This series was originally published at the Redbird Daily, but is now proud to call Cards Conclave home. This installment was written by Austin Lamb.
Our next segment of the greatest Cardinals countdown includes two of the most beloved redbirds in history. We’ll also take a look at a couple of starting pitchers, and a slugging first baseman from the 1980’s.
#65 – Willie McGee, OF (1982-90 / 1996-99, RCG Score 95 + Extra Credit 5.75 = Total 100.75)
A member of the Cardinals’ Hall of Fame, fan favorite, and recent addition to the Major League coaching staff, Willie McGee kicks off the countdown at #65. I picked this group of players specifically to cover McGee. He is my mother’s favorite all time player and I could not pass up the opportunity to write about him.
A career .295/.333/.396 hitter over 18 major league seasons. McGee was a four time all-star, and won the 1985 National League MVP. He debuted with the World Series winning 1982 club, and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. In addition to the aforementioned accolades, he also won three Gold Glove Awards, a Silver Slugger, and twice led the league in hitting. Speed was an essential part of McGee’s game as he topped 20 stolen bases in seven different seasons. He also reached double digits in triples three different times, including leading the league with 18 in 1985.
Speaking of ’85, his MVP season was truly something to be admired. He set career highs in nearly every offensive category including a slash of .353/.384/.503. His OPS+ of 147 was the highest of his career and ranked 7th overall for the season. He led the league in hits with 216, stole 56 bases, scored 114 runs and drove in 82 RBI.
In addition to his time in St. Louis, McGee also played with Oakland, San Francisco, and Boston during his career. He returned to St. Louis in 1996 before retiring at the age of 40 in 1999. He spent the past few seasons as a special assistant to John Mozeliak, before being added to the St. Louis coaching staff for 2018.
#64 – Red Schoendienst, 2B (1945-56 / 1961-63, RCG Score 98 + Extra Credit 4.75 = Total 102.75)
Update: On June 6th, 2018, Cardinals Nation said goodbye to the Red Head. He had spent over 70 years in a Cardinal uniform. Aside from the majority of his Hall-of-Fame career, he also tallied the 2nd most wins by a manager in franchise history, with his 1041 wins being topped only by a fellow Hall-of-Famer, Tony LaRussa. At the time of his passing, Schoendienst was the oldest living Hall-of-Famer.
Another Cardinal legend lands on our countdown at #64. Albert Fred “Red” Schoendienst is exemplary of what Cardinal baseball is about. He played 15 season with the Cardinals, and managed another 12 full seasons plus two interim terms. He was a 10 time all-star and won two World Series titles during his playing career. One of those titles (1946) came as a member of the Cardinals. He also won three more titles as a manager in 1967, and coach in 1964 and 1982. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989 by the Veterans Committee and his number (2) was retired by the Cardinals seven years later. Even at the age of 94 he is still active with the Cardinals organization often appearing at spring training and at Busch during the season.
A .289/.337/.387 hitter during his career. Schoendienst once led the league in hits with 200, and stolen bases with 26. His career OPS+ of 94 actually falls below average, but his mastery with the glove is where he truly shined. Six times he had the highest fielding percentage among second baseman. He also led the league in range factor/game five times, and total zone runs as a second baseman twice. Schoendienst was first among second baseman in assists three times during his career, and also ranked first twice in double plays turned. He amassed a 42.3 career WAR over his 19 big league seasons.
#63 – Ted Breitenstein, SP (1892-96 / 1901, RCG Score 102 + Extra Credit 0.75 = Total 102.75)
Following up two of the most well know Cardinals, is one I would imagine most fans are not familiar with. Ted Breitenstein played with the Cardinals from their inception in 1892 through 1896, before finishing his career where it started in 1901. While his career ERA of 4.03 and WHIP of 1.449 do not jump off the page, the man threw some innings. I mean, some serious innings. He twice led the league in starts with 50 and 51 respectively, while throwing 46 and 47 complete games. He threw 2,973.1 innings during his 11 year career. For comparison, Adam Wainwright has pitched in 12 seasons and has 1,891.2 innings under his belt. Breitenstein led the league in ERA+ in 1893 at 148, while also leading in traditional ERA of 3.18. He won more than 20 games three times during his career, and posted three more season of 18 or more. He finished his career with a 52.1 WAR, which ranks 93rd in history for pitchers.
#62 – Harvey Haddix, SP (1952-56, RCG Score 102 + Extra Credit 0.75 = Total 102.75)
Although he played only five season in St. Louis, Harvey Haddix posted some very good numbers during his tenure. A three time all-star with the Cardinals, he received MVP votes and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1953. That season he was 20-9 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.142 WHIP. In addition, he led the league in shutouts with six, and added a save. Haddix made 33 starts and compiled 253 innings pitched. He followed up his tremendous 1953 season with another excellent year in ’54. That season he won 18 games and led the league in strikeouts per 9 at 6.4. Following his time in St. Louis, he would go on to win three Gold Glove Awards, and the 1960 World Series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
#61 – Jack Clark, 1B (1985-87, RCG Score 102 + Extra Credit 2 = Total 104)
“The Ripper” played just three seasons in St. Louis, but his 1987 season was one for the books. He led the league in walks (136), on-base percentage (.459), slugging percentage (.597), OPS (1.055), and OPS+ (176). Clark also added 35 home runs, 105 RBI, and 93 runs scored. He was named an all-star, won the Silver Slugger, and finished third in MVP voting. He was also named an all-star, and won his other career Silver Slugger in his 1985 season with St. Louis. Although that season pales in comparison to ’87, he still posted a very respectable .281/.393/.502 slash line while hitting 22 home runs and driving in 87 RBI. He played 18 big league seasons, most with San Francisco, and finished his career with a 52.8 WAR. Ranking him 168th all-time for position players.
Thank you for reading!
I’ll also be bringing you the next entry in our countdown tomorrow with #60 – #56.