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Baseball: 10 most outrageous players in cardinal history

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posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 06:38 PM
si ,com has compiled a list of the 10 most outrageous players in the long history of the st louis cardinals team

. Al Hrabosky (1970-77) "The Mad Hungarian" entered games at Busch Stadium to the strains of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, and that's when the show really began. Before each pitch he'd retreat to the back of the mound, turn his back to the batter, smack the ball into his mitt after muttering to himself and storm back onto the hill. With his Fu Manchu and intimidating fastball, he cut an imposing figure. He quickly developed into the game's top closer in 1975 as well as the sport's most colorful performer.

2. Pepper Martin (1928-44) "The Wild Horse of the Osage" was the emotional leader of the Gashouse Gang. Martin reportedly wore nothing under his uniform, not underwear or even a protective cup, which for a third baseman qualifies as either very brave or very foolhardy. He would hop aboard freight trains to get to spring training from his home in Oklahoma and arrive covered in dirt. He spent the offseason, and part of the season, driving a midget racer called "The Martin Special." Martin organized and fronted the Mudcat Band, a country-music outfit that played on radio shows with such ditties as Possum Up a Gum Stump. In addition to his quirks, Martin was a terrific clutch player, batting .500 in the 1931 World Series.

3. Dizzy Dean (1930, 32-37) When the 19-year-old Dizzy made his first start in 1930, St. Louis mayor Victor Miller asked manager Gabby Street if the phenom was as good as people said. "I think he's going to be a great one, Mr. Mayor," Street said. "But I'm afraid we'll never know from one minute to the next what he's going to do or say." True. Dean once walked into the Giants clubhouse before a game to tell his opponents how he intended to pitch to them, then threw a shutout. In 1934, Dizzy took a no-hitter into the eighth against the Dodgers before settling for a one-hitter. After his brother Paul (Daffy) pitched a no-hitter in the nightcap, Dizzy told his brother he should have mentioned he was going to throw a no-no, because had Dizzy known he would have done so as well. After Dizzy's brilliant career was cut short by an arm injury, he became an announcer known for his mangling of the language.

4. Wilmer "Vinegar Bend" Mizell (1952-60) The big left-hander actually was from Leakesville in southeastern Alabama, but in the minors he told people he was from Vinegar Bend, Ala., because that was the closest town with a post office. A sportswriter dubbed him the "wild left-hander from Vinegar Bend," and the name stuck. A true country boy, Vinegar Bend was always the odds-on favorite in a cow-milking contest. He didn't have much control of his blazing fastball and couldn't hold runners on, but he did have a folksy, Will Rogers-esque wit. He once said he couldn't understand all the fuss made about Stan Musial: "Golly, just because he's on a 22-year hitting streak!" That common-man touch helped him win three terms as a Republican congressman from North Carolina.

5. Joaquin Andujar (1981-85) When a player claims his favorite word is "youneverknow," one expects him to be unpredictable. Andujar, who twice won 20 games for the Cards, poured milk on himself after one loss, and showered in his clothes after another. He was an unusual switch-hitter; he batted righty against all left-handers and against right-handers he didn't trust, so as not to expose his right (pitching) arm, and lefty against the rest. But he always bunted right-handed. He had a meltdown on the mound during Game 7 of the 1985 World Series after the Cardinals fell way behind, exploding at umpire Don Denkinger. St. Louis shipped him out after the season, but he was missed. "I know he's crazy," manager Whitey Herzog said at the time, "but he really does have a heart of gold."

6. Bob Uecker (1964-65) The classic clubhouse cut-up. The backup catcher didn't play much and couldn't hit a lick (.200 for his career) but earned his keep with solid defense and by keeping the club loose with his impressions and quick wit. In '65, the right-handed Uecker pretended to be a lefty swinger in his Topps card, which was about the only way the card would have any value. Uecker convinced Bob Gibson to hold his hand in the 1964 team picture; management didn't notice at the time and had to retake the photo later. He collected 52 mug shots of unfortunate-looking souls to create the card game Ugly, at which he was a master. Uecker later finagled a second career making fun of his first in beer commercials and speaking engagements.

