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
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
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.