Sunday, August 01, 2010

Whitey Herzog's 24 retired

Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog was in St. Louis this weekend to see his former jersey number, 24, retired by the St. Louis Cardinals.
On Saturday night at Busch Stadium, the stage was all Herzog's, even though he tried to share it with members of his 1985 National League championship team. The Cardinals retired Herzog's No. 24, with numerous notations of that act on the Busch Stadium message boards, with the number to be permanently applied to the left-field wall, alongside the other retired numbers, in time for the start of the next season. A No. 24 also was affixed to the dirt behind second base Saturday.

Herzog said the retirement ceremony was tantamount to his entering the Hall of Fame. And that's the way it seemed, too, to a sellout house that accorded him a lengthy standing ovation after he and wife Mary Lou rode into the yard on a two-horse Clydesdale hitch.

In the dugout, current manager Tony La Russa and his players also applauded, and Herzog said having his number retired "is right up there" with his Hall of Fame honor.

Later, Herzog would say, "This really means a lot to me. Not that the Hall of Fame didn't. I know they kind of go hand in hand. You don't get your number retired unless you get into the Hall of Fame. But it actually means just as much to me. They're both honors that you never dream of that ever happening."

A proclamation from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's office declared Whitey Herzog Day, and the Cardinals gave Herzog a framed baby blue jersey with his 24 on it.

A dozen or so members of the 1985 team felt a part of the moment. Almost as much as Herzog.
With Herzog's 24 being retired, Rick Hummel raises the question: What about Joe Medwick? The Commish does raise a good point. Outside of honorary numbers such as Darryl Kile's 57, anyone that gets inducted into the Hall of Fame usually sees their jersey retired.
Of the Cardinals numbers we see today, enjoy seeing No. 5 and No. 10 because those numbers probably won't be worn by anybody else but Albert Pujols and manager Tony La Russa, both of whom someday also may be headed for the Hall of Fame.

But there is one other former Cardinals star whose number older fans would like to see retired. Hall of Famer Joe Medwick wore three numbers for the Cardinals - 28, 7 and 21 - in two tours here. But he wore No. 7 for eight seasons, from 1933-40, the first seven of which were the best seasons of his career.

From 1933-39, Medwick hit .306, .319, .353, .351, .374, .322 and .332. In 1937, he had 31 homers among his 237 hits and drove in 154 runs while hitting .374. That was the last time a hitter won the Triple Crown in the National League.

Besides satisfying a small but vocal group, the Triple Crown might be enough to merit retiring No. 7. Of course, they might have to tear it off the back of current star Matt Holliday, who plans to be here seven years.
With Medwick, it is more of a question of which jersey number would be honored with his wearing 3 different numbers.

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