St. Louis Cardinals: Ranking the Top 10 Managers in Franchise History

Lake CruiseAnalyst ISeptember 16, 2011

St. Louis Cardinals: Ranking the Top 10 Managers in Franchise History

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    When the "White Rat," manager Whitey Herzog, came to St. Louis from the Kansas City Royals, he changed the course of St. Louis Cardinals baseball.

    The once-mighty Redbirds had fallen on hard times, but with Herzog steering the ship, the Cards started rolling like the mighty Mississippi River. Herzog was adept at filling the roster with new-wave players and winning in original fashion.

    But is he No. 1 on this roster? What about Tony LaRussa, Rogers Hornsby and Frankie Frisch? I'm sure they'll all fall into this list, but where?

    Most of the managers I've included won at least one of the 10 World Series championships belonging to the Redbirds, but it wasn't necessary for inclusion.

    Include yourself in the group of fans who are in the know about the best managers the Cardinals have ever had.

10. Joe Torre: He Suffered Depleted-Roster Syndrome as St. Louis' Manager

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    Devoted fans know Torre didn’t have much success with the sliding Redbirds, but he didn’t exactly have a roster full of Hall of Fame players.

    After going to the New York Yankees, Torre almost immediately set MLB ablaze by winning four World Series championships, including three in a row from 1998-2000.

    If Torre still wants to manage, he’d probably be a leading candidate to replace LaRussa.

9. Rogers Hornsby: Original Mr. NL Pennant for the St. Louis Cardinals

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    Hornsby replaced Branch Rickey as manager in 1925, and as player-manager that year, Hornsby won his second Triple Crown (his first came in 1922) and first NL MVP award.

    Holding down the fortress at Sportsman's Park III, he led the Cardinals to the NL pennant in both 1925 and 1926. The 1925 pennant was the first for the franchise.

    In 1926, Hornsby helped guide the Cardinals to the organization's first World Series championship. They edged manager Miller Huggins, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and the Yankees in a best-of-seven series, 4-3.

    It was the thick of the Roaring 1920s, and Redbirds fans, who had been around since the team was named the Cardinals in 1900, were dancing in the streets.

8. Gabby Street: The Gift of Gab

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    Gabby Street managed the 1931 World Series-champion Cardinals against Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack and the powerhouse Philadelphia Athletics.

    Street replaced Billy Southworth in 1930 and guided the Redbirds to back-to-back NL pennants in 1930-31. After Gabby's career as manager ended, he became a broadcaster for the Cardinals.

    Street's star player, Frankie Frisch, replaced him as manager in 1933.

7. Frankie Frisch: Mr. Gashouse Gang

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    Playing second base for the Cardinals, Frisch was the "Gashouse Gang's" co-manager with Gabby Street in 1933.

    Frisch was the leader and cornerstone on the field. With the Redbirds, he played in four World Series classics (1928, 1930-31 and 1934).

    When Frisch managed the Cardinals to the World Series championship in 1934, it was the franchise's second in four years.

6. Eddie Dyer: Do or Dyer

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    The team wasn't in dire straights when Eddie Dyer took over for Billy Southworth, who left to manage the Boston Braves in 1946.

    Dyer took over the Cardinals when Stan Musial was in his early prime. "Stan the Man," who came up in the vaunted 1940s Cardinals farm system and debuted in the second game of a double header in September 1941, was already considered one of the best players to ever play the game.

    Dyer and the Redbirds won the 1946 World Series 4-3 over the Boston Red Sox. In 1950, the Cardinals came in fifth place, and Dyer turned in his resignation.

5. Tony LaRussa: TLR Won No. 10

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    LaRussa isn't resigned to having his run-ins with popular Ozzie Smith, but he has adeptly managed the Cardinals for most of his 15 years and counting.

    At last check, though, one of the winningest managers in MLB history, LaRussa is being tuned out by a lot of St. Louisans and had completely lost Smith. 

    Tony wears jersey No. 10 and in 2006 managed the Redbirds' 10th World Series championship team.

4. Billy Southworth: Only Manager to Win 2 Worlds Series for the Cards

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    Similar to Hornsby in 1925, Hall of Fame manager Billy Southworth was counted on in 1929 to be player-manager. Both struggled to make the transition of going from "one of the guys" to the boss.

    In 1929 under Southworth, the Cardinals were 43-45 when he was relieved of his managerial duties. He was rehired in 1940 and made the World War II Redbirds the powerhouse of the NL from 1940-45.

    The Sporting News named Southworth their Manager of the Year in 1941 and 1942. His Cardinals won the World Series in 1942 and 1944—the franchise's fourth and fifth championships.

3. Whitey Herzog: The White Rat

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    Herzog endeared his style to the fans in St. Louis and was quickly labeled a genius for jazzing up a franchise then in a funk.

    Whitey Ball, starring Vince Coleman, Willie McGee, Tommie Herr, Ozzie Smith and others, symbolized a lot of what Major League Baseball in the 1980s was about.

    St. Louis won the 1982 World Series and played for what should have been another title in 1985, if not for umpire Don Denkinger's catastrophic call at first base. They reached the World Series again in 1987.

    St. Louis is still keen on Herzog.

2. Johnny Keane: Keen on Winning

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    The unappreciated Keane led the Cardinals to the 1964 World Series championship over the vaunted New York Yankees. 

    He resigned the next day.

    It was the Cardinals first World Series title since 1946, and he brought the Cardinals from 10 games back of the Phillies in the final weeks.

    Keane's understudy, Red Schoendienst, became the manager and led the Redbirds to the World Series championship in 1967. Red was also a part of Whitey Herzog's staff during the 1982 World Series victory.

    Schoendienst was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989. In 1998, he was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

    Guess who No. 1 is?

1. Red Schoendienst: Consummate Cardinal

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    Former Cardinal Mike Shannon related a story about walking down an alley in Japan with Red Schoendienst. Shannon said he was flabbergasted to find out people in Japan knew who Red was.

    Then there was broadcaster Charlie Steiner relating a story about a nameless former ESPN employee. In a staff meeting, the young woman asked who was Red Show-in-diced. Of course, that isn't the proper pronunciation of Red's last name.

    Cardinals fans know how to pronounce it, and baseball fans worldwide who are up on their games know that he was one of the best managers the famous Redbirds have ever had.

    His nickname, "Red," says it all.

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