December 12, 1984: Cardinals trade George Hendrick to the Pirates for John Tudor

As Whitey Herzog looked ahead to the 1985 season, he knew he had plenty of outfield talent in the pipeline, but he desperately needed pitching. The Pirates, meanwhile, had plenty of pitching but needed to add punch to their offense.

So on December 12, 1984, the Cardinals traded outfielder George Hendrick and utility man Steve Barnard to Pittsburgh for left-handed pitcher John Tudor and catcher Brian Harper. To make roster space, the Cardinals designated catcher Mike Lavalliere for assignment, though they re-signed him in January.

Tudor caught Herzog’s eye while pitching in Boston. The southpaw was born in Schenectady, New York, but grew up in Peabody, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. The Red Sox drafted him out of Georgia Southern University in the third round in 1976, and Tudor made his major-league debut in 1979. In five seasons in Boston, Tudor went 39-32 with a 3.96 ERA, including 13-win seasons in each of his final two years in Beantown.

“I knew he was a smart pitcher,” Herzog wrote in 1987. “He’d spent most of his career in Boston, and left-handers who pitch in Fenway Park, with that short left field, have to be smart or they get killed. A left-hander in Boston who makes a mistake inside to a right-hander can spend a lot of time watching the ball sail over the Green Monster in left field. I figured that John Tudor would be a hell of a pitcher in a big park like ours, with our shortstop and outfielders like ours behind him.”[1]

In December 1983, the Red Sox traded Tudor to the Pirates. As Bob Hertzel of the Pittsburgh Press wrote, “He served the Pirates well, winning 12 and losing 11 for a team that could not hit, could not run, could not play defense, and showed it by finishing last.”[2]

While the Pirates won just 75 games to finish sixth in the National League East, the fault couldn’t be laid at the feet of their pitching staff. Rick Rhoden led the team with 14 wins and a 2.72 ERA over 238 1/3 innings. Larry McWilliams added 12 wins and a 2.93 ERA, and John Candelaria added 12 wins with a 2.72 ERA.

“It wasn’t easy to pitch last year but it was easy to watch,” Tudor said. “I got to watch those other three guys every day and they were magnificent. I wanted to keep up with them, to be as good as they were, and I know it made me a better pitcher.”[3]

Herzog said he anticipated Tudor to slot into the Cardinals’ rotation right behind ace Joaquin Andujar. [4]

“If they didn’t have super starters, they wouldn’t have let Tudor go,” Cardinals general manager Joe McDonald said. “That’s the one club it made sense to make a deal with. Other clubs can’t afford to give up a No. 1, No. 2, or No. 3 pitcher.”[5]

The 30-year-old southpaw had two years remaining on his contract.[6]

“I’m not displeased,” Tudor said regarding the trade. “I was displeased being traded to the National League (in 1983) because I was traded from my home (in Boston). Once you’ve been traded away from home it doesn’t matter anymore.”[7]

St. Louis Post-Dispatch — December 13, 1984

The straight-shooting Tudor admitted that while he looked forward to pitching behind a defense that included Tom Herr at second base and Ozzie Smith at shortstop, he wasn’t certain how good the Cardinals would be without closer Bruce Sutter, who had signed with the Braves the previous week, and Hendrick.

“It’s hard to say what kind of team they’ll have without Bruce and George,” Tudor said. “They were a pretty good team with them.”[8]

Tudor was equally blunt when discussing his former team.

“It’s not that Pittsburgh is that bad,” he said. “It’s just that the team gets no support from the people. Someone would have to be crazy to buy the team and keep it there. We drew 700,000 (actually 773,550). That’s a joke. Minor-league teams draw more than that.”[9]

While Tudor didn’t believe the Pirates had the fan support they needed, he did give them credit for making a trade that helped their ballclub.

“I’m glad the Pirates finally did something but they have to do more,” Tudor said. “One bat is not the answer, whether it’s George Hendrick or Jim Rice. The way I look at it, Hendrick replaces Lee Lacy in the lineup. Maybe he’s got more power, but to me, it’s still back to square one. They still need another power hitter.”[10]

1981 Donruss

In Hendrick, the Pirates obtained the Cardinals’ second-longest tenured player.[11] St. Louis acquired Hendrick in a trade with the Padres in 1978, and in seven seasons with the Cardinals, the veteran outfielder had batted .294/.345/.470 with 122 homers and 582 RBIs.

