Pocatello Cardinals

From BR Bullpen

The Pocatello Cardinals, one of the original members of the Pioneer League, were a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate for ten years. In their inaugural season of 1939, they finished second out of six teams with a 68-56 record. First baseman Tony Robello led the league with 58 homers and 179 RBIs and also managed the team. Shortstop Jack Charles Murphy and outfielder Jay Kirke Jr. also made the league's All-Star team. The next year, under new skipper Ken Penner, the club fell to 62-68 and fifth place. Pitcher Bill Caplinger led the league with 21 wins and 265 strikeouts, and outfielder Robert Joratz was an All-Star. In 1941, Bill DeLancey took over as manager and the Cardinals improved to 64-66. Shortstop Mervin Bensmiller was the team's star, scoring a league-best 127 runs. The club posted a league-best record of 72-46 in 1942 under Nick Cullop's guidance. Pitcher Manuel Vargas led the circuit with 199 strikeouts, and George Valine also paced the league with 115 runs. In the postseason, the Cardinals defeated the Boise Pilots in seven games to capture the league championship.

Due to World War II, the Pioneer League ceased operations from 1943 to 1945. Resuming play in 1946, the Cardinals finished fourth with a 64-63 record for manager Bill Brenzel. The next year, Jim Tyack took over the club, but they finished last, posting a 45-94 mark. Despite their poor record, Tony O'Laughlin led the league with a .360 batting average, and shortstop Bobby Thomson was an All-Star. In 1948, the Cardinals improved greatly, finishing first with a 77-49 record for new skipper Roland LeBlanc. Outfielder Albert Neil won the Triple Crown with a .390 average, 25 homers, and 151 RBIs, and first baseman Ed Mickelson joined him on the All-Star team. However, the Twin Falls Cowboys beat the Cardinals to nab the league title.

In 1949, Walter Lowe took over as manager and the club went 75-51 to finish third. Charles Williams led the league with 120 RBIs, and second baseman Dom Barczewski and shortstop Ted Lewandowski were All-Stars. In the first round of that year's playoffs, they swept Twins Falls before defeating the Billings Mustangs in five games to win another Pioneer League championship. The next season, the club posted a league-best (and franchise record) 80-46 mark for manager Larry Barton. Ernest Schuerman scored a 134 runs to pace the circuit, outfielder Dick Cordell drove in 135 runs to share the league lead, and second baseman Billy Rice made the All-Star team. However, the Cardinals were swept by Billings in the first round of the playoffs. The team fell to seventh place in 1951 with a 56-81 record, and skipper Norman Shope was replaced by Robert Comiskey in midseason. Despite their poor record, Bryce Carmichael led the league in hits, and third baseman Nick Ananias and outfielder Bill Van Heuit were All-Stars.

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs
1939 68-56 2nd Tony Robello
1940 62-68 5th Ken Penner
1941 64-66 4th Bill DeLancey Lost first round
1942 72-46 1st Nick Cullop League Champs
1946 64-63 4th Bill Brenzel
1947 45-94 6th Jim Tyack
1948 77-49 1st Roland LeBlanc Lost League Finals
1949 75-51 3rd Walter Lowe League Champs
1950 80-46 1st Larry Barton Lost first round
1951 56-81 7th Norman Shope / Robert Comiskey