While the 1987 St. Louis Cardinals featured several veterans that had already made more than one trip to the World Series, it also featured rookie Joe Magrane in the starting rotation.
In town this past weekend for their ’87 NL Championship Reunion, Magrane remembers a particular lesson he learned early on.
“Being left-handed and hard-headed, I loved the idea of throwing a cut fastball in and breaking a hitter’s bat–like a Mike Schmidt or Gary Carter,” he began. “Sometimes the cut fastball would get away from me. I threw one to Tim Teufel and Whitey Herzog came out in the middle of like the 4th inning and I was like what? Why he is coming out here?
“And he said ‘hey, you know that cut fastball? Stick that where the sun doesn’t shine. You’ve got Pendleton, Ozzie Smith, you’ve got Hall of Fame defense. Throw the ball down and away and let’s get this game over in two hours.’ I didn’t have be told that again. It was a real teaching moment.”
As Magrane’s career went on and he also learned the lesson of just how special making it to the World Series actually is.
“I was thinking hey, let’s do this every year,” he said. “It gave me an appreciation for how difficult it is. We had a couple of things happen and then with Jack leaving the next year it was like we were–did we finish last the next year? We weren’t first. It gave me the appreciation for how difficult it is to get to that point.”
“Look at the Cubs and the difficulty they’re having,” he said. “You thought they’d be looking down the barrel of another 100-win season because it was like a super team last year. Being the only rookie for the greater part of this year, I was too busy being told to shut up and pitch and do your job to really smell the roses. I didn’t want to drop the baton.
“The thing that I remember, I had such an admiration for Whitey that I did not want to be the won to let him down. That was kind of the mindset I took when I went out there and pitched. Whereas you think positive, hey I’m gonna win this game or else buddy–it was out of the mindset I don’t want to let this guy down.”
Magrane stared 27 games in 1987 and finished with a 9-7 record, including four complete games.
photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports