I enjoyed Tracy Mehan’s piece on the St. Louis Cardinals.
Like many Cardinals fans, Mehan possesses a modesty when it comes to talking about their team. They love their team but they don’t brag about them. Maybe it’s Cardinal rule. Yet there is much to brag about. The Cardinals are arguably the most successful franchise in National League history. While the Giants and Dodgers have won more NL pennants, the Cardinals have won ten World Series titles. Only the New York Yankees have won more.
Recently, I gave a less than favorable review of George Vecsey’s biography of Stan Musial. However, Vecsey does provide a good overview of the Cardinal teams that won four NL pennants in five years under Billy Southworth. In fact, no NL team has won three consecutive pennants since the Cardinals from 1942-1944 (although the Philadelphia Phillies came close to replicating the feat last year.) Indeed, the Cards narrowly missed winning the NL pennant in 1941 finishing two and a half games back of the Brooklyn Dodgers and again in 1945 finishing three games back of the Chicago Cubs. If not for but a handful of losses, the Cardinals could have won an astounding six consecutive NL pennants. Southworth also guided the Boston Braves to a NL pennant in 1948. Overlooked for decades, the Veterans Committee inducted Southworth into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.
While I have never been to St. Louis, I have enjoyed the company of Cardinals fans. In 2003 (the year before the Sox swept the Cards in the World Series), I saw an interleague game between the Cards and Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. I sat the in the rightfield grandstands surrounded by Cardinals fans who had traveled to see the game courtesy of KMOX (which has broadcast Cardinals games on the radio for decades.) Unlike Yankees fans, the Cardinals fans did not get on the Red Sox players but rather concentrated on boosting their own especially Albert Pujols. Every time he came to bat, one half of them would chant “PU” while the other half chanted “JOLS.” They were fairly low key and respectful. I think it’s a fair description of Cardinals fans in general. Perhaps it is yet another Cardinal rule. They don’t tend to get agitated against an opposing team or player with perhaps the possible exception of Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. With him, Cardinals fans see Red.
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