In April, the Society of American Baseball revisited one of the best teams in St. Louis Cardinals history in Drama and Pride in the Gateway City: The 1964 St. Louis Cardinals as a part of their Memorable Teams in Baseball History series.
This book comes just one year before the 50th anniversary of the World Series win. It does not read in the style of a traditional book though as each player, coach, executive, and broadcaster gets a chapter of their own but don’t let that stop you from reading it. The bios conclude with an epilogue, so to speak, of what the players are did after their playing career ended and where they are now–this includes even those players that played just one game on the team. There are sections in between that are devoted to what happened during each month of the season and, at the end, a timeline of the 1964 World Series.
Forty-nine years later, it’s hard to believe that all it took to get this team moving was one trade made prior to the deadline between the Cardinals and rival Chicago Cubs: Ernie Broglio for Lou Brock. There were other players, too, involved with the trade but those were the headliners that were dealt. It’s similar to the three-team trade in 2011 that sent Colby Rasmus to the Toronto Blue Jays and Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepczynski, and Octavio Dotel to the Cardinals. Without that trade, the 2011 team does not win the World Series.
The 1964 team was the first of three Cardinals teams in the 1960s to win the National League pennant, their first since 1946. The 1953 purchase by August A. Busch, Jr. helped turn things around for the Cardinals. Busch would bring in Bing Devine to serve as the Cardinals general manager from 1957 until his firing in 1964 prior to the end of the season. He would have another tour of duty when Stan Musial stepped down as GM after the 1967 World Series championship. However, it was Devine that brought this team together.
Johnny Keane managed this team. At one point, he was all set to resign after hearing that Devine planned to replace him with eventual Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher. That never happened and Keane would leave a few days following the 1964 win to take over for the New York Yankees. Red Schoendienst, as everyone already nows, was hired to be the next manager.
Everywhere you looked on the roster and elsewhere with the club, there’s a Hall of Famer: Bob Gibson, Brock, Schoendienst, Tim McCarver, Bob Uecker, Branch Rickey, Jack Buck, and Harry Caray. Even Spink Award winner Bob Broeg might not be profiled directly but there are traces of his writing all over the place with all the quotes pulled from books or columns that he wrote.
Without the Philadelphia Phillies‘ epic collapse and the Cardinals epic comeback to win nearly a dozen games, there would have likely been a 3-team playoff between the Cardinals, Phillies, and Cincinnati Reds. Had that happened, we might or might not be celebrating the 1964 World Series 50th anniversary in 2014. More importantly, this book would not be sitting on your bookshelf–which it should anyway.