McGee among four to enter Cards Hall of Fame
Edmonds, Marion, Shannon round out class to be honored at Ballpark Village
ST. LOUIS -- Two of the most productive and popular outfielders in Cardinals history, along with a shortstop nicknamed "Slats" and the current Voice of the Cardinals, have been selected for summer enshrinement into the recently opened Cardinals Hall of Fame.
During an on-field ceremony Wednesday, the Cardinals announced that Willie McGee and Jim Edmonds would be the two modern-player inductees after receiving the most support on an eight-player fan ballot. Shortstop Marty Marion was chosen as the veteran inductee by a Red Ribbon panel of Cards experts. And Mike Shannon, who has been with the organization for 56 years as a player and broadcaster, was selected by the organization as the final member of the 2014 class.
The four of them will be officially inducted into the club's Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Aug. 16. The Hall of Fame opened earlier this month inside Ballpark Village, and it already includes all former Cardinals who have had their number retired by the team or who have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame primarily as a Cardinal.
The Cardinals convened a Red Ribbon committee that included media members, as well as Tony La Russa and Red Schoendienst, in January to begin this election process. During that meeting, panel members discussed the Hall of Fame credentials of several veteran player candidates, defined as those who spent at least three seasons with the Cards and had been retired from baseball for at least 40 years.
Marion then received the most votes during a secret balloting process. Marion played 13 seasons in St. Louis, 11 with the Cardinals and his final two with the Browns. He won the National League MVP Award in 1944 when he hit .267/.324/.362 and shined defensively at short. Marion was a Top 10 finisher in NL MVP Award voting three times and a member of three championship clubs ('42, '44, '46). He died of a heart attack in 2011.
The Red Ribbon committee also created a modern ballot of eight players -- McGee, Edmonds, Bob Forsch, Keith Hernandez, Mark McGwire, Matt Morris, Ted Simmons and Joe Torre -- that went before fans for an online vote beginning in March. To be eligible for placement on this ballot, a player had to have spent at least three years with the Cards and had been retired from baseball for a minimum three years.
Nearly 80,000 votes were cast over a seven-week period, with McGee and Edmonds finishing on top.
McGee, who currently serves as a special assistant to general manager John Mozeliak, bookended his 18-year playing career with stops in St. Louis. He played 13 total seasons for the Cardinals, during which he was a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove recipient. McGee won the NL MVP Award in 1985.
McGee ranks ninth in franchise history with 1,661 games played and is one of six to steal at least 300 bases with the Cardinals. He appeared in three World Series, the first in 1982, when the Cards captured the franchise's ninth championship.
"It's a great opportunity for a lot of players to get more recognition," McGee recently told MLB.com in an interview about his Hall of Fame candidacy. "But like I always say, I'll still sleep well whether I've got a trophy or a plaque. Bottom line is, I know that I went out there and gave 110 percent every day for the 20 years I had the opportunity to play. To me, that's what it's all about, [but] I appreciate the recognition."
McGee's career ended with the Cardinals in 1999, a year before Edmonds began an eight-year run as the Cards' center fielder. He posted a .285 average during that span, while averaging 30 homers and 89 RBIs. Edmonds won six consecutive Gold Gloves beginning in 2000, and he was a part of six postseason Cardinals teams.
Edmonds' 241 home runs with the Cards rank fourth on the franchise list, though none was bigger than the game-ending homer he hit in the 11th inning of Game 6 in the 2004 NL Championship Series.
"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 earlier this month. "I was pretty surprised and flattered."
Shannon, a St. Louis native, played all nine years of his career with the Redbirds, beginning in 1962. He was a part of two championship teams ('64 and '67) before kidney disease cut his playing career short. Shannon quickly transitioned into the broadcast booth, however, and he is now in his 43rd season on the Cardinals' radio network.
Hall of Fame plaques highlighting the career achievements of these four Cards will join the 22 that are already on display. The Cardinals Hall of Fame gallery is free to the public and located on the second floor of Cardinals Nation in Ballpark Village.
The organization intends to add at least three new members annually -- one veteran player chosen by a committee, two modern players selected by fans -- and will continue to have the option of naming a fourth inductee, someone who has been an important figure in franchise history, when desired.
Wednesday's ceremony also included the unveiling of a decal on the wall in left-center field to recognize this 2014 Hall of Fame class.