Cheap Seats

On this date in Cardinals history, Oct. 17

The Cardinals' managerial uncertainty as they wait for incumbent skipper Tony La Russa to make up his mind about whether he will lead the club in 2011 isn't anything unusual. On this date in 1964 the beginning of some real major managerial upheaval got underway.

The Yankees, who a couple of days earlier were defeated by the Redbirds four games to three, fired their manager, Yogi Berra. Little did the Cardinals know that the club who they just defeated would hire their bench boss away.

Johnny Keene was on the hot seat before the Redbirds made a miraculous run from the middle of the National League pack to clinch the pennant on the last day of the season. It was a very credible rumor that the Cardinals planned to fire Keene when the season ended and replace him with former Gashouse Gang shortstop Leo Durocher. But when the club won the World Series, the Birds changed course and tried to re-sign Keene.

He surprised the Cardinals by answering their contract offer with a resignation letter, meanwhile Durocher, who left his job as coach with the Dodgers, cooled his heels for a couple of seasons. He made appearances on the Beverly Hillbillies and the Munsters showing his acting chops by playing himself. He returned to baseball as a manager in 1966 with the Cubs where he was hired to put an end to the Wee Bears' plans to use a team of several coaches to lead their club instead of a traditional manager.

Durocher led the Cubs to their spectacular 1969 choke while the Cardinals were forced to look within for help. Keene's replacement, Red Schoendienst, led St. Louis to the 1967 World Series crown and the 1968 National League pennant en route to becoming the second winningest manager in club history.