My Cardinals Hall of Fame nominees

I work in a building that is located two blocks from Busch Stadium, and I see amazing progress on Ballpark Village every day.  The rooftop seats have been put in and the floors have been added to the building framework.  Asphalt for the parking lots has been laid.   One of the new buildings at Ballpark Village will be called Cardinals Nation, and inside the Cardinals Nation building will be the new Cardinals Hall of Fame.  The United Cardinals Bloggers project for July is to make a list of the top 5 Cardinals (players, managers, front office folks, etc.) that we believe should be included in the Cardinals Hall of Fame.  Now there was some qualifiers – the nominee(s) can’t have had their numbers retired, they can’t be still playing/managing/etc. and they can’t already be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Okay, that’s a bit of a challenge, but I think I can find 5 folks to nominate.  Here’s my list, in no particular order:

1.  Ted Simmons – Simba was one of my favorite players in the late ’70’s to mid-1980’s.  He was overshadowed by his contemporary Johnny Bench, but Ted’s batting average was actually higher than Johnny’s.  I remember his long black hair that came down to his shoulders, blowing behind him as he ran to first base.  Ted had some great stats – he was an 8 time All Star, he won the Silver Slugger, he caught 2 no hitters, and he hit over .300 for 7 years.  I was so sad when he was traded to the Brewers in 1980.  Darryl Porter had to win me over because my heart was still with Simba.  Hopefully one of these years, Ted will be voted in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  The honor is long overdue.

2.  Willie McGee – Willie has been a fan favorite for a long time.  There are periodic calls for his number 53 to be retired.  I loved watching Willie in the 1982 World Series (despite my then-husband ragging me about the team).  Willie was one of the best Cardinals players in the 1980’s, with excellent  defense and a bat that came through when necessary.  Willie, with Ozzie, Tommy Herr and Vince Coleman were the prime examples of Whiteyball, which was Whitey Herzog’s style of baseball.  Willie played with the Cardinals twice and now serves the Cardinals as a special assistant to GM John Mozeliak.

3.  Jim Edmonds – I know, I know, another outfielder, but Jimmy Ballgame is special.  His defense earned him 8 Gold Glove awards and his bat was just as awesome.  Jimmy won 8 Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger, and was a 4 time All Star.  Jim, Albert Pujols, and Scott Rolen were part of the MV3 triumvirate in 2004.  He is such a big part of so many championship series and World Series memories for me.  Jimmy looks like a blue collar guy – if he hadn’t played baseball, he would be working in a factory somewhere.  Edmonds signed a minor league contract in 2011 so that he could retire as a Cardinal. Hopefully, Jim will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

4.  John Tudor – And now for my favorite pitcher from the 1980’s. Tudor was known as a junk pitcher – he threw off speed pitches, where batters didn’t expect them.  I liked John because he wasn’t a fastball pitcher.  He had to rely on his brains to get batters out.   In 1985, his first year with the Cardinals, he started with a 1-7 record.  But after May, he had a 20-1 record and ended up with a 1.93 ERA and a 21-8 record that year.  John had 10 complete game shutouts in 1985, and he was the last major league pitcher with this accomplishment.  Sadly, John never regained his 1985 form, although he had seasons with 13 victories.  I was at the Cards-Mets game in 1987 (on Easter Sunday, no less) when Mets catcher Barry Lyons crashed into the Cardinals’ bullpen and collided with Tudor, breaking his leg.   I found out that John had been traded to the Dodgers in 1988 by seeing it on the front page of the Post-Dispatch in a newspaper machine near my bus stop in downtown St. Louis.  John had been traded for Pedro Guerrero.  What?  It broke my heart, although John won a World Series ring with the Dodgers in 1988.  I rejoiced when John returned to the Cardinals in 1990, but despite a comeback season, he retired.  I got his autograph at FanFest in 2009.  He still looked the same, but his hair was a little grayer.  (Can you tell I had a crush on him?  LOL!)

5.   Helene Hathaway Robison Britton – Helene was the first woman owner of a major league baseball team.  She inherited the Cardinals from her uncle.  She wasn’t an owner in name only – she attended owners’ meetings and had major input as to what went on at the ballpark.  Her ownership of the Cardinals coincided with the women’s suffrage movement.  If a woman could run a baseball team, she sure knew enough to vote.  If you click on her name, you will be able to read my original blog post about Helene.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my list of Cardinals Hall of Fame candidates.  Who would you pick?  Leave me a comment below.  Thanks for reading!  See you next time!

Diane

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Players who really need the All-Star break

Summertime, for most of us, means vacation time.  For kids of all ages who attend school, summer is a roughly two-and-a-half month break from book work.  For those of us who work for a living, summer means time for a vacation to get away from the workplace and relax.   For baseball players, the All-Star break is their vacation unless, of course, they have been selected to play in the All-Star game.

There are 5 Cardinals who are going to the All-Star Game this week.  They have played an excellent first half and deserve to go.  Despite the Cards having one of the best records in baseball, there are still some issues with certain Cards players.  These players need to take the All-Star break to rest, regroup and/or rejuvenate.

1.        Matt Holliday –  Matt’s right hamstring cramped up on him while running to first base during a game last week.  He has been on a day-to-day basis since then.  The All-Star break will help him rest his hurting hammy and hopefully avoid a trip to the disabled list.

2.       David Freese – Freese has looked terrible at the plate lately.  He will not take a walk.    It doesn’t matter how you get on base, just that you do get on base.  If you don’t get on base, there is no possibility of a run, and without enough runs, you don’t win.

