Red Hayworth: Former
St-Jean Manager Passes Away
The death notice was brief and to the point, and
even in a world where these things count, it barely
caused a ripple.
“Myron “Red" Hayworth, a catcher for the St. Louis
Browns in 1944 and 1945 has passed away,” it read.
“A native of High Point, North Carolina, he died
there on November 2nd (2006) at the age of 91.”
No mention was made of the fact that Hayworth had
been player-manager for the St-John’s (St. Jean)
Braves during the Quebec Provincial League’s
unforgettable year of 1949. In fact, he was a
popular figure there and while few might recall him
today, his efforts were so appreciated at the time
that the team held a special benefit for him when he
“Red was a real gentleman on the field,” is how
former Drummondville catcher Jerry Cotnoir described
Hayworth recently. “He would tell you, ‘nice play,’
even if you were on the opposing team. We
The 6-foot, 1-inch Hayworth, considered a
light-hitting but solid catcher, broke into
Organized Baseball in 1936 with the Akron (Ohio)
Yankees. After a number of years in the minor
leagues, he was signed by the American League Browns
in 1944 to share catching duties.
That same year St. Louis clinched the American
League pennant and made their only World Series
appearance in a 53-year history. The under-dog
Browns - they would move to Baltimore in 1954 and
become the Orioles – lost to their National League
counterparts, the St. Louis Cardinals, in 6-games.
Hayworth started all six games.
In 1946, Hayworth, aware that his days with the
Browns were numbered, jumped his contract to join a
growing number of players drawn to the Mexican
League by promises of great riches.
Soon enough he discovered that playing and living
conditions were not as advertised, and when the
money dried up, he and the other expatriates headed
Unfortunately they had no place to go. For their
actions the jumpers had been suspended from
Organized Baseball for a 5-year period.
One of the group, Max Lanier, a first-line hurler
with the St. Louis Cardinals - he had faced Hayworth
in the ’44 Series – tried to counter by putting
together a touring all-star team of sorts, with
Hayworth behind the plate. Their venture fell flat,
however, because Organized Baseball threatened to
sanction any organization receiving them.
The exiles were now out of options. Almost. There
was still Quebec’s Provincial League.
The Quebec circuit operated outside Organized
Baseball and did not feel bound by its dictates. By
1949 local rivalries were such that clubs actively
solicited the best players they could find –
suspended or not. And the possibility of bolstering
their rosters with Mexican League worthies was
Most of Lanier’s All-Stars, including Lanier
himself, came on board. Hayworth, who was described
as being 30-years old (he was closer to 35), inked
his contract with St. John’s in February.
As manager, he inherited a Braves team which
included suspended major leaguer Alex Carrasquel,
and Negro League standouts, Quincy Barbee and Terris
“The Great” McDuffie. They started off with a
flourish, sweeping the season-opening double-header
against Farnham - but then stumbled through the rest
of the year.
The effort was there – both to win games and stir up
fan interest. When St. John’s Capitol cinema (“The
largest theatre in the district”) ran the new MGM
musical, ‘Take me Out to the Ballgame,” with Esther
Williams and Gene Kelly, the Braves even appeared on
stage at one of the showings
“IN PERSON ON THE STAGE” read the notice on the
movie poster. “RED HAYWORTH AND HIS BOYS: THE
PLAYERS OF THE ST. JOHNS BRAVES.”
In early June, the league was dealt a blow when
Organized Baseball lifted its suspension of Mexican
jumpers even though it still had a year and more to
run. In part the bosses wanted to stem a series of
legal actions now working their way through the
But they also clearly intended to disrupt the
workings of the Provincial League. It had become too
successful for baseball’s liking, and they feared
its outlaw tendencies could well threaten the
security of the organized game if left unchecked.
With the hammer of suspension now removed, most of
the players affected began drifting back, taking
some of the league’s allure with them. Alex
Carrasquel packed up in early July: Hayworth,
however, declared that he intended to remain.
The league held its All-Star game in early July, and
Hayworth was named manager of the South team (Farnham,
Granby, St. Johns). His squad lost in a tight,
13-inning encounter, when, with the bases loaded and
one out, Farnham catcher Eudie Napier let a pitch
get by him, allowing the winning run to score.
For Hayworth, this marked the beginning of a
downturn in fortunes. Within days, the St. John’s
Messenger was reporting that “playing manager Red
Hayworth was unable to take his place behind the
plate because of doctor’s orders,” although no
further information was forthcoming. He returned to
duty shortly afterward, but not for long.
However he went out with a measure of glory. In what
appears to have been Hayworth’s last match, a home
game against Drummondville that went into the bottom
of the 10th, the Messenger breathlessly
reported that “Red worked the count to 2 and 2 and
then lofted one over the left field fence to give
the Braves their [winning] margin. It was a real
story book finish.”
By the next week the paper was describing a new
player, Don Savage, as “playing manager,” without
explanation. In fact, Hayworth had banged up his
right knee blocking home plate. The injury was
serious enough that he required surgery, and was
sent to a Montreal hospital to have damaged
cartilage removed. It was only the end of July, but
Ray’s season was already over.
The team was sorry to see him leave and felt that he
merited a special good-bye. On August 1 the
organization staged a benefit exhibition game in his
honour, pitting the Canadian members of the Braves
against their American counterparts.
”There was plenty of clowning,” stated the
Messenger, “and all the players and umpires joined
in the fun, much to the delight of the younger ones
in the stands.” Red was present, in uniform, and
thanked the fans for their consideration, adding
that he “hoped to be able to return to St. Johns to
play again.” The benefit netted him $2000.
And with that, Red Hayworth slipped out of the
region. He continued playing elsewhere for three
more years and then retired to become a coach and
scout. He always retained a warm spot in his heart
for St. Jean. His son, also Myron Hayworth, wrote
recently that summer in St-Jean meant fishing with
his dad in the Richelieu River, where, “the water
was so clear you could see the fish on the bottom.”
When Hayworth left, a young player, Norman Smith,
who had been his protégé, went with him, to the
displeasure of the local faithful. Smith has always
been a bit of a mystery to Sabr researchers: we knew
that he was a college student playing under a false
name to protect his amateur status. But who was he?
The answer might lie in a recent note from Myron
Hayworth, Jr. Talking about his dad’s funeral he
commented that although his father had been in
baseball for over 50 years, only one person in
baseball actually showed up. “He was Billy Smith who
my father had called to join him in St. Jean to play
baseball. Billy Smith went on to play in the majors
and he told me how much it meant to him.”
Norman Smith? Billy Smith? There was a Bill Smith
who broke into organized baseball in 1950 with High
Point in the North Carolina League (Hayworth was
from High Point!) and so we can probably make the
assumption that Norman and Billy were the same
person. Bill Smith played baseball for 10 years but
Atlanta of the Southern Association was the highest
level he reached.
As for the Braves in 1949, they improved enough to
make it through the first round of the play-offs
before losing out to Farnham.
Red Hayworth’s participation with the hapless St.
Louis Browns is now an arcane piece of baseball
history. But his role with St. John’s is part of our
story. As Jerry Cotnoir reminded, Red brought a
gentle honour to our game. And for that we remember