The honor of being the oldest
living former St. Louis Cardinals player has been a hot potato in recent times,
but was less so in 2011. For the first time in the last five years, the man who
I believe holds that spot did not pass away during the course of the previous 12
Based on my
research, I believe Freddie
Schmidt continues to be the oldest living former Cardinal. A right-handed
pitcher who appeared in 1944, 1946 and 1947 with St. Louis, Schmidt celebrated his
95th birthday on February 9.
Those who held the title before
Schmidt are as follows. In 2010, Don
Lang, the 95-year-old former third baseman from the 1948 club, left us. Herman Franks, then 95, passed away in
2009, preceded by 96-year-old Don
Gutteridge in 2008 and Ernie
Koy, aged 97 upon his death in 2007. 100-year-old Lee Cunningham passed in
The oldest Cardinals who died
during the course of this past year were Danny Litwhiler, 95, and 93-year-old Marty Marion.
In terms of the living player who
played for the team the longest time ago, I believe 91-year-old Stan Musial now holds the distinction.
“The Man” first arrived in the bigs in September 1941, about a year and a half
after Marion made his St. Louis debut.
2011 Cardinals deaths by
January 18: George Crowe, age
“Big George” was a former Negro
Leagues player and Indiana basketball star. Crowe closed out his
career with the 1959-61 Cardinals after having hit 31 home runs for the Reds in
1957. The first baseman had been an All-Star in 1958, but was dealt to the Cards
following that season. With St.
Louis, he became a clubhouse leader, but could not
recreate his past magic on the field.
February 3: Ron Piché, age
The native Québecer concluded his
six-year MLB career with 20 appearances out of the Cardinals pen in 1966. The
right-hander spent part of 1966 and all of 1967 in Triple-A before St. Louis dealt him to the
Cubs in April 1968.
February 12, Gino Cimoli, age
The outfielder spent just one
big-league year with St.
Louis of his ten. The 1957 NL All-Star with Brooklyn arrived in the Wally Moon trade following the
1958 season. Cimoli logged a career-high 72 RBI with the 1959 Cards before being
dealt to the Pirates the next winter.
February 15, Joe Frazier, age
A reserve outfielder in parts of
three seasons with St. Louis, 1954-56, Frazier was most famous for his stint
managing the New York Mets from 1976 into the 1977 season. Ironically, he was
replaced by another ex-Cardinal, Joe Torre, who was still an active player. In
1982, Frazier managed in the Cardinals minor league system at Triple-A
March 12: Mitchell Page, age
The former major league player
(second in the 1977 AL Rookie of the Year
voting) and Cardinals organizational hitting coach died in his sleep at his
Page was the Cardinals Major League hitting coach from mid-2001 through 2004,
including during their “MV3? days. Prior to that, Page served as Cardinals minor
league hitting coordinator and was the hitting coach at Triple-A Memphis in
1998. Page came back briefly as Quad Cities hitting coach in 2009, but continued
to struggle with alcohol problems.
|Marion in St. Louis (2005)|
March 15: Marty Marion, age
The defensive wizard known as
“Slats” and “The Octopus” was recognized as the top defensive
shortstop of his era as well as the Cardinals’ all-time best shortstop until
Ozzie Smith emerged. Marion earned nine consecutive All-Star
Game invitations and led National League shortstops in fielding percentage three
times, including a career-best .981 mark in 1947. He was named the league’s Most
Valuable Player in 1944 and also starred for the 1942 and 1946 World Champs.
After managing the Cardinals in 1951, Marion played for and managed the St. Louis
Browns and was also skipper of the Chicago White Sox.
March 18: Charlie Metro, age
Metro was an outfielder with the
Tigers and A’s and later briefly managed the Cubs (1962) and Royals (1970). He
spent a number of years as a coach and scout and managed one season in the
Cardinals system, at Triple-A Tulsa in 1966.
July 12: Howard Hilton, age
The 1985 draftee from the
Arkansas had a very short
major league career of two games in early April 1990. After his release by the
Cardinals in spring training 1991, the right-hander finished his eight-season
minor league time with two years in the San Diego system.
September 23: Danny Litwhiler, age
The outfielder first came up with
the 1940 Phillies and made the 1942 All-Star team before being dealt to the
Cards in June 1943. He played on the 1943 and 1944 champs, logging his career
high of 82 RBI with the latter club. He remained with St. Louis until his sale
to the Braves in June 1946, where he rejoined his Cardinals manager Billy
Southworth. Later, Litwhiler was a very successful college coach for almost
three decades with Florida
State and Michigan State Universities.
October 2: John Romonosky, age
The right-handed pitcher from
two starts at the end of the Cardinals’ 1953 season before returning to the
minors. Romonosky later pitched in the Senators, Yankees, Twins and A’s systems
and was a deputy sheriff following his playing days.
November 3: Bob Forsch, age
Just a week after he threw out the
ceremonial first pitch for Game 7 of the World Series, Bob Forsch died suddenly.
After 15 seasons with the Cardinals, the right-hander ranks third all-time in franchise history with 163 victories.
Forsch was a member of the 1982 World Championship team and is one of only 28
pitchers in MLB history to throw multiple no-hitters (1978 and 1983).
November 3: Matty Alou, age
Republic native was a 15-year MLB veteran and
one of three outfield-playing brothers. The former NL batting champ and two-time
all-star with the Pirates was dealt to the Cards in the Nelson Briles deal prior
to the 1971 season. Alou spent almost two years with St. Louis. Not normally
considered a run producer, he drove in a career-high 74 runs in 1971. The
Cardinals re-acquired him to close out the 1973 season before he moved on
November 11: Charlie Lea, age
The former Montreal Expos hurler
spent seven seasons in the majors and tossed a no-hitter in 1981. Having pitched
in Memphis as a
collegian and minor leaguer, Lea lived there after his playing days concluded.
He spent the last decade as the color commentator for Memphis Redbirds radio
December 21: Bud Bloomfield, age
First signed in 1957, the third
baseman had one of the shortest Cardinals careers on record. Bloomfield was a late-game
defensive replacement for Ken Boyer in one game in September 1963, but did not
appeared in seven games for the Twins during the following season before
Louis Browns players Perry Currin,
Fred Sanford and Duane Pillette also passed away in
2011. The latter was the starting pitcher in the Brownies’ final
articles: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006
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