Cardinal greats to be in town
By Gordon Engelhardt - Evansville Courier & Press
Friday, August 17, 2007
Different teams, different eras. Neither Whitey Herzog, manager of the 1982 World Series winners, nor Red Schoendienst, manager of the 1967 team, would say which St. Louis Cardinals' team was better.
Herzog noted that Schoendienst's 1967 cast of veterans boasted the best pitcher in the National League in Bob Gibson and his No. 2 guy, Steve Carlton, wasn't bad, either.
Herzog made do with pair of rookies in his 1982 championship rotation, John Stuper and Dave LaPoint. Keith Hernandez, George Hendrick and Darrell Porter were among only a handful of veteran position players. Of course, he also had future Hall of Famers in acrobatic shortstop Ozzie Smith and reliever Bruce Sutter.
"Basically they were different eras," said Herzog, whose teams played "Whitey Ball," stealing bases with abandon.
"Red, White and Lou" will appear at "Striking Out Prostate Cancer" at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Evansville Marriott. "Lou," of course, is Lou Brock, who preceded Schoendienst in the Hall of Fame and was the leadoff man in 1967.
Herzog will throw out the first pitch before the Evansville Otters' game against Windy City at 7:05 tonight at Bosse Field. Schoendienst is slated to throw out the first pitch before Saturday night's game.
Schoendienst is a prostate cancer survivor while Brock has a high PSA (prostate specific antigen), which means his prostate needs to be carefully monitored. Herzog hasn't been afflicted by prostate problems, but has undergone open-heart surgery, had kidney stones removed and overcome a torn Achilles tendon.
Herzog, who will turn 76 in November, stays in shape by lifting weights four to six times a week when he isn't fishing.
He was impressed as anyone by Rick Ankiel's three home runs in his first three games as a Cardinals outfielder. Ankiel, whose career as a pitching phenom was derailed by an unprecedented bout with wildness, remade himself as a power-hitting outfielder.
Herzog had two points to make about Ankiel's remarkable transformation. No. 1, he believes Ankiel would have been the first pick in the 1997 major league draft if his agent wasn't Scott Boras. Instead, he was chosen in the third round by St. Louis. No. 2, when he first saw Ankiel pitch, he told his grandson to keep the ticket stub because he was watching a future Hall of Famer.
"What happened (to his control) was a tragedy," Herzog said, though he noted that Ankiel hit 10 home runs for Johnson City of the rookie-level Appalachian League as a designated hitter when he wasn't pitching in 2001. "For a lot of guys not old pitchers the first week in the big leagues is the easiest to hit because they don't know you."
Herzog said the Milwaukee Brewers have played scared the last two to three weeks and expects the NL Central race to boil down to the Chicago Cubs and Cardinals.
"Last year (the Cardinals) won 83 games (during the rseason) and won the World Series," Herzog said. "You couldn't do that 20 years ago."
As far as third baseman Scott Rolen's struggles are concerned, Herzog said the Jasper High School graduate doesn't always extend his arms while swinging, perhaps protecting himself as the result of an injury that never fully healed.
"He was a 27-homer guy with the Phillies and a 34-homer guy here," Herzog said. "His power numbers were great and he could hit behind (Albert) Pujols. He had a couple of hard baseball injuries and they've never responded. He hurt himself by playing too soon (after the injuries)."