St. Louis recognizes Red's 70 years with Cardinals family
ST. LOUIS -- Shortly after being named the 49th manager in franchise history, Mike Matheny found himself nestled in a duck blind alongside a man who had once filled those same shoes. Red Schoendienst impressed Matheny with his shot that day, but also served as a fountain of knowledge, sharing of his experiences as a Major League manager and offering his take on some of Matheny's new players.
And in many ways, he's never left Matheny's side.
Red, as he's affectionately known around town, remains a regular at Busch Stadium, dressing in uniform, offering suggestions and providing his insight now 70 years after the Germantown, Ill., native made his Major League debut as a sub for Stan Musial, who had left the club to serve in the United States Navy.
With Friday the 70th anniversary of Red first putting on a big league uniform, the Cardinals used the occasion to celebrate his service to the organization and to launch a season-long campaign to recognize his impact.
"We want to mark this amazing milestone by letting Red know how much he means to the entire Cardinals family," said team president Bill DeWitt III.
To do so, the Cardinals are asking fans to share a video message via social media using the hashtag #LoveRed2. Cardinals players, broadcasters and team officials have already filmed a series of these messages, some of which were shown throughout Friday's game.
There was also a pregame ceremony honoring Red and his family. Uniformed personnel wore a commemorative No. 2 sleeve patch to recognize Red's 70 years of involvement in Major League Baseball.
"To do it that long and have the passion he has and the impact he has on this team, it's amazing," closer Trevor Rosenthal said. "Having him in here has been amazing, something I'll never forget and something I don't take for granted. I make sure to try and talk with him every time I see him."
Over his 19-year playing career, Schoendienst spent parts of 15 seasons with the Cardinals. He appeared in three World Series, 10 All-Star Games and amassed 2,449 career hits. He ranks fourth in franchise history in at-bats (6,841), fifth in games played (1,795), sixth in runs (1,025) and hits (1,980) and seventh in doubles (352).
"Obviously, with Mr. Musial no longer with us, I think Red has kind of taken that banner for the Cardinals that this is what a Cardinal looks like," Matheny said. "And it's something that even our young guys, they'll get online and pull up Red and see his stats, and then they'll see how humble he is around here and to me, that just embodies what we do."
Red went on to serve as a coach on the 1964 World Series championship team and later managed for 12 seasons. His 1,041 managerial wins rank second-highest in franchise history. Red, who now serves as a special assistant to general manager John Mozeliak, was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.
"It's just great to come in here every day and see someone with such experience, somebody who really does love talking about the game," reliever Randy Choate said. "Just the different things he's experienced over the years -- whether it was being the manager of that first million-dollar team or the players he has had under him and how the game has changed and progressed -- he just has so much to share, so much knowledge."