(Foreword by John Stuper)
As Lou Brock was chasing 3,000 career hits late in the 1979 season--his last after 18 years in the majors--the St. Louis Cardinals were looking for a new identity. Brock's departure represented the final link to the team's glory years of the 1960s, and a parade of new players now came in from the minor leagues. With the Cardinals mired in last place by the following June, owner August A. Busch, Jr., hired Whitey Herzog as field manager, and shortly handed him the general manager's position, too.
Herzog was given free rein to rebuild the club to embrace the new running game trend in the majors. With an aggressive style of play and an unconventional approach to personnel moves, he catapulted the Cardinals back into prominence and defined a new age of baseball in St. Louis.
In the midst of the Great Depression in 1934, twenty-three-year-old John Laufketter is struggling to support his wife and infant son as a coal miner in the southern Illinois town of Beckemeyer, forty-five miles to the east of St. Louis. Once a promising baseball prospect destined for stardom, John's dream was thwarted by a series of personal setbacks after leaving high school – setbacks which now have relegated his life to what he sees as the limited opportunities his hometown has to offer.
The only recreation John can afford is playing in the Clinton County Baseball League, where fierce battles take place for local pride among the ten towns which have teams. As a former standout player, it was always assumed by Beckemeyer residents that John would return to the town and play for them in the CCL – but only after an expected lengthy career in the major leagues. With the impact of the poor economy deepening, the availability of work in the coal mine has gradually dissipated, furthering the disappointment which John feels in himself – and which even some of the locals feel in him as well, as John was supposed to be the one to "get out" of the town and do great things.
But due to an incredible implosion of faith, luck, and the valiant charge of his beloved St. Louis Cardinals toward the pennant, John is ultimately presented with a one-in-a-million opportunity to make a name for himself in baseball. It is his final chance to get himself and his family out of the coal mine for good.
(Foreword by Cliff Koroll)
Written with the full support of Keith Magnuson’s wife and children, this thrilling and insightful biography pays tribute to a Chicago icon and true hockey legend. One of the most popular Chicago Blackhawks of all time, defenseman Keith Magnuson was raised on the raw, rough traditions of hockey in western Canada. He captained the University of Denver team to its second straight NCAA championship in the spring of 1969 and by autumn joined Blackhawks stars Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, and Tony Esposito, becoming the much-needed “policeman” for the team. Over the course of the next several seasons, Magnuson and the Blackhawks fell painfully short of their Stanley Cup aspirations; nonetheless, Magnuson’s leadership qualities led to his being named captain of the team. On December 15, 2003, Magnuson was in Toronto riding in a car driven by former player, Rob Ramage: he was killed when the car veered over the center line and struck an oncoming vehicle. As veteran sportswriter Bob Verdi described Magnuson upon his retirement from the Blackhawks, “there have been many finer athletes in Chicago, but not one finer person,” and this biography shares the story of his remarkable life.
During star-pitcher Bob Gibson’s most brilliant season, the turbulent summer of 1968, he started thirty-four games and pitched every inning in twenty-eight of them, shutting out the opponents in almost half of those complete games. After their record-breaking season, Gibson and his teammates were stunned to lose the 1968 World Series to the Detroit Tigers. For the next six years, as Bob Gibson struggled to maintain his pitching excellence at the end of his career, changes in American culture ultimately changed the St. Louis Cardinals and the business and pastime of baseball itself.
Set against the backdrop of American history and popular culture, from the protests of the Vietnam War to the breakup of the Beatles, the story of the Cardinals takes on new meaning as another aspect of the changes happening at that time.
In looking back on his career, Gibson mourned the end of the Golden Era of baseball and believed that the changes in the game would be partially blamed on him, as his pitching success caused team owners to believe that cash-paying customers only wanted base hits and home runs. Yet, he contended, the shrinking of the strike zone, the lowering of the mound, and the softening of the traditional rancor between the hitter and pitcher forever changed the role of the pitcher in the game and created a more politically correct version of the sport.
Throughout Gibson’s Last Stand, Doug Feldmann captivates readers with the action of the game, both on and off the field.
Bob Gibson remains one of the most unique, complex, and beloved players in Cardinals history. In this story of one of the least examined parts of his career—his final years on the team—Feldmann takes readers into the heart of his complexity and the changes that swirled around him.
(Foreword by Don Kessinger)
Civil unrest at home, war abroad, and political uncertainty gripped the nation as the 1970s approached. In the summer of 1969, as a tumultuous decade of American history neared its end, Major League Baseball presented sports fans with a thrilling distraction: a pennant race that pitted the Chicago Cubs, those much-loved perennial also-rans, against the defending National League champs, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the upstart New York Mets.
Miracle Collapse is the story of how one of the most talented Cubs teams ever to take the field—with Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, and ace pitcher Ferguson Jenkins among their ranks and led by the irascible manager Leo Durocher—raced to an early division lead and a seemingly certain pennant, only to unravel spectacularly at the season’s end.
A time capsule in which baseball lore jockeys with history, Doug Feldmann’s book draws readers into the lives of these legendary Cubs players and their fierce bond with the city of Chicago. During this magical summer of baseball peaks and valleys, life goes on: Durocher “disappears” for a few days before his wedding; players leave the team midseason for National Guard duty; play is interrupted to announce man’s landing on the moon. It is against this backdrop that Miracle Collapse captures a baseball season for all time.
