July 27, 2011: Cardinals trade Rasmus to Toronto, bolster their pitching for World Series run

When the Cardinals and Blue Jays exchanged eight players just a few days prior to the trade deadline on July 27, 2011, most of the focus understandably centered on 24-year-old center fielder Colby Rasmus.

After all, Rasmus had long been considered the Cardinals’ top prospect, destined to fill Jim Edmonds’ shoes as St. Louis’s next center field fixture. However, in the months to come, the deal that sent Rasmus and pitchers Trever Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters to Toronto in exchange for outfielder Corey Patterson and pitchers Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, and Marc Rzepczynski proved key to the Cardinals’ 2011 world championship.

The Cardinals made Rasmus their first-round draft pick (28th overall) in 2005, signing him to a $1 million signing bonus four days later. In 2006, Rasmus earned the Cardinals’ minor league player of the year honors after batting .288 with 16 homers and 28 stolen bases across Low-A Palm Beach and High-A Quad Cities.

After Rasmus batted .275/.381/.551 with 29 homers and 72 RBIs in Double-A Springfield, the Cardinals traded Edmonds to San Diego and general manager John Mozeliak said Rasmus had a chance to make the major-league roster in 2008.[1] After an impressive spring training, however, Rasmus experienced the first prolonged slump of his professional career at Triple-A Memphis, batting just .186 through his first 172 at-bats. He finished the Memphis season with a .251 batting average.

In the midst of Rasmus’s struggles, the first signs of friction in Rasmus’s relationship with the Cardinals emerged and online account belonging to his father Tony accused the Cardinals of changing Rasmus’s swing. Tony later said that the comments were made by one of Colby’s brothers while using his account.[2]

Rasmus debuted with the Cardinals in 2009, batting .251/.307/.407 with 16 homers and 52 RBIs in 474 at-bats, giving him a higher WAR (wins above replacement) than that year’s National League Rookie of the Year, Chris Coghlan (1.9 to 1.1). That fall, Rasmus received coaching from his father prior to the National League Division Series against the Dodgers. In the three-game series, Rasmus went 4-for-9 with three doubles and an RBI.

He built upon that success in 2010, improving his numbers across the board with a .276/.361/.498 line to go along with 23 home runs and 66 RBIs. Despite that success, Rasmus and Tony La Russa had a heated exchange in the dugout that summer, and in July, Rasmus demanded a trade.

By the 2011 spring training, the dust appeared to have settled, especially after Rasmus got off to a strong start to the year, raising his average to .313 on May 12 with three hits against the Cubs. By the time of the trade, however, Rasmus’s average was down to .246 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs. On July 10, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold wrote that Rasmus was taking extra batting practice with his father to correct his swing. In the same story, La Russa said that hitting coach Mark McGwire and assistant hitting coach Mike Aldrete didn’t deserve the criticism for Rasmus’s struggles, as Rasmus was getting his coaching from an external source.

“I’ve heard grumblings why Mark isn’t doing this or Mike doing that,” he said. “Well, they’re here giving him work, whatever he needs … but the stuff he’s working on is coming from someplace else, and guys are free to do that. The idea is to be productive and hitting is a real peculiar thing. If Colby starts hitting well then whoever he’s going to for advice should get the credit, but if he struggles, it’s not fair to blame Mark and/or Mike.”[3]

“In the end, I have to learn myself,” Rasmus said. “I have to learn my own swing. Then maybe I’ll be whatever everyone wants me to be.”[4]

Sixteen days after the story appeared in the Post-Dispatch, Rasmus was sent to Toronto. The week prior to the deal, Mozeliak declined a trade offer from the Rays that would have sent starting pitcher Jeff Niemann, reliever J.P. Howell, and a prospect to St. Louis. The deal collapsed, however, when Mozeliak insisted the Rays include either Jeremy Hellickson or James Shields.[5]

“Why Toronto?” Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz opined. “Easy: Because Siberia doesn’t have a major-league baseball franchise. And the Cardinals clearly wanted to get Colby and his Daddy as far away as possible.”[6]

Meanwhile, Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos, aware of Rasmus’s drama in St. Louis, had targeted the young center fielder as a potential target months earlier, and told the National Post that Rasmus had a chance to be part of the Blue Jays’ core.[7]

“We’d asked about him a lot last off-season, during the season, and the answer was always no,” Anthopoulos said. “I’d say late afternoon, early evening (Tuesday) there was kind of a breakthrough.”[8]

After the trade was announced, Rasmus exchanged hugs with many of his teammates and shook hands with La Russa.

