Rico Makes 41 Presidential-Named Cardinals

New third baseman Rico Washington is the first-ever St. Louis Cardinals player with that last name. That gives us a reason to explore Cardinals presidential naming history.

As everyone in The Cardinals Nation probably knows by now, longest of long shots Rico Washington has made the 2008 St. Louis Cardinals.

Regular Birdhouse contributor Jerry Modene observed that on Monday, the new backup third baseman will officially become the first-ever St. Louis Cardinals player with that surname. I found that surprising, given the common nature of the name Washington and the scores and scores of Cardinals having worn the uniform over the years.

It seems quite amazing that the "Father of Our Country", our very first president, has never had a namesake don the famous birds on the bat uniform at the major league level in the regular season. Yet, it is true.

Jerry had picked off many of the more well-known Cardinals players with presidential last names in this post on our Message Board. That initial group included 18 players plus Rico, but Jerry was stymied in trying to find a first baseman for his "All-Presidential Team".

I decided to take the challenge. With the help of the Cardinals Media Guide and Lee Sinins invaluable "Complete Baseball Encyclopedia", I initiated a one-man search party for additional past Cardinals "presidents" to complete the roster.

There is an amazingly large number of players to choose from.

In fact, with sixteen new players in 2007 and eight more so far in 2008 (Matt Clement, Kyle Lohse, Kyle McClellan, Jason LaRue, Troy Glaus, Cesar Izturis and Brian Barton, along with Washington), exactly 1,821 men have been Cardinals since 1892. Only 2.3% of them share their family name with a US president.

With that, we offer you the 41 members of the St. Louis Cardinals All-Time Presidential Team.

Position Name StL Years Notes
P Babe Adams 1906 1G w/StL, 18 yrs with PIT
P Joe "Wagon Tongue" Adams 1902 Early Gene Simmons?
P Guy Bush 1938 Longtime Cubs starter
P Reggie Cleveland 1969-73 Starter for bad teams
P Mudcat Grant 1969 2-time All-Star passed thru
P Al Jackson 1966-67 Won 13 in '66
P Danny Jackson 1995-97 Went 2-12 in '95
Larry Jackson 1955-62 13-16 wins 6 straight years
P Mike Jackson 1971 One G thriller
P Jerry Johnson 1970 Very brief (11.1 IP) stop
P Ken "Hook" Johnson 1947-50 Late '40s swingman
P Si Johnson 1936-38 Long career, won 12 in '37
P Tyler Johnson 2005-07 Current lefty specialist
P Mike Lincoln 2004 Elbow problems
P Chuck Taylor 1969-71 Won 16, saved 11 in 3 yrs
P Ed Taylor 1903 Career=1G, 3IP, 0ER
P/OF "Brewery Jack" Taylor 1898 Great nickname!
P/3B Jack Taylor 1904-06 90 starts, 90 CGs!
P Ron Taylor 1963-65 Started a few G early on
P Zeke Wilson 1899 1-1 in 5 G to close career
C Ed Harding  1886 1-for-3 in only game for StL
C Terry Kennedy 1978-80 Dad was front office exec
C Darrell Johnson 1960 Later managed, ex-Brownie
C/1B/2B Jimmie "Ace" Wilson 1928-33 2-time All-Star catcher
1B/3B/OF Bob Johnson 1969 Well-traveled; only 29 StL AB
1B/2B/3B/OF Craig Wilson 1989-92 All Craigs are utilitymen
2B Adam Kennedy 1999, 07-08 Current 2B drafted by team
2B/SS Jim Kennedy 1970 Junior Kennedy's brother
SS Hod Ford 1932 2 ABs at end of 15 yr career
SS/3B Sparky Adams 1933 39 G near career end
SS/3B Charlie "Swamp Baby" Wilson 1932-33, 35 Short 186 AB career
3B Bull Johnson 1952-53 64 RBI as 3B regular in '51
3B Rico Washington 2008 Newest member of the club
OF Buster Adams  1939, 43, 45-46 Starting OF in '45
OF Curt Ford 1985-88 OF reserve for 2 NL champs
OF Alex Johnson 1966-67 Later starred with CIN
OF Lance Johnson 1987 Later starred with CWS
OF/1B/3B Carl Taylor 1970 45 RBI in 245 ABs
OF Joe Taylor 1958 Only 23 ABs with StL
OF Chief Wilson 1914-16 144 RBIs in last 3 seasons
OF Preston Wilson 2006-07 Bad knee ended good career

As noted above, it was a mighty struggle to find a first baseman and the outfield is surprisingly sparse. Your first baseman could be one of four players, yet in total, they amassed only 24 games at the position, led by outfielder Carl Taylor, who logged 15 games there in 1970.

