Ted Savage, former St. Louis Cardinal player and executive, recently passed at 85. Photo courtesy St. Louis Cardinals

Ted Savage, former St. Louis Cardinal player and executive, recently passed at 85.

I know because he went to school with my parents, Robert and Erma Reid, at the HBCU. My father and he were acquaintances, and I once played a Khoury League youth baseball game with Savage and my dad in the stands.

 He appreciated education, and the power it gave Black people. Few know it, but scholarship was as important to Savage as baseball. He kept pursuing a Major League Baseball career and would reach that goal. All the while, he never forgot the importance of the classroom.

Before we talk baseball, it must be noted that Savage would obtain a master’s degree and then his Ph.D. in urban studies from St. Louis University following his on-field career. Savage seemed destined to serve on an HBCU campus. Once his playing days were over, he served nine years as Harris-Stowe State University’s athletic director.

Among the young area players he recruited was a McCluer North basketball standout named Earl Austin, Jr. Austin would play for Lindenwood but still recalls the interest Savage had in him and the devotion he had to HSSU.

The St. Louis Cardinals announced last week that Savage had passed away at 85.

Ted Savage

Ted Savage (center) shares a moment with Henry Givens, (left) and Leroy Grant in this undated photo.

Savage was a native of Venice, Ill., and would become a three-sport star at East St. Louis High School. Lincoln University fielded a baseball team and Savage starred there before joining the US Army.

His baseball pursuit continued at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. His service to the country cost him three precious years of his baseball prime, but he caught the eye of Philadelphia Phillies scouts.

During his rookie season in 1962 with the Phillies, he played in 127 games and hit .266 with seven home runs, 39 RBI and 16 stolen bases.

 He was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates during the offseason and played in just 85 games that season. Injuries and a solid outfield captained by the late Roberto Clemente limited his playing time.

Savage signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1965 after not playing in 1964. He was a reserve with the Cardinals two full seasons before he was offered to the Chicago Cub early in the 1967 season.

He played for the Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers in 1968, the Cincinnati Reds in 1969 and the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970. 

At 33, Savage played the strongest season of his career hitting .279 with 12 home runs and 50 RBI. A hand injury limited him in 1971 and, after two seasons in the Mexican League, he would retire in 1973.

After his years at Harris-Stowe he re-joined the Cardinals organization in 1987 as assistant director of community relations and minor league instruction. In his earliest years he was the lone Black member of the Cardinals’ front office.

 He would retire as director of target marketing in the Cardinals Care and community relations department, and his annual Return Baseball to the Inner City [RBI] Celebrity Golf Tournament raised thousands of dollars each year.

Savage was a quiet, unassuming man. To borrow a phrase and alter it a bit, “he spoke softly and carried a big bat.”

The Reid Roundup

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