As the St. Louis Cardinals are about to begin their quest for 12 in 2012, sports fans remind on another how hard it is to make it to the Series two years in a row. However, the Cardinals are no strangers to the repeat, they were the pennant winners in 1930 & 1931. They again stacked up the National League titles in 1942, 1943 and 1944. A couple decades would pass before they would do it again. They would achieve it once again in 1967 and in 1968. They have showed that it can be done.
The 1968 season is one that truly changed the game of baseball forever. Chris Carelli recently reviewed the book, Summer of ’68 (check it out here is the link: http://redbirdrants.com/2012/03/26/book-review-summer-of-68/). The book takes a look at not only the Cardinals and their quest for back to back championships, but the period of 1968 and where our country was at, politics, and the game of baseball. The season of 1968 was known as the season of the pitcher. There is no doubt the game was dominated by pitchers at the time. There were none that were fiercer than number 45 for the Cardinals, Bob Gibson.
There were also some pretty dominating hitters in that time frame as well. One of those was a St. Louis Cardinal. He will be the focus for this week’s, Who am I? Name that Cardinal. The Cardinals housed so many of the game’s all-time greats in the 1960’s, it truly was a golden era for Cardinal Baseball. They weren’t just great Cardinals, they ended up being some of the greatest that ever played the game.
This player was an impact player for the Cardinals during his time in St. Louis. He had a productive career after he left St. Louis and continued his charity work long after his playing days were done. Will you be able to guess who he is? Here are the clues:
I was born to a poor family in Puerto Rico on September 17, 1937
My father was known as “The Bull” in the Puerto Rican Professional baseball league. He was considered as possibly the best player of his generation.
I was signed by the New York Giants as an amateur free agent in 1955
I made my major league debut on April 15, 1958 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. I hit a home run in my first game
I was unanimously selected as the 1958 Rookie of the Year
I struggled with a knee injury from 1963-1965. In 1965 I only played in 33 games.
I played in a 123 games for the Birds that year. I batted .303 and was voted the National League Comeback Player of the year.
I started 1967 off just as hot. I had a 7 RBI’s in one game. We won the Pennant and the World Series that year. I would end the season with a .325 average, led the league with 111 RBI’s and 21 game winning hits. I was voted the MVP that year, unanimously. I was the first player to achieve the Rookie of the Year and later the MVP by unanimous vote. The only other player to do this was a Cardinal by the name of Albert…….I can’t remember his last name. It doesn’t matter.
I would play in 9 All Star Games
I was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s committee in 1999.
I have always worked with charities and the underprivileged. I was awarded the Ernie Banks Positive Image Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 for my charity work.
My nickname was Cha – Cha
Who am I? Click here for the answer.