In 1953, August A. Busch purchased the St. Louis Cardinals for nearly four million dollars. His dream included not only the best players money could buy but a brand new Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis. The early sixties found Busch working on both, and by May 1966, when the new Busch Stadium was opened, the St. Louis Cardinals were on the cusp of greatness. A world championship would follow in 1967, and in 1968 the Cardinals battled the Tigers in a classic seven-game series, narrowly losing their bid for back-to-back titles.
This volume looks back at the outstanding Cardinal teams of the 1967 and 1968 seasons. Beginning with the ownership shift in the early 1950s, it examines the events leading up to the opening of the new stadium and tracks the various player trades, policy changes and inside dealings of baseball that produced one of the era's great teams. The effects of Branch Rickey's farm system on both the franchise's success and the sport of baseball are discussed, as are the rumblings of labor trouble that would directly involve one of the Cardinals' own. An appendix contains detailed statistics from the 1967 and 1968 seasons. An index and period photographs are also included.
The era of free agency in Major League Baseball ensured that it would be difficult to keep star teams together year after year. The 1976 Cincinnati Reds were one of the last to be considered a “dynasty,” and this book documents the season of one of the greatest teams in baseball history. During the pursuit of a second-straight world championship in 1976, the “Big Red Machine” was fueled by all-time hits leader Pete Rose, slugger George Foster, and all-stars Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan, as well as a balanced pitching staff that had seven players notching double-digit win totals. The 102-win regular season ended with a World Series sweep of the New York Yankees.
(Foreword by Rick Horton)
For the St. Louis Cardinals and their fans, there was a great deal of uncertainty going into the 1985 season. Only three years before, the Cards had won the World Series, but were predicted to finish last in the National League East Division by every major publication. Manager Whitey Herzog was expected to rebuild his team, drug abuse had cast a lingering shadow over the game, and a players' strike threatened to halt play. The situation looked bleak for St. Louis but the season turned out to be nothing like the predictions. The Cards found themselves in a battle for the pennant. From beginning to end, that magical season is chronicled here. The book recaps the 1982 championship season and provides background information on Whitey Herzog and Gussie Busch's building of the early 1980s Cards, Busch Stadium and its characteristics particular to base running, and players of the era, including Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee and pitchers Bob Forsch and Joaquin Andujar. It then goes in-depth to discuss the Cards' 1985 spring training and season and the World Series.
With the recent success of the Gas House Gang as a backdrop, the National League prepared for the 1935 season. The United States was still in the Great Depression, but executives in baseball predicted a financial comeback during the year, and Chicago's "windy" politicians demanded a pennant-contending ballclub. Yes, there was a time when the Cubs were expected to win. This book chronicles the Cubs' 1935 season and the many on- and off-field events that impacted the game for years to come: Fans who had once turned to baseball for heroes and men of character now laughed at players' uncouth antics and fun-loving carousing reported in the morning newspapers; Babe Ruth debuted in the National League with the Boston Braves, and retired soon after; the first major league night game was played in Cincinnati; the chewing gum king Phil Wrigley was the first to broadcast all of his team's games on the radio; and the Cubs won 21 games in a row in September to take the pennant.
Led by the colorful pitcher Dizzy Dean, the 1934 St. Louis Cardinals personified Depression-era America. The players were underpaid, wore uniforms that were almost always torn and dirty, and had wandered into professional baseball from small towns in the Midwest where other jobs were scarce. Despite their lack of resources, however, and despite coming off two mediocre seasons, the Cardinals emerged triumphant in '34, winning the pennant by two games over the Giants and the World Series in seven games over the Tigers.
The book chronicles that championship team which came to be known in baseball lore as the famous "Gas House Gang." This work brings to life the legendary exploits of player manager Frankie Frisch and the Dean brothers--Dizzy and Paul--who combined for 49 wins that season. The era, the team, the season, and the Series are all fully covered.
With a legacy that goes back to the Brown Stockings of the old American Association, the St. Louis Cardinals have one of the longest and greatest traditions in the history of baseball. Winners of ten World Series titles (second only to the New York Yankees) and twenty-one pennants dating back to 1885, the Red Birds have established a dynasty across the decades—from Charlie Comiskey’s four-time AA champs, through the “Gas House Gang” of the 1930s and the “Runnin’ Redbirds” in the 1980s, up to the 2006 World Champions. Front-office pioneers like Chris von der Ahe and Branch Rickey have put the Cardinals franchise at the forefront of innovation, while bringing in some of baseball’s greatest talent—pitchers Dizzy Dean to Bob Gibson, sluggers Johnny Mize to Mark McGwire, and all-around superstars like Rogers “Rajah” Hornsby, Stan “the Man” Musial, and Albert Pujols.
St. Louis Cardinals Past & Present traces the history of this storied franchise from its origins in the 1880s to its latest accomplishments on the field. Pairing historic black-and-white photos and contemporary images of the modern game, the book explores the ballparks and the fans, the players and the teams that have defined Cardinals baseball and captured the hearts of fans nationwide.