On this date in 1921 the Cardinals honored the team's superstar with Rogers Hornsby Day at Sportsmans Park.
Hornsby, 25 and in his sixth full season with the Redbirds, collected two hits in five at-bats for a .402 average with two games left in the season.
Up to that point in his career Hornsby was a .337 hitter who averaged eight home runs a season. Those were excellent numbers by any standard -- and they were especially robust for a second baseman. But Redbirds rooters had no idea what the Rajah had in store.
He went hitless in his last two games in 1921 and had to settle for a .397 average. But from 1922-25 Hornsby was inarguably the best player in the National League and could have put up a pretty good case as being better than Babe Ruth, the marquee player in the American League.
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Hornsby not only batted better than .400 in three of those four years. He batted .403 for the combined four-year stretch with an average of 31 homers, 40 doubles, 12 triples and 118 RBIs. His on base percentage was .479 and his slugging percentage was .709.
During the same stretch, Ruth batted .351 with an average of 37 homers and 104 RBIs. He edged Hornsby with a .483 on base percentage. But Ruth had a .693 slugging percentage.
Hornsby's numbers took a serious blow in 1926 when he assumed responsibility of managing the Cardinals in addition to serving as a full time player. He batted "only" .317, some 46 points below his career average at the start of the season. But he skippered the Redbirds to their first World Series championship with a 4-3 win over Ruth's New York Yankees.
After that the relationship between Hornsby and the Cardinals went sour. He upset owner Sam Breadon with the then outrageous demand of a multi-year contract and Breadon traded Hornsby to the rival New York Giants for infielder Frank Frisch. But it was something special while it lasted, turning the Redbirds from a National League doormat to a perennial contender.
Even without Hornsby, the Cardinals would go on to play in four more World Series over the next eight years.