Old Newspaper Clippings
Contributed by Emily Swanson. Thanks, Emily!
Pub: St. Louis Star-Times, 1938
Ray Blades to Set Up 'Honor System,' Bar All Drinking in Carrying Out Rickey Policies as Cardinal Manager
ROUNDING LIFE'S BASES WITH REDBIRDS' NEW PILOT
Card Games for Coin
New Leader, Given Start by Redbird
Generalissimo in School Days,
by Ray Gillespie
However, I've gotten over a lot of that and I don't intend to bother National League umpires. That doesn't mean, though, that they can give my club the worst of the close ones. I'm going to keep those fellows on their toes, just like I'm going to keep my players on their toes. But I don't want to get put out of any games unless I'm forced to go to that extent in battling for my club."
Blades wasn't so sure that he'd like to pattern himself after any other big league manager, unless it might be the late John McGraw of the New York Giants.
He had changed from the Browns to the Cardinals and, of course, I welcomed him warmly. After that game, he signed me, along with Walter Schultz and Jimmy McLaughlin, for the Cardinals."
"Terrible Temper, but Great Leader," Branch Rickey's Tribute to New Pilot"
Always a great favorite with the Cardinals' front office, there were times when Ray almost kicked himself out of the Redbird organization. Let Rickey tell about this:
"A great baseball man is Ray Blades," Branch told the writer just after Ray had been named to succeed Frisch. "A fighter: yes. With a terrible temper; yes. But a great leaders; yes. The baseball writers at Columbus and Rochester tell me Ray has lost some of his temperament, but he hasn't lost any of his baseball cunning."
Rickey then told of the day Blades, peeved over some move in the Cardinal plans that sent him away from the parent club, marched into the office where Rickey and President Sam Breadon were in conference.
"He spared no language in telling Mr. Breadon and me just what he thought of us," Rickey chuckled. "Yes, I've seldom heard such language. He kicked the furniture and threatened to rip up Mr. Breadon's private office as he verbally tore us apart for what he thought was an unjust move. Naturally, those sort of things don't set well with a club president, but somehow, we ironed the situation out and maybe, after all, it was for the best. For Blades remained in our organization and today he has the job that all people in our organization consider 'tops'."
Of course, Ray isn't wholly unappreciative of the fact that the guiding hand of Rickey was behind his every moved during his managerial days in the minors.
"I attribute whatever success I have had as a manager," Blades admitted, "to the fact that I have had exceptionally fine players to work with. Naturally, Mr. Rickey provided me with them, so again I can thank him for helping me. After all, when you've got fellows who know how to play ball and want to win on your ball club, you don't have a lot of trouble winning."
This, incidentally, was the type of player Blades, himself represented when he was an active member of the Cardinals from 1922 through 1928 and during the 1920-;31 and '32 seasons. He'd break a leg or perhaps break an opponent's leg to win games. He knew no obstacles, not even the hooting and booing of the home fans in St. Louis, who, for some reason, took a strange dislike to Ray and showed it with their heckling.
Always a Ball
Cardinal teammates never could understand this, for they always considered Ray "a ball player's ball player," one who'd deliver when the blue chips were down and a real tough hombre was out there on the mound. Often you'd hear fellow-players curse and swear when the fans' boos for Blades would reach their ears. In direct contrast, Blades claims he never heard those hecklers. He probably was too busy on the field--scowling at an opposing pitcher, racing after a long fly or tearing down the paths for an extra base--to pay any attention to what the fans thought of him.
In fact, it was one of these valiant tries that eventually led to Blades' undoing as a major league outfielder. While chasing a fly ball one day, Ray crashed into the outfield wall at Sportsman Park, suffered a knee injury and never was able to regain the speed that previously had stamped him as one of the Redbirds' most colorful and fastest players. He was shunted off to the minors, brought back, then finally returned to the American Association in the role of manager.
Many times this little scene followed a tough game when Ray failed to come through with a hit, or struck out in the pinch.
The press? Yes, Blades has even found friends among the writers and is about to make a booster out of one of his severest critics. The latter, A St. Louis sports editor, was at odds with Blades for at least ten years, but soon after Ray signed as Cardinal manager, the peace pipe was smoked and the past was forgotten. Ray was advised by the sports editor to "quit reading the newspapers if you're going to resent criticism when it's coming to you." To which Ray replied: "I can read the papers, for I've learned to 'take it'."
Forty-two years old Blades was born at Mt. Vernon, Ill., August 6, 1896. Tow years later his family moved to McLeansboro and in 1909, they changed their residence to St. Louis. Ray went to grammar school and completed part of his high school education in the Mount City, before his family moved back to McLeansboro in 1915. Before leaving St. Louis, however, Blades got a taste of baseball with municipal teams.
In January, 1918, Blades took a job with the Emerson Electric Company in St. Louis. In May of the same year, he quit his job, enlisted in the army and was sent to Jefferson Barracks. A week later he was transferred to Camp Jackson at Columbia, S. C., and then finally to Camp Merritt, New Jersey. On August 1, he sailed for Europe, landed in Liverpool, August 11, and from there was sent to Le Havre, France. As a member of the 119th Field Artillery, 32nd Division, he fought in the Argonne offensive until the Armistice was signed. He returned to St. Louis May 15, 1919.
Ray began his professional diamond career with Memphis in 1920, was shipped to Houston in the Texas League in 1921 and, after spending part of the next year with the Buffaloes, was recalled by the Cardinals, with whom he remained until the close of the 1928 season. In 1929 he played with Houston and Rochester, the Cards' farm club in the International League. Back with the Cares in 1930, he remained with the Birds until the close of 1932.
After that, Ray managed Columbus in the American Association for three years and followed up with three more years as manager at Rochester. It was because of his success as a minor league farm pilot, together with the fact that he so closely fits Rickey's ideas as a field leader, that he was rewarded with the managership of the Cardinal club. Players who have played under him are to a man agreed he will make good.
From: Felty's Legacy of
Kin, p. 1105:
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