Derek Jeter Retires

Let me start by saying that I despise the New York Yankees. On principle, I loathe teams that try to buy (or succeed at buying) championships.

That said, Derek Jeter is one of the few recent Yankees whom I respect, primarily for the way he approached the game of baseball and the fact that he has played his ENTIRE career with one team. I’m kinda “old school” like that.

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My Top Ten Cardinals of All-Time:#6 Albert Pujols

#6. Albert Pujols
#7. Joe Medwick
#8. Jim Bottomley
#9. Enos Slaughter
#10. Ken Boyer

No links, no pictures, no stats, no witty anecdotes.

Falling from #3/#4 (I was still undecided) down to #6 on my list of all-time Cardinals is former 1B Albert Pujols. For those of you who have been following my list, that bumps Ozzie Smith up to #5.

Mr. Pujols was in the top 5 in most Cardinal offensive categories of all-time. And for the first 10 years of his career, he was the face of the Cardinal franchise batting 0.299 with 30+ HR and 99+ RBI in each of these seasons. Many assumed and expected that he would finish his career as a Cardinal and supplant the great Stan Musial (more about him in a later post) as the greatest Cardinal of all-time. Today, that all ended when Mr. Pujols succumbed to the almighty dollar and took his talents to SoCal to play for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in a 10 year, $254 million dollar contract.

I understand that baseball is a business. I understand that the days of a player staying with one team his entire career are long gone. Yet, recently, I was given a glimmer of hope that maybe, perhaps by chance, that a brief return to days gone by had returned to St. Louis. Maybe, the Cardinals had found a throw back to yesteryear. Alas, those hopes were dashed today, and here I sit a naive fool for thinking that things could be different.

I don’t begrudge Mr. Pujols his money. If a team is foolish enough to give a near 32 year old player a guaranteed 10 year contact at those dollar amounts, then shame on them, not the player for taking it. In fact, I think the Cardinals offered too much.

My beef is that Mr. Pujols claimed he loved St. Louis, loved playing for the Cardinals and for the St. Louis fans, and wanted to finish his career as a Cardinal. I guess he loved an extra guaranteed year and around $3 million per year more.

I am sad and disappointed as what transpired – partially for the circumstances, partially at myself for thinking that things could be different.

While I am not a vindictive person and do not wish any ill will towards Mr. Pujols, I do hope he realizes very quickly what he gave up by leaving St. Louis. I hope that he sees that there is more to baseball than money and that what he gave up in St. Louis is worth a lot more then $3 million per year. And if the Angels don’t make the playoffs at all in the next 10 years, I won’t be too upset with that either.

Up next, #4 on my list.

My Top Ten Cardinals of All-Time:#5 Ozzie Smith

#5. Ozzie Smith
#6. ???
#7. Joe Medwick
#8. Jim Bottomley
#9. Enos Slaughter
#10. Ken Boyer

OzzieSmith

After a long hiatus, I’m returning to my top 10 Cardinals of all time. Making the list at #5 is shortstop Osborne Earl “Ozzie” Smith.

Ozzie was traded to the Cardinals in 1982 for then shortstop Garry Templeton. Ironically, both shortstops we embroiled in conflicts with their respective teams at the time.

OzzieSmith

Nicknamed the Wizard for his outstanding defensive play, Ozzie became one of the cornerstones for the Cardinals in the 1980s and early-to-mid 1990s. That team won a World Championship in 1982, and made two other World Series appearances in the 1985 and 1987.

Defense at shortstop was Ozzie’s forte. Over his career, Ozzie won 13 Gold Gloves – 11 as a Cardinal – every year from 1980 – 1992. He lead the league in assists 6 times, and lead the league in field percentage for SS 8 times. Ozzie holds the major league record for assists by a shortstop (8375), shares the major league record of most times leading his league in fielding percentage at shortstop (8), ranks 4th all-time in career fielding average at shortstop (0.978), shares the NL record for most seasons topping the league in double plays turned (5), and turned more double plays than any shortstop in NL history (1590).

