added 09/07/01 by Ray Kerby
Jim Beauchamp was one of those lucky players who made their major-league debut with their favorite team. In his case, it was the St. Louis Cardinals. He played with the Astros twice, from 1964 to 1965, and returning for the 1970 season. He graciously agreed to this interview by mail, and I hope you enjoy it!
Jim Beauchamp: It was just something that was my goal after hearing Harry Caray announcing a St. Louis Cardinals game over KGLC in Miami, Oklahoma and calling a Stan Musial home run. I was 8 years old at the time.
RK: What was your favorite team? Who were your favorite players, and why?
JB: My above answer tells it all. Musial was my idol.
RK: You were considered an exceptional prospect in high school and were signed by the Cardinals for a $50, 000 bonus. Did you receive a lot of offers and, if so, why didyou choose the Cardinals? Was the money a big part of your decision?
JB: Money wasn't to me, but it was to my Dad because I had a full football scholarship to Oklahoma State University. I had several offers to sign and could have signed for more with the Boston Red Sox, but my dream and goal was to play for the Cardinals.
RK: You suffered a serious shoulder injury early in your career. When did this happen and how? How did it affect your playing ability afterwards?
JB: It kept me from being an everyday player because I lost 50% of my arm throwing motion and never threw the same after surgery, but could get by on a part-time basis. Plus I had to change from a "getting on base" type player to a "power threat" hitter.
RK: In the minors, you were a fearsome batter, hitting for power and average while stealing bases. However, you never received a lot of at-bats in the majors. To what do you attribute this? Were you blocked by other players? Did injuries cut into your playing time?
JB: Dave Bristol finally was the first manager to tell me I'd never be an everyday player on account of my arm, but I could be a valuable player off the bench with my speed, bat, and as a fill-in occasionally at 1B and OF.
RK: A lot of talk is made about the oppressive heat in Colt Stadium. What memories stand out about that stadium?
JB: Having no air conditioning in the clubhouse, the heat, the mosquitoes. Also my first major-league hit and home run were there. I also played center field in Ken Johnson's no-hitter and we got beat by Cincinnati. It was an honor to say I played with Nellie Fox, who was a true pro. He helped me a lot in learning to play 1B.
RK: What was it like playing in the Astrodome for the first time in 1965? How did it affect your playing style or your approach to the game?
JB: It was very exciting and, at that time, I was starting to realize I was going to be a utility player even though I still had hopes of playing every day. I also hit the first Houston Astro home run off Dave McNally in an exhibition game -- the first player to set off the scoreboard for a home run. Mantle hit the first home run [ in the dome ], Richie Allen hit the first regular-season home run, and Aspromonte hit the first regular-season home run for the Astros. No one cared about my home run because I was a "no name." I also started in center field against the Phillies in the first regular-season game.
RK: When you were traded from Houston to St. Louis in 1970, you were quoted as suggesting that the attitude on the Houston club was poor. You even mentioned that the other players wanted to go to St. Louis with you when they heard about the trade. What kind of problems was the team having in 1970 and what do you think was the cause of those problems?
JB: I just felt like there were too many players content just to be in the major-leagues, with a "take it or leave it" attitude as far as winning or losing. Plus, which might have been paranoia on my part, dating back to '64 and '65, I always felt like utility and role playes were treated like second-class citizens. I learned by going back to the Cardinals, it takes all 25 men to win and management knew it.
RK: Who was the toughest pitcher you had to face, and why?
JB: Jim Brewer with Los Angeles. He had a great screwball against right-handed hitters.
RK: What are some of your fondest memories from your playing days?
JB: #1 was getting called up by the Cardinals in 1963 and being Stan Musial's teammate -- my idol!
Starting my first major-league game in center field for the Cardinals against the New York Yankees in Spring Training, 1961, at Al Lang Field with Musial in LF and Joe Cunningham in RF. I faced Whitey Ford, Ralph Terry, and Ryne Duren. WOW!
Playing with all the great players.: Musial, Schoendienst, Gibson, Bench, Rose, Maloney, Seaver, Mays, Aaron, Eddie Mathews, etc.
Playing in the World Series in 1973, my last year as an active player in the major-leagues.
RK: What did you do after you retired from baseball? Are you still working in the Atlanta organization and, if so, what have been your responsibilities with the team?
JB: I was the dugout coach for Bobby Cox, 1991 through 1998, and also the outfielder coach. I managed the nucleus of our World Champion team of 1995 in the minor leagues from 1985 through 1990. I'm currently the Outfield Coordinater for all our minor league clubs and will be helping our winter Instructional League.
RK: Thank you for your time.