Atlanta Braves history: Red Schoendienst and the 57 World Series
By Fred Owens
This week Hall of Fame second baseman Red Schoendienst died at the age of 95. Forever known as a Cardinal, Atlanta Braves fans should celebrate him as the man who made the 1957 Braves World Series Champions
News broke Wednesday night that Hall of Fame second baseman Red Schoendienst had died at the age of 95. Schoendienst’s place in Cardinal history is up there with Stan Musial; it doesn’t get higher than that.
He’s currently fourth on the all-time games played as a Cardinal with 1,795 games and has the sixth most hits in Cardinal history (1,980). He also managed them for 1999 games winning with a .522 winning percentage (1041-955.)
Bernie Miklasz wrote a wonderful piece about the Redhead for the Athletic (subscription highly recommended) that’s worth reading.
As important as he was to the Cardinals, in 1957 and 1958 he was the missing piece that made the Milwaukee Braves NL Champions.
St Louis to Milwaukee in two moves
Schoendienst made his Major League debut in 1945 and went to the first of nine All Star games and finished the 1946 season 26th in MVP. He would be an All start eight more times and finish in the top 10 for MVP five more times in the next nine years.
At that time players were still captive to their team under the infamous reserve clause. Players didn’t leave as free agents, they were traded when teams thought they were done.
Red had a down year in 1955 but rebounded in 56. The Cardinals sold high on their 33-year-old star, trading him to New York Giants in June.
He continued his bounce back season for the Giants and started 1957 the same way. That’s why the Braves come in.
The 57 Braves were a powerhouse. Their lineup roster featured future Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews and the winningest lefty in major league history, Warren Spahn.
Joe Adcock 1B
.302 .353 .571 .924Johnny Logan
SS .258 .304 .403 .707Bill Bruton
CF .300 .348 .433 .781
.271 .338 .442 .780Del Rice
C .227 .357 .500 .857
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: Generated 6/9/2018.
The got hot in June and on June 15th they stood atop the NL, 1.5 games ahead of the Reds with a +44 run differential. The bats had come alive but they still lacked production at second base so they traded for Schoendienst.
Second base solved
Schoendienst didn’t come cheap. The Giants received pitcher Ray Crone and second baseman Danny O’Connell and 1951 Giants hero Bobby Thomson returned to the Polo Grounds.
At that time Schoendienst had hit for a .307/.340/.476/.816 line with nine homers, eleven walks and eight strikeouts. That’s right. less strikeouts that walks and home runs.
As a Brave Red hit .310/.348/.434/.782; 122 hits, six home runs, 23 doubles, four triples, walked 23 times and struck out seven in 426 PA. That solved second base and his trade also solved left field.
The Braves had a rookie outfielder tearing up AAA –.268/.338/.496/.834 – and wanted him in the lineup. His name was Wes Covington. After his recall on Jun 17, Covington hit .287/.343/.545/.888 21 homers, eight triples and four doubles in 364 PA. He walked 29 times and struck out 41.
At the end of June first baseman Adcock went on the disabled list. The Braves tried to fill in with Frank Torre but his bat wasn’t up to the job. The Cardinals got hot and were tied for first place with the Braves at the of July. At that point Milwaukee brought up another outfielder Bob “Hurricane” Hazle . Hurricane Hazle filled in admirable for Adcock, and finished the year .403/.477/.649/1.126 with seven home runs in 155 PA.