Monday, May 11, 2015

May 11, 1928: Jimmie Wilson Joins The Birds

     On May 11, 1928, the Cardinals acquired catcher Jimmie Wilson from the Philadelphia Phillies. The unusual circumstance of this trade is it happened during the second inning of a contest against the Phillies in St. Louis and once the deal was complete Wilson, who was catching for the Philllies, changed uniforms and dugouts. He did not play in the ballgame, however, he did sit back and enjoy a win, as Grover Cleveland Alexander led the way to a 3-2 victory with a nine strikeout performance.

     The deal was made necessary because one day earlier they had sent Bob O'Farrell to the Giants for an outfielder by the name of George Harper. The trade for Harper was a bit of a shock, as O'Farrell was was a key contributor to the 1926 championship winning team and was the MVP of the National League that year as well. He would be revered in St. Louis for throwing out Babe Ruth in that series to record the final out of the of Game 7. Following that run to glory, O'Farrell took over as a player/manager after the club traded Rogers Hornsby. His playing time was limited due to injury, however, he did lead the club to 92 wins, which was good for second place in the National League standings. Therefore, when the trigger was pulled on the deal to send him to New York many writers were stunned. It seemed that trading O'Farrell seemed to be addition by subtraction; filled one hole and created another, which led to the deal for Wilson.

     The deal for Wilson proved to be a good one. He went from a team without a chance to a team that had a chance to win it all. Unfortunately the 1928 club did not win it all, however, they did win the National League pennant, only to be beaten by the New York Yankees in the Fall Classic. The club would win a second National League title in 1930, but would be disappointed by Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics. The two clubs would meet again one year later in a World Series rematch that saw the Cardinals celebrate their second championship title as they knocked off the A's in six.

     Coincidentally, Wilson was traded to the Phillies after the 1933 season and the Cardinals got Spud Davis in return. The two players had come full circle, but this time it would be Davis helping the Cardinals win a title by playing in 107 games for the '34 club. Davis' second stay in St. Louis lasted three years. Wilson went onto manage the Phillies for several years before joining the Cincinnati Reds in 1939. He enjoyed one more pennant winning season in the Queen City the next year before focusing on the coaching side of the game. He spent three full seasons as the manager of the Cubs from 1941 to '43, then was fired early in '44. His days on the diamond may have been over, but the old backstop had two decades of baseball tales in his book of life. One of those tales included swapping uniforms in the second inning of a ballgame against the Cardinals. He had become a member of Cardinal Nation.

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