I'm Not Here To Talk About The Future

A look at the greatest Cardinals ever.

As the 2005 season gets underway this week, it's a good time to set the stage by reminding everyone just what kind of franchise the St. Louis Cardinals have been, and why – despite the east coast bias against us – the Cardinals are as great an all-time team as there is in Major League Baseball; only the Yankees and – maybe – the Dodgers or Red Sox really compare. The Mets? The Giants? The Cubs? The Tampa Bay Devil Rays? Don't make me laugh.

At any rate, I have compiled a list of the Greatest Cardinals of All Time – but rather than trying to choose across-the-board, recognizing that the era in which Rogers Hornsby played was a much different era from that of Parisan Bob Caruthers or Stan Musial or Albert Pujols, I've decided to break it up into quarter-centuries, lumping the pre-1900 Cards/Browns in which the first quarter of the 20th century.

Arbitrary, yes, but perhaps we get a better picture of just how many good players we've had.

The hard part was limiting the quarter-century all-star rosters to a mere 25 players; one finds oneself having to leave off people like George Washington Bradley, Kid Nichols, Ernie White, Tommy Thevenow, Jack Taylor, Kenny Reitz, Barney Schultz, Dick Groat, Chuck Finley, and Alpha Brazle, just to name a few. Consider them – and anyone else you might care to choose – honorable mentions.

I'm sure I've made some mistakes in drawing this up, forgetting an obvious choise here and there, but here it is, for your amusement and edification.

Play Ball!.

Pre-1925 (includes the AA Browns):
SP: Bill Doak, Ted Britenstein, "Parisian Bob" Caruthers, Cy Young, Jesse Haines
RP: Eddie Dyer, Red Ames, Slim Sallee
C: Pickles Dillhoefer, Heine Peitz, Roger Bresnahan
1B: Perry Werden, Ed Konetchy
2B: Rogers Hornsby, Miller Huggins
SS: Doc Lavan, Bobby Wallace
3B: Lave Cross, Arlie Latham
OF: Steve Brodie, Jesse Burkett, Austin McHenry, Ray Blades, Tip O'Neill, Homer Smoot

1926-45
SP: Dizzy Dean, Bill Hallahan, Mort Cooper, Wee Willie Sherdel, Max Lanier
RP: Grover Alexander, Murray Dickson, Howie Krist
C: Bob O'Farrell, Bill Delancy, Walker Cooper
1B: Johnny Mize, Jim Bottomley
2B: Frankie Frisch, Jimmy Brown
SS: Marty Marion, Leo Durocher
3B: Pepper Martin, Whitey Kurowski
OF: Joe Medwick, Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, Chick Hafey, Johnny Hopp, Terry Moore

1946-70
SP: Bob Gibson, Harry Breechen, Harvey Haddix, Larry Jackson, Howie Pollet
RP: Lindy McDaniel, Ted Wilks, Joe Hoerner
C: Tim McCarver, Del Rice, Hal Smith
1B: Bill White, Orlando Cepeda
2B: Red Schoendienst, Julian Javier
SS: Marty Marion, Dal Maxvill
3B: Ken Boyer, Mike Shannon
OF: Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, Lou Brock, Curt Flood, Rip Repulski, Joe Cunningham

1971-99
SP: John Tudor, Joaquin Andujar, Bob Gibson, Bob Forsch
RP: Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith, Todd Worrell, Dennis Eckersley
C: Ted Simmons, Darrell Porter, Tom Pagnozzi or Tony Pena
1B: Mark McGwire, Keith Hernandez or Jack Clark
2B: Tommy Herr, Jose Oquendo
SS: Ozzie Smith, Garry Templeton
3B: Joe Torre, Terry Pendleton
OF: Lou Brock, Vince Coleman, George Hendrick, Ray Lankford, Brian Jordan, Willie McGee

I wonder how the 2000-2025 list will look.

Well, we're only five seasons – plus today – into the 21st century, but here's how it might look so far:

SP: Matt Morris, Darryl Kile, Woody Williams, Chris Carpenter, Andy Benes
RP: Jason Isringhausen, Steve Kline, Dave Veres
C: Mike Matheny, Yadier Molina
1B: Albert Pujols, Tino Martinez, Will Clark
2B: Fernando Vina, Miguel Cairo
SS: Edgar Renteria, Hector Luna
3B: Scott Rolen, Placido Polanco
OF: Jim Edmonds, J.D. Drew, Ray Lankford, Reggie Sanders, Eduardo Perez, Larry Walker

Obviously, some holes to fill there – as evidenced by the presence of guys like Perez and Cairo and Molina and Luna (part time players) or Walker or Clark (only 1 partial season with the Cards through 2004), but we've got 21 more seasons to go before we have to finalize the first-quarter-of-the-21st-century list, and there's every reason to believe that guys like Mark Mulder and Jason Marquis and Ray King and David Eckstein and maybe even Mark Grudzielanek will join the list in a year or two. Whether they're still on the list of quarter-century greats by 2025, who knows?


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