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CASHING IN THOSE INTANGIBLES
Ron Fimrite
August 06, 1973
The Cardinals' rousing recovery from their early-season debacle is attributable in part to a pair of fine rookies and clutch performances by old and young, but some ancient St. Louis magic is at play, too
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August 06, 1973

Cashing In Those Intangibles

The Cardinals' rousing recovery from their early-season debacle is attributable in part to a pair of fine rookies and clutch performances by old and young, but some ancient St. Louis magic is at play, too

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Musial is trim at 52, still cracking out two-base hits in old-timer games. He is resolutely cheerful and dapper in a conservative mode—Stan the Man in pink double knits and an open-collared shirt would be unthinkable. He speaks in a high-pitched voice and he seems perpetually distracted, as if he were talking to more than one person at a time, which he generally is. To him the Cardinals are "we."

"We weren't all that bad at the start of the season," he said, puffing the inevitable cigar in the office of his restaurant. "We aren't that good now. But it's a funny thing, when we were losing all those games, the players never thought of themselves as losers. That's the way it should be. All the winning Cardinal teams had that kind of spirit. This one has it. We got great tradition in this town. Look at that stack of mail over there. Fan mail. Not bad for an old guy retired 10 years now, is it?"

Red Schoendienst is another Cardinal of the old school. It is said that in the depths of the division cellar he betrayed not a single emotion, displayed not the least disappointment. He has a pink, impassive face, and he speaks like a country philosopher.

"I've been around (his game a long time," he said, watching batting practice from the shade of the dugout. "I've learned to take the bitter with the sweet. All a manager and his coaches can do is keep the players going. If they keep playing, keep hustling, you just let the chips fall where they may. This race is far from over. Anybody in our division can win it. I don't think we've had an easy game all year."

That night the Cardinals swept a doubleheader from the Mets 13-1 and 2-1 before a home crowd of 35,557. Gibson pitched a six-hitter in the first game and, in his own cause, hit a grand-slam home run. Foster pitched eight shutout innings in the second game, which was won by Torre's eighth-inning homer. Reitz went four for six in the two games, and Carbo, who had three hits, threw out two base runners in the second game.

In Corry's Bar afterward there was a friendly debate on the relative defensive merits of young Tyson and Dal Maxvill, the shortstop on the last Cardinal pennant winner in 1968. "That little guy could sure go get 'em," said an admirer.

A portly man somewhat in his cups was explaining to the bartender how his mother enrolled him in the VFW the day old Country Slaughter scored all the way from first on Harry Walker's single to win the '46 Series.

The memory entertained him, and he grew silent, poking his cigar exploratively in the ashtray. He just sat there smiling and staring into the ashtray. It was almost as if he expected old Country to materialize in those ashes and thunder home one more time. In St. Louis, it just might happen.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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