OzzieSmith

Ozzie was a human highlight reel in the field. Probably his greatest defensive play as a Cardinal occurred on August 4, 1986. During a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Busch Stadium, in the top of the ninth inning, Phillies first baseman Von Hayes hit a short fly ball to left field, which was pursued by both Ozzie and left fielder Curt Ford. Running with his back to home plate, Ozzie dove forward, simultaneously catching the ball while parallel to the ground and flying over the diving Ford, avoiding a collision by inches.

OzzieSmith

Over the years, Ozzie also became know for his signature back flip that he would do when he took the field at the start of each Opening Day game.

OzzieSmith

In addition to his defense, Ozzie was a wizard on the base path. He amassed 580 stolen bases over his career, swiping 30+ bases 11 times in his career. He ranks 3rd on the Cardinal all-time stolen base list behind teammate Vince Coleman, and Hall of Famer Lou Brock.

OzzieSmith

Even though he was known for his speed and defense, Ozzie took great pride in his offense. During Spring Training 1982, in an effort to help Ozzie improve his weak hitting, his manager, Whitey Herzog, created a motivational tool designed to help Smith concentrate on hitting more ground balls, which he believed would improve his offensive production. Approaching Ozzie one day during spring training, Herzog said, “Every time you hit a fly ball, you owe me a buck. Every time you hit a ground ball, I owe you a buck. We’ll keep that going all year.” Ozzie agreed, and by the end of the season had won close to $300 from Herzog.

Through his career, Ozzie had a number of notable achievements:

  • Finished 2nd for the 1978 Rookie of Year Award
  • Won 13 Gold Glove awards – the most by a shortstop in major league history
  • Named to 15 All-Star games
  • Won the Silver Slugger Award at shortstop in 1987 – for best offensive player at his position
  • Named the MVP of the 1985 NL Championship Series
  • Finished 2nd in the MVP voting in 1987
  • Won the 1994 Branch Rickey Award and the 1995 Roberto Clemente Award for community service
  • OzzieSmith

    One of Ozzie’s most memorable career moments came with his bat, instead of his glove. In Game 5 of the NL Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ozzie came to plate with one out in the bottom of the 9th inning with the score tied 2-2. He hit a home run to end the game, giving the Cardinals a 3-2 victory. This was his first career left-handed HR, and was later voted by fans the great moment in Busch Stadium history. It was also immortalized by broadcaster Jack Buck’s call of “Go crazy folks! Go crazy!”

    OzzieSmith

    As an all-time Cardinal, Ozzie ranks 3rd in stolen bases, 7th in runs, 7th in hits, 10th in doubles, and 15th in RBIs.

    As one of the all-time Cardinal greats, he is immortalized with a statue outside of Busch Stadium.

    OzzieSmith

    Year    G    AB    R     H   2B  3B  HR  RBI   SB     BA    OPS
    1982  140   488   58   121   24   1   2   43   25  0.248  0.653
    1983  159   552   69   134   30   6   3   50   34  0.243  0.657
    1984  124   412   53   106   20   5   1   44   35  0.257  0.684
    1985  158   537   70   148   22   3   6   54   31  0.276  0.716
    1986  153   514   67   144   19   4   0   54   31  0.280  0.709
    1987  158   600  104   182   40   4   0   75   43  0.303  0.775
    1988  153   575   80   155   27   1   3   51   57  0.270  0.686
    1989  155   593   82   162   30   8   2   50   29  0.273  0.696
    1990  143   512   61   130   21   1   1   50   32  0.254  0.635
    1991  150   550   96   157   30   3   3   50   35  0.285  0.747
    1992  132   518   73   153   20   2   0   31   43  0.295  0.708
    1993  141   545   75   157   22   6   1   53   21  0.288  0.693
    1994   98   381   51   100   18   3   3   30    6  0.262  0.675
    1995   44   156   16    31    5   1   0   11    4  0.199  0.526
    1996   82   227   36    64   10   2   2   18    7  0.282  0.728
    STL  1990  7160  991  1944  338  50  27  664  433  0.272  0.694
    

    In 2002, Ozzie was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballot where he was named on 91.7% of the ballots. He was the only player inducted that year.

    Growing up, Ozzie Smith was by far my favorite baseball player. This post was particularly hard to write because in my heart, I wanted to put Ozzie higher on the list. However, I forced myself to look at all of the statistics objectively.

    I’ve been an avid baseball card collector since I was in grade school. Even though it died down when I went away to college, I got back into it a little once I graduated and got a job. In the early 1990s, I began a quest to obtain every Ozzie Smith baseball card I could find – all years, all teams, all baseball card companies, you name it. To date, I have over 200 different Ozzie Smith cards – not every one ever made, but a large number of them.

    When Ozzie announced his retirement in 1996, I knew I wanted to be there for his last regular season game. As it turns out, the Cardinals also chose to retire his #1 uniform number that day as well. I was in the stands for 2 of the 3 games in that final weekend series – one where they had a reunion and honored the 1982 World Series Champions, and the other where Ozzie’s number was retired.

    Just over five years later, in July of 2002, Sara, Lizzy, and I made the pilgrimage to Cooperstown, NY for the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for Ozzie. It was a remarkable site not only to visit the shrine of baseball, the Hall of Fame Museum, but also to see the thousands of people crammed into a tiny NY village to observe a piece of history. It’s a moment I will never forget.

    Ozzie Smith Hall of Fame Plaque

    Up next, #4.


    Video Links
    MLB.com #1 Greatest Defensive Play in Major League History
    Ozzie’s Signature Flip
    Ozzie’s Go Crazy Folks HR


    Links
    Ozzie Smith Wikipedia Page
    Baseball Reference Entry on Ozzie Smith
    Baseball Hall of Fame Page on Ozzie Smith
    Ozzie Smith page at MLB.com
    OzzieSmith.com (Coming Soon)

    My Top Ten Cardinals of All-Time:#7 Joe Medwick

    #7. Joe Medwick
    #8. Jim Bottomley
    #9. Enos Slaughter
    #10. Ken Boyer

    Joe Medwick

    Making my list at #7 is left fielder, Joe Medwick.

    Medwick debuted with Cardinals in 1932. His aggressiveness, competitive spirit, and hard-nosed style of play exemplified the Cardinals 1930s Gas House Gang. He was nicknamed “Ducky Wucky”, or just “Ducky”, because of his waddle when he walked. His build also led him to be called “Muscles”.

    Despite his often surely demeanor, Medwick was an outstanding and feared hitter. He holds the major league record for consecutive seasons with 40 or more doubles with 7 from 1933 through 1939.

    On June 29, 1935, Medwick hit for the cycle against the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field, going 4-5 with 3 RBI and 3 runs scored. Despite his effort, the Redbirds lost 8-6.

    Joe Medwick

    Medwick’s well-known temper was at the root of two of his most infamous moments.

    The first was during Game 7 of the 1934 World Series. Medwick slid into third with spikes high and spiked Tiger third baseman Marv Owen. A struggle ensued, but neither player was ejected. When Medwick returned to left field in the bottom of the 6th inning, Detroit fans barraged him with fruit, bottles, and other garbage. Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis had Medwick removed from the game for his own saftey.

    The second incident happened six days after Medwick was traded from the Cardinals to the Brooklyn Dodgers in the middle of the 1940 season. The Cardinals were in Brooklyn for a series when Medwick, Dodger manager Leo Durocher, and Cardinal pitcher Bob Bowman got into an argument at a New York hotel. In the next game, Bowman hit Medwick in the temple with a fastball and knocked him out cold with a sever concussion. While Medwick played for another several years after this incident, he was never the same player. The photo below is from that incident.

    Joe Medwick

    From a statistical standpoint, Medwick ranks 4th in doubles, 8th in triples, 11th in home runs, 8th in RBI, 4th in BA, and 9th in OPS all-time for the Cardinals. He played in 6 All-Star games as a Cardinal, helped lead the Cardinals to victory in the 1936 World Series, and won the NL MVP in 1937.

    One of Medwick’s greatest achievements was his performance in the 1937 season. Not only did his win the MVP that year, but he won the NL Triple Crown. He is currently the last NL player to accomplished this feat.

    Year    G    AB    R     H   2B  3B   HR  RBI  SB     BA    OPS
    1932   26   106   13    37   12   1    2   12   3  0.349  0.905
    1933  148   595   92   182   40  10   18   98   5  0.306  0.835
    1934  149   620  110   198   40  18   18  106   3  0.319  0.872
    1935  154   634  132   224   46  13   23  126   4  0.353  0.962
    1936  155   636  115   223   64  13   18  138   3  0.351  0.964
    1937  156   633  111   237   56  10   31  154   4  0.374  1.056
    1938  146   590  100   190   47   8   21  122   0  0.322  0.905
    1939  150   606   98   201   48   8   14  117   6  0.332  0.886
    1940   37   158   21    48   12   0    3   20   0  0.304  0.766
    1947   75   150   19    46   12   0    4   28   0  0.307  0.840
    1948   20    19    0     4    0   0    0    2   0  0.211  0.461
    STL  1216  4747  811  1590  377  81  152  923  28  0.335  0.917
    

    Joe Medwick Hall of Fame Plaque
    Medwick was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers in 1968.

    The funniest quote I read from Joe Medwick was from a USO tour in 1944. Medwick was among several individuals given an audience by Pope Pius XII. Upon being asked by the Pope what his vocation was, Medwick replied, “Your Holiness, I’m Joe Medwick. I, too, used to be a Cardinal.”

    Up next, my hardest post at #6…


    Links
    Joe Medwick Wikipedia Page
    Baseball Reference Entry on Joe Medwick
    Baseball Hall of Fame Page on Joe Medwick

    My Top Ten Cardinals of All-Time:#8 Jim Bottomley

    #8. Jim Bottomley
    #9. Enos Slaughter
    #10. Ken Boyer

    Jim Bottomley

    After a long delay, making my list at #8 is first baseman, “Sunny” Jim Bottomley.

    Jim Bottomley played for the Cardinals in the 1920s and early 30s with the likes of Frank Frisch, Chick Hafey, and Rogers Hornsby. He earned the nickname “Sunny Jim” for his cheerful disposition and upbeat demeanor.

    Jim Bottomley

    Bottomley was an RBI machine, driving in 90+ runs in every season from 1923 through 1930. On September 16, 1924, Bottomley set the Major League record for RBI in a single game, with 12 – a feat since tied by another Cardinal, Mark Whiten, on September 7, 1993.

    Bottomley hit for the cycle on the July 15, 1927.

    Jim Bottomley

    In 1936, Bottomley set the single-season record for most unassisted double plays by a first baseman with eight.

    Bottomley was the second player in baseball history to hit 20 or more doubles, triples, and home runs in one season. He was also the first of two players to collect 150 or more doubles, triples, and home runs in a career. He is the only player to achieve both.

    Sunny Jim and the Babe

    From a statistical standpoint, Bottomley ranks in the top 10 in almost all of the all-time Cardinal offensive categories: 10th in runs, 10th in hits, 8th in doubles, 5th in triples, 8th in home runs, 4th in RBI, 8th in BA, and 8th in OPS. Bottomley won the MVP in 1928 where he lead the NL in triples, HR, and RBI. He also won the World Series twice as a Redbird in 1926 and 1931.

    Year    G    AB    R     H   2B   3B   HR   RBI  SB     BA    OPS
    1922   37   151   29    49    8    5    5    35   3  0.325  0.902
    1923  134   523   79   194   34   14    8    94   4  0.371  0.960
    1924  137   528   87   167   31   12   14   111   5  0.316  0.862
    1925  153   619   92   227   44   12   21   128   3  0.367  0.992
    1926  154   603   98   180   40   14   19   120   4  0.299  0.870
    1927  152   574   95   174   31   15   19   124   8  0.303  0.896
    1928  149   576  123   187   42   20   31   136  10  0.325  1.030
    1929  146   560  108   176   31   12   29   137   3  0.314  0.959
    1930  131   487   92   148   33    7   15    97   5  0.304  0.860
    1931  108   382   73   133   34    5    9    75   3  0.348  0.937
    1932   91   311   45    92   16    3   11    48   2  0.296  0.823
         1392  5314  921  1727  344  119  181  1105  50  0.325  0.924
    

    Jim Bottomley Hall of Fame Plaque
    Bottomley was posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1974.

