It all started in 1945, when the switch-hitting Schoendienst joined the club to fill in for left fielder Stan Musial, who was serving in the U.S. Navy. Schoendienst batted .278 with 47 RBI and a National League-leading 26 stolen bases. The following year, Musial returned to the Cardinals, and Schoendienst moved to third base and then shortstop before settling in at second base. St. Louis won the World Series over the Boston Red Sox as Schoendienst began to develop into one of the best hitting and fielding second basemen of all time.
In 1953, Schoendienst put together his finest season. He established career highs with a .342 batting average - second in the league to Carl Furillo of the Brooklyn Dodgers (.344), 15 home runs and 79 RBI. In a surprising trade, Schoendienst was dealt to the New York Giants along with outfielder Jackie Brandt, pitcher Dick Littlefield, catcher Bill Sarni and shortstop Bobby Stephenson in exchange for shortstop Alvin Dark, catcher Ray Katt, pitcher Don Liddle and outfielder Whitey Lockman on June 14, 1956.
The following year, Schoendienst was traded to the Milwaukee Braves, who won the 1957 World Series and the 1958 N.L. pennant. He subsequently returned to St. Louis in 1961. On the Cardinals' career lists, Schoendienst ranks fourth in at-bats (6,841) and pinch-hits (54), fifth in games played (1,795), sixth in runs (1,025) and hits (1,980), seventh in doubles (352), and eighth in total bases (2,657).
Schoendienst served as a coach on the 1964 World Championship team and was named manager when Johnny Keane resigned at the conclusion of the season. Schoendienst piloted St. Louis to a World Series victory over the Red Sox in 1967 and another N.L. pennant in 1968 in route to a 12-year tenure as skipper, the longest in franchise history until Tony La Russa surpassed him in 2008. Schoendienst ranks second in franchise annals with 1,041 wins.
Schoendienst was the second baseman on the Cardinals' 1946 World Championship team, and he piloted the Redbirds to a World Series victory over the Boston Red Sox in 1967 and another National League pennant in 1968. He served as a coach on the Cardinals' 1964 and 1982 World Championship squads.
A 10-time N.L. All-Star, Schoendienst socked a game-winning home run in the 14th inning of the 1950 Mid-Summer Classic. It marked the switch-hitter's first career homer batting right-handed. Schoendienst later managed the Senior Circuit to All-Star Game victories in 1968 and 1969. Schoendienst amassed 2,449 career hits, including a league-leading 200 in 1957. He either led or tied for the N.L. lead in fielding percentage seven times.
Schoendienst was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989 by the Veterans Committee and was an inaugural member of the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014. His uniform No. 2 was retired by the Cardinals in 1996. He was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1987.
The 2015 season marked Schoendienst's 70th in Major League Baseball, and the Cardinals honored the milestone with a season-long celebration that encouraged fans to demonstrate their affection for him via social media using the hashtag #LoveRed2.
Schoendienst (born February 2, 1923) coached for the Oakland A's in 1977 and 1978. He was married to the late Mary Eileen O'Reilly Schoendienst for 53 years. Mrs. Schoendienst passed away in December of 1999.