Countdown to Cardinals: 18

18

Days until Opening Night, Cardinals vs. Cubs on ESPN: 18

First player/coach to wear #18: Jeff Pfeffer (1923)

Last player/coach to wear #18: Oscar Taveras

Player/coach to wear #18 in the most seasons: Dave Duncan (16 total)

Number of players/coaches to wear #18: 37

Last time not worn: Technically 2012

Other interesting names tied to #18: Andy Van Slyke (1983-86), Keith Hernandez (1974-75), Mike Shannon (1963-70)

(Information from Birdbats)

Things are only going to get more interesting the next couple weeks or so as the countdown numbers shrink along with those in camp. Today’s digits have a direct impact on the rotation competition and that by itself will be quite a change as hitters and coaches have dominated wearing #18 since the 1960’s.

Ultimately it was a coin flip between two significant members of the Cardinal fraternity whose impact will be felt for years to come. Shannon spent his entire playing career under the Arch and contributed to all three World Series teams during the 60’s. While his time on the field was cut short, that hasn’t stopped the Moonman from endearing himself to fans everywhere from the booth. My childhood would not have been the same without Shannon, and I’ll still listen to as many broadcasts as I can before the all-to-familiar voice calls it a career.

If it were up to me, #18 would not be worn after the upcoming campaign and honestly, it has only to do with a certain coach who should have taken his place with TLR in the Hall of Fame. Duncan will always be mentioned as one of the best pitching coaches ever, and the St. Louis staff has his fingerprints all over it. Even during that crazy run to the title in 2011, it seemed like the team just played more inspired with Duncan back in dugout after caring for his wife.

That determination and drive have been passed down the ranks, and it would only be right to honor the man who helped define the last two decades of Cardinal hurlers. Dunc played a key role in building the top team in the National League and someday will be enshrined for his contributions to the game. And as for the current owner of that jersey, Carlos Martinez may have the brightest future of all just as long as he follows the path right in front of him thanks to the best in the business.

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