The 100 Greatest Cardinals: 71-80
NOTE: The BND has endeavored to identify an objective list of the top 100 St. Louis Cardinals players of all time, based on statistical formulas developed through sabermetrics. We’ll count down the list daily, player by player, until April 4, the day of the Cardinals’ 2019 home opener. The running list and player bios can be found at bnd.com.
NO. 77 LHP HARVEY HADDIX
Leading off with his team trailing 6-1, Adcock hit a line drive up the middle that ricocheted off Haddix’s leg to shortstop Alex Grammas, who completed the force out.
Gerry Staley had to finish the game in relief of Haddix and was credited for the win.
Somehow, Haddix returned seven days later to outduel Cincinnati’s Joe Nuxhall in a 2-1 St. Louis win, but sat out what would have been his second straight All-Star Game.
He went into the break with a 13-4 record, but won just five more the rest of the way.
Still 28 years old and in just his second full season in the major leagues, Haddix said the leg never fully healed. Indeed, he would say later, it bothered him for the rest of his career.
Listed generously at 5-foot-9, the little left-hander was the Cardinals’ top prospect in the spring of 1953. General Manager Frank Lane — known as “Trader Lane” for good reason — even called him “untouchable.”
By June 27 of his rookie season, Haddix had 10 wins and led the Cardinals’ staff in strikeouts. In the season’s second half, he rattled off a string of five complete games in a row, including a near no-hitter of the Phillies that was spoiled only by a bunt hit in the ninth.
He finished the season 20-9 with a 3.06 ERA and a league-best six shutouts.
The next season brought much of the same — 18 wins, a 3.57 ERA, 259.2 innings pitched and his second All-Star Game selection in as many big-league seasons. He was an All-Star again in ’55
Haddix was a complete player, too. He batted. 289 in 107 plate appearances in 1953 and won the first three National League Gold Glove Awards for pitchers.
And then Adcock raised that bump on his leg.
Four starts and one win into the 1956 season, Lane shipped the “untouchable” 30-year-old to Philadelphia for pitchers Murry Dickson and Herm Wehmeier.
He wasn’t washed up by any means — Haddix pitched 10 more seasons, including five good years in Pittsburgh — but the dominance he displayed through three full seasons in St. Louis was more fleeting.
Haddix experienced both his career high and career low on a single May afternoon in Milwaukee in 1959, the first of his five seasons with the Pirates.
He and Braves starter Lew Burdette tangled scoreless into the 13th inning. The Pirates had wasted 12 hits and stranded eight base runners, but Haddix was still perfect, having retired 36 straight batters.
Felix Mantilla reached on an error to lead off the Milwaukee half of the 13th, and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Eddie Matthews. With first base open, Haddix wisely issued an intentional walk to Hank Aaron.
The next batter sent an 0-1 pitch into the right field bleachers. The blast was ruled a double when he ran past Aaron at first base, but Mantilla’s run still counted and the Braves won, 1-0.
Who was the walk-off hero that day? None other than Joe Adcock.
SEASONS IN ST. LOUIS: 1952-1956
53-40 with Cardinals | 3.63 career ERA | 3x All-Star | 12.1 WAR in St. Louis
TOP 100 SCORE: 2.42