Joe Cunningham (TRADING CARD DB)

Joe Cunningham

This article was written by Eric Vickrey

Joe Cunningham (TRADING CARD DB)Joe Cunningham was a left-handed first baseman and converted outfielder who played parts of 12 major-league seasons with the Cardinals (1954, 1956-61), Chicago White Sox (1962-64), and Washington Senators (1964-66). In his All-Star season of 1959, he hit .345 to finish second for the batting title. Known for his excellent batting eye, Cunningham’s lifetime on-base percentage of .403 ranks 48th all-time of players with at least 3,000 plate appearances as of 2021. The list of those ahead of him is chock-full of Hall of Famers.

Cunningham’s hustle made him a fan favorite, and his jovial personality endeared him to all who knew him. After making his mark as a player, he served as a minor league manager for four years before spending more than two decades in ticket sales and community relations with the Cardinals’ front office. His innovations in this role continue to impact the game today.

Joseph Robert Cunningham Jr. was born on August 27, 1931 in Paterson, New Jersey.1 He was the first child born to Joseph and Mildred (née Speer), preceding his only sibling, James, by 18 months. His family’s ancestry was English, Irish, and Scottish.2 Joe’s aunt gave him his first baseball glove when he was three years old.3 The brothers grew up playing baseball, among other sports, and earned money shoveling snow, caddying, and picking beans which they used to buy themselves baseball equipment.4 The family lived in Teaneck and Rochelle Park before settling in Saddle River Township (the name was changed to Saddle Brook in 1956) when Joe was in the seventh grade.5 The elder Joe, a former semipro ballplayer and steamfitter, often took his sons to nearby Yankee Stadium to cheer on their favorite team.

Joe played for two amateur teams, the Lodi Boys Club and Saddle River Hawks, and had already developed a reputation as a skilled batsman when he showed up for baseball tryouts as a freshman at Lodi High School.6 “He was the first one out for practice and the last one to leave the field,” said Stan Piela, the school’s baseball coach. “Joe wanted to play ball more than anything else; he had a driving ambition to be a major leaguer even then.”7 As a senior captain, he was named to the All-State Second Team by the Newark Star-Ledger.8 A Yankees scout saw him play but thought he was “too clumsy.”9 Piela, who did some scouting for the Cardinals, recommended Cunningham to his boss, Benny Borgmann.10 Although Borgmann had not personally seen the youngster play, he signed him to a contract in late June 1949.11 The deal paid Cunningham $150 per month.12

Cunningham was sent to the Johnson City (Tennessee) Cardinals of the Class D Appalachian League for what remained of the 1949 season. He made a strong first impression, batting an eye-popping .425 in his first month with the team.13 He finished the season with a .347 average and .472 on-base percentage in 60 games. Cunningham was promoted to the St. Joseph (Missouri) Cardinals, a Class C club in the Western Association, for the 1950 season. “Jersey Joe,” as the local paper called him, played 136 games and hit .282 with 10 home runs.

Cunningham started the 1951 campaign with the Omaha Cardinals, a Class A team in the Western League. After going 11-for-41 in 12 games, he was sent to the Winston-Salem Cardinals of the Class B Carolina League. He hit .311 with 11 home runs and a league-leading 11 triples in 122 games.14 In the circuit’s All-Star game, he homered twice in one inning.15

That standout showing earned him a tryout with the Triple-A Columbus Red Birds, but Uncle Sam had other plans. Cunningham was drafted by the United States Army for a 24-month tour of duty and stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He kept his baseball skills sharp by manning first base for the Golden Arrows, a service team full of players with pro experience, including major leaguers Joe Landrum and Faye Throneberry.16

Following completion of his military obligations, Cunningham reported to spring training in 1954 before being sent to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings of the International League. George Beahon of Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle wrote that Cunningham was “regarded right now as the top prospect in the entire organization.”17 The first baseman displayed an excellent glove, the ability to hit for power against righties and lefties, and “exceptional hustle.”18 In 66 games, he slashed .318/.471/.531 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs. The 22-year-old impressed St. Louis manager Eddie Stanky in a late June exhibition between Rochester and the struggling Cardinals. Before Cunningham took the field for a June 29 doubleheader, Red Wings skipper Harry Walker told him that he had been summoned to the parent club. After playing both games of the twin-bill, Cunningham caught a ride from Rochester to Buffalo, then jumped on a flight to Cincinnati to meet up with the Cardinals.

