One of my favorite parts of getting ready for a new baseball season is looking at the list of promotions and giveaways at Busch stadium. This year among all of the 2013 commemorations, bobbleheads, and other items there is a recurring theme.
- On May 26th the team will give away Replica 1964 World Series Rings
- On June 20th the team will give away Adult Replica 1964 Bob Gibson Jerseys
- On July 18th the team will give away 1964 World Series Champions Posters
- On August 1st the team will give away 1964 World Series Beer Steins
Looking forward the 2014 season sets up as a great one for the Cardinals. Every indication is that this team will be very competitive, and Cardinals fans have every reason to be excited about the coming year. We would do well to use 2014 as a time, not just for looking forward, but for looking back a little bit. Consider this your primer for commemorating the 50th anniversary of one of the most unique and exciting World Series championship runs in Cardinals history.
The 1964 team was the first one in over two decades to take the field without Stan Musial. Musial took his first at bats for the Cardinals at the tail end of the 1941 season batting .426 in only 12 games. Aside from the 1945 season when he was serving in the military, Musial was a fixture in the Cardinal lineup from Pearl Harbor to the Assassination of JFK. At the end of the 1963 season Musial retired, having not played in a World Series since 1946, and ending one of the greatest careers in major league history.
Bob Gibson made his first All-Star team in 1963, but the 1964 season marked the beginning of a ten-year run of dominance rarely seen in the history of baseball. Going into 1964 Gibson had a ton of potential, but no one saw one of the greatest careers in the history of pitching immediately on the horizon. Gibson’s game seven performance in the World Series pitched on two days of rest is the stuff of legend.
The trade that brought Lou Brock over to the Cardinals from the Cubs is today considered one of the more lopsided trades ever conceived. When Brock made his move from Wrigley Field halfway through June of 1964 the trade was mocked and ridiculed because people thought the Cardinals had been fleeced by the Cubs. Fifty years, 3023 hits, 938 stolen bases, and a hall of fame career later the initial reactions have proven to be a bit off. When the Brock trade happened St. Louis was three games below .500 and in eighth place in the National League. Brock was the primary spark that turned that team around.
One of the more interesting quirks of the roster of the 1964 Cardinals was that it included three players who would go on to notable announcing careers after their playing days were done. Starting catcher Tim McCarver, starting right fielder Mike Shannon, and backup catcher Bob Uecker are all known more for their work covering the game than for their roles on the field.
Right now Cardinals fans are gearing up for another run at World Series championship number twelve. Along the way let’s take a little time to celebrate number seven as well.