The United Cardinal Bloggers have requested that the member blogs weigh in with their choices for inductees into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall Of Fame.
There are some rules to this little game, so let’s go over those first:
– Players or executives with their name/number retired by the Cardinals are assumed to already be in
– Players or executives who are enshrined in Cooperstown with significant St. Louis ties are not eligible
– Players, managers, coaches, front office and broadcasters are all eligible
– Current active players are not eligible, all players must be retired
The Cardinals are building a new physical Hall Of Fame as part of the Ballpark Village project across the street from Busch Stadium. It figures to be a shrine to those that impacted the St. Louis Cardinals throughout their career.
That being said, here’s a look at five people that I believe deserve to be included in the St. Louis Cardinals Hall Of Fame.
Curt Flood – Outfielder – 1958-1969
Flood’s stats may not quite stack up to what most Hall Of Fame standards require but it is important to note the overall impact that Flood had on the game.
Flood’s now famous challenge of the reserve clause gave the game the free agency that we know today. It also led to a better environment for the players, allowing them to be able to share in the popularity of the sport by demanding higher salaries and greater rewards for being the reason the fans were coming to games anyway.
He doesn’t get in solely on his merits of changing the landscape of the game, however. The man wasn’t a push over on the field, either. He posted a .293 batting average and 1,853 hits during his time in St. Louis. He also earned seven Gold Glove awards and three All Star selections while wearing the birds-on-the-bat.
Ray Lankford – Outfielder – 1990-2001, 2004
The Cardinal teams of the 1990’s are long forgotten by many fans, especially the teams of the early 90’s before the arrival of Tony LaRussa. Those teams were owned by a company that no longer wanted them and the product on the field showed that fact. Ray Lankford was the bright spot of that entire era.
Lankford, who hit more homeruns than any other player inside of Busch Stadium II, was a well-rounded player that hit over 200 home runs and stole over 200 bases while a Cardinal. He played the game hard and his body broke down towards the end of his career, but he was a product of the system being drafted and retiring as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. His production in the 1990’s places him in the Cardinals’ Hall Of Fame as the iconic member of an entire generation of Cardinal fans.
Ted Simmons – Catcher – 1968-1980
Possibly the easiest selection of the all, Ted Simmons draws attention from most Cardinal fans as being deserving of enshrinement in Cooperstown, not just in St. Louis.
Simmons is often remembered as the most prolific offensive catcher in the team’s history. With 172 home runs while with the Cardinals and six All Star selections, it’s obvious that he was an integral part of the team during his tenure. Simmons finished in the top-16 of MVP voting six times during his St. Louis career, though he would never win one.
He would play eight more years outside of St. Louis and compile almost 250 home runs total over his career.
Darryl Kile – Pitcher – 2000-2002
It is hard to believe that Kile was only with the Cardinals for such a short period of time. There may not be a single player that left a more lasting impression on and off the field.
A loving father, devoted Christian, and leader in the clubhouse, Kile helped Cardinal fans remember what it was like to have a true “ace” on the mound in St. Louis again. He nearly won a Cy Young award and found himself on the All Star roster his first year in St. Louis. It was his work with his teammates, his visibility as a family man, and his untimely death that made him a part of Cardinal history forever. His number adorns the wall of the bullpen inside a black circle with white lettering that reads “DK 57”, a symbol easily recognizable by most any Cardinal fan.
Jim Edmonds – Outfielder – 2000-2007
Jim Edmonds was a part of an extremely successful time in St. Louis, becoming one-third of the “MV3” and engraving spots in people’s memories for years to come.
Under the guidelines of the project, Edmonds is the only one of the MV3 available for enshrinement, save possibly Scott Rolen due to expectations of his coming retirement. Edmonds was famous for his game saving catches, his tremendous home runs and his charismatic style. He won six gold gloves, a silver slugger award, and three All Star appearances while with the team.
A team level Hall Of Fame allows the franchise to honor players that fans remember fondly despite the overall concern of the numbers the Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown looks for. These five players deserve enshrinement as some of the best Cardinals of all time.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
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