Tom Herr Cardinal Second baseman

The Cardinals of the 1980s had a very good defensive infield and was led by Ozzie Smith. But the glue and clubhouse leader was Tommy Herr. Tom was a switch hitting second baseman that sprayed the ball to all fields. He was a very good fielder and could turn the double play with the best of them.

Tom played 13 years in the show and had a career batting average of 271. He was a very good hit and run man and could also steal a base. This was all being accomplished with some bad knees. I always thought he could have been a much better player if his knees were sound. His game was his speed and athleticism. There was one thing that Herr was not good at was going into the outfield to catch short fly balls.  He was a very good athlete but was lacking in this part of the game. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/herrto01.shtml

Tom had a career year in 1985 when he hit 302 and had 110 runs batted in and only hit 8 home runs! After this he went back to his regular numbers and for his career had just this one year of hitting over 300.

Tom Herr was a true Cardinal and I always enjoyed watching him play the game! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Herr

Bob Brown

 

Bill Buckner One of my Favorites

Billy Buck is one of my favorite players of all time! He was a left handed hitter and fielder. He had a major league career of 22 seasons and played for 5 different teams. My fondest memories of Bill are his time with the Dodgers and the Cubs. He was able to muscle up and hit 174 home runs in his career and hit a solid 289. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/bucknbi01.shtml

When he first arrived on the scene with the Dodgers he could run, hit and throw. He had the speed to cut the off and run down the balls in the gaps and to also steal bases. He was the popular Dodger left fielder and then unfortunately he hurt his ankle. He was never the same afterwards, and was limited to playing first base the rest of his career. I have always wondered how much better of a player Bill would have been if he didn’t mess up his ankle.

I considered Bill a real professional how he handled himself on and off the field. He is what I call a professional hitter because he had patience and would use the whole field to his advantage. He always gave it all on the field and never cheated the game. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Buckner

Bob Brown

Willie McGee a Fan Favorite

Willie played 18 years in the Big Show and 13 years with the Cardinals. Willie was a lifetime 295 hitter that had great speed.http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/mcgeewi01.shtml

I really liked Willie as a person; he was soft spoken and wouldn’t say too much. Ozzie Smith took Willie under his wing and became a mentor for him. When Willie would smile you knew everything was right.

You have to understand I am a fundamental enthusiast about how the game should be played. This is the reason I started Big Dog Baseball USA to improve the quality of the game.

With that said, Willie drove me crazy! He would get you so excited with a big hit or play and then make you mad with a stupid play. When he would make a bad play, he would hang his head and sulk. I always felt so sorry for him, but man he  could he mess up.

Back in the 80s the Cardinals played on some real bouncy artificial turf. I would see Willie rushing in to do his best to catch the blooper. But he would get too close to the fallen ball and it would bounce over his head. He would chase after the ball and then he would sulk and I would feel sorry for him! I have seen Willie miss the relay man so often and this just drove me nuts! He would also over run a base and get picked off.

He should have had an inside the park home run in a World Series game, but stopped at third base because he never picked up his third base coach. I can still see him clapping his hands because he was happy with the triple.

Willie at bat was always a real adventure and was not fun to watch. He was unorthodox and was a big time free swinger. He would hit pitches that were out of the strike zone for triples. If the pitcher was up on the count and Willie had two strikes, just throw a hook in the dirt, and he would swing and strike out.

I loved watching Willie run the bases and go for a triple or from first to home.  He was always very good because of his speed in covering the gaps.

Willie won gold gloves and was an Allstar a couple of times. He always gave all when on the diamond and was a huge fan favorite! The fans would be chanting Willie in clutch situations, and he would come through quite often.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_McGee

Willie you were fun to watch and I am glad you were a Cardinal!

Bob Brown

Ken Reitz Cardinal

Kenny was one of my favorite players on the Cardinal teams of the 70s. He was fiery, worked hard and would do anything to win. At the plate he was a free swinger that didn’t have a lot of patience. To translate he would not get many walks but got his share of strike outs. He would get madder than heck when he would strike out, which kind of humored me!

Reitz was known for his glove at third base, and was given the name of “The Zamboni” I believe Mike Shannon gave him the name. He had the best pair of hands of any third baseman and his throws were always chest high for Hernandez. Reitz only won a gold glove in 1975 and the reason for this is a guy called Mike Schmidt was winning the rest. Reitz would field any ball that he could reach, but that was the problem he didn’t have the range of a Schmidt.

Kenny was not fleet of foot, matter of fact he was extremely slow. I use to joke about having Reitz run a foot race with the football Cardinal quarterback at the time Jim Hart.

I remember some interviews on TV and Kenny was always very entertaining. I recall one where he was chewing on some gum like a mad man.

