Kaat's career lengthened with transition to bullpen
But when the time came for him to evolve into a new kind of pitcher, Kaat was more than ready to embrace the challenge of becoming a reliever.
That pursuit officially continued into a second year on April 1, 1980, when Kaat signed a one-year deal with the Yankees at 41 years old.
Kaat had opened 1979 with the Phillies, marking his fourth season in Philadelphia. He appeared in just three games, throwing 8.1 innings and recording a 4.32 ERA, before the Yankees purchased his contract on May 11 to bring the lefty to New York.
In St. Louis, Kaat continued to embrace the role of situational left-hander, going 8-7 with a 3.82 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 129.2 innings of work in 1980. He would remain in a similar role for the final three seasons of his career, helping the Cardinals win a title in 1982 to mark his first World Series victory.
Kaat was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2022.
Janey Murray is the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum