The St. Louis Cardinals By The Numbers
Viva El Birdos!!!
I follow a website known as Vivaelbirdos.com which is a site for lovers of baseball, particularly those of a St. Louis Cardinals persuasion. For the most part it is a statisticians dream site, with a group of extremely talented people writing about the Cardinals, delving into the numbers and analyzing the team's players, games and seasons, along with commenters giving and taking on the articles after they are published.
With no baseball being played now or for the foreseeable future, they are seemingly struggling to write articles because, well, there is no baseball! But they are an ever inventive bunch and John LaRue came up with a beauty today, entitled "The Home Opener That Wasn't". I read it, and then watched the video contained within it.
And I am not ashamed to say, a tear or two crawled down my cheek. I will include a link to it, and I highly encourage you to read it and watch the video even if you are not a Cardinal fan, nor a baseball fan. It is one of the best articles I have read in years about baseball, and the traditions, the love, and the pure enjoyment of sports.
W need this today.
So, as I read this wonderful article and watched the video I had a thought: Baseball is all about the numbers, and looking at the player's numbers I wondered which of these numbers might be my personal favorite. And so, I decided to write a hub searching for that answer.
- The Home Opener That Wasn’t - Viva El Birdos
Yesterday was originally scheduled to be the home opener for the Cardinals. With baseball delayed for the foreseeable future, obviously that game never happened. Instead, we got a...
#45, Bob Gibson, right handed pitcher. Hall of Fame member, Cy Young award winner, 9 time All Star, Lifetime ERA of 2.91 with 251 wins against 174 losses. Member of the Cardinal Hall of Fame as well. My favorite trivia about Mr. Gibson is that he is also a former Harlem Globetrotter. He singlehandedly (well, maybe not ALL by himself but he sure was a major part of the rule change) forced the Major Leagues to alter the pitcher's mound in 1969 after his otherworldly 1968 season where he had a still to this day record (and maybe never broken) ERA of 1.12. That year he started 34 games, threw 28 complete games, had 13 shutouts, and won 22 games. My question is this: how did he lose 9 games?
And if you added up the hits (198) he allowed with the walks (62) he issued, he still had more strikeouts (268) than runners allowed (260)! He was a fearsome beast that year, and took home the Cy Young award and was the MVP as well as being an All Star and winning the Gold Glove.
And for those of you into WAR (Wins Above Replacement) he had a cool 11.2, good enough to put him into #51 position all time as a pitcher, and when you include batters, he stands alongside a few guys by the name of Ruth, Cobb, Musial, Bonds, Wagner, Ripkin and Yastrzemski and tied with Mays and Mantle. You know, just a few guys in some dusty ol' hall somewhere.
Lou Brock. Part of a trade that caused hard feelings for, well, I don't know if those feelings are healed even today. Brock for Broglio, with a little player change thrown in from both teams, in June of 1964. Oh, what team you ask?
The Chicago Cubs. Oh, they still squall, moan and groan, whimper and whine about that trade to this day in Chicago! It has even been termed the worst trade ever by some. I have to wonder if this is why they hate us so?
Lou Brock played left field for the Cards from 1964 until 1979 when he retired. During that run, he was a 6 time All Star, was named the Sporting News Player of the Year, appeared in 2 World Series, and made both the Hall of Fame and the Cardinal Hall of Fame. His forte was speed, pure unadulterated speed. He would run, disrupting pitchers, catchers, whole teams and manager's lives time and again, stealing base after base until he wound up his career with 938 stolen bases. trailing only the otherworldly Rickey Henderson in that statistic.
Ah, ol' number 6, Stan the Man Musial and that peekaboo stance that drove pitchers crazy. His balanced stats (1,949 runs scored; 1,951 RBI's) spanning 22 years, not counting 1945 which he gave to the military, receiving MVP votes for every one of those years but 3 (and he was an All Star those years too).
He hit 475 home runs, batted .331 lifetime, was a 7 time batting champion, 3 time MVP, 2 time Sporting News Player of the Year, and both Cardinal and Baseball Hall of Fame member.
I remember meeting Stan once, in Owens Sporting Goods on 8th and Rangeline in Joplin, Mo back around 1965 or so. He was so tall, was incredibly nice and polite and had a smile that lit up the room for all of us Farm Club baseball players that day as he signed autographs and took pictures with everyone who asked him for one. He came to Owens Sporting Goods because Mr. Owens was a bat boy for the Cardinals in the early to mid 1950's and still had a connection with Stan which allowed him, when asked, to come for a visit. I will never forget his graciousness to all of us that day.
Red Schoendienst. If you were to ask me my opinion on who the perfect Cardinal would be, I believe Red would be my choice. Never a true standout, Red played 19 years as a Cardinal, ending with a career .289 batting average while playing primarily second base. He was an All Star 10 times, and played in 2 World Series.
But what makes him such a tower in Cardinal history is his endurance. Beginning in 1942, when he was signed as an undrafted free agent, Red was a player, manager, coach, and inspiration to everyone around him, everyone he came into contact with. He was traded to New York Giants in 1956, only to be traded a year later to the Milwaukee Braves. Yes, those teams were in those cities at that time.
In October of 1960 he was released by Milwaukee, and then he signed with the Cardinals once more in March of 1961. From then on, he was in baseball almost all of these years with the Cardinals. In all, he spent 67 years with the team, totaling 76 years in a uniform. It literally took death to pull him away from the game he loved so much. People, that is dedication, that is love.
