Sports Hall of Fame inductee was former MU player, Cardinal
FULTON - This Sunday Charlies James will be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of fame.
When James came to the University of Missouri in 1955, he was on a football scholarship, but he held onto the dream of playing professional baseball.
"I always wanted to be a professional baseball player, and hopefully someday make it to the major leagues," James said.
Missouri's head coach at the time, Don Faurot, cut him a deal.
"He said that if I would play spring football my freshman fall season, then it would be okay for me to play baseball the rest of the springs i was there, so that's what I did," James said.
The St. Louis native played three seasons with the football team but only two seasons with the baseball team before he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1958.
"That was my dream idea - to play for my hometown," James said.
After more than two years in the minor leagues, James got called up to play for the Cardinals.
"After a couple months in Charleston, the manager in St. Louis called me up to help him out," James said.
His major league career lasted six seasons.
"My biggest thrill was in 1964, when we won the National League pennant. We had an opportunity on the last day of the season to get knocked out of the championship, or to end up in a three-way tie. We ended up winning that game, it wasn't easy, but to win that game on the last day and therefore win the pennant and go to the World Series, was probably the biggest thrill of my career," James said.
He was a member of the Cardinals when they won the World Series in 1964.
In 510 games, James hit a career .255 with 172 RBI, 29 home runs, 56 doubles and nine triples.
In 1965, he put down the bat and picked up golf clubs for good.
"I pretty much played golf through my baseball career. There were some managers, in both the minor leagues and major leagues that I played for, that didn't like you to play golf, because they thought the swing for golf, they didn't want you to mess up your batting swing," James said.
These days he spends a lot of his time golfing at the Fulton Country Club and says he never believed golf messed up your baseball swing, anyway.
The induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is Sunday.
James is one of 15 inductees.