    Up next, hopefully with less delay than this post, #7…


    Links
    Jim Bottomley Wikipedia Page
    Baseball Reference Entry on Jim Bottomley
    Baseball Hall of Fame Page on Jim Bottomley

    My Top Ten Cardinals of All-Time:#9 Enos Slaughter

    #9. Enos Slaughter
    #10. Ken Boyer

    Enos Slaughter

    #7, #8, and #9 in my list have all flip-flopped positions over the last couple of days – meaning that in my eyes, they are all similar. Making my list at #9 is right fielder Enos Slaughter.

    Nicknamed “Country” because of his rural North Carolina upbringing, Slaughter began his Cardinal career in 1938 and patrolled right field for thirteen years.

    Enos Slaughter

    Slaughter was known for his hustle and hard-nosed play. Legend has it that one day in the minor leagues, Slaughter was running in from the outfield, slowed down near the infield, then walked the rest of the way to the dugout. His manager told him, “Son, if you’re tired, we’ll try to get you some help.” From that point forward, Slaughter ran everywhere he went on the baseball field – even running hard to first base on a walk.

    Slaughter’s hard-nosed play earned him the moniker by some as the “dirtiest player in the league” – a claim he never disputed. He even was accused of being a racist when he spiked Dodgers Jackie Robinson (playing first base at the time) in the thigh while he was stretched out to catch Slaughter’s ground ball. Slaughter denied the racism attributing it to his old school style of play, “I asked no odds and I give none. A guy got in my way, I run over him.”

    Enos Slaughter

    One of Slaughter’s most famous baseball moments came in Game 7 of the 1946 World Series against the Boston Red Sox. The game was tied, 3-3, in the eighth inning. Slaughter led off the inning with a single. The next two batters failed to get on base. The next batter, Harry Walker, stepped up to bat and hit one into left center. Slaughter was stealing on the pitch when the outfielder bobbled the ball. Slaughter rounded second and third base. When the third base coach gave him the stop signal, Slaughter ignored it. The Red Sox short stop was so shocked to see Slaughter still running that he delayed his throw home, giving Slaughter just enough time to beat the ball to the plate with what would prove to be the game winning run.

    Enos Slaughter's Mad Dash

    From a statistical standpoint, Slaughter ranks 5th in runs, 4th in hits, 6th in doubles, 3rd in triples, 12th in home runs, and 3rd in RBI all-time for the Cardinals. While he never hit more than 20 HR in a single season, Slaughter did drive in 90+ runs in it He hit 20+ HR and had 90+ RBI in 6 of his 13 seasons as Cardinal. He was a 10 time All-Star and 2 time World Series champion in 1942 and 1946, and ranks 4th all-time in games played as a Cardinal.

    Year    G    AB     R     H   2B   3B   HR   RBI  SB     BA    OPS
    1938  112   395    59   109   20   10    8    58   1  0.276  0.768
    1939  149   604    95   193   52    5   12    86   2  0.320  0.852
    1940  140   516    96   158   25   13   17    73   8  0.306  0.874
    1941  113   425    71   132   22    9   13    76   4  0.311  0.886
    1942  152   591   100   188   31   17   13    98   9  0.318  0.906
    1946  156   609   100   183   30    8   18   130   9  0.300  0.838
    1947  147   551   100   162   31   13   10    86   4  0.294  0.818
    1948  146   549    91   176   27   11   11    90   4  0.321  0.879
    1949  151   568    92   191   34   13   13    96   3  0.336  0.929
    1950  148   556    82   161   26    7   10   101   3  0.290  0.782
    1951  123   409    48   115   17    8    4    64   7  0.281  0.777
    1952  140   510    73   153   17   12   11   101   6  0.300  0.831
    1953  143   492    64   143   34    9    6    89   4  0.291  0.828
         1820  6775  1071  2064  366  135  146  1148  64  0.305  0.847
    

    Enos Slaughter Hall of Fame Plaque
    Slaughter was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1985. His #9 jersey was retired by the Cardinals in 1996.

