When you think of the greatest Cardinal Managers of all time you often think of Whitey Herzog, Tony La Russa, or even Red Schoendist but many overlook one of the most legendary of all, Billy Southworth. Southworth who actually played for the Cardinals as an outfielder during their 1926 World Championship season and played his next three seasons with the Cardinals where he put up decent numbers, he batted .305, hit 13 HR, and drove in 111 RBI’s during parts of three seasons with the Cardinals, and in his final season as player he also began his career as a manager, being one of the few player/managers in the history of the game.
After an eleven year hiatus in baseball, Southworth resumed his career as a manager back with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was a great leader and got to manage some of the greatest players in Cardinals history as well as some of the greatest teams in Cardinals history. He managed players like Enos Slaughter, Marty Marion, Mort Cooper, Harry Breechen, oh yeah and Stan Musial. It was Southworth that led the team to their 1942 World Series Championship, as well as the 1944 World Series Championship and his 1943 team won the NL Pennant. In those three consecutive seasons the Cardinals won 316 games averaging 105 wins a season for three seasons and at that time the MLB season lasted 157 games instead of 162, meaning the winning percentage was even higher for Southworth in those seasons.
In Southworth’s seven seasons as a Cardinal manager he won 620 games and lost only 346 for an incredible winning percentage of .642, keep this in mind Tony La Russa’s winning percentage for the Cardinals is .544, Herzog’s winning percentage with the Cardinals is .530, and Shoendist’s percentage was .522, that is over one hundred points higher than any of those managers, sure he only managed seven season’s but that is still an incredible number for any manager. Southworth then went on to manage the Boston Braves for the next six seasons of his managerial career where he won another pennant and he had a 424-358 record as the Braves manager. His final line as a manager was a record of 1,044-797 (.597 Winning percentage), 2 World Championships and three NL Pennants. Southworth was only recently elected into the Hall of Fame as a Cardinal by the veterans committee in 2008. It is fair to say that even though he is in the Hall of Fame as a Cardinal he is not recognized by the organization like he should be which is why he made it as the first manager to our Cardinal Legends.