In 1980, Hendrick hit .302 with 25 homers and a career-high 109 RBIs. After helping the Cardinals win the World Series in 1982, Hendrick hit .318 with 18 homers and 97 RBIs in 1983. In his final season in St. Louis, Hendrick batted .277 with nine homers and 69 RBIs despite missing the final three weeks of the season due to a thyroid operation.[12]

While the 34-year-old outfielder remained productive, he began to irk Herzog with requests to avoid playing in certain ballparks or against power pitchers or knuckleballers.

“The trouble was that in the last couple of years he played for me, he wanted to play less and less,” Herzog explained in his 1987 autobiography. “He knew the pitchers he could hit and the ones he couldn’t, and he’d ask out of games against guys he didn’t want to face. He didn’t want to face Joe or Phil Niekro, or Dwight Gooden, or Bill Gullickson, or Rick Rhoden. He didn’t like to play in Candlestick Park in San Francisco or in Wrigley Field in Chicago.

“Now, I don’t mind sitting a guy down against a pitcher who’s tough on him. Why hang an 0 for 4 on him? Why not get the extra men some at-bats? But with George, I was looking at the prospect of going into the season with my No. 4 hitter missing sixty games.”[13]

Despite Hendrick’s success at the plate, he was almost equally famous for his personal policy against granting interviews, a refusal that dated back to his days with the Indians. In fact, the Pittsburgh Press story announcing the trade included a sub-headline that read:

Hendrick reaction to trade: “…………………..”

The Pittsburgh Press — December 13, 1984

“He has that prerogative and it bothers me some. I’d like all players to talk to the press and give interviews,” Pete Peterson, the Pirates’ executive vice president, said. “If he doesn’t, well, that won’t keep people out of the park. If we win, we will draw well.”[14]

Hendrick seemed unlikely to change his media policy in Pittsburgh. During the 1982 World Series, Cardinals vice president Jim Toomey asked Hendrick to break his silence with the media.

“He considered it,” Toomey said, “Then he said, ‘Naw, things are going too good for me. I don’t want to get in fights with no one. I’ll just keep things the way they are.’”[15]

Hendrick had four years remaining on a contract that was extended the previous year, beginning with a $500,000 salary for 1985 that would jump to approximately $1 million per year after that.[16]

“Any time you get a George Hendrick it will help,” Pirates reliever Kent Tekulve said. “He’ll be real important in the middle of the lineup and he gives us right-handed power, which is something we didn’t have.”[17]

1985 Topps

With Hendrick in Pittsburgh, Andy Van Slyke was expected to become the Cardinals’ new right fielder. The 23-year-old was coming off a season in which he hit .244 with seven homers, 50 RBIs, and 28 stolen bases in 430 plate appearances.

“He’s had his chances, but he’s shown us the ability,” McDonald said. “Now he’s handed the job again. I feel comfortable, as I know Whitey does, but we can always go to Tito (Landrum) and platoon if we have to and that won’t hurt us.”[18]

The Cardinals also knew they had outfield reinforcements coming.

 “We have (Vince) Coleman coming within a year and we think he has the talent to be an exciting player, a Lou Brock-type player,” McDonald said.[19]

Hendrick wound up playing one injury-shortened season in Pittsburgh before playing the final four years of his career for the Angels. After 18 major-league seasons, Hendrick retired with a career .278 batting average with 267 homers and 1,111 RBIs.  In 1993, he returned to the Cardinals as a minor-league instructor, and in 1996 and 1997 he served as the Cardinals’ major-league hitting coach.

Barnard, the other player the Cardinals sent to the Pirates, spent one season with Pittsburgh’s Class A affiliates in Macon, Georgia, and Prince William, Virginia, before retiring after the season.

1986 Topps

Tudor proved key to the Cardinals’ National League pennant in 1985. After he got off to a dismal 1-7 start to the season, an old high school teammate from Falmouth, Massachusetts, named Dave Bettencourt called Tudor to alert him to a flaw in his delivery.