“I don’t’ know what’s really best for Colby. I think that’s the question,” said David Freese, who was Rasmus’s roommate in Triple-A Memphis. “To be honest, I hope that he takes this move in a positive direction. He’s got a lot of time left in this game. I also hope he can learn and grow as a person. … Colby just needs to do what makes himself happy off the field, because if you’re not happy off the field (it is) extremely difficult to focus and perform on the field.”[9]

“He has a great future ahead of him,” Albert Pujols said. “He’s going to be an all-star, probably. I’m telling you, he’s going to have a great career, man, as soon as he puts things together.”[10]

In Miller, the Blue Jays were getting a 38-year-old situational left-hander who had pitched 15 2/3 innings in 39 appearances for the Cardinals. Though he had a 4.02 ERA for the season, in three years in St. Louis, Miller had gone 4-3 with a 3.12 ERA over 95 1/3 innings.

Tallet, another left-handed reliever who pitched five seasons in Toronto before coming to St. Louis on a free-agent deal prior to the season, had pitched just 13 innings in 18 appearances for the Cardinals, posting an 8.31 ERA.

Walters, a 26-year-old right-hander from Dothan, Alabama, had appeared in 19 major-league games for the Cardinals since 2009. Over that span, he was 2-0 with a 7.38 ERA over 50 innings.

In exchange, the Cardinals sought to improve both their starting pitching and bullpen. Jackson, whom the Blue Jays had acquired just a few hours earlier from the White Sox, was immediately slotted into Kyle McClellan’s rotation spot. The 27-year-old Jackson was 7-7 with a 3.92 ERA, and had earned all-star honors two years earlier in his final season with the Tigers.

Dotel, who came to the Cardinals with a 3.68 ERA in 29 1/3 innings, was a 13-year veteran who had pitched for the Mets, Astros, A’s, Yankees, Royals, Braves, White Sox, Pirates, Dodgers, and Rockies before landing with the Blue Jays. Dotel’s contract called for a club option for the 2012 season. If the Cardinals chose to decline it, they would receive a supplemental-round pick in the upcoming draft or, if he became a “Type A” free agent, they would get first-round and supplemental picks.

At 25, Rzepczynski was the youngest player included in the trade. The left-hander from Oak Lawn, Illinois, had posted a 2.97 ERA in 39 1/3 innings that season for the Blue Jays.

“He was real tough to give up,” Anthopoulos said. “This deal wasn’t getting done without him.”[11]

Patterson, a 12-year veteran who played six seasons with the Cubs, was batting .252 with six homers, 33 RBIs, and 13 stolen bases in 317 at-bats. With the ability to play all three outfield positions, he was slated to serve as the team’s backup outfielder while Jon Jay took over Rasmus’s center field duties.

Miklasz wasn’t immediately impressed with the Cardinals’ haul, though he admitted it had short-term value. “We already knew the U.S.-Canadian exchange rate isn’t what it used to be, but I didn’t realize it applied to baseball,” he wrote. “In dealing Rasmus, the Cardinals should have secured a No. 2 starter and an elite prospect to set up their future.”[12]

Mozeliak, however, was looking to win in 2011. As La Russa wrote in One Last Strike, prior to the trade Mozeliak had approached La Russa with a seemingly simple question: could the Cardinals win if they traded Rasmus for additional help? La Russa discussed the question with his coaching staff.

“Simply put, we believed in their character, chemistry, and will to win, so we bet on it,” La Russa wrote. “I gave Mo my answer: yes, we can win.”[13]

“This is a window to win,” Mozeliak said. “Today we feel like we’re a better team than we were yesterday.”[14]

The remainder of the season proved Mozeliak right. At the time of the trade, the Cardinals were 55-49 and in second place in the National League Central Division. With an 18-8 record in the month of September, the Cardinals surged into the postseason with a 90-72 record.

After arriving in St. Louis, Jackson went 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA in 78 innings. Rzepczynski made 28 relief appearances, posting a 3.97 ERA over 22 2/3 innings, and Dotel was even better, posting a 3.28 ERA in 24 2/3 innings. Patterson provided a veteran left-handed bat off the bench, though he hit just .157 in 51 at-bats.

The pitching acquisitions proved even more valuable in the gauntlet of the postseason. Jackson, who had pitched with the Rays in the 2008 World Series, earned the win in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Phillies, allowing two runs over six innings. He started two games in the NLCS, allowing six runs over 6 1/3 innings, and took the loss in Game 4 of the World Series after walking seven and allowing three runs over 5 1/3 innings.

