Former Cardinals owner Sam Breadon and Mr. Shortstop Marty Marion are on the 2012 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Veteran's Committee ballot this fall, it was announced Friday.
Breadon, who was the majority owner of the Cardinals from 1920 until 1947, ran the team during a time of unmatched success. The Redbirds had never won a title of any sort before he took over. After Breadon took charge, the club won nine of its 18 pennants as well as six of its 11 World Series championships before he sold it due to health issues. He died 18 months later.
A businessman who made his fortune as a Pierce Arrow car dealer, Breadon made perhaps the most controversial move in Cardinals history in 1926 when, fresh off the team's first World Series title, he traded superstar player and manager Rogers Hornsby to the Giants for fellow future Hall of Famer Frank Frisch.
Cardinals fans reacted with rage. Some draped his car dealership in black as if it were a funeral site and others jumped on the running boards of his car at stoplights to shout their displeasure with the owner. There was even a move to appeal to the commissioner's office to void the swap. But it was all in vain.
Three World Series appearances in the next five years -- while Hornsby faded and was swapped from the Giants to the Braves to the Cubs -- soothed Redbirds rooters and Breadon's legacy was restored. Hornsby actually returned to the Cardinals near the end of his career in 1933 for a brief encore before being granted his release to become player-manager of the Browns.
It seems fitting the the former Cardinals owner would take his place in the Hall of Fame next to his already enshrined players Hornsby, Frisch, Stan Musial, Pepper Martin, Johnny Mize, Dizzy Dean, Jim Bottomley, Leo Durocher, Chick Hafey, Joe Medwick, Enos Slaughter and others.
Marion certainly deserves to be on that list. In an era before Gold Gloves were awarded, Marion was widely regarded as the best shortstop in the National League from 1940-50. He was named an All-Star eight times and was the NL's Most Valuable Player in 1944.
Marion briefly managed the Cardinals and, after he was replaced by Eddie Stanky as skipper, he moved to the Browns where he was manager in 1952 and 1953 and then the White Sox where he was field boss from 1954-56.
Long before Ozzie Smith was dubbed "The Wizard" for his shortstop play, Marion earned the monikers "Mr. Shortstop" and "The Octopus" for his deft fielding. But his buddies on the team also called him "Slats" because of his skinny legs which he often tried to disguise by wearing two pairs of baseball socks at the same time.
Marion, who had one of the most distinctive autographs in baseball history, died in March 2011 at 94 years old.