The Obit For Bing Devine

Former Cards GM 'Bing' Devine dies

Executive helped build teams that won two titles in the '60s

By Matthew Leach /

Bing Devine was Cards GM from 1958 to 1964 and again from 1968 to 1978. (AP)
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ST. LOUIS -- Vaughan "Bing" Devine, the architect of some of the greatest teams in St. Louis Cardinals history, died on Saturday at the age of 90.

Devine served as the Cardinals general manager from 1958-64 and 1968-78. He had worked as a special assignment scout for the club, reporting directly to general manager Walt Jocketty, since 1999. He made two of the most famous trades in the annals of baseball, acquiring Lou Brock and trading Curt Flood.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bing, his family and many friends," Cardinals chairman William O. DeWitt Jr. said in a statement issued by the team. "Bing was an institution in baseball circles and will long be remembered for his many contributions to the Cardinals and all of baseball."

Among St. Louisans, and perhaps throughout baseball, Devine is best remembered for executing one of the greatest trades in baseball history, when he acquired Brock from the Cubs for Ernie Broglio, Doug Clemens and Bobby Shantz. The deal, panned at the time, helped propel the Cardinals to the 1964 World Series championship.

The core of that team, which also included Devine acquisitions Flood, Dick Groat, Tim McCarver, Bill White and Julian Javier, went on to win another title in 1967 and a pennant in 1968.

Yet it was another trade engineered by Devine that had the greatest influence on baseball. On Oct. 7, 1969, Devine traded star center fielder Flood, along with McCarver, Byron Browne and Joe Hoerner, to the Phillies for Dick Allen, Cookie Rojas and Jerry Johnson.

Flood refused to go to Philadelphia, ultimately challenging baseball's reserve system that bound players to one team. His suit against baseball set the stage for free agency, and was undeniably one of the truly pivotal events in the game's history. Flood eventually returned to the game, and Devine and the Cardinals sent him to the Senators in 1970.

Devine began his career in baseball with the Cardinals in 1939. He was a collegiate basketball star at Washington University in St. Louis, and he served in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1946.

In addition to his years with the Cardinals, Devine also served as president of the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals from 1981 to 1986 and president of the New York Mets from 1965-67. While with New York, he helped to build the "Miracle Mets" World Series championship team of 1969.

He also held various scouting and front-office positions with the Philadelphia Phillies, Houston Astros, Montreal Expos and San Francisco Giants.

"I had great pleasure in working with Bing for the past several years," Jocketty said in the club's statement. "He was a wonderful person and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from his vast experience and knowledge."