The ink on Cunningham’s Cardinals contract had barely dried when he stepped on to Crosley Field for his major-league debut. Hitting fifth in the batting order, the rookie knocked Cincinnati starter Art Fowler out in the fifth inning with a three-run home run into the right field bleachers. “I almost forgot to run. I floated around the bases,” he later recalled.19 In the seventh, Cincinnati manager Birdie Tebbetts ordered left-handed reliever Harry Perkowski to intentionally walk Ray Jablonski to load the bases. Cunningham, the next man up, worked the count full and then singled to center field to drive in two more.20 His encore the next day in Milwaukee was just as impressive. Cunningham homered twice off future Hall of Fame southpaw Warren Spahn. “Man, this is like a dream,” he said following the game, noting that a switch from a 35-ounce bat to a 31-ounce model may have contributed to his hot start.21 After two games, he was 4-for-8 with three home runs and nine RBIs. Cunningham secured the Cardinals’ first base job for the second half of the 1954 season. He played through leg injuries and in 85 games produced a .284/.375/.445 slash line with 11 homers and 50 RBIs. In the off-season, he returned to New Jersey, where he worked as a steamfitter at a Ford plant and did a lot of ice skating to strengthen his legs.22

Despite Cunningham’s strong rookie campaign, the Cardinals recommended that he alter his batting stance as he competed for the first base job with Tom Alston during spring training 1955.23 The change resulted in a 1-for-17 showing during the spring slate.24 Cunningham also suffered a beanball by Phillies minor league hurler Tom Casagrande which kept him out for several days. The Cardinals’ brass decided to move 34-year-old Stan Musial to first and send Cunningham back to Rochester. In 136 games with the Red Wings, he hit .275 with 10 home runs and 70 RBIs.

Cunningham made the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster in 1956 but was relegated to the bench as new manager Fred Hutchinson started Wally Moon at first and Musial in right field. Cunningham went 0-for-3 with a walk as a pinch-hitter and late-inning replacement before being sent back to Rochester in early May. He lit up International League pitching with a .320 average, finishing second in the league’s batting race.25 He hit 11 home runs and drove in 73 runs while posting a league-leading on-base percentage of .440.

Musial transitioned back to first base in 1956, creating an opening in the Cardinals outfield the following season. Cunningham bought an outfielder’s glove and worked with Johnny Hopp at learning to play right field. “That kid worked harder than anyone out there…chasing fly balls, learning to throw from the outfield, and just plain hustling,” Hutchinson told reporters. “Sure, he’s no Willie] Mays out there, but he makes the play.”26 At the All-Star break, Cunningham was hitting .391 (34-for-87) with an OPS of 1.132. In July alone, he had four game-winning hits, capped off by a pinch-hit game-winning grand slam against the New York Giants’ Rubén Gómez. Despite his gaudy numbers, Cunningham could not crack the everyday lineup. Instead, he was platooned with Del Ennis in right field, and occasionally filled in for Musial at first base. As a pinch-hitter, Cunningham batted .400 (12-for-30) with three home runs. On the season, he accumulated a slash line of .318/.439/.479 with nine home runs and 52 RBIs for the second-place Redbirds. Following the season, the Cardinals re-signed Cunningham with a raise to $12,000.27 He spent the winter working at a public relations firm in St. Louis and received a plaque from the mayor of Saddle Brook when he returned home for the holidays.28