Dotel made three appearances in the NLDS, throwing 2 2/3 scoreless innings against the Phillies. He pitched in four of the six games in the NLCS, earning the win in Game 5 with 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Jaime Garcia. For the series, he allowed one earned run in four innings pitched. In the World Series, Dotel pitched in five of the seven games, allowing two earned runs in 3 2/3 innings.

Rzepczynski was equally impressive. After all three batters he faced in Game 1 of the NLDS came around to score, Rzepczynski retired two of the three batters he faced in Game 2. In Game 4, he struck out the only batter he faced, Ryan Howard, with a runner on second and two outs in the eighth inning.

In Game 1 of the NLCS against the Brewers, Rzepczynski struck out Nyjer Morgan and retired Corey Hart to end the seventh. In Game 2, he threw a scoreless seventh inning, then in Game 3, La Russa called on him to strike out Prince Fielder in the eighth inning. In Game 5, Rzepczynski entered the game with runners on first and third in the eighth inning and struck out Fielder again. In the decisive sixth game, Rzepczynski threw 2 1/3 innings of relief to earn the win.

In the World Series against the Rangers, Rzepczynski struck out Craig Gentry and Esteban German to end the seventh inning of Game 1. He retired both batters he faced in Game 2, then retired one batter in Game 5. In Game 6, Rzepczynski retired Josh Hamilton, Mitch Moreland, and Adrian Beltre in a scoreless eighth inning to help set the stage for the Cardinals’ comeback win.

As Miklasz had written the day after the trade was made, “If the Cardinals make it to the 2011 postseason and go on a run, no one will be growling about selling off Rasmus for short money.”[15]

In 3 ½ seasons in Toronto, Rasmus batted .234/.295/.433 with 66 homers and 194 RBIs. In 2012 he hit 23 homers and drove in a career-high 75 RBIs. In 2015, he signed with the Astros and hit 25 homers, then had a 15-homer season in 2016. He played 37 games with the Rays in 2017 and 18 with Baltimore in 2018 before stepping away from the game. He retired with a .241 career average, 166 home runs, and 491 RBIs.

Miller pitched in six games for the Blue Jays before signing with the Red Sox and appearing in the final three games of his major-league career. Tallet allowed two runs in 1/3 of an inning in his lone appearance for the Blue Jays, then pitched in Triple-A Tucson in 2012 and the independent Atlantic League in 2013.

Walters pitched one scoreless inning for Toronto before signing with Minnesota. He appeared in 20 games over two seasons, going 4-10 with a 5.74 ERA, before pitching the next two seasons in the minor leagues.

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[1] “As Colby Turns,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 28, 2011.

[2] “As Colby Turns,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 28, 2011.

[3] Derrick Goold, “Maybe father knows best,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 11, 2011.

[4] Derrick Goold, “Maybe father knows best,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 11, 2011.

[5] Joe Strauss, “Rasmus Saga Ends,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 28, 2011.

[6] Bernie Miklasz, “Smart move, at least in the short term,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 28, 2011.

[7] Bruce Arthur, “Risk Factor,” National Post, July 28, 2011.

[8] John Lott, “Jays’ GM Set To ‘Star Fresh’ With Rasmus,” National Post, July 28, 2011.

[9] Derrick Goold, “Ex-teammates laud Rasmus’ skills, talent,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 28, 2011.

[10] Derrick Goold, “Ex-teammates laud Rasmus’ skills, talent,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 28, 2011.

[11] John Lott, “Jays’ GM Set To ‘Star Fresh’ With Rasmus,” National Post, July 28, 2011.

[12] Bernie Miklasz, “Smart move, at least in the short term,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 28, 2011.

[13] Tony La Russa (2012), One Last Strike, Kindle Android Version, Page 122.

[14] Joe Strauss, “Rasmus Saga Ends,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 28, 2011.

[15] Bernie Miklasz, “Smart move, at least in the short term,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 28, 2011.

July 27, 1953: Dizzy Dean is inducted into the Hall of Fame

On July 27, 1953, the Baseball Hall of Fame celebrated Dizzy Dean’s remarkable career with an induction ceremony that formally recognized Dean as one of the game’s elite.

“It’s the greatest honor I ever received,” Dean said. “I want to thank the good Lord for giving me a good right arm, a strong back, and a weak mind.”[1]

Dean was inducted alongside Al Simmons, a three-time all-star and two-time batting champion who played most of his career with the Philadelphia Athletics. During the ceremony, Dean was joined on the platform by some of the 62 previous Hall inductees, including Ty Cobb, Connie Mack, Cy Young, Ed Walsh, and Rogers Hornsby.

“Them’s the kind of ballplayers I’d like to have had behind me all the time,” Dean said, before complimenting the former teammates who “stopped them line drives and got some runs for me.”[2]

Joseph Cashman, head of the Baseball Writers of America, served as toastmaster and George M. Trautman, head of the National Association of Baseball Leagues, unveiled both honorees’ plaques. Dean’s Hall of Fame plaque read:

One of four N.L. pitchers to win 30 or more games under modern regulations. Pitched in 1934 (St. L.) 1938 (Chicago) World Series. Let league in strikeouts 1932-33-34-35. Single game record with 17, July 30, 1933. First pitcher to make two hits in one inning in World Series. Most valuable N.L. player in 1934.

Dean and his brothers grew up picking cotton. With little in the way of formal education, Dean enlisted at Fort Sam Houston and developed a reputation as “a hard-pitching mountain boy who wanted to throw barefoot, though his sergeant insisted that he wear spikes.”[3] Dean’s pitching at Fort Sam Houston attracted the attention of a semipro team in San Antonio, and it was there that Cardinals scout Don Curtis discovered Dean and signed him.

On September 28, 1930, Dean made his major-league debut, holding the Pirates to one run on three hits in a complete-game victory. Prior to the game, St. Louis mayor Victor Miller, seated in a box seat near the field, called Cardinals manager Gabby Street over to ask him about the new pitcher.

“Mr. Mayor, I think he’s going to be a great pitcher, but I’m afraid we’ll never know from one minute to the next what he’s going to do,” Street said.[4]

Despite Dean’s successful outing, the Cardinals kept him in the minor leagues in 1931, perhaps as punishment for his tendency to charge items totaling thousands of dollars to the team. He was even known to register at several hotels for the same night, then sleep at whichever one was closest when he was ready to conclude the evening.[5]

By 1932, however, Dean was simply too good to keep in the minors. The 23-year-old won 18 games with a 3.30 ERA and led the league in innings pitched (286) and strikeouts (191) in his rookie campaign. In 1933, Dean won 20 games and led the league in strikeouts for the second consecutive year, including a 17-strikeout performance against the Cubs.

Dean made baseball history with his 30-win 1934 season. In September, with the Cardinals chasing the Giants for the National League pennant, Dean pitched in 10 games between September 10 and September 30. He won six of those games and earned the save in two others, lowering his ERA from 2.98 to 2.66 during that span. With Dean and his brother Paul Dean leading the way, the Cardinals caught the Giants on September 28, then won their final two games of the regular season to win the National League pennant by two games.

In the seven-game 1934 World Series, Dean pitched 26 innings, allowing just five earned runs for a 1.73 ERA. He pitched all nine innings of the Cardinals’ 8-3 Game 1 win, then took a tough-luck loss in Game 5 after allowing two earned runs over eight innings. With just one day of rest, Dean pitched the decisive Game 7, holding the Tigers to just six hits in a complete-game shutout.

Following Dean’s historic season, he was named National League MVP ahead of Pittsburgh’s Paul Waner, who placed second, and the Giants’ Jo-Jo Moore, Travis Jackson, and Mel Ott, who finished third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.

Dean went on to place second in the MVP voting in 1935 and 1936, pitching a combined 640 innings while leading the league in innings pitched both years. Prior to the start of the 1938 season, the Cardinals traded Dean to the Cubs for Curt Davis, Clyde Shoun, Tuck Stainback, and $185,000.

Dean battled arm troubles throughout his career in Chicago, compiling a 16-8 record before retiring to take a coaching job with the Cubs in 1941. Dean went on to become a radio and TV broadcaster, providing commentary for Cardinals, Browns, Yankees, and Braves games. He was part of CBS’s national game of the week broadcast team from 1955 through 1965, and became a memorable part of ballgames for younger fans who had never seen him pitch.

After Dean’s broadcasting career concluded, he retired to Bond, Mississippi. He passed away on July 17, 1974, on the same day that Bob Gibson threw the 3,000th strikeout of his career.

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[1] Jack Hand, “Dean, Simmons Acclaimed,” St. Joseph News-Press, July 28, 1953.

[2] Jack Hand, “Dean, Simmons Acclaimed,” St. Joseph News-Press, July 28, 1953.

