Jim Kaat went in two days from oldest player in the majors to second oldest to gone.
The St. Louis Cardinals unconditionally released the left-hander yesterday, four months and a day shy of his 45th birthday, making room for southpaw Dave Rucker, 25, acquired from Detroit. During Gaylord Perry's brief absence from the scene (until Kansas City claimed him Tuesday), Kaat not only led the majors in active-playing longevity--appearances in a record 24 seasons--but age seniority.
Kaat leaves--though it wouldn't be a surprise to see him picked up as quickly as was Perry--with a career record of 283 won, 237 lost. He got his first victory, and his first seven losses, as a Washington Senator, before moving with the team to Minnesota and a 12 1/2-year stand as a Twin, thence to the White Sox, Phillies and Cardinals. A 16-time Gold Glove fielder, three-time AL All-Star Kaat also led current major league pitchers in home runs--16 . . .
For that matter, Kaat--whom Whitey Herzog still regarded highly enough to use in 24 games this season (0-0, 3.97 ERA)--might be back in a uniform before Dickie Noles.
Chicago Cubs right-hander Noles (2-3, 6.06 ERA) began serving 16 days in jail in Cincinnati last night after pleading no contest to a charge of assaulting a police officer. Judge David Albanese of Hamilton County Municipal Court denied a request to delay imposition of sentence until season's end; he decreed 180 days' incarceration, suspended 150 of those, gave Noles credit for 14 days served in an alcohol rehabilitation program recently, fined him $1,000 (payable to a knothole baseball association), and sent him to the lockup with a year's probation to follow.
Charges of disorderly conduct while intoxicated and resisting arrest were dropped in exchange for the no-contest plea from Noles, who after the incident outside a bar following a Cubs-Reds game April 9 admitted to longstanding problems with alcohol . . .
Manager Billy Martin's physical problem is an inflamed hemorrhoid, the New York Yankees report. Martin declined an operation at this time, because it would have kept him off the job three months. He'll be on medication meantime, rejoining the club Friday in Kansas City . . . Hall of Famer Stan Musial developed stomach cramps after Tuesday's Old-Timers all-star game in Chicago, went home and entered a St. Louis hospital. It turned out, his wife Lil reported, the Man has a gastric ulcer. At last report, resting comfortably, "feeling 100 percent better"; disappointed, though, at missing out on being a judge in Miss Universe preliminaries last night . . .
Bill Veeck, who helped bring the 50th anniversary All-Star Game to Comiskey Park, wasn't sure at last report he would attend the classic, so at odds is he with the people who took over the White Sox from him. He hadn't set foot in the stadium since the new owners promised "a first-class operation," as if he hadn't provided as much--but he's become a 50-game-a-year regular among the Cubs' Wrigley Field "bleacher bums" . . .
The Alexandria Dukes have named a three-man committee to explore possible relocation and stepped up target date for a decision to Aug. 1 . . . The annual Congressional Game is set at Four Mile Run Park July 27, 7:30 (Dukes-Lynchburg moved up to 4) . . . On All-Star day, the U.S. Postal Service issued the stamp commemorating Babe Ruth and the midsummer classic's anniversary.