On this date 98 years ago, valuable Cardinals back-up catcher Ken O'Dea was born in Lima, New York.
O'Dea, who played a total of 12 seasons in the major leagues, spent four and a half of them with the Redbirds.
Originally signed by the Cardinals, he was traded to the Cubs in 1934 and played for Chicago until being shipped to the Giants in 1938. Four days after Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States joined World War II, on Dec. 11, 1941, O'Dea came back to St. Louis as part of the package of players New York traded to the Cardinals for slugging first baseman Johnny Mize.
Back in St. Louis, O'Dea served as the understudy first to All-Star Walker Cooper during the Redbirds glory days of 1942, 1943 and 1944, helping the club to win three National League pennants and a pair of World Championships. His only year as a starter with the Cardinals was in 1945. O'Dea capitalized on the opportunity, earning his selection to the All-Star Game -- but he didn't get to play.
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He was a .247 hitter in his time with the Redbirds. In addition to being an excellent defensive backstop, he was a good pinch hitter.
He was shipped to the Boston Braves in 1946 where he played out the last handful of games of his career. O'Dea died in December of 1985.