Under the arch that signifies the Gateway to the American West, the St. Louis Cardinals have provided a gateway to baseball excellence. From Rickey to La Russa, Hornsby to Musial, McGwire to Pujols, the Cardinals have forged a legacy of winning unmatched in the National League — 18 pennants (most in the senior circuit), 11 world championships, 10 division titles and 37 Hall of Famers.

The Cardinals joined the National League in 1891 after a decade playing in the American Association as the Brown Stockings. They picked up the nickname of Cardinals after changing uniform colors from brown to a scarlet red in 1900. The color change didn't help. The Cards languished in the second division for 20 years. What did help was the arrival of Branch Rickey, first as manager (1919) and then in the front office (1925), where he laid the foundation for the team's success by establishing a deeply rooted farm system.

The first jewel of the system was Rogers Hornsby. From 1920-25 this Hall of Famer hit over .400 three times (he hit .397 and .384 the other two years), and posted the 20th Century's highest batting mark — .424 in 1924. He won Triple Crowns in 1922 and 1925. He retired with the National League's highest career average (.358 — second in the major leagues to Ty Cobb) and seven batting titles (six in a row from 1920-25).

Hornsby replaced Rickey as manager in 1925, and led the Redbirds to their first World Series championship against the Yankees the next year. After the Series, Rickey surprised the baseball world by trading Hornsby to the Giants for Frankie Frisch, whose arrival signaled the beginning of a storied era in Cardinal history. The time of the "Gashouse Gang" was on its way. This collection of hard-nosed, slightly off-beat characters were known as much for their crazy antics as for their baseball talent. The group included Pepper Martin, Leo Durocher, Joe Medwick, and the Dean brothers, Dizzy and Daffy.

Dizzy Dean's best season was 1934, when he won 30 games while his brother Daffy won 19. Dizzy Dean would win 28 and 24 games in 1935-36 before a foot injury derailed his pitching career in 1937. Medwick would drive in more than 100 runs for six consecutive seasons while always besting the .300 mark. His "crowning" season was 1937, when his .374 average, 31 home runs and 154 runs batted in (along with 256 hits and 56 doubles) earned him the Triple Crown.

The Gashouse Gang won pennants in 1930-31 and met the powerful Philadelphia Athletics in both World Series. They lost in 1930 but won the rematch with Martin hitting .500 and driving in five runs. Three years later, the Cards won a close pennant race against the Giants and defeated the Detroit Tigers in seven games.

As the Gang began to run out of gas, the Cardinal farm system brought up a new generation of Hall of Fame talent, allowing St. Louis a period of National League domination few teams have matched. Johnny Mize and Enos Slaughter brought the big bats, and lanky shortstop Marty Marion anchored a dependable defense. But it was the arrival of a 20-year-old outfielder from Donora, Pennsylvania in 1941 that forever changed the National League record books.

By the time Stan Musial retired 22 seasons later, he held 29 National League records and 17 major league marks. Among his accomplishments were 3,630 hits (the National League record when he retired), seven batting titles, 475 home runs (sixth when he retired), three Most Valuable Player awards and a record 24 All-Star games.

With this talent, the Cardinals won three consecutive pennants (1942-44) and another in 1946. The 1942 team is one of the best in National League history, winning 106 games and the World Championship. In 1943 they won 105 before losing the Series to the Yankees. In 1944 they defeated the cross-town Browns in the only all-St. Louis World Series. The 1946 Cards finished in a first-place tie with Brooklyn, and defeated the Dodgers two straight in baseball's first-ever league playoff series before defeating the Red Sox in seven games.

St. Louis fielded competitive teams in the 1950's, but it was an infusion of talent late in that decade — players such as Tim McCarver, Curt Flood, Bill White and Bob Gibson that put the team in three Fall Classics during the 1960s. After the Phillies' monumental collapse in the 1964 pennant race, the Cards measured the Yankees in seven games, and three years later did the same thing to the Boston Red Sox.

In 1968, the Tigers turned the tables with a seven-game Series win after trailing three games to one. That marked Bob Gibson's signature season in which he won 22 games, had 268 strikeouts and worked to a microscopic ERA of 1.12, third lowest ever posted for a season. Gibson would close out his Hall of Fame career in 1975 with 251 victories.

It would take Whitey Herzog's collection of speed merchants, known as the "Runnin' Redbirds", to put the Cardinals on top once again in 1982. In an era defined by home runs, the Cards hit a major league low of 67, but stole 200 bases in sprinting their way to their ninth world championship. Herzog's speed game, dubbed "Whiteyball," also delivered pennants in 1985 and 1987, but World Series losses followed both years..

