The team was formed as part of the American Association in 1882 where they enjoyed great success under flamboyant owner Chris von der Ahe. Initially they were known as the "Brown Stockings", named for a previous professional team in the city, whose name was one of several "Stockings" teams inspired by the success of the Cincinnati Red Stockings. This new team's nickname was quickly shortened to "Browns". The Browns won four American Association pennants in a row, 1885-88, and played in an early version of the World Series four times, twice against the National League's Chicago White Stockings (now the Cubs). The Series of 1885 ended in dispute and with no resolution. St. Louis won the 1886 Series outright, the only Series of that era that was won by the AA against the NL. The vigorous St. Louis-Chicago rivalry continues to this day.
During the mid-1880s, the National League also had a St. Louis entry, the Maroons, which had come in from the Union Association. The Maroons were by far the strongest entry in the UA, but they had the misfortune of arriving at the time when the Browns were in their glory. After the 1886 season, they were sold and moved to Indianapolis, becoming the Hoosiers.
The Browns joined the National League in 1892 following the bankruptcy of the American Association. They were briefly called the Perfectos in 1899 before settling on their present name, a name reportedly inspired by switching their uniform colors from brown to red. There was already a "Reds" team at Cincinnati, so the St. Louis team became "Cardinals" (reportedly because a woman spectator exclaimed that the uniform was "a lovely shade of Cardinal.")
Also in 1899, Chris von der Ahe was forced to sell the Cardinals due to financial troubles. The team was sold to Frank and Stanley Robison, who also owned the Cleveland Spiders. The new owners, dissatisfied with the Cardinals 1898 performance (twelfth place, 39 wins, 111 losses), and Cleveland's poor attendance, transferred much of the talent from the Spiders to the St. Louis franchise. This led to the spectacular demise of the Spiders, who fell to 20-134 (.130), along with significant improvement of the St. Louis club, which jumped from last (twelfth) place to fifth place. In effect, Cleveland and St. Louis switched places in the standings. The St. Louis-Cleveland chicanery destroyed the Spiders franchise and helped lead to contraction of the National League, which opened the door to the establishment of the American League as a rival to the National.
The change of name led to the adoption of the "St. Louis Browns" moniker by the American League franchise formerly known as the Milwaukee Brewers (the future Baltimore Orioles) upon their move to St. Louis in 1902.
The move to the National League proved problematic for a franchise that had dominated in the American Association. The 1899 season was the only time in the Cardinals' first nineteen seasons in the National League that they finished above .500. During that period St. Louis finished last or next-to-last ten times.
The Cardinals showed marginal improvement in the 1910s but did not approach their American Association success until the 1920s. It was then that Branch Rickey came to the Cardinals as general manager, developing the first farm system in baseball and stockpiling the team with talent. 1926 was the breakthrough year. Led by second baseman / manager Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis in 1926 won its first pennant in 39 years, and then shocked the baseball world by knocking off the powerful New York Yankees in seven games in the World Series. The storied Game 7 reached its climax in the seventh inning when the previous day's winning pitcher, the aging Grover Cleveland Alexander, was summoned in relief to face slugger Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded (some fans feared that Alexander might have been a little "loaded" himself after celebrating the previous day's win). After giving up a long foul ball, "Ol' Pete" then struck out Lazzeri swinging on 3 low fastballs. A closely-guarded secret at the time was that both men in that confrontation happened to suffer from epilepsy. In the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7, with the Cardinals clinging to a 3-2 lead, Babe Ruth drew a walk. He chose to steal second, and was thrown out, giving the Cardinals their first World Series championship.
The Cardinals fell just short in 1927, then won the pennant again in 1928, edging out the resurging Chicago Cubs and the perennially contending New York Giants. The Cardinals did not fare so well in the World Series, as the Yankees continued their dominance from 1927 and shot down the Cardinals in four straight.
Regardless, the stage was set for the new order of the National League. Rickey's farm system would produce great players and keep the Cardinals in contention for the next two decades. Between 1926 and 1946, the Cardinals, Cubs and Giants would become fierce rivals, that trio winning 17 of the NL pennants during those 21 seasons.
The Cardinals lost the 1930 World Series to the Philadelphia Athletics 4 games to 2, but came back strong the following year, playing an aggressive game of "inside" ball that broke the back of the A's in 7 games, in what would prove to be the A's Swan Song in post-season play.
In 1934, Dizzy and his younger brother, Paul, combined to win 49 games - still a single season record for brothers. Dizzy, whose real name was Jerome Hanna Dean and was called "Jay" by his pals, won 30 of them, with Paul (facetiously nicknamed "Daffy" by the press) contributing 19 wins. Dean's country humor made him a popular favorite, particularly in the rural south and midwest where Cardinals fans were numerous. The outgoing "Diz" and the shy "Daf" (a pair that Diz called "Me an' Paul") sometimes teamed up in doubleheaders. On September 21, 1934, Dizzy won the first game and then Paul pitched a no-hitter in the second game. Later, Diz jokingly remarked that he wished Paul had told him he was going to throw a no-hitter, because "Then I'd've pitched one too!"
The Dean brothers formed part what proved to be one of baseball's most legendary teams - the so-called "Gashouse Gang," whose hard play and wild antics endeared them to a wide following in a nation mired in the depths of the Great Depression. Led by playing manager Frankie Frisch and the hard-nosed Leo Durocher - and stars like Dean, Joe Medwick, Ripper Collins, and Pepper Martin- the '34 Cardinals won 95 games, the NL Pennant, and beat the Detroit Tigers in 7 games to win the World Series. The final game, an 11-0 blowout, earned the series the moniker of the "Garbage Series," thanks to the debris hurled onto the field by a Detroit crowd incensed by Medwick's outfield antics.
