With the St. Louis Cardinals out of town for most of the week, it was fun to curl up with the team’s 2016 media guide, chock full of facts big and small about the team, its players and history.
I’ve paid close attention to this team for all of my adult life, and most of my childhood. And yet I was delighted to find these factoids as I paged through the 416-page guide, available for sale to the public on the team’s website.
Matt Carpenter, who wears No. 13, was picked in the 13th round of the draft seven years ago. At this point in his career, his best season was in 2013.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and backup catcher Eric Fryer both hail from the small town of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, just east of Columbus, but have taken very different paths. Matheny attended the University of Michigan and played 13 years in the majors, wining four Gold Gloves, playing a major-league record 252 consecutive games without an error, and leading the Cardinals to three playoff appearances in three seasons as their skipper. Fryer attended Ohio State University and has played 10 seasons in the pros, most of that in the minors; he’s been in only 68 games in the major leagues.
Matt Bowman is the only Ivy Leaguer on the Cardinals, pitching three seasons for Princeton before he was chosen by the New York Mets in the 2012 draft.
Matt Adams, on the other hand, was a three-year star at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, holding school records for batting average (.453) and slugging percentage (.754).
Bob Gibson and Whitey Herzog celebrate their birthdays on Nov. 9 – Herzog born that day in 1931 in nearby New Athens, Gibby on that date four years later in Omaha, Neb.
How did the 2015 Cardinals win 100 games? They took 33 fewer at-bats than their opponents but scored 122 more runs, had 27 more hits, 48 more doubles, 13 more triples, 14 more home runs, 114 more RBIs, 29 more walks and 52 fewer strikeouts.
Jeremy Hazelbaker played 751 games and took 2,734 at-bats in the minors before making his major-league debut in the Cards season opener in Pittsburgh on April 3.
A stark contrast to pitcher Mike Leake, who in 2010 made it to the major leagues without appearing in a minor-league game. Leake was the first player in 10 years to do so – and only the 21st player to do that since the institution of the draft in 1965. Leake has appeared in 179 games in six seasons in the pros, and only two of those games have been in the minors – in 2011, when he had the briefest of demotions to the Reds’ Triple-A club in Louisville.
Adam Wainwright’s charitable foundation, formed with his wife, Jenny, in 2013, has raised more than $1 million for Operation Food Search and Water Missions International. Operation Food Search helps feed the hungry (many of them children) in Illinois and Missouri, and Water Missions International helps impoverished families and villages get clean water in locations around the globe.
Kolten Wong and Greg Garcia were teammates on the University of Hawaii baseball team. Wong’s wife, Alissa, competed in track and field for the Rainbow Wahine.
Matt Holliday’s father, Tom, coaches baseball at North Carolina State; his brother, Josh, is the head baseball coach at Oklahoma State; and his uncle, Dave, is in the Atlanta Braves front office.
The Molina brothers – Yadier, Bengie and Jose – have each won World Series rings. In the history of baseball, they’re the only trio of brothers to have done that: Yadi with the Cardinals in 2011 and 2006, Bengie with Anaheim in 2002, and Jose with the Angels in 2002 and the New York Yankees in 2009.
Carlos Martinez hasn’t only changed uniform numbers, he’s changed his name. The pitcher, who switched from No. 44 to No. 18 in honor of the late Oscar Taveras before last season, was known as Oscar Matias prior to 2011.
Kevin Siegrist didn’t allow a run in 24 appearances at Busch Stadium in 2013, and that year he posted the lowest ERA by a Cardinals reliever in team history (minimum 35 innings pitched) with an 0.45 ERA.
Jedd Gyorko was an All-State basketball player during his time at University High School in Morgantown, West Virginia. Naturally, he excelled at baseball – winning All-State honors three times.
The Cardinals winning percentage this decade (.567) is the second highest of any decade since the team began play in 1892. The only decade better: The 1940s, when the Cardinals posted a .623 winning percentage and went to the World Series in 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1946. From 1941 to 1949, the team finished first in the National League four times, and second the other five times.
The Cardinals, known as the Browns when they entered the National League in 1892, didn’t have a winning season for seven years. Compare that to now: It’s been nine seasons since the team has a losing season (going 78-84 under Tony La Russa in 2007, their only sub-.500 season this millennium).
These former Cardinals are all part of the team’s front office: Randy Flores, Jason Isringhausen, Ryan Franklin, Braden Looper, Ryan Ludwick, and Kerry Robinson. Formers Cardinals Bryan Eversgerd and Jason Simontacchi are pitching coaches with two of the organization’s minor-league teams.
Brandon Moss has hit the longest home run by a left-handed hitter at Busch Stadium III, a 454-foot shot off Washington’s Max Scherzer last September. In his career, Moss has hit five walkoff home runs, three grand slams, three extra-inning home runs and two pinch-hit home runs.
Seung Hwan Oh’s name is pronounced sewn-whan-ho. Or if it’s easier for you, call him by his nicknames, “Final Boss” or “Stone Buddha.”
In the first 10 full seasons at the new Busch Stadium, the team has drawn nearly 3.4 million fans a year. That computes to 41,809 paying fans a game for each of the 809 regular-season home games there (one game was rained out the year the park opened, in 2006).
Jhonny Peralta, who hit a Cardinals’ record 21 homers by a shortstop last year, has the highest fielding percentage (.986) for any major-league shortstop since 2009.
Collinsville High School grad and longtime Maryville resident Ken Oberkfell wore No. 24 or No. 10 during his eight seasons as a Cardinal, numbers that have since been retired in honor of Hall of Fame managers Whitey Herzog (24) and Tony La Russa (10).
Tommy Pham and former Cardinal outfielder Ryan Ludwick both graduated from Durango High School in Las Vegas, Pham in 2006 and Ludwick in 1996.
Stephen Piscotty has a degree in Atmosphere and Energy Engineering from Stanford University, completing his work toward that degree following the 2014 season.
Trevor Rosenthal has the lowest postseason ERA (0.69) of any active major-league pitcher with 20 or more appearances. He didn’t allow a run in his first 17 playoff appearances, spanning 20 1/3 innings, in the 2012-23 playoffs.
Michael Wacha is the only Cardinal pitcher in history to strike out the first nine hitters in a game, accomplishing that feat April 23, 2014 against the New York Mets.
In his three stops in the majors, Jordan Walden has worn No. 51 with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, No. 52 with the Atlanta Braves, and Nov. 53 with the Cardinals.
Oh, and finally this: The Cardinals have played 245 postseason games in their history (that comes to about a year-and-a-half of regular season games). They’ve played 118 games in the World Series, 77 in the National League Championship Series and 50 in the National League Division Series. They are 60-58 in the Fall Classic, 38-39 in the LCS and 33-17 in the division series. Their overall playoff record: 131-114.