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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Ex-Cardinals greats Marion and Breadon on Hall of Fame ballot

Two prominent St. Louis Cardinals figures from the first half of the 20th century are back on the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Owner Sam Breadon and shortstop Marty Marion are among 10 candidates under consideration by the Hall’s pre-integration era committee.

The group of former players, executives, reporters and historians is charged with evaluating those who made their most significant impact to the game by 1946 or prior. Candidates need at least 12 of 16 votes (75 percent) in voting that will occur during baseball’s Winter Meetings in early December. Winners will be inducted in Cooperstown, New York in late July.

Both Cardinals have a good case, but if I had to choose one, it would be Breadon.

However, his chances may not great. In 2009, an earlier 16-member veterans committee – one that included current owner Bill DeWitt, Jr. and Post-Dispatch writer Rick Hummel – gave Breadon less than 25 percent support.

Self-made through ownership of automobile dealerships, Breadon purchased his initial investment in the Cardinals in 1917 and became the majority owner in 1920. In the 28-year history of the National League to-date, not only had the Cardinals never won a title, they had only three finishes in the first division, none as high as second place.

Breadon (on the right with Dizzy Dean and Frankie Frisch left and center in spring training 1935) bankrolled Rickey’s idea to purchase minority and later majority interest in their minor league affiliates. The Cardinals were at the forefront of the movement, which gave them a huge competitive advantage for over 25 years.

By the start of World War II, the Cardinals’ empire had grown to 32 minor league clubs, of which at least 15 were 100 percent owned by the organization. Amazingly, there were 20 Class D leagues in the US in 1940 and the Cardinals had a team in every one of them.

The Cardinals used their system to not only fill their own player pipeline, but also accumulated an estimated $2 million in cash between 1922 and 1942 by selling their excess players to other organizations.

By the time a cancer-stricken Breadon sold the club in late 1947 for a then-record price of $4 million, the Cardinals had accumulated their first nine NL pennants and six World Championships.

Marion made his MLB debut on April 16, 1940, a year and a half prior to Stan Musial’s September 1941 arrival in the bigs.

The defensive wizard known as “Slats” and “The Octopus” was – along with Musial – one of the most prominent contributors to the glory decade of the 1940’s. That was a period during which their Cardinals clubs played in four World Series, winning three.

Prior to the arrival of Ozzie Smith on the scene in 1982, Marion held the undisputed crown as the club’s greatest shortstop ever. He was also recognized as the best defensive shortstop of his era – pre-television and pre-Gold Glove Awards.

Marion earned nine consecutive All-Star Game invitations and led the National League shortstops in fielding percentage three times, including a career-best .981 mark in 1947. He was named the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1944, succeeding Musial.

On the negative side, Marion never hit above .280 and he never received more than 40 percent of the sportswriters’ vote when on the regular Hall of Fame ballot.

After managing the Cardinals in 1951, he played for and managed the St. Louis Browns and was also skipper of the Chicago White Sox. Later, Marion owned the Houston Buffs of the minor league American Association. He passed away at the age of 93 in March 2011.

For information on the other candidates and the voters, check out this release from the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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21 Responses to “Ex-Cardinals greats Marion and Breadon on Hall of Fame ballot”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    Some names get mentioned as free agent targets. This is more hot stove league gossip than serious. Are the Cards going to pop for Affeldt or Scutaro? Of course not. Just happy talk.
    Are we going to trade Schumaker? No. Who is going to cart him away?
    We might trade Rzepcynski, he would have some value. But we probably need to hold onto him for another year until internal candidates are ready.
    I could see adding a veteran middle infielder, if we could find one for the right price. Cesar Izutris and Ryan Theriot are available. Who wants to see either back?
    I expect us to recruit a backup catcher. Tony Cruz did a decent job and might retain the job, but we need more depth.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      In prior off-seasons, backup catcher was one of the first personnel moves to which Mo has tended.

      Jeff Luhnow recruited Dennis Martinez to serve as Palm Beach pitching coach and has now recruited him to Houston, to join Sig Mejdal, Mike Elias, and others, in this diaspora. Martinez was an accomplished pitcher for the Expos and Orioles, perhaps the most illustrious player to hail from Nicaragua. It was great for minor leaguers like Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez to enjoy Dennis’ insights. Now Dennis can advise Astros pitchers how to handle Albert Pujols in the American League West.

  2. blingboy says:

    Australian baseball. That’s just wrong, sorry. But good luck to the two minor leaguers the Cards sent down under. Its summer their, so is it winter league?