In 1935 the Cardinals were overcome and defeated by the Chicago Cubs, who reeled off 21 straight wins in September. The Cubs clinched the pennant in St. Louis, although their streak had been snapped by then.
In 1937, Dizzy Dean's toe was broken by a line drive in the All-Star Game, and he injured his arm during the recovery process, losing his famous fastball, and signalling a brief decline by the Cardinals. Dean would go on to become a popular sportscaster for the Cardinals.
In the early 1940s, the Cardinals dominated the National League, thanks to a deep farm system constructed by general manager Branch Rickey. The 1942 "St. Louis Swifties" won 106 games, the most in franchise history, and are widely regarded as among the greatest baseball teams of all time, defeating the Yankees in the World Series in five games. Outfielder Stan Musial played his first full season with the 1942 Cardinals. Known to loyal fans as "The Man", Musial spent 22 years in a Cardinals uniform, 1941-1944, 1946-1963. He won seven batting titles and three MVP awards, and his 3,630 hits remain the 4th highest in baseball history. In August 1968, a statue of Musial was dedicated outside Busch Memorial Stadium. In 1943 and again in 1944 they posted the second-best records in team history at 105-49. The Yankees got revenge in the 1943 World Series, beating the Cardinals in five games. The 1944 World Series was particularly memorable as they met their crosstown rivals, the St. Louis Browns, in the "Streetcar Series". The Cardinals won four games to two. All six games were played in Sportsman's Park, which the two teams shared. Billy Southworth, the manager for all three of those seasons, remains the only Cardinal manager to guide his team to three straight pennants.
The Cardinals finished 3 games behind the Cubs in 1945 without Musial, who was in in the U.S. Navy serving in World War II. After the season, Southworth left the Cardinals to manage the Boston Braves. Eddie Dyer was hired to replace him, and St. Louis came back to tie for the pennant in 1946, ousting the Brooklyn Dodgers in a playoff series to get to the World Series. They faced a powerful Boston Red Sox team and defeated them in 7 games, the eventual winning run in Game 7 coming in the eighth inning on Enos Slaughter's famous "mad dash" around the bases on a hit to shallow left center field. The latest in a resounding series of dominating seasons by the Cardinals, the 1946 Series would prove to be the Cardinals' last for 18 years, and leadership of the National League gradually passed to the Brooklyn Dodgers, now helmed by none other than Rickey, fired in 1942 after disputes with team ownership.
This job-switch between league powerhouses set the stage for a more profound upheaval in the game - breaking of the color barrier. In 1947, the Cardinals (who were effectively the southernmost major league team until the 1960s) gained notoriety by allegedly (the accusation is disputed) threatening to boycott games against the Brooklyn Dodgers to protest the Dodgers' signing of a black player, Jackie Robinson, by Rickey, who was now building the Dodgers into a perpetual contender as he had previously done with the Cardinals. The alleged ringleader of the boycott was Enos Slaughter. National League president Ford Frick threatened to ban any players who boycotted any games, and the boycott never materialized. The Cardinals did not sign a black player until 1954 with part-timer Tom Alston and did not sign a black regular until Curt Flood in 1958. The Cardinals' resistance to the trend of hiring minority talent contributed to a team slump that ran from the late 1940s until the early 1960s. However, the organization was also the first Major League team to integrate spring training housing a decade later.
Rickey had a falling-out with longtime owner Sam Breadon, and left the team to become general manager and part-owner of the Dodgers in 1942. With Breadon as effectively a one-man band, the Cardinals faded into the pack after their 1946 Series victory.
In the early 1940s, Breadon had made plans to build a new park for the Cardinals. The Cardinals had been the Browns' tenants at Sportsman's Park since 1920, even though the Cardinals had long since passed the Browns as the city's dominant team. He set aside $5 million to pay for a new part, but was unable to find land for it, and faced a five-year deadline to start construction without having to pay taxes on it. Between this dilemma and the discovery that he had terminal prostate cancer, Breadon looked to sell.
Prominent tax attorney and real estate investor Fred Saigh got word that the Cardinals were on the market. He came to Breadon with an unusual proposal—if Breadon sold the Cardinals to him, he wouldn't have to pay taxes on his $5 million fund. To put Breadon at ease, Saigh brought in former Postmaster General Robert Hannegan as a minority partner. In late 1947, Breadon sold the Cardinals to the Saigh-Hannegan group for $4 million.
Hannegan died in 1949, leaving Saigh as sole owner. Although the Cardinals remained competitive, they were on shaky financial ground. Meanwhile, the Browns, under new owner Bill Veeck, began a concerted drive to drive the Cardinals out of town.
In April 1952, however, Saigh was indicted for tax evasion after several questionable practices on his part, including the tax dodge he used to buy the Cardinals, came to light. He pleaded no contest to two lesser counts in January 1953. Facing almost certain banishment from baseball, Saigh put the Cardinals up for sale. For awhile, it looked like the Cardinals would be leaving town. However, Saigh turned down higher bids from out-of-town interests in favor of an offer from the St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch brewery. Brewery head August "Gussie" Busch took over as team president. Realizing the Cardinals now had more resources than he could possibly match, Veeck sold Sportsman's Park to the Cardinals. He would have probably had to sell the park in any case; the park had fallen into disrepair over the years, and the city had threatened to have it condemned. With the Browns' declining revenues (despite collecting rent from the Cardinals), Veeck could not afford to bring it up to code. Busch heavily renovated the 44-year-old park, renaming it Busch Stadium. Within a year, the Browns were forced to move to Baltimore as the Orioles.
