St. Louis has two pro sports teams - the Cardinals and the Blues. The Cardinals have won 11 World Series titles in their storied history, the most of any National League team and second most in all of baseball.
Albert Pujols left St. Louis for Anaheim after the 2011 World Series. I have 23 of his Cardinals issues, including a bat relic (#d/100) and two rookie cards:
Pujols is nicknamed "The Machine" but he was also known as "el Hombre" - Spanish for "The Man." He disavowed that nickname, in deference to Cardinals legend Stan "The Man" Musial.
One of my favorite statistical factoids concerns Musial's career hit total. He collected 1815 hits at home and 1815 hits on the road.
You may have seen this SP Signature auto in my All-Autographed Lineup for Blog Bat Around. It's one of my favorite on-card autos.
A couple years before his passing I made it my goal to own a vintage Musial card by the end of that year. I settled on this 1960 Topps card, which was slightly more affordable due to the (OC) qualifier, but still cost me about $180.
Unfortunately "Stan The Man" didn't appear in Topps sets until 1958, when his career was winding down. His prime years were not captured on cardboard, either. Musial had already played six seasons and won two MVP awards before Bowman issued his first (mainstream) card in 1948.
In 2011, Topps produced an insert set of Musial's "lost cards" including a sample 1956 Topps issue. One reason why I collect the '56 set is that every significant player active at the time is included - except for Stan.
Plenty of all-time great players have worn the iconic Cardinals uniform. The red birds-on-bat looks fantastic on colorized cards. I bought the Rogers Hornsby Marquee card on COMC mostly for the photo, though I would like to own more "Rajah" cards one day. The Lou Brock Museum Collection card was also a COMC purchase. The first jersey I ever owned was a Brock replica I purchased from a store in Cooperstown when I was 11.
Bob Gibson was one of the toughest pitchers the game has ever seen. The Hall of Famer was untouchable in 1968, winning the NL Cy Young and MVP awards with an incredible 1.12 ERA. Even more mind-blowing (to me, anyway) is that, in a year when he gave up just 38 earned runs, he lost nine games. He also lost Game 7 of the World Series to Mickey Lolich and the Tigers.
Thirty years later, Mark McGwire's record-setting season captivated the country. Cardinals games were must-see TV. My friends and I watched Big Mac's every at-bat throughout the summer of 1998. Then I missed his historic 62nd home run. I was with a girl :/
Ozzie Smith was the polar opposite of McGwire in many ways. Without looking it up I'd say his career total of 28 home runs is the lowest of any modern non-pitcher in the Hall of Fame. I've toyed with the idea of starting a side PC of cards that recognize great defensive play-such as the '92 UD and Ultra issues here.
While we're on the subject of great defense...the St. Louis Blues have had some legendary blueliners over the years, most notably Al MacInnis and 2000 Hart Trophy winner Chris Pronger.
St. Louis signed Scott Stevens as a free agent in 1990, but he was awarded to the Devils a year later as compensation for tampering with Brendan Shanahan. Erik Johnson was the first - and only - first overall pick in Blues history but he's been fairly pedestrian as a pro. All-Star Alex Pietrangelo is the Blues' current captain.
Vladimir Tarasenko is the only current Blue in my star player box. I picked up a few of his cards, including the Black Diamond RC, after his 40-goal season in '15-16. His production has leveled off a bit since then. The Fire on Ice insert set is one of my favorites in recent years. I should try to find some more of those.
Brett Hull is the Blues' all-time leading goal scorer and the greatest player in franchise history. I was just getting into hockey (and hockey cards) when "The Golden Brett" lit the lamp an astonishing 86 times in 1990-91. The Stadium Club card is one of my all-time favorites, I showed off the Master Photo version in my Toys R' Us post.
This Al MacInnis UD Legends jersey card is my only Blues relic. I pulled it from a pack I purchased at the card shop in the Connecticut Post Mall.
Eric Boguniekci has probably shopped in that mall a time or two. The former Blues forward is from my hometown of West Haven, CT. One of my hockey-playing friends once told me he played with Eric's brother Bobby. Considering the source I'm not sure if that's true. I'm not even sure Eric has a brother.
