Continuing The Countdown: 10 Days

Ah, 10 days! Only 10 more days until we’ll get the chance to see the Cardinals playing real baseball … and hear endlessly about Joe Maddon and KRIS BRYANT!!! and how amazingly wonderful and fantastic and playoff-bound those Cubs because Theo Epstein is the biggest and bestest baseball genius who ever lived when our yes-they-went-to-the-NLCS-last-year-but-who-cares-because-they’re-not-the-CUBBIES!!! Cards face the media-adored 2015 World Series favorites at the of-course-it-will-be-ready-well-all-except-the-bleachers Wrigley Field …

Just trying to get you ready for what we’ll have to endure from ESPN on April 5.

Anyway, 10 days. And No. 10 for the Cardinals is, of course, now retired for former manager Tony La Russa, who led the team from 1996-2011 and to World Series championships in 2006 and 2011. I was planning to spotlight him today, until I received this brief email from my uncle Jim yesterday: “Tomorrow. Rex Hudler?” Since I didn’t write about one of his favorite Cardinals who wore No. 12 on Tuesday, I’ll go with Rex Hudler today … although there weren’t any photos but baseball cards available via an image search and nothing larger than this baseball card of him.

10So, yes, Rex Hudler. I’ve heard the name, know he’s a broadcaster now but don’t really know much about him. Thus, research time.

He was a Cardinal from 1990 to 1992. Here’s more on that:

Little did Cardinals fans know what they were about to see when Rex Hudler crashed into town in April, 1990.

The Arizona native quickly endeared himself to Cardinal Nation with an all-out playing style — diving, sliding, and forsaking his body, all in the name of victory and inspiring teammates.

Hudler quickly earned the nickname “Wonder Dog,” and a local columnist started a fan club in his name as a tribute to the hard-nosed and enthusiastic approach on the diamond.

“I’d be looking at the crowd and I’d see spit flying out of their mouthes,” said Hudler, who played three of his 13 big league seasons in St. Louis. “They were rabid. I told myself, ‘Wow, self, you’re an entertainer. You’re entertaining these people.’ I got an adrenaline rush on that. I couldn’t wait to get up there again. I couldn’t wait to make a play for the fans.”

Well, OK. One of those scrappy, gritty types — definitely makes sense he’d be a Cardinals fan favorite.

There’s one highlight from his career in St. Louis too, which I do recall hearing discussed during a Cards television broadcast at some point — from Ricky Horton, maybe?

Rex actually earned his “Bug-Eater” moniker in St. Louis during a game when he picked up an enormous junebug off his hat and when dared to eat it by his Cardinal teammate, Tom Pagnozzi, got the players in the dugout involved and they paid him $800 to eat the junebug.

Oh, and his Baseball Reference page, where I learn that he hit .253/.288/.379 in 251 games as a Redbird, he is wearing a Cards cap in his photo.

If you’re interested, he’s also a motivational speaker, and on his website is where I learned this fact: he is one of a very few players to have played for 10 years in the minor leagues and 10 years in the major leagues.

There you go.

And now just 10 days!

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