The Cardinals front office continued to improve their minority hiring record, and built the Cardinals into another of their periodic dynasties. David Halberstam in October 1964 credits the Cardinals with being the first major league team to truly integrate and display racial harmony among teammates and their families. In 1963, they made a late-season run against the Dodgers which came close to putting Stan Musial into a World Series in his announced final season. The Dodgers held them off on that occasion, but for the last 6 years before divisional play went into effect and changed the nature of the pennant races, there were only two colors on National League pennants: Dodger Blue and Cardinal Red.
1964 saw one of the wildest pennant races in baseball history. The Philadelphia Phillies seemed to have a commanding lead, but fell apart in the last two weeks of the season, as the Cardinals and other teams pounced on the opportunity. The Cardinals, thanks in part to a mid-season acquisition from the Cubs, one Lou Brock, won on the last day of the season, finishing a game ahead of the Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds, with the San Francisco Giants and the Milwaukee Braves close behind.
The Brock acquisition was part of a multi-player exchange that brought veterans (notably pitcher Ernie Broglio) to the Cubs. Ironically, it was thought at the time to be a good move for the Cubs, although some observers were wary of sacrificing young talent. The other players in the deal have largely been forgotten, and the swap became known (in glory for the Cardinals, and infamy for the Cubs) as the "Brock for Broglio" trade.
In a series that resembled a rematch of the franchises' first encounter in 1926, the upstart "Redbirds", led by third baseman and captain Ken Boyer, took on the veteran Yankees, which featured his younger brother Clete, also an All-Star third baseman. Ken Boyer's stunning grand slam home run in Game 4 at Yankee Stadium, along with the overpowering pitching of their young twirler Bob Gibson, resulted in a 4 games to 3 win by the Cardinals. This was the last Series appearance by the "Old" Yankees dynasty, which had appeared in 14 of the 16 series played from 1949 to 1964. The Cardinals are the only of the original eight National League teams to hold an overall World Series edge against the Yankees, 3 Series to 2.
In a slightly bizarre post-season twist, manager Johnny Keane, who had been targeted for firing before the Cardinals' made their late-season comeback, left the team and took the job managing the Yankees. The Cardinals then promoted coach Red Schoendienst, who would take the managerial helm for the next 12 seasons and become a Cardinals legend. (According to The Baseball Hall of Shame by Nash and Zullo, the owners of the Cardinals and of the New York Yankees had decided, during the season, to replace their managers, Keane and Yogi Berra, after the season, regardless of the season's outcome. When these two teams happened to meet in the World Series, this plan received a great deal of attention.)
The mid-1960s saw changes both on the field and off - all while retaining the core of a remarkable successful franchise and its renewed popularity in St. Louis. Schoendienst's replacement of Keane had been preceded a few weeks earlier by general manager Bing Devine's firing, the redemption of the final pennant drive having come too late to assuage owner August Busch's dwindling patience. Devine was replaced by Bob Howsam, who made a number of moves to shore up a talented but aging team which struggled through the 1965 campaign, finishing mired in 7th place at 80-81. A capable GM if not Devine's equal, Howsam made some moves that worked - and some that did not. Aging veterans Bill White, Dick Groat, and utility catcher Bob Uecker were sent in a package to Philadelphia in return for Pat Corrales, Art Mahaffey, and Alex Johnson. Popular third baseman Ken Boyer was dispatched to the Mets in exchange for pitcher Al Jackson. Finally, pitcher Ray Sadecki was traded to the Giants for first baseman Orlando Cepeda. The latter moves worked better than the former, but the Cardinals still finished in 6th place in 1966, resulting in Howsam's replacement by none other than Cardinals legend Stan Musial. Musial's most notable move was to acquire Yankees' star Roger Maris.
Personnel changes were complimented by a change of venue, as Busch sought to replace the increasingly inadequate Busch Stadium (formerly Sportsman's Park) with a modern facility in a better location. The result was a new multi-purpose, $25 million concrete stadium, also named for Busch's father - Busch Memorial Stadium. The new facility hosted the 1966 All-Star Game, and would go on to host six World Series (1967, 1968, 1982, 1985, 1987, 2004) before being demolished in December 2005 to make way for a new retro-style baseball only park, also bearing the Busch name. Later derided as one of the bland so-called "cookie-cutter" multi-purpose stadia of the 60's, Busch Memorial achieved a measure of popularity among St. Louis fans in a way that its cousins in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati did not, perhaps due in part to the success of the teams which played there, and perhaps also due to the distinctive roof arches added by architect Edward Durrell Stone - unique touches meant to echo the city's new iconic monument (completed at nearly the same time), the Gateway Arch.
In 1967, all the pieces came together, and the Cardinals ("El Birdos") romped through the National League with 101 wins and then defeated the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, bursting "The Impossible Dream" bubble of the latter team, which had won their first pennant in 21 years, on the last day of the season. The 1967 team featured future Hall of Famers Lou Brock, Orlando Cepeda, Steve Carlton and Bob Gibson, who won 3 games in the Series and was again named Series MVP, as he was in 1964. Gibson came back from a broken leg during the season to accomplish his incredible World Series performance. KMOX radio also awarded Lou Brock a car for his superb play (12-29 .414 with a record-tying 7 stolen bases) in the Series. The Red Sox would not get another chance at beating the Cardinals until 2004, when they did so in a four-game sweep. Musial, meanwhile, stepped down as general manager, having added another accomplishment to his baseball resume: he is the only Cardinals GM with a perfect record in winning championships. Busch, having come to regret the firing of Bing Devine, hired him for a second stint as GM to replace Musial.
