Cheap Seats

December 8, 2013

On This Date in Cardinals History: Dec. 8, 1966

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Looking at the Cards from a fan's perspective

It seems like most St. Louis Cardinals fans are happy for Carlos Beltran to find a soft landing spot with the New York Yankees.

But on this date 47 years ago the teams swapped players in a less sportsmanlike way.

On Dec. 8, 1966 the Redbirds landed outfielder Roger Maris for third baseman Charlie Smith.

Yankees fans were incensed that their team gave away the all-time, single-season home run champ for a journeyman third sacker who hit .266 for the Redbirds with 10 homers and 43 batted in for St. Louis during the 1966 season. What they didn't know is that New York tried to pull a fast one on the Cardinals.

Maris, who hit .235 with 21 homers, combined, in his last two seasons with the Yankees, in December 1966 allegedly told the New York front office that he planned to retire. he was told not to tell anyone and think it over for a few days. If he still wanted to retire, the Yankees told him they'd give him a proper sendoff.

Instead, as the story goes, the Yankees traded Maris to the Cardinals figuring they'd get something for nothing.

Maris, maybe reinvigorated by getting out of the New York spotlight or perhaps out of a sense of making things right, agreed to play for the Cardinals in 1967. The power stroke that led to 61 homers in 1961 was long gone. But Maris was a team leader and a productive right fielder for St. Louis in 225 games played over the next two seasons.

The Yankees sagged to the second division in the American League while the Cardinals won a pair of National League pennants and the 1967 World Series during his stay in St. Louis.

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About Cheap Seats

Scott Wuerz has reported for the Belleville News-Democrat since 1998​. He writes about the St. Louis Cardinals from a fan's perspective in his Cheap Seats blog.

Contact him at swuerz@bnd.com.

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