He had one season that he started out on fire and was hitting like a big dog. I mean he was hitting over 400 for a couple of months into the season. He had the stroke and was hitting the ball to right field and using the whole field like a good hitter does. Reitz did an interview on TV and was asked if he could hit 400 this year? His reply was heck I have never hit 300!

He would start out a season and hit well, but would always finish around the 270 mark. I always wished he would have stayed more within himself and just hit the ball up the middle or to right field and occasionally pull the ball. I think the grind of a long season and his intensity hurt his hitting later in the season.

I met him once in the old Schnucks store at Woodsmill and Clayton Road. He was there with his wife and I enjoyed our conversation. I worked in the produce department at that time. Kenny thanks for the memories of your time as a Cardinal!  http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/reitzke01.shtml

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Reitz

Bob Brown

George Hendrick a Different Kind of Guy

George was a first round pick of Oakland in 1968 and had an 18 year career in the Big Show. The best years of his baseball career was spent with the Cardinals from 1978 – 1984. In the 7 years with the Cards he hit 122 home runs and had a batting average of 294. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/hendrge01.shtml

When George was drafted there was a comparison to Hank Aaron because he was a wrist hitter and would hit off his front foot. They looked alike except George was tall and very lanky.

I will tell you he danced to his own music and would not give in to others. The press would try to interview him but he cut them off after getting some bad ink, and said he will not talk to writers in the future. He was a man of his word and he did not give anymore interviews.

This is when he was given the name of Silent George! I am pretty sure Jack Buck gave him the name because he would not give him an interview. The nickname was picked up by the press and the Cardinal fans used it when addressing this different kind of guy!

I remember George in a Cardinal uniform as being very entertaining. He would wear his pants all the way down to his spikes; this is when all the players had high socks. You couldn’t help but laugh when you saw him run with his arms up high and pumping like crazy. Then you add in his long and lanky body. Nobody could smile like George, when he would get a double and stand on second base with the big toothy grin, you knew all was right!

Jack Buck was announcing the Cardinals game and George was on first base. Hendrick never took big leads, because he didn’t want to move to fast to get back to the bag. Here is George taking his normal lead, of about 2 feet, and Jack says now George don’t get too far off the bag you will get picked off!  Guess what happened, he got picked off! I didn’t like it but you had to laugh, it was good humor!

This man was an outfielder and to watch him pumping his arms and tracking down drives in the gaps was a real treat. George played centerfield and right field for the Cardinals. The memories I have of George is mainly as a right fielder. Most right fielders or should I say all right fielders when leaving their position would jog to the dugout. No not George, he would lumber over to the bullpen, because it was closer! You have to understand he was a different kind of guy! I am sure that he mixed in real well with the bullpen bunch. From what I have read and heard these gentlemen are all a little different also.

The press didn’t really care for George because he quit giving interviews. The fans like him because of George being George! I have heard a lot of former Cardinals speaking of George as a great teammate. I have heard Al Hrabosky say this numerous times.

I have left the best for last! I was at a ballgame and was sitting behind home plate way up at the top. We were playing the Pirates and Big John Candelaria was hurling for Pittsburgh. Things were getting kind of rough, there was some batters being hit by pitches. What ended up happening was Candelaria hit a Cardinal hitter and all heck broke out! I am watching all the action and all of a sudden I see George with a headlock around Pirate Bill Madlock. Here is George with a huge smile on his face and he is acting like he is punching Madlock in the face! Hendrick is about 4 inches taller than Bill and it was a sight! Then after George had his share of Bill in the headlock, it was time to reverse this little event. So next is George in a headlock and Madlock pretending to punch Smiling George in the face! This was excellent humor!

I think I noticed George coaching first base in the Majors and I wish him a lot of luck. He gave a lot of Cardinal fans a reason to smile!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Hendrick

Bob Brown

Ted Simmons HOF ?

Ted played 13 years with the Cardinals and 21 years in total. Simmons was a hitting machine that had a quick bat and was short to the ball. Ted is one of the best switch hitters to ever play major league baseball. He came up to the Big Leagues at the age of 18 and was the starting catcher at the age of 21 in 1971 for the St. Louis Cardinals.

The shortfall that Simmons had was he wasn’t a real good defensive catcher. This is a position like shortstop, defense is number one. Catcher is the most demanding position to play in all of sports. Ted played almost every game for years with the Cardinals, and I can only imagine what kind of hitter he could have been if he wasn’t a catcher.

I remember Simmons with his long hair flowing as he was running the bases and his total effort to play the game the right way. I remember a game that I was at in Wrigley when he tried to stretch a double into a triple and got thrown out. He was not fleet of foot!

In the 13 years as a Cardinal he was our best hitter and the leader on the team. In his time with the Cardinals he had an average of 298 and an OBP of 366. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/simmote01.shtml

Simmons is so close to being a Hall of Famer and I can understand both sides on whether he should be in the Hall. If I had a vote, Mr. Simmons would be a Hall of Famer.

Bob Brown