St.Louis Sports Franchises: St. Louis Cardinals
February 22, 2011 Leave a comment
World Series Titles: 10 (1926, 1931, 1934, 1942, 1944, 1946, 1964, 1967, 1982, 2006)
Retired Numbers: #1 Ozzie Smith, #2 Red Schoendienst, #6 Stan Musial, #9 Enos Slaughter, #14 Ken Boyer, #17 Dizzy Dean, #20 Lou Brock, #24 Whitey Herzog, #42 Bruce Sutter, #42 Jackie Robinson (retired league-wide), #45 Bob Gibson, #85 Gussie Busch
Rivals: Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros
The Cardinals are arguably the most historically successful franchise in the National League; winning 10 World Series championships, the most of all National league teams, and second in all of the MLB only to the New York Yankees.
The Cardinals were founded in 1882 as a member of the American Association under the team name of the St. Louis Brown Stockings. The Brown Stockings quickly came to find success, winning four consecutive AA pennants from 1885-1888. The early makings of a heated rivalry with the Chicago Cubs began during this era, as Chicago (then called the White Stockings) was the opponent in the heavily disputed 1885 series, as well as the outright 1886 St. Louis victory. In 1899, the club changed its name to the “Perfectos” before settling on the Cardinals name in 1900.
The Cards had company (and competition) in the St. Louis baseball market from cross-town rivals, the St. Louis Browns, who played in the American League from 1902-1954 before moving to Baltimore and becoming the Orioles. Major moves were made in 1920, when Branch Rickey was named the new general manager of the Cardinals, and sold the old ballpark, moving into shared space with the Browns. This sale provided Rickey and owner Sam Breadon with adequate capital to invest and pioneer the minor league farm system, which revolutionized the baseball culture, and produced many great players and successes for the Cardinals.
Led by hitting phenom Rogers Hornsby, who won the Triple Crown in 1922 and 1925 with the Cards, the 1920’s were bright times in St. Louis. They won their first World Series title, defeating the Yankees in 1926. The 30’s were high times as well, as the Cardinals overtook the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1931 World Series, and the team that was nicknamed the “Gashouse Gang” for their shabby appearance and rough style of play, also claimed victory in 1934 over the Detroit Tigers.
In the 1940’s Cardinal life was Musial as usual, as Stan “the Man” Musial donned the red and white for the first time in 1941, and did so for the next 22 seasons as well. Led by Musial, the Cardinals dominated in National League play, including a franchise record 105 wins in 1942, 1943, and 1944. Additionally, the Cards grabbed their World Series titles number four and five in 1942 and 1944, respectively. The ’44 series was especially memorable, as it was dubbed the “Streetcar Series,” with the Cardinals meeting their cross-town rivals, the Browns, on baseball’s biggest stage. The decade’s successes kept on rolling, as the Cardinals prevailed in the 1946 championship over the Boston Red Sox, behind Enos Slaughter’s extraordinary score from first on a double to left-center. Slaughter’s “Mad Dash” is still commemorated every year through a road race in St. Louis.
Although the departure of the Browns to Baltimore in 1953 left the Cardinals as the only major league team in town, the 50’s were a particularly quiet time in St. Louis baseball history. After a decade-long pennant drought, a trade with the Cubs brought outfielder Lou Brock and the hype back to St. Louis, with Brock perfectly filling in the hole left behind after Musial’s retirement in 1963. Along with pitching great Bob Gibson, Brock and his boys went on to demolish National League opponents, claiming the 1964 World Series over the Yankees, and the 1967 title over the Red Sox.
The Cardinals experienced yet another championship drought in the 70’s, but returned yet again to their winning ways in the 1980’s, as they acquired shortshop Ozzie Smith from the Padres before the 1982 season. Skippered by Whitey Herzog, the Cardinals won the 1982 fall classic over the Milwaukee Brewers, claiming world title number nine for the franchise.
The 1990’s were a time of coaching changes and record chasing in St. Louis. Herzog was replaced by former Cardinal Joe Torre, who then was replaced yet again by Tony LaRussa in 1996. The real headliner in the St. Louis dugout, however, was Mark McGwire, who captivated the attention of the nation in 1998, as he chased down Roger Maris’ single season home run record, along with the Cubs’ Sammy Sosa. McGwire eventually prevailed, eclipsing both Maris and Sosa by hitting 70 in the 1998 season.
The last decade in Cardinals’ history has been one of big stars and relative success. Led primarily by Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, and a respectable rotation, St. Louis clinched the NL Central Division in six of seven years, reached the 2004 World Series before falling to the Red Sox, and reached 105 wins yet again in 2004, tying the franchise record for the third time.
In 2006, the Cardinals moved to the new Busch Stadium. After accumulating a pseudo dismal 83 regular season wins, the team shocked all by making a surprising playoff run and winning the 2006 World Series against the heavily favored Tigers. This championship, the tenth and most recent one for the franchise, made the Cardinals the first team since the Yankees in 1923 to win the World Series in their first season in a new ballpark. The Yankees would repeat this accomplishment again in 2009 at the new Yankee Stadium.
On August 22, 2009, the Cardinals defeated the San Diego Padres for the 10,000th win in franchise history. In doing this, they became the fourth team to accomplish this feat, behind only the Giants, Cubs, and Dodgers. The most recent years have been ones of relative success for the Cardinals, behind the big bat of Albert Pujols and pitching excellence from Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. However, as the 2011 season is drawing near, there are many questions being asked about Pujols’ future in the red and white, as his deadline to extend his contract passed without a decision last week. Stay tuned tomorrow, as we analyze what life on Pu-hold looks and feels like for fans in St. Louis.