Tag Archive | "Ozzie Smith"

Heyward Stands To Revitalize Link Among African-American Cardinal Fans

It is far from a secret that the glory days of there being a deep African-American population on Major League Baseball rosters have passed. Whether a renaissance is possible in a game that hit its lowest percentage of African-American players since the integration of the game in the late ’40s last year is tied to a number of factors, but as the decline has regularly continued in recent years, the signs are not particularly encouraging right now.

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However, the minority presence is far from devoid in the game. If anything, it is more diverse than ever, with Americans of all shades, a heavy Latin influence from all over the world and a growing Japanese presence as well. But while the MLB’s original diversity point is struggling, it is far from dead. Turning on the World Series, there were the presences of Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson. The All-Star Game was littered with high-caliber talent of color, such as Derek Jeter, David Price, Adam Jones, Josh Harrison and the 2013 National League MVP Andrew McCutchen. There are emergent stars like Michael Brantley, Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton as well. At times the Philadelphia Phillies started as many as five black players at once, while the Atlanta Braves featured an all-black outfield.

Yet in St. Louis, there has been a void of regularly seen, impact African-American players for over a decade. Historically, the Cardinals have featured a strong lineage of African-American players. Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and Ozzie Smith line the walls of the Baseball Hall of Fame with Cardinal caps attached to their images. Each carried the torch in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s as the faces of the franchise and continues to be synonymous with the team to this day.

Outside of the 1% of greatness in Cardinal history, there are many other past players who stood as greats of their eras. Willie McGee, Vince Coleman, Curt Flood, Ray Lankford, Brian Jordan and Lee Smith all were as standouts of their time and vital contributors to Cardinal history. But gradually that presence has dissipated to the point where over the past three years, only five African-American players (Adron Chambers, Sam Freeman, Xavier Scruggs, Jermaine Curtis and Tommy Pham) have made it to the Majors in St. Louis, and all had a bit part in the big picture at best.

While the Cardinals as a team have thrived over the past decade, there has been an undercurrent of disenchantment from a large portion of the Cardinal faithful: its African-American fanbase. While approving of the success of the team, in spite of it all, there has been a genuine desire to see more African-American faces on the field as a part of it, as there has been in generations past.

The deficiency has even sparked notions of there being intentionally exclusionary politics within the organization, which while unsubstantiated have picked up steam in the African-American community. And while most have not abandoned the team, there are some whose rooting interest is pointed in the direction of individual players such as McCutchen, Jeter, CC Sabathia, Matt Kemp or St. Louisan Ryan Howard, all of whom are high-impact African-American presences of the same ilk of players that they grew up rooting for in St. Louis.

Yet on Monday, there were two different types of excitement when the team’s trade to acquire outfielder Jason Heyward was announced. There were the baseball fans who had the natural excitement of adding a new wrinkle to the team’s everyday offering. But there was also the relieved enthusiasm of the slightly disenfranchised black following that breathed out a resounding “finally” in what the trade added to their home team: a long ,lost African-American presence to get behind every day.

Sure, his production potential was obviously an exciting element, but having “one of our own” to get behind is an unparalleled excitement that has been lost for so long. It brings on elements of an exciting nostalgia to the contemporary delight of such a historically good run for the city’s most beloved franchise. There is no caveat to the Cardinals now, because they are now for the any and every man once again.

Heyward is a young, talented and needed property on the field, which is an undeniable boost in the potential of the Cardinal baseball result. But perhaps of equal importance, he becomes a representative presence for a portion of the fan base that simply wanted to have a seat at the table—and feel that they belonged at it.

Those days are over for the time being, and something tells me there will be a wildly popular Cardinal in right field come Opening Day, for many a reason.

 

Posted in Cardinals, FeaturedComments (3)

Connecting With The Cardinals: Brian Jordan Interview

In the 1990’s, few players surpassed Brian Jordan in a Cardinal uniform. As a right fielder from 1992-1998, he combined an elite level of athleticism and training with some of the game’s great minds to become one of the best outfielders in the National League.

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After being drafted by the Cardinals in the 1988 MLB Draft, his main job of the time was football, where he played three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons as a safety, where he played to such a high level that he made the 1991 Pro Bowl after leading the team in tackles.

After the Cardinals paid him to a new deal that included a sizeable signing bonus to became exclusively a baseball player, he made it to St. Louis in 1992 and began a career that would carry over 15 years and see him become an All-Star in his second professional league as well. He was a central part of the Cardinal rebuilding effort in the mid and late 90’s, with his peak seasons coming in 1996, when he drove in 104 runs for the surprising resurgent Cardinals, who finished a game short of a World Series. In his final year in St. Louis, he hit a career-high 25 home runs and was protection behind Mark McGwire during his record-setting summer.

Despite leaving St. Louis in 1999 for the Atlanta Braves and later the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers, the impression he left on St. Louis baseball has far from dissipated. He was an essential part the rebuilding effort for the organization that has carried over to the product that takes the field to this day.

On a more individual level, Jordan was a part of a picture that represented much more. As a local teenage fan of the game of the sport of the African-American race, he was a part of a particularly inspiring vision of the Cardinals for me—and I was far from alone. Joining Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Ray Lankford, Bernard Gilkey and more on a team that had an identity that inspired many young African-Americans to get behind the Cardinals, and by association, get into and follow the sport as well. While the team has continued to be as successful as ever since that era, that is an element that has all but evaporated from the organization’s image since.

Since his playing days came to an end in 2006, he has gone on to become a part of the Braves broadcasting team, and penned a children’s book on baseball, entitled I Told You I Can Play. However, he still makes the occasional return to St. Louis to remain a part of the Cardinal experience as well.

It was during one such visit during visit during the Cardinals Care Winter Up that Jordan made such a return. Originally I requested just two or three minutes of his time for a few questions on his days with the organization, but quickly the conversation expanded, and it changed from a stop at an elevator to us having a seat to cover a wide range of relevant topics to his experience both on and off the field—and the culture of the sport as a whole.

 

I-70: You were with the Cardinals during a time that the organization was undergoing a lot of changes. Do you have any memories from your time here that jump out in front of others?