Not surprisingly, almost all of the players, 38 to be exact, played after their initial namesake was in office. Two Cardinals preceded their presidents, Ed Harding in 1886 and Zeke Wilson in 1899. Only one, the appropriately-named Chief Wilson in 1914-16, played during his Chief Executive's term. (Alex Johnson in 1966-67 suited up during Lyndon Johnson's time in office, but Andrew Johnson trumped them both by 100 years.)

The breakdown by position:

Pitchers 20
Catchers 4
Infielders 9
Outfielders 8
Total 41

In the Cardinals presidential leaderboard, we find current Cardinal Tyler Johnson and his namesakes in the lead with nine, followed by the Taylors with seven former Cardinals players.

President Cardinals
Johnson (2) 9
Taylor 7
Wilson 6
Adams (2) 4
Jackson 4
Kennedy  3
Ford  2
Washington 1
Lincoln 1
Cleveland 1
Grant 1
Harding 1
Bush (2) 1

With 41 presidential Cardinals, they are just one short of the number of actual presidents in US history – until this coming fall, that is. Of the 42 Chief Executives, George Washington has now joined 15 other presidents who share their last name with a Cardinal. Therefore, 26 other Commanders in Chief have missed out - so far. (Grover Cleveland served twice, non-consecutively.)

Here is the complete list:

  Presidents of the United States Years Cardinals
1  George Washington 1789-1797 1
2  John Adams 1797-1801 4
3  Thomas Jefferson 1801-1809 0
4  James Madison 1809-1817 0
5  James Monroe 1817-1825 0
6  John Quincy Adams 1825-1829 4
7  Andrew Jackson 1829-1837 4
8  Martin Van Buren 1837-1841 0
9  William Henry Harrison 1841 0
10  John Tyler 1841-1845 0
11  James Knox Polk 1845-1849 0
12  Zachary Taylor 1849-1850 7
13  Millard Fillmore 1850-1853 0
14  Franklin Pierce 1853-1857 0
15  James Buchanan 1857-1861 0
16  Abraham Lincoln 1861-1865 1
17  Andrew Johnson 1865-1869 9
18  Ulysses Simpson Grant 1869-1877 1
19  Rutherford Birchard Hayes 1877-1881 0
20  James Abram Garfield 1881 0
21  Chester Alan Arthur 1881-1885 0
22  Grover Cleveland 1885-1889 1
23  Benjamin Harrison 1889-1893 0
24  Grover Cleveland 1893-1897 0
25  William McKinley 1897-1901 0
26  Theodore Roosevelt 1901-1909 0
27  William Howard Taft 1909-1913 0
28  Woodrow Wilson 1913-1921 6
29  Warren Gamaliel Harding 1921-1923 1
30  Calvin Coolidge 1923-1929 0
31  Herbert Clark Hoover 1929-1933 0
32  Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1933-1945 0
33  Harry S. Truman 1945-1953 0
34  Dwight David Eisenhower  1953-1961 0
35  John Fitzgerald Kennedy 1961-1963 3
36  Lyndon Baines Johnson 1963-1969 9
37  Richard Milhous Nixon 1969-1974 0
38  Gerald Rudolph Ford 1974-1977 2
39  James Earl Carter Jr 1977-1981 0
40  Ronald Wilson Reagan 1981-1989 0
41  George Herbert Walker Bush 1989-1993 1
42  William Jefferson Clinton 1993-2001 0
43  George Walker Bush 2001-pres 1

By the way, before you ask, no, the team has never featured an Obama, Clinton (already noted) or a McCain. There's always time, though!

On the other side of the coin, having been born in the Dominican Republic precludes Albert Pujols from trying to be the first man to make both lists, but who knows what could happen down the road? Perhaps he will become Missouri's answer to Arnold Schwarzenegger one day!

Jerry Modene inspired and directly contributed to this article.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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