Despite hitting .351 (20-for-57) in the spring of 1958, Cunningham started just one of the Cardinals’ first 17 games.29 After hitting .362 in May, he was in the lineup on a semi-regular basis. Following a four-hit, four-RBI performance against the Cubs in early September, one sportswriter called Cunningham the Cardinals’ “utility-Musial.”30 It was during this season when the press also started referring to Cunningham by a nickname that would stick for the rest of his life: “Smokey Joe.” Late in the season, St. Louis had a losing record of 69-75, and Hutchinson was fired. Following his dismissal, the skipper admitted that he under-utilized Cunningham earlier in the season. “I liked to keep him for the big spot, the way I did so much last year when he came off the bench time and again with the big blow. The kid reacts remarkably to a tough situation, but I concede now we need him regularly,” said Hutchinson.31 In 131 games (91 starts), Cunningham made 424 plate appearances, compiling a .312/.449/.496 line while swatting 12 homers and driving in 57. Against lefties, he hit .338 with a 1.027 OPS. When Solly Hemus was named the Cardinals’ new manager shortly after the season, one of his first proclamations was that Cunningham would be a regular in the lineup, calling him “one of the most feared hitters in the league.”32 Smokey Joe and a contingent of St. Louis teammates spent part of the off-season in Japan on an exhibition tour. Cunningham hit .349 during the 16-game trip.33

After narrowly escaping injury when a tornado struck his St. Louis apartment in February 1959, Cunningham entered the season poised to be a fixture in the Cardinal lineup.34 He served as the Cardinals’ primary right fielder while also seeing time in left and at first. Cunningham was becoming a favorite of fans and teammates alike. Bob Broeg called him the most popular Cardinal aside from the legendary Musial and noted that the blond-haired, blue-eyed bachelor was particularly well-liked by female fans.35 While his good-looks made him a favorite of the ladies, his hustle and determination are what earned praise from his manager. “Cunningham is the kind of guy who’d run through a wall — or try to — to help win a ball game,” said Hemus.36

Cunningham got off to a slow start, hitting .200 in his first 17 games of the ’59 season. He caught fire after May 5, however, and hit .370 for the month of May. The steady Cunningham maintained a batting average well over .300 throughout the remainder of the season. The Jersey native was named to the National League All-Star team as a reserve outfielder. For the first time, two All-Star games were played with the proceeds from the second game going to the players’ pension fund.37 (The dual All-Star game experiment would last for just four seasons). Cunningham made his only appearance in the second game, on August 3 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, grounding into a fielder’s choice against Early Wynn. Cunningham celebrated his 28th birthday on August 27 by getting four hits against the Milwaukee Braves, raising his average to .349. He trailed only Hank Aaron for the National League lead. On September 3, Cunningham homered off the Dodgers’ Don Drysdale and was hit by a pitch on the right elbow his next time up. Benches emptied as Hemus nearly got into a fight with Drysdale.38 Cunningham left the game, x-rays were negative, and he kept up his hot hitting when he returned to the lineup two days later. He could not catch Aaron in the batting race, however. Cunningham finished the season with a .345 average, second to Hammerin’ Hank’s .355. Cunningham’s on-base percentage of .453 did lead the league, and he was second in walks (88) and sixth in OPS (.931).

In 2021, Bill White recalled the impact Cunningham had on his teammates: “He kept us loose. He was always out there with a positive word and attitude. He did not have as much ability as a lot of guys, but he made up for it by hustling. He was just an old-timer.”39

Besides his full tilt effort, Cunningham was known as the “man with a thousand batting stances.” He would vary his stance depending on the pitcher and what felt right. “The pitchers didn’t know what the hell was going on,” recalled White.40

Cunningham was the subject of off-season trade rumors; the Cleveland Indians were interested, and the Chicago White Sox reportedly offered Billy Pierce, Billy Goodman, and Jim Rivera.41 Cardinals general manager Bing Devine succinctly shot down the rumors, “He’s not on the block.”42 Cunningham’s highly successful ’59 campaign garnered “Baseball Man of the Year” recognition from the St. Louis sportswriters at their annual awards dinner.43 The Cardinals’ brass also showed appreciation for his contributions by raising his salary to $35,000 for the 1960 season, third highest on the team behind Ken Boyer and Musial.44 That off-season Cunningham made a business investment, purchasing an eight-lane bowling alley in Imperial, Missouri.45

