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  • The 1990s St. Louis Cardinals

    Just realized that I don't know much, if anything, about the 1990s Redbirds. Sure, I went to Busch Memorial Stadium probably more often in the early 1990s than any other decade, and I still have boxes of baseball cards with Redbirds like Bryn Smith, Lee Smith, Bob Tewksbury, Bernard Gilkey, Ray Lankford, Milt Thompson, Gregg Jefferies and Rex Hudler on them, but I really missed most of that decade for various reasons. The fact that the wonderful Runnin' Redbird team I grew up with faded away as well as the onslaught of the (PED-fueled) Home Run Era kinda ruined baseball for me, and I was stationed in Germany for the back half of the decade, kinda made it difficult to follow along.

    We have threads on individual Cardinal teams of yore, and even one discussing the depressing trades of the 1970s, so I thought why not one about the 1990s. Some, if not all of you guys here, were probably paying attention back then. More so than I was, anyway. You guys saw the pitiful years after the death of Gussie, the retirement of Whitey, the beginning of Divisional play, the sale of the team (YAY!!!), the arrival of Tony LaRussa and his staff, Mark McGwire and the home run craze, the last run for Ozzie Smith that almost ended in a World Series appearance, Willie McGee coming back, all that stuff.

    Tell me about it.
    "It ain't braggin' if you can do it." Dizzy Dean

  • #2
    By the way, here is a weird picture I found online this morning. Thought I would find a place in our subforum to share it, and then thought about creating a thread on this dismal decade (in my mind, anyway). Here are the Hudlers, the Guerreros, the Zeiles and the Smiths:

    1991calendar.jpg
    "It ain't braggin' if you can do it." Dizzy Dean

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    • #3
      The most that I can contribute here would all be from the first few years of the 1990s, when I was still going to games each summer and still believing that we would turn things around and win again. Thinking back, and I haven't double checked this yet, but it seemed like for a couple years there we were always in second place, maybe third, but within striking distance of the NL East leader. Then we would get a shot at them in a series or two, and get pummeled, tumbling back down in the standings. I don't remember us being the 1980s version of the Indians or the 2000s Pirates/Royals, but it seemed like we were always just good enough to hover but never strike. Now that I said that, I have to double check. The memory is a funny thing. . .

      I did watch the game (on TV) when Bryn Smith won his 100th career game as a member of the Redbird rotation. I hoped every year that Todd Worrell would come back from his arm injury, even though we ended up getting the great Lee Smith who was saving games at a Sutterian pace each year. I wanted to cry when Whitey Herzog got fed up with the attitudes in the game, and walked away. I tried to cheer on the replacements for Vince Coleman (Bernard Gilkey) and Willie McGee (Ray Lankford), but something was really missing out there -- even if those youngsters were better for the team. They weren't MY guys in left and center! I loved Tom Pagnozzi and Todd Zeile, two promising young up and coming catchers, even though they replaced old favorites Tony Pena and Terry Pendleton -- and then Pendleton goes to the Braves and wins an MVP! What the . . .

      Bob Tewksbury was a favorite of mine, and I loved his outstanding season when he won 16 games, and almost had more wins than walks, with that sparkling ERA. Ozzie Smith was still there, and he was still the Wizard, but his double play partner was gone. Sure, I loved Jose Oquendo and Luis Alicea, but c'mon man, Tommy Herr should never have been in a Twins, Phillies, Mets, or Giants uniform -- not in MY world! OK, enough of that rant. Pedro Guerrero was breaking down a bit more each year, and eventually replaced with Gregg Jefferies (who had a stellar 1993, by the way, and I saw the game early that year against the Reds when he hit two home runs -- after seeing so many Cardinals games when the entire team couldn't hit one out).

