Top 15 Cards Teams: Rains' Best of the Rest

One is from the Gas House Gang era, another from the end of the club's greatest decade ever, while the third lost it all on the turf of the noisy Homerdome. The 1935, 1949 and 1987 clubs missed our tally of the Top 15 St. Louis Cardinals teams of all time. Rob Rains explains why he disagrees with their omission.

Editor's note: As those who followed the countdown of our Top 15 St. Louis Cardinals teams of all time over the last few weeks know, the selection of the master list was a melding of the individual views from four of us here at The Birdhouse,

As a result, several deserving teams from each of our personal lists ultimately did not make the consolidated Top 15. This is the third of four articles where each of us remember those clubs – our "Best of the Rest".

As a reminder, here is the overall Top 15, with Rob Rains' list next to it. Highlighted are the clubs unique to each list.

Group Rains
1 1942 1944
2 1944 1931
3 1931 1946
4 1967 1967
5 2004 1942
6 1946 1934
7 1934 2004
8 1968 1968
9 1943 1982
10 1964 1985
11 1926 1964
12 1982 1987
13 1985 1949
14 2005 1935
15 2002 2002

In summary, the three clubs that made the group's Top 15 but were ranked lower on Rob's list are the World Champions of 1926 and the pennant-winning teams of 1943 and 2005. On the other side of the ledger, the three clubs Rob ranked higher than the others are the 1935, 1949 and 1987 teams. In all three cases, Rob stood alone among the four of us in saluting those three Cardinals teams, two of which missed the post-season.

1935 St. Louis Cardinals

Manager: Frankie Frisch

Regular season record: 96-58 (.623), second in National League

Post-season: None

Comments (individual top 15 rankings in parens)

(13) There is very little to separate these two clubs, 1935 and 1949, which I ranked as the 13th and 14th best teams in franchise history. They were probably the two best second-place teams in St. Louis' history.

The 1935 club actually won one more game than the famous 1934 club, 96 to 95, but finished second to the Cubs because of an amazing 21-game winning streak by Chicago in September.

The Cardinals scored more runs and allowed fewer runs in 1935 than they had in 1934, but it was not enough to keep the Cubs from winning. (Pitching stars Daffy and Dizzy Dean pictured above.)

1949 St. Louis Cardinals

Manager: Eddie Dyer

Regular season record: 96-58 (.623), second in National League

Post-season: None

(14) In a similar manner to 1935, the 1949 club was, naturally, the last team in what is certainly the best decade in franchise history. Only once in nine seasons between 1941 and 1949 did the Cardinals fail to win at least 89 games ... in a 154-game season.

The 1949 club won 96 games and finished one game behind Brooklyn in a race that went down to the final day of the season. Had the Dodgers lost their game against Philadelphia, which they won in the 10th inning, the two teams would have tied for the pennant for the second time in four years.

1987 St. Louis Cardinals

Manager: Whitey Herzog

Regular season record: 95-67 (.586), first in National League Eastern Division

Won NL Championship Series over San Francisco Giants (4-3)
Lost World Series to Minnesota Twins (4-3)

(12) This team finished 12th in my individual, purely unscientific rankings, and was another club, like 1985, which would have finished higher had they won one more game in the World Series.

While the 1985 club, on a pure player-by-player ranking, was a better team, it was not heads and shoulders above the 1987 club. Many of the key players, of course, were members of both teams, such as second baseman Tom Herr, pictured above.

The biggest reason this club likely did not beat the Twins in the World Series was not because of a bad umpire's call, or because of the home team doing goofy things with the fans and blowers in the Metrodome. No, it had to do with injuries to first baseman Jack Clark and third baseman Terry Pendleton which kept them out of the lineup.

If they play, the Cardinals win, the 1987 team is one of the top 15 teams of all time and Whitey Herzog is most likely in the Hall of Fame instead of still waiting for his rightful honor.

Note: To access our entire list of top 15 Cardinals teams of all time and wealth of associated articles, all free, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections. Next up tomorrow will be Jerry Modene's "Best of the Rest".

© 2008 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories