Occasionally, as a fan, I’m stunned by the audacity (or stupidity) of pro sports teams. We’re seeing a manifestation of that right now with the Cardinals, whose president, Bill DeWitt III announced yesterday that the Cardinals plan to review their retired-number policy, and in doing so determine whether No. 24 should be placed on the wall to honor Whitey Herzog’s election to the Hall of Fame this year.
What? Are you kidding me? Let’s review the bidding. When Whitey arrived in St. Louis in 1980, the franchise hadn’t been to a World Series since 1968, it’s longest drought ever. By 1982, he not only delivered a World Championship, but he brought back a fan base that had disappeared. After not drawing 2 million fans since ’68, the Cards set a record in ’82 with 2.1 million customers. They cracked 3 million as a franchise for the first time during the pennant-winning season of 1987 and repeated that feat in 1989.
So a guy that managed YOUR franchise to three pennants and built the fan base that you enjoy today doesn’t deserve the retirement of his number? Even now, when he made the Hall of Fame?
I seem to remember Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Red Schoendienst, Enos Slaughter, Ozzie Smith and Bruce Sutter having ceremonies to retire their numbers when they went to the Hall of Fame. Dizzy Dean and Stan Musial did, too. Heck, the Cardinals put Mark McGwire’s 25 in mothballs for eight years.
So Herzog makes the Hall of Fame and you pick now to review your retired number policy? That’s absurd. If No. 24 isn’t retired, it will show that the Cardinal franchise in its current state has no connection to it’s fans, it’s history or it’s community.