A much... abuzz.... about this trade went on among fans and the media. On December 8, 1954, right before Christmas when nothing was stirring, the St. Louis Cardinals traded mound stalwart Gerald Staley and second-year third baseman Jabbo Jablonski to the Cincinnati Reds for durable reliever Frank Smith.
1954 Season Update for Reds and Cardinals
A tree-way battle for first division in the then, 8-teams with one-division National League, saw the Phillies edged out the Cardinals and the Reds. So when All Star pitcher Gerry Staley posted a career-worst 7-13 record in 1954, after having standouts records of 19-13, 17-14 and 18-9 from 1951-53, Cardinals management decided to deal him along with hard-hitting 3rd baseman say Jablonski to Cincinnati for reliever Frank Smith. A report out-of-St. Louis' front office stated, "Last season, we felt the club was lacking a good relief pitcher and Frank Smith is one of the best."
Frank Smith broke into the majors with Cincinnati back in 1950. During his second big league season, newspapers and magazines were calling Frank Smith, "an ace in the bullpen". Armed with a fastball and up-and-down pitch, in 1951 he had a 5-5 record with 11 saves in 50 relief games. The next year he had an 12-11 record with 7 saves, then notched a brilliant 8-1 mark, 2 saves in 1954. The season before this trade, Frank Smith posted a 5-8 record with a career-best 20 saves with a 2.67 ERA. However after this trade he managed to pitch in just 28 games in '55 with St. Louis, then was dealt back to the Reds.
For the St. Louis Cardinals in 1953 and 1954, Ray Jabbo Jablonski compiled one of the finest first two offensive seasons in major league baseball history. In 1953, his offensive stats included a .268 batting average with 23 doubles, 5 three-baggers and 21 round-trippers and 112 RBIs, in 604 at bats and Jabbo Jablonski struckout just 61 times. His sophomore year's stats were .296, with 33 Ds, 3 Ts, 12 Hrs, 80 runs, 104 RBIs with just 42 Ks in 611 at bats. The hot-hitting third baseman quickly became a fans favorite in St Louis and Ray Jablonski formed part of the “Polish Falcons” with the 1950s Cardinals, along with Stan Musial, Rip Repulski, and Steve Bilko.
And, then, baseball fans were shocked he was then traded. Why??? During this trade to the Redlegs, St. Louis management stated his defensive work at third base was so, so, and we're bringing up a standout rookie third baseman, Ken Boyer. Jabbo had two fine years in Cincinnati although he didn't rang up numbers like his first two years in St. Louis. The Reds traded him in 1957 to the old New York Giants.
Gerry Staley, born in Brush Prairie, Washington. The right-handed Gerald Staley threw sidearm, and tossed an assortment of pitches including sinkerball, occasionally a fluttering knuckleball and most of all had great control. Gerry Staley debuted with the St. Louis Cardinals as a 27-year-old rookie in 1947. In 1949 he had a 10-10 record with a 2.73 ERA ( 2nd lowest in the NL). For the Cardinals Staley strung-up four consecutive years of over 200 innings pitched per/season, 1950-53, posting records of 13-13, 19-13 and 17-14. Highlights: on April 27, 1951 Gerry Staley stymied the Cubs on 6-hits en-route to a 3-0 shutout. Voted to the NL All Star Team in ’53, he was traded to Cincinnati in this trade… then to NY Yanks in mid-year. On September 30 1950 Staley and teammate George Red Munger each pitched a shutout in double header wins over the Cubs. Placed on waivers Gerry Staley was picked by the Chicago White Sox in mid-’56.
For complete stats of all baseball players, please see Players section on our home page
For loads of fun reading, type in Yankees, Cardinals, Pirates, Red Sox, Cubs or all other teams in our Search on the home page