      What else? Oh yeah, some favorite speedsters of mine came to St. Louis, Milt Thompson and Dave Collins. Milt hit around .200 his first year there, but rebounded back to the .290ish guy he was before, with the 20+ stolen bases to do with that average. Collins was a backup outfielder and pinch hitter/runner one year, came to spring training the next year and was asked to join the coaching staff -- and he gratefully accepted the challenge and was loved by his outfield charges, who were just former teammates. Joe Torre came to town, well, back to town, to take over the manager's spot. Bucky Dent was given a brief manager job by The Boss in New York, and when he was inevitably fired out in the Bronx, he joined Torre's staff as one of our coaches as well. What else? Oh yeah, we nabbed up Felix Jose, who had a lot of projected upside when he came up with the A's in the very late 1980s, and was OK, but never became what we wanted (better than David Green and John Morris, though, I think).

      Hmm. Without getting into my Cardinals yearbooks for 1990-1991, or going online to check rosters and numbers, I can't think of anything else that jumps right out at me about that beginning of the 1990s. What do you guys remember, or have to say about all this?
      "It ain't braggin' if you can do it." Dizzy Dean

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      • #4
        The 90s like the 50s and 70s before it didn't really have much success. We traded McGee but he still ended up winning the NL batting title. McGwire's home runs hit 70 and 65 home runs in 98 and 99 but it ended up being the beginning of the PED use in the league. 96 was a great year as a team but Ozzie felt that he got blackballed some by TLR and didn't get to retire the way he wanted to.

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        • #5
          So I will not focus too much on McGwire from 97-99 or the 1996 postseason since those are the obvious. Here is what sticks out to me about the 1990's outside of those two things:

          1. I remember real excitement from 1991-1993 that the team could actually win the division. They were young with a lot of pretty hyped prospects and they were all within striking distance of the postseason by the time August rolled around. People forget that those were decent to solid teams.

          2. I went to more games from 1990-1997 than any other time. I had a close friend with season tickets and even split a season ticket package with him a few years. The teams were not usually very good, but the experiences of being at the games all the time was fantastic.

          3. Not only was 1995 the first year after the lock-out, but the Birds were terrible. The bright-side was empty stadium and the fact you could sneak down to better seats whenever you wanted. I remember talking briefly to Tommy Glavine before his start that season. We could hear each other with so little crowd noise.

          4. I remember watching Lankford hit his 20th homerun in 1992 and thinking it was a big deal.

          5. As far as some memorable performances and performers

          - Tatis's two Grand Slam inning, of course
          - Hard Hitten Mark Whiten's 4 HR game (which I missed the games on TV )
          - Jose Jiminez' no-hitter
          - Ozzie Day at the ballpark (in attendance)
          - The Opening day walk-off from Willie (in attendance)
          - Tewks in 1992
          - Jeffries hitting .340 or something in 1993
          - the excitement over young pitchers like Alan Benes, Matt Morris, and Donovan Osborn
          - JD Drew getting pelted with batteries in Philadelphia
          - The TLR/Ozzie/ Clayton feud
          - How bad Juan Augusto was.
          - The first ever inter-league game in STL (in attendance)
          - The emergence of Gilkey and Jordan as legit players
          - Eck and Gaetti coming and being productive
          - The last games and moments of Vince, TP, and Willie in 1990
          - the unfulfilled hype surrounding Todd Zeile
          -I remember tons of hype for Ozzie's 2,000th hit...which in hindsight was kinda over-the-top.
          - Of course the ownership change and the eventual hirings of TLR and Jocketty. It really felt like the organization would become top-notch again. And it cerrtainly did...
          - Yes, and Mac and the 1996 postseason. Was at game 4 of the NLCS and saw countless Mac shots...including the 545 footer that left the bandaid on the Post Dispatch sign.

          Honestly, people tend to forget, but the 90's were not all doom and gloom. The 1991-1993 teams were not bad, and were picked to compete for the division those years. There was certainly some hope in those seasons. 1997-1999 were not only very exciting for McGwire, but the 1998-1999 teams were expected to be very good. They weren't, but most people were so wrapped-up in MacMania that is didn't bother most people. 1996 was very fun. Really, 1994-1995 were the only years of complete despair, and that had a lot to do with the labor nonsense. I really have a lot of positive memories of the decade.
          Last edited by Bothrops Atrox; 12-26-2015, 12:40 PM.
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          • #6
            If you had to miss any decade in Redbirds history, it would be the 90s, from what I know... Although there were several awesome moments.

