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St. Louis Cardinals…History and Heroes
Posted By Chaz Ingram On Jul 30 2011 @ 8:14 pm In St. Louis Cardinals | 19 Comments
It was 1975 and I walked down Grand Avenue (St. Louis, Mo) in search of a tranquil place to listen to the St. Louis Cardinals on my small and very fragile transistor radio.
I ultimately rested on the church grounds of St. Alphonsus Rock Church, providing me with what I had sought, tranquility and peace. My Cardinals eventually lost that game and did not fare so well that season with a record of 82-80. Considering they featured the likes of Hall of Famer Lou Brock, Ted Simmons and Keith Hernandez I was hopeful that the Cardinals would turn it around the following year and win it all. These were my heroes and I believed in them. One would be hard pressed to find any St. Louisan who was not a Cardinal fan, but I was the biggest (so far as I knew).
A few miles north of my designated place of tranquility, St. Alphonsus Rock Church, stood the old Sportsman’s Park, located at Grand Avenue and Dodier Street. Sportman’s Park was the Cardinals home (and St. Louis Browns until 1954) before their current home, Busch Stadium. That grand old park was the site where legends of Cardinals past set the stage for the current crop of Cardinal greats. Though I was born too late to see Sportsman’s Park I’ve been told there were some baseball titans to pass through there. Rogers Hornsby (triple crown winner in 1922 & 1925), Stan Musial (3 time NL MVP) and Dizzy Dean (the last NL 30 game winner). Rumor has it that a player from the opposing team (by the name of Babe Ruth) once hit a homerun that cleared the entire stadium and crashed through the window of the old YMCA on the other side of Grand Avenue.
In 1963 Stan “the Man” Musial retired and the Cardinals beagn looking for his replacement. As good fortune would have it the “Brock for Brolio” trade occurred in 1964. The Cardinals obtained left fileder Lou Brock from their archrivals Chicago Cubs for pitcher Ernie Brolio and two other players… The Cardinals-Cubs long standing riavalry is one of the oldest and most embittered in baseball history and this would be a new chapter.
This would prove to be a great transition to the modern day Cardinals heroes who went on to play in 3 World Series that decade (beat the Yankees in ’64, the Red Sox in ’67). They lost only to the Detroit Tigers in 1968 despite a record setting World Series by pitcher Bob Gibson. After a regular season that saw Gibson win the Cy Young Award as well as the NL MVP Award, he pitched 3 complete games in the World Series allowing only 3 runs in the process. His 35 strikeouts set a World Series record and his 1.12 ERA is still the lowest of any pitcher since 1950. The Cardinals wouldn’t make it back to the the World Series for another 15 years.
In 1982 Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee and Vince Coleman led a cast of “new” heroes which invigorated Cardinal nation. The fans were treated to a style of play affectionately known as “Whitey Ball” (in honor of manager Whitey Herzog). Speed, defense, pitching, clutch hitting, solid fundamentals and fireman out of the bullpen – that was “Whiteyball.” They went on to beat the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1982 World Series to earn the franchise’s 9th World Series Championship.
 Current Cardinal Albert Pujols has provided some great moments in his 10 years in a Cardinal uniform – including winning it all in 2006. While he has achieved some great individual numbers we can only hope that he and the modern day Cardinals will help the team add to their 10 World Series championships.
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