The National League is home to many great franchises, but if one were to stand out from all the rest, it would be the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Oh, you mean baseball heaven?” said former All-Star first baseman Will Clark, who ended his career with St. Louis.
Yes, that’s right. The team whose uniforms and logo have remained virtually unchanged for decades. The fans who flock to Busch Stadium regardless of the ballclub’s place in the standings.
Naturally, numerous items symbolizing the Cardinals’ success have accumulated through the years.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s collection of more than 40,000 three-dimensional pieces contains artifacts that tell the story of the game’s legendary players, moments and triumphs. Beginning this summer and running through the end of 2020, the Hall of Fame will share some of those memorable artifacts through a new limited time experience: Starting Nine, which features nine artifacts from each of the 30 current MLB franchises. Whether you’ve visited before or you’ve always wanted to check it out, this is another great reason to plan a visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum -- the spiritual home of America’s Pastime in beautiful Cooperstown, N.Y.
1. Ol’ Pete buckles down
Fun facts: Grover Cleveland “Pete” Alexander wore this belt while sealing one of the most exciting World Series in 1926. With the Yankees leading, three games to two, Alexander delivered a complete-game, 10-2 victory in Game 6. At 39, Alexander couldn’t have been expected to appear in Game 7. But the Cardinals needed help as they clung to a 3-2 lead with the bases full of Yankees and two outs in the seventh inning. In came Alexander to blank the Yankees for the final 2 1/3 innings and seal the World Series victory.
2. Now this is a hot bat
Fun facts: On Sept. 16, 1924, first baseman Jim Bottomley had the kind of day that most players only dream of. Bottomley drove in 12 runs -- which would be a big week for any player -- and went 6-for-6 with this bat as St. Louis romped past Brooklyn. Bottomley’s day consisted of two homers, a double and three singles.
3. Glove love at the plate
Fun facts: Hall of Famer Lou Brock was known primarily for his basestealing prowess. But the man had to get on base before he could attempt his brand of larceny. This is one of the batting gloves Brock wore when he lined his 3,000th hit, a single off Cubs right-hander Dennis Lamp, on Aug. 13, 1979.
4. Dizzy throws hitters into a tizzy
Fun facts: Dizzy Dean wore this cap during the 1934 season, when he captured Most Valuable Player honors while leading the Cards to their fifth NL pennant since '26. Dean led the Majors in wins (30), shutouts (seven) and strikeouts (195).
5. Enjoying the deep Freese
Fun facts: This is the jersey that David Freese wore when he socked a walk-off homer to win Game 6 of the 2011 World Series against Texas. Freese’s overjoyed teammates ripped Freese’s jersey off him as he headed home. Here’s what’s left of his garment.
6. Boss of the pitcher’s mound
Fun facts: Bob Gibson struck fear and respect in the hearts of hundreds of opponents through most of his 17-year career. This is the ball that he flung for his 3,000th strikeout on July 17, 1974, in the second inning against the Reds, making him only the second big leaguer to reach that milestone.
7. He was 'The Man,' all right
Fun facts: Stan Musial was well-deserving of his nickname, “The Man.” He was as popular as he was prolific throughout his 22-year career, which reached one of its peaks on May 19, 1962, when he rapped career hit No. 3,431 to become the NL's all-time leader. His record stood until Pete Rose broke it in 1981.
8. Pujols packs a punch
Fun facts: Albert Pujols was something to behold in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series in a 16-7 win over Texas. In other words, nobody could fill the shoes he wore that night, which are seen here. Pujols set a new Series record with 14 total bases and tied single-game marks for hits (five), home runs (three) and RBIs (six).
9. We’re off to win with 'The Wizard'
Fun facts: Ozzie Smith had an instant effect when he got traded to the Cards. Wearing these shoes, the future Hall of Fame shortstop paced St. Louis to a seven-game triumph in the 1982 World Series over the Milwaukee Brewers.