Cheap Seats

January 31, 2014

On This Date in Cardinals History, Jan. 31, 1927

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Looking at the Cards from a fan's perspective

On Jan. 31, 1927 the St. Louis Cardinals found themselves in a tough situation as Major League Baseball ruled that their estranged superstar couldn't continue to hold stock in the team.

Rogers Hornsby, fresh off leading the Redbirds to their first World Series championship, ran afoul of team owner Sam Breadon when he demanded a three-year contract and was unceremoniously traded to the New York Giants for Frank Frisch and pitcher Jimmy Ring.

Hornsby asked for a raise from Breadon and the owner volunteered to up the Rajah's salary from $30,000 to $50,000. But Hornsby wanted $50,000 a season for three years in an era where players were forced to accept year-to-year deals, according to reports at the time. Breadon was outraged.

The decision to trade the best right handed hitter in baseball was an easy one.

The hard part was that Hornsby had taken stock in the Cardinals as part of his previous compensation. So he was in the conflicted position of playing for one team while owning part of another.

As tough as the spot was for Hornsby, it was tougher for the Cardinals who were forced to find a way to buy out the Rajah's 1,167 shares.

The stalemate drug on into August while Major League Baseball threatened not to allow Hornsby to take the field with the Giants and Hornsby threatening to sue baseball and ask for an injunction that would allow him to play.

At one point Hornsby demanded that the Cardinals trade their top farm club in Houston for his shares which he valued at $108 apiece. The Redbirds would only offer $80 a share. Eventually other MLB owners stepped in to make up the difference until a buyer for the shares could be found.

 

 

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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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