When Spring training was completed this year, there were questions about the ineffectiveness at the plate that Rafael Furcal had shown. Think those questions have far been answered and removed doubt of any kind about Furcal. So far this season, Furcal has shown that he does have what it takes at the plate. He has been one of the many consistencies in Redbird lineup. He also still possesses that cannon for an arm.
The shortstop position for the Cardinals is one that has obtained that almost mystical reference of who use to play there. “The Wizard of Oz” Ozzie Smith day in and day out treated St. Louis fans to almost magical defense. He will be forever compared to with anyone who will play shortstop for the Cardinals. Ozzie will forever be known for one of the most spectacular homeruns in the organization’s history. However, he is far from being known as a long ball hitter, but as a consistent hitter
A term that is used in baseball to describe a player that struggles to get above the .200 mark in batting average is the “Mendoza Line”. Mario Mendoza was a shortstop that continuously battled to stay above the .200 mark. He ended his career with a lifetime average of .215. However, he became famous or infamous in the 1980’s when Chris Berman from ESPN described George Brett’s slow start as to putting him in danger of falling below the Mendoza Line. The term stuck and it will be around probably forever in the terminology in baseball.
So how does this apply to “Who am I? Name that Cardinal”? This is how. The Cardinals have always for the most part had a strong defensive player at the shortstop position. However, there have been times these players have not been the biggest offensive threats. There have been players that struggled with the Mendoza Line, even before there was Mendoza Line moniker. This week’s Cardinal is one of those players. He was steady with the glove, but never really posed a real threat at the plate. See if you can name this player. Here are the clues:
I was born February 18, 1939 in Granite City, Illinois
I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri
I was signed by the St. Louis Cardinal in 1960 as an amateur free agent
I made my debut for the Cardinals on June 10, 1962
I played on two World Series Championship teams with the Cardinals. I eventually played on a total of 5 World Series teams. My teams won four of them.
I was reliable in the field, but was well known as not being a hitter
I batted .175 in 1969 and .201 in 1970
The highest that I ever hit was .253
It was joke that Bob Gibson should hit before me in the order when he was on the mound
Though my batting left little to be desired, I won a Gold Glove in 1968
During the season that I hit .201, I set a National League record for the fewest hits with 80
I was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the Oakland Athletics for a player to be named later and Joe Lindsey (minors). The Oakland Athletics sent Gene Dusen (minors) (October 27, 1972) to the St. Louis Cardinals to complete the trade.
I would play for the Pirates and then finish my career with the Athletics in 1975
After the 1984, I signed back on with the Cardinal organization as the General Manager. I stayed in that position for a decade.
During my time as the GM the Cardinals would win two National League Pennants in 1985 and 1987
Who am I? Click here for the answer.