I mentioned newly-elected Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur in my previous post. The legendary goalie played the final seven games of his career for the Blues. You can say that he didn't know when to quit, but he did earn a shutout in that short stint. He's now the Blues' assistant General Manager.
Curtis Joseph is not a Hall of Famer (yet?) likely because he never won a Stanley Cup, or a Vezina trophy. Brodeur, Dominik Hasek, and Patrick Roy had that on lock during CuJo's career. The Premier Pad Men insert belongs to my wife.
If St. Louis were a true two-team city I could end this post right here. But there are four franchises who have left the city. The Blues were nearly one of them.
In 1983 the Ralston-Purina company attempted to sell the franchise to a Canadian group who would move the team to Saskatoon. The whole story is fascinating to me, from the Checkerdome pattern painted on the arena to the Blues declining to participate in the 1983 draft.
Luckily the team had drafted Doug Gilmour in 1982. This OPC rookie card is one of the few singles in my set that wasn't slabbed when I bought it. I'm not sure what I'll do with that PSA-graded set-it's 77.5% complete and the singles I still need are drying up.
The Spirits of St. Louis are another fascinating sports story. The 1976 merger added four ABA franchises to the NBA (the Pacers, Spurs, Nets, and Nuggets) but not the Spirits or Kentucky Colonels. A forward-thinking business move by the owners of the Spirits allowed them to collect revenue from the enlarged NBA as if they were operating a team. That ended up being as much as $800 million. [I seem to remember reading that the agreement prevented another NBA team from moving to St. Louis but I could be wrong.]
I don't have any Spirits of St. Louis cards, but I do have one St. Louis Hawks card:
The Hawks played in Missouri for 13 years before moving to Atlanta in 1968.
Kurt Warner's rags-to-riches story is a little more traditional. The former Arena League quarterback went from unknown to league MVP in one magical season, leading the Rams to their first Super Bowl victory. Warner was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year.
Warner had several sure-handed receivers during their "greatest show on turf" days, including Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.
Marshall Faulk was a rushing and receiving threat, accumulating over 2,000 yards from scrimmage in four consecutive seasons.
Faulk was the NFL MVP in 2000. Warner won the award again in 2001, giving the Rams back-to-back-to-back MVPs.
Steven Jackson succeeded Faulk in the St. Louis backfield. He's the Rams' all-time rushing leader with 10,138 yards. I keep nearly all 10k backs in my star player box - and Jackson is no exception.
Here's a pair of 1985-style inserts that span the Rams' 20 seasons in St. Louis. 1996 was the Rams' second season in St. Louis - and the 40th anniversary of Topps. 2014 was the second-to-last season for the Rams in St. Lou and the second-to-last season of Topps football cards. Michael Sam was the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.
The (NFL) Cardinals stayed in St. Louis even longer, calling the city home for 28 seasons.
The franchise moved to Phoenix in 1988 - the year I started collecting football cards - so I only have two Cards cards from their St. Louis era.
Last but least, the St. Louis Browns.
An American League laughingstock for the better part of their 53 seasons in St. Louis*, the Browns moved to Baltimore in 1954 - but not before signing legendary pitcher Satchel Paige. Ol' Satch was well past his prime in 1952 but still managed to lead the Browns in WAR and represent the team in the All-Star Game..at the age of 45.
*It should be noted the Browns lost to the Cardinals in the 1944 World Series, but many teams' rosters were decimated by WWII.
George Sisler was the greatest player in Browns history - but he alone could not get the Browns to the World Series. St. Louis finished one game behind the Yankees for the American League pennant in 1922. Sisler was named AL MVP that season.
This Tommy Byrne card was one of two Bowman Browns I bought on COMC (I submitted it to PSA in April and got it back in June.)
The other is this Ray Coleman card, which will be one of five vintage issues available in the Sports Card Tour giveaway draft. Don't skip out on it like the Blues did!
Favorite Cardinals player (all-time): Stan Musial
Favorite Cardinals player (current): don't have one
Favorite Rams player (all-time): Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk
Favorite Blues player (all-time): Al MacInnis
Favorite Blues player (current): Vladimir Tarasenko
Next tour stop: Salt Lake City
Thanks for reading! Have a happy (and safe) 4th of July!