3.       Jon Jay – Jay doesn’t look so great at the plate either.  If it weren’t for Jay’s errorless streak, Taveras comes up from Memphis (that is, if his ankle holds up).

4.       Lance Lynn – Lance can’t win on the road.  There is always one inning where opposing batters seem use him for batting practice.  That’s okay if our offense can make up the runs given up.  A short break may help him get his head together.

Even with the minor difficulties listed above, the first half of the season has been great.  The Cardinals have nothing to be ashamed of.  They had the best record in baseball for a while.  The Cards had a June swoon that appears to be reversing itself.  The interleague series did not go well this year, unfortunately.

I’m looking forward to the second half of the season.  The possibility of Chris Carpenter returning is intriguing.  With the exception of a long road trip at the end of July (Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati), most of the remaining games are at home, and the Cards play best at home.  And is John Mozeliak done wheeling and dealing?  The trade deadline is July 31.

For those of us who love Cardinals baseball so much that we don’t know what to do with ourselves when a game isn’t being played, the All-Star break is too long.  But for those players not participating in the All-Star festivities, it’s time to go for them to go home to their families and enjoy a little R&R time so they’re ready to go for the second half of the season and hopefully, a playoff run.

I’ll enjoy tonight’s game, hoping to see Adam Wainwright pitch another masterpiece.  The All-Star break will help me look even more forward to Friday night’s game and the resumption of the season.  I hope it will for you too.

Thanks for reading!  See you next time!

Diane

Christian Day at the ballpark

Christian DayThe Cardinals have held a Christian Day event once a year for the last few years.  An organization named Christian Family Day used to organize this event, until the Cardinals organization decided they wanted to take care of it themselves.

I have always wanted to go to a Christian Day game, but hubby balked until this year, when we found out that the guest speaker was going to be Willie Robertson, star of the hit A&E TV show Duck Dynasty.  We are big DD fans at our house (don’t judge, OK?) and thought it would be great to hear Willie in person.

A lady at the church we attend is a big DD fan too, so we decided to purchase group tickets for the game and make them available to the members of our church to purchase.  We purchased the group tickets online.  There was a 30% discount on group tickets for this game, which was great.

We got to our seats just in time to see Willie throw out the first pitch to Adam Wainwright.  We weren’t close enough to see whether he threw a strike or a ball, but at least he didn’t bounce it to home plate like some first pitch throwers do.  Willie’s dad Phil was the starting quarterback at LSU (amazingly, Terry Bradshaw was second string), so he surely inherited some athletic ability.

After the game, we were instructed to go sit in the seats behind the Cardinals’ dugout for the speeches.  From looking at the stands, it appeared that most of the first level of the stadium was filled, which I thought was great considering how hot it was.

I tried to tape the presentation on my phone, but I didn’t get the first part of the presentation.  Hubby and I got separated and he called me when Adam Wainwright started speaking and the camcorder turned off.  I thought I had it back on for Mike Matheny and Willie’s speeches, but it wasn’t.  😦 Can I blame the heat?  LOL!

Jason Motte spoke first.  Matt Carpenter spoke about a passage in the book of Matthew that really spoke to him.  David Freese shared his favorite Scripture and spoke about needing brothers in Christ such as Adam Wainwright, Matt Holiday and Mike Matheny to help him in his Christian walk. Matt Holliday has his favorite Bible verse, Job 38:4, tattooed on his arm, and Adam Wainwright spoke about his childhood and his wild lifestyle before he was saved.  Mike Matheny was the last Cardinal to speak.

Willie at Busch

Then Willie was introduced, to thunderous applause.  Willie spoke about the success of Duck Dynasty.  He then spoke at length about Si, Phil, and Miss Kay (uncle, dad and mom, respectively).  Willie called Si one of the godliest men he knew.  He mentioned that if Phil hadn’t turned his life over to the Lord that there would be no Duck Dynasty.  Willie said that Miss Kay is the nicest woman in the world.  Willie then spoke about the philosophy that shapes the family’s lives – faith, family, ducks – in that order and that it would never change.

For more information about some of the Christian faith of some of the Cardinals, read the book Intentional Walk: An Inside Look at The Faith That Drives the St. Louis Cardinals by Rob Rains. For more information about Willie Robertson, read The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family and Ducks Built an Dynasty, a book Willie wrote with his wife Korie.

Oh, yes, there was a game yesterday too.  It was a nice outing by Lance Lynn, with no blow out inning(s) like some of the last games he’s started.  Matt Holliday hit a home run, which is always good to see. Carlos Beltran stole home for the winning run, and he also made a very nice acrobatic catch in the top of the 9th inning.  We were sitting in section 232, not far from where Carlos patrols the outfield, and we cheered for him when he made that great catch. He’s 36 years old?  Really? He plays like he’s 10 years younger. Carlos, if you have found the Fountain of Youth, please share.  The Cardinals also swept a series at home for the first time this season.  It was a good day all around.

A note to the Cardinals organization – Christian Day is great, but can you please hold it in April, May or September when it isn’t so doggone hot?  There might have been even more people who would have stayed for the presentation if it hadn’t been so hot.  Also, this event used to be held on Saturdays.  A Saturday event would be better so as not to interfere with church services. Depending on how far folks traveled to get to the game, they didn’t get to attend church on Sunday.  Thanks!

Thanks as always for reading!  See you next time!

Diane