Jordan: I always brag about the fans here. Any chance I get to come back to St. Louis is really an honor. I loved playing here and I wish I could have played my whole career here, but unfortunately business is business and I had to move on. But St. Louis is a great city and the environment within the organization is even better. There’s a family environment within the organization; they stick with their guys that come in and play hard and it is a great tradition to have.

 

I-70: What moment or stretch stands out the most to you as a Cardinal?

Jordan: ’96 was definitely a rewarding season, with the winning tradition returning to St. Louis. Being here when Mark McGwire broke all of the records and being a part of all of that was unbelievable too.

 

I-70: You speak about the winning tradition, how was it coming through the Cardinal organization and the all of the figures that you come across being a part of it?

Jordan: Being mentored by Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee, those are the type of memories that are treasured away for life. They pretty much taught me the game, so to see an Ozzie sticking with the organization and Willie coming back the way he did was tremendous.

 

I-70: It’s good that you bring them up, because at the time you were coming around, there were a plethora of great black ballplayers in the fold, between Ozzie, Willie, Vince Coleman, Terry Pendleton and all the way down to you. How do you feel about the state of having diversity in the game, specifically within the African-American community?

Jordan: Disappointed honestly. I’m doing what I can do to help change that, because that was a part of that too. Even after St. Louis, I played with a lot of great African-American ballplayers, but you’re right, its dwindling down. It’s about the expense of the game and the lack of opportunities for inner city kids, that where the parents don’t have the money to put them with the traveling league ball clubs that are going to showcase them to get them to that next level.

It’s a shame, and unless something is done with former athletes and Major League Baseball stepping in, we’ll continue to see it. Because if you look up, Major League Baseball is becoming global and not only are athletes coming from here, you’ve got the Latin and Japanese players too, and everybody is coming into the fold and opportunities are becoming slimmer and slimmer.

 

I-70: The African-American presence is also a part of the cultural history as well, and that presence can also be a gateway to the past as well, do you agree?

Jordan: Oh definitely. Being in Atlanta now, I always get a chance to talk with Hank Aaron, who fought for our rights to play the game about this. And it’s a shame because number 42 is probably rolling over in his grave right now. Jackie Robinson all that he fought for and withstood for us to see that we aren’t playing anymore. And also, the history is not being taught in schools anymore, so a lot of young kids don’t get to be see it anymore.

 

I-70: Going back into your career a bit further and the ’96 season, Tony (La Russa) said that season stood out the most to him when thinking about his tenure in St. Louis. What was it like after the years of struggle coming through the organization and nearly reaching the World Series?

Jordan: It was a huge turnaround, because you know coming up with Joe Torre, there were a lot of young players and not many veterans to you learn how to win ballgames. Also, there wasn’t the pitching staff in place to win a lot either.

When Tony got here, he changed the whole atmosphere and discipline of the team. Everybody knows that he is really disciplined and he’s in-tune, controls the game and is very strategic in what he does. He brought that to the whole organization and put players in positions to succeed. I think that was the difference and being a part of that for the fans here in St. Louis as well was a major thing.

 

I-70: Was it about buying into his philosophies and having a restart with the ownership turnover and Walt Jocketty joining up as well?

Jordan: A lot of winning attitudes all came in at once. The DeWitts saw it all through and were focused on restoring the tradition of St. Louis baseball and it made all of the difference.

I-70: I believe you are the only player that played for all of the managers that are being inducted into the Hall of Fame at one point or another in their career, as well as played with most of the inductees as well.

Jordan: This may be the first Hall of Fame ceremony that I actually attend too because of that. You’ve got the three managers, but you’ve also got Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine who I played behind, as well as Frank Thomas who I played against in college and into the majors. It’s a tremendous opportunity to see some greatness and all of those guys deserve it.

 

I-70: What was it like to play behind a staff like you had in Atlanta?

Jordan: Outside of playing in St. Louis, as I wanted to do my whole career, playing with the Braves and the best threesome in baseball in Glavine, Smoltz and Maddux….man, what an honor.

Maddux was the one of the greatest pitchers ever to play behind. Didn’t overpower you, but did his homework and his preparation was tremendous. I threw out my first runner at first base from the outfield because Maddux told me I was going to do it before the game (laughing). He picked the game before the game and told me when I was going to do it. Unbelievable, but that’s just how good Greg Maddux was.

 

I-70: Was it just his brain for the game and how he saw it? Being a step ahead of everybody else?

Jordan: He was a step ahead of it, and when you can have control of the ball and put it where you want it constantly, that made him a Hall of Famer.

 

I-70: And with Glavine, I would think the way he delivered the ball on the outside corner that he made sure you had plenty of work as well.

Jordan: He was relentless, because you knew what he was going to throw, but you still couldn’t do anything about it. He never gave in to hitters and he never changed. He stayed the same until the end when he had to change because he wasn’t getting that outside corner like five inches off the plate anymore, but he was incredible.

But he was a professional, that’s the thing to say about my man Glavine. And he went about his business the right way all the time.

 

I-70: It was recently the year anniversary of Stan Musial passing. Do you have special memories that you can recall with him?

Jordan: Another great thing about the Cardinals is that they keep close to the tradition. All the legends and all the great players always come back and share stories with the young kids coming up. For me, he used to come in the locker room and play his harmonica all the time and share his stories in the game of baseball. And those are things that you never forget, and not many people do that. Not many legends come back and share like that, and St. Louis has a rich history of doing that.

 

I-70: I imagine coming through the system you worked with George Kissell a lot as well.

Jordan: Oh man! Another guy that if you talk about greatness? George Kissell was relentless. He stayed on every young player and made us better. And I was raw; a young football player trying to learn this game, but he took me under his wing. I had great respect for him and the knowledge that he had for the game.

 

I-70: Obviously with your football background having the physical tools for the game was never a problem. But you said recently on the MLB Network that it wasn’t until your 13th season you felt like you understood the game. Do you think that foundation in this system cut that learning curve so you had the longevity that you did?

Jordan: Absolutely. I didn’t play a lot of minor league games and they were the reason why, because they corrected those weaknesses and fixed them early and I was able to work them and make adjustments.

