Jack Damaska Shined Versus Hall of Famers Phil Niekro, Satchel Paige

Although this pose
of Paige as a Brave
seems halfway
common on eBay,
his history in Atlanta
is more obscure.
Here’s a great account
by Larry Tye.

Jack Damaska personified the AAAA player of the 1960s.

He remained a notch above most AAA talent. Still, Damaska wasn’t getting another chance at the majors.

Nonetheless, his skills may have shined brightest in the 1965 International League All-Star Game.

Years ago, minor league all-stars would get an exhibition against a major league team.

The minor leaguers topped the Milwaukee Braves, thanks to three hits, two RBI and a home run by Damaska.

He earned each hit, battling future Hall of Famer Phil Niekro.

Damaska recalled:

“Thanks for remembering my game in the International League All-Star game against Milwaukee. I just wanted to prove that I could play with them. (But never got the chance.)

Hitting the knuckleball, I just tried to hit up the middle and keep from striking out.”

That wouldn’t be the last HOFer Damaska faced. He concluded his letter with this historical footnote:

“Last player to get hit off Satchel Paige in his career. 1969 Spring Training against Atlanta Braves, Savannah, Georgia.”

Jack Damaska Predicted Gary Carter’s Stardom

Jack Damaska served briefly as an Expos minor league manager.

It was long enough to see a bus load of talent headed to Montreal.

Damaska wrote:

“In my one year of managing in the Expos system, I was the first manager of Joe Kerrigan and Tony Bernazard. I also coached Gary Carter, Ellis Valentine, Warren Cromartie, Bombo Rivera, Barry Foote and Steve Rogers.

What about that future Hall of Famer in the bunch?

“Gary Carter…you could tell in Double A that he was going to be the Expos catcher. He had all the tools.

He became a good friend of our family and broke our hearts with his passing.”

Coming Thursday: Hits against TWO Hall of Famers? Damaska did!

Jack Damaska’s Cardinals Cameo Gets Finale

I was delighted to receive a letter back from Jack Damaska. His month with the 1963 St. Louis Cardinals only hints at his many adventures during 17 years of pro baseball.

Check out
www.stlcardinalspostcards.com.
Fans would write in to get
free photos of their favorite
players. However, when a
player like Damaska returned
to the minors, the photos were
pulled. Therefore, his “postcard”
is rarer than stars like
Gibson or Brock.

I thought any Redbirds newcomer back then would know they had arrived when they were featured on a radio broadcast. Who talked with him?

“I was introduced to Harry Caray, but I was interviewed by Jack Buck on the radio. Two years ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited into the broadcasting booth to talk with my ex-teammate Tim McCarver. I talked with Joe Buck at Yankee Stadium.”

Thanks to author George Rose, who suggested that I contact Damaska (one of the great profiles in the One Hit Wonders book).

Coming Monday: Beating a Hall of Fame pitcher.

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