Schmidt's vision inspired iconic red bird logo

Before Cardinals GM Rickey saw her centerpieces in '21, team name referred to color

September 18th, 2017
The Cardinals' iconic red birds logo is a result of Allie May Schmidt's creativity and vision. (Cardinals)

Through the end of the 2017 season, the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum will feature a special 'Women in Baseball' exhibit to highlight women who have made contributions to St. Louis baseball and the game at large. In conjunction with this exhibit, has been telling the stories of some of those women over the course of the past few months. We conclude this series by taking a look at look at the woman behind the Cardinals iconic "Birds on the Bat" logo.

ST. LOUIS -- There are few logos in baseball as closely linked to a team as the "Birds on the Bat" is to the Cardinals. The red birds that are now inseparable from the Cardinal name, however, were not featured by the team in its earliest days. Rather, the name originally referred to the color cardinal red.

It took Allie May Schmidt to connect the team's name to the bird and to create the image that would transform into the logo worn by the Cardinals today.

• Watch: Inside the Cardinals' Collection: Allie May Schmidt

Schmidt's vision came to her when she was placed in charge of the decorations for a Men's Fellowship Club meeting at the Ferguson Presbyterian Church on Feb. 16, 1921. Inspiration sparked when she looked out her window and noticed two red birds land on a snowy branch. Schmidt thought an image of the birds would go well with the cardinal red carnations she had planned to use as centerpieces.

So she went ahead and made cardboard cutouts of red birds, hand painting the details and putting brown twine under the birds' feet to represent a branch. Her work did not go unnoticed by the influential attendees present, especially the keynote speaker.

That was Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Cardinals.

After seeing the birds, he became interested in the idea of a team logo and struck up a conversation with Allie's father, Edward H. Schmidt, who was seated at his table. Edward H. Schmidt was also the art director for Woodward & Tiernan Printing Co., and he was able to put together drawings for Rickey based on his daughter's original creation.

The first jersey with the birds appeared in 1922. The branch was transformed into a bat, and an iconic logo was born.

Over time, the image has been altered, including in 1927, when just a single bird was featured, and in 1956, when the logo wasn't used at all. The birds have been redrawn, with their tails facing different directions and their beaks in varying colors, but the iconic logo has persisted.

"I don't think you can overstate the importance of the birds-on-bat logo on the history of the Cardinals," team president Bill DeWitt III said. "First of all, it is a great looking logo with balance, color, and a shape that fits perfectly on a baseball uniform. Second, it has been the primary look of the team for so long that it unites the generations of fans with a common look and theme. Finally, the subtle changes that it has undergone over the years have created separate identities for each championship era the Cardinals have enjoyed, which makes it fun to compare and contrast."