[3] John Heidenry (2007), “The Gashouse Gang,” PublicAffairs, Page 35.

[4] Doug Feldmann (2000), Dizzy and the Gas House Gang, McFarland, Kindle File, 34.

[5] John Heidenry (2007), “The Gashouse Gang,” PublicAffairs, Page 44.

July 26, 1998: McGwire’s 44th home run breaks Johnny Mize’s 1940 record

Mark McGwire’s pursuit of Babe Ruth and Roger Maris took him past Johnny Mize before the 1998 calendar turned to August.

On July 26, McGwire’s 44th home run of the season of the season broke the franchise record set by Johnny Mize in 1940. The blast, which came in the Cardinals’ 104th game of the season, kept McGwire ahead of Ruth’s 1927 home run pace, when he finished the season with 60 homers, and Maris’s pace when he hit 61 home runs in 1961. Ruth didn’t hit his 44th home run of 1927 until the Yankees’ 128th game and Maris didn’t hit his 44th until the Yankees’ 116th game.

Kent Mercker, a veteran left-hander who had been a first-round draft pick of the Braves in 1986, got the start for the Cardinals. The Rockies countered with John Thomson, a second-year right-hander who hadn’t pitched since June 15 due to a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand.

For the first three innings, the only hit either offense could manage was a first-inning double by Rockies right fielder Larry Walker.

With two outs in the fourth, McGwire ended Thomson’s no-hit bid when he jumped on a first-pitch slider and drove it an estimated 452 feet[1] for a home run. The blast not only ended the Cardinals’ offensive struggles, it also halted an 0-for-16 stretch for McGwire, his longest hitless streak of the season.

“I was just trying to throw a first-pitch strike,” Thomson said.[2]

The fan who caught the ball met with McGwire after the game, and while the fan chose not to part with the memento, McGwire agreed to sign it for him.

“He said he had a dream two nights ago that he was going to catch one of my home run balls and that was good enough for me. I’m into that stuff,” McGwire said. “He had the dream. He caught it. I hope he has more dreams.”[3]

The Rockies tied the game in the next half-inning as Ellis Burks led off with a double to right field and Vinny Castilla drove him home with a two-out single to center field.

Mercker helped his own cause in the fifth with a triple into the right-field gap, then scored on a two-out single by Royce Clayton. Mercker pitched the sixth inning, then left the game with lightheadedness. Afterwards, he admitted he had been battling a cold and hadn’t felt himself for four days.

“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “You ever had a head rush where everything turns red and black? I had that for about six minutes. I went out for the fifth and I just couldn’t catch my breath. The more I started to breathe, the dizzier I got.”[4]

Despite Mercker’s early exit, the Cardinals’ bullpen held strong. Curtis King pitched the sixth and seventh innings without allowing a hit. When Kirt Manwaring led off the eighth with a single to left, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa called upon Lance Painter to face Rockies reliever Chuck McElroy.

McElroy reached on a bunt single before Neifi Perez laid down a bunt of his own, advancing Manwaring and McElroy to second and third. The Cardinals went to their bullpen once more, this time calling on Rich Croushore, a rookie right-hander who had emerged as the Cardinals’ closer. Croushore struck out Burks and got Walker to ground out to Clayton at shortstop to end the inning.

In the ninth, Willie McGee added an insurance run with a solo homer to right field, and Croushore worked around a two-out walk to Todd Helton to earn his seventh save of the season.

“The bullpen won that game,” said Mercker, who improved to 6-8 on the season.[5]

Thomson, who allowed two earned runs over 6 2/3 innings, took the loss for the Rockies.

Afterwards, McGwire admitted he was battling fatigue after playing 18 games in a row – including 17 starts – since representing the Cardinals at the all-star game.

“I was dead,” he said. “I should have had an off-day sometime during this road trip. I should have had one in San Diego but we didn’t do it. Sometimes a day off goes a long way.”

While McGwire was willing to admit weariness, he said the media attention that was gathering around his pursuit of the single-season home run record wasn’t getting to him.

“The thing I sort of get tired of hearing is if I don’t hit home runs or don’t get hits, that the pressure of the media is getting to me,” he said. “Absolutely not. Believe me, it’s not going to get to me.”[6]

While McGwire certainly felt the pressure of the home run chase later in the season, he went on to hit a major-league record 70 home runs. Along the way, he led the league with 162 walks, a .470 on-base percentage, and a .752 slugging percentage.