Though Cunningham had proven himself an excellent major-league hitter, his outfield defense remained a work in progress. In reference to the converted first baseman’s outfield play, Hemus once said, “He’s no hot dog, no showboat trying to make easy plays look hard. Actually, he’s awkward, almost clumsy, making achievement difficult. That’s one of the reasons he took dancing, to help his footwork.”46 He worked hard to improve his defense. Broeg, who wrote that Cunningham “used to make the easy plays look hard,” noted that he turned himself into a capable outfielder in spring training of 1960.47 Nonetheless, he led the league in errors as a right fielder that season with 10. At the plate, he remained a consistent contributor, though he would never again achieve the same level of production as his standout ‘59 season. He hit .280/.363/.386 with six home runs and 39 RBIs. Cunningham expressed disappointment with his season, “That wasn’t a Joe Cunningham year.”48

Cunningham, teammate Don Blasingame, and friend Pete Goodwin once made a pact that whoever got married first would have to pay the others $50. Blasingame was the first to tie the knot, and he carried out the agreement by delivering a bucket of 5000 pennies covered in oil and molasses to Cunningham.49 On October 29, 1960, Cunningham married Kathryn “Kathe” Dillard in the bride’s hometown of Mountain Springs, Arkansas. Kathe had been working as a secretary at Rawlings Sporting Goods when Joe met her while looking at baseball equipment a few years before.50 The news of Cunningham’s marriage surely disappointed his three fan clubs comprised of female rooters.51 The couple honeymooned in Hawaii and resided in St. Louis.

In 1961, Cunningham lost playing time to Charlie James, a young right-handed outfielder. Smokey Joe played in 113 games and produced a slash line of .286/.403/.398. He hit seven home runs, drove in 40 runs, and was hit by 11 pitches, a mark that led the league. On November 27, 1961, St. Louis traded the popular Cunningham to the Chicago White Sox for almost 36-year-old Minnie Miñoso.

The timing of the trade was not ideal; the Cunninghams had just purchased a home in north St. Louis County.52 Joe and Kathe had become good friends with Cardinals catcher Hal Smith and his wife Carolyn. The Smiths talked the Cunninghams into moving to their neighborhood, but shortly thereafter the Smiths fell in love with a home in a different part of town. They moved out without telling Joe and Kathe for fear of their reaction. Joe would give Hal grief about it for the next forty years.53

With the Southsiders, Cunningham returned to first base, his preferred position. He had another productive season in 1962, batting .295 with an on-base percentage of .410. He reached career highs in doubles (32), triples (7), RBIs (70), and walks (101). “Win, lose, or draw, he gives you 100 percent, which is what you want,” said manager Al Lopez.54 That off-season, Joe and Kathe welcomed a son, Joseph III.

Through 50 games of the 1963 season, Cunningham was hitting .258 for the White Sox when he suffered an injury. Trying to beat out a ground ball, he stepped on the foot of Dodgers first baseman Charlie Dees, causing him to tumble and land on his shoulder.55 X-rays showed a fractured collar bone, and he missed three months of action. He returned in September to hit .383 with a .500 OBP in 21 games. His hot streak coincided with a successful run by the White Sox, who won 15 of their last 19 games to finish in second place behind the Yankees. Cunningham would never play in the post-season.

A few weeks into the 1964 campaign, Cunningham lost the starting first baseman job to hot-hitting Tommy McCraw. On July 13, the White Sox traded him to the last-place Washington Senators with a player to be named later for Bill “Moose” Skowron and Carl Bouldin in a double waiver transaction. The Senators received Frank Kreutzer to complete the deal. In 49 games with Washington, Cunningham hit just .214. Joe and Kathe’s second son, Peter, was born in December.

The 34-year-old Cunningham was a part-time player for manager Gil Hodges’ Senators in 1965. The biggest hit of his season came on August 14 when he pinch-hit a game-winning three-run home run off Don Larsen in extra innings. This would be the last home run of Cunningham’s career. In 95 games, he produced a slash line of .229/.375/.328 with three home runs and 20 RBIs.

Cunningham had hopes of reclaiming a starting role in 1965. “I’ve never had a job handed to me yet. But I know I can do better than I did last year, and I hope to prove it. I’m optimistic about making a comeback,” he said in spring training.56 He started three of the Senators’ first four games, going 1-for-8, before being released. The team opted to give younger players Dick Nen and Ken Harrelson a chance. “It’s tough to take,” said Cunningham at the time, “after 17 years in the game. But I’m not bitter — I don’t hold grudges — I just think, and I guess all vets think the same way, that I’m not through.”57 No offers from other teams came, and Cunningham’s big-league career came to a close.

