St. Louis Cardinals: Former Cardinal Nick Punto announces retirement
By Josh Brown
Former St. Louis Cardinals’ utility man, Nick Punto, announced his retirement yesterday, will shred no more.
It’s a sad day, Cardinal Nation. While scouring Twitter yesterday for any St. Louis Cardinals’ Spring Training news, I came across news that one of the big pieces of the 2011 World Series winning Cardinals has decided to retire.
That’s right. Former Cardinals utility man Nick Punto, A.K.A. — “Shredder” — is hanging up his cleats. To me, it seems that Punto missed a golden opportunity in how he could have announced his retirement — a video telling the world and then shredding his A’s jersey before signing off. That would have been quite epic.
Nevertheless, the news brought back some fond memories for me of the Cardinals historical 2011 World Championship season. For those who don’t remember, the Cardinals signed Punto back in January of 2011 primarily to be a backup infielder for David Freese — who was then rehabbing from his ankle surgery. I have to admit, when the Cardinals made this signing my immediate thought was: “Who in the world is Nick Punto?”
It didn’t take long to find out.
Punto shredded jerseys all throughout St. Louis’ 2011 campaign on walk-off hits and big wins, all the way up to Freese’s jersey being torn to pieces after the walk-off win in Game 6 of the World Series — a moment enshrined in Cardinals history. It was the last Cardinals jersey “Shredder” would rip, but probably the sweetest of all for Punto as we all know how Game 7 went the next night.
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Punto was a journeyman throughout his 14-year career — playing with six different teams including the Phillies, Twins, Cardinals, Red Sox, Dodgers, and most recently the Oakland Athletics. Even though he only spent one season in St. Louis, Punto, much like Skip Schumaker, was one of my favorite Cardinals backup utility guys.
For all the on-field, jersey-ripping antics, it’s easy to forget that Punto actually put up a productive season for the Cardinals in 2011. Punto slashed .278/.388/.421 for the Cardinals and even amassed an .809 OPS with 4 triples, 8 doubles and 20 RBI in 133 at bats — good for a 1.7 fWAR. Not too shabby for a backup guy.
The real reason the Cardinals signed Punto ahead of the 2011 season, though, was his defense. “The Shredder” put up a solid 4.9 DEF, and actually played the majority of his time at second base for the Cardinals where he had a .987 fielding percentage and just two errors in 243 innings played. Punto certainly did his part for the Cardinals and it helped get him his one and only World Series ring.
Here were some other thoughts and comments from Cardinals fans and media yesterday regarding Punto’s retirement:
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So, here’s to the “Shredder.” Whether it be on the golf course, at a charity softball game, or even in the comfort of your own home, may you shred on forever in your retirement, sir.