Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

The Cardinals Have Great Managers In Their History, is Billy Southworth the Best

by Raymond Mileur

The St. Louis Cardinals were well represented, with a total of 11 Cardinal alumni, in the recent announcement of Hall of Fame Candidates for the 2003. The first question that comes to mind when reading this impressive list is that, is there anyone missing?

The former Cardinal candidates included are, Ken Boyer, Marty Marion, Roger Maris, Joe Torre, August Busch Jr., Whitey Herzog, Bill White, Curt Flood, Lee Smith, Dick Allen, Minnie Minoso and Vada Pinson. Missing from this list of candidates is former Cardinal Manager, Billy Southworth also known as “Billy the Kid” or the “Little General.”

click “read more” for a look at one of the most successful baseball managers of all time…Billy Southworth.

Billy Southworth had a very successful career, both as a player and manager. As a player he had a career .297 batting average and as a manager he had .597-career record as compared to Cardinal Fan favorite, the legendary “White Rat”, Whitey Herzog’s career .530 winning percentage

Southworth began his managing career with the cardinals in 1928, after a playing career 13 years with Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Boston, New York and St. Louis. In 1928 while managing the Rochester minor league team, Southworth led his team to the pennant before returning to the majors in 1929 as a player-manager. The hardcore Southworth was considered too tough on the players and as such the players resisted the discipline and changes Southworth was committed to make to take the Cardinals to a pennant.

Southworth was returned to Rochester, where he won three more pennants.

In 1940 Southworth got another 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. 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 seasons, 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, wreck havoc over the Cardinals’ roster during this period as they lost 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, Harry Walker, Lou Klein and pitchers Al Brazzle, Howie Kirst and Ernie White. The ability of Southworth to manage through these difficult times was truly that triumph of courage, harmony, youth and speed over superior forces.

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 left the team that he loved so much, that he even had a picture of a Cardinal sitting on a bat, inlaid in the linoleum of the kitchen floor in his home.

“The Little General” 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 compared to Whitey’s record of 822-728 and one tie, with a winning percentage of just .530, 112 points less than “The Little General”, an amazing statistic considering most Cardinals fans today could not tell you anything about the former Cardinal Manager.

Southworth went on to turn the Braves into a winner as well. They won the pennant in 1948, they’re first in 34 years, despite not having the best talent in the league.

Southworth managed until 1951, when he quit halfway through the season. He 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 overall with an overall 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 “Billy was the best manager I was ever around. Winning as much as he did, he had to do something right.

Southworth was named Sporting News Manager of the Year in 1941 and 1942. He is the only manager to win four pennants since 1901 and not be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Billy Southworth died on November 15, 1969 at the age of 76 in Columbus, Ohio. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. Nominated 1946, Billy never received more the 18 votes he got in 1958, far below the 75% needed for induction into the Hall of Fame. This year the great Cardinal manager failed to make the final ballot for consideration.

In response to correspondence from the St. Louis Cardinals Birdhouse, a fan based and operated website at the Hall of Fame responded to the fans concerns about Billy Southworth’s exclusion from the Hall of Fame with the following remarks;

“Certainly, there are many worthy candidates among the 60 managers, umpires and executives that were considered for the final players’ ballot by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Screening Committee, a group completely independent of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. This Screening Committee of 60, consisting of two writers from each city with one team, and two writers from each region with two teams pared down the list to the 15 candidates that each individual felt to be most deserving. Though Billy Southworth is not eligible for consideration by the Hall of Fame Committee on Baseball Veterans in 2003, he will be again in 2007 when the process is repeated, and every four years thereafter. Please do note that election to Cooperstown is very difficult. While he is not currently a member of the Hall of Fame, he is represented in the Museum and Library as an important figure in baseball history. We will announce the results of the Veterans Committee election on February 26 at”

Billy Southworth was the best manager in all of baseball during the 1940s, he is the only manager since 1901 to have won four pennants and not be inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Winning when his team was even expected to compete, a Billy Southworth team never once finished in the second division in any season. His won-loss percentage as a Cardinal Manager of .642 the best in St. Louis Cardinal’s history is over 100 points higher than even Whitey Herzog’s own won-loss percentage of .530. His career record of 340 games above .500 ranks him 5th all time among major league baseball managers and is remarkable considering Whitey Herzog’s career games above .500 record is just 156 games. Billy Southworth led the Cardinals to three National League Pennants and two World Championships as compared to Whitey’s three National League Pennants and one World Championship.

Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog is one of the eleven former Cardinals that will be considered for election this year into the Hall of Fame, but one must ask how can “The White Rat” go in before “Billy the Kid”?

Ray Mileur is a Senior Writer for e-Sports Media Group, Inc. and is the webmaster & editor of the StL. Cardinals’ Birdhouse.

A baseball columnist and commentator published by newspapers, magazines and numerous electronic media sites to include;

e-Sports Media Group, Inc.


Baseball Ink, (the magazine)



Saint Louis Sports

Sports Central

Top Prospects Alert

Our Sports Central…

and is a contributor to numerours other sources and sites.

Mileur’s appearanes and his work have been featured on television, radio and in over 100 newspaper articles.

Since 1998 he has applied his skills to covering the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization as a sportswriter for numerous publications.

A free-lance writer, he is available for assignments and appearances.

Contact information;

Ray Mileur

166 Lessor Scaup

Murphysboro, Il 62966

Phone 618-203-0561




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