When I have guys like George Kissell, Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee mentoring me along the way, that eventually I would get it. And as the years went on I continued to learn and I turned my raw ability into learning the game. And I wish it all could have clicked 13 years ago (laughing), and there’s no telling what kind of career I could have had.

 

I-70: Well, it was a pretty impressive one all the same. Wrapping up, is there anything that you’d express to the Cardinal community that you started out with now, after all of these years from that start?

Jordan: St. Louis is the best. I’ve always been a Cardinal and that hasn’t changed and I’d really like to thank the fans for that.

 

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Cardinals Officially Unveil Team Hall of Fame

Today, Cardinals ownership topped the bill at the annual Cardinals Care Winter Warm Up, by officially announcing the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum, which will be a part of the soon-to-debut Ballpark Village construct. While the existence of the Hall of Fame has long been a known quantity to the BPV experience, until today the exact features, location and inductees where not known.

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At noon today, flanked by former manager Tony La Russa and hords of gathered media, the duo of DeWitts, team chairman William Jr and team president Bill III, clarified the entire situation, announcing not only the Hall of Fame’s structure, but the inaugural induction class, the voting process and the structure of the experience within Ballpark Village. It was made clear that Hall of Fame, made possible through a co-op with Edward Jones, would have an inaugural class of 22 members, a mixture of currently retired numbers and dignitaries, honored within Busch Stadium Cardinal past and other inductees to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

The initial class was determined by a mixture of voters from the long-standing team media, Hall of Fame members and varied baseball association, noted as the Red Ribbon Committee. This group decided upon the deserving honorees as well as the rubric for future inductees to come.

The initial 22 Cardinal class will be compromised of Jim Bottomley, Ken Boyer, Lou Brock, Gussie Busch, Jack Buck, Dizzy Dean, Frankie Frisch, Bob Gibson, Chick Hafey, Jesse Haines, Whitey Herzog, Rogers Hornsby, Tony La Russa, Joe Medwick, Johnny Mize, Stan Musial, Branch Rickey, Red Schoendienst, Enos Slaughter, Ozzie Smith, Billy Southworth and Bruce Sutter.

The curriculum for the forthcoming Hall of Fame is a unique interaction between expert analysis and fan interation. DeWitt III expounded,  “When a new class is inducted any given year, there are two cases in the gallery that will showcase the memorabilia of the new inductees.”  To be eligible a player must have played a minimum of three years for the Cardinals and have been retired for three years. There will be two categories that the Hall is based on, a veterans committee of players that competed more than 40 years ago and a modern class of Cardinals since then.

The Red Ribbon Committee will nominate a ballot of 6-10 modern players from a group of 25, and then elect one member from the veterans group themselves, largely to preserve the integrity of the Hall. At that point, the fans will become involved. Starting March 1st, at Cardinals.com, there will be an open for vote two members from the modern ballot. A fourth member can be elected in any given year, if cho0sen, as a deserving coach, executive or prominent off field contributor.

At that point, then the team will continue forward with the pageantry of the event. The full class will be announced in late April, and plaques will mark inductees into the Hall. The inaugural induction class will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame on Saturday, August 16 in a weekend celebration at Ballpark Village and Busch Stadium.

The Hall exhibit and plaques will remain a free display outside of the Cardinal Museum, while there will be an entry fee to the full museum, with relics and memboribila from both the Cardinal Hall of Famers and great moments of the franchise’s extensive history. Many of these items have come directly from the current and former Cardinals themselves, holdovers from the former Cardinal Museum located with the Bowling Hall of Fame, private auctions and even the Baseball Hall of Fame itself.

The forward aimed goal of Ballpark Village is to bring an expansive element to the Cardinal experience, and round out both game days and the downtown experience, overall. Yet in their usual habit, the Cardinals will move forward with a conscious grasp on the past. The Cardinal Hall of Fame looks be a fair balance between both, and will make sure that the past is both present and represented in the years to come.

Posted in Cardinals, I-70 Special Reports, MLBComments (0)

LaRussa Carved Distinct Path On The Road To Cooperstown

Monday morning, the inevitable became reality as the announcement was made that Tony LaRussa had been selected for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. For the most successful manager born within the last century, the decision was honestly not a difficult one to reach. Rather, it is a due that shows that persistence truly does pay off in the end.

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LaRussa was the backbone and identity shaping presence for two of the memorable runs for a pair of baseball’s most distinguished franchises. And despite not ever being one to shy away from stating his mind or bulldogging his tactics through anything—or anyone, who may doubt them, the results stood for themselves: LaRussa was simply the best at what he did for over three decades.

After cutting his managerial teeth with the Chicago White Sox, it was in Oakland where first made his major bones by building the American League powerhouse of the late 80’s and early 90’s around the Hall of Fame (and Hall of Fame-caliber) talents of Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, Mark McGwire, Dave Stewart and Jose Canseco, among others. After taking the head job in 1986, over the next nine seasons the A’s won three American League pennants, with the peak being their victory in the 1989 World Series.

However, it was his tenure in St. Louis that will stand as the definitive run of his career. When he arrived in St. Louis, the Cardinal franchise was on a downturn. After being the most successful National League franchise of the 1980’s, they had not been to the playoffs in 10 seasons and had struggled to keep their head above water within their own division.

All of that changed when LaRussa took the helm.

The organization underwent sweeping changes in 1996 with the new management group headed by Bill DeWitt took over, and one of the first changes made was to acquire LaRussa to lead a revival from the bench. With new general manager Walt Jocketty, he was armed with a new look Cardinal club, and LaRussa swiftly led the group back to the top of the newly minted National League Central and within one game of the World Series. Over the following 15 years, he would reach the postseason 10 more times, including three World Series, with victories in 2006 and 2011. By the time he decided to call it quits, his mark on the franchise was indisputable. Of his 2,728 victories, 1,408 came in the Cardinal uniform, making him the most successful St. Louis manager ever by 367 wins. He won seven divisional titles and never went more than three years without reaching the postseason. All things considered, he restored the luster to the Cardinal name.

However, these means were not reached without some friction along the way. His non-compromising style was unapologetic and was not questioned without one of his signature glares, the look of which you could almost read him attempting to gather himself to not respond with too much hostility, verbally at least. This approach caused notably friction between him and even his most talented players. Ozzie Smith mostly stayed away from the team during his tenure, due to his disagreement with how his final year was handled under LaRussa. His rift with the Rasmus family is well known, as was the resistance between Scott Rolen and himself, leading to Rolen’s departure. TLR’s persistence on doing things his way annually ruffled even the feathers of the masses that came out to support his team.

But ultimately, his way proved more often than not to be the best way. If there is one thing he cannot be tied to, it is the textbook. His championship teams in ’06 and ’11 stand in as a stark reminder that he had a skill for making the unlikely seem like the best option, and ultimately triumphing. His reliance on a succeeding with an powerful American League approach in the slash-and-dash National League furthered this methodology. As a manager, he staunchly stood by his guys, and took the hits when things went wrong. Case in point remaining in the blame he takes for the improbable collapse of Rick Ankiel’s career. He believed in players earning their stripes, but once they did, he would stick with them throughout the rest of their career. Much of this is shown in his career-spanning relationship with Dave Duncan, as well as the carryover of many of the standouts of his Oakland days contributing in St. Louis as well. The acquisition, and coaching return, of Mark McGwire only furthers the point: once you were in, you were in for life.

He believed in the game being played the right way, and quite often, whether it was clear in the moment or not, that was his way. Although the motive may have seemed seemed cloudy, the outcome often was not. While he never captured the people the way that Herzog did, nor was he a face of the organization in the way that Matheny is, but he would not have been who he was if he had been the congenial type. It was not in his nature to be welcoming or too often engaging, but it was his focus and demeanor which often raised his teams above both their talent and pay level. Regardless of how many MVP’s, Cy Young or Rookie of the Year winners he may have had in tow, there was no doubt who ran the show. It was undoubtedly Tony’s team.

In the end, success breed acceptance, and he became a part of the Cardinal family, as his permanently shelved #10 on the outfield walls proves. Only two others have outdone him in the wins category, Connie Mack and John McGraw. Of that trio, him and Mack are the only coaches in North American sports history to manage over 5,000 games.

And while he heads to Cooperstown with joined by another duo of greats in his contemporaries Bobby Cox and another former Cardinal skipper in Joe Torre, with all due respects, neither did what Tony did to reach this pinnacle. LaRussa will on in time as a complicated, but undeniably incomparable presence in both Cardinal and baseball lore.

Posted in Cardinals, Cooperstown Choices 2013, MinorsComments (1)

Yahoo: Albert Pujols Deserves Respect

I am well aware that the headline to this article puts me in the minority and will cause me to face the ire of Cardinal Nation, but I cannot help it.

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I wrote over at Yahoo! tonight about the facts behind my standpoint that Albert Pujols deserves respect from Cardinal fans.

He gave the St. Louis Cardinals, their fans, and myself 11 years of amazing baseball memories.  Meanwhile, he made one bad choice – to leave the team.

I don’t feel the choice outweighs the memories.

There was a commercial that aired a few years back that pointed out that the generation of fans before myself got to watch Bob Gibson pitch, Lou Brock run, and Ozzie Smith field.  My generation?  We got to watch Pujols do…everything.

That’s the player he was.  Dominant, game changing, something never seen before, and the guy that you knew could do something you never thought possible on any given day.

Fans will react in many different ways when the see Albert on their screens this week wearing a uniform other than a Cardinals one in a game the Cardinals are a part of.  Some will shrug it off.  Some will be full of hatred and spit whatever vile phrases that come to mind.

I’ll choose to take a page from Jack Buck.

Pardon me while I stand and applaud.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
You can follow him on Twitter by 
clicking here.

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Time Capsule: Cardinals Videos From The 1980s

Spring Training games are in full effect with all 30 teams,  including the St. Louis Cardinals, took to the field to start getting ready for the season.  Meanwhile, Major League Baseball has opened the vaults and given the world access to video clips that were previously locked away.

The Cardinals were a powerhouse team in the National League in the 1980’s.  Three appearances in the World Series, including winning the championship in 1982, as well as some key moments throughout the decade had many people watching the team very closely.

Today, i70baseball brings you nine classic moments from the Cardinals in the 1980’s, courtesy of Major League Baseball.

Use the navigation controls below to take a look at each of the videos.  Leave us some comments and tell us the moments you most remember from the 1980’s in St. Louis.

<b>Bruce Sutter Closes Out 1982 World Series</b>

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Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Cardinals Release Promotional Schedule

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (January 8, 2013) – The St. Louis Cardinals have released their much anticipated 2013 promotional schedule, consisting of at least 34 giveaways and highlighted by a series of bobbleheads and jerseys, including a replica of the brand new 2013 “St. Louis” home alternate jersey.

From Stan Musial to Allen Craig, the 2013 promotional schedule celebrates Cardinal greats of the past and present. Highlights include the Stan Musial harmonica (April 12th), a 28”Allen Craig bat presented by Rawlings (April 27th) and a pair of Cardinals High Sports Socks (May 19th) – a uniform classic re-popularized last season during “High Socks Sundays” by players like Jon Jay, Daniel Descalso and Jason Motte. The Edward Jones Hall of Fame Weekend features commemorative items highlighting St. Louis’s most popular hall of famers including the Ozzie Smith Gold Glove Bobblehead presented by Ameren Missouri (July 19th), a wearable adult replica 1940’s Red Schoendienst Jersey sponsored by Delta Air Lines (July 20th), as well as a one-of-a-kind Replica Musial Bronze Statue – just like the one displayed outside of the Busch Stadium Team Store – courtesy of Edward Jones (July 21st). Fans will even receive Fredbird-themed giveaway items at his first-ever Birthday Bash Weekend in August, including a Team Canvas Print presented by Coke Zero (August 23rd), Fredbird Kids Cap sponsored by Ice Mountain (August 24th) and Build-A-Bear Workshop Fredbird stuffed bear (August 25th).

Tickets for many of the 2013 promotional item game dates are already available by purchasing one of several specially tailored ticket packs themed around the promotional items. Highlighted ticket packs include the Bobblehead Pack, featuring all four of the 2013 bobblehead collection and the Jersey Pack containing all six of the replica jersey giveaways this season. All Cardinals Ticket Packs are on sale now at the team’s website, cardinals.com/packs.

 

Bobblehead Pack – Tickets on sale now at cardinals.com/packs
Tue. April 9 vs. CIN  
Sun. April 28 vs. PIT Carlos Beltran Bobblehead (First National Bank)
Fri. July 5 vs. MIA Mike Shannon Bobblehead with voice chip
Fri. July 19 vs. SD Ozzie Smith Gold Glove Bobblehead (Ameren Missouri)
Fri. Sept. 13 vs. SEA Mike Matheny Catcher Bobblehead (Coca Cola/Dierbergs)

 

Jersey Pack – Tickets on sale now at cardinals.com/packs
Sat. April 13 vs. MIL Adult Replica Alternate Jersey (Lumiere Casino)
Mon. April 29 vs. CIN  
Sat. May 11 vs. COL Women’s Replica Mike Matheny Jersey (AT&T)
Sat. June 1 vs. SF Kids Replica Molina Batting Practice Jersey (Powerade/Shop ‘n Save)
Wed. June 19 vs. CHI  
Sat. July 6 vs. MIA Adult Replica Holliday Home Jersey (Tickets.Com)
Sat. July 20 vs. SD Adult Replica 1940’s Red Schoendienst Jersey (Delta Air Lines)
Thu. Aug. 8 vs. LAD  
Sat. Sept. 7 vs. PIT Adult Replica 1980’s Willie McGee Jersey
Tue. Sept. 24 vs. WAS  

 

Again this season, all Friday night home games are Budweiser Bash Fridays (formerly Busch Bash) with past and present Cardinals players, music, games and prizes in the Ford Plaza starting two hours prior to the game. All Sunday games are Prairie Farms Ice Cream Sundays where fans can enjoy fun, games and North Star frozen treats in the Ford Plaza starting two hours prior to the game. Also returning for 2013 is the fan-favorite, Ice Mountain Autograph Night series. On five dates throughout the season, fans, ages 20 and under, can get current player autographs before the game, and all fans can get autographs from former players.

Below is a complete listing of the season’s fun-filled events and promotions, with additional details and photographs being posted at the team’s website, cardinals.com/promotions as they become available.

 

2013 Promotional Schedule

 

MAGNET SCHEDULE (BUSCH BEER)

Monday, April 8 vs. Cincinnati, 3:15
Fans, ages 21 and older
Whether home or on the road, keep track of your Cardinals games with a convenient 2013 schedule magnet, compliments of Busch Beer.

 

STAN MUSIAL HARMONICA

Friday, April 12 vs. Milwaukee, 7:15
Fans, ages 16 and older
Take this one-of-a-kind collectible home and try to master “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” just like Stan the Man.

 

ADULT REPLICA ALTERNATE JERSEY (LUMIERE CASINO)

Saturday, April 13 vs. Milwaukee, 3:15
25,000 Fans, ages 21 and older
The players aren’t the only ones who get to wear the new Cardinals jersey this summer. Thanks to Lumiere Casino, fans at this game can take home a replica alternate jersey.

 

MOLINA REPLICA GOLD AND PLATINUM GLOVE AWARD (RAWLINGS)

Sunday, April 14 vs. Milwaukee, 1:15
25,000 Fans, ages 16 and older
Rawlings is sending fans home with a replica of Yadier Molina’s gold and platinum glove award. This item is sure to stand out in your Cardinals collection!

 

2006 REPLICA WORLD SERIES RING (SCOTTS)

Friday, April 26 vs. Pittsburgh, 7:15
All fans entering with a ticket
Relive the excitement of the 2006 World Series! Fans at this game will collect their very own wearable 2006 World Championship replica ring, courtesy of Scotts.

 

RAWLINGS ALLEN CRAIG BAT (RAWLINGS)

Saturday, April 27 vs. Pittsburgh, 3:15
Kids, ages 15 and younger entering with a ticket
Hit like the pros and Cardinals slugger, Allen Craig, with a 28” Rawlings bat.

 

CARLOS BELTRAN BOBBLEHEAD (FIRST NATIONAL BANK)

Sunday, April 28 vs. Pittsburgh, 1:15
25,000 Fans entering with a ticket
Calling all bobblehead collectors! Carlos Beltran is ready to join your collection. Thanks to First National Bank, fans of all ages can take this right fielder’s bobblehead home.

 

“LADIES WEEKEND”

Friday, May 10, Saturday, May 11 and Sunday, May 12 (Mother’s Day)
The first homestand in May is a weekend fit for the female fans. Pre-game entertainment, activities and giveaway items are sure to please the ladies of Cardinal Nation.

 

REPLICA WOMENS MIKE MATHENY JERSEY (AT&T)

Saturday, May 11 vs. Colorado, 1:15
25,000 Fans, ages 16 and older
AT&T will provide 25,000 fans, ages 16 and older, with a women’s Mike Matheny jersey at this Saturday game of Ladies’ Weekend.

 

LADIES FLOPPY SUN HAT (DIET COKE AND SCHNUCKS)

Sunday, May 12 vs. Colorado, 1:15
25,000 Fans, ages 16 and older
Diet Coke and Schnucks are excited to give fans this one-of-a kind Cardinals sun hat. It’s a sure fire way to stay shaded when you’re enjoying a game at Busch Stadium.

 

ADULT CAP (U.S. CELLULAR)

Friday, May 17th vs. Milwaukee, 7:15
25,000 Fans, ages 16 and older
Show off your Cardinals spirit in style with this trendy baseball cap, courtesy of U.S. Cellular, the Official Wireless Provider of the Cardinals.

 

PENNANT (COCA COLA/PASTA HOUSE)

Saturday, May 18 vs. Milwaukee, 6:15
Kids, ages 15 and younger entering with a ticket
Coca Cola and Pasta House are proud to provide kids, ages 15 and younger, with a Cardinals pennant and coupon, valid at The Pasta House.

 

HIGH SPORTS SOCKS

Sunday, May 19 vs. Milwaukee, 1:15
Kids, ages 15 and younger entering with a ticket
“High Socks Sunday” is popular with Cardinals players and has become a fan favorite over the past seasons. Kids, ages 15 and younger, will receive their very own pair of high sports socks at this Sunday game.

 

DRAWSTRING BAG (MLB NETWORK)

Thursday, May 30 vs. Kansas City, 7:15
25,000 Fans, ages 16 and older
MLB Network wants you to gear up for the season with a drawstring bag to bring to and from each Cardinals game while always keeping up with your baseball news on MLB Network.

 

“RITZ KICKOFF TO SUMMER WEEKEND”

Friday, May 31, Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2 vs. San Francisco
Kids, ages 15 and younger entering with a ticket
A weekend full of fun for kids and families, presented by Ritz! Friday, Saturday and Sunday, all kids will receive a free ticket to a future home game.

 

FIREWORKS NIGHT

Friday, May 31 vs. San Francisco, 7:15
The Cardinals are proud to present Fireworks Night at Busch Stadium. Bring the entire family to watch the Cards take on the reigning World Champion San Francisco Giants in an NLCS rematch. Stay in your seat after the game to watch a dazzling fireworks display with the St. Louis Arch as the backdrop.

 

KIDS REPLICA MOLINA BATTING PRACTICE JERSEY (POWERADE/SHOP ‘N SAVE)

Saturday, June 1 vs. San Francisco, 6:15
Kids, ages 15 and younger entering with a ticket
Gear up for Cardinals games and support Cardinals catcher, Yadier Molina with a replica batting practice jersey, just like the one he wears, courtesy of Powerade and Shop ‘n Save.

 

SIX FLAGS DAY

Sunday, June 2 vs. San Francisco, 1:15
Kids, 48” and under
What a great way to start summer! Kids, 48” inches and under, receive a free ticket to Six Flags valid Monday – Friday through Sunday July 5th.

 

FAMILY ATTRACTIONS CARD DAY

Sunday, June 2 vs. San Francisco, 1:15
Kids, 48” and under
The Family Attractions card offers thousands in savings at local area attractions, restaurants and lodging – perfect for families looking for lots of summer fun and activities.

 

1926 CHAMPIONSHIP BEER STEIN (BUDWEISER)

Friday June 21 vs. Texas, 7:15
25,000 Fans, ages 21 and older
Budweiser is bringing fans, ages 21 and older, the third stein in the Championship series, highlighting the Cardinals very first World Series win in 1926.

 

PURINA POOCHES IN THE BALLPARK

Saturday, June 22 vs. Texas, 6:15
Fans, only with a special ticket, will be allowed to bring their dog to a designated section of the ballpark. Stay tuned for information regarding a pre-game full of activities to get your tail wagging.

 

PET FOOD BOWL MAT (PURINA)

Saturday, June 22 vs. Texas, 6:15
25,000 Fans, ages 16 and older
Don’t forget your furry friends! 25,000 fans, ages 16 and older, will receive a Cardinals food bowl mat to keep your pet’s feeding area nice and tidy.

 

REPLICA 2011 WORLD SERIES GAME 7 TICKET

Sunday June 23 vs. Texas, 1:15
25,000 Fans entering with a ticket
25,000 fans will receive this one-of-a-kind replica ticket from Game 7 of the 2011 World Series.

 

MIKE SHANNON BOBBLEHEAD with VOICE CHIP

Friday, July 5 vs. Miami, 7:15
25,000 Fans, ages 16 and older
“Get Up Baby!” It’s time to add Mike Shannon to your bobblehead collection. Take home the voice of Cardinals baseball with this unique voice-chipped bobblehead.

 

ADULT HOLLIDAY REPLICA JERSEY (TICKETS.COM)

Saturday, July 6 vs. Miami, 1:15
25,000 Fans, ages 16 and older
Make sure you get your ticket for this game against Miami. Tickets.com and the St. Louis Cardinals are giving fans, 16 and older, a Matt Holliday replica jersey.

 

PORCH FLAG (AT&T)

Sunday, July 7 vs. Miami, 1:15
25,000 Fans, ages 16 and older and Rawlings
Show off your Cardinals spirit from the comfort of your own home. Sponsored by AT&T, this Cardinals flag is the perfect addition to any fan’s front porch.

 

“HALL OF FAME WEEKEND” presented by EDWARD JONES

Friday, July 19, Saturday, July 20 and Sunday July 21 vs. San Diego
Commemorative items all weekend long, highlighting some of St. Louis’ most popular Hall of Famers.


OZZIE SMITH GOLD GLOVE BOBBLEHEAD (AMEREN MISSOURI)

Friday, July 19 vs. San Diego, 7:15
25,000 Fans, ages 16 and older
Pick up a ticket to this game to receive a bobblehead honoring Hall of Famer, Ozzie Smith, and his 13 Gold Glove awards. This bobblehead, presented by Ameren Missouri, is one you don’t want to miss!

 

ADULT REPLICA 1940’S RED SCHOENDIENST JERSEY (DELTA AIR LINES)

Saturday, July 20 vs. San Diego, 6:15
25,000 Fans, ages 16 and older
A replica 1940’s Red Schoendienst jersey is just what any longtime Cardinals fan needs in their jersey collection. Thanks to Delta Air Lines, it’s just what they’ll get at this game against the Padres.

 

MUSIAL REPLICA BRONZE STATUE (EDWARD JONES)

Sunday, July 21 vs. San Diego, 1:15
25,000 Fans, ages 16 and older
Continue your collection of the Cardinals bronze statue series with this one-of-a-kind replica of Hall of Famer Stan Musial, just like the one displayed on the corner of 8th and Clark.

 

“FREDBIRD’S BIRTHDAY BASH WEEKEND”

Friday, August 23, Saturday, August 24 and Sunday, August 25 vs. Atlanta
Come celebrate Fredbird’s Birthday all weekend long with activities for the kids and special promotional items featuring Fredbird.

 

TEAM CANVAS PRINT (COKE ZERO)

Friday, August 23 vs. Atlanta, 7:15
25,000 Fans entering with a ticket
Add this canvas print of the team photo to your Cardinals cave! 25,000 fans will receive this item, courtesy of Coke Zero.

