1982 St. Louis Cardinals
Manager: Whitey Herzog
Regular season record: 92-70 (.568), first in National League Eastern Division
Won NL Championship Series over Atlanta Braves (3-0)
Won World Series over Milwaukee Brewers (4-3)
Staff Comments (individual rankings in parens)
Brian Walton (14) Starting the season off with a bang, Whitey Herzog relinquished his General Manager’s title on Opening Day. Focusing only on the field seemed to work as his club was ahead of the pack except for 48 days en route to their first-ever NL Eastern Division title.
Five all-time top Cardinals were on Herzog’s club: starting pitcher Bob Forsch, first baseman Keith Hernandez, closer Bruce Sutter and outfielder Willie McGee (from left-to-right in 2005 reunion photo above), along with shortstop Ozzie Smith (not pictured). With nine wins and 36 saves, Sutter had a hand in almost half the team’s victories and took his second consecutive Rolaids Fireman of the Year Award and third in four years.
Seven players registered double digits in stolen bases, led by Lonnie “Skates” Smith with 68. Darrell Porter was a post-season star as the catcher took home both the NL Championship Series and World Series Most Valuable Player Awards.
This club put the ugly 1970’s to bed for anxious Cardinals fans that had not experienced a World Series champion in 15 years. Little did they know at the time it would take 24 more years to get back to the top again.
Ray Mileur (9) When you are talking about Whitey Ball, you are talking about the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals, who brought home the club’s 9th World Championship and first Championship since 1967. Can you imagine a ballclub that hit only 67 home runs actually winning a World Series Crown?
A team that was built on emphasizing speed, defense and pitching, the Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves three straight games in the National League Championship Series to get to the Fall Classic. In the World Series it was Whitey Herzog and his “running Redbirds” who had hit only 67 home runs, facing Milwaukee Manager Harvey Kuenn and his “Harvey Wallbangers” who led the majors with 218 round trippers.
As one might expect when these two distinct different types of teams collide, the World Series went seven games, with the Cardinals winning Game Seven by the score of 6-3 in front of the hometown crowd at Busch Stadium. Catcher Darryl Porter, an unlikely hero who hit only .231 during the regular season was named the MVP of National League Championship Series and the World Series.
Rob Rains (9) A 14-year World Series drought ended as Whitey Herzog revamped the Cardinals, winning the NL East by three games and directing the team to victories over Atlanta in the NL playoffs and over Milwaukee in the World Series.
The team won because of all the little things it did right on the field, starting with good pitching and playing good defense. Herzog had realized as soon as he took over the Cardinals that the team could not win in Busch Stadium trying to hit home runs. Indeed the Cardinals had only two players who reached double digits in homers in 1982, George Hendrick with 19 and Darrell Porter with 12. The team’s combined total of 67 barely allowed them to win the race against Roger Maris’ individual season mark.
Bob Forsch (pictured above) and Joaquin Andujar won 15 games each to lead the starters, and Bruce Sutter (right) became the dominant closer in baseball with 36 saves.
One of the team’s key players was a rookie almost nobody knew coming into the season, but a player who would become a major part of the team’s success in the 1980s – Willie McGee.
Jerry Modene (14) A year-and-a-half of roster shuffling and rearranging finally bore fruit as the Cardinals, fresh off the disappointment of having failed to qualify for the postseason despite having had the best overall record in the division (thanks to the 1981 strike-induced split season), simply went out and got better, having obtained speedster Lonnie Smith, slick-fielding shortstop Ozzie Smith, and having re-signed free agent starter Joaquin Andujar, who had been obtained in mid-1981 and who had won six games down the stretch for the 1981 crew.
Despite a severe lack of power (the whole team hit just 67 homers, led by George Hendrick’s 18) the 1982 Cards hold a special place in many a fan’s heart for introducing the so-called “Whiteyball” offense to major-league baseball. (There are not a few fans who wish Whiteyball would come back to St. Louis; unfortunately, the game has changed so much in the 26 years since 1982 that the speedster approach probably wouldn’t be successful.)
The 1982 Cardinals might have been the best overall defensive ballclub in team history, despite Lonnie’s presence in left field.
Key: NR = not ranked
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