Dizzy Dean to Hall of Fame
In 1953, Dizzy Dean is elected to the Hall of Fame. (Dean’s Hall of Fame page)
Third Place Finish
The team finishes 3rd under Manager Eddie Stanky with an 83-71 record. As in the past, Stan Musial leads most of the offensive categories with a .337 batting average and 113 RBI’s.
Ray Jablonski added 112 runs batted in and Red Schoendienst hit .342. Harvey Haddix was 20-9 on the mound with a 3.06 ERA and 103 strikeouts. Gerry Staley was 18-9 but he also had 17 hit-by-pitch. Vinegar Bend Mizell led the staff with 173 strikeouts and added a 13-11 record.
Cardinals owner has legal issues
The owner, Fred Saigh, is in trouble with the law due to some tax issues and pleads “no contest” and he is forced to see the team. The Cardinals have offers to leave town as investors from Milwaukee and Houston try to buy the team and move it but local beer magnate Gussie Busch steps in.
New York Times article from January, 2, 2000
Fred Saigh, a former owner of the St. Louis Cardinals who was forced out of baseball in 1953 when he was sentenced to federal prison for income-tax evasion but kept the team in St. Louis by selling it to the locally based Anheuser-Busch brewery, died Wednesday at a hospital in Chesterfield, Mo. He was 94.
A small, dapper man with an eye for big business deals, having owned prime real estate in downtown St. Louis during the 1940’s, Saigh bridged two longtime Cardinal ownerships. Sam Breadon, who sold the club to Saigh in November 1947, had been the team president for 27 years. Anheuser-Busch, whose owner, August A. Busch Jr., bought the franchise from Saigh in February 1953, would run it for 43 years.
When Saigh departed the ownership ranks three months before heading to the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind. — the Mark Harris baseball novel ”The Southpaw” under his arm — Saigh acted to preserve National League baseball for St. Louis. Although he said the $3.75 million bid he received from Anheuser-Busch was lower than offers from interests in Milwaukee and Houston, he accepted it to insure continuing local control.
Frederick Michael Saigh Jr. (pronounced sigh), a native of Springfield, Ill., grew up in Kewanee, Ill., the son of a grocery-chain owner. He attended Bradley University and Northwestern, became a lawyer, moved to St. Louis and eventually bought office buildings.
He purchased the Cardinals from Breadon for an estimated $4 million, taking control with Robert E. Hannegan, who resigned as the United States postmaster general to join baseball. Two years later, Saigh bought out Hannegan.
The Cardinals had won four pennants during the 1940’s, but their farm system, established by Branch Rickey two decades earlier, was drying up when Saigh bought the team. He never had a pennant-winner in his five seasons as owner, but he was generous with his players, giving a dozen of them raises in midsummer 1949 as the team battled for a pennant, only to be beaten out by the Brooklyn Dodgers. Saigh freely expressed his opinions about his team, always remaining optimistic, though he knew little about baseball.
Eddie Dyer, who managed the Cardinals in Saigh’s first three seasons as their owner, confided dryly to a sports columnist that ”in his very first year he has learned more baseball than John McGraw ever knew in a lifetime.”
Saigh maneuvered, meanwhile, in baseball’s ownership ranks, and was a leader in the club owners’ revolt that ousted Commissioner Happy Chandler in 1951.
In April 1952, Saigh was indicted on federal charges of evading $49,260 in income taxes between 1946 and 1949. He pleaded no contest in January 1953 to two counts involving more than $19,000 in tax underpayments, was sentenced to 15 months in prison and then sold the team in February under pressure from Commissioner Ford Frick.
Saigh was released from prison in November 1953 after serving six months and soon began buying shares in Anheuser-Busch. He was said to have become the largest single owner of the brewery’s stock outside the Busch family, at one point with holdings worth about $60 million.
He is survived by a brother, William, and a sister, Rose Saigh, both of St. Louis.
Despite his large stock holdings, Saigh was long angry with Anheuser-Busch over who deserved credit for keeping the team in St. Louis.
”I didn’t want the Cardinals to leave St. Louis,” Saigh told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1992. ”Anheuser-Busch’s publicity department turned it around that Mr. Busch was a savior. But it was sort of a mutual thing. I was bitter and I was hurt — still am.”
He never attended a Cardinal game while the brewery owned the club. But in 1996, the new owners, Bill DeWitt Jr., Drew Baur and Fred Hanser, having bought the team from Anheuser-Busch, persuaded Saigh to go to the ballpark.
More than four decades after he last saw the Cardinals, then playing in Sportsman’s Park, Saigh got a look at his old franchise — at Busch Stadium.