In 1968, "The Year of the Pitcher", Gibson finished with an astonishingly low ERA of 1.12, still a record for the live-ball era. Gibson won 22 games during the season and won both the Cy Young and MVP awards. The Cardinals again won the pennant by a double-digit margin. Although essentially the same team as the previous year, they faced a tougher opponent in the Detroit Tigers, who had also won their pennant easily, behind the 31-win season of Denny McLain. Even though both Gibson and McLain were league MVPs that season, another Tigers starter, Mickey Lolich, stole the show, becoming the last pitcher to date to win three complete games in a single Series. Gibson excelled again in the World Series, winning games 1 and 4. He had 17 strikeouts in Game 1 and totaled 35 strikeouts in the Series, both still World Series records. The Cardinals got to a 3-1 series lead, but the Tigers completed an improbable comeback by winning the final three games of the series to claim the championship, 4 games to 3. It was the last Series appearance for this great Cardinals team, and the last Series before baseball adopted its divisional format.
1969 saw a number of changes as the major leagues expanded into 24 teams and 4 divisions. Originally, the Cardinals were to be placed in the new National League Western Division. But the Mets wanted three extra home games against St. Louis. In addition, the Cubs were forced to be in the East and have the more eastern teams of Atlanta and Cincinnati placed in the West. The resurgent Chicago Cubs led the newly-formed NL East Division for much of the summer before faltering. The Cardinals put on a mid-season surge, as their famous announcer Harry Caray (in what would prove to be his final season of 25 doing Cardinals broadcasts) began singing, "The Cardinals are coming, tra-la-la-la". However, to the surprise of both Chicago and St. Louis fans, the "Miracle" New York Mets would ultimately win the division, as well as the league championship and the World Series.
In 1970, Curt Flood, along with Tim McCarver, Byron Browne, and Joe Hoerner, were to be traded to the Phillies for Dick Allen, Cookie Rojas, and Dick Donovan. However, Flood challenged the reserve clause since he did not want to play for one of the worst teams in the National League. As a result, Willie Montanez and another player would compensate for Flood as he would set the tone for free agency. Also in 1970, Bob Gibson would continue his dominance as he won 23 games and another Cy Young Award. He would be the last Cardinal to win the award until Chris Carpenter in 2005.
Another deal with the Phillies proved to be even more disastrous. Prior to the 1972 season, owner Gussie Busch refused to renegotiate the contract of left-handed pitcher Steve Carlton, who was coming off of his first 20-win season and an appearance in the All-Star Game. Instead of paying the money, Busch traded Carlton to Philadelphia for right-hander Rick Wise. Carlton immediately turned the deal into a steal for the Phillies by winning 27 games and the Cy Young Award for a club that finished the 1972 season at 59-97. Wise would be gone from St. Louis by 1974; Carlton would go on to the Hall of Fame.
The Cardinals continued to be perennial contenders throughout the 1970s, placing second in the National League Eastern Division and finishing above .500 six times during the decade. In 1974, Lou Brock led the team in a pennant race against the Pirates by breaking Maury Wills single-season stolen base record (104) set in 1962. Brock set a new record of 118 in '74 but the Cardinals finished a game-and-a-half behind Pittsburgh. Popular manager Red Schoendienst, was replaced in 1977 after 12 seasons guiding the Cardinals, as many players arrived and departed the Gateway City. Joe Torre won the 1971 National League MVP award hitting .363 with 24 HRs, but was later traded to the Mets. José Cruz, Dick Allen, and Ted Sizemore were all dealt away to other teams in the league. Ted Simmons led the team in On-Base-Percentage six times during the decade, but more changes would come as the Cardinals began to retool the roster to become champions again.
Keith Hernandez was the co-NL MVP while Pete Vuckovich and Silvio Martínez each won 15 games. Garry Templeton became the first switch-hitter to collect 100 hits from each side of the plate and led the league in triples for a third consecutive season. Lou Brock received his 3,000th hit in his last season.
After a less-than-successful 1970s, new Cardinal manager Whitey Herzog, affectionately known to fans as the White Rat, revived the winning tradition at Busch Stadium. Herzog's brand of baseball, known in St. Louis as "Whiteyball", catered to the hard Astroturf of Busch Stadium and featured speed on the base paths, sparkling defense, and unconventional roster moves. Herzog was known to put the pitcher in right field, bring in a reliever for one batter, and then put the original pitcher back on the mound. In his 11 years as Cardinal manager, Herzog won three National League pennants, and the 1982 World Series title. The 1980s era Cardinals included stars Darrell Porter (1982 NLCS and World Series MVP), Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee (1985 NL MVP who won two batting titles in a Cardinals uniform), John Tudor, Tom Herr, Jack Clark, Bruce Sutter, Keith Hernandez, Terry Pendleton, and Joaquín Andujar.
This team set a record for the most silver slugger award winners in one season: Keith Hernandez (first baseman), Garry Templeton (shortstop), George Hendrick (outfielder), Ted Simmons (catcher), and Bob Forsch (pitcher).