 

FREDBIRD KIDS CAP (ICE MOUNTAIN)

Saturday, August 24 vs. Atlanta, 6:15
Kids, ages 15 and younger entering with a ticket
The kids of Cardinal Nation will love sporting their beloved mascot right on their head. Ice Mountain and the St. Louis Cardinals will give 12,000 kids, ages 15 and younger, the unique cap at this Saturday game.

 

BUILD-A-BEAR WORKSHOP FREDBIRD

Sunday, August 25 vs. Atlanta, 1:15
12,000 kids, ages 15 and younger entering with a ticket
The Build-A-Bear Workshop works overtime to make sure that 12,000 of our young Cardinals fans take home their very own stuffed Fredbird bear.

 

ADULT REPLICA 1980’S WILLIE McGEE JERSEY

Saturday, September 7 vs. Pittsburgh, 6:15
25,000 Fans, ages 16 and older
This 1980’s Willie McGee replica jersey is sure to spice up your Cardinals closet. The throwback look never goes out of style at Busch Stadium.

 

CARDINALS PENNANT (COCA COLA /PASTA HOUSE)

Sunday, September 8 vs. Pittsburgh, 1:15
Kids, ages 15 and younger entering with a ticket
Kids, ages 15 and younger, will receive a collectible Cardinals pennant, compliments of Coca Cola and Pasta House.

 

MIKE MATHENY BOBBLEHEAD (COCA COLA/DIERBERGS)

Friday, September 13 vs. Seattle, 7:15
25,000 Fans entering with a ticket
Coca Cola and Dierbergs proudly present the Mike Matheny catcher bobblehead. 25,000 fans will receive this collectible honoring Matheny’s playing days from behind the plate for the St. Louis Cardinals.

 

PHOTO DAY (CREVE COEUR CAMERA)

Saturday, September 14 vs. Seattle, 6:15
Prior to the game, fans will be allowed on the field to get up-close and personal photos of their favorite players, coaches and Fredbird. Field access is on a first-come, first-served basis. Weather permitting.

 

SIX FLAGS DAY

Sunday, September 15 vs. Seattle, 1:15
Kids, ages 15 and younger entering with a ticket
As summer is winding down, kids, 48” inches and under, have one last chance to receive a free ticket to Six Flags valid any Sunday through October 27th.

 

FAN APPRECIATION WEEKEND

Friday, September 27th, Saturday, September 28th and Sunday, September 29 vs. Chicago

 

2014 SCHEDULE (SHELTER INSURANCE)

Sunday, September 29 vs. Chicago, 1:15
All Fans
Cardinals fans can start planning ahead to the summer of 2014. During the last regular season game of 2013, Shelter Insurance will give every fan a schedule for the Cardinals 2014 season.

 

COMPLIMENTARY 2014 TICKET VOUCHER

Sunday, September 29 vs. Chicago, 1:15
All Fans
All fans will receive a free ticket to a 2014 Cardinals regular season game.

 

BUDWEISER BASH FRIDAYS

All Fridays, starting two hours prior to every home game, enjoy music, fun, prizes and past and present Cardinals players in the Ford Plaza, sponsored by Budweiser.

 

Prairie Farms ICE CREAM SUNDAYS

All Sundays, starting two hours prior to every home game, enjoy free North Star ice cream (while supplies last) in the Ford Plaza.

 

Prairie Farms RUN THE BASES

On the following days, kids 15 and under will be allowed to run the bases after the Cardinals game (weather permitting):

Saturday, April 27 vs. Pittsburgh, 3:15

Sunday, May 19 vs. Milwaukee, 1:15

Sunday, June 2 vs. San Francisco, 1:15

Sunday, July 7 vs. Miami, 1:15

Sunday, August 25 vs. Atlanta, 1:15

Sunday, September 15 vs. Seattle, 1:15

 

Ice Mountain AUTOGRAPH NIGHTS

Fans, ages 20 and under, can get current player autographs before the game from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Then from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. all fans can get autographs from former players, on the following dates:

Wednesday, May 15 vs. New York, 7:15

Wednesday, June 5 vs. Arizona, 7:15

Wednesday, July 10 vs. Houston, 7:15

Wednesday, August 7 vs. LA Dodgers, 7:15

Wednesday, August 28 vs. Cincinnati, 7:15

Great Clips CHARITY HAIRCUTS

All fans will be able to get a haircut, with all proceeds going to Cardinals Care, on the following dates:

Thursday, April 10 vs. Cincinnati, 12:45

Thursday, May 1 vs. Cincinnati, 12:45

Tuesday, May 16 vs. New York, 12:45

Thursday, August 15 vs. Pittsburgh, 12:45

Thursday, September 25 vs. Washington, 12:45

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All Star Celebrity Softball Game Rosters

All Star Celebrity Softball Game Rosters Announced
Game Will Be Televised Immediately Following the State Farm Home Run Derby on ESPN on July 9th

The 2012 Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game on ESPN will feature star-studded talent from music, television and sports alongside former Kansas City Royals greats and Baseball Hall of Famers on July 8th at Kauffman Stadium.

“Modern Family” Emmy Award winner and Kansas City native Eric Stonestreet; Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel; and University of Kansas Men’s Basketball Head Coach Bill Self are scheduled to participate alongside Golden Globe winner and “Mad Men” star Jon HammChord Overstreet from “Glee”; American Idol contestant Haley Reinhart; “Desperate Housewives” actor James Denton; captain of the US National Soccer team Carlos Bocanegra; actor and comedian Horatio Sanz; country music artist David Nail; American Idol winner, David Cook, who used to work at the Stadium Club in Kauffman Stadium; reigning UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon “Bones” JonesPaul Dimeo from “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”; and USA Softball’s Gold Medalist hurler Jennie Finch.

Past MLB stars also are schedule to participate, including former Royals greats George BrettBo Jackson and Mike Sweeney plus Hall of Famers Ernie BanksAndre DawsonRollie Fingers, Rickey HendersonOzzie Smith and Dave Winfield as well as perennial All-Stars Joe Carter and Mike Piazza.

The Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game features Major League Baseball legends with celebrities from TV, movies and music, and is the second game of a fun doubleheader of activity at Kauffman Stadium during Taco Bell All-Star Sunday.  Preceding the softball game will be the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at 5:00 p.m. Eastern, featuring some of MLB’s best young prospects from the U.S. and around the world.  Current Royals players Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler and Alex Gordon are among the many young stars in baseball who have played in this game, including Justin Verlander, Prince Fielder and Joey Votto.

Following the softball game, the skies above Kauffman Stadium will be lit by a spectacular fireworks show to cap off Taco Bell All-Star Sunday.

The Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game will be televised by ESPN at approximately 10:30 p.m. Eastern immediately following the State Farm Home Run Derby which begins at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on Monday, July 9th. The Game will also be available on ESPN3.com, ESPN Mobile TV and via the WatchESPN app.

For more information, go to www.allstargame.com.

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Yadier Molina is this generation’s Ozzie Smith

The St. Louis Cardinals confirmed Thursday that Yadier Molina will be the franchise’s catcher for at least the next five seasons, marking the second time the team has kept the best defensive player in the game.

The Cardinals signed Molina to a $75 million contract extension that will keep him in St. Louis until at least 2017. However, unlike most big-money contracts dished out around the league these days, Molina will receive the bulk of that money because of his glove, not his bat.

Molina’s deal also harkens back to the 1980s when the Cardinals paid a shortstop named Ozzie Smith to often-miraculously cover the middle of the infield. Smith never made more than $3.5 million in a single year, but that is more because of the different eras than because of talent. From 1978 to 1996, $3.5 million was still considered a lot of money, especially for someone with a .262 career batting average.

During his career, Smith reshaped how defensive players were valued. He averaged just two homeruns during his 19-year career, but he saved countless runs with his dazzling glovework.

Sure, other eras also had terrific defensive players, but Smith made defense exciting to watch. The crowd at Busch Stadium would actually cheer when a ball was hit toward Smith’s shortstop position because there was a pretty good chance it might be the most memorable moment of the game.

Molina is the same way behind the plate. He’s not the first catcher to receive a big contract. Catchers such as Joe Mauer, Jorge Posada and Mike Piazza also received huge paydays, but the difference between those catchers and Molina is how well they hit. Each of the three previously mentioned players were paid because of what they could do standing next to the plate more than what they could do behind it.

That’s not the case with Molina. He has a .274 career batting average and hits about nine homeruns each season. But, he leads a pitching staff as well as anybody and has gunned down 44 percent of the baserunners who dare to try and steal second base when Molina is in the game.

Molina gets a similar reaction at Busch Stadium III when he throws out a baserunner as Smith did at Busch Stadium II for making a diving play or leaping grab.

Defense is often undervalued in Major League Baseball. Teams pay more for homerun hitters because the stats are more black and white. A batting average will show how good a hitter is, but fielding percentage is much more subjective and misses a large part of the defensive game. Sure, there are new defensive sabermetrics coming out each year, but defense is still tougher to value than offense.

Given the holes in the statistics, defensive prowess must be defined by observation. Regardless of how many baserunners Molina throws out, the intangibles he brings to the field are vital to the success of the team. He is the lynchpin that holds the team together, even more so than Pujols when he was a Cardinal.

Smith was the same way. He played on all three of the Cardinals World Series teams in the 1980s and provided stability at one of the most important positions on the field.

Cardinals fans should appreciate watching Molina play defense. It is an art form that is often overlooked until it is gone.
Defense will likely never be valued as much as offense, but players such as Molina and Smith show that terrific defense wins a lot of ballgames, and quite a few championships, as well.

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The Wizard’s finest year

St Louis Cardinals fans rejoice in Ozzie Smith’s return to the spring training fold.  Seeing the older but still fit Wizard in uniform brings back fond memories of his 15 seasons in the St Louis infield.  Twenty-five years ago, during the last of Whitey Herzog’s runs to the World Series, Ozzie enjoyed his finest season along the banks of the Mississippi.

The Cardinals entered the 1987 season as a question mark.  For the second time in the decade they had followed up a World Series appearance with a sub-.500 season.  No one expected them to challenge the New York Mets for NL East supremancy; the 1986 World Champs were coming off an 108-win season and looked like a budding dynasty.  Over the first week of the 1987 season, that future appeared to be today, as the Mets won six of their first 8 while St Louis stumbled out of the blocks.  The Cardinals were two games back of New York when the Mets came to town for an early 3-game series.

New York did not roll over the Cardinals on their way to the post-season.  Instead, St Louis swept the Mets, and rarely looked back.  They never trailed by more than a game in April and early May, took sole possession of first place permanently on 22 May, led by 9 games at the All-Star Break, and won their third NL East title in 6 years.

In the middle of this Cardinal resurrection was Ozzie, who had the best offensive year of his career.  It was the only year he hit over .300 (.303).  He set career highs in OBP (.392), hits (182), doubles (40), RBI (75), runs scored (104), stolen bases (43), walks (89), and total bases (230).

Those career highs compared favorably with the rest of the league.  He finished eighth in batting average, eighth in runs, third in hits, second in doubles, sixth in walks, seventh in stolen bases, and was fourth in at bats per strikeout. He was the only player in the top 10 of all those categories.   By Baseball Reference’s calculations, his WAR of 7.1 was fifth-best in the NL, behind Tony Gwynn, Eric Davis, Dale Murphy, and Orel Hershiser.  Broken into categories, his offensive WAR was seventh, his defensive WAR third.

As seemed to be the trend with those 1980s Cardinals teams, they quit hitting in the post-season.  In years past Smith had hit in the NLCS but struggled in the World Series, but in 1987 he struggled in both.  Ozzie hit only .207  combined (11 for 53) that October, and although St Louis rode home-field advantage and superior starting pitching to the NL pennant, they were bested by Minnesota in the Fall Classic.

Ozzie had some good years after that, and some years with better power numbers, but he never quite reached the heights he had in 1987.

It’s a shame he and Tony LaRussa could never find common ground, and that LaRussa had to retire before Ozzie was willing to come back to Spring Training.  Although it’s not the same without Don Tony, the team is better with Ozzie teaching the finer points of middle infield defense to a new generation of Cardinal players.

Welcome back, Ozzie.

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