Posts Tagged ‘We Lost Red Schoendienst on Wednesday’

We Lost Red Schoendienst on Wednesday

June 8, 2018

Red Schoendienst and Bill McCurdy (L)
Cardinals Club Suite
Busch Stadium II
May 1998

We lost Red Schoendienst on Wednesday. At age 95, the arguably most intuitive baseball player in history has finally passed away, leaving the rest of us here to figure it out on our own from here on in.

And what is an intuitive ballplayer? In my book, he’s the guy who seems to possess an uncanny ability to know where the ball is coming or going on the next pitch. That capacity, plus knowing what to with it when the ball reaches you as either a hitter or a fielder, is the magical parlay that will separate many intuitive AAA guys from the other blessed few of their type who also possess the ability to use that information for carrying out a Hall of Fame career on offense.

intuitive fielder

Red Schoendienst retired from a 19 season career (1944-1963) as a second baseman that always makes most of us feel that he should have been as a St. Louis Cardinal total career guy.

That was not to be. The brief St. Louis tenure of Frank “Trader” Lane just couldn’t be stopped from trading away a franchise icon to kick off his new GM regime. Unable to get permission to deal away Stan Musial, an intercession that may have saved his life, Lane dealt Schoendienst to the New York Giants, who soon dealt Red to the Milwaukee Braves in time for him to be a difference-maker in their two-year rattle at the World Series in the late 1950s. Schoendienst then came back for three light duty seasons with the Cards before retiring and beginning his now much longer career as a Cardinals manager, coach, and lifelong elder statesman.

intuitive hitter

Finally, after first missing out on the Hall of Fame on the baseball writers’ frequent inability to value what their eyes have supposedly seen, the Veterans Committee voted sensibly in favor of Red Schoendienst’s 1989 induction into the Hall of Fame.

I loved Red Schoendienst as a kid, but I didn’t get to meet him until I was invited to attend¬† a 1998 party for former St. Louis Browns in the then relatively new owner Bill DeWitt, Jr.’s Busch Stadium II suite they called “The Cardinals Club”. I was there as the guest of my Browns player friends.

Bill DeWitt, Jr.
Cardinals Owner

1998 was only two years into the DeWitt family ownership, but it was more importantly remembered (at the time) as the “Season of Sosa and Big Mac” — and the big national media¬† was all lost in their all out quest to show us fan readers how much the big record home run competition between those two guys was helping the baseball world forget and heal from all the bad things that still wounded the game from the 1994 labor strike and World Series cancellation.

I don’t recall anyone suggesting anything illegal was going on behind this sudden appearance of great home run power numbers. I wish I had asked Red Schoendienst that night what he thought of the power explosion in 1998, but I didn’t. And Red just smiled when Big Mac unloaded another monster shot into the left field upper deck stands during the game we watched that evening.

 

intuitive and wizened elder icon

Red was soft-spoken, but he expressed himself in whole thoughts. Baseball was the greatest game of them all. What other game gives you so much to think about at one time. I can’t go further than that with memories and hope to do justice with what Red actually said twenty years ago. Others who knew him well must do so now. I was just lucky to be there with him that night.

A big almost surprised smile broke out on Schoendienst’s face when I told him that our sandlot club (The Pecan Park Eagles) had delayed the resumption of our all day game when the 1950 All Star Game went 14 innings at Comiskey Park. We had to listen to the radio broadcast account — until we heard live that Red Schoendienst had put our favored NL club ahead, 4-3, with a homer off Ted Gray in the top of the 14th.

The lead held. The NL won. And the Eagles played on til the sun went down back here in Houston.

I got a pat on the back, a smile, and a “thanks for your support” comment from Red.

God Bless You, Red Schoendienst! ~ If “God Is Love” ~ and I believe that to be true ~ you are one of His brightest manifestations ~ and always will be!

 

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle