Cards unveil All-Busch Stadium team
Hall of Famers Brock, Gibson, Ozzie among 12 on team
ST. LOUIS -- On Friday night, the Cardinals recognized the greatest of 40 seasons of great moments at Busch Stadium. On Saturday afternoon, they recognized the men who made so many of those memories.
In a pregame ceremony, the club announced the All-Busch Stadium team, as voted on by Cardinals fans over the course of this season. The team represented a perfect mix of great Cardinals from the three distinct golden eras of St. Louis baseball at Busch, as well as some of the not-forgotten stars in between.
Three current Cards stars headlined the club -- first baseman Albert Pujols, third baseman Scott Rolen and center fielder Jim Edmonds. They represent the run of five postseason appearances in the last six years. Three of the team members -- left fielder Lou Brock, starting pitcher Bob Gibson and shortstop Ozzie Smith -- are in the Hall of Fame already, while several others may get there one day.
"It's a pretty big honor, obviously," said Edmonds. "A lot of great players. I don't know if I've been here long enough to really deserve it, but I don't really know how many guys played here that long. But it's an honor."
The mid-1980s glory years made up the bulk of the team, with four players coming from that era. Manager Whitey Herzog, utilityman Jose Oquendo (now the Cardinals' third-base coach), second baseman Tommy Herr, Smith and reliever Bruce Sutter all cracked the squad.
Rolen made the team despite a relatively short tenure thus far in St. Louis, a fact not lost on the former Phillies player. Traded to St. Louis midway through the 2002 season, Rolen has missed much of 2005 with a shoulder injury. In just two full seasons, though, he made enough of an impact to earn a spot over stars such as Joe Torre and Terry Pendleton.
"For an organization and a stadium with the richness and history that it has, to be traded over in '02 and selected to this, it's surprising, shocking and much appreciated," Rolen said.
Pujols beat out perhaps the stiffest competition, a group that includes MVPs Orlando Cepeda and Keith Hernandez, likely Hall of Famer Mark McGwire, and slugger Jack Clark. Pujols cites McGwire as a major influence in his development as a hitter.
"The best thing was the concentration that he had for the game," said Pujols. "I still tell him, it was an honor and a pleasure to play with him. I wish he would have been around a little more, but I know when you have family and kids, your family is more important than this game."
Brock, Gibson and Roger Maris represented the first great era at Busch, the 1967 world champions and the 1968 pennant winners. Brock and Gibson also teamed up for a World Series title in 1964 in the previous Busch Stadium.
Following the introduction of the team, the entire group took the field at its respective positions. Here's the complete lineup:
Manager: Herzog, selected over fellow finalists Tony La Russa, Red Schoendienst and Torre. Herzog skippered the Cardinals from 1980-1990, winning three pennants and a World Series championship.
Utility player: Oquendo wins out over Rex Hudler, John Mabry and Todd Zeile. Oquendo was a Cardinal from 1986-95, and is best known for playing all nine positions. The novelty of that obscures just how solid a player he was, however, as a fine defensive player who could get on base.
Catcher: Ted Simmons, chosen ahead of Mike Matheny, Tim McCarver, Darrell Porter and Tom Pagnozzi. Simmons is widely regarded as one of the finest hitting catchers of all time. He played for St. Louis from 1968-1980.
First base: Pujols, winner over Hernandez, McGwire, Clark and Cepeda. In five years as a Cardinal, Pujols has already racked up 200 home runs and has finished in the top five in MVP balloting in each of his first four full seasons.
Second base: Herr, selected over Fernando Vina, Ted Sizemore and Julian Javier. Herr was a linchpin of the great '80s teams, holding down the keystone corner from 1979-88 and driving in 110 runs with just eight homers in 1985.
Shortstop: Smith, chosen over Edgar Renteria, Garry Templeton and Dal Maxvill. In what was likely the easiest call for many fans, the Hall of Famer and 15-time All-Star amassed 13 Gold Gloves, 2,460 hits and 580 steals in a 19-year career -- 15 years in St. Louis.
Third base: Rolen over Pendleton, Ken Reitz, Mike Shannon and Torre. Rolen was a leading candidate for MVP honors in 2004 and has picked up three Gold Gloves since a July 2002 trade from Philadelphia.
Left field: Fans chose Brock over Vince Coleman, Bernard Gilkey and Lonnie Smith. Brock is one of the definitive Cardinals, playing for St. Louis from 1964-79 and amassing 2,713 of his 3,023 career hits while wearing a Cards uniform.
Center field: Edmonds over Curt Flood, Ray Lankford and Willie McGee. McGee was an MVP, batting champion and three-time Gold Glover, but Edmonds' exemplary 2000-2005 stretch won out. He's likely to win his sixth NL Gold Glove this year, and ranks third on the Busch Stadium home run list.
Right field: In a mild surprise, Maris won over George Hendrick, Brian Jordan and Andy Van Slyke. Best known for hitting 61 home runs for the 1961 Yankees, Maris contributed to the '67 and '68 pennant teams.
Starting pitcher: Gibson gets the nod ahead of Matt Morris, Bob Forsch, John Tudor and Joaquin Andujar. Forsch holds the edge over Gibson in wins and innings at the old ballpark, but Gibson is simply the greatest pitcher in post-World War II Cardinals history. He's the only Cardinal to win a Cy Young, and he tallied all of his 251 wins and 3,117 strikeouts as a Cardinal.
Relief pitcher: Sutter closes it out, ahead of Al Hrabosky, Lee Smith, Jason Isringhausen and Todd Worrell. Sutter only pitched for the Cardinals for four years, but he was on the mound for the final out of the 1982 World Series -- the last time the Cards won it all.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.