            It's kind of like how my Dad says I was born in the perfect time period for a Braves fan (they won the WS 6 months after I was born and the 80s stunk).
            Rest in Peace Jose Fernandez (1992-2016)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Francoeurstein View Post
              If you had to miss any decade in Redbirds history, it would be the 90s, from what I know... Although there were several awesome moments.

              It's kind of like how my Dad says I was born in the perfect time period for a Braves fan (they won the WS 6 months after I was born and the 80s stunk).
              If you had to I guess- but even our worst wasn't too bad. Mac was a huge deal and the team was still over .500 for half of the worst decade we have had since the 1910's.
              1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

              1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

              1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


              The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
              The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

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              • #8
                I agree that the early 1990s teams were still exciting, and many times it did feel like we were still within striking distance late many times. I completely missed the mid-1990s teams, and only really tuned in at the end of '96 when we made our run. I had this girl who was a huge Braves fan, and we were sharing an apartment in '96 during the NLCS. She bragged early on how the Braves were going to rip our wings off, and then next thing you know we had 'em on the ropes, 3 games to 1! That was the end of the happy days in that apartment, seriously. That was also my last summer in the States for a few years, and deployments in both '98 and '99 kept me far from any TV to see the McGwire homer craze.

                Maybe, if it is still there, I'll look for this youtube video where somebody collected all 70 of Big Mac's home runs from 1998. I watched that a year or two ago, and other than #62, I had never seen any of those bombs before.

                I remember reading about Tatis hitting his 2 grand slams in the same inning, and posted a picture here in the Cardinals photo thread of one of them. I think both Big Mac and Eric the Redbird were in that picture. We had some interesting veterans come on board with us at times in the 1990s:

                Eric Davis, Ron Gant, Delino DeShields, Andy Benes, Dennis Eckersley, Rick Honeycutt, Bryn Smith, Lee Smith, Gregg Jefferies, Dave Collins, Milt Thompson, Todd Stottlemyre, Gary Gaetti, Rich Gedman, and of course Mark McGwire.

                There was also some game in 1996 that I didn't see on TV, but I caught the box score the next day at a favorite coffee shop. I read a lot of our box scores that year, because I didn't have a TV in my apartment (pretty common in most places I lived when single). Anyway, that particular game looked like a blast from the past, about 10 years before, with our two aging and last of the Runnin' Redbirds (Willie McGee and Ozzie Smith) having a great game together and accounting for just about all our offense! They were both batting up in the very top of the order, but I don't know if they were 1 and 2 or 2 and 3 in that lineup. Ozzie had something like 3 hits and some R and RBI, and Willie had 3 or 4 hits and drove in a bunch as well. Maybe I'll look for that box score.
                "It ain't braggin' if you can do it." Dizzy Dean

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                • #9
                  Oh yeah. Huge memories of Lee Smith in 1991-93. 47 saves was a big deal when it happened in 91 and I think he led the league in saves in 92 too. I remember reading an article about it in Sporting News and everything. We all knew he was on his way to breaking the saves record at that point, and back in 1991-93 we still thought that was a big deal.
                  1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

                  1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

                  1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


                  The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
                  The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bothrops Atrox View Post
                    Oh yeah. Huge memories of Lee Smith in 1991-93. 47 saves was a big deal when it happened in 91 and I think he led the league in saves in 92 too. I remember reading an article about it in Sporting News and everything. We all knew he was on his way to breaking the saves record at that point, and back in 1991-93 we still thought that was a big deal.
                    Yep, and when we got Smith, he had been on the Red Sox with Jeff Reardon! Or, did he go to the Red Sox after St. Louis? I think he was there first. Man, that seems like it was so long ago! But yeah, when big Lee Smith was in town, he was locked in! Looked good too with that red cap, rather than that nasty blue one he had been wearing with those nasty pinstripes. . .

                    Good times!
                    "It ain't braggin' if you can do it." Dizzy Dean

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                    • #11
                      The Cardinals ditched the awful pullovers in '92 for button-ups.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Benson View Post
                        The Cardinals ditched the awful pullovers in '92 for button-ups.
                        Worst move in franchise history.
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