ST. LOUIS -- Family, friends and fans gathered Friday morning to bid farewell to one of the most beloved figures in the history of St. Louis sports, Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst, who died June 6 at age 95.Schoendienst's life and baseball career -- linked for parts of seven decades
ST. LOUIS -- Family, friends and fans gathered Friday morning to bid farewell to one of the most beloved figures in the history of St. Louis sports, Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst, who died June 6 at age 95.
Schoendienst's life and baseball career -- linked for parts of seven decades -- were celebrated in a nearly two-hour funeral Mass at St. Louis' Cathedral Basilica. The Mass was open to the public and attended by fans and baseball luminaries alike.
Eight members of the Hall of Fame were there to say goodbye, along with much of the current Cardinals team, including manager Mike Matheny. Adam Wainwright, Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak attended, as did club principal owner Bill DeWitt Jr.
Of those enshrined in Cooperstown, Bob Gibson, Tony La Russa, Ozzie Smith, Bruce Sutter, Lou Brock, Whitey Herzog and writer Rick Hummel all paid their respects in person. Many were given "No. 2" patches to clip onto their outfits in honor of Schoendienst, with whom they'd interacted closely with over his 76 years in professional baseball. Willie McGee, Mike Shannon, Al Hrabosky also sat in the Basilica pews.
DeWitt served as one of the four speakers to offer words of remembrance from the pulpit, after Archbishop Robert J. Carlson recalled Schoendienst's humility and legacy in an eight-minute homily.
"He'll be missed by his friends, by his entire family, and by Cardinal Nation," Carlson said. "On this day, we say goodbye to Mr. Cardinal."
DeWitt then delivered a tribute to Schoendienst, whom he first met as a young boy in the 1940s. Schoendienst was relatively early into his Cardinals tenure at that point, a slick-fielding second baseman who'd go on to earn 10 All-Star nods. But his 19-year playing career only begins his resume, the particulars of which DeWitt reminded the near-capacity crowd. Schoendienst remained involved with the Cards' organization for decades after as a manager, coach, executive, mentor and generally revered figure.
"Red excelled at everything he did, whether it was hitting a baseball, a golf ball, hunting or fishing. He was just a superb athlete," DeWitt said. "Despite his incredible accomplishments, he stayed true to his Midwest roots. He was humble and always looking for the positives in people."
Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson, Shannon and Schoendienst's daughter, Colleen, then stepped to the microphone to offer similar messages. Idelson recalled Schoendienst's induction ceremony in 1989; Colleen Schoendienst celebrated her father's accomplishments as a family man; Shannon, the iconic club broadcaster, elicited both laughs and tears in a moving eulogy.
"Red was everything everyone else wanted to be. Man, woman, child, everyone wanted to be just like Red," Shannon said. "He was one of the most moral people we will ever know. People come and go, but No. 2 will always stay."
Shannon then rattled off a list of adjectives to describe Schoendienst, his friend for more than 50 years, including patient, fair, gracious, humble, reliable, respectful, sincere, caring, confident, courageous, determined, ethical, trusting, loving and loyal.
The Mass capped a morning full of tributes and more than a week of remembrance. Earlier in the day, Schoendienst's statue outside Busch Stadium was adorned again with flowers and memorabilia, as it had been last week. At the Cathedral, a baseball wreath with the number "2" stitched into it greeted mourners at the church doors.
Inside, the presence of many fans in Cardinals gear sprinkled the service with a ballpark vibe. Jim Fetsch, of Overland, Mo., was one of the many fans to attend in casual dress, wearing a No. 2 Schoendienst T-shirt.
"Red meant everything in St. Louis," Fetsch said. "Stan Musial, Jack Buck and Red -- they are the trinity of baseball in St. Louis. It was a cold winter's day when Stan died, and I always regretted not going to the public service. Today the sun is shining. Now we have to go beat the Cubs tonight."
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.