Cards to honor Simmons with statue, retire number

July 15th, 2021

ST. LOUIS -- Add another big honor to this summer for Ted Simmons -- a summer of tributes many felt was a long time coming.

The Cardinals’ longtime catcher, club Hall of Famer, fan favorite and now St. Louis local will have his No. 23 retired and a statue unveiled in a pregame ceremony on July 31, the club announced Thursday morning.

Just over a month later, the one they call “Simba” will be formally inducted into Cooperstown.

“Ted Simmons is one of the finest players to have worn the Birds on the Bat and will forever be a part of Cardinals history,” said Cardinals’ chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. in a statement. “We are proud to honor Ted before his Hall of Fame induction this fall and add him to the exclusive group of 10 individuals who have both a statue outside of Busch Stadium and their uniform number retired. We hope our fans will come out in force to pay tribute to Ted and his family on July 31.”

Simmons’ statue will be the 12th outside Busch Stadium, and the first erected by the club since Ozzie Smith’s unveiling in 2002. Simmons’ statue will also be the first dedicated since the opening of Busch Stadium III in '06.

Retiring No. 23 also gives the Cardinals 15 retired numbers, along with Jackie Robinson’s universally retired No. 42. The latest was Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa’s No. 10, retired in May 2012.

The club will unveil Simmons’ statue, completed by St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame sculptor Harry Weberat, with a ceremony at 2 p.m. CT before the club’s series opener against the Twins. The festivities will continue by formally retiring his number at 6 p.m., during which Simmons will enter the field in a Mustang and later throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

When he does so, it’ll be the culmination of 13 Hall-of-Fame-worthy seasons in St. Louis, including six All-Star nods and a Silver Slugger Award. The Cardinals’ all-time best first-round Draft pick, Simmons was selected in 1967 and debuted in the Majors just a year later, becoming the full-time catching stalwart in May 1970.

The switch-hitting Simmons ranks in the Top 10 in several offensive categories for the Cardinals, including bWAR, home runs, RBIs, total bases and intentional walks.

Simmons would spend eight more seasons in the Majors with the Brewers and Braves after being traded from St. Louis in Dec. 1980. It was his enduring career and peaks hit in St. Louis that earned him admittance to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee -- an honor to be culminated by a ceremony Sept. 8 in Cooperstown, after the pandemic washed away the 2020 ceremony.