When Jim Edmonds was traded from his hometown team, the Los Angeles Angels, before the 2000 season, he was disappointed.
Little did he know that his destination, St. Louis, was where he'd make his home in retirement, where his children would grow up and where he would play some of the best seasons of his Major League career.
"It didn't take me long to figure out this was more my place," Edmonds said. "It turned into being one of the best things that ever happened to me in my life."
After that trade, Edmonds would go on to play eight seasons with the Cardinals, including three All-Star selections, a Silver Slugger Award, six Gold Gloves and a World Championship. It's those eight years that earned Edmonds a nomination for the new Cardinals Hall of Fame gallery.
From now until April 22, fans can go to cardinals.com/HOF to vote for up to two of the eight candidates -- Edmonds, Willie McGee, Bob Forsch, Keith Hernandez, Mark McGwire, Matt Morris, Ted Simmons or Joe Torre.
The two leading vote-getters will be enshrined during an Aug. 16 ceremony at Ballpark Village, joining the 22 Cardinals who received automatic induction because they are either already in the National Baseball Hall of Fame or have had their number retired by the club.
"It's an honor to be mentioned in any kind of situation like that Hall of Fame-wise, to be mentioned with the greats of any kind of an organization, let alone the St. Louis Cardinals," Edmonds said. "I was pretty surprised and flattered."
Edmonds enjoyed his best season in Cardinal red in 2004, when he set personal bests for RBIs (111), home runs (42) and slugging percentage (.643) and batted .301 (150-for-498).
"I loved playing in that old ballpark and just everything kind of clicked that year," he said. "I was pretty healthy that year, and most of the time if you stay injury free and you're a pretty good player, you can put up some good numbers. I think that was one of those years."
And he capped it with a stellar performance in a National League Championship Series that included two moments that solidified his place among Cardinals lore -- his 12th-inning walk-off homer in Game 6 and iconic diving catch in Game 7.
"Those were big moments for me, obviously, and big moments in the history of the Cardinals," Edmonds said. "Getting to the World Series, even though we lost, it was pretty special. People still talk about it today, so it was obviously a lasting impression."
Though the Cardinals fell in four games to Boston in that World Series, it wouldn't be Edmond's only trip to the Fall Classic. In his eight years in St. Louis, the Cardinals finished with a losing record just once and played into October six times.
Edmonds started 61 postseason games, and the Cardinals won 33 of them. In 2006, after an 83-78, first-place finish, St. Louis bested Detroit in five games for the club's 10th World Series victory.
"We had a pretty decent team from what I remember, but not the best," Edmonds said. "A lot of injuries that year and somehow we all got healthy right at the right time at the end of the year and played pretty good baseball down the stretch. ... Sometimes if you just come together and play really good baseball for a month, you end up being the World Champion."
In 2007, he was traded from the Cardinals to the Padres in the deal that brought another postseason hero, David Freese, to St. Louis, and Edmonds would play out the rest of his Major League career with the Padres, Cubs, Brewers and Reds. He signed a Minor League deal to return to the Cardinals, but injuries kept him from ever returning to the big leagues and he retired after the season.
Edmonds has since remained in St. Louis, where he owns a steakhouse and works as analyst for Fox Sports Midwest's Cardinals broadcasting crew.
"Once I got here in 2000, "he said," I just kind of slowly fell in love with it more and more."
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com.