Maybe the most interesting thing about the All-Star Game festivities, in my book, was the release of the Franchise Four selections for each major league club.
It’s an interesting snapshot of history to try to boil each team down to a Mt. Rushmore of players to represent the club.
Although fans in each MLB city probably have a good idea who their local legends are, it’s neat to see how other clubs see themselves.
The selections made by St. Louis Cardinals fans were pretty predictable. I don’t mean that in a bad way. But Stan Musial was a given. Bob Gibson a lock. A lot of folks around these parts grew up watching Lou Brock re-write the stolen base record book and it’s impossible to find fault with Rogers Hornsby, the best right-handed hitter in baseball history.
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Still, I wonder how things might have been different had Albert Pujols not opted to take a bigger paycheck from the Anaheim Angels over staying with his original franchise.
Let’s get past whether re-signing Pujols would have been better in the win column for St. Louis. If Pujols still wore the Birds on the Bat, how could Cardinals fans not give him a place among the top three Redbirds in history?
His .315 career average buries Lou Brock’s .293 career mark. He’s passed the great Stan the Man in homers, runs and RBIs. How could the Cardinals pass on a guy that would have owned so many team records?
Instead, Pujols not only failed to make the cut with St. Louis. He didn’t make it with Anaheim, either.
The Angels’ fans chose Vladimir Guerrero, Nolan Ryan, Tim Salmon and Mike Trout. Ironically, while they didn’t include Pujols on their list of all-time greats, they did select another transplanted player in Guerrero who was also named to the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals franchise four. And let’s not forget Ryan was a Met before he was an Angel and an Astro and an Ranger for many years afterward...
Short-term Cardinals played prominently on other teams’ lists.
Lance Berkman made the Astros group, Dennis Eckersley made it with Oakland, Keith Hernandez made the Mets’ Mt. Rushmore, Steve Carlton was honored by the Phillies, Andres Galarraga was named by the Rockies and Dan Quisenberry by the Royals.
The one thing left of the list which I would have liked to see was a Franchise Four for the lost teams including the St. Louis Browns and for towns that lost their clubs to other cities including the New York Giants vs. the San Francisco version and the Brooklyn Dodgers vs. the LA version.