What they mostly have, though, is an inner security, a healthy sense of time and place. Gibson, an intense, occasionally sullen man, might be considered a loner, but he can say of his relations with his teammates, "You gotta clean your own backyard first, but you still have to be concerned with your neighbor."
Torre has a poster from The Godfather hanging above his locker. It does not seem out of place, for with his swarthy complexion, heavy brows and deep-set eyes, he has the look of a glowering capo. But the menacing countenance is only a mask; he is among the pleasantest of athletes, so "congenial," says Gibson, "that it ticks me off."
Wise, who at 27 is in his ninth major league season, has a professorial manner befitting his surname. His calm was sorely tested last season when he became "the other guy" in the Steve Carlton trade. Carlton won 27 games and the league's Cy Young Award for Wise's old team, the Phillies, while Wise won 16 and lost as many for Carlton's old team, the Cardinals. Carlton's extraordinary success might have proved an embarrassment to a lesser man, particularly when Wise's poor luck is taken into account. In 35 starts he had not a single game saved for him by a relief pitcher and he lost 12 of 16 one-run decisions. With better luck he might have won nearly as many games as Carlton. But he endured it all without complaint.
This year he has an 11-6 record to Carlton's 9-11 and was the winning pitcher in the All-Star Game, to which Carlton was not even invited. But Wise does not feel vindicated, nor does he admit to being annoyed by the invidious comparisons of a year ago.
"I am amazed that anyone even asks me about the trade," he said, puffing thoughtfully on a cigar the size of Henry Aaron's bat. "I don't want to mix any honors I've had this year with vindication. I have never worried for one minute about justifying that trade."
Through good times and bad, Wise has been warmly received by the St. Louis fans, who are among the most sophisticated in baseball. Even late-hour barroom conversations there have an analytical thrust. And there is much reminiscing, for this is a city with a baseball tradition that dates to the Civil War. The heroes of other times—Old Pete, the Rajah, the Fordham Flash, Me and Paul, the Wild Hoss of the Osage, Ducky Wucky, Harry the Cat, Country Slaughter and, preeminently, Stan the Man—haven't faded a bit.
"The way to gel on Ducky Medwick's good side," a cab driver was saying of the old Gas House Gang outfielder, "is to talk about pipes. That's what he likes to talk about—pipes. Nice fella, Medwick, when you get him on that subject. I learned from Dale Carnegie's book about winning friends that you always talk about something the other fella is interested in. With Medwick, it's pipes."
There is an old-home-week air about the Cardinals, a sort of cigar-and- Budweiser folksiness. Devine and Toomey were both raised in St. Louis, circa Gas House Gang, and few of the old Cardinals fly the coop.
"I've got a sentimental attachment to this town," says Harry Walker, who began his major league career in St. Louis 33 years ago. "Nobody has ever produced more excitement in baseball over the years than the Cardinals. It's a club people have always talked about, the way they used to talk about Brooklyn when the Dodgers were there. Remember when somebody'd say Brooklyn on a show or something, and people would stand up and cheer? A city without a major league team is a sick city."
Musial remains the ultimate Cardinal, the standard on which Cardinalism is founded. Since he retired as general manager six years ago for the less turbulent role of senior vice-president, he has been more a passive than an active influence, but he is still a formidable presence. A huge, lumpy statue of him is outside the stadium—"Here stands baseball's perfect warrior.... Here stands baseball's perfect knight.... "—and his restaurant is a gathering place for the sports intelligentsia.