St. Louis Cardinals: 7 Cardinals who were blessed by Devil Magic

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CHICAGO - JULY 4: Second baseman Bo Hart #31 of the St. Louis Cardinals slides into home ahead of a tag attempt by catcher Daimian Miller #27 of the Chicago Cubs in the eighh inning of a game on July 4, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs 11-8. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO - JULY 4: Second baseman Bo Hart #31 of the St. Louis Cardinals slides into home ahead of a tag attempt by catcher Daimian Miller #27 of the Chicago Cubs in the eighh inning of a game on July 4, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs 11-8. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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LOS ANGELES – JULY 17: Bo Hart #31 the St. Louis Cardinals swings and misses for a strike during their MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 17, 2003 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers won 6-3. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES – JULY 17: Bo Hart #31 the St. Louis Cardinals swings and misses for a strike during their MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 17, 2003 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers won 6-3. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /

Bo Hart

Few Cardinals have played their way into the hearts of fans as quickly as second baseman Bo Hart. Drafted in 1999 in the 33rd round out of Gonzaga University, Hart spent four and half years in the Cardinals’ minor league system, and after Miguel Cairo fractured his left hand, Hart debuted with the major league club in 2003 when he was 26.

In his first 10 games, Hart hit .460, shattering Kirby Puckett’s record for batting average in a player’s first 10 games. Hart’s average didn’t fall below .300 until Aug. 8, in his 45th game. But he had a long way to fall, and that masked his quick decline. From games 11 through 77, Hart hit .240 as pitchers quickly figured him out. The culprit? The breaking ball.

Hart didn’t have much of a scouting report because of his lack of a prospect pedigree, but as a player who only stood at five feet, 10 inches, Hart looked susceptible to the hard stuff. But as he punished pitchers for trying to throw the cheese by him, they looked for alternate means, and after Hart faced an onslaught of curveballs and sliders, his average had dropped to .277 at the end of the 2003 season.

The Cardinals tried to get Hart back on track in 2004, but the pixie dust had worn off. He went 2 for 13 in April, hitting .154 and being demoted. In 2005, manager Tony La Russa suggested Hart try switch-hitting, but it didn’t take. He bounced around the league a bit after that, going to the Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies, and Chicago Cubs, but he never reached the major leagues again. He signed with the independent league Kansas City T-Bones in 2008 but soon retired at age 31.

Many Cardinals fans fondly remember Hart’s brief time at the top, and while “Devil Magic” wasn’t a widely used term at this time, Hart qualifies as a recipient of the dust at its strongest.

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