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Ray Blades
Outfielder/Manager
Born: August 6, 1896(1896-08-06)
Mount Vernon, Illinois
Died: May 18, 1979 (aged 82)
Lincoln, Illinois
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
August 19, 1922 for the St. Louis Cardinals
Last MLB appearance
September 25, 1932 for the St. Louis Cardinals
Career statistics
Batting average     .301
Home runs     50
Runs batted in     340
Teams

As Player

As Manager

Francis Raymond Blades (August 6, 1896 – May 18, 1979) was an American left fielder, manager, coach and scout in Major League Baseball.

A native of Mount Vernon, Illinois, Blades was first scouted as a baseball player as a teenager in 1913. Branch Rickey, then the manager of the St. Louis Browns, spotted Blades during a sandlot game for the St. Louis city championship. Seven years would pass, however, before Rickey would sign Blades to a contract; by that time, 1920, however, Rickey was working for the Browns’ NL rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals.

After apprenticing in the minor leagues, Blades reached the Cardinals in 1922. Hampered by a severe knee injury, he appeared in over 100 games only three times – from 1924-26 – but he hung on as a spare outfielder for ten major league seasons (1922-28; 1930-32), all with the Cardinals, and batted .301 lifetime. In his finest season, 1925, he hit .342 in 462 at-bats. He threw and batted right-handed and appeared in three World Series (1928, 1930 and 1931).

Blades was known as a ferocious competitor with a terrible temper, and he carried that reputation with him as a manager in the Cardinals’ farm system. He managed at the top level of the St. Louis organization with the Rochester Red Wings and Columbus Red Birds from 1933-38 and was named skipper of the Cardinals in 1939.

Upon his appointment, he prohibited alcohol drinking among his players. In his first season, the Cards responded to Blades’s tough regimen, winning 92 games and improving from sixth to second place in the National League. But the Cardinals slumped in the early weeks of 1940, winning only 14 of their first 38 games and plunging back into sixth place. On June 7, Blades was fired and ultimately replaced by Billy Southworth.

He then coached in the National League for the Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and the Cardinals. Blades never managed again fulltime in the big leagues, although during his tenure with Brooklyn he and a fellow coach, Clyde Sukeforth, famously turned down the job as acting manager of the 1947 Dodgers after the suspension of Leo Durocher for the season. Rickey, by then president of the Dodgers, ultimately turned to Burt Shotton, one of the team's scouts, and Brooklyn won the ’47 NL pennant. During the following year, 1948, Blades served as interim Dodger pilot for a single game in July, when Durocher left Brooklyn for the New York Giants job, and Shotton succeeded him a second time. Blades’ final record as a manager was 107-85 (.557).

Ray Blades died in Lincoln, Illinois at the age of 82 in 1979.

External links

References

  • The St. Louis Star-Times, 1938.
  • J.G. Taylor Spink, ed., The Baseball Register, 1956 edition. St. Louis: C.C. Spink & Son.
Preceded by
Mike González
St. Louis Cardinals Manager
1939-1940
Succeeded by
Mike González
Preceded by
Leo Durocher
Brooklyn Dodgers Manager
1948
Succeeded by
Burt Shotton
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