Countdown To Opening Night: Now 24

The days are just flying by now, aren’t they?

Yeah, I know. They’re not. But we’re only 24 days until the beginning of the regular season on April 5 at Wrigley Field. And, since it’s Thursday, here are four quick Throwback Thursday looks at past 24s to get us through another day.

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No. 24 was retired by the Cardinals in 2010, when Whitey Herzog was elected to the Hall of Fame. Herzog led the Cards to one official World Series championship in 1982, what should have been another championship in 1985 and to another National League pennant in 1987.

I know many long-time Cards fans speak glowingly of Herzog and “Whiteyball” and his success during the 1980s. But, hey, I was a Cubs fan in the ’80s. My favorite Herzog moment was him leaving Bruce Sutter in during a particular game on a Saturday afternoon in June 1984 …

Moving on, the final player to wear No. 24 before it was retired was Rick Ankiel, who wore the number during his return to the Cardinals as an outfielder in 2007 to 2009.

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For more on Ankiel, check out this Throwback Thursday post from a year ago when he officially announced his retirement as a player. It includes video of his home run during his return to the majors as an outfielder, plus clips of those amazing throws he made to third base when the Cards played the Rockies at Coors Field on May 6, 2008.  Continue reading

Cardinals Throwback Thursday: Basketball Stars Bob Gibson and Dick Groat

Ah, March Madness … If you’re a college basketball fan, or even if you just fill out one of the vast array of bracket options available, you’re no doubt aware that it begins today. With that in mind, here’s a Throwback Thursday look at two Cardinals who excelled on the hardwood as well — and both at colleges who are part of this year’s tournament.

collage320Bob Gibson’s basketball past is something I’ve written about previously, and you might be familiar with his accomplishments. He earned a basketball scholarship to Creighton University, which is the No. 3 seed in the West Region and takes on Louisiana – Layfayette on Friday at 2:10 p.m. Central Time.

White and Blue Review, a website about Creighton sports, has an amazingly researched and detailed account of Gibson’s career at the school as part of its “What’s in a Number” series. As with the Cardinals, Gibson wore No. 45 at Creighton. Also as with the Cardinals, the number was retired — though his 45 at Creighton is one of only three numbers that have been retired by the men’s basketball team.

Gibson majored in sociology and played basketball his entire time at Creighton. During his junior season, he averaged 22 points per game. During the spring of 1957, Gibson attracted attention for both his basketball and baseball skills. He received a $3,000 bonus to sign with the Cardinals and made his minor league debut that season. During baseball’s off-season, he signed with the Harlem Globetrotters. He roomed with famed Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon and became known for his backhanded dunks. Check out more about his Globetrotters days in this post Dayn Perry wrote last summer at CBS Sports.

Gibson only played for the Globetrotters one season. Cardinals general manager Bing Devine offered him $4,000 to stop playing basketball, which he accepted and reported to spring training in 1958. Gibson made his major league debut in 1959. And we know what he did from there …

Dick Groat was a shortstop for the Cardinals from 1963 to 1965 who played college basketball at Duke University and was an All-American in 1951 and 1952. Duke, like Creighton a No. 3 seed but in the Midwest Region, plays Mercer on Friday at 11:15 a.m. Central Time.

Continue reading