Germantown native Red Schoendienst will be honored by the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night at Busch Stadium, saluting his 70 years in uniform.
Schoendienst, 92, debuted with the Cardinals on April 17, 1945. He played 19 seasons with the Cardinals, then was their manager from 1975-76. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989 and his No. 2 was retired by the Cardinals in 1996.
The Cardinals also are launching a season-long campaign to demonstrate their affection for Schoendienst by sharing a video message via social media using the hashtag #LoveRed2.
The team is asking fans to join Cardinals players, broadcasters and team officials in taping video messages where they announce their name while proclaiming their admiration for Schoendienst. Fans can share those videos on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube or Vine using the hashtag #LoveRed2. Fans can learn more at cardinals.com/lovered2.
“We want to mark this amazing milestone by letting Red know how much he means to the entire Cardinals family,” Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said in a statement released by the team. “We encourage fans to join us in showing their affinity, affection and appreciation for number two as he celebrates 70 years and counting in Major League Baseball.”
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has known and appreciated Schoendienst since 2000 when he signed with the team as a free agent.
“Obviously, with Mr. (Stan) Musial no longer with us, I think Red’s kind of taken that banner now for the Cardinals,” Matheny said. “This is what a Cardinal looks like, in my mind. He’s a guy we see so much of here. Just the professionalism, the caring that he has, how intentional he is about representing this organization the right way is just so unique.
“Even our young guys will get online and pull up Red and they’ll see his stats. Then they’ll see how humble he is around here. To me, that just embodies what we do. He’s invaluable to us.”
Matheny distinctly remembers going duck-hunting and fishing with Schoendienst soon after Matheny was introduced as the Cardinals manager in 2011.
“He and I would sit in a duck blind and tell some stories,” Matheny said. “I was blown away at how good of a shot he was. He still is, by the way. Either fishing our out in the hunting blind, spending time and just getting to know who he was opened up some conversations about baseball.”
Schoendienst, a second baseman, was a 10-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion. He finished his career in 1963, closing with a .289 average in 2,216 games. Schoendienst struck out just 346 times in 8,479 career at-bats. He had 1,041 wins as a manager.
Matheny said it’s difficult to fathom anyone being in the game for 70 years.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “At 92, he’s so sharp, and how much baseball he still gets (is remarkable).”
Schoendienst was ill and did not attend spring training for the first time this year. His absence created a huge void for everyone, and Matheny found himself reaching out to Schoendienst.
“All through spring, I was calling him because he was watching the games: ‘Hey, what do you see here? What do you see there?’” Matheny said. “I know he appreciated it. He probably thought I was just humoring him, but it’s great to hear (his thoughts). I would tell him some of the things I was seeing and he would give me a little feedback. ... It was extremely valuable.”
Schoendienst has been feeling better, and he attended Opening Day on Monday and participated in the pregame ceremonies on the field.
“Hopefully, some of those physical challenges are behind and he’s able to be with us most of the season,” Matheny said. “I look forward to next spring and having him around.”