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Cardinals of Yore: Max Lanier

Controversial and talented former Cardinals pitcher Max Lanier passed away on this date in 2007.

Lanier was a member of the legendary St. Louis teams of the 1940s. He went 63-37 with a 2.47 ERA from 1941-46 and helped the Redbirds to National League pennants in 1942, '43, '44 and '46 and World Series Crowns in 1942, '44 and '46. He led the league in ERA in 1943 with a 1.90 mark that helped him to a 15-7 record and was 2-1 with a 1.71 ERA in World Series play.

The Cardinals of the 1940s were know for hitters like Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter. But they had a ridiculous good pitching staff. Lanier joined Mort Cooper, Harry Brecheen, Johnny Beazley, Ted Wilks, Red Munger and Howie Pollet in throttling opposing hitters.

During the 1946 season, the lefty was one of a dozen major leaguers who defected to the Mexican League when he was offered twice what the Cardinals were paying him. The grass on the other side of the fence didn't end up being so green, however. And as the Mexican League's bid to rival Major League Baseball fell apart, he tried to return to the states. Unfortunately Commissioner Happy Chandler suspended the defectors for five seasons. The players sued and were eventually allowed back into baseball in 1949.

Musial was also invited to jump ship to Mexico. He was reportedly offered five times his MLB salary to head south of the border but famously said that he didn't do it because he couldn't have looked his son in the eye if he broke his word when he signed his contract with the Cardinals.

Lanier played three more years with the Cardinals after his reinstatement, winning 27 game while losing 22 with a 3.32 ERA. Lanier finished his career with the Giants and Browns in 1953.