newspapers, but the press might have given the Cardinals extra motivation in their epic seven-game battle against the Red Sox in 1967. Boston had to grind it out just to get to the post season. The battle for supremacy in the American League came down to the last day of the regular season with Boston clinging to a half-game lead over Detroit. The Tigers had a double header at home against the Angels while the Red Sox played the Twins at Fenway Park. Boston turned to ace Jim Lonborg for the regular season finale. The 1967 Cy Young Award winner, Gentleman Jim responded with a gutty performance on three days rest going the distance and allowing only one earned run before the sellout crowd at Fenway. The October 1st contest was his 15th complete game of the season. The Tigers, needing a sweep of California won the first game 6-4 but couldn’t contain the Angels in the 8-5 loss in the second game of the twin bill. With the Detroit loss, Boston earned a berth to the World Series against the National Champion St. Louis Cardinals. On only two […]

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NL owners supported the designated hitter in 1928

July 1st, 2017

How times have changed. Today the National League remains one of few leagues above the high school level not to employ the designated hitter rule. The Senior Circuit continues to resist the rule that the AL has embraced for more than four decades. That wasn’t always the case. National League president John Heydler proposed the DH at the Winter Meetings in 1928, referring to it as the “Ten-Man Team Rule”. Heydler’s motivations seem clear; he was looking to capture some of the excitement the homer-happy AL harnessed with the emergence of Babe Ruth. From 1920-1928 the Bambino had seven seasons with 40 or more homers, including four of 50 or more, and one with 60. During the same span Heydler’s league had only two 40-homer seasons with totals of 15, 21, 23, and 27 leading the league. While the NL couldn’t match the AL in star power, Heydler felt keeping hurlers on the hill and out of the batters box might generate more offense. “Pitchers are absolutely useless as batters nowadays,” Heydler was quoted as saying in the Chicago papers. “The average pitcher not only is helpless at bat, but when they happen to get to base they are not […]

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Dodgers pitch in $250,000, restore pride at Jackie Robinson’s high school

April 20th, 2016

In what can only be described as a sad state of affairs, the baseball field at Jackie Robinson’s high school alma mater fell into severe disrepair. A sloping outfield, dusty infield full of pebbles, and poor dugout areas gave the field at John Muir High School in Pasadena, California a look of neglect and decay. It wasn’t always this way. Robinson and older brother Mack brought prestige and honor to John Muir. The elder Robinson was a track star there and eventually earned a silver medal in the 1936 Summer Olympics, while Jackie lettered in baseball, football, basketball, and track. Over the years Muir produced many professional baseball players including a member of the 400-home run club in Darrell Evans who graduated in 1965. Evans was selected in Major League Baseball’s inaugural first-year player draft upon graduation. Over the first five years of the draft, MLB franchises took six Muir Mustangs. Over the next three decades 14 more Mustang players were drafted. As the 1990s ended, so too did the Mustangs’ baseball success. With the school’s declining enrollment and the emergence of basketball and football as Muir’s best sports, baseball became an afterthought. As interest in the sport waned, the […]

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"Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball…"

~Jacques Barzun, 1954