The Cardinals finished with the best record in the NL East in 1981. However, the season was split by the 1981 players' strike and the playoff qualification format was changed. The teams with the best half-season records before and after the strike were qualified for a special division playoffs. The Cardinals finished second in each part of the season and watched the Philadelphia Phillies (59-48 overall but 1-1/2 games ahead of the Cardinals prestrike) meet the Montreal Expos (60-48 overall but 1/2 GA post-strike) in the division series. (Similarly, in the NL West the 66-42 Cincinnati Reds finished 1/2 and 1-1/2 games behind the pre- and post-strike leaders, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros, respectively.) Following the season, they traded shortstops by acquiring Ozzie Smith from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Garry Templeton.
First Half: 30-20, 2nd
Second Half: 29-23, 2nd
Overall: 59-43, Best record in NL East Division
With Herzog at the helm, the Cardinals aced the Phillies by 6 games to win their first NL East title. After sweeping the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series, the Cardinals faced the Milwaukee Brewers in the World Series. The series showcased rookie Willie McGee, later a league MVP and multiple gold glove winner, hitting two home runs in game 3, still tied as a record for rookies. The Cardinals would win in 7 games, capturing their ninth world series championship, most among National League Clubs. (Only the New York Yankees have won more world championships, with 26.)
After Bruce Sutter's 45 saves in 1984 sent him to the Braves, the Cardinals found a new savior in rookie outfielder Vince Coleman. The youngster would win Rookie of the Year by stealing 110 bases. The outfielder Willie McGee would win MVP honors. He would be the last Card to do so until Albert Pujols won the MVP in 2005. In a close race with the Mets (led by ex-Card Hernandez), the Cardinals would win the NL East once again. The NLCS against the Dodgers featured both shortstop Ozzie Smith and 1st baseman Jack Clark hitting game-winning home runs off Dodgers reliever Tom Niedenfuer (the former did it in game 5 while the latter did it in the 6th game). The light hitting shortstop (and immortal Cardinal) surprised everyone in the extra innings, prompting the famous call of "Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!" by Jack Buck. This play is considered one of the all-time highlights in Cardinal history. However, Coleman was not able to play in the World Series due to an injury in the NLCS after somehow being rolled up in the tarp machine.
The 1985 World Series, christened the "I-70 Series" or the "Show-Me Series" because it featured the in-state rival Kansas City Royals, is perhaps the most controversial in Cardinals history. The Series started ominously for the Cardinals as their rookie lead-off hitter and catalyst, Vince Coleman, who stole 110 bases that year, was run into by the mechanical tarpaulin at Busch Stadium during the NLCS. Scribes joked about a "killer tarp", but the remark proved metaphorical, as Coleman was unable to play in the Fall Classic. After gaining a 3-2 series lead, Game 6 featured "The Call". In the bottom of the 9th inning, umpire Don Denkinger called Royals batter Jorge Orta safe at first base — a call refuted by broadcast television's instant replay. The Cardinals, leading 1-0 at the time of the play and needing that victory to clinch the title, went on to lose Game 6 a few batters later by the score of 2-1. After "The Call," St. Louis proceeded to self-destruct with an error and passed ball that led to the KC victory. The "Runnin' Redbirds" then were blown out of Game 7 the following night, by the score of 11-0, as both of their pitching aces failed to come through on this occasion — John Tudor, who, upon being removed from the game, punched a mechanical fan and severely cut his pitching hand (needing to be stitched up at a Kansas City hospital while the Series was ongoing), and Joaquín Andújar, who was ejected by home plate umpire Denkinger for arguing balls and strikes.
The Cardinals had a lackluster year in 1986 with Rookie of the Year Todd Worrell. But the next year was highlighted by a Terry Pendleton home run on a September 11 game against the contending Mets. The Redbirds would win 95 games, capturing the NL East title. The NLCS pitted the Redbirds against the San Francisco Giants. The Cardinals would win that series in 7 games (despite having the Giants' Jeffrey Leonard win the NLCS MVP award).
The Cardinals again lost the World Series in 1987, losing to the Minnesota Twins 4 games to 3. This time, St. Louis was without clean-up hitter Jack Clark, the team's #1 offensive threat, who caught a cleat in the abominable turf at Montreal's Olympic Stadium in the closing days of the regular season. The Series was the first in which the home team won each of the seven games. The Cardinals held their own at Busch Stadium, but the electronically-enhanced crowd noise and the "Homer Hankies" in the Metrodome seemed to spook the Redbirds. The booming bats of the Twins, which seemed to come alive only in the "Homerdome," were too much for the Cardinals "inside baseball" style of offense to overcome. Games 1, 2, and 6 were pretty much blowouts, and in Game 7 the Twins' pitching shut down the Cardinals.
One of the few highlights included Joe Magrane leading the National League in ERA. The Cardinals went 76-86 and finished 5th in the National League East, 25 games behind The New York Mets. Only Philadelphia finished behind St. Louis in the standings. Shortstop Ozzie Smith won yet another Gold Glove.
This over-achieving team almost made the playoffs. Pedro Guerrero finished third in the National League MVP voting while leading the league with 42 doubles and 12 sacrifice flies. Joe Magrane won 18 games while Jose DeLeon won 16 games. Milt Thompson played in 155 games and hit .290, mostly substituting for the injured Willie McGee. Vince Coleman lead the league in stolen bases for the fifth straight year.
