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!