Herzog Laments Wasted Potential of David Green

By Hummel, Rick | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 5, 1995 | Go to article overview

Herzog Laments Wasted Potential of David Green


Hummel, Rick, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


"A shame," Whitey Herzog said. "He should have been a great player."

Herzog was referring to David Green, the outfielder who was the key acquisition for the Cardinals when they sent Ted Simmons, Pete Vuckovich and Rollie Fingers to Milwaukee in 1980. Green, who was ruled to have been legally drunk, was charged with involuntary manslaughter after a traffic accident last week in which a passenger in the other car suffered a heart attack and died.

Herzog said he had heard from a Milwaukee scout that Green had had a drinking problem before the trade was made. But this really didn't manifest itself until 1984.

There was a Sunday afternoon game in Cincinnati. "`We put him on first base," said Herzog, who was the Cardinals' manager then. "Balls were whizzing past his ears.

"(Cincinnati broadcaster) Joe Nuxhall called down and said, `What's wrong with your first baseman?' " Herzog said.

"He's drunk," was Herzog's reply.

Herzog was sort of kidding and sort of not. Early in the 1984 season, Green, after meeting with Herzog following a day game in St. Louis, agreed to check into the Hyland Center the next day. But when Green departed the clubhouse that afternoon, he left with a six-pack of beer.

Green stayed in the center only a couple of weeks. "He didn't give himself much of a chance," Herzog said.

"You spend only 10 or 12 days there and you're not going to be cured. But the guy (Green) came out and said he wasn't drinking anymore."

Except that not long after that, Herzog said he happened to be on the same highway with Green and saw that Green appeared to be drinking a beer.

After the 1984 season, Green and a couple of players were traded to San Francisco for Jack Clark. He would return to the Cardinals briefly in 1987 after failing in Japan. But his stay was short and he was dismissed at Louisville by farm director Lee Thomas when Green reportedly gave Louisville manager Mike Jorgensen some trouble.

Herzog said he could see how Green could have been weakened by a difficult personal life, what with his brother having been jailed during the Nicaraguan civil war and with his mother later dying.

Green, because of his size (6-foot-3), speed and arm, was often compared to the late Roberto Clemente. But Herzog likened him to Darryl Strawberry.

"He was probably faster than Strawberry and had a better throwing arm than Strawberry," Herzog said."They both had raw power but David didn't know how to use his.

"He was a talent."

Although all his potential replacement players will be minor-league players, Cardinals manager Joe Torre wants to take a hands-on approach to spring training rather than letting the minor-league administrators take over, as some teams are doing.

"As long as we're going down there and run camp, we're going to run camp," Torre said. "But, obviously, we're going to have plenty of help."

Torre said that the big-league staff might as well be in control because almost all the players are from the Cardinals' system and "we have one way we want to do things, whether it's the minor leagues or the major leagues. The parts should be interchangeable."

Some 107 players, including 21 six-year, minor-league free agents, will be on hand in St. Petersburg, Fla., for what is being advertised basically as a minor-league camp. Torre said, with that number, workouts probably would have to be held in split sessions.

"We're going to have 50 to 55 pitchers," Torre said. "That's a helluva way to break in (Bob) Gibson."

Torre seems to agree with Cardinals management's thinking that using its own minor leaguers will be better in the long run if there is a replacement-type season.

"When the other guys come back, we can return (the minor leaguers) to where they're supposed to be as opposed to them being free agents," Torre said. "It's a lot cleaner that way. …

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