Cardinals Where Have You Gone? – John Tudor

Birdhouse readers selected the ex-players from Rob Rains' new book Cardinals Where Have You Gone? to be featured each of the next five weeks.

Editor's note: As voted by you, the Birdhouse readers, this is the third highest-voted and therefore, third installment of Rob Rains' new book, Cardinals Where HaveYou Gone? to be featured at The Birdhouse. Four more player stories will be published here each Friday exclusively for Birdhouse subscribers, so join now!

The schedule:
May 6 Ted Simmons
May 13 Vince Coleman
May 27 Ernie Broglio
June 3 Tom Pagnozzi
June 10 Garry Templeton
June 17 Todd Worrell

Purchase Cardinals Where Are You Now? from your local independent bookstore, the major chains such as Borders and Barnes and Noble, or from the publisher, for just $19.95. With Father's Day coming, what better gift could one select for their special Cardinals fan Dad? – Brian Walton

John Tudor's competitive fire is still on display these days, but you have to go to a hockey rink to find it.

During his baseball career, especially his years in St. Louis, Tudor was as fierce a competitor as one could find. He had a quick and biting wit, and when he believed it was warranted, he unleashed it on unsuspecting targets, often members of the media.

One of his most infamous remarks came during the 1985 postseason, when he was complaining about the increased media coverage for the Cardinals and he asked, "What does it take to get a media pass, a driver's license?"

Cardinal fans identified with Tudor because he was proof positive that a pitcher did not have to possess a 100-mph fastball in order to be effective. The key to his success was almost pinpoint control and an ability to mix up his pitches and force hitters to get themselves out more often than not. Tudor was also was a master of never wasting pitches, which allowed him to continually pitch deep into games.

The 1985 season was Tudor's finest year in the major leagues, coming in his first season after being traded to the Cardinals from Pittsburgh for outfielder George Hendrick. He led the Cardinals to the NL pennant by going 21-8 in the regular season with an eye-popping 1.93 ERA. He pitched 14 complete games, including a league-high 10 shutouts. He also led the league in fewest hits plus walks allowed per nine innings, at 8.44.

The most remarkable part of his performance in 1985 was that on May 29, his record stood at 1-7. He proceeded to win 20 of his next 21 starts, losing only to the Dodgers' Fernando Valenzuela when the Cardinals were shut out.

On the national stage, however, he is remembered more as the starting and losing pitcher in Game 7 of the World Series to Kansas City. The night after Don Denkinger's blown call at first base helped force the seventh game, Tudor was knocked out in the third inning after allowing three runs. Two more runs scored against reliever Bill Campbell and were charged to Tudor, putting the Cardinals in a 5-0 hole after three innings.

When he left the game, he took out his anger and frustration on a metal fan, cutting his hand and requiring a trip to the hospital. Nearly 20 years later, Tudor has no trouble remembering that game, for all the wrong reasons.

"Of all the days to suck," Tudor says. "We were having trouble scoring runs, and the last thing we wanted was to be out of the game early. We were not going to come back and score five or six runs. It would have made a difference if we had stayed in the game early. It was just too bad that it worked out that way."

Tudor and the Cardinals got another chance in the World Series two years later, but again lost, this time to Minnesota. He finally got his championship ring in 1988 after being traded by the Cardinals to the Dodgers in August for Pedro Guerrero.

"I was disappointed and surprised," Tudor says of the trade. "I was getting phone calls to get my reaction before I was officially told I was traded. But it gave me a chance to go over there and win a world championship, which didn't happen in St. Louis. The Dodgers were a good team with a good group of guys.

"Then I got a chance to come back and play my last season in St. Louis [in 1990], so it was kind of the best of both worlds."

Tudor still possesses the best winning percentage for his career of any Cardinal pitcher, at .705. His 1.93 ERA in 1985 is still the second best mark for a season in team history, trailing only Bob Gibson's mark of 1.12 in 1968.

Tudor retired after the 1990 season with no major plans to speak of. He has dabbled in coaching, spending a year in the minors with the Cardinals, a year with the Phillies and a couple of seasons with the Texas Rangers, but spends most of his time these days close to his wife and three children and his suburban Boston home.

Thirteen-year-old Allison and 11-year-old twins Casey and Corey are very active in sports and activities, and Tudor tries to spend as much time with them as possible. He has coached the twins' baseball and hockey teams for several years.

Hockey was Tudor's first love when he was growing up, and he still remains active in the sport. He plays in a couple adult recreation leagues around Boston during the winter, averaging about three games a week.

Asked what the difference was between him as a baseball player and a hockey player, Tudor responded, "skill level. I'm not as skilled a hockey player, but I really enjoy the game. It's always been my first love."

Tudor played junior varsity hockey in high school. Surprisingly, for someone who celebrated a 50th birthday in 2004, Tudor still enjoys the physical activity. "It's the one thing my body still lets me do," said Tudor. "When I broke my leg, that kept me from running or jumping too much, so playing hockey is pretty much about all I can do."

Tudor remains a fan of baseball as well. He and his family spent several days in St. Louis in 2004 and he said his boys had a great time seeing where their dad had played and meeting several of his former teammates.

Tudor is not a fan of the way the game is run these days, particularly as the parent of two young boys who often could not attend or watch their favorite Red Sox win the World Series because the games were on so late at night.

"We don't go in to watch games that much here," Tudor said. "Fenway is just not as fan friendly a place to watch a game as St. Louis. Everybody stands up and screams at the Yankees and the kids can't see. You just don't find that kind of atmosphere in St. Louis.

"I was really disappointed with the playoffs and the World Series, with the way TV treats the games. They didn't start until 8:20 at night and the Red Sox didn't clinch the last game until about 11:30 on a school night. I took the boys to one of the playoff games against the Yankees and they were asleep in their seats by the fourth inning. It was 11 o'clock at night."

Tudor knows he likely has little chance of changing baseball's relationship with television, so he is more focused on helping raise his kids. He still does not plan too far into the future, although he has realized he will have three kids in college at the same time in a few years.

"That's kind of scary," he says. "I really didn't have any preconceived notions about what my life after baseball was going to be like, but it has worked out pretty well."

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