The week of Thanksgiving brings a time for all of us to be thankful for family, friends, health, any a myriad of other things that each of us finds important. Here at I-70 Baseball, we take this time to show some thanks to some players that spent some time wearing both of the uniforms of our two teams, the Cardinals and Royals.
The requirements are that simple: the inducted player had to play for both the Cardinals and Royals in his career. From there, it is pure judgement of I-70 Baseball to say they deserve enshrinement in our “Hall Of Legends”. This year we induct five new legends to join the inaugural group of five from last season. The original five inductees were manager Whitey Herzog, pitchers Dan Quisenberry and Danny Jackson, outfielder Reggie Sanders, and catcher Darrell Porter.
The next inductee is second baseman Mark Grudzielanek.
Grudzielanek’s career began outside of the Missouri borders. In fact, to be more specific, his major league baseball career began outside of the borders of the United States with his 1995 debut for the Montreal Expos. A speedy second baseman with what could only be described as “gap power”, Grudzielanek would propel himself to his first All Star Game during just his second season in the league. That 1996 season would see him achieve over 200 hits for the one and only time in his career. It would also mark his only appearance in the mid summer classic.
After the first three and a half seasons of his career, Grudzielanek would be traded from Montreal out west to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Los Angeles would be home for Grudzielanek until another trade prior to the 2003 season would land him in Chicago with the Cubs.
With 1456 career hits, Grudzielanek would sign a free agent contract to join the St. Louis Cardinals for the 2005 season. His only season in Cardinal red was productive and solid for a franchise that had a revolving door at the position throughout the first decade of the twenty first century. While he was anything but spectacular, he was solid and brought some semblance of normalcy to the position, playing in 137 games and driving in 59 runs over the course of the season. His RBI total that year would be the second highest of his career.
The Cardinals would fail to retain him after that season, however, and Grudzielanek would make the trip across interstate 70 to join the Kansas City Royals for the next three seasons. From 2006-2008, he would provide more of the same, solid play at second base that had defined his career. In 2007, he would be recognized for his defensive prowess with the Gold Glove Award at second base. He would keep his average near the .300 mark, his runs batted in near 50, and his strikeouts below 70 for the three season that he wore Royal Blue.
Grudzielanek would finish his 15 year career with 2040 hits, 391 doubles, 640 runs batted in, 946 runs scored, and a .289 career batting average.
For his consistent play, his Gold Glove defense, and because sometimes you need a player that is dependable over one that is flashy, I-70 Baseball places Mark Grudzielanek in the Hall Of Legends.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
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