After decades of listening to fan complaints, the Cardinals have finally responded by creating a team-based Hall of Fame that will honor many of the Cardinal favorites not already honored by Cooperstown. No more will we hear fans grumbling in the stands about how a particular player should adorn the outfield wall as one of the Cardinal greats. Now fans can directly vote their favorites into the newly-created Cardinal Hall of Fame embedded inside Ballpark Village across the street. Starting Friday, March 7th, fans can go to cardinals.com/hof and vote for their favorite two players out of eight candidates selected by a “Red Ribbon” committee of writers and Cardinal veterans. The voting ends on April 22nd, and the two winners will be enshrined in the museum during a special ceremony on August 22nd. The eight inaugural choices generally cover the players most often cited as worthy of induction alongside the many Cardinals in Cooperstown. While they might not rank among the very best in baseball, all of these players honored the Cardinal franchise with leadership, faithfulness, and astonishing feats of athleticism. These players embody those moments of magic seared into the memories of Cardinal fans everywhere. They are the players who helped make this franchise the greatest organization in sports. So how can we pick just two? Here are the eight players in alphabetical order: EDMONDS HOF CARDINALS One could make the argument that the arrival of Jim Edmonds (not Albert Pujols) ushered in the current era of muscular, dominating Cardinal teams. A human highlight reel, Edmonds brought a jocular swagger and a flair for the dramatic to every defensive play and every at-bat. “Jimmy Ballgame” helped lead the Cardinals to six postseason appearances in his eight seasons in St. Louis, finally capturing a World Series trophy in 2006. During his first six seasons, Edmonds won six Gold Gloves, was a three-time All Star, and received MVP votes in four seasons. Edmonds might be one of the most exciting players to ever wear a Cardinal uniform. In a career filled with so many exciting moments, it’s difficult to pick a penultimate highlight. His catch (known by Cardinal faithful simply as The Catch) in 2004 was incredible, but he made so many of those that you could almost call it routine. If I had to pick one highlight, I guess I’d choose his huge, game-winning blast against the Astros in the 2004 NLCS. The Cardinals entered the sixth game down 3 games to 2, and found themselves tied 4-4 in the ninth as Edmonds strode to the plate. His Hollywood instincts took over from there, and history was made.   FORSCH HOF CARDINALS Bob Forsch is one of the longest-tenured players in Cardinal history. He had a 20-7 record in 1977, and won a total of 163 games in 15 seasons in St. Louis. Much of his time as a Cardinal was marred by some truly forgettable teams in the seventies, but he helped anchor a rotation of unheralded starters when the club found tremendous success in the eighties, Most significantly, Forsch is the only Cardinal pitcher in franchise history to throw two no-hitters (1978 and 1983). Forsch helped to continue Stan Musial‘s legacy of integrity and faithfulness while representing the Cardinal organization with dignity. His twinkling eyes and easy smile exemplified the man, a humble player who honored his fans and his teammates. If there is such a thing as a “Cardinal Way,” Forsch is one of those players lighting its path. Here is legendary Cardinal broadcaster Mike Shannon with the ninth-inning call as Forsch no-hits the Expos in 1983: HERNANDEZ HOF CARDINALS Despite owning baseball’s sleaziest mustache, hunky Keith Hernandez became one of the stars of Cardinal baseball during the seventies. His biggest year came in 1979, when a 25 year-old Hernandez had a .344 batting average in 161 games, hit 48 doubles, and drove in 105 runs on his way to an MVP Award. He was a key catalyst behind the improbable World Championship in 1982, hitting .299 and driving in 97 runs. Hernandez quickly developed a reputation as one of the smoothest defensive first basemen of his generation, winning six straight Gold Gloves as a Cardinal (out of 11 career wins). As a fan influenced by the Cardinal teams of the eighties, it’s difficult for me to accept Hernandez as a Cardinal Hall of Famer. I only really remember his drug use in the Cardinal clubhouse, and seeing Hernandez cheering in the dugout of the cocky, disgusting Mets teams of the mid-eighties. To me, he’ll always be a Met. However, there is no denying that his greatest seasons came in St. Louis. MCGEE HOF CARDINALS What can you say about Willie McGee? Aside from Ozzie Smith, no Cardinal typified the Whiteyball era of Cardinal baseball like McGee. His incomprehensible and unique blend of speed and power electrified the teams of the eighties. Despite a batting stance that could be kindly described as unorthodox, McGee won two batting titles and an MVP Award for his career-best performance in 1985 (batting line of .353/.384/.503 with 56 stolen bases). McGee helped manager Whitey Herzog define the slap-and-run offensive strategy of the eighties when he arrived as an injury-replacement in May of 1982. Fans instantly fell in love with the humble, unassuming centerfielder with the hung-dog trot and downcast eyes. The world would soon know McGee