The summer of 1967 set the stage for the St. Louis Cardinals to win another World Championship. The roster for that team included four future Cooperstown residents and a couple more that arguably should be there as well, the name Roger Maris screams at me for that argument. This was a powerhouse team that won 101 games during the regular season. It included not just some of the best to ever play in St. Louis, but some of the best that ever played the game of baseball, in their prime. They won the NL pennant by 10.5 games over the San Francisco Giants.
At the beginning of the 2011 campaign suffered what appeared to be an un-replaceable loss with the season ending injury of Adam Wainwright. How does a team get passed something like that? They just do. They go out and play every game. We all know how the 2011 season turned out. It is one that will be talked about forever. It is arguably the best comeback in all of sport’s history. But, all loyal of Redbird Nation remembers that sinking feeling when we learned that Waino was gone for the year, but players stepped up and they never gave up. That’s Cardinal baseball at its best.
The 1967 team faced an injury of a star player that looked like a huge nail in their season’s coffin. In July of that year Bob Gibson suffered a broken leg from line drive blasted by the legend Roberto Clemente. He would end up missing a third of the season and not returning until September. The Cardinals still had a great team to field every day. Yet, when you snatch a Bob Gibson from your rotation it’s going to have an adverse result on your team, right? Well, in Cardinal fashion someone stepped up and made it happen.
That player is the focus of this week’s Who am I? Name that Cardinal. What looked like a huge blow to their season was counterbalanced by unlikely player. He was a guy that was asked to pitch better than he ever had and he did. Can you name him? Here are the clues:
I was born August 15, 1943 in Dorris, California
I attended Chico High School and Santa Clara University
I was signed by the Cardinals as an amateur free agent in 1963
I made my debut as a Cardinal on April 19, 1965
The first two years of my career I was primarily used as a reliever and a spot starter
When Bob Gibson was injured by the line drive off the bat of Roberto Clemente, I was promoted into the starting rotation
When I was faced with filling possibly the biggest pitching shoes in all of baseball, I responded by winning nine straight games
My final record for the year was 14-5
I led the Cardinals staff in ERA (2.43)
In 1968, I won 19 games for the Birds. This was my career high. I won 15 games the following year.
My last major league appearance was September 13, 1978
In 1986, I joined the Pirates’ front office
On February 13, 2005 I was playing in a Pirates Alumni golf tournament when I collapsed and died of a heart attack
Who am I? Click here for the answer.