“In my delivery I have a pause where I’ve kept my leg up,” Tudor explained. “Everything comes together then. It allows my arms to catch up with my legs. That’s where my problem was. I’d lost that in what I call my gathering point. It seems like a silly thing, but it’s an important part of my delivery.”[20]

Tudor went on to win 20 of his next 21 decisions. He finished the regular season with a 1.93 ERA over 275 innings and finished second to Dwight Gooden in the Cy Young Award voting.

“What a great season John Tudor had,” Herzog wrote. “I knew he’d be a good pitcher for us, but I sure as hell didn’t know he’d win twenty-one games and finish second to Gooden in the Cy Young voting.”[21]

Tudor won 13 more games in 1986 with a 2.92 ERA. In 1987, he won 10 games but missed significant time when Mets catcher Barry Lyons crashed into Tudor in the Cardinals’ dugout and broke his leg while pursuing a foul ball. The following year, the Cardinals traded Tudor to the Dodgers for Pedro Guerrero. The 36-year-old Tudor returned to St. Louis in 1990, going 12-4 with a 2.40 ERA before retiring.

He finished his 12-year career with a 117-72 record and 3.12 ERA.

1992 Fleer

Harper appeared in 43 games for the Cardinals in 1985, batting .250 in 52 at-bats. He was released after the season but emerged as a productive player a few years later in Minnesota. In six seasons with the Twins, he batted .306 with 48 homers and 346 RBIs. For his career, he played in 1,001 major-league games, making his final appearances with the Athletics in 1995.


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[1] Whitey Herzog and Kevin Horrigan (1987), White Rat: A Life in Baseball, New York, N.Y.; Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., Page 171.

[2] Bob Hertzel, “Trade to Cardinals is no big deal for Tudor,” Pittsburgh Press, December 13, 1984.

[3] Bob Hertzel, “Trade to Cardinals is no big deal for Tudor,” Pittsburgh Press, December 13, 1984.

[4] Rick Hummel, “Birds Complete Hendrick-Tudor Deal With Bucs,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 13, 1984.

[5] Rick Hummel, “Birds Complete Hendrick-Tudor Deal With Bucs,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 13, 1984.

[6] Rick Hummel, “Birds Complete Hendrick-Tudor Deal With Bucs,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 13, 1984.

[7] Rick Hummel, “Birds Complete Hendrick-Tudor Deal With Bucs,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 13, 1984.

[8] Rick Hummel, “Birds Complete Hendrick-Tudor Deal With Bucs,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 13, 1984.

[9] Bob Hertzel, “Trade to Cardinals is no big deal for Tudor,” Pittsburgh Press, December 13, 1984.

[10] Bob Hertzel, “Trade to Cardinals is no big deal for Tudor,” Pittsburgh Press, December 13, 1984.

[11] Rick Hummel, “Hendrick Headed To Pirates For Tudor,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 12, 1984.

[12] Rick Hummel, “Hendrick Headed To Pirates For Tudor,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 12, 1984.

[13] Whitey Herzog and Kevin Horrigan (1987), White Rat: A Life in Baseball, New York, N.Y.; Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., Pages 171-172.

[14] Bob Hertzel, “Mum’s the word: Hendrick’s a Pirate,” Pittsburgh Press, December 13, 1984.

[15] Bob Hertzel, “Mum’s the word: Hendrick’s a Pirate,” Pittsburgh Press, December 13, 1984.

[16] Bob Hertzel, “Mum’s the word: Hendrick’s a Pirate,” Pittsburgh Press, December 13, 1984.

[17] Bob Hertzel, “Mum’s the word: Hendrick’s a Pirate,” Pittsburgh Press, December 13, 1984.

[18] Rick Hummel, “Birds Complete Hendrick-Tudor Deal With Bucs,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 13, 1984.

[19] Rick Hummel, “Birds Complete Hendrick-Tudor Deal With Bucs,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 13, 1984.

[20] United Press International (1985), Racin’ Redbirds! A Celebration of the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago; Contemporaroy Books, Inc., Page 53.

[21] Whitey Herzog and Kevin Horrigan (1987), White Rat: A Life in Baseball, New York, N.Y.; Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., Page 178.

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