too, as the Cardinals advanced to the World Series that year and McGee became an instant star in Game Three. After hitting two home runs in the game, McGee found himself in center watching closer Bruce Sutter struggle through the ninth inning against a powerful Brewers lineup. Big, nasty Gorman Thomas stepped to the plate, and what happened next forever cemented McGee in the annals of Cardinal history: Professional athletes are larger than life, often aloof, distant, or hiding behind a wall. They’re often more concerned with their bank accounts, photoshoots, and press clippings than they are about winning. Not Willie. His amazing athletic feats, often accomplished with an impossible awkwardness, was tempered by his humility and gentle nature. Willie left his heart on the field at Busch Stadium, and gave everything of himself for the love he received in return. And Cardinal fans continue to love him today. There will never be another player like the incomparable Willie McGee. MCGWIRE HOF CARDINALS   Basically brought in from Oakland by Tony La Russa as a hired gun, Mark McGwire subsequently shocked baseball as a Cardinal by breaking the home run record of 61 set by Roger Maris. The crazy home run race between McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 is largely credited for saving baseball after the strike of 1994. Here is the moment when McGwire set himself a place at the table with baseball immortals: We now know, of course, how McGwire used steroids and other drugs to achieve the superhuman strength and eye-coordination necessary to surpass Maris. The fireworks, the fist-pumping, and the screaming hordes — it was all a lie. It all seemed so genuine when we first saw it happen; McGwire lifting his son in the air as he also lifted Cardinal Nation out of the doldrums of terrible nineties baseball. Yet it was all a lie. I’m not as bothered by McGwire’s steroid use anymore; it’s a product of an era of me-first baseball players who would do anything to elevate themselves above others. McGwire was the anti-McGee, a man consumed only with himself and his own achievements. That, more than anything else, bothers me when I see his name on this list of eight potential Hall of Fame Cardinals. McGwire didn’t make the Cardinals better when he was here. Between 1997-2001, the Cardinals were generally terrible, teams made of debris clouds swirling around one giant black hole in McGwire. He is on this list for just one reason, and it’s based on a lie. That’s difficult to recommend. MORRIS HOF CARDINALS   Before we had Chris Carpenter, there was Matt Morris. A gutsy ace with an incredible curveball, Morris stood alone during some awful years before finally reaching the World Series in 2004. His best year came in 2001, when Morris posted a 21-8 record with a 3.16 ERA and finishing third in the Cy Young Award voting. For his career as a Cardinal, Morris went 101-62 (.620) with a 3.61 ERA. SIMMONS HOF CARDINALS Without question, Ted Simmons was the greatest catcher in franchise history until the arrival of Yadier Molina in 2004. Simmons remains the most potent offensive catcher in Cardinal history, smashing 248 career HRs and amassing almost 1,400 RBIs. Simmons was an eight-time All Star and finished among the leaders in MVP voting seven times. During the terrible seventies, Simmons was a tremendous, highly-prized talent. Unfortunately, Simmons and new manager Herzog disagreed, so Simmons was traded to Milwaukee in one of Herzog’s worst trades. Darrell Porter was fine for the World Champion Cardinals of 1982, but one wonders what might’ve happened had the Cardinals kept Simmons in that lineup during the formative years of Whiteyball between 1980-1982. TORRE HOF CARDINALSBefore he became one of the most celebrated managers in history with the Yankees, Joe Torre had several tremendous seasons as an infielder (mostly third base) for the Cardinals. Torre had his best year in 1971, when he played 161 games and compiled an astonishing batting line of .363/.421/.555 with 24 HRs and 137 RBIs on his way to win the National League MVP Award. Torre was a nine-time All Star. Spanning six seasons with St. Louis, Torre had a batting average of .308 and averaged 16 HRs a season. He remains one of the most productive third basemen in Cardinal history.

Who gets my vote?

For me, Willie McGee must go in simply because the fans have been foaming at the mouth for his inclusion for more than two decades. My other pick is Jim Edmonds, mainly because I think his statistics are close enough to Cooperstown to merit inclusion here. In order of choice, my ballot would look like this:

  1. Willie McGee
  2. Jim Edmonds
  3. Ted Simmons
  4. Bob Forsch
  5. Matt Morris
  6. Joe Torre
  7. Keith Hernandez
  8. Mark McGwire

Who would you chooose, and why?

 

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About The Author

Lifelong Cardinal fan and general loudmouth.

  • The polack MSgt

    After so many years as the secret weapon and so many more as a member of the coaching staff, Jose Oquendo is the one man who is the PERFECT first ballot Cardinal HOF inductee

    • http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/ Ray DeRousse

      I’m sure Oquendo was one of those considered.

  • The polack MSgt

    Also, Willie Mcgee

  • Dan Peat

    Easily mcghee and edmonds for me