    Up next, #8…


    Links
    Enos Slaughter Wikipedia Page
    Baseball Reference Entry on Enos Slaughter
    Baseball Hall of Fame Page on Enos Slaughter
    The Official Enos Slaughter Site
    HistoricBaseball.com – Enos Slaughter

    My Top Ten Cardinals of All-Time:#10 Ken Boyer

    #10. Ken Boyer

    Ken Boyer

    Starting my list at #10 is third baseman Ken Boyer.

    Although he began his career as a pitcher because of his strong arm, his hitting ability and lack of control (as well as a curve ball), led the Cardinals to focus him at third base.

    Ken Boyer manned the hot corner for the Redbirds from 1955 through 1965. For 11 years, he was one of the best third basemen in the NL along with Eddie Matthews of the Braves and Ron Santo of the Cubs.

    Ken Boyer

    With the Cardinals, Boyer was an 11 time All-Star, 5 time Gold Glove winner, and NL MVP in 1964 – the same year he helped lead the Cardinals to the World Series Championship.

    Boyer’s #14 was retired by the Cardinals in 1984. He is the only player not in the Hall of Fame to have his number retired by the Cardinals.

    Ken Boyer

    From a statistical standpoint, Boyer ranks 8th in runs, 8th in hits, 3rd in home runs, and 6th in RBI all-time for the Cardinals. He hit 20+ HR and had 90+ RBI in 8 of his 11 seasons as Cardinal.

    Year    G    AB    R     H   2B  3B   HR   RBI  SB     BA    OPS
    1955  147   530   78   140   27   2   18    62  22  0.264  0.735
    1956  150   595   91   182   30   2   26    98   8  0.306  0.841
    1957  142   544   79   144   18   3   19    62  12  0.265  0.732
    1958  150   570  101   175   21   9   23    90  11  0.307  0.857
    1959  149   563   86   174   18   5   28    94  12  0.309  0.892
    1960  151   552   95   168   26  10   32    97   8  0.304  0.932
    1961  153   589  109   194   26  11   24    95   6  0.329  0.930
    1962  160   611   92   178   27   5   24    98  12  0.291  0.838
    1963  159   617   86   176   28   2   24   111   1  0.285  0.812
    1964  162   628  100   185   30  10   24   119   3  0.295  0.854
    1965  144   535   71   139   18   2   13    75   2  0.260  0.702
         1667  6334  988  1855  269  61  255  1001  97  0.293  0.832
    

    My 1st experience with Ken Boyer was during my late grade school days when I started collecting baseball cards. I ran into a 1964 Topps Ken Boyer card like the one pictured below (but not in as good condition and without the autograph). 😉
    1964 Topps Ken Boyer Baseball Card
    I still have this card today.

    Boyer was regarded as the consummate teammate. He was the guy everybody walked up to in the clubhouse and talked to. He was quiet and reserved, preferring to lead by example. He also credited with helping create racial harmony on the Cardinals, making them one of the first truly integrated teams in the major leagues.

    In addition to his playing career, Boyer managed the Cardinals for 3 years from 1978-1980 forcing to give up managing because of his failing health.

    This quote from thebaseballpage.com epitomizes Ken Boyer as a teammate and as a person:

    Stan Musial, whose kindness and encouragement made a strong impression on Boyer early in his career, said of his former teammate

    Kenny Boyer was a pillar of strength in the Cardinal organization. It was kind of an understood thing that Kenny took care of the players coming into the organization. He took people under his wing — it was kind of like a father image.

    I wish I would have had the opportunity to see Boyer play. He sounds like he was model of what it meant to be a Cardinal.

    Up next, #9…


    Links
    Ken Boyer Wikipedia Page
    Baseball Reference Entry on Ken Boyer
    Ken Boyer at TheBaseballPage.com
    Ken Boyer.Net