Over the course of his 12-year major-league career, Cunningham amassed 980 hits, including 64 home runs, while producing a slash line of .291/.403/.417. He hit .280 versus lefties and .297 against righties. His on base rate ranks among the game’s all-time best, and his advanced metrics (22.3 career WAR and 120 OPS+) are impressive for a player who played more than 100 games only six times.

In December 1966, Cunningham was named Physical Director at the Herbert Hoover Boys’ Club in St. Louis. In preparation for the job, which he began the following spring, he took classes at New York University and gained experience visiting boys’ clubs in several other cities.58 He served as a swimming instructor for blind and under-privileged children and also taught martial arts.59 After less than two years on the job, Cunningham was pulled back to baseball when Devine, the Cardinals’ general manager, offered him a minor-league managerial position.

Cunningham led two Class A affiliates over the course of four seasons; the Modesto Reds in 1968-69 and the St. Petersburg Cardinals in 1970-71. Ted Simmons, Bob Forsch (then a third baseman), Al Hrabosky, and John Denny were among the players he managed. Cunningham’s responsibilities extended far beyond writing out the lineup card; he helped drive the team bus, handled road accommodations, and managed team finances. Known as a players’ manager, the balding Cunningham would sometimes don a long blond wig to the enjoyment of his players.60 However, he expected his players to hustle and fined them $25 if they didn’t.61

John Nilmeyer, a pitcher on Cunningham’s Modesto squad in 1969, shared a story in 2021 that demonstrated the skipper’s appreciation for extra effort. “I was a released player trying out. [Cunningham] took me on the opening day road trip to Bakersfield. After throwing all three days, he told me he was going to sign me for $600 a month, which was a $150 raise from the previous year. I was so stoked I ran 10 more sprints than he told me to. When I finished, he told me he was going to give me an extra $50. I never forgot that…a great human being.”62

In December 1971, Cunningham took a job in the Cardinals’ front office as Director of Special Projects in charge of the speaker’s bureau and special promotions.63 The outgoing and loquacious Cunningham was a frequent speaker at the team’s winter caravan and community banquets. He was later promoted to Director of Sales. Under his leadership, the organization developed season and group ticket departments that rank among the most successful in the sport to this day. His innovations included the introduction of team mascot, Fredbird, and hosting community nights, high school baseball games, and national anthem performances at Busch Stadium. He was involved in creating party rooms and all-inclusive tickets, experiences adopted by other teams and still enjoyed by thousands of fans at each game.64 In addition to these contributions, Cunningham’s wit and personality were appreciated by those in the organization. Mike Bertani, who served as Director of Stadium Operations during Cunningham’s tenure, said that Joe “made going to work each day a pleasure because you knew you were going to have fun or he was going to play a joke on you.”65 Cunningham ended phone calls with his signature sign-off, “Keep Swinging!”66

In September 1982, Cunningham briefly traded a collared shirt for a Cardinals jersey and joined the eventual World Series champions’ coaching staff during the pennant stretch. In the mid-1980s, Cunningham developed a “Say No to Drugs” program which he presented at St. Louis-area elementary schools along with Fredbird. Cunningham served as the Cardinals’ Community Relations Director and was employed with the organization until retiring in 1993. He continued an active role in the elementary school program well into the last decade of his life. He also helped found the St. Louis chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and served as a mentor to Hrabosky and Rick Horton, former players who have followed in his footsteps with their community involvement.

Joe Cunningham III was a first and third baseman and played in the Cardinals’ minor league system from 1984-88. He then spent 12 seasons managing rookie and Single-A affiliates in the Redbirds’ farm system.

Joe Cunningham was inducted to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 and the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame in 2015. The Cardinals recognized his contributions to the organization in 2015 by naming an area of Busch Stadium “Cunningham Corner.” The club pulled a fast one on him, just as he had done many times to others. He thought he was attending the retirement party for the team photographer when the team surprised him with the honor. Apropos of his legacy, the area bearing his name hosts group programs and events.