Tony La Russa was the Cards manager from 1996 through 2011 and seven times he had led them to the National League's Central Division title (1996, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2009), with two World Series appearances. That was 2004, when the Red Sox finally exacted some revenge for 1946 and 1967 with a four game sweep. And 2006, when the Tigers were on the receiving end of revenge for a Cards loss from 1968.

Baseball in the La Russa era was exciting and always competitive. After he came to St. Louis in a 1997 trade, Mark McGwire smashed one of the game's most hallowed records, slamming a single-season record 70 home runs in 1998. Fans also enjoyed the batting exploits of Albert Pujols, who put together one of the best 10-year starts in major league history with 408 homers, 1,230 runs batted in and a .331 batting average.

The 2012 season saw the Cardinals take advantage of a new five-team postseason field, as they dispatched the Atlanta Braves 6-3 in the inaugural NL Wild Card Game. Next, they defeated the Washington Nationals in the NLDS in five games. In the final game the Cardinals again demonstrated their nail-biting comeback persona. Down 6-0, they gradually fought back, sealing the game when Pete Kozma drove two runs in the ninth inning. However, the San Francisco Giants defeated St. Louis in the NLCS, where the Giants' pitching held the Cardinals' bats to one run in the final three games. A new era has arrived in Cardinal nation and Mike Matheny appears to be the skipper for their future.

Baseball Almanac Top Quote

"I've been thinking about baseball almost as long as I've been thinking." - Cardinals Manager Whitey Herzog in White Rat (1987

St. Louis Cardinals History

St. Louis Cardinals Official Logo

St. Louis Cardinals Franchise

St. Louis Cardinals 100 Loss Seasons
Year Record Manager
1898 39-111 Tim Hurst
1907 52-101 John McCloskey
1908 49-105 John McCloskey
St. Louis Cardinals Cy Young Winners
Year Name Position
1968 Bob Gibson RHP
1970 Bob Gibson RHP
2005 Chris Carpenter RHP
St. Louis Cardinals Retired Numbers
# Name Position
1 Ozzie Smith SS
2 Red Schoendienst 2B
6 Stan Musial OF
9 Enos Slaughter OF
10 Tony La Russa M
14 Ken Boyer 3B
17 Dizzy Dean P
20 Lou Brock OF
24 Whitey Herzog M
42 Jackie Robinson 2B
42 Bruce Sutter P
45 Bob Gibson P
85 August A. Busch President
St. Louis Cardinals Wild Cards
Year Record Manager
2001 93-69 Tony La Russa
2011 90-72 Tony La Russa
2012 88-74 Mike Matheny
St. Louis Cardinals East Division Titles
Year Record Manager
1982 92-70 Whitey Herzog
1985 101-61 Whitey Herzog
1987 95-67 Whitey Herzog
St. Louis Cardinals Central Division Titles
Year Record Manager
1996 88-74 Tony La Russa
2000 95-67 Tony La Russa
2002 97-65 Tony La Russa
2004 105-57 Tony La Russa
2005 100-62 Tony La Russa
2006 83-78 Tony La Russa
2009 91-71 Tony La Russa
2012 88-74 Mike Matheny
2013 97-65 Mike Matheny
2014 90-72 Mike Matheny
2019 91-71 Mike Shildt
St. Louis Cardinals World Championships
Year Opponent M.V.P.
1926 New York n/a
1931 Philadelphia n/a
1934 Detroit n/a
1942 New York n/a
1944 St. Louis n/a
1946 Boston n/a
1964 New York Bob Gibson
1967 Boston Bob Gibson
1982 Milwaukee Darrell Porter
2006 Detroit David Eckstein
2011 Texas David Freese
St. Louis Brown Stockings Statmaster
Includes Hitting, Pitching & Fielding Stats
St. Louis Browns (AA) Statmaster
Includes Hitting, Pitching & Fielding Stats
St. Louis Browns (NL) Statmaster
Includes Hitting, Pitching & Fielding Stats
St. Louis Perfectos Statmaster
Includes Hitting, Pitching & Fielding Stats
St. Louis Cardinals Statmaster
Includes Hitting, Pitching & Fielding Stats
St. Louis Cardinals Franchise Facts At-A-Glance
baseball almanac flat baseball

baseball almanac fast facts

The first Major League game played by the St. Louis Cardinals (Brown Stockings at the time) took place on May 2, 1882. Their opponent that day was Louisville and they defeated the Eclipse 9-to-7 at Sportsman's Park.

How did they become known as the Cardinals? Some historians have written and given credit to an unknown woman watching the game. Tristam Coffin in The Old Ball Game (1971) countered with, "It seems unlikely that the St. Louis Cardinals were really named in 1900 by an unknown lady who saw the red-trimmed gray uniforms and gushed, 'Isn't that the loveliest shade of cardinal.'"

Did you know that before the Expansion Era took place in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals were the westernmost & southernmost team in the United States in the modern Major Leagues?

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