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[1] Rick Hummel, “44 for Mac,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 27, 1998.

[2] Rick Hummel, “McGwire blasts 44th,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 27, 1998.

[3] Rick Hummel, “McGwire blasts 44th,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 27, 1998.

[4] Rick Hummel, “Mercker left dizzy after hitting triple,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 27, 1998.

[5] Rick Hummel, “Mercker left dizzy after hitting triple,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 27, 1998.

[6] Rick Hummel, “McGwire blasts 44th,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 27, 1998.

July 24, 2009: Cardinals acquire Matt Holliday in trade with A’s

On July 24, 2009, the Cardinals finally acquired the slugger Tony La Russa had been seeking to provide protection for Albert Pujols in the middle of the St. Louis lineup.

In exchange for top third base prospect Brett Wallace, minor-league pitcher Clayton Mortensen, and outfield prospect Shane Peterson, the Cardinals acquired Matt Holliday to bat cleanup and patrol left field. The A’s also sent $1.5 million to the Cardinals to assist with the balance of his $13.5 million salary for the season. Holliday’s contract was due to expire at season’s end.

“I’m extremely excited to be back in the National League, to be back in a pennant race,” Holliday said.[1]

Though rumors also had connected the Cardinals to the Nationals’ Adam Dunn,[2] La Russa clearly prized Holliday above anyone else available on the trade market.

“We’ve been talking about him since last winter,” he said.[3]

Adam Wainwright was even more straightforward. “How big of a deal to get a player like (Holliday)?” he asked. “It’s as big as his biceps.”[4]

Wainwright had plenty of reason to be excited. Holliday burst onto the big-league scene with the Rockies in 2004, batting .290 with 14 homers and 57 RBIs in 121 games. In six seasons with the Rockies, he hit .319 with 130 homers and 486 RBIs, making three all-star game appearances and winning three Silver Slugger awards. He placed second in the National League MVP voting in 2007 when he led the league with 216 hits, a .340 batting average, 50 doubles, and 137 RBIs.

The Cardinals’ pursuit of Holliday had begun while he was still in Colorado, and had advanced far enough that Skip Schumaker said he preparing to play his home games in Denver.[5] Instead, the Rockies traded Holliday to the A’s for Carlos Gonzalez, Greg Smith, and Huston Street following the 2008 season. In 93 games for the A’s, Holliday hit .286 with 11 homers and 54 RBIs.

In June, the Cardinals were once again engaged in discussions regarding a trade for Holliday, this time with the A’s. Oakland general manager Billy Beane had indicated that with his team in last place and little likelihood of re-signing Holliday, he wanted at least two first-round talents for his star outfielder. The Cardinals met that requirement with Wallace, the 13th overall pick of the 2008 draft, and Mortensen, the 36th overall pick in the 2007 draft. Peterson was the Cardinals’ second-round pick from 2008.

Prior to the deal, St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell advocated for acquiring Holliday, even if it required including Wallace in the deal.

“If the price for bringing in Holliday, a proven bat and a three-time all-star, is a kid who could turn into a major-league bat, then what’s the issue?” Burwell wrote. “There are only two reasons why a farm system exists. It’s to develop kids who turn into major-league stars on your team and to convince other teams to take the others off your hands in exchange for proven veteran talent.”[6]

Wallace, whom Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak referred to as the “keystone of the deal,”[7] had advanced quickly through the Cardinals’ system. Upon being drafted out of Arizona State University, Wallace hit .327 in 41 games in Class A Quad Cities. In 49 at-bats in Double-A Springfield, Wallace batted .327 with five homers and 25 RBIs.

In 2009, Wallace returned to Springfield, batting .281 in 32 games before getting the call up to Triple-A Memphis. Wallace was batting .293 against Triple-A pitching at the time of the trade.

Beane said the A’s had strongly considered taking Wallace themselves with the 12th overall pick in the draft. Instead, they took second baseman Jemile Weeks, and the Cardinals claimed Wallace with the next selection.

“At last year’s draft we had a difficult choice between him and Jemile,” Beane said. “Now we couldn’t be happier we have both of them. … We think (Wallace) is a middle-of-the-lineup power guy, which going forward is something we need.”[8]

“Wallace is not the type of hitter you’re going to replace easily,” Mozeliak said. “Our scouting department is going to have to work that much harder to find another one. That’s how this business works.”[9]

Mortensen had begun his Cardinals’ career in Batavia, their low-Class A affiliate, before advancing to Quad Cities during his first pro season. In 2008, the Cardinals promoted him to Double-A Springfield, where he posted a 4.22 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings.

