St. Louis Cardinals Information
The team was formed as part of the American Association in 1882 where they enjoyed a four-year dynasty under flamboyant owner Chris von der Ahe. Initially they were known as the "Brown Stockings", named for a previous professional team in the city, whose name was one of several "Stockings" teams inspired by the success of the Cincinnati Red Stockings. This new team's nickname was quickly shortened to "Browns". The Browns squared off against the National League's Chicago White Stockings twice in the early version of the World Series. The Series of 1885 ended in dispute and with no resolution. St. Louis won the 1886 Series outright, the only Series of that era that was won by the AA against the NL. The vigorous St. Louis-Chicago rivalry continues to this day.
During the mid-1880s, the National League also had a St. Louis entry, the Maroons, which had come in from the Union Association. The Maroons were by far the strongest entry in the UA, but they had the misfortune of arriving at the time when the Browns were in their glory, and they soon folded.
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The Cardinals built themselves into a winner during the mid-1920s, led by second baseman / manager Rogers Hornsby, the closest player the National League had, statistically speaking, to Babe Ruth. In 1926, the Cardinals won their first pennant in 39 years, and then shocked the baseball world by knocking off the powerful New York Yankees in seven games in the World Series. The storied Game 7 reached its climax in the seventh inning when the previous day's winning pitcher, the aging Grover Cleveland Alexander, was summoned in relief to face slugger Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded (some fans feared that Alex might have been a little "loaded" himself after celebrating the previous days win). After giving up a long foul ball, "Ol' Pete" then struck out Lazerri swinging on 3 low fastballs. A closely-guarded secret at the time was that both men in that confrontation happened to suffer from epilepsy. The Yankees failed to mount any further rallies and that World Series was a winner for the Cardinals. Years later, a movie was made about Alexander's life titled The Winning Team (1952), starring Ronald Reagan.
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In 1934, Dizzy and his younger brother, Paul, combined to win 49 games - still a single season record for brothers. Dizzy, whose real name was Jerome Herman Dean and was called "Jay" by his pals, won 30 of them, with Paul (facetiously nicknamed "Daffy" by the press) contributing 19 wins. Dean's country humor made him a popular favorite, particularly in the rural south and midwest where Cardinals fans were numerous. The outgoing "Diz" and the shy "Daf" (a pair that Diz called "Me an' Paul") sometimes teamed up in doubleheaders. On September 21, 1934, Dizzy won the first game and then Paul pitched a no-hitter in the second game. Later, Diz jokingly remarked that he wished Paul had told him he was going to throw a no-hitter, because "Then I'd've pitched one too!"
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In the early 1940s, the Cardinals dominated the National League. The 1942 "St. Louis Swifties" won 106 games, the most in franchise history, and are widely regarded as among the greatest baseball teams of all time. In 1943 and again in 1944 they posted the second best records in team history at 105-49. The 1944 World Series was particularly memorable as they met their crosstown rivals, the St. Louis Browns, in the "Streetcar Series" or "Trolley Series". The Cardinals beat the Browns 4 games to 2 to win the 1944 World Series. Outfielder Stan "The Man" Musial led the ’44 team. Known to loyal fans as "Ol' Number 6", Musial spent 23 years in a Cardinals uniform. In 1968, a statue of Musial was constructed outside Busch Memorial Stadium (since relocated to the entrance of new Busch Stadium).
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In 1947, the Cardinals (who were effectively the South's only major league team until the 1960s) gained notoriety by threatening to boycott games against the Brooklyn Dodgers to protest the Dodgers' signing of a black player, Jackie Robinson, by former Cardinals front-office genius Branch Rickey, who was now building the Dodgers into a perpetual contender as had previously done with the Cardinals. The alleged ringleader of the boycott was Enos Slaughter. National League president Ford Frick threatened to ban any players who boycotted any games, and the boycott never materialized. The Cardinals did not sign a black regular until Curt Flood in 1958. The Cardinals' resistance to the trend of hiring minority talent contributed to a team slump that ran for the better part of the next two decades. Once they became sufficiently color-blind and brought in some high-caliber minority players, their fortunes would reverse and they would again become a contender. However, the organization was also the first Major League team to integrate spring training housing a decade later.
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In a series that resembled a rematch of the franchises' first encounter in 1926, the upstart "Redbirds", led by third baseman and captain Ken Boyer, took on the veteran Yankees, which featured his younger brother Clete, also an All-Star third baseman. Ken Boyer's stunning grand slam home run in Game 4 at Yankee Stadium, along with the overpowering pitching of their young twirler Bob Gibson, resulted in a 4 games to 3 win by the Cardinals. This signalled a "Changing of the Guard" in baseball, as this was the last Series appearance by the "Old" Yankees dynasty. Prior to 2001, the Cardinals remained the only team to hold an overall World Series edge against the Yankees, 3 Series to 2.
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1969 saw a number of changes as the major leagues expanded into 24 teams and 4 divisions. Originally, the Cards were to be placed in the new National League Western Division. But the Mets wanted three extra home games against St. Louis. In addition, the Cubs were forced to be in the East and have the more eastern teams of Atlanta and Cincinnati placed in the West. The resurgent Chicago Cubs led the newly-formed NL East Division for much of the summer before faltering. The Cardinals put on a mid-season surge, as their famous announcer Harry Caray (in what would prove to be his final season of 25 doing Cardinals broadcasts) began singing, "The Cardinals are coming, tra-la-la-la". However, to the surprise of both Chicago and St. Louis fans, the "Miracle" New York Mets would ultimately win the division, as well as the league championship and the World Series.
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After Bruce Sutter's 45 saves in 1984 sent him to the Braves, the Cards found a new savior in rookie outfielder Vince Coleman. The youngster would win Rookie of the Year by stealing 110 bases. Speaking of saviors, outfielder Willie McGee would win MVP honors. He would be the last Card to do so until Albert Pujols won the MVP in 2005. In a close race with the Mets (led by ex-Card Hernandez), the Cardinals would win the NL East once again.
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A New Busch Stadium for the Redbirds
Old Busch Stadium was demolished in the 2005 offseason and the third Busch Stadium opened on April 4, 2006 with a minor league game. The home opener was on April 10, 2006, with the Cardinals winning 6 to 4 against the Milwaukee Brewers. A week later, Albert Pujols hit three homers in a row to defeat the Cincinnati Reds.