“Joe Cunningham will be remembered as a pillar of the Cardinals organization,” said Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III in 2021. “Not only was he an outstanding player, but his contributions off the field were paramount in building the Cardinals fan base through innovative group sales and fan outreach initiatives.”67

After battling health issues for several years, Joe Cunningham died on March 25, 2021 in Chesterfield, Missouri at the age of 89. He is buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in Lemay, Missouri.

 

Acknowledgments

This biography was reviewed by Malcolm Allen and Bruce Harris and fact-checked by Don Zminda.

 

Sources

In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author relied on Baseball-Reference.com.

 

Notes

1 Though most sources list his middle name as Robert, Cunningham’s The Sporting News Player Contract Card and William J. Weiss Publicity Questionnaire list his middle name as Roberts.

2 Joe Cunningham, Publicity Questionnaire for William J. Weiss, May 8, 1950.

3 Wilma Supik, “Bergen’s New Hero,” Bergen Evening Record (Hackensack, New Jersey), August 7, 1954: 28.

4 Supik.

5 Supik.

6 Cunningham Publicity Questionnaire.

7 Supik.

8 “Stan Pitula of Hackensack Named on All-Stat Varsity,” Bergen Evening Record, June 27, 1949: 16.

9 “Rookie in Such a Hurry to Join Redbirds He Left His Clothes Behind,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 1, 1954: 15.

10 Joe Lovas, “Sportsman’s Corner,” Herald-News (Passaic, New Jersey), August 30, 1949: 16.

11 Joe Lovas, “Sportsman’s Corner,” Herald-News, August 3, 1949: 20.

12 “Rookie in Such a Hurry to Join Redbirds He Left His Clothes Behind.”

13 Tommy Hodge, “Joe Cunningham’s Bat Average Soars to .425,” Johnson City (Tennessee) Press-Chronicle, July 31, 1949: 6.

14 “Lodi Graduate Pounding Ball for US Army,” Ridgewood (New Jersey) Herald-News, June 5, 1952: 24.

15 “Largest Crowd See Luckies Bow to Carolina League All-Stars,” Rocky Mount (North Carolina) Telegram, July 23, 1951: 6.

16 “Baseball Twin-Bill Slated Here Tonight; No Admission Charge,” Index Journal (Greenwood, South Carolina), May 2, 1953: 6.

17 George Beahon, “Walker Names Faszholz, Tentative Lineup for Opener,” Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York), April 15, 1954: 34.

18 George Beahon, “Sugar Kings Defeat Wings Twice, 8-5, 5-3; Club Gets Alston, Burgess for Cunningham,” Democrat and Chronicle, June 30, 1954: 24.

19 Al Del Greco, “For the Record,” Bergen Evening Record, October 22, 1954: 28.

20 Bob Broeg, “Cunningham Gives Cards Lift by Driving in 5 Runs in Debut,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 30, 1954: 15.

21 Bob Broeg, “Raschi is Victim of 5-Run 3d,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 2, 1954: 10.

22 Bob Curley, “Cunningham has New Target,” Herald-News, January 17, 1955: 18.

23 “Joe Cunningham Vows to Return,” Herald-News, July 5, 1955: 21.

24 “Cards Send Cunningham to Rochester Red Wings,” Herald-News, March 30, 1955: 33.

25 Marty O’Shea, “Baseball Bouquets,” Herald-News, September 21, 1956: 29.

26 Bob Kerland, “Cunningham Rides the Bench as Cards Lose to New York,” Bergen Evening News, July 12, 1957: 22.

27 Joe Cunningham to Get 12 G’s; Had .318 Mark,” Bergen Evening Record, December 13, 1957: 46.

28 “Cards Star Gets Plaque from Mayor,” Paterson (New Jersey) Evening News, January 2, 1958: 42.

29 “Cardinals’ Final Spring Averages,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 15, 1958: 16.

30 Jack Rice, “Cunningham Stars in 12-Inning Victory,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 4, 1958: 22.

31 Bob Broeg, “Sports Comment,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 21, 1958: 73.

32 Saddle Brook Player Given Regular Spot,” Paterson Evening News, October 7, 1958: 25.

33 Bob Kurland, “Cunningham St. Louis-Bound for Cardinal Contract Talks,” Bergen Evening Record, January 29, 1959: 37.

34 “Joe Cunningham Barely Escapes Falling Ceiling,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, February 11, 1959: 9.

