Each month, the United Cardinal Bloggers are assigned one group writing project. Well, for July, piggybacking off last month’s project about the Hall-of-Fame exhibit, we were asked to pick five players we believed should be in the new Cardinals Hall-of-Fame. At the end, our votes will be tallied and then the UCB nominees will be published around July 29th. Thus, my post does not end here, so keep an eye on the UCB website (link is above) or on C70 at the Bat’s blog for the final tally.
Quick disclaimer: Any Cardinal that currently has his number retired (i.e. Ozzie, Red, Stan, etc.) are already considered part of the Cardinals Hall of Fame, so they aren’t eligible. Also, players who are already in the MLB Hall-of-Fame, like Joe Medwick, are not eligible either. The point of this project is to recognize some of the Cardinal greats that may not be getting the recognition they deserve.
1. Curt Flood: (CF: 1958-1969)
For his career, Flood hit .293 and had an on-base percentage of .343. He slashed his way to 271 doubles, 84 home runs, and 633 runs batted in. His best tool, though, was his defense–by far. He accumulated seven straight Gold Glove awards. One must not forget that he won these awards during the prime of the great Willie Mays. Flood was the best defensive center fielder of his time. Although he may not have the over-the-shoulder basket catch on film to show it like Mays, it is simply the truth. Lastly, he was named to three All-Star teams and was an integral part of two World Series titles.
Off the field, he changed the game of baseball forever. I will not get into this because I am sure other bloggers can tell the tale better than me, but in short, Flood basically is the reason that collective bargaining/player arbitration exists today. He may have failed with his own attempts, but soon after his playing career, it came into existence and is still around today.
If someone had such an impact on and off the field, he deserves to be in the Hall-of-Fame in Cooperstown, not just the Cardinals HOF. Take a bow, Mr. Flood, you deserve it.
2. Mike Shannon (3B/OF/Front Office/Announcer: 1962-1970, 1971-2013)
Over nine years, Shannon hit .255 with 68 home runs and 367 runs batted in. He was a part of two World Series championships–1964 and 1967. He also had a knack for key home runs in the World Series. He hit the game-tying two-run homer in Game 1 off Whitey Ford in the 1964. Then in 1967, he hit a home run to help clinch game 3 against Boston.
Although that may look like just an average major league career with some post-season success, that is not really why I put him in the new Cardinals Hall-of-Fame. Shannon deserves to be in the Hall based on his commitment to the organization for over 56 years. His insight in the broadcast booth has been unique to say the least. Just about everyone in St. Louis knows at least one “Shannonism.”
One of my favorite broadcasts of Shannon’s was probably 5-7 years ago when the team was in New York playing the Mets. The game must have been a boring one because Shannon went on what seemed like a 15 minute tangent about the moon above the stadium. He ended his tangent by saying, “I wish you folks back in St. Louis could see this moon.” I don’t think I’ve ever laughed that hard listening to a baseball game on the radio.
3. George Kissell (The Professor: 1940-2008)
The clubhouse in Jupiter, Florida was named after Kissell and has a plaque that reads, “Every player in the Cardinals’ Organization since 1940 has had contact with George Kissell and they have all been better for it. … Well known for his emphasis on fundamentals, George taught several generations of Redbirds how to play baseball.” Do I really need to say more? That really does sum it up perfectly. Kissell was a living representation of the Cardinal Way, and his teaching philosophies will be forever remembered in the teaching manuals the organization comprised over the years.
I will end his section with my favorite quote from Kissell, “Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I’ll remember. Involve me and I’ll understand.”
4.. Willie McGee (1982-1989, 1996-1999)
Through two stints with the St. Louis Cardinals, McGee always remained a true fan favorite. Other than the next player on my list, McGee is the only player I have been lucky enough to see play. For his Cardinals career, he had a .294 batting average and .329 on-base percentage. He hit 255 doubles, 63 home runs, and 678 runs batted in. He won 3 Gold Glove Awards and was named to the All-Star team four times. He won two batting titles (1985 and 1990) and was a part of one World Series championship in 1982.
One of my favorite memories of Willie #51 was in August of 1999. I looked up the date just to be sure, and it occurred on August 5th. Tony Gwynn was looking for his 3,000th hit, and Mark McGwire was looking for his 500th career home run. Well, Gwynn hit a looping fly-ball in front of McGee that looked like it was going to be his 3,000th hit. However, Willie was able to snare it just before it hit the ground for a true shoe-string catch–preventing Gwynn’s 3,000th hit. Also in the game, Big Mac hit his 500th and 501st home runs off Padres pitcher, Andy Ashby. Although the Cardinals fell 10-3, it was still a pretty historic night that I will remember for a long time.
5. Darryl Kile (2000-2002)
In his first season with St. Louis in 2000, Kile went 20-9–the first Cardinals pitcher with 20 wins since John Tudor and Joaquin Andujar in 1985. That year, he made his third All-Star team and finished 5th in the Cy Young Award voting.
In less than two and a half seasons for the Cardinals, Kile had incredible statistics. He had seven complete games (two shut-outs) and averaged just under 227 innings pitched per season. He finished with a 41-24 record (.631 winning percentage). He struck out 421 batters as a Cardinal–largely due to his dynamite curve ball and bulldog approach to pitching. In his entire career, Kile never once was placed on the disabled-list. When can you ever say that about a pitcher?
Also, how would Matt Morris have turned out without the tutelage of Kile? If I believe correctly, Kile is the one who taught Morris that devastating curve ball. Kile was the Chris Carpenter for the Cardinals before Carpenter was around. If Kile was still alive, I strongly believe he would be the team’s pitching coach at this time–as long as Houston or Colorado did not grab him first.
I will forever remember where I was when I was told the news. I was playing in a game of my own at the Affton Athletic Association, thus was not able to watch the game against the Cubs. My parents knew how much I liked him so they waited to tell me after the game so that it would not affect me. These words from Joe Girardi give me goosebumps and cause me to tear up to this day. Rest in Peace, Darryl Kile.
Thus, there is my ballot. Most of the players and the coach existed before my time, but with players such as Jim Edmonds and Chris Carpenter not currently eligible for National Hall-of-Fame voting, let’s wait a while for them. However, 3-5 years down the road, both of these people I just listed deserve to be in the Cardinals Hall-of-Fame as well. I am a firm believer that Edmonds should be strongly considered for the National Hall-of-Fame so let’s see how he does with that voting first.
Until next time…
Follow me on Twitter: @stlCupOfJoe
- Ballpark Village: Cardinals Hall of Fame Exhibit (stlcupofjoe.com)
- Ranking the Five Best Center Fielders in St. Louis Cardinals History (stlcupofjoe.com)
- The Year of Stan Musial: St. Louis Cardinals Get 6 All-Stars (stlcupofjoe.com)