"Billy the Kid" Among New Hall Candidates

Former St. Louis Cardinals' manager Billy Southworth, who helped bring three World Series Championships to the Gateway City, is among 20 former managers, executives and umpires on the new Hall of Fame ballots to be considered by the revamped Veterans Committee when it votes next month.

Sixteen members of the committee will vote on a list of seven managers and three umpires to include in addition of Billy Southworth; Whitey Herzog, Davey Johnson, Billy Martin, Gene Mauch, Danny Murtaugh, and Dick Williams. Umpires to be considered are Doug Harvey, Hank O'Day and Cy Rigler.

The vote will be taken December 2 and announced the following day, the Cooperstown, New York-based Hall of Fame said in a statement. A candidate needs 75 percent of the votes to be inducted. Any candidate who receives the required 75% on either ballot will be inducted into the Hall of Fame with the 2008 class on July 27.

William Harrison Southworth, a/k/a "Billy the Kid", began his managing career with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1928, after a playing career of 13 years with a lifetime batting average of .297 with Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Boston, New York and St. Louis.

In 1928, while managing the St. Louis Cardinals', minor league team in Rochester, Southworth led his team to the pennant before returning to the majors in 1929 as a player-manager.

Only one year removed from his playing days, Southworth attempted to impose his brand of discipline on the Cards, with nightly bed checks and banning even the veterans from driving their own automobiles to and from games.

The Redbirds did not respond to Southworth's drill instructor tactics and won only 43 of their first 88 games before Southworth was sent back to Rochester.

Southworth, a strict taskmaster, displayed great skill with young players. After returning to Rochester, he went on to win three more pennants.

In 1940 Southworth got a second chance with the Cardinals, when manager Ray Blades was fired. The new skipper moved the Cardinals from sixth place to third that season and finished second in 1941 the following season. From there he took the Cardinals to three straight pennants from 1942 through 1944. The Cards won the World Series in 1942 and 1944. During this span Southworth's Cardinals won 106 games in 1942, and 105 games in both the 1943 and 1944 seasons.

During the 1942 season, the Dodgers or Reds were picked to win the pennant, "If the Cardinals can beat Brooklyn," one writer mused "it will be a triumph of courage, harmony, youth and speed over seemingly superior forces." World War II wreaked havoc over the Cardinals' roster during this period as they lost several players to the military to include, second baseman, Frank Crespi, popular outfielder, Terry Moore, future Hall of Famer, outfielder Enos Slaughter and staff ace Johnny Beazley as well as starting pitcher Hollie Pollet who had an 8-4 record when he entered the armed services.

In 1944, the Cardinals had to make do without core players like, Harry Walker, Lou Klein and pitchers Al Brazzle, Howie Kirst and Ernie White. The ability of Southworth to manage through these difficult times was a significant accomplishment.

After finishing second in 1945, Southworth moved to Boston with the blessings of the Cardinals owner Sam Breadon, when the then Boston Braves offered him $50,000, considerably more than the salary the Cardinals were paying of $16,000.

Southworth finished his career in St. Louis with 620 wins and only 346 losses with 15 ties for a .642 career winning percentage as a Cardinal manager.

Often overlooked is that Southworth, the ballplayer, was instrumental in the Cardinal's World Championship in 1926. Traded from New York Giants to St. Louis after 36 games into the season, Southworth played right field for the Redbirds in 99 games. In 391 at bats, he hit .317 with 11 home runs and 69 RBI along with 13 stolen bases.

The Cardinals defeated the New York Yankees, four games to three in the 1926 Series. Southworth played in all seven games hitting .345 during the Series and leading the team with six runs scored ten hits.

Southworth played a key role in three of the ten St. Louis Cardinals World Series Championships, two as a manager and one as a player, yet his name, his record, his contributions have been all but forgotten.

After leaving St. Louis, Southworth went on to turn the Braves into a winning team as well. Southworth's Braves won the pennant in 1948 behind the arms of Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain, their first in 34 years, despite not having the best talent in the league.

Southworth continued to manage until 1951, with his team struggling with only a 28-31 record on June 19th, Billy called it quits, ending his career as a Major League pilot.

After the 1951 season Southworth scouted from Nova Scotia to Macon, Georgia for the Braves where he discovered future Hall of Famer and Home Run Champion, Hank Aaron. He also had significant influence on the development and careers of Hall of Famers, Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter.

Southworth won 620 games and three National League titles, and two World Series while with the Cardinals and another pennant with the Boston Braves in 1948. His .642 winning percentage with the Redbirds, is the best in Cardinal team history and he ranks fifth among managers overall with a career winning percentage of .597 in 13 seasons in the major leagues.

Harry Walker, a perfectionist in his long-term career as a player, coach and manager once said "Billy was the best manager I ever played for," said Harry "Winning as much as he did, he had to do something right."

Billy Southworth was the best manager in all of baseball during the 1940s. The argument or tendency to discount this achievement because he did it during the war years doesn't hold water with me.

Bill James, baseball's most influential author, the "Guru of Baseball" Newsweek, had this to say about managing during World War II in his book, "The Guide to Baseball Managers" (from 1870 to today).

"There is a tendency to automatically discount whatever happened during the war because the game wasn't normal. While this discount is appropriate for players, a manager's job certainly didn't get easier during the war.

That kind of baseball is probably a truer test of the manager's skill than regular 1936-or 1976-style baseball which some teams just had the horses, and there wasn't much other teams could do about it."

If anything, wartime performance for managers should be given extra-credit."

Winning when his teams were not expected to compete, a Billy Southworth team never once finished in the second division in any season.

Billy Southworth led the Cardinals to three National League Pennants and two World Championships, a remarkable accomplishment in St. Louis, that he has never been given the proper credit or recognition.


THE CASE FOR SOUTHWORTH

Billy Southworth is the only Manager to win four pennants since 1901 and not be elected to the Hall of Fame. St. Louis NL, 1942, 43 & 44 and Boston NL, 1947.

He is the last National League Manager to win three straight pennants, 42, 43, & 44.

The Sporting News named him Manager of the Year in 1941 and 1942.

His .593 won-lost percentage places him sixth among Major League skippers.

His career record of 340 games above .500 ranks him 5th all time among major league baseball managers.

Southworth has the third highest winning percentage for managers with over 1,000 wins.

From 1942 to 1944 Southworth won 316 games and lost only 146 times.

Southworth had significant influence on the development and careers of Hall of Famers, Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter.



Billy Southworth died on November 15, 1969 at the age of 76 in Columbus, Ohio. Nominated to the Hall in 1946, Billy never received more the 18 votes he got in 1958, far below the 75% needed for induction into the Hall of Fame.




The Cardinal Nation Top Stories