Cardinal Turnarounds by Bob Ryan

It’s always exciting when a team, person, or even a group have sudden positive turnarounds. Those turnarounds do also occur on the “down” side. Let’s take a look at some of the Cardinals turnarounds…pro and con….

…In 2015, the Cards circled the bases for 137 home runs—this was 24th in the ML B…the instant turnaround in 2016 has seen a prodigious 207 round trippers (2nd in the MLB)! Jeff Gyorko has been a huge catalyst in driving the HR total upward..

…In the same 2015, the Cards pitching staff led the entire MLB with a sharp looking 2.94 ERA…meanwhile, 2016 has seen an upward turnaround and has dropped to team ERA to 9th in the MLB with an ERA of 4.04

…the biggest comeback for the Cards ….and listed as the biggest post-season come-back victory in all of MLB history is the World Series…is game 6, 2011 win over Texas. David Freese’s 3 run triple in the 9th tied it and then the Freeze HR in the 11th to win it! It was spectacular! While watching the replay, I noticed that Freeze’s triple hit the wall only half way up the wall….either….OF Nelson Cruz wasn’t playing deep enough or he misjudged the ball…either way…it was quite a turnaround.

….referring to a different St. Louis Cardinals team….the football team that was here from 1970 to 1984….that franchise hit its peak in the 1974-75 seasons…the 74 team was 10-5, won the NFL East Div but fell in a post-season loss to the Vikings. The 1975 team was 11-5, won the NFL East again …and lost the opening round of the playoffs to the …LA Rams….boy..that hurts to print it. The Cardiac Cards as they were called….were still a strong 10-6 in 1976 but began their turnaround in 1977 as the dropped to 7-7. The 1978 edition was horrible as Bud Wilkinson, a great college in the 50’s, was brought in to succeed Don Coryell…he was not able to adapt to the NFL style….that began the huge turnaround….and finally …off to Arizona…btw…the Football Cards NEVER won a post-season game in their StL history….ouch!

….a huge baseball turnaround popped up in the Lou in 1982….after the strike shortened 1981 season soured fan interest …even the Lou fans were detached from baseball during the strike …the Cards put on their “running shoes” under Whitey Herzog..they stole 200 bases (after stealing 88 in 81) and won the World Series over Milwaukee …this immediate turnaround ignited interest once again..btw…. Lonnie Smith led the club with 68 SB…Vince Coleman had not yet made his appearance on the big stage yet…..just for grins….the every-day 1982 starting lineup was Darrell Porter, Keith Hernandez, Tommy Herr, Ozzie, Ken Oberkfell, Lonnie Smith, Willie McGee and George Hendrick.

…one of the most stunning “turnarounds” individually belongs to a non-descript pitcher for most of his career….Bob Tewksbury. Tewksbury was a soft-throwing, RHP, who had to have pin-point control to get outs. His 1st real shot as a MLB starter was when he was 29 years old (10-9).As a 30 year old in 1991, Tewks numbers were 11-12 with a 3.25 era (his career best to that time)….then out of nowhere…in 1992 with the Cards compiling a very mediocre 83-79record under MGR Joe Torre..Tewks was sensational…he was 16-5 with a brilliant 2.16 ERA during the entire season…with 233 innings pitched…he walked just 20 batters!…he was #3 in the Cy Young Voting for 92….he’d never come close to this “turnaround season” again….btw …he pitched all the way through 1998 when he was 37 years old

….a Cardinal whose “Turnaround” went the other way was Garry Templeton…highly touted when signed, he was in the MLB by the age of 20…at 21, this every-day SS hit .322 in 1977….in 1979…he had 100 hits from each side of the plate and is still the only MLB player to EVER do that while hitting .314…while his refusal in 1979 to play in the All-Star game because he wasn’t going to be the starter didn’t sit well with many fans …his statement of “ If I ain’t startin, I ain’t departin” is still remembered by some….but it was his antics on one-day that led to a totally unexpected turnaround…on Aug 26, 1981 on a “Ladies Day” game @ the 1st inning, Templeton struck out…as the ball got away from the catcher…perhaps unbeknownst to Templeton, he didn’t run to 1B. The fans booed and Templeton responded with a 1-finger salute. He continued to be jeered by the normally passive and positive StL fans in the 2nd & 3rd innings…some fans were yelling obscenities….hope their “ladies” were’t with themJ Templeton responded with another obscene gesture at the top of the 3rd at which point the umpire Bruce Froemming…gosh…was he around that long ago?….ejected him from the game. The fans were all over Templeton as he exited. Templeton answered again with yet another gesture…grabbing his crotch…at that point Whitey Herzog bolted from the dugout, grabbed him and scuffled with him in the dugout. That incident led to the departure of Templeton in the off season as he was traded for a little-known, goof fielding SS….his name…Ozzie Smith…from that point on….Templeton was NEVER the same player as his pre-Ladies Day “performance”. …he’d never hit .300 again…only 1 time did he have over 150 hits in a season (154) and he never had to worry about “departin” again as a starter.

