Friday, December 20, 2013

December 20, 1926: Hornsby For Frisch

     On December 20, 1926, in what was called the biggest deal since the Yankees purchased Babe Ruth, the Cardinals stunned the baseball world by sending second baseman Rogers Hornsby to the New York Giants in exchange for second baseman Frankie Frisch and pitcher Jimmy Ring.

     Hornsby and Cardinals President Sam Breadon were at odds over a contract dispute in which the star second baseman was demanding a three year contract as well as a substantial raise. Breadon offered him $50,000 for one year, it was a raise of $20,000, but the length of the contract was not enough for the man who had just guided the Birds to the first title in the history of the franchise.

     The list of accomplishments for Hornsby in St. Louis is long. He began his career with the Birds in 1919 and developed into one of the best hitters in the game, winning two Triple Crowns, an MVP award, then topped it off with the World Series title.

     After the deal was announced the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor of the city Victor Miller contacted the Commissioner of Baseball Kennesaw Mountain Landis hoping they could get the trade voided to no avail. The divorce between the owner and the player was an ugly one. Hornsby said that leaving the fans in St. Louis was one of the hardest blows of his life. However, he was upset with some of the statements that Breadon made about him and in a letter to his former employer he wrote "If you say that I wanted to leave St. Louis that is untrue, but to terminate relations with you, that is the truth." Breadon believed that after the '26 season that saw Hornsby's average fall from his MVP total of .425 in '25 to .317 in '26 that he was clearly in decline and was not going to offer him a multiyear deal. Despite Breadon's assumptions Hornsby had a lot of great years ahead of him.

     The fans in St. Louis were upset about the deal that sent Hornsby to the Big Apple, Breadon even had to disconnect his home phone after receiving numerous harassing phone calls. While the fans in the Lou weren't happy the deal was not a bad one at all. Frisch otherwise known as the "Fordham Flash" had already appeared in four World Series with the Giants, winning two titles. In St. Louis, he appeared in four more World Series and won two more rings along the way. After falling just short of the title in '28, then again in '30, Frisch and the Birds won it all in '31. After being named player/manager in '33, Frisch was described as the "driving force" behind the Gashouse Gang as he guided the club to the 1934 World Series title. When he first stepped to the plate in St. Louis, Frisch would listen to the crowd chant "We want Hornsby!!" "We want Hornsby!!!", by the time he retired in 1937, Frisch was a Cardinal legend and I'm sure many of those fans were glad he that wore those birds on the bat.

You can checkout the career numbers of Horsby and Frisch here

Sidenote: Ring went 0-4 with the Cards then retired after posting a 4-17 record with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1928.

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