In honor of tonight’s NLCS Game 7 showdown between the last two World Series champions, this post is about the four former Midwest Leaguers who played for the Cardinals or the Giants and are in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Six Hall-of-Famers played in the Midwest League. One of them, Orlando Cepeda, played for both the Giants and the Cardinals. He hit .393 with 21 HR in 92 games with the 1955 Kokomo (Ind.) Giants. (Technically, Cepeda played in the Mississippi-Ohio Valley League, but that league changed its name to the Midwest League in 1956, so the MWL considers them the same for historical record-keeping purposes. The MOVL was founded in 1949.)
Juan Marichal pitched for the Giants in 14 of his 16 major-league seasons. He went 21-8 with a 1.87 ERA in 245 IP for the 1958 Michigan City White Caps. He is one of only 19 20-game winners in Midwest League history. (Only one MWL pitcher has won 20 games since Kokomo’s Emerson Unzicker did so in 1957. John Fritz of the Quad City River Bandits went 20-4 in 1992.)
Rich “Goose” Gossage is best remembered as a dominant relief pitcher for the Yankees, the White Sox and the Padres, but his other major-league pit stops included a season with the Giants in 1989. Gossage pitched for the Appleton Foxes in 1970, 1971 and 1974. His only full season with the Foxes was 1971, when he went 18-2 with a 1.83 ERA and 149 strikeouts in 187 IP. He threw 15 complete games, including seven shutouts, and was named Midwest League Player of the Year that season.
Another dominant closer of Gossage’s era, Bruce Sutter, pitched in the Midwest League. Sutter was a major-league closer for the Cardinals, the Cubs and the Braves, and his minor-league teams included the MWL’s Quincy Cubs in 1973. Sutter went 3-3 with a 4.13 ERA, 5 saves and 76 strikeouts in 85 IP for Quincy.