Two Weeks, Just Two More Weeks …

Closer, ever closer to real baseball … Not next Sunday, but the one after that — Easter Sunday, in fact — and we’ll have games that matter for the St. Louis Cardinals, starting at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.

Two weeks, or just 14 days. And 14 is an interesting number in Cardinals history. It was worn by Ken Boyer from 1955 to 1965 as a player, as well as during his Cardinals coaching career in 1971-1972 and managerial career from 1978 to 1980.

14

The number also was retired by the Cardinals in 1984, following Boyer’s untimely death to lung cancer in 1982.

Unlike those who wore the other numbers retired by the Cardinals, however, Boyer is not in the Hall of Fame. Yet, anyway.

Here’s more on Boyer that I wrote for Graham Womack’s Baseball Past and Present site and the annual ranking of the 50 best players not in the Hall of Fame. This piece is from 2013, when Boyer ranked No. 37.

Perhaps the best measure of whether Ken Boyer belongs in the Hall of Fame comes from the St. Louis Cardinals themselves. Traditionally, the team retires numbers only for Hall of Famers – or, in the case of Tony La Russa whose No. 10 was retired in 2012, those sure to be inducted. Gracing the left field wall at Busch Stadium are the photos and numbers of the Cooperstown inductees: Stan Musial, Dizzy Dean, Red Schoendienst, Bruce Sutter, Whitey Herzog, on and on … plus Ken Boyer’s No. 14. Boyer’s number was retired in 1984, two years after his untimely death from cancer at age 51.

Boyer was the National League MVP in 1964, as well as a key contributor during that year’s Cardinals World Series championship. He was a seven-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove third baseman whose numbers for his 15-year career – .287/.349/.462 with 282 home runs, 1141 RBI, 58.7 WAR – are comparable to those of Hall of Famer Ron Santo over his 15-year career. Of course, Santo’s journey to the Hall was long and winding, but ultimately resulted in induction. And the sentiment of long-time Cardinals fans, with this being one example, is that the same should hold true for Boyer.

He was ranked No. 40 in 2014, for which I wrote a similar piece.

Cardinals fan Kevin McCann is writing a biography of Boyer — check out more info on the book’s Facebook page.

And now just 14 days!

Tony La Russa: “The Relentless Grinder”

Tony La Russa never wasted any words when speaking with the media during his career as a manager.   Whileimage (7) those words could be short ended and sparse at times, he is direct and carried a dry sense of humor about him.

When these media sessions go well, the player/coach treats them like a conversation and not an interrogation.   La Russa simply sat there and talked to us before he signed for the fans.  Here are are his thoughts on various subjects.

On Sunday, La Russa gave an intimate 25 minute conversation about his years in St. Louis, instant replay, and getting into the Hall of Fame.  It was one of those conversations that you didn’t want to see end and wouldn’t soon forget.

On getting into the Hall Of Fame-

“I had convinced myself it wasn’t going to happen.  This has been a surreal experience.  All the pieces they give you and the other guys.  It’s heavy stuff.  You get the call and they don’t tell you anything else.  They tell you to come down.   They tell you that your life will be different.  There’s some far out stuff that is impossible to comprehend.”

La Russa, even after making it into the Hall, isn’t comfortable being a part of it.

“I still think the Hall Of Fame is a place for players.  I always thought the managers in there were guys like Earl Weaver and Sparky Anderson, who lit the room up with baseball.   When we won the Championship in 2006, there was a feeling something was there, having won one in each league(like Sparky).  It may be hard to avoid it.   I am not comfortable with it and the biggest reason is I never thought good fortune was hall of fame criteria.  I have been lucky enough to be in places like Chicago, (Oakland), and St. Louis.  The only thing I want is to not disrespect Chicago or Oakland.  They will make their decision soon.”

One year after Stan Musial passed away, the legendary Cardinal still comes to Tony’s mind.

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Catching Up With The Cardinals: Friday Edition

Friday at last, of a seemingly very long week — guess the polar vortex and snow will do that. And, with just over a month until Cardinals pitchers and catchers report to Jupiter on Feb. 12, baseball still seems far away.

saint_louis_cardinals_logoNot that there hasn’t been baseball in the news this week, with the results of the Hall of Fame voting revealed on Wednesday (and all the moralizing and lecturing and pomposity from too many of those who voted spewing out both before and after). Ahead of that, though, Graham Womack at Baseball Past and Present on Monday unveiled his fourth edition of the 50 best baseball players not in the Hall of Fame. It’s a long and great read, well worth the time for the information on each player (although three listed now are Hall of Famers — congratulations to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas). There are several Cardinals on the list, including Ted Simmons at No. 26, Joe Torre at No. 34 (as a player, since he’ll be inducted as a manager in July) and Ken Boyer at No. 40 (and I was privileged to write about him for the project).

Speaking of Simmons, if you haven’t read The Sin of Being Second to the Best Ever by Derrick Goold yet, read it now.

Also, check out Legendary Cardinals Instructor George Kissell Deserves a Spot in the Hall of Fame from Stan McNeal at Fox Sports Midwest. Definitely would be a deserving honor for a man who did have, still has and will continue to have such an impact on the Cardinals and all those who have played for the team.

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Cardinals Congratulate Tony La Russa on Hall of Fame Selection

St. Louis Cardinals team chairman William DeWitt Jr. and Cardinals senior vice president and general manager John Mozeliak this morning congratulated Tony La Russa on being selected for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Hall of Fame Expansion Era Committee.

la_russa[1]“We are proud of Tony and honored that he will be joining an elite and distinguished group of Cardinals in the Baseball Hall of Fame,” said DeWitt. “This is truly a great day for Cardinals Nation.”

“Tony’s managerial tenure with the Cardinals will always stand out as one of the greatest eras in Cardinals history,” said DeWitt. “Tony’s passion for winning and innovative leadership not only helped the Cardinals achieve so much, his approach transformed how the game is managed and played today.”

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Monday Morning Tidbits: McCarver, Mo and More

UPDATE: Tony La Russa is unanimously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, as are Joe Torre and Bobby Cox. More from Derrick Goold and Rick Hummel is here.

It’s Monday morning, it’s cold and snowy throughout much of the country (which was pretty obvious if you watched any NFL games yesterday) but there’s plenty of baseball talk going on — so it can’t be all bad.

McCarverMaybe you saw the article on Friday in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch hinting at Tim McCarver joining the Cardinals broadcast team. Now Jenifer Langosch has more at the Cardinals site: indeed Fox Sports Midwest is nearing a deal that would add McCarver to the television team in a limited role.

Hmmm. Having never been quiet about my feelings for the Fox Midwest announcers (and rewatching some games lately from this season just makes my feelings all the more clear), I can’t say this would make things any worse than they have been. Who knows — maybe Joe Buck could even come back and do a couple of games with McCarver. Didn’t everyone besides Cards fans think they were always rooting for the team during national broadcasts anyway? But Dan McLaughlin and Tim McCarver together … yikes.

In happier thoughts, there likely isn’t a Cardinals fan out there who doesn’t appreciate what John Mozeliak continually does for the team. (Well, okay, there probably is at least one …) But if you don’t appreciate how he’s built the roster that’s appeared in two of the last three World Series and even retooled the roster for 2014 without giving up any of the Cardinals prospects plus received a compensatory draft pick now that Carlos Beltran has signed with the Yankees, read this about the Seattle Mariners and their general manager Jack Zduriencik. You will appreciate Mo — and be really glad you’re a Cardinals fan.

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