In the nineties the Cardinals found themselves not reliving the success of the eighties. With new manager Joe Torre leading after the departure of Whitey Herzog, the Cardinals needed a new approach to winning. Ray Lankford made his Major League debut in August of 1990. Lankford was an outfielder who was the perfect mix of power and speed, and represented a new era of Cardinals baseball.
Lankford had his best seasons in 1997 and 1998 when he had Mark McGwire in the lineup. He batted .295, with 31 homers, and 98 RBI’s and stealing 21 bases in 1997. In 1998, the year of McGwire’s famed home run chase, Lankford batted .293, with 31 homers, and 105 RBI’s while stealing 26 bases.
Lankford played with the Cardinals from 1990 to 2001, when he was traded to the San Diego Padres for Woody Williams. In 2004 Lankford returned to the Cardinals after missing the entire 2003 season. In 2004 Lankford played in only 91 games and was used primarily as a backup for the outfield that consisted of Jim Edmonds, Reggie Sanders, and eventually Larry Walker. Lankfords great skills led him to one All Star appearance in 1997, and he finished in 3rd in Rookie of the Year. Among Cardinals Franchise records, Lankford is 10th in games played with 1580, 9th in doubles with 339, 9th in RBI’s with 829, 8th in stolen bases with 250 and 5th in home runs with 228. Lankford is also the only player in franchise history to hit 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 5 seasons, and has the most home runs hit at Busch Memorial Stadium. He was a symbol of the nineties and was a fan favorite in St. Louis throughout his 13 years in St. Louis.