After August Busch Jr. died in 1989, the Cardinals would finish in last place in 1990 with Whitey Herzog resigning. He was replaced by Red Schoendienst and eventually Joe Torre. During Torre's tenure in St. Louis, the Cardinals' highest finish was 87 wins (3rd place in 1993). One of the few highlights of this era came on Sept. 7, 1993, when Mark Whiten, playing in the second game of a doubleheader against Cincinnati, hit four home runs and drove in twelve runs, both tying all-time MLB single-game records.
In 1995, Anheuser Busch, Inc. sold the Cardinal team and Busch Stadium to a new ownership group headed by Southwest Bank's Drew Baur, Fred Hanser and William DeWitt, Jr., for a price substantially undervalued in order to keep the team in St. Louis. Additionally, Civic Center Redevelopment, earlier acquired by AB, sold the parking garages and other surrounding property owned by this quasi-civic organization to the new ownership group.
The new ownership group almost immediately sold off the parking garages next to the stadium to an investment group. With the proceeds of sale from the garages, the cost basis in the team was in the $100 million range, a real steal considering that Forbes Magazine values the Cardinals franchise on the high side of $300 million.
The year before the sale of the team, Anheuser Busch had hired baseball executive Walt Jocketty as their new general manager. With a new ownership group in place and their commitment to return a winning team to St. Louis, Jocketty's expertise in locating baseball talent soon was tested in one of baseball's most successful franchises.
Long-time Oakland Athletics manager Tony La Russa joined the Cardinals for the 1996 season, reconnecting him with Jocketty who had also been with Oakland before coming to St. Louis. The Cardinals won the NL Central (created in 1994 and reached the playoffs for the first time since 1987. However the Atlanta Braves defeated them for the National League pennant after the Cardinals blew a 3-1 series lead in the 1996 NLCS.
In 1998, Cardinals' first baseman Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs battled to set the record for most home runs in one season. McGwire broke Roger Maris's 37 year-old record of 61 on September 8 with a low line drive over Busch Stadium's left field fence. Somewhat ironically, it was the shortest home run McGwire hit that season. McGwire went on to finish with 70 home runs and had a section of Interstate 70 running through downtown St. Louis re-named "the Mark McGwire Highway". His record stood until Barry Bonds hit 73 in 2001. The anabolic steroids scandals since that season have possibly tainted these records, but at the time it was great theater and helped baseball recover further from the 1994 players' strike which had angered and alienated many fans.
In 2000, the Cardinals went 95-67, posting their best record since the '87 team that lost the World Series to the Twins. The team lost to the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series. The 2000 NLDS against the Atlanta Braves saw the implosion of phenom pitcher Rick Ankiel, who had 4 wild pitches in one inning and never regained his pitching form. However, he returned to the big league team as an outfielder on August 9, 2007 as an outfielder, hitting a three-run home run in his debut.
In 2001, the Cardinals finished the season with a 93-69 record. The Houston Astros, also in the National League Central, finished with an identical record. Both teams were awarded a co-championship. Since Houston won the season series against the Cardinals, 9 games to 7 games, Houston received the NL Central playoff seeding and St. Louis received the wild card berth. Major League Baseball refers to the 2001 Cardinals as "co-division champions" along with the Astros and notes that this was the first shared championship in major league history. Helping the Cardinals accomplish this was 21 year old rookie third baseman Albert Pujols, who hit 37 home runs and won the National League Rookie of the Year award. On September 3, Bud Smith became the ninth Cardinal and 18th rookie since 1900 to throw a no-hitter. St. Louis lost in the first round of the playoffs to the eventual world champion Arizona Diamondbacks. After the season Mark McGwire retired due to a chronic knee injury.
In 2002, the Cardinals won the Central Division and this time defeated the Diamondbacks 3 games to none to reach the NLCS, but lost 4 games to 1 to the San Francisco Giants. The year was also marred with tragedy for the Cardinal family. On June 18, beloved Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck died at the age of 77. Just ten months earlier, Buck (despite ailing from lung cancer and Parkinson's disease) stirred emotions when he addressed the crowd at Busch Stadium when Major League Baseball resumed after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The biggest shock came just four days after Buck's passing when pitcher Darryl Kile died suddenly at the age of 33 of heart failure while in Chicago for a series against the Cubs.
In 2004, St. Louis posted the best record in the Major Leagues, tallying their most wins (105) since the 1940s and earning home field advantage for the NLDS and NLCS. In the Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cardinals rolled, winning the series 3-1. Facing off against division rival Houston in the NLCS, the Cardinals took a 2-0 lead, then lost three straight in Houston. Coming home for Game 6, the Cardinals took a 4-3 lead into the 9th inning, but Houston tied it up. Jim Edmonds hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 12th to win the game. The next night, Albert Pujols helped St. Louis win Game 7 to clinch the series with a game tying hit. Pujols was brought home by Scott Rolen's two-run home run. Albert Pujols was named the series MVP.
The Cardinals played the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 World Series. This was the third time the two teams have faced each other in the Fall Classic, with the Cardinals winning the previous two in 1946 and 1967. The Cardinals were again without a key player for the World Series: this time it was ace pitcher Chris Carpenter, who, after going 15-5, tweaked his shoulder in September and missed the entire post-season. St. Louis was ill-prepared for the high-riding Red Sox who had just made history by coming back from a 3 games to none deficit against the Yankees to win the American League Pennant. The Cardinals were swept by the Red Sox in four games. The best demonstration of St. Louis' troubles in the Series: Pujols, Scott Rolen, and Jim Edmonds, the normally fearsome 3-4-5 hitters for the Cardinals, were a dismal 6-for-45 with 1 RBI. As a result of their troubles, coupled with the American League having home-field advantage, having won the All-Star Game, the Curse of the Bambino died on their field.
