Street. Louis – Jim Cat He played Major League Baseball for 25 years over four decades, and raised more than a few eyebrows when he told anyone, during his Hall of Fame induction speech, that his favorite season as a professional came in 1982 with the world champion. St. Louis Cardinals.
This team was perfectly designed to fit its surroundings while playing in cavernous Busch Stadium, and the style of baseball designed by then-manager Whitey Herzog impressed Kat in every way imaginable. Even now, 40 years later, this team stands as Kaat’s favorite in nearly 65 years of involvement with the MLB.
“The last part of my [Hall of Fame] said Kat, who returned to St. Louis on Saturday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1982 World Championship team. “I didn’t find out much of this until my career was over, but I had 17 years between my World Championship appearances. Then, after we won the World Championship, no player in any professional sport had to play 24 years before winning the Championship ring. These are not records of achievement. But they are examples of how honored I am to be part of this team of Cardinals because it has been so exciting.”
The 1982 Cardinals, who counted on 200 stolen bases over 67 of their home, and one featured in Hall of Famers Bruce Sutter and Kaat from the loaded bulls game, beat the Brewers in seven World Series matches. The Cardinal had more than 20 players and Herzog returned Saturday night, along with family members of high profile lates Bob Forsch, David Green and MVP World Championship Daryl Porter. In all, more than 100 former players, staff and personnel attended the weekend celebration. Herzog and the former players were led around the Bosch Stadium Warning Track in convertibles until they were once again honored by Cardinals fans. Cole and the gang’s “celebration” blared from the speakers, while Jack Buck chants “This is a winner!” The call was played with the highlight of the event, catcher Daryl Porter jumping into Bruce Sutter’s arms.
Willie McGee, a rookie that season acquired from the Yankees, scored two goals at home and defensively stole Gorman Thomas’s home run in Game Three of the World Series. He said he can’t believe it’s been 40 years since this championship season. He said the team should be considered one of the best in history because of its ability to do many things well, especially on the defensive side.
“What a team,” said McGee, now 63, an assistant coach for the Cardinals. “You had Tommy Hare in the second, Ozzy [Smith] Briefly , [Ken] Oberkfell in third place and Keith Hernandez In the beginning – one of the best stadiums to play this game ever. [Paul Goldschmidt] He is the first great base man [for the current Cardinals]But I’ve never seen anyone play first like Keith. Keith can come flying the ball and throw the ball second or third better than anyone I’ve seen.”
Like Cat, the Hernandez Cardinals 1982 are held in high esteem because they won the championship in a way that ran counter to most of the dominant teams since the 1980s. The Cardinals had only two double-digit home hitters (George Hendrick 19 and Porter 12). However, seven players had double-digit steals, led by Lonnie Smith 68. As for the shooting team, Joaquín Andujar and Forch each won 15 games, while Sutter scored 36 saves.
Hernandez said ’82 defined the true meaning of the team because of how he gets contributions from the many selfless members of the team.
“It was the greatest group of guys — the 25 best I’ve ever played with,” said Hernandez, who scored 0.299 with 94 RBI on this team and earned a tie, twice in a 6-3 win in Game 7. “There was no ego on the team. I played in New York and won in New York, and there was always a lot of high drama there. But there was never drama in St. Louis because everyone agreed. It was a blue collar team. It was about the guys. The regulars, and no one wanted to hit the eight-race home to get the headlines. We cut it all out and helped each other out, and that was a fun group.”