Cards All-Time Top 40 – Pepper Martin #32

Our Top 40 countdown of the greatest St. Louis Cardinals of all time continues with the "Wild Horse of the Osage", Pepper Martin.

Johnny Leonard Roosevelt "Pepper" Martin

The Basics

Position

Bat

Thw

Total Yrs

Yrs in StL

HR

RBI

SB

Avg

Outfield/Third Base

Right

Right

1928-40, '44

1928-40, '44

59

501

146

.298

The Awards

Hall of Fame

Retired #

World Champ

All-Star

MVP

Cy Young

Gold Glove

 -

3

4

 -

NA

NA

Note: All stats and awards listed are for years as a Cardinal only.
Martin's career stats available from baseball-reference.com.

Voter Comments

Ray Mileur (29): Known as the "Wild Horse of the Osage", the Oklahoma native personified what it meant to be a part of the legendary Gashouse Gang. When I think of the movie "Field of Dreams", in my dream I would get a chance to play with Martin over at third.

Martin spent his entire 13-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals, finishing with a .298 lifetime batting average, scoring more than 120 runs three times and leading the league in stolen bases three times. No one played the game any harder.

In the 1931 World Series, he batted .500, had 12 hits to include four doubles, scored five runs and stole five bases. A big time money player, before there was big time money, Martin hit a career .418 in 15 World Series games, (1928, ‘31, ‘34). His career Series batting average is the highest among players with 50 or more at-bats.

It has been said that Pepper Martin wasn't the greatest hitter of all time, or the greatest fielder or thrower or base runner, but he did everything well and no more fiery competitor ever lived in any sport. Isn't that what it means to be a St. Louis Cardinal?

Jerry Modene (35): Like Whitey Kurowski, a guy who used to always make the "greatest Cardinals" lists when I first became a fan; like Jim Bottomley, a wildly popular player. He was, despite rather limited ability (especially on defense), the spirit of the Gas House Gang and it's hard to imagine the Cardinals having won in 1931 and 1934 without him.

Rob Rains (30): Named to four All-Star teams in the 1930s, Martin was one of the fiery leaders of the Gashouse Gang. He was known as much for playing practical jokes and possessing a dirty uniform as he was for his baseball skills, but both were top-notch. Given the nickname "Pepper" in the minor league, he also was known as the "Wild Horse of the Osage", another appropriate nickname that befitted his intense, head-first style of play.

Brian Walton (38): Pepper is the first player in the nine we've covered so far that all four of us agree on.

In addition to having been a great player as the others noted, Martin was also the club's most colorful in his time – until the arrival of Dizzy Dean, that is. Upon being purchased by the club, Martin hitchhiked his way to camp and spent a night in jail after getting picked up riding the rails. Unorthodox hobbies like midget auto racing and leading the Gas House Gang's hillbilly and country music group, The Mudcat Band, ensued even after his stardom was achieved.

Long before Reggie Jackson claimed the title, Martin could have been the Cardinals' original Mr. October. Over seventy years after the fact, Martin still shares ownership of not one, but two seven-game World Series records - batting average (.500 in 1931) and runs scored (eight in 1934).

In the 1931 Series, Martin was dominant, with four doubles and a home run among his 12 hits and added five stolen bases. Fittingly, Martin recorded the final out of the Series in left center with the bases loaded to seal the Cardinals' second World Championship. As a result, he was voted the Associated Press' "Athlete of the Year".

In 1934, Martin had "just" 11 hits in the Series, stole the Cardinals only two bases and scored those record-setting eight runs. He was later brought back from managing in the minors to help the 1944 club win the pennant, thereby having had a hand in three decades of Cardinals championships – 1920's, 1930's and 1940's.

Voter Comments Key: Voter (Individual Ranking); NR = Not Rated

Master List: To see our entire list of the greatest 40 Cardinals players of all-time as they are unveiled daily, click here.

© 2007 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.

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