Tuesday, March 10, 2009

UCB Spring Roundtable - Cardinal's Mt. Rushmore

It’s our blog’s turn in the UCB roundtable today. The question I posed was this:

Recently, ESPN asked each state to vote for their state’s “sports Mt. Rushmore”. In other words, who are the four most important and influence people in sports in history from their state? I wanted to know who my fellow UCBers felt belonged on the the Mt. Rushmore of the 127 year history of the Cardinal’s organization.

Aaron Schafer from The Rundown said:

Musial, Branch Rickey, Gibson, and Rogers Hornsby. It's tough for me to leave Pujols off, but I don't think he's quite there with those guys yet. Give him a few more years, and he likely bumps off Hornsby. As for now, though, his eight year career doesn't quite match up to the greatest right handed hitter in franchise history, and probably second or third greatest ever. The others all have solid historical reasons, in addition to just their play on the field. Musial goes without saying, to be perfectly frank. Branch Rickey created the farm system as we know it today. And Gibson? Well, when you're largely responsible for a change in the rules of the game (in this case, the lowering of the mound following the 1968 season), that's good enough for me. Aaron SchaferThe Rundown- the Riverfront Times

Josh from That’s a Winner went with

Musial, Hornsby, Gibson, and Buck

Andrea of Bugs and Cranks says:

Musial, Gibson, Jack Buck and Pujols.I think we can be preemptive and add Pujols.

This caused Aaron to chime in again with:

You can't do that! Just add a guy?! We've only got mountain enough for four giant heads! Unless... Maybe Janus figures? We could double our choices then! That may be against the rules, though. Oh, well.

Here Mike from Stan Musial’s Stance:

I'm going to limit my choices to those who played the field. Branch Rickey, Jack Buck, Curt Flood, all made significant contributions to the team, the community, and to baseball, however, one was mediocre in the field, one never played on the field, and the other was a good major league CF and hitter but not as exceptional as the four who made the cut.

So I thought, "when you think of Cardinals baseball , what players do you think of?" as the criteria for my 4.

Stan Musial. Without question. The current greatest Cardinal of them all; depending on how Pujols' career continues, that may change, but even then he's the greatest Cardinal of the 20th Century. In my opinion, he's the greatest living hitter, although Willie Mays was pretty darn good.

Bob Gibson. 251 wins as a Cardinal, 1.12 ERA, 17 K's in a World Series game. HOF.

Ozzie Smith. 15 All-Star appearances (12 consecutive), Runner up for ROY in 1978. Runner up for MVP in 1987. Silver Slugger in 1987. The Back-Flip.

Rogers Hornsby. Two time MVP, hit over .400 three times, highest single season avg of the modern era (.424, 1925), another HOF.

Albert is off the list only because his career is still in progress.

Others who didn't make the cut: Jim Bottomley, Jesse Haines, Dizzy Dean, Lou Brock, Red Schoendienst.

Daniel, from c70 at the Bat added:

Just as a point of reference,
Derrick Goold did this last year. Your mileage, of course, may vary.If you wanted to encompass everything, you say Musial (hitter), Gibson (pitcher), Buck (broadcaster) and Rickey (management).But personally, I think I'd take Musial, Gibson, Pujols and Ozzie.What about La Russa, though? Not that he'd get past most of the players, but if you were looking for a balanced Rushmore, should he be in the mix?

Mike replied with:

If one of the spots had to go to a manager, I'd either pick Southworth orHerzog. Southworth would get the nod because he's the only Cardinal managerto win more than one World Series. If the fact that the talent pool wasdiluted during the war years bothers you, then Herzog, the only otherCardinal manager with three NL pennants.Is LaRussa a good manager? Yes. But the fact that he's only won the NLtwice, despite 6 shots to get there from the NLCS, has to count against him.

Pip, of Fungoes fame chimed in:

Obviously, a lot of legendary representatives out there. Here's my fallible list, based largely on the number of win shares each contributed as a Cardinal:MusialHornsbyGibsonBrock


Ryan of Cardinals Diaspora says:

monuments are for collective memory, so i have to go with the guys that really typify the Cardinals, the guys whose names instantly conjure images of the Birds on Bat.To wit: Musial, Gibson, Ozzie...those are the easy ones.For the fourth, it's a tie between Dizzy Dean and Red Schoendienst. May have to go the Janus route on this one, though Dean's a powerful symbol in the collective memory of the game of baseball as much as for Cardinal history. But, leaving Red off that kind of monument...how do you tell you kids you made that decision?

addendum: I'd revisit Pujols at the end of his career. It's too soon for now. What if they let him walk as a free agent and he signs with...well, you know. There's also those seasons that coincide with the steroid era. I'm not saying anything, but I am far too cynical to be surprised by anything anymore.

Here’s Nick of Pitcher’s hit eighth’s take:

I’m going to go with Musial, Gibson, Ozzie, and Hornsby – but good gravy is that a nearly impossible task. I don’t think there’s a “right” answer to this question, just like there wouldn’t be for the Yankees or a lot of other teams.

We should be thankful, as fans, to have such a rich history for our team.


Andrea then reminded us all of how lucky we are to be Card’s fans by saying:
It occurred to me earlier that at least we have so many to choose from. We could be, say, our AAA brothers to the west and have George Brett, Dick Howser, Dan Quisenberry and Don Denkinger

Josh from Redbird’s Row responded with:
I couldn't imagine being a Royals supporter and only have their 'steal' of a WS win to keep them up-right. With that being said, I am going to hold Pujols back until after he resigns. If he ends up with say, Kansas City, it would be hard to vote AP to any Mt. Rushmore.

