Days until Opening Night, Cardinals vs. Cubs on ESPN: 47
First player/coach to wear #47: Dick Ricketts (1959)
Last player/coach to wear #47: John Mabry (current)
Player/coach to wear #47 in the most seasons: Mabry (3 active, 11 total)
Number of players/coaches to wear #47: 28
Last time not worn: 2006
Okay, so this really was a coin flip between two players who couldn’t be more different in their Cardinal careers but have surprisingly similar baseball card stats. Because the 2007 campaign was also the beginning of my time around the St. Louis blogosphere, Ludwick gets the nod over Mabry by the slimmest of margins. (On a side note, this series will be even more fun due to debating some of the selections!)
Luddy endeared himself early in the ’07 season after completely mashing for Memphis (.340/.380/.642) into May. The one-time hyped prospect had battled numerous injuries and signed with the Cards as AAA insurance. He would go on to deliver 3 1/2 seasons as a major contributor while seeing time all over the outfield. Ludwick put together a remarkable run in 2008, winning a Silver Slugger award, garnering MVP votes and earning a trip to the All-Star game.
As amazing as that season was for Ludwick, he may best be remembered for the trade that took him out of town in 2010. Quickly becoming a fan favorite, Luddy manned the outfield aggressively to state it mildly and found it difficult to stay on the field at times. He was just back from Memphis for a rehab assignment in July when the emergence of Jon Jay and pitching needs made him expendable. Cleveland and San Diego also made waves in the deal, as Jake Westbrook joined the Cardinals with future Cy Young winner Corey Kluber going to the Indians.
Ludwick has bounced around since, recently signing with the Rangers and coming back full circle to where it all began. The same can be said for Mabry, who is no stranger to wearing a plethora of uniforms over the years. He broke out in 1995, taking home a 4th place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting even though he never had a true position to call his own. Mabry put together his finest year as a pro in ’96, nearly hitting .300 to go along with career highs in just about every offensive category as the everyday St. Louis first baseman.
Another trade deadline acquisition doomed the Cardinal career for Mabry, who was never able to unseat some guy named Mark McGwire after 1997. Mabry made a cameo appearance wearing the Birds on the Bat in 2001 and later donned the uniform again during the 2004 & 2005 seasons. McGwire and Mabry reunited in 2012 as hitting coaches before the job was passed on to ‘Mabes’ and ensured #47 stayed active.
Both Ludwick and Mabry share another chapter of St. Louis history as well, given that both have come and gone right around championship seasons. No one would be upset if that pattern changed in 2015, however, as it is Mabry’s 12th in a Cardinal uniform.