….another super stunning turnaround was and is totally unexplained….after signing Lindy McDaniel, the Cards signed his younger brother Von. Von was a rookie sensation in 1957 as an 18 year old! He was 7-5, 3.22 ERA, completed 4 of his 13 starts… had pinpoint accuracy, a good fastball…he looked to be a permanent fixture in the Cards rotation for years….when he returned in 1958 …shockingly….he couldn’t pitch..he had lost the technique….his arm motion was totally different….it was like he had forgotten how to pitch….he pitched in 2 innings but it was completely futile…in his last inning, he walked 5 batters….he was done…never to be seen again in the MLB…no one has ever explained that turnaround

…another sudden departure was Ken Boyer….Boyer arrived on the Cardinals roster in 1955…he hit over .300 five times with over 23 HR every year save one…he was the leader of the Cards in the early-mid 1960’s….in 1964, Boyer led the charge to overtake the Phillies as he hit .400 in 5 september games against Philadelphia. He hit a grand slam in the 64 Series as the Cards knocked off the Yankees. Boyer was the league MVP in 1964…he led the league in RBI’s with 119…it was his 7th consecutive season of 90+ RBI’s. 1965 was a totally different animal…he hit a career low (to that point) of .260 and just like that was dealt to the Mets after 11 good …and 1964 being “great”….years. Some say that announcer Harry Caray turned fans against Boyer after Boyer turned down an interview with Caray….Caray vowed to make him “regret it”. After his 15 year career, Boyer came back to manage the Cardinals.

….as a team…the greatest Cardinal “turnaround” was 1964…that’s the StL spin….in Philadelphia, it’s called the “Phold”…sound it out… the Phils led the Reds by 6.5 games with 25 games remaining…then things started to happen…slugger Frank Thomas broke his thumb the next day, #4 starter Ray Culp began having elbow problems, #3 starter Art Mahaffey started experiencing severe control problems…lasting 1 inning on sept 8 and only the 3rd inning in his next start…the Phillies still had 6.5 game lead over Cincy with just 12 games to play. (3 vs Cincy & 4 vs Mil on 7 game homestand; followed by 3 in St Louis & last 2 in Cincy). On Sept 21, Chico Ruiz of Cincy reached 3B then broke for home as Art Mahaffey started his windup…Mahaffey threw a wild pitch and Ruiz scored the only run of the game as the Reds won 1-0. Psychologically, it broke the back of the Phillies as that play has been referred to as the “Curse of Chico Ruiz”. The next day, Phils MGR Gene Mauch verbally rode Ruiz, yelling at them continually throughout the game….the Reds responded with their bats and won so lead was now 4.5 games. The next day, the Reds swept the series to slice the lead to 3.5 games with 9 game remaining.   Milwaukee came to town and handed Philly a 5-3 loss as two OF misplays led to two runs. Chris Short, Philly #2, tried coming back on 2 days rest…can u imagine that now?…but he lost…lead now 1.5 games. A 6-4 loss followed the next day—Jim Bunning, the ace, then attempted pitching on 2 days rest but was defeated and lost 14-8 it was now 7 losses in a row—4 straight to Milwaukee and Philadelphia fell behind Cincinnati by .5 games. The PHils had lost every game of the 7 game homestand. Traveling to St. Louis, the Cardinals swept the 3 game series..thus 10 straight losses. While Philly did stop the losing streak @ 10, it was too late…the Cards won the pennant and the World Series. It was a turnaround that no one in St. Louis …or Philadelphia…has ever forgotton..

The final turnaround is now…as we suddenly end






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