It is finally here the Cardinal Home opener and Mother Nature doesn’t seem like she wants to play along. Hopefully by the time this up and you are reading it, the skies have cleared and Birds are well on their way to a home victory. I really think the home opener is one of the biggest days in St. Louis every year, if not the biggest. I bet the call in sick rate for the area is through the roof every year on this day.
The one positive note about the rain delay is the local Cardinal channel always plays highlights, interviews and player roundtables from Cardinal history. It is fantastic. It lets you sit back and relive those glory days. It is like turning back time and being that kid again watching those Cardinals of yesteryear doing it all over again.
It was also very convenient for me and having the Who am I? Name that Cardinal feature needing to be written today. Many times for this feature I find myself drawn back to the Cardinal teams of the 1980’s. The era of Whitey Ball that I grew up watching, the players that I imitated when playing little league baseball or the countless innings of Wiffle ball being played in the back yard.
One of the feature speakers from the round table that was on during the rain delay is the focus of this week’s articles. Jason Motte has been named the closer for the Birds. The St. Louis Crew has always had the hard throwing closer. Let’s see if you can remember this particular Cardinal late inning hurler. Here are the clues:
I was born September 28, 1959 in Arcadia, CA
I was drafted in the first round of the 1982 amateur draft
I consistently threw in the low to mid 90 mph range, yet I struggled as a started in the minors
It was decided that I needed to be moved to the bull pen as a reliever. It was there I began to experience some great success.
I made my major league debut for the Cardinals on August 28, 1985 after the loss of Bruce Sutter to free agency.
I saved five games down the stretch in the 1985 season. I had an era of 2.91
Because I had come up so late in the season I was still eligible as a rookie in 1986.
I saved 36 games that year. That led the National league and set a saves record for rookie.
I was voted the National League Rookie of the Year and the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year
I was the first player in history to win 30 or more games in their first three seasons.
On September 4, 1989 I was going for my 125 save, which would have tied me with Bruce Sutter’s career record. It was during this appearance I injured my shoulder and would eventually miss the 1900 and 1991 seasons
I finally made it back to the big leagues in 1992
I was used as a setup man for Lee Smith
At the end of the 1993 season I was signed as a free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers
It took me a couple of years to really get back on track and back to my dominating form
But in 1995, I saved 32 games, 44 in 1996 and 35 in 1997
I was a three time All-Star, 1988, 1995 and 1996
I retired from baseball in 1997
Who am I? Click here for the answer