Joe Torre, the St. Louis Cardinals, and Spring Training 1995


When Spring Training opened just before the 1995 baseball season, the St. Louis Cardinals opened camp with some 111 replacement players after the executive council had voted to allow for the use of replacements until the strike came to an end.

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Hard as it is to believe but baseball’s last stoppage came to an end 20 years ago this year. While the NBA, NFL, and NHL have dealt with lockouts, MLB is going strong for nearly twenty years now.

In the February 23, 2015 issue of Sports Illustrated, Tom Verducci took a look back at the 1995 edition of Spring Training.

Joe Torre, the St. Louis Cardinals manager at the time, would see himself out of a job before the end of the season. Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson, elected as a manager in 2000, retired after the season. Anderson refused to manage any games during spring training in which replacement players would be involved.

Verducci writes:

"Other managers showed up for work but didn’t like it. Upon watching the 111 Cardinals he inherited begin their inaugural workout lap, Torre joked that the group resembled the thick pack of runners at the start of the New York City Marathon. Torre had enjoyed three straight winning seasons with St. Louis from 1991 to ’93, but the team was 53-61 when the strike hit in ’94. Torre, a staunch union rep in the players’ association’s early years, didn’t share the same enthusiasm for replacement ball as did Anheuser-Busch, which owned the Cardinals, and he was fired just 47 games after the strike ended, with a 20-27 record. The experience so soured Tirre that he figured he never would manage again."

Torre, of course, would manage again. He would see himself elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in December 2013 in the same class as the fellow who would ultimately replace him as the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, Tony La Russa.

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