In Triple-A Memphis, he thrown 80 innings prior to the trade, posting a 5.51 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 80 innings pitched.

Like Mortensen, Peterson started his Cardinals career in Batavia, where he hit .291 with 39 RBIs in 275 plate appearances before advancing to Springfield. He played just 18 games there prior to the trade, batting .284 in 80 plate appearances.

Holliday was in the A’s team hotel in New York, where the A’s were playing the Yankees, when he was informed of the trade by text message. Accompanied by his wife and two sons, Holliday took a train to Philadelphia, where he arrived 30 minutes prior to batting practice.[10] As an old-school player, Holliday’s old-school form of travel didn’t distract him in his Cardinals debut. He singled three times and doubled while scoring St. Louis’s first run in an 8-1 win over the Phillies.

“You look at the lineup card and it’s exciting,” said Ryan Ludwick, who moved from cleanup to No. 5 in the lineup with Holliday’s arrival. “You take a hitter like him and it’s instant offense.”[11]

Holliday brought that instant offense for 7 ½ seasons. In January, he signed a seven-year, $120 million contract that marked the largest deal in franchise history.[12] As a Cardinal, Holliday batted .293/.380/.494 with 156 homers and 616 RBIs. He was part of the Cardinals’ 2011 world championship team and helped the Redbirds reach the National League Championship Series in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

In 2017, he signed a free-agent deal with the Yankees, where he hit .231 with 19 homers and 64 RBIs. He returned to the Rockies in 2018, appearing in 25 games before retiring following his age-38 season. The following year, he joined his brother Jeff’s coaching staff at Oklahoma State University.

Wallace never lived up to the high hopes for his potential. After the 2009 season, the A’s traded Wallace to the Blue Jays for Michael Taylor, and seven months later the Blue Jays traded him to the Astros for Anthony Gose.

Wallace played four seasons for the Astros, batting .242/.313/.391 before he was released. The Orioles signed him ahead of the 2014 season and the Blue Jays purchased his rights in July, but he didn’t return to the majors until the Padres signed him as a free agent ahead of the 2015 season. The 28-year-old Wallace looked as though he might have put it together after batting .302 with five homers in 107 major league plate appearances that season, but in 2016 his average fell to .189 in 256 plate appearances. He retired after the season.

Mortensen started six games for the A’s in 2009, going 2-4 with a 7.81 ERA, and started one game in 2010 before he was traded to the Rockies. He played one season in Colorado, posting a 3.86 ERA in 58 1/3 innings before he was traded to Boston. There, he was used exclusively as a reliever, posting a 3.21 ERA in 2012. In 30 1/3 innings in 2013, his ERA jumped to 5.34. He never returned to the majors.

Peterson appeared in two games for the A’s in 2013. He hit .259 in 226 plate appearances for the Brewers in 2015 and batted .253 in 88 plate appearances for the Rays in 2017. He retired following the 2019 season.

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[1] Joe Stiglich, “Holliday traded to the Cards,” Fresno Bee, July 25, 2009.

[2] Derrick Goold, “Redbirds explore ‘a lot of’ options,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 24, 2009.

[3] Derrick Goold, “Cardinals Get Holliday from A’s,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 25, 2009.

[4] Derrick Goold, “Cardinals Get Holliday from A’s,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 25, 2009.

[5] Derrick Goold, “Cardinals Get Holliday from A’s,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 25, 2009.

[6] Bryan Burwell, “Cardinals in need of a Holliday now,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 24, 2009.

[7] Derrick Goold, “Cardinals Get Holliday from A’s,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 25, 2009.

[8] Joe Stiglich, “Holliday traded to the Cards,” Fresno Bee, July 25, 2009.

[9] Derrick Goold, “Cardinals Get Holliday from A’s,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 25, 2009.

[10] Derrick Goold, “Cardinals Get Holliday from A’s,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 25, 2009.

[11] Joe Stiglich, “Holliday traded to the Cards,” Fresno Bee, July 25, 2009.

[12] Joe Strauss, “Cardinals get their man,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 6, 2010.

July 21, 2012: Cardinals tie franchise record with 12-run rally vs. Cubs

On July 21, 2012, a single inning proved the difference between the Cardinals and Cubs. It just turned out to be one heck of an inning.

