Tag Archive | "Anheuser Busch"

Cardinals To Break Ground On Ballpark Village

ST. LOUIS (January 30, 2013) – The St. Louis Cardinals and their development partner the Cordish Companies announced that they closed today on the financing for the construction of the $100 million first phase of Ballpark Village.  While preliminary site work began today, the team announced that a formal groundbreaking ceremony will be held on Friday, February 8th at 11 am on the construction site.

BallparkVillage

The $100 million first phase of Ballpark Village, which is anticipated to be completed by Opening Day 2014, will include the construction of 100,000 sq. feet of retail and entertainment space along Clark Street next to Busch Stadium.  The first phase also includes all of the streets, parking and site infrastructure to support the future phases of the seven-block $700 million mixed use project. 

The initial phase will be anchored by Cardinals Nation, Budweiser Brew House, and Live! at Ballpark Village. Cardinals Nation will be a first-of-its kind venue totaling over 30,000 square feet on three levels. Cardinals Nation includes a two story restaurant, a Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum, and a 300-plus seat seating deck with views into Busch Stadium.   A second building will house a 20,000 square foot two-story Anheuser-Busch venue with a festive rooftop party deck offering views into Busch Stadium.  The two signature structures will be joined by Live at Ballpark Village!, an indoor market place with a retractable canopy covering the event space designed to be a vibrant gathering space throughout the year.  The Cardinals and the Cordish Companies will announce additional details at the groundbreaking ceremony next week.

Ballpark Village (#bpv)
The construction of Ballpark Village represents the next step in the Cardinals vision for their investment in downtown St. Louis that began with the opening of the privately financed, $411 Busch Stadium in 2006.  Ballpark Village is an approximately $550 million mixed-use retail, entertainment, office, and residential district being developed in partnership by the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cordish Companies.  Spanning seven city blocks on the 10-acre site just north of Busch Stadium, Ballpark Village will be the country’s first fully integrated mixed-use development designed to deliver the excitement and energy of the game day experience to a new neighborhood outside the stadium walls.

The Cordish Companies
For generations, the Cordish family has grown The Cordish Companies into one of the world’s leading real estate development companies and a diverse group of successful entertainment-operating businesses.  Cordish Companies’ entertainment and mixed use projects include the Kansas City Power & Light District, Louisville Fourth Street Live, and The Power Plant & Pier IV in Baltimore.

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Whiteyball To TLR

I enjoy this time of year as a writer. Part of the reason for that is the United Cardinal Bloggers and their Roundtable project.

The project itself is interesting. One person asks a question and, this year, 30 writers from around the internet chime in with their opinions. All of the responses get gathered and posted onto one of the United Cardinal Blogger sites. Anytime you get that many opinions, you come up with some great material, some fun debate, and every once in a while another idea comes up.

I credit this year’s roundtable for this article.

Throughout the many discussions I have heard about Tony LaRussa over the last week, it seems that most of the fans out there have a large amount of respect for the man, even if they did not necessarily like him a whole lot. What I hear quite often, however, is how fans were not sure if he was the right man because of his complete opposite approach to the game from former skipper Whitey Herzog.

Fans remember The White Rat fondly and rightfully so. The decade of the 1980′s were a remarkable one for St. Louis. In his tenure, Herzog put three new pennants firmly in place in St. Louis and followed one up with a World Championship. Herzog’s has a spot on the wall for the Cardinals and a spot in most fan’s hearts.

The problem is, as much as we would all like to forget the time period between them, Tony LaRussa did not take over the team from Whitey Herzog. Whitey resigned from the Cardinals in 1990 and LaRussa took his position at the helm to start the 1996 season. Between them, as most of us know, whether we want to admit it or not, was Joe Torre.

Torre took over as skipper for the Cardinals with 58 games left in the 1990 season. In September of 1989, the Cardinals laid to rest one of their greatest fans. August “Gussie” Anheuser Busch Jr, who was instrumental in buying and keeping the franchise in St. Louis, had finally reached the end of his 90 year old life.

When 1990 rolled around, the ownership of the franchise had lost interest in owning a baseball club and it became apparent on the field. Free agents were not being attracted to the team, the goal had become very business oriented, and Torre was the figurehead that most fans seen as the problem.

The years that Torre was in charge would see the Cardinals finish second in their division one time and then never finish above third place again. Amazingly, Torre was able to produce a 351-354 record in his tenure with the team, playing the game with very little star power outside of shortstop Ozzie Smith. That’s not to say that the team did not have some quality players, but our friends at Baseball Reference list the top player in each of Torre’s years as follows: Willie McGee (1990), Ozzie Smith (1991), Bob Tewksbury (1992), Greg Jefferies (1993), Mark Whiten (1994), and Brian Jordan (1995). Not exactly the best players in the league at any point.

Torre was a good baseball man with a strong history in the game that was stuck with an ownership group that would not put the right pieces on the field for him to manage. His first full year in charge of the team they would finish 84-78 and in second place, the best finish of his tenure. He would be the first manager in St. Louis with at least five years as their manager to not make the World Series since Branch Rickey ran the team from 1919 to 1925.

We have since watched Joe Torre move on and accomplish great things in New York and perform adequately in Los Angeles before taking a position with Major League Baseball. We know he is a good manager and a capable baseball mind.

The brewery sold the franchise to a group of investors prior to the 1996 season. Torre had been released the year before and the new ownership group brought in manager Tony LaRussa to lead the team, which immediately made the playoffs that season. Brian Jordan was once again the best player on the team that season, but a transition was starting to happen under the new leadership. The ownership would invest in the ballclub and LaRussa would lead them.

Joe Torre was simply a victim of circumstance. A guy that was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It is a shame that his time is all but forgotten because of it.

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.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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The Cardinals In Time: Long Home Runs And Tony’s Arrival

During the offseason we have been taking a look at the past, giving readers a timeline of St. Louis baseball throughout history. Last time we learned about the some tough times for the Cardinals as the roster was weak, the front office was in shambles, and the team was going nowhere fast. In 1995 Anheuser-Busch put the team up for sale and the team finished the season without a manager. Who was coming in to take over?

Walt Jocketty wasted little time trying to turn things around after taking over as general manager of the Cardinals. He had to show a little patience, however, to get the manager he wanted. Joe Torre was out after roughly five rather lackluster years, and at the end of the 1995 season Jocketty got his man. He called up good friend Tony LaRussa and lured him to the Gateway City after spending ten years in Oakland, picking up three AL pennants and one World Series title.

Tony had his own way of doing things, and many fans initially balked at some of his decisions. The number one choice? Choosing to give a stronger portion of playing time to young shortstop Royce Clayton rather than stalwart and fan favorite Ozzie Smith. Ozzie still had a strong year at the plate, hitting .282/.358/.370 over 82 games, and his competition was weaker. Clayton had a .277/.321/.371 line.

The turnover in players between 1995 and 1996 was startling. The pitching rotation added Andy Benes and Todd Stottlemyre in the rotation as well as closer Dennis Eckersley, while the starting nine saw newcomers Gary Gaetti, Ron Gant, and old friend Willie McGee. The biggest switch on the field for the year was the actual field – the team returned to natural grass after using Astroturf since 1970.

The team started slowly, going just 41-40 in the first half. After the All-Star game, they started to climb. An eight game winning streak from August 30 to September 7 took Tony’s team from 2.5 back to 1.5 up, and they never looked back. After winning the division on the backs of Andy Benes’ 18 win season, the team ran into the machine known as the 1990’s Braves in the NLCS. They battled, but could not win out over the starting rotation of Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Denny Neagle. For a young Cardinals’ fan experiencing her first memories of Cardinals postseason baseball, this was a bittersweet end to the season. I still hold a grudge.

A 88-74 season in 1996 went almost completely backwards in 1997, as the team finished 73-89 and found themselves fourth in the five team NL Central. Rookie Matt Morris had a strong year for the starting rotation, finishing with a team best 12-9 record, 3.19 ERA, 217 innings pitched and 1.276 WHIP. This earned him second place in the Rookie of the Year voting.

Never over .500, Jocketty nevertheless made a July 31 trade with the A’s. The Cardinals passed Eric Ludwick, TJ Matthews and Blake Stein to the A’s in return for Mark McGwire. McGwire hit 24 home runs over the final two months, but only hit .253. In fact, no one on the team hit over .300 on the season. The closest was none other than Willie McGee, who hit .300 exactly. Four outfielders played in 115+ games – some things never change with LaRussa.

Does anyone remember anything about the 1998 season besides the home run chase? I do not. Considering Houston absolutely ran away with the division, winning 102 games, no one cared about anything besides waiting for Big Mac to hit his next blast. The team was already back 10.5 games at the break, and although they did put together an 18-7 September, they were much too far out of contention to ever put any pressure on the division leaders.

Yes, the real story for the Cardinals was McGwire. He and Cubs’ outfielder Sammy Sosa were neck and neck all season, trading blasts and actually becoming somewhat of friends over the course of the season. On September 7, McGwire tied the single season record of 61 home runs in a season, only to break it the next night with Roger Maris’ family in attendance, against Sosa’s Cubs no less! Baseball was on the way back up after having received such a large black eye with the 1994 strike. People were finding reasons to come back to the ballpark, and baseball was smiling again.

As for the team, 1999 was another forgetful year. I absolutely did not remember how dominant Houston was for a few years. It makes the Astros current issues that much more awful. This year did not have much to offer the Cardinals. McGwire had 65 home runs, and Kent Bottenfield had the only good year of his career, going 18-7, but this team was going nowhere fast, and no one seemed to care.

One interesting footnote to this season is 25 year old rookie starting pitcher Jose Jimenez. His season looks unremarkable, his career even more so, but for two games in 1999, Jimenez outdueled a future Hall of Famer. On June 25 in Arizona, Jimenez faced Randy Johnson and matched him out for out through the first eight innings. In the top of the ninth the Cardinals pushed a run across through two walks and a single to left. Jimenez closed out the ninth to finish a no hitter. It is not every day that a rookie outdoes Randy Johnson, but then he did it twice. Just two starts later the two squared off again, this time in St. Louis. Jimenez again came out on top of a 1-0 score, although this time the Cardinals only made him wait until the fourth to get a run, and he gave up two hits. These were literally the two greatest games of his career, and they came in the course of three games on the way to a 5-14, 5.85 ERA season.

2000 showed a team that started out very strong in April (17-8), then fluctuated for the next 4 months, playing a little better than .500 ball from May through August. However, two trades in July bringing relief pitcher Mike Timlin and veteran infielder Will Clark to the Cardinals primed the team to finish the year strong. Rookie pitcher Rick Ankiel showed his phenom status by going 11-7 with a 3.50 ERA, which earned him a second place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting. Newcomer Darryl Kile felt a career resurgence in his first year out of the thin Denver air and went 20-9, the only twenty win season of his career that ended too soon. All five starting pitchers had eleven or more wins.

On the offensive side, another newcomer in centerfielder Jim Edmonds led the team with a .295/.411/.583 batting line, racking up 103 walks, 167 strikeouts (does the term ‘free swinger’ mean anything to you?), 42 home runs and 108 runs batted in. With all that he eventually accomplished in St. Louis, it almost seems unreal that he was 30 years old already when he arrived to the Cardinals.

The team made a solid run in the postseason, pushing past the Braves in the Division Series despite a bout of wildness by starting pitcher Rick Ankiel. However, they were run over by the scorching hot Mets in the NLCS, and the Mets were the ones that went on to the Series, squaring off against the Yankees in the Subway Series.

Tony had pushed the team back into the upper half of baseball, and the team had the pieces in place to stay there for awhile. Would they?

Angela Weinhold covers the Cardinals for i70baseball.com and writes at Cardinal Diamond Diaries. You may follow her on Twitter here or follow Cardinal Diamond Diaries here.

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The Cardinals In Time: Gussie And Der Bingle

During the offseason we have been taking a look at the past, giving readers a timeline of St. Louis baseball throughout history. Last time we learned about Gussie Busch’s takeover of a team that was hitting a long stretch of down seasons. He was determined to bring winning back to St. Louis, but did he have the firepower?

Gussie Busch

Gussie Busch had a mind of his own, and he rarely enlisted the help of more than one person at a time. When he realized that he was investing a truckload of money into this team and not seeing much in the standings, he decided to put someone else in charge of the team in the general manager position. The only person on his staff at Anheuser-Busch that actually had any baseball experience was Dick Meyer. Meyer’s experience with baseball only extended to playing first base for Concordia Seminary in St. Louis while he was a student there.

He took the job, but was not a fan of being in the public eye, so he passed the job off as soon as possible. Meyer wanted Bing Devine to take the job. Devine had been running the Cardinals Triple A team in Rochester for six years and had been doing good things there. He wanted Bing to come in and do what he had been doing there in St. Louis. What Meyer did not know was that Gussie had gone out and talked to a friend of his in Chicago who told him that Frank Lane, the general manager of the White Sox, was on his way out of town, and if Gussie was smart he would pick him up.

Meyer was in a bind. He had hired Devine to come in and take over as GM, but Gussie went behind him to get Lane. Luckily for the Cardinals Bing was a patient man, and hung around with the team. Frank Lane was in charge, and he was making his “Trader Lane” moniker very apparent. Whereas Branch Rickey always wanted to trade a player a year too early than a year too late, Lane just wanted to make trades anytime, anywhere, and with anyone.

In Lane, the Cardinals had a GM that was willing to sell the farm for a group of wily vets or sell his stars for a bunch of kids, depending on his mood. At one point he had a trade in his mind for getting rid of Stan Musial, but thankfully Gussie Busch would have none of it. While the Cardinals were horrible in 1955, winding up in seventh, they still had some good players, one of which was named Bill Virdon. Virdon had a fantastic rookie season for a lackluster team, so good that he won the Rookie of the Year award. For whatever reason, Lane turned around and traded him 24 games into the 1956 season, claiming that his eyesight was going bad and Virdon would wash out of baseball quickly. Eleven seasons later Virdon retired with a career .267/.316/.379 line. Washing out of baseball indeed…

Ken Boyer

The other key rookie to the 1955 season was Ken Boyer. Boyer stepped into the lineup as the everyday third baseman, a position he would hold down for eleven years with St. Louis. Going into 1956 Boyer was poised to have a breakout season, and breakout he did – quickly becoming one of the team leaders along with stalwart Stan Musial and the solid Wally Moon. Together, along with the arms of Vinegar Bend Mizell, Murry Dickson and Herm Wehmeier helped the Cardinals climb out of the National League basement, finishing around .500 and back up to fourth place.

“Trader Lane” kept up his busy ways in 1957, but Gussie Busch was growing tired of being left out of the loop. He wanted to know what was going on behind the scenes, and felt that, as owner (not to mention the guy who writes the checks) he had a right to be told who was being traded away/for before it happened. When Lane continued to try to fly under the radar of the boisterous owner, Gussie grew more and more frustrated.

Finally Lane put together a trade that broke everything into the open. He made plans with the Philadelphia Phillies to trade Boyer and Harvey Haddix for Phillies icon Richie Ashburn and another player. Busch flipped his lid and absolutely refused to let Lane make the trade. When Lane realized he was being handcuffed, he just up and quit, walking away and right into the GM job for the Cleveland Indians. Bing Devine, hidden away in the Cardinals’ front office for almost three full years, was ready and waiting to step in. His first act? Cancel out that Boyer trade before it went public!

Having succeeded there, he looked to see how the Cardinals could continue to improve on the 87-67 finish they had in 1957. At this point there were several solid players on the club beyond Musial (who kept on in his incredible career and finished second in the 1957 MVP race) and Boyer. Wally Moon and Joe Cunningham both had solid years, at the plate, Larry Jackson, Lindy McDaniel and Sam Jones were holding up the rotation, and the Cardinals were starting to look like they were contenders again.

In December of 1957, Devine made his first big trade, swapping pitchers Willard Schmidt, Ted Wieand and Marty Kutyna to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielders Curt Flood and Joe Taylor. If you have never heard of any of those players besides Flood, you are not alone, as none of the other four would really ever make a name for themselves. Flood would not really break out as a solid player until 1961, but keep his name in mind, as it will become important.

The team at the time was a very close-knit bunch. Players ate together after the game, there were really no loaners, and in a city like St. Louis which was still very segregated everyone on the team made sure that the black players were accepted and welcomed. No matter who you were on the team, from superstars like Stan Musial to young kids like Curt Flood, you worked with your teammates and passed along any wisdom you could.

Fred Hutchinson

The Cards’ manager at the time was Fred Hutchinson. “Hutch” did a great job making sure the team worked together cohesively; unfortunately he could not get them to put runs up on that scoreboard. At one point the team went forty-two innings without scoring a run! Poor Hutch could not pull wins out of that team, and Gussie Busch was becoming impatient. He fired his manager with just ten games left in the 1958 season, and the team limped to a 72-78 finish, sliding back down to fifth in the National League.

Bing Devine and others were frustrated with Gussie’s impatience and eventual removal of Hutchinson as manager, but they could not argue against the beer baron’s wishes. Gussie decided that he wanted Solly Hemus as manager for 1959. Hemus had spent parts of eight seasons playing in the birds on the bat, and when he left to play for Philadelphia in one of “Trader Lane’s” famous traders he personally thanked Gussie for his years in St. Louis and said he would come back anytime. Gussie was impressed by that statement and it convinced him that Hemus would be a great manager for the Cardinals.

Wrong. The following two and a half seasons were borderline traumatic for St. Louis fans, as Hemus made one boneheaded decision after another. He was a solid baseball man, but his incapability to use his black players was not a great move for the team or the city. He refused to use a young Bob Gibson after becoming convinced that the lanky pitcher would never amount to anything. The worst offense, however, was far and away his decision to bench Musial.

That was not an erroneous statement: Hemus started benching Stan the Man. Musial had a down year in 1959, hitting a rather mortal .255/.364/.428, but part of that was the way Hemus utilized both him and Boyer – having them bunt and hit behind the runner rather than just play the game the way they knew how. The thought of not playing the man every day had everyone up in arms, and the actualization of it was worse. How could a manager who so refused to play some of his most talented players for one reason or another expect to be around very long? The team floundered to a 71-83 finished, back down to seventh in the National League.

More change was coming for the Cardinals. Better days had to be coming… right?

Angela Weinhold covers the Cardinals for i70baseball.com and writes at Cardinal Diamond Diaries. You may follow her on Twitter here or follow Cardinal Diamond Diaries here.

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