35 Bob Broeg, “A Good Joe,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 24, 1959: 25.

36 Broeg, “A Good Joe.”

37 Bill Center, “Leagues Split Two All-Star Games Played in 1959,” February 4, 2016, https://www.mlb.com/news/leagues-split-two-all-star-games-in-1959-c163719750, accessed March 31, 2021.

38 “Drysdale Hits Joe, Sets Off Rhubarb,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 4, 1959: 35.

39 Rick Hummel, “Former Cardinal Joe Cunningham, Who Challenged Aaron for Batting Title, Dies at 89,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 25, 2021, https://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/former-cardinal-joe-cunningham-who-challenged-aaron-for-batting-title-dies-at-89/article_4aefce80-7dfd-592a-88b8-faa8ca97af8a.html, accessed April 18, 2021.

40 Hummel.

41 Jack Herman, “Ever-Hopeful Lane Eyes Cunningham,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 28, 1959: 13.

42 Herman, “Ever-Hopeful Lane Eyes Cunningham.”

43 Jack Herman, “Smokey Joe and Bob Holt Make Hits at Baseball Writers’ Awards Dinner,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, January 19, 1960: 17.

44 “Joe Cunningham Signs $35,000 Contract with Cards,” Paterson Morning Call, February 19, 1960: 17.

45 “Joe Cunningham Buys Eight-Lane Bowling Alley,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, January 19, 1960: 17.

46 Broeg, “A Good Joe.”

47 Bob Broeg, “Redbirds Have Won 5 in a Row,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 29, 1960: 28.

48 “Joe Cunningham,” The Sporting News, May 17, 1961: 25.

49 “Coin Shortage Traced to Joe’s Bucket Brigade,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 14, 1965: 93.

50 “Cunningham to Wed Pretty Secretary,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 4, 1960: 9.

51 Al Del Greco, “For the Record,” The Record (Hackensack, New Jersey), November 1, 1960: 46.

52 Neal Russo, “Mrs. Cunningham: Great Catch by Joe,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 14, 1965: 93.

53 Billy D. Higgins with Hal Smith, The Barling Darling (Little Rock, AR: Butler Center Books, 2009): 172.

54 Edward S. Kitch, “Joe Cunningham Finds Home at First Base,” Greeley (Colorado) Daily Tribune, August 7, 1962: 15.

55 “White Sox Lose Joe Cunningham,” Streator (Illinois) Times-Press, June 4, 1963: 9.

56 Dave Heeren, “Cunningham Full-Time Senator,” Fort Lauderdale News, March 3, 1966: 56.

57 Al Del Greco, Morning Call (Paterson, New Jersey), April 22, 1966: 22.

58 “Boys’ Club Tabs Joe Cunningham, Morning Call, December 6, 1966: 20.

59 “Joe Cunningham Takes Post with Boys’ Club,” Herald-News, March 10, 1967: 34.

60 Tom Kelly, “The Cunningham Exit: Goodbye to a Good Joe,” Tampa Bay Times, August 29, 1971: 31.

61 Bob Broeg, “Cunningham, the Good Joe, Preaches Hustle, Heart,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 16, 1970: 30.

62 John Nilmeyer shared this memory on Facebook in March 2021 after the news of Cunningham’s death. Mr. Nilmeyer gave the author permission to share this story for this bio.

63 “Cards Shuffled in Front Office,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 8, 1971: 47.

64 “Cardinals Mourn Passing of Former All-Star Joe Cunningham,” March 26, 2021, https://www.mlb.com/press-release/press-release-cardinals-mourn-passing-of-former-all-star-joe-cunningham, accessed April 18, 2021.

65 Hummel.

66 Higgins with Smith.

67 “Cardinals Mourn Passing of Former All-Star Joe Cunningham.”

Full Name

Joseph Roberts Cunningham

Born

August 27, 1931 at Paterson, NJ (USA)

Died

March 25, 2021 at Chesterfield, MO (USA)

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