That was Red.
He was elected into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1989, and is also a member of the Cardinal Hall of Fame. He managed the team through some of its glory years, including Gibson's incredible run at history in 1968. He led them to 2 World Series, winning one championship.
We miss you Red.
"PLAYING SHORTSTOP FOR YOUR ST LOUIS CARDINALS, THE WIZARD OF OZ! OZZIE SMITH!!!
How can you not love Ozzie Smith? Not a particularly big man, no power to speak of, but he made his presence known in a hundred ways once he set foot on the field. His glove might be the greatest ever to play the game, making plays that weren't just difficult, they were impossible. I watched an interview once with him where he detailed growing up as a child and being too poor to own a glove. He made due with a paper sack, like a lunch sack, for a glove. He put it on his hand, molded it into a glove and would throw a ball against a wall for hours, catching and fielding ground balls and high hoppers time after time in order to get good. And brother, did he ever achieve that.
If offense is what the name of the game is today, with everyone expected, and trying, to hit home run after home run, Ozzie would never be given a chance to make it. And people, that would be a shame of monumental dimensions, It should scare you, piss you off to think that a player standing 5'10" and weighing a buck fifty soaking wet but possessing perhaps the greatest instincts and hands ever to play the game would not even be given an opportunity to play that game because he wasn't a home run hitter; then we would never have seen the wonder that was Ozzie Smith play baseball.
Drafted by San Diego and traded to the Cardinals for Gary Templeton (who had all the talent in the world but a ten cent head) Smith turned doubters into fervent believers. Never a ferocious hitter, only topping .300 once in his career and having a grand sum of 28 home runs spanning 19 years in the majors, Smith made his living with the glove. A 15 time All Star, 13 time Gold Glove winner, Silver Slugger award winner who made it to only one lonely World Series (1982, they won) and was the 1985 NLCS MVP, he made plays that are still spoken of in hushed voices, with people whispering "Did he really do that?" and "That can't be done!" to one another as they watch highlights again and again.
He played for the love of the game, starting each season out by running onto the field first and performing a flip as he came to his position on the field of play, ready to go for another round of his beloved baseball. It goes without saying he was a first ballot Hall of Famer and is included in the Cardinal Hall of Fame as well.
God Bless you Wizard, and thank you for your years.
A few other numbers and my personal favorite
#11, The Secret Weapon, Jose Oquendo. You gotta love Oquendo. No speed, not a fearsome hitter, but damn he could play baseball. Everywhere. Any position. Any time. You need a pitcher? He tossed three shutout innings in a 19 inning game once. Catcher? Sure, why not? Everywhere else, whenever asked, Oquendo was your man. And he will end up being a manager some day for his expertise and knowledge, mark my words.
#14 Ken Boyer. Hailing from my neck of the woods, and going to school in Alba, Missouri (I've played basketball in the gym there!) Boyer was one of a clan of seven brothers who all played professional baseball including Clete, who played third base for the Yankees and Cloyd, who pitched for the Cardinals. Ken played third for the Cardinals and was an 11 time All Star, 5 time Gold Glove winner and a NL MVP. You gotta pull for a local boy, right?
Some years back, while working for the big box store (you know which one) we had a new manager come into the store. She was introduced and her last name hit me as familiar. After a bit I asked her if she was from the area. She was, with Webb City being home (today Alba residents attend Webb City schools). I asked if she was related to the Boyer brothers and she smiled and said that I was the first person to connect her to the baseball players. She was the granddaughter of one of them. Pretty cool.
#17 Dizzy Dean. If you don't like Dizzy Dean, you don't know about him. About as hick as they come, Dean had a brother (nicknamed, wait for it...Daffy! And just for kicks toss in Ducky Medwick on the same team. Seriously.) Dean won 30 games one year as part of the famed Gashouse Gang. After his playing days were over he went on to do color and play by play for several teams including the Cardinals and Yankees. His colorful butchering of the English language made him a favorite. One of his best occurred when he was hit by a line drive, fracturing his big toe. Upon being told it was fractured, he responded "Fractured, hell, the damn thing's broken!". He was also fond of saying things like "If ya done it, it ain't braggin'." and "Don't fail to miss tomorrow's game!".Read that last one again, slowly.
Once he bragged that he was going to strike Vince DiMaggio out four times in one game. He struck him out his first three at-bats, but when DiMaggio hit a popup behind the plate at his fourth, Dean screamed at his catcher, "Drop it!, Drop it!" The catcher did and Dean wound up striking him out for the fourth time.
But my favorite Cardinal number is not a uniform number. It is that tiny little 1.12. The number of runs Bob Gibson allowed per game for the whole of 1968. The number that lowered the pitching mound, that changed the way the game was played, the number that stands today as a record, much like DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak and Williams .406 (only 27 strikeouts for the year!!) batting average as a number that will never be beaten, and both of these were the same year: 1941. I believe these three records will stand the test of time.
So, there you have it, my favorite number from a list of favorite Cardinal numbers.
MLB.com concurs! Gibson's 1968 season ERA of 1.12 is the best season in the modern era!!
- Best individual season bracket | MLB.com
After tallying all of the votes, the honor for the best individual Major League season goes to ... Bob Gibson's historic 1968 campaign. The Cardinals legend cruised his way through the pitching side of the bracket before defeating Babe Ruth in the fi
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© 2020 Mr Archer