Friday, August 5, 2011

Jim Lindsey was no goober

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

Jim Lindsey was the ace reliever of the 1930 St. Louis Cardinals. He was big ol’ boy from Jackson, La., who rarely ventured north of the Mason-Dixon line except on baseball business.

Perhaps that’s why Cards GM Branch Rickey thought he could hornswaggle Lindsey in a salary negotiation.

Towards the end of the 1930 season, Lindsey went into Rickey’s office to discuss terms for 1931.

“I started to tell Rickey that I had been in 22 winning games,” Lindsey recalled. “Then I noticed that Branch stepped on a dummy bell device. The phone rang. He picked it up and made up a conversation with someone connected to the Houston farm club.

“When Rickey hung up, he moaned that the club was set back financially because at the moment he had received word of a tragedy in Houston. Rickey said that the Cardinals had been offered $100,000 for a Houston shortstop, but the kid had broken his leg the night before.”

Hoping that Lindsey would sympathize and be inclined to take less money, Rickey smiled manfully and said, “Now, what were we talking about, Jim?”

Lindsey said that he’d tell Rickey as soon as B.R. explained the phony phone device. Trapped, Rickey confessed and quickly offered Lindsey a $2,000 raise.

That was big boost in those days, and Lindsey quickly snapped it up.

After retiring from baseball, Lindsey went to work for the state of Louisiana, supervising the farms at five mental institutions.

Lindsey didn’t appear on any of the mainstream bubblegum cards of the 1930s, but he is included in the 1931 Cardinals team photo pack, and probably a few other regional issues.

The card pictured here is from the 1974 TCMA “Gas House Gang” team set of the 1934 Cardinals.

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