The Cardinals broke a scoreless tie in the seventh inning with a 12-run, 10-hit outburst that led to a 12-0 win and launched the Redbirds into the record books. The 12 runs tied the franchise mark set in 1926, when the Cardinals scored a dozen in the third inning of a double-header against the Phillies. The seven doubles in an inning tied a major league record the Boston Bees set in Game 1 of a double-header against the Cardinals in 1936.[1]

“Sometimes those innings get crazy,” David Freese said. “I think we kept our focus and we kept pushing, and the next thing you know we had 12 runs.”[2]

The game began as a pitcher’s duel between St. Louis’s Jake Westbrook and Chicago’s Matt Garza. Garza, who was the subject of trade rumors, held the Cardinals to just two hits through three innings before manager Dale Sveum removed him from the game. Speculation briefly swirled that Garza had been traded, but he actually left the game due to cramping in his right triceps.[3]

With Garza out of the game, the Cubs called on right-hander Justin Germano, who had been purchased from the Red Sox just a few days earlier. Matching Westbrook pitch for pitch, Germano held the Cardinals scoreless until the seventh, when he allowed an infield single to David Freese.

Entering the game in relief of Germano, James Russell retired Jon Jay on a popped-up bunt attempt that third baseman Luis Valbuena dove to catch. Allen Craig, pinch-hitting for Westbrook, lined a double into the left-field corner before Rafael Furcal followed with a single into left that scored Freese. Skip Schumaker hit a triple over the head of Cubs center fielder David DeJesus to drive in two more runs.

“Until that point, we were really trying to figure out how to get a run in,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “It comes down to the big hit. We talked about that. Rafi comes up with the big hit, and then Skip comes up with a big triple and then everybody followed suit. That’s standard with this team. It seems like if somebody gets going, then it really gets fun to watch.”[4]

Matt Holliday followed Schumaker’s triple with a walk. Beltran hit a ground-rule double that bounced over the right-field wall, and Russell intentionally walked Yadier Molina to load the bases for Lance Berkman.

Russell got Berkman to hit an infield fly for the second out of the inning before Sveum called on Manny Corpas. Freese greeted Corpas with his second hit of the inning, a double down the right-field line that scored Holliday and Beltran. Jay followed with a double into the left-field corner that scored two more runs, and Craig, making his second pinch-hit at-bat of the inning, hit the Cardinals’ third consecutive double to make it 9-0.

“It was crazy,” Craig said. “I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that in the big leagues. I came into the game in a big spot and I was glad I could make something happen.”[5]

After Corpas walked Furcal, Sveum turned to his fourth pitcher of the inning, Rafael Dolis. Schumaker hit an RBI double and Holliday drove in the final two runs of the inning with a double to right. Beltran reached on a strikeout when Dolis’s wild pitch got away from Cubs catcher Geovany Soto, but Dolis struck out pinch hitter Tony Cruz to end the rally.

“That’s really a tough lineup there,” Sveum said. “Five doubles down the right-field line. Two doubles down the left-field line. Quality hitters do that stuff.”[6]

Barret Browning and Victor Marte pitched the eighth inning and Trevor Rosenthal handled ninth-inning duties to finish the game.

Westbrook earned his eighth win of the season with seven shutout innings, allowing just three Cub hits. He walked two and struck out five while lowering his ERA to 3.60.

“The first couple of innings, I was a little erratic. I might have been a little geeked up,” Westbrook said. “After that, I felt really strong.”[7]

Freese finished the game with three hits while Furcal, Schumaker, Holliday, Beltran, Berkman, and Craig each had two.

The 2012 Cardinals went on to an 88-74 record on the season to finish second in the National League Central. After beating the Braves in the NL wild-card game, the Cardinals beat the Nationals in a five-game NLDS but lost to the Giants in seven games in the NLCS.

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[1] Derrick Goold, “Seventh Heaven,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 23, 2012.

[2] Derrick Goold, “Seventh Heaven,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 23, 2012.

[3] Associated Press, “Cardinals tie MLB record with 7 doubles in an inning, win in rout,” ESPN, www.espn.com/mlb/recap?gameId=320721124.

[4] Derrick Goold, “Seventh Heaven,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 23, 2012.

[5] Associated Press, “Cardinals tie MLB record with 7 doubles in an inning, win in rout,” ESPN, www.espn.com/mlb/recap?gameId=320721124.

[6] Derrick Goold, “Seventh Heaven,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 23, 2012.

[7] Associated Press, “Cardinals tie MLB record with 7 doubles in an inning, win in rout,” ESPN, www.espn.com/mlb/recap?gameId=320721124.