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Out of Sight and Out of Mind

by Mark Ashby Vaughan

The current version of the Saint Louis Cardinals has a good chance of reaching the 2009 playoffs. I might go so far as to say that they have a reasonable chance of getting to the World Series this year. With the additions of Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa, Julio Lugo and John Smoltz, the Cardinals have bolstered both their offense and pitching. Expectations are high for the second half of the season and the team has been living up to those expectations.

The team now has five potential Hall of Fame (HOF) players on the 2009 roster; Albert Pujols and John Smoltz are both locks to be elected. Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright may also be selected once their career stats have been collected at the end of their careers.

Another Hall of Famer is manager Tony LaRussa.

It is not an easy accomplishment to get into the HOF. It took former Cardinals manager Billy Southworth 57 years to finally make it in. And now that former manager Billy Southworth has finally received his long overdue recognition with his 2008 induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame, it might be appropriate to ask a question of some other yesteryear Cardinals.

Specifically, what do Jim Bottomley, Frankie Frisch and Joe Medwick have in common?

Before I answer that question, let me give you some interesting facts regarding Southworth and the three players.

Manager Billy piloted the Cardinals for seven years, winning a total of 620 games for a .642 winning percentage. Southworth’s win percentage is far above Tony LaRussa’s best seven year run with the Cards (2000 – 2006), which included two World Series appearances and two 100 win seasons, culminating in a winning percentage of .581.

Southworth also led the Cardinals to three consecutive World Series appearances, a feat accomplished just once in Cardinals history, in ’42, ’43 and ’44. Two of those contests brought the title of Champions to Saint Louis.

Now to the players.

Jim Bottomley could knock in runs while hitting for a high batting average. From ’24 to ’29 he averaged 126 RBIs, 22 home runs while batting .321. The 1928 MVP also played in four World Series for the Cardinals, winning two. One title (1926) was won battling the mighty New York Yankees who featured future Hall of Fame players Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Earle Combs, Tony Lazerri and pitchers Herb Pennock and Waite Hoyt.

The feisty Frankie Frisch twice led the league in stolen bases while with the Cardinals. He also batted for a .312 average between the years of ‘27 and ‘37. The 1931 MVP led the Cardinals to a World Series victory that year against the Philadelphia Athletics who were represented by future Hall of Fame inductees Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons, Jimmy Fox and pitchers Lefty Grove and Waite Hoyt.

Joe Medwick, also known as “Ducky”, averaged 20 homers, 123 RBIs and a .337 batting average between the years of ’33 and ’39. The 1937 MVP batted .379 in the 1934 World Series win against the Detroit Tigers who were loaded with future HOF players Mickey Cochrane, slugger Hank Greenberg, Charlie Gehringer and Goose Goslin. Although the Tigers did not have any HOF pitchers, their pitching staff was led by All-Star Schoolboy Rowe who sported a 24 – 8 record that year.

Now, let me answer the question first asked in this article.

The commonalities shared by Jim Bottomley, Frankie Frisch and Joe Medwick are that all played the majority of their careers with Saint Louis; all contributed to at least one World Series title while playing for the Cards; all won an MVP title while with the team and all are members of Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Yet, quite astonishingly, they all are seemingly forgotten by the current Cardinals brass as evidenced by their omission from the Busch Stadium outfield wall of honor.


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