7. Rogers Hornsby (1915-26, '33) One of the greatest right-handed hitters of all time was also among the game's least popular players for his ornery ways. He was single-minded about hitting to the extent that he refused to read newspapers or go to the movies, believing that they might weaken his eye at the plate. In 1923 Hornsby got in a brawl with his manager, Branch Rickey. The Rajah wasn't much better-tempered when he became a manager. He evidently insulted Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) when Jimmy's parents had driven all the way from Michigan for the game, calling him a "talking pile of pigs---," but to Dugan's credit, he didn't cry.

8. Leo Durocher (1933-37) One of baseball's most notorious bench jockeys fit right in on the rough-and-tumble Gashouse Gang. A pool shark with a taste for gambling and women, "Leo the Lip" was superbly handled by legendary then-Cards GM Rickey. Rickey even helped arrange a marriage for Leo to Grace Dozier on Sept. 26, 1934, since Rickey believed that the shortstop could only fully concentrate on the pennant race and World Series if his domestic situation was more settled. Nobody ever accused the Lip of being a nice guy, but thanks to Durocher, we all know where nice guys finish -- last.

9. Grover Cleveland Alexander (1926-29) He joined the Cardinals late in his career. The legendary pitcher had one last moment in the sun during Game 7 of the '26 World Series. Alexander came out of the pen to strike out the Yankees' Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded in the seventh inning and the Cards clinging to a 3-2 lead, then closed it out from there. Legend has it that Hornsby, then the manager, met Alexander on his way from the bullpen to make sure the pitcher hadn't been drinking, or at least not drinking too much to pitch. Alex's dramatic career was fittingly made into a 1952 movie called The Winning Team starring future president Ronald Reagan.

10. Pete Vuckovich (1978-80) Vuckovich found success with the Cardinals, winning 39 games in three seasons while establishing his rep as a wild man. Vuckovich lived like someone playing with house money. That's not surprising considering that Vuke nearly strangled on his umbilical cord at birth, drove off a 60-foot highway embankment at 105 mph at age 20 and was nearly electrocuted at age 21. His Cardinal teammates called him Kooky Vuky, The Serbian Stallion, Raspy or the Mad Monk, the latter two because of Vuckovich's fascination with Rasputin. The Cards traded him to the Brewers where he won a Cy Young in 1982, though the Cards beat those Brewers in seven games in the World Series. Despite a .159 career average with no homers, he played despised Yankees slugger Clu Haywood in Major League.

posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 06:42 PM
and not to leave out the boston fans

Now that Boston has finally beaten the Yankees and seeks its first World Series win since -- all together now -- 1918, the 10 Spot marks the occasion with a list of the top 10 most outrageous characters in Red Sox history.
1. Bill Lee (1969-78) -- Could a player this eccentric have been anything but a left-handed pitcher? The Spaceman was in an orbit all his own. At various times he wore -- on the field -- a gas mask, a Daniel Boone cap and a beanie with a propeller. Grew a Fu Manchu mustache but insisted it was a Ho Chi Minh. Long a devoted pot-smoker, he claims to have toked with President Bush. Of course, he also says that the CIA has a dossier on him, that the Bible is fiction and that the royal Stuart family of Scotland is directly descended from Jesus Christ.

2. Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd (1982-89) -- The Can delighted Sox fans, flinging pitches from a skinny 145-pound frame while uttering gems such as this one after throwing a 3-2 fastball: "When it goes up to the full house, the Can will bring high noon." He was perpetually high-strung, and his mound-strutting dismayed opponents but revved up the Fenway faithful. "I got color. I got character. I'm the Caaaan," he said (the nickname came from Boyd's hometown of Meridian, Miss., where beer was known as oil.) Sox fans were less delighted in 1986 when, upset over being left off the All-Star team despite an 11-6 start, the Can hightailed it to Mississippi and missed several weeks.

3. Wade Boggs (1982-92) -- The poultry-loving hitting machine had as many compulsions as Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets. He ate chicken every day. He ran wind sprints at precisely 7:17 p.m. He used pine tar, a doughnut and a resin in the on-deck circle, in that order. Then, more often than not, he poked one the other way off the Green Monster. Oh, and did we mention he was a sex addict? Countless philandering husbands, in New England and elsewhere, should pay tribute to Boggsy for trying to elevate screwing around into a serious-sounding medical condition deserving sympathy rather than a swift kick in the rear.

