All season, the Cardinals have invited fans to show their affection for Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst by posting video messages using the hashtag #LoveRed2. Here are five things I’d like to put out there, if I may, about one of my favorite people in sports:
1) Schoendienst made his Cardinals debut 70 years ago. And in 2015, he’s still around the ballpark. For an in-game experience, there’s nothing better to me than sitting in our broadcast booth and seeing Red walk in the door. Always looking dapper, Schoendienst will grab a light snack and a beverage and settle into one of the booth chairs. Watching him survey the field, I know he sees a different game than me. Seventy-plus years of experience. It’s unheard of. It’s beautiful. It’s Red.
2) He is a baseball man. I’ll never forget the day Busch Stadium III opened, in 2006. I went directly to Red to get this thoughts on the new, sharp-looking, open-air ballpark. His response: “Yes, and this field is great. It’s great.” While the rest of the guests were looking at the billboards, the scoreboard, the lights…Red was talking to me about the excellent condition of the field itself. Already thinking like a manager, he was comparing the turf to some of the others he’d seen, bringing attention to the care that went into growing and maintaining the green, lush grass. Today, Busch Stadium is considered to be one of the best-kept fields in the majors.
3) He started as a fill-in for the player he watched as a teenager: Stan Musial. In 1945, when Musial was serving in the military, Schoendienst joined the Cardinals at the age of 22. All the kid from Germantown, Ill., did was lead the National League in stolen bases (26), batting .276 and driving in 47 runs. In 1946, Red played third base and shortstop before taking over the second base position he would own for the next two decades. The Cards won the World Series that year, Schoendienst went to his first of ten All-Star Games. In 1950, he cracked a 14th-inning home run to win the Mid-Summer Classic for the NL.
4) Schoendienst has seven World Series rings. He was a player on the 1946 team. He was Johnny Keane’s coach on the 1964 club. In 1967, Schoendienst managed the greatest Cardinals team of all time. He was a coach for the 1982 champions. And as a key member of the club in 2006 and 2011, Schoendienst witnessed Tony La Russa’s two world titles in St. Louis. But Schoendienst also played for Milwaukee Braves, who won it all in 1957 and repeated as NL champs in 1958.
5) He’s 92 years young. For years, I marveled at his fungo-bat ability, hitting hard grounders to infielders during fielding practice. And each Opening Day, Red doesn’t need help getting out of his Ford convertible at home plate. He hops out. “Whether it’s in a duck blind or going out to dinner, this is a guy who’s just so relevant,” Cards manager Mike Matheny told me on his radio show this week. ”To be the age that he is, and still just as cool as he is, it’s just a pleasure to be around Red Schoendienst.”
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