On August 4, 2005, The Cardinals announced that it bought a 50% share of KTRS 550 AM and was leaving the long time flagship station KMOX 1120 AM after 52 years and moving the games to KTRS in 2006. On September 17, 2005, The Cardinals clinched their fifth NL Central Division title in six years by beating the Chicago Cubs 5-1. In the first round, the Cardinals swept the NL West Division Champs, the San Diego Padres. The Cardinals said farewell to Busch Memorial Stadium on October 2, 2005 with a 7-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Rookie Chris Duncan hit the final regular season home run in Busch Memorial Stadium history.
Down to their last out and strike and facing elimination in game 5 of the 2005 National League Championship Series, along with a screaming crowd and the Houston Astros' shutdown closer Brad Lidge's seemingly unhittable breaking pitches, David Eckstein breathed life into the team, hitting a single in the hole on the left side to reach 1st and bring the tying run to the plate. The next batter, Jim Edmonds, swung and missed one of Lidge's ubiquitous sliders but eventually worked a base on balls. With two on Albert Pujols stepped to the plate. After a quick strike, Pujols slammed a towering drive 412 feet onto the train tracks behind left field (had the game been played with the roof open, the drive would have exited Minute Maid Park, as it first hit off the glass wall which forms part of the roof), to put the Cardinals ahead 5-4 and turn the crowd roar into stunned silence (one of the announcers described it as a "vacuum" from the sudden intake of air by the crowd). The blow was reminiscent of Dave Henderson's clutch homer against the Angels in Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS.
Houston was then shut down in the bottom of the 9th by the Cardinals' closer Jason Isringhausen to preserve the win, guaranteeing at least one more game at old Busch Stadium. However, the Astros dominated Game 6, shutting the Cardinals down 5-1 for their first berth in the World Series in franchise history.
That offseason, Chris Carpenter won the Cy Young award and Albert Pujols won the NL MVP award. This made the Cardinals the first NL team since the 1991 Braves to have somebody on their team to win both of these awards the same year (The 2002 Oakland Athletics are the most recent to have a player win both the AL MVP and Cy Young award).
In the off-season of 2005, the Cardinals needed to fill in the holes left by the retired Larry Walker, as well as Matt Morris, Reggie Sanders, Mark Grudzielanek, John Mabry, and Julian Tavarez, who departed as free agents. The Cardinals first traded pitcher Ray King to the Colorado Rockies for second baseman Aaron Miles and outfielder Larry Bigbie. They later signed free agents Juan Encarnación, Sidney Ponson, Junior Spivey, Braden Looper, Gary Bennett, Jeff Nelson, and Deivi Cruz.
Old Busch Stadium was demolished in the 2005 offseason, and the third Busch Stadium opened on April 4, 2006 with a minor league game between the Memphis Redbirds and the Springfield Cardinals. The home opener was on April 10, 2006, with the Cardinals winning 6 to 4 against the Milwaukee Brewers. A week later, Albert Pujols hit three homers in a row to defeat the Cincinnati Reds.
From June 20–June 28, the Cardinals suffered an eight game losing streak, their longest since July 4–July 15, 1988. This was in large part due to a slump in their starting pitching, and various injuries to Albert Pujols, David Eckstein, Jim Edmonds, and Mark Mulder. A second eight game losing streak occurred from July 27-August 4.
In late September, with a lead of seven and a half games over the Cincinnati Reds, and eight and a half games over the Houston Astros, the Cardinals lost seven straight games, and the Astros won nine straight, giving the Cardinals a lead of only one-half game over the Astros, and two and a half games over the Reds. On the last day of the regular season, despite a 5–3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, featuring 9th inning home runs by Chris Duncan, Albert Pujols, and Scott Spiezio, the Cardinals clinched the NL Central title, with the Astros' loss to Atlanta 3-1.
They opened play at San Diego in the first round of the playoffs on October 3. The Cardinals won games one and two with scores of 5-1 and 2-0. The series shifted to St. Louis where they lost game three 3-1; however, the Cardinals won game four with a score of 6-2 to clinch the series.
Their next opponent was the New York Mets in the NLCS, eventually starting October 12 at Shea Stadium. The NLCS was scheduled to begin on October 11, but the game was postponed due to heavy rain. In the first game, despite pitching 5 2/3 shutout innings against the Mets' potent lineup, Jeff Weaver gave up a two-out single to Mets catcher, Paul Lo Duca. Carlos Beltran, who consistently terrorized the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS, hit a towering two-run home run—the only two runs New York needed to win the game 2-0.
In game two, the Cardinals came back from deficits of 3-0, 4-2, and 6-4 to win the game in dramatic fashion, the first playoff game in 2006 decided with a comeback after the sixth inning. Thanks to a three-run ninth inning against Mets closer Billy Wagner, including a solo blast by So Taguchi, the Cardinals won 9-6 to tie the series going back to St. Louis.
The Cardinals began game three with a fast start, scoring 2 in the first inning and 3 in the second. The scoring included a home run by pitcher Jeff Suppan, his second career longball, both off of Mets starting pitcher Steve Trachsel. Suppan pitched superbly, throwing 8 innings and giving up 3 hits and no runs. The Cardinals won 5-0.
