|Almost Made the All-Time Cards Top 40: Mileur|
The second of three looks at the greatest St. Louis Cardinals players of all time that just missed our Top 40 countdown.
In our Top 40 countdown of the All-Time Cardinal greats, five players who made my Top 40 list failed to make the combined list once all the votes were counted. My five players who missed the cut include; OF Vince Coleman (27), RP Todd Worrell (28), SP Bill Doak (37), RP Lee Smith (38) and OF Roger Maris (39).
As a reminder, here is the overall Top 40, with my list next to it. Highlighted are the names unique to each list.
Vince Coleman (27): The two-time All-Star played for the Cardinals for six seasons, from 1985-1990, leading the National League in stolen bases every season he played in St. Louis. In 1985 he won the National League Rookie of the Year Award while stealing 110 bases. He went on to steal 100+ bases the following two seasons, making him the only player in modern baseball to steal 100+ bases in three consecutive seasons. It was an amazing thing to see how just his speed could change the course of a game.
Todd Worrell (28): In 1986, he picked up the next National League Rookie of the Year Award after teammate Vince Coleman won it in 1985. Worrell became the first reliever to save 30 or more games in his first three full seasons and that was when 30 saves was something you could write home about. A three-time All-Star, Worrell played for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1985 until 1992.
The thing about Worrell was he didn't seem to ever let you down, especially when it seemed to count the most. In 15 career postseason games (including games played with Dodgers), Worrell posted a record of 1-1 with four saves and a 1.93 ERA. You don't get much better than that and when he was on his game, he was one of the best. I hated to see him move on to the Dodgers.
Bill Doak (37): The starting pitcher played for the St. Louis Cardinals for 11 years. His best season came in 1914, when he went 20-6 with a league leading 1.72 ERA. He won 20 games again in 1920 and led the league in ERA one more time in 1921. Today Doak remains among the Cardinals' top ten in pitching categories to include; games (6th-376), complete games (4th-144) , innings pitched (5th-2387) , strikeouts (7th-938), wins (5th-145), and shutouts (2nd behind Bob Gibson with 32). I figured if Doak is in "Baseball Heaven" and is looking down, the least we can do is, remember him now and then.
Doak's most significant contribution to baseball came about in 1920 when he suggested to the Rawlings company that there was a need for a new and improved baseball glove. He suggested that a web should be laced between the first finger and thumb, so that it would create a natural pocket, and the rest is history. So the next time you are playing catch, regardless of the name on the glove, it's a Bill Doak model.
Now you know the rest of the story.
Lee Smith (38): He only played for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1990 through 1993, just one of the eight ball clubs he pitched on in his major league career. In that short time in St. Louis, he left his mark as the Cardinals All-Time save leader with 160 saves until the Cards current in-house fireman, Jason Isringhausen moved ahead of him last season, racking up a total of 173 career saves while with St. Louis.
A three-time National League All-Star with the Cardinals (1991, 1992, 1993), Smith picked up the Rolaids Relief Award in 1991 and 1992 and he finished second in the NL Cy Young voting in 1991. He was perhaps the most dominant reliever I ever saw, reeling off three straight 40+ saves seasons with St. Louis.
Roger Maris (39): I'm trying to figure out how I can justify having Roger Maris among the Top 40 Cardinals of All-Time. His numbers certainly don't justify this ranking. He actually only played in 225 games for the Cardinals. Perhaps it is because he hit .385 in the 1967 World Series, that I remember so well. I was only 12 at the time, so I must have been very impressionable at an early age.
For the record I didn't like the way he was treated in New York in 1961 or for that matter, throughout most of his career. He was a gentleman and class act who was a better ball player than most people gave him credit for, and I felt that he never got the respect due to him.
So hence here is my vote for Roger Maris, to try to right a wrong, with a very small tribute to a very big man. Roger Maris is one of my all-time favorites.