What about Bing and Bob ?


Not Crosby and Hope, although perhaps they should have made one last Road movie: The Road to Cooperstown.    I am referring to Bing Devine and Bob Howsam who were both general managers during some of the Cardinals most successful years.   With Pat Gillick’s recent election into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee, it makes you wonder why neither of these great executives have been inducted yet.   Not to take anything away from Gillick’s long career and success with Toronto, Baltimore and Philadelpha, the Veterans Committee should really take a long look at both Devine and Howsam and quit messing around with Marvin Miller and George Steinbrenner.

I’ve already hit some of the highlights of Bob Howsam’s time in St. Louis and his subsequent raiding of the Cardinals system after his move to Cincinnati.   Bing Devine’s career is even more fascinating, perhaps rivaling that of his mentor, Branch Rickey (who is in the Hall of Fame).   Rather than go into a long description, here are the high points and you can make up your own mind.

Bing Devine

  • Manager of the Rochester Redwings (1949 – 1953) – AAA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals (International League)
  • Architect of Cardinals Championship teams of the 60’s
  • Drafted or promoted from the farm system Bob Gibson, Tim McCarver, Mike Shannon, Ray Sadecki, Ray Washburn, Dal Maxvill
  • Traded for Dick Groat, Bill White, Julian Javier, Curt Flood
  • One of the greatest dumpster dives in baseball history – Curt Simmons
  • Pulled off one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history – Ernie Broglio for Lou Brock in 1964
  • Pretenders to contenders in seven years, champions the following year
  • Devine’s core of players went to 2 more World Series, winning in 1967 and losing in 7 games to Detroit in 1968
  • After an unfortunate termination in St. Louis, rebuilt the Mets organization as he had done with the Cardinals
  • Drafted Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan
  • Came back to St. Louis in 1969 and added Richie Allen and Joe Torre
  • If not forced to trade Steve Carlton, might have had post-season baseball again in St. Louis
  • General Manager for the St. Louis Football Cardinals (1981-1986)
  • Finished out his career as a scout and advisor to Walt Jocketty

Bob Howsam

  • Helped found the American Football League (Denver Broncos)
  • Built a baseball stadium that eventually became Mile High
  • Helped force NL expansion by organizing a third MLB League (never took off, but MLB quickly expanded in reaction)
  • Took over as Cardinals GM (from Bing Devine) in August 1964
  • Engineered retooling of the Cardinals in 1965 and 1966
  • Obtained through trade Orlando Cepeda (1967 NL MVP) and Roger Maris
  • Promoted Steve Carlton and found Dick Hughes struggling in the system (1967 co-Rookie of the Year)
  • Drafted Pedro Borbon, Wayne Granger and Willie Montanez (lost in the Curt Flood debacle)
  • Promoted Bobby Tolan
  • NL Pennant Winners in 1967 and 1968.  World Series champs in 1967 (under Stan Musial, but the players were all Howsam’s)
  • Took over as General Manager of the Cincinnati Reds in 1967 and built the last NL pre-Free Agency dynasty: the Big Red Machine
  • Drafted or developed hard thowing Gary Nolan, Don Gullett, Dave Concepcion, Ken Griffey (Sr)
  • Big trades to obtain George Foster and future Hall of Famer Joe Morgan
  • Boldly promoted future Hall of Fame Manager Sparky Anderson
  • Member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame
  • Helped get expansion team in Colorado
  • Member of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame
  • 5 times in post-season with the Reds, 3 NL Pennants, 2 World Series Championships

I don’t want to take anything away from the career of Pat Gillick.   We wish him congratulations on being elected into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame.   At the same time, it makes you wonder why Bing Devine and Bob Howsam still remain on the outside looking in (figuratively).

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