The St. Louis Cardinals are all about legacy. It’s impossible to go to Busch Stadium and not be reminded of the long line of Cardinal greats that have defined the organization over its 121 year history. From the mini statues outside, to the retired numbers below the scoreboard, to the video clips of the history of the team that play throughout the game, all the way BACK outside to the biggest statue of them all, Stan Musial, which greets fan approaching each of the last two incarnations of Busch Stadium.
With the retirement of Tony LaRussa’s #10 last Friday night, the legacy of Cardinal greats gained a new immortal. He joined Rogers Hornsby (no number), Ozzie Smith (1), Red Schoendist (2), Musial (6), Enos Slaughter (9), Ken Boyer (14), Dizzy Dean (17), Lou Brock (20), Whitey Herzog (24), Bruce Sutter (42), Bob Gibson (45) and former owner Gussie Busch (85). In addition to those, a microphone was appropriately retired for late broadcaster Jack Buck. It is a truly elite class of figures in not only the organization’s history, but history of the game.
However, the working policy of late has been to only retire numbers of figures that are entering the Baseball Hall of Fame. While this is a great policy that truly makes the selections that are forever immortalized as the class of all Cardinals secure, it overlooks a major part of what makes the organization what it is: a ton of great, great players. These are the guys that, when looking back on an era, can’t help but mentioned as often as their Hall of Fame teammates. And the Cardinals are a franchise with more of those guys than nearly any other franchise.
Along with the long line of era defining non-HOFers, there is a curious string of long-enshrined members of Cooperstown that are still missing from the ranks of retired Cardinal figures. What gives there? If there’s going to be a rule, it needs to apply overall. Service time be what it is, there’s some clearly defined Cardinal greats that are missing. There are also eras of legendary guys that are backlogged because of it.
So who are the some of the most obvious on lookers that aren’t fully acknowledged for their fantastic individual contributions to Cardinal history? Here’s a few of the primary candidates, along with why they should be mentioned, as well as why they aren’t still.
(Cardinal years in parentheses)
Mike Shannon-Third Baseman/Announcer: (#18, 1962-Present): Shannon was a member of some of the greatest teams in the franchise’s history in the 60’s, but his greatest contributions came after the field was behind him. Along with Buck, he formed one of the best commentary combinations in the history of the game, and has followed in the legendary footsteps ahead of him very well, providing many memorable calls of his own as well now. This is probably a foregone conclusion at this point, but it would be good to get done while he is still contributing to the team.
For more candidates that should be acknowledged along the walls and halls of Busch Stadium, as well as two eras of the team that have definite all-time greats that may never be properly honored, head over to St. Louis Sports 360 here: http://stlouissports360.com/tonys-10-retired-cardinals-numbers-active/
Also for more on the Cardinals of the present and their road to try to add more decorations above Busch, follow me on Twitter @CheapSeatFan.