4. Ellis Kinder (1948-55) -- The patron saint of boozing ballplayers. Kinder made it a point to get especially sloshed the night before he pitched, then sweat out the booze in those heavy flannel uniforms by throwing zeros the next day at Fenway. It wasn't that Kinder had no self-control; according to David Halberstam'sThe Summer of '49, it was a conscious routine. Early in his career Kinder would stay in the night before he pitched, but he tossed and turned before playing, in Kinder's words, "like crap." Once Kinder discovered the secret of the sauce, he escaped a long minor-league career for a nice run in the bigs. Before a key showdown with the Yanks late in 1949, Yankees reserve catcher Ralph Houk met up with Kinder at a Boston bar. Houk knew Kinder from the minors, and was more than happy to accompany his friend on a colossal pub crawl. Houk stumbled into the visiting dugout the next day, feeling like hell but proud that he had helped pickle the Boston starter to seemingly ensure a New York win. Kinder threw a six-hit shutout.

5. Harry Frazee (owner) -- Frazee plays the villain in the Red Sox' cast of characters as the man most responsible for the Curse. Strapped for cash, the Broadway producer shipped a young Babe Ruth to the Yankees after the 1919 season, when the pitcher-turned-slugger had blasted a seemingly impossible 29 home runs. He sold Ruth for a then-stunning $100,000, plus Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert loaned Frazee $300,000 and took a mortgage on Fenway Park as collateral. Frazee's largesse didn't stop there, as he continually handed Ruppert whatever he needed to build the Yankee dynasty. By 1923, when the Yanks won their third straight pennant, they had 11 former Red Sox. A Boston cabbie likely acted for all of New England when, upon learning that the man who was just in his cab had sold Ruth, he dropped Frazee with a haymaker.

6. Dick "Dr. Strangeglove" Stuart (1963-64) -- Stuart arrived in Boston with a reputation as a decent slugger but indifferent fielder at first base. He might have been sold short on both fronts. "Dick's not as bad a fielder as they say," said a Red Sox hurler during spring training in '63. "He's worse." The grumbling wasn't so loud when Stuart mashed 42 homers and led the league with 118 RBIs that season. By the end of the year he had his own TV show in Boston, Stuart on Sports. But his Hub honeymoon was short. During the 1964 season, manager Johnny Pesky was so fed up with Stuart's indolence afield that he considered quitting. Stuart was shipped to the Phils after the year ended.

7. George "Boomer" Scott (1966-71, 77-79) -- The burly slugger (271 homers) was cat-quick at first base, winning a very un-Strangeglovelike eight Gold Gloves. Yet perhaps his greatest contribution to the game was popularizing the term "taters" for home runs. He was also known for a peculiar Boomer-speak. "The Brew got the Duker in the first," for example, meant that Harmon Killebrew hit a home run off Earl Wilson in the first inning. After his big league career ended in 1979, Boomer headed south for the Mexican League, picking up a new nickname -- King Kong.

8. Luis Tiant (1971-78) -- El Tiante's back-to-the-plate corkscrew windup has been aped by a generation of wiffleballers in backyards from Bangor to the Back Bay. Nobody in Boston was entirely sure what the Cuban was saying, but they certainly understood when he lit up a fat cigar after a win, which he did often during three 20-victory seasons for the Sox. Tiant was the man during the '75 postseason, winning three games along with a no-decision in Game 6 of the World Series, which ended on Carlton Fisk's famous homer.

9. Ted Williams (1939-60) -- Teddy Ballgame wasn't merely a character, he was an all-American hero, a real-life John Wayne with the war medals and home runs to prove it. It's impossible to make any Red Sox list without including The Kid, the majors' last .400 hitter. Williams had his battles with the Boston fans and media, and the latter likely cost him at least two MVP awards. But the power of his myth is such that it has only grown since his death in 2002. His (frozen) body became the focus of a pitched battle between his children.

10. Bill Buckner (1984-87) -- Billy Bucks, of course, is vilified for his error in Game 6 of the '86 World Series, when he let Mookie Wilson's ground ball trickle through his legs to allow Ray Knight to score the winning run. Never mind that the Mets had already tied the score. Never mind that manager John McNamara left the gimpy Buckner in on defense, though he might have replaced him with Dave Stapleton as he had done earlier in the postseason. Buckner is the man who stands the most to gain from a Red Sox victory over the Cards..


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