  3. blingboy says:

    There has been a lot of discussion on other threads and elsewhere about the SS position for next year. For some reason I’m more intrigued by what happens with 2B. Not that its more important or higher priority. Descalso, Kozma, Carpenter and technically Skip are the roster guys in play.

    As an aside, the Cards org continues to view 2B as a position to fit a guy into who can hit. Not only in the case of Carpenter, but in the minors with a guy named O’Neill. That guy’s specialty is getting on base, .440ish OBP. No power whatsoever. He’s been a CF, but not going to make it there despite good speed. Defensively, he’s more of a LF bellyball kind of guy. But again, no power. LF in not going to happen. So he’s a 2B. Wonderful.

    Back on point. Cards minor League hitting coach Kruzel, who is coaching in Arizona Fall League talked about our 2B prospect Wang. The agent couldn’t have paid him to do a better job promoting the kid. Hit all of what should be the Cards hot buttons. Consistent top of the order, 1 or 2 guy. Good situational hitter, hits behind runners, advances runners, generates RBIs, runs bases well.

    He was at AA all last year. Being an AFL guy, and having been designated our priority player there, meaning lots of playing time, its seems a lock he will be a non roster invitee. Barring injury setback, or big flop in ST or Memphis, he seems on track to be in St. Louis some time next year. The timing probably having to do with what we are getting out of whoever is getting reps at 2B.

    If we were to go into the stretch run next year with, say, Cabrera and Wang as the middle infield, with Jay and Molina rounding out the D up the middle, oh baby, I’d have to see my doctor. (And if we also had Ankiel in the pen, taking reps as defensive outfield fill-in, don’t stand between me and the ticket window).

    • crdswmn says:

      It’s Wong, not Wang.

      If you are talking about Asdrubal Cabrera, who are going to trade to get him? He has a backloaded contract with the Indians and is due 10M in 2014. You really want to pay 10M to a guy with .757 career OPS? I don’t.

      I’d rather trade for Brendan Ryan, at least we’d get great defense for cheap. (Like, I know that’s not going to happen).

      • blingboy says:

        I agree Cabrera’s salary is a deal breaker, unless the Indians would eat some of it in exchange for extra prospect value from the Cards. That might be a possibility since the Indians would be doing it for rebuilding purposes, and they are not over burdoned with payroll right now. That seems like the sort of ‘outside the box’ way of making use of the rich system that would appeal to Mo and BDW.

        As to who, I haven’t looked into what the Indians want/need, just that they are thought to be leaning toward rebuilding, and that Cabrera would factor into that. Pitching and Adams come to mind as far as what we have. Some would say Freese could be spared, but a rebuilding team would be more interested in Carpenter I would think.

        • crdswmn says:

          If they require any of our young arms, you can forget it. Mozeliak has already said publicly he is very reluctant to part with any of them unless the deal is too good. He isn’t going to give one of them up for a .757 OPS guy whose defense is no better than what he already has.

          • blingboy says:

            You couldn’t have picked anything less important than a shortstop’s OPS. .275/.340 BA/OBP is fine.

            I agree that better D would be better.

            • crdswmn says:

              Not for 10M SS it isn’t.

              • blingboy says:

                Well, yes. But like I said, he would have to be costing us less than $10M.

                • crdswmn says:

                  He would have to cost considerably less than 10M to take the bad D and lose prospects. Also, there was a significant drop off in his offense from 2011 to 2012 which could mean a regression or could mean nothing. But it is a risk that has to be considered.

                  Sorry, but I can’t get excited about this. If we are going to make a trade and lose prospects, I would rather go all out and go for the better and cheaper Elvis Andrus.

                  • blingboy says:

                    I prefer Andrus as well. I think he would cost us more though.

                    • crdswmn says:

                      He would cost more in prospects, but his contract is cheaper.

                      I think Mo is more inclined to go the FA market for a back up SS and try to develop something from within. I think Jackson has been given short shrift, and another year in AAA may bring out the best in him.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Mike ONeill throws left, ruling him out at 2B. Years ago, fans used to hope Shane Robinson would convert to 2B. So far, only Skip has made the move to infield.

  4. blingboy says:

    Correction/clarification on the aside above. Actually, reviewing the different stuff I’ve been looking at, making O’Niell a 2B is speculation at this point, I’ve seen it several places, but not from the Cards. I was getting mixed up with another multi-position guy named Walsh, who is getting reps at 2B in the AFL.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Walsh played 2B in college, leading Stanford in homers his junior season. The Cards want to improve his defense, in hopes of cultivating a 2Bman with pop. Colin has a master’s degree from Stanford in engineering. Should be able to find another job after baseball.

  5. Bw52 says:

    Walsh is supposed to be a Offense first player who tries to play defense.He was a DH many times this year.

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