1967 St. Louis Cardinals
Manager: Red Schoendienst
Regular season record: 101-60 (.627), first in National League
Post-season: Won World Series over Boston Red Sox (4-3)
Staff Comments (individual rankings in parens)
Ray Mileur (5) The Cardinals cruised through the regular season finishing 10½ games ahead of the second place San Francisco Giants and they did it with missing the staff ace, Bob Gibson who was out for about a third of the season with a broken leg.
Of course Gibson made up for the lost time in the World Series winning three of the four games for the Cardinals. Light-hitting Julian Javier hit .360 during the series including a home run and four RBI, only Roger Maris and Lou Brock did better, with Maris hitting .385 with a home run and seven RBI while Brock led the club with a .414 batting average, seven stolen bases and eight runs scored.
On the mound, you had Steve Carlton and Bob Gibson, but it was starter Dick Hughes who led the club with 16 wins and a 2.67 ERA during the regular season. We didn’t have cable television, 150 channels or the MLB.com TV network package in 67, so it was rare that fans in St. Louis got to see future Hall of Famer, left-fielder Carl Yastrzemski, who won the AL MVP & Triple Crown in 1967 with a .326 batting average, 44 home runs and 128 RBI, play ball.
Yaz didn’t disappoint, in the series he hit .400 with three home runs and five RBI but it wasn’t enough to end the “Curse of the Bambino” in 1967, the Red Sox fans would have to wait another 37 years. I was 12 years old in 1967, an impressionable age, this ballclub and that season is one of my best baseball memories.
Jerry Modene (3) The third in our series of “beat ‘em with spirit” teams (2002 and 1934 being the others), the 1967 “El Birdos’ epitomize the Cardinals of the 1960’s better than any other team of the decade, despite all that’s been written about the 1964 team and Bob Gibson’s magnificent 1968 season. The 1967 team had it all – speed, defense, power, and pitching, and were able to persevere despite losing Gibson to a broken leg for six weeks just as the race was heating up!
The El Birdos were led by new first baseman Orlando Cepeda, who became the NL’s first-ever unanimous choice for Most Valuable Player while hitting .325 with 25 home runs and 111 RBI (huge totals for those days), but also enjoyed standout seasons from catcher Tim McCarver, who hit .295, and from outfielder Lou Brock, who hit .299 and stole 52 bases – and who also hit 21 home runs!
Surprise leadership came from new right fielder Roger Maris, obtained from the Yankees in one of GM Stan Musial’s only two deals of his one-year tenure (pitcher Al Jackson was the other). A lot of the Cardinals were wary of Maris because of his New York reputation but Roger blended in well with the team once he was out of the New York limelight and although he didn’t hit much his two years with the Cards was still a key contributor to the team.
It seems a shame that the 1967 and 1968 teams were the last hurrah for the Cards for many years; Gussie Busch began tearing the team apart in 1969 (when he traded Orlando Cepeda – pictured below) and began a downward trend for the Cards (we all remember Carlton-for-Wise) that didn’t stop until Whitey Herzog came aboard in 1980.
Rob Rains (4) This club is the best of the post World War II era, by a mile. It had great offensive production, good pitching and quality defense. It won the pennant (no divisions back then) by 10 ½ games and then beat the Red Sox to win the World Series. It even was good enough to withstand the loss of Bob Gibson to a broken leg for the second half, although he improved enough to pitch in the World Series.
Orlando Cepeda was the MVP but Lou Brock was the catalyst, becoming the first player in history to win 20 home runs in a season and also steal 50 or more bases. Mike Shannon made the move to third base to make room in the outfield for Roger Maris, and he fit in perfectly with his new club after years of turmoil in New York.
Seven pitchers won at least nine games, and it looked as if some of the youngsters – including a prized stud lefthander, Steve Carlton, would keep the Cardinals in contention for years to come. Something happened to that plan a few years later, however.
Brian Walton (4) In their second season in the then-new Busch Stadium, the Cardinals drew two million fans for the first time. Five top Cardinals were on skipper Red Schoendienst’s club: pitchers Bob Gibson (pictured above) and Steve Carlton, infielder Julian Javier, and outfielders Lou Brock and Curt Flood.
Newly-acquired Orlando Cepeda took the NL Most Valuable Player Award with a league-best 111 RBI to go with 25 home runs and a .325 average. Brock paced the NL in runs scored with 113 and stolen bases with 52.
Pitcher Dick Hughes was an unsung hero who just didn’t put runners on base. His WHIP of 0.954 is fourth-lowest in franchise history and his 16 wins paced the staff that season. Steve Carlton and Nelson Briles each added 14 victories.
The offense didn’t help much in the post-season, hitting just .223, yet Gibson took his second World Series Most Valuable Player Award in four years. Against Boston’s “Impossible Dream” club, all Gibson did was pitch three complete games totaling 27 innings, give up 14 hits, strike out 26, walk five, post an ERA of 1.00, and won all three games. Those 14 hits over three complete game victories (Games One, Four and Seven) tied Christy Mathweson’s record from 1905, and he also hit a huge home run in Game Seven against Sox ace Jim Lonborg.
Key: NR = not ranked
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