Six years ago today Mark Grudzielanek hit for the cycle to lead the Cardinals to a 6-3 win over the Brewers at Busch Stadium II.
Grudzielanek, who likely contributed to the death of broadcaster Harry Caray because of the complicated pronunciation of his last name, batted .294 in his only season with St. Louis. He played 139 games at second base and batted near the top of a powerful lineup that led the Cardinals to the National League Championship Series for the second of three consecutive years.
Grudzielanek made $1 million to play for the Redbirds in 2005 and thought his strong play made him deserving of a better contract. The Cardinals chose to let him walk, starting a revolving door at second base that is currently filled by a converted outfielder. Grudzielanek got his desired multi-year deal fro Kansas City where he made $12.5 million over three seasons.
Ironically, the starting second baseman for the Brewers on April 27, 2005 was Junior Spivey -- perhaps the most spectacular failure in the Cardinals' efforts to replace Grudzielanek. He failed to make the club out of spring training in 2006 and never made it back to the big leagues.
Batting lead-off that day, Grudzielanek hit his homer in the first inning to start a three-run Redbirds rally. St. Louis never trailed in the game and improved to 14-5 on the season with the victory.
The winner of the 2006 American League Gold Glove at second base, he didn't play in the majors in 2009, but Grudzielanek returned briefly with the Indians in 2010 before announcing his retirement.