My two easiest spots go to Musial and Buck. Just my preference but still no brainers. La Russa and Ozzie cancel each other out because they have both hurt Cardinal Nation with their spat.

Bob Gibson gets to pick his spot since I couldn't tell him no, and in honor of our fallen Birds, DK57 goes up as a symbol rather than a face.

Our own John elaborated on this with:

"We could be, say, our AAA brothers to the west and have George Brett, Dick Howser, Dan Quisenberry and Don Denkinger."What?! No Brett Saberhagen?!I'm gonna go the diversified route with:Stan the Man--no need to clarify here.Gussie Busch--longest owner of the Cardinals. 3 WS championships. 7 NL titles and kept the team in St. Louis--among other things.Jack Buck--one of the greatest broadcasters ever.Red--manager and player.One modern day player. One not so modern day. Different position players. An owner and an announcer. Honorable mentions:Gibson (pitcher), Hornsby (golden oldie). Ozzie Smith (defensively and modern player).
-CJ (The Cardinal Virtue)

Daniel responded to that with:

What?! No Bret Saberhagen?!"He'd only be on there every other year

Sarah of La Beisbolista wasn’t very enamored of this question and said:

This is a totally unfair question--as several people have pointed out--because Cardinals history is full of important/influencial/great people. How can we honestly be expected to choose between them?Well, if you insist. Here are my picks:Stan Musial, because with a nickname like his, you're just daring people to exclude you. (He *is* The Man.)Whitey Herzog, because his style defined an entire era. August A. Busch, Jr., because he was instrumental in making Cardinals baseball a way of life for midwesterners. (Although I might not have thought of it until John mentioned him.)Albert Pujols, because I have faith that by the time the rock carvers get to the fourth face, his place in Cardinals history won't be in doubt.

Scott Deiner of Cardinal’s Nation Globe kept it simple:

My Cardinals Mt. Rushmore would be: 1. Stan Musial2. Branch Rickey3. George Kissell4. Jack Buck

Michael Riehn of Whiteyball also kept it short and sweet:

My Cardinals Mt. Rushmore would be: 1. Stan Musial2. Rogers Hornsby3. Ozzie Smith4. Bob Gibson Michael Riehn

Jeff from 5 O’Clock Blogger kept the pattern going:

Sorry, no time to elaborate. My four are Ozzie, Albert, Gibson and Stan.


Matt Wilson, also of Whiteyball, said:

My Cardinal Rushmore would be:

1) Gussie Busch
2) Stan Musial
3) Bob Gibson
4) Jack Buck

Lifelong Cardinals. As much as I love Red, Ozzie, Lou, and Rogers, they all spent time in other uniforms. Gibby’s time in a Globetrotter’s uniform doesn’t count.

Matt Wilson

John chimed back in and rounds up the conversation to this point with:
"How can we honestly be expected to choose between them?"
That's the evil point of the question. This evil point makes it all the more delicious. That said, I'm willing to ask the tough follow-up questions that behooves a good round-table. Has Ozzie Smith really "hurt" the organization? What does TLR have to do to get on there? Is Rushmore big enough to have his mullet? Should playing for another team really disqualify you? I don't expect these questions to be answered like the initial one, but just as talking points. I'm not sure I would discount the Oz based on what I know of his dealings with Cardinals' brass. Sure, TLR needed a nap, but does pushing an organization to win mean he isn't in the conversation? -CJ

My own take: Yeah, there are certainly more than four great cardinals in history, but I think four are the greatest, and should have their heads engraved in stone:

Hornsby: I was surprised he wasn’t more unanimous. Yeah, he was a jerk and forced his way out of St. Louis prematurely, but his numbers are sick. I couldn’t put them up in a video game even. Statistically speaking, he is the greatest second baseman and right-handed hitter of all time, and it’s not even close. Two MVPs (would’ve won more, but the award didn’t exist in some of his best years), two triple crowns, three times batted over .400. Here’s an example of “one” of his career years in 1922: .401 BA, 42 HRs (an NL record at the time), 152 RBI, .722 SLG, .459 OBP, 141 runs, and 250 total hits. Just sick.

Gibson: His overall career stats aren’t super inspiring, but from 1963-1970, he was probably the most dominate pitcher of the modern era, and he redefined the terms “gamer” and “big-game pitcher”. Two world series titles, but the one in 1967 stands out: three complete game victories with only three earned runs allowed total. He hit a home run in game 7 to boot.

Musial: I won’t go over Stan the Man’s stats, because really most know them by heart. More than just being a great player, Musial seems to embody “the Cardinal Way” with the way he carried himself both on and off the field. There is a reason his is the only statue in front of New Busch Stadium.

Jack Buck: There are some other pretty good candidates if you want a “civilian” on the mountain, like Branch Rickey, Gussie Busch, and maybe even Herzog or TRL, but Buck stands out me to for much the same reasons Musial did. He seemed to fill the mold for what it meant to be a true Cardinal as a fan instead of a player. I think many people today root for the Cardinals because of Buck. I know my dad became a fan by listening to Buck call games and that I’m a fan because my dad is. That’s all I need to know.

I may add to this transcript, especially if people respond to the new questions John recently posed, but for now, thanks to everyone that participated, it was a lot of fun for me at least!


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