Before moving to Chicago in 1989, Louis Susman was a big shot in Saint Louis. Among other things, the now retired investment banker who has raised a ton of money for the Democratic Party and just been rewarded by President Obama by being named our ambassador to Great Britain, was a director of the Saint Louis Cardinals — and an active one at that.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Rick Hummel recalls that Susman played a key role in a trade that brought slugging first-baseman Jack Clark to the Cardinals from San Francisco before the 1985 season began. “That deal really won two pennants for us,” Whitey Herzog, the Saint Louis manager during the 80s, told Hummel. (The other pennant came in ’87.)
But Herzog also remembers that Susman refused to sign off on a deal that would have kept relief pitcher Bruce Sutter (who’s now in the Hall of Fame) in Saint Louis for the ’85 season. Sutter, a free agent, wound up going to Atlanta, and that fall Herzog had to put the ball in a rookie’s hand to preserve a 1-0 lead over Kansas City in the bottom of the ninth of the crucial sixth game of the World Series. Thanks in part to a blown call at first base, it didn’t happen, and the Cardinals lost the seventh game too.
And Herzog thinks Susman had a hand in costing the Cardinals a pennant in the strike-shortened 1981 season. His theory has to do with Susman and club president Gussie Busch scheming to oust Bowie Kuhn as baseball commissioner.
Herzog apparently didn’t think much of Susman as a person. And Carol Felsenthal reports on HuffPo that Susman has a bit of a reputation as a “name dropper…and social climber.” That’s a shame. Most people who leave Saint Louis for Chicago feel they have nothing to prove.