Bob Gibson and Dizzy Dean get all the highlights when it comes to talking about Cardinals pitchers. But Jesse Haines was the Redbirds' longest serving pitcher -- despite the fact that he didn't make his St. Louis debut until he was 26 -- and he helped the Redbirds win five National League pennants and three World Series championships.
In a career that lasted from 1918 until 1937, "Pop" Haines twirled 3208 2/3 major league innings, all but five with the Cardinals, who purchased his contract from the Reds farm system for $10,000 in 1919. He immediately made a huge impact, throwing 301 2/3 innings for a bad Cardinals team in 1920. Despite a 2.98 ERA he could only put together a 13-20 record.
The knuckleballer went on to win 20 or more games three times for the Cardinals. Haines' best season was in 1927 when he was 24-10 with a 2.72 ERA.
Haines in Cardinals World Series years:
- 1926: 13-4, 3.25 (Beat Yankees)
- 1928: 20-8, 3.18 (Lost to Yankees)
- 1930: 13-8, 4.30 (Lost to Athletics)
- 1931: 12-3, 3.02 (Beat Athletics)
- 1934: 4-4, 3.50 (Beat Tigers)
He was 2-2 with a 1.67 ERA in World Series play. His greatest World Series game came in game 3 in 1926 when he hurled a shutout against the Yankees famed murderers row and hit a homer in the game. Pop didn't pitch in the 1931 Fall Classic due to injury.
Haines also holds the distinction of throwing the Cardinals first no-hitter on July 17, 1924 against the Boston Braves, a 5-0 victory.
A religious and quiet man, Haines didn't let his wife or daughter travel in the team's train car during roadtrips out of fear that they would overhead some of his more colorful teammate's foul language. Although the Cardinals of the late 20s and early 30s were a wild bunch, they respected the reserved Haines.
"When I saw how hard a nice old man like Pop took losing a game, I realized why he had been a consistent winner," teammate Terry Moore once said. "I never forgot how much Haines expected from himself and others."
Haines was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1970 at a time when his former teammate and manager Frank Frisch was in charge of the organization's veteran's committee. Stat guru Bill James was unimpressed with Pop's 210-158 career record and 3.64 ERA and named him as one of 10 Hall of Fame pitchers who didn't deserve to be enshrined.
Pop died in 1978 after a 28-year career as a county commissioner in his native Ohio. He was buried in Clayton, Ohio. A sundial that the Cardinals gave Haines upon his retirement -- which spent many years in the yard of his home on State Street in Phillipsburg, Ohio -- was mounted on his simple gravestone.