St. Louis Cardinals: 5 Greatest Moments of the Past 20 Years

Dan Irwin@irwinsportsCorrespondent IIFebruary 24, 2012

St. Louis Cardinals: 5 Greatest Moments of the Past 20 Years

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    In a franchise that is surrounded by history, being one of the original teams from the pre-World Series era that started in 1876, St. Louis Cardinals fans have plenty of fond memories to look back on.

    From their roots of rivalry with the Chicago Cubs, to the days of playing the New York Yankees for World Series Championships, the Cardinals have a lot of recognizable history to be proud of.

    But how much of what has happened to the Cardinals recently can measure up and be honestly included side by side with the history that defines them as one of the greatest National League franchises?

    It's easy to get caught up in the moment and say things like, "That was the greatest thing I've ever seen!"  People inherently want to feel like what they are seeing is historic.

    In the Cardinals organization, for any moment or thing to be considered historic, it must measure up to the bar that has been set by players like Lou Brock, Enos Slaughter and Bob Gibson.

    Any great player and personality falls in the shadows of a player simply refereed to as "The Man."

    However, you see the current Cardinal team in comparison to those of the past, and we do believe there is notable history to be had.  To the question of "How historic is it?"—we'll let you decide.

    Here are, for you Cardinals fans, the five greatest moments for the Cardinals franchise over the past 20 years.  Enjoy.

No. 5: Two What? In the Same What?

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    Former St. Louis Cardinal Fernando Tatis played for much of his career in St. Louis in the shadow of Mark McGwire.

    But in an early season game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in California, Fernando would be the one making history with the bat, with teammate McGwire cheering him on.

    In the third inning, Tatis came up with the bases loaded, and hit a ball that carried over the left field wall for a grand slam home run.

    After a solid inning of production out of the Cardinals, Tatis found himself up to bat again in the third inning.  And again, he was left to bat with the bases loaded.

    It started to become "what if" time.  Cardinals play-by-play man Mike Shannon was beginning to pull out all sort of historical facts and possibilities, and no sooner had he started, than he had to finish and watch.

    On April 23rd, 1999, Fernando set a record by hitting two grand slams in the same inning.  His feat also set a new major league record for RBI in an inning.

    It was a moment that was truly for the ages, and No. 5 on this countdown.

No. 4: Busted out the Whiten Stick

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    Mark Whiten was your average baseball player in 1993.  But what he did on September 7th, 1993, was anything but average.

    After playing poorly in the first game of a double-header, Whiten figured he'd play all out in the second game.  With nothing to lose, and a sparse crowd in Cincinnati that was less than invigorated, he let it all out...right into history.

    When Whiten came to his first at-bat of the second game, he hit a grand slam to make the score at the time 4-0, St. Louis.

    But Whiten was just getting started.

    In the sixth inning, Whiten had two runners on, and again sent a shot over the wall.  In the seventh, Whiten came up with two more runners on, and hit another home run.

    His home run and RBI total at this point was staggering.  Home fans in Cincinnati had decided that this day wasn't about their Reds anymore; it was about the history Whiten was making with his bat.

    Again in the ninth, Whiten came to bat.  This time it was an exhibition of awe, as Whiten crushed the ball over the right-center field wall, and made history.

    Not only had Whiten hit four home runs in the same game, but he had tied the major league record for RBI in a game.  Whiten found his accomplishment featured on a short package on NBC Nightly News that evening.

No. 3: Pujols' Three-Ding Night

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    Greatness was something people almost expected out of Albert Pujols at times when he was a Cardinal.  But even he could not have told you something like this was going to happen.

    When we think of "historic" and "World Series" together, one might think of Mr. October, Reggie Jackson.  Others might even be reminded of The Babe, Babe Ruth.  That's exactly the company Albert put himself with in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series.

    Although the game itself was not decided on Albert's home runs, to hit so well at such a critical juncture for the Cardinals will forever put his accomplishment while in St. Louis at an immortal status.

    Albert did not perform well in the rest of the games of the Series, but when you take a look back at the 2011 World Series in relation to Pujols, this will be the first thing anyone remembers.

No. 2: 62*

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    Let me be the first to say, before the comments blow up, that I acknowledge that McGwire was a steroid user.

    With that being said, what he did to bring the casual fan back to baseball will never be properly documented and credited.

    Barry Bonds, who eventually broke his record, was also a steroid user, but was not a good person or a good representative of baseball.

    No one likes a cheater; that is why Mark's accomplishments will always be followed with that ugly "s" word, one that he will never be able to shake.

    But no one will be able to take away that moment from Cardinals fans, baseball fans or McGwire, being there as the whole stadium stood and marveled at what had just happened.

    In the mean time, a man who was likewise chasing his accomplishments, Sammy Sosa, clapped and cheered in the outfield.

    It may be wrong to say that this feel-good story is admirable, just as it would be wrong to not acknowledge that Roger Maris was able to hit 61 home runs without the aid of steroids.

    But for those who remember the chase, the things that it was about made it absolutely historic and good enough for No. 2 on this countdown.  

    Now time for the greatest moment in Cardinal baseball over the past 20 years.  At this point, you may have an idea.

No. 1: David Freese, Game 6

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    You can write this one in stone.

    David Freese's home run wasn't just a game-winner; it was a grandfather-to-grandson story that will live in the lore and tradition of Cardinal baseball forever.

    The unknown baseball player, the kid from St. Louis who dreamed of one day playing for his favorite team, the St. Louis Cardinals.

    Just hearing the term "Game 6" is something that has almost become synonymous with "Freese."

    And let this home run not overshadow his other hits and accomplishments in the World Series.

    But in the 11th inning, with a full count, David induced one of the most historic calls ever when Joe Buck repeated nearly the same words his father had spoken 20 years previous:

    "We will see you...tomorrow night!"

    In a game where the Cardinals were down to their last strike on two separate occasions, it was ultimately "team" that brought the game back within reach.

    But it was the historic swing by Freese that made it the No. 1 moment in Cardinals history over the last 20 years.

    Agree?  Disagree?  Something I missed or something that doesn't make sense?  Let me know in the comments below!