In game four, Anthony Reyes walked four in four innings, giving up two runs and three hits. He left with the game tied 2-2, but the Cardinals' bullpen performed terribly in relief, giving up 10 runs to the Mets' batting order. Carlos Beltran finished with two home runs, Carlos Delgado with a homer and five RBIs, and even solo taters by Eckstein, Edmonds and Molina couldn't save the home team as the Cards went down to defeat 12-5. Pujols went 0-4, continuing his disappointing series.
In game five, the Cardinals gave the Mets an early lead, 2-0, but starting pitcher Jeff Weaver effectively shut the door after that, going six innings and giving up only 2 runs and 6 hits. The offense was sparked by Albert Pujols, who hit his first home run and delivered his first RBI of the series in the bottom of the 4th inning. Chris Duncan added a long home run in the 6th, and the St. Louis Cardinals moved one game away from their 17th pennant.
Despite having reigning Cy Young award winner Chris Carpenter on the mound in game six, the Cardinals lost to Mets 4-2.
In game 7, a 9th inning home run by Yadier Molina put the Cardinals over the Mets 3-1. In the bottom of the 9th Cardinals closer Adam Wainwright overcame a bases loaded situation to strike out Carlos Beltran with a surprise strike on a 0-2 count, thus clinching the NL Pennant with a 3-1 victory over the Mets. Jeff Suppan was named series MVP.
The Cardinals entered the World Series as underdogs to the heavily favored Detroit Tigers. The Cardinals had been underdogs to San Diego in the NLDS and the New York Mets in the NLCS, so not being expected to win in the World Series was nothing new. One reporter said "It's not a question if the Cardinals can win the World Series, it's a question of whether or not the Cardinals can even win a game." The Cardinals won the first game of the World Series in Detroit 7-2. The winning pitcher was Anthony Reyes, outdueling Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander. This was the first time in Major League history that two rookie pitchers faced each other in Game 1 of the World Series. Reyes retired 17 straight batters and went 8+ innings, whereas Verlander was pulled in the sixth. The game was also characterized by home runs from Cardinals Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen.
In Game 2, the Cardinals lost 3-1, as Detroit's veteran pitcher Kenny Rogers out-pitched St. Louis's Jeff Weaver, allowing only two hits through eight innings. There was controversy concerning the appearance of dirt or possibly pine tar (an illegal substance in baseball for pitchers) on Rogers's hand; however, after the substance was washed off of Rogers' pitching hand before the second inning, nothing else was done. An ESPN.com online poll showed the majority of ESPN online voters believe Kenny Rogers was cheating. 
The Cardinals took Game 3, 5-0. Reigning Cy Young award winner for St. Louis, Chris Carpenter, went 8 innings on 3 hits. Two runs were scored on a Jim Edmonds double, and another two on an error by Detroit pitcher Joel Zumaya.
Game 4 was originally rained out. And although rain threatened the second attempt, it was played the next day and the Cardinals won 5-4 to move within one victory of the World Series title. David Eckstein was the player of the game, hitting an RBI double off Craig Monroe's glove that put the Cardinals on top in the 8th. He also had 3 more doubles and 2 more RBIs. An error by the pitcher allowed a run and brought the Tigers up to 6 total errors in the series, 4 being from the pitching staff (more than any other team in World Series History).
On October 27, the Cardinals won game 5, 4-2. The winning pitcher was Jeff Weaver, who went 8 innings, allowing 2 runs with one earned run on 4 hits while striking out 9. Adam Wainwright got the save, striking out Brandon Inge for the final out.
This was the first World Series win for the Cardinals since 1982. David Eckstein was presented the 2006 World Series MVP Award, along with a Chevrolet Corvette Z06, for his performance.
The number of championships won matches the uniform number of manager Tony LaRussa (10), who had asked to wear the number because he wanted to help the Cards win their tenth world championship. LaRussa also joined Sparky Anderson as the only two managers to win the World Series while managing in both leagues.
The Cardinals began the 2007 season defending their 2006 World Series championship. On April 29, 2007, relief pitcher Josh Hancock was killed in a motor vehicle accident while driving under the influence of alcohol. Hancock was the second Cardinals' pitcher to die in the past five years, following Darryl Kile's death on June 22, 2002. The death of Josh Hancock set the tone for a season marred by numerous injuries to the starting lineup, with a total of 15 players having spent time on the disabled list. The Cardinals would finish the year 78-84, their worst season since 1999.
On August 22, 2009 they defeated the San Diego Padres 7-0 for the 10,000th win in franchise history, becoming only the 4th team to accomplish the feat after the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Dodgers
|Histories of teams in Major League Baseball|
|AL||East - Baltimore Orioles • Boston Red Sox • New York Yankees • Tampa Bay Rays • Toronto Blue Jays
Central - Chicago White Sox • Cleveland Indians • Detroit Tigers • Kansas City Royals • Minnesota Twins
West - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim • Oakland Athletics • Seattle Mariners • Texas Rangers
|NL||East - Atlanta Braves • Florida Marlins • New York Mets • Philadelphia Phillies • Washington Nationals
Central - Chicago Cubs • Cincinnati Reds • Houston Astros • Milwaukee Brewers • Pittsburgh Pirates • St. Louis Cardinals
West - Arizona Diamondbacks • Colorado Rockies • Los Angeles Dodgers • San Diego Padres • San Francisco Giants
Milwaukee Brewers (I) • Baltimore Orioles (I) • Boston Braves • St. Louis Browns • Philadelphia Athletics • New York Giants • Brooklyn Dodgers • Washington Senators (I) • Milwaukee Braves • Kansas City Athletics • Seattle Pilots • Washington Senators (II) • Montreal Expos