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January 14, 2013

On This Date in Cardinals History: Jan. 14, 1988

This day 25 years ago was one of the darkest in Cardinals history. The Redbirds, who let slugger Jack Clark walk away as a free agent without putting up a fight, decided it would be an acceptable substitute on Jan. 14, 1988 to sign Bob Horner away from the Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Central League where he played the 1987 season.

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Looking at the Cards from a fan's perspective

This day 25 years ago was one of the darkest in Cardinals history.

The Redbirds, who let slugger Jack Clark walk away as a free agent without putting up a fight, decided it would be an acceptable substitute on Jan. 14, 1988 to sign Bob Horner away from the Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Central League where he played the 1987 season.

It was the latest development in the Cardinals austerity movement of the late 1980s and early 1990s that saw Willie McGee, Terry Pendleton and Clark be allowed to leave and lone remaining star Ozzie Smith be surrounded with retreads and cast offs from other clubs.

Horner, who was Rookie of the Year with Atlanta in 1978 after jumping from Arizona State University straight to the big leagues, was terrible in St. Louis with three homers and a .257 batting average in 60 games before manager Whitey Herzog -- who didn't want Horner in the first place -- convinced the team to release the out of shape first baseman.

In 10 major league seasons, Horner only managed to play more than 130 innings twice. He was only 30 during his time with St. Louis. But he never played in the major leagues again.

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Scott Wuerz has reported for the Belleville News-Democrat since 1998​. He writes about the St. Louis Cardinals from a fan's perspective in his Cheap Seats blog.

Contact him at swuerz@bnd.com.

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