St. Louis Cardinals
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St. Louis Cardinals
Previously known as the Brown Stockings, the Browns, and then the Perfectos, the St. Louis Cardinals eventually gained their permanent name thanks to a fan's remark in 1899. Sportswriter Willie McHale overheard a woman pondering the Perfectos' use of red in their uniforms. Her comment, "What a lovely shade of cardinal," was used in his article, and fans took notice. What started as a fun nickname became so popular that the team made it their official title.
The Cards had gone through plenty of ups and downs from their 1875 debut to 1915, when second baseman Rogers Hornsby joined the team. Hornsby proved to be dynamite at the plate, winning the Triple Crown in 1922 and 1925 by leading the league in batting average, runs batted in and home runs. After also becoming the team's manager in '25, Hornsby led the Birds to a victory over the Yankees during their first World Series appearance in 1926.
The next decade saw the Redbirds win the Series in 1931 and 1934, the latter of which remains legendary. Known then as the "Gas House Gang" due to their trademark toughness and unkempt appearance, the Cards faced off against the Detroit Tigers. In the final game of the series, Joe "Muscles" Medwick made a hard slide into Tigers third baseman Marv Owen, resulting in furious Detroit fans hurling bottles, vegetables, and other items at Medwick until his removal from the game.
The team became home to some truly amazing players in the following decades. A powerhouse throughout the '40s and '50s, three-time National League MVP Stan Musial once hit 5 home runs in a 1954 doubleheader. Highly decorated pitcher Bob Gibson became the first Cardinal to win the prestigious Cy Young Award in 1968. Then there was speedster Lou Brock, who undoubtedly owned the '70s. Brock beat Ty Cobb's career stolen base mark in '77, and then became the sport's all-time stolen base leader in '79.
Many more celebratory moments would occur with the arrival of manager Tony La Russa in '96 and slugger Mark McGwire in '97. McGwire smashed his way through 70 home runs in '98, helping the team close at 18-7 in September. This would be the Birds' best record in that month since their 1966 move to Busch Stadium.
Steeped in rich history, Busch Stadium has seen three different incarnations since one-time owner Anheuser-Busch, Inc. purchased the club back in 1952, with the latest park opening in 2006. The current home of the Cards offers a sweet view of the Gateway Arch and seats 46,000 people, who consume around 540,000 hot dogs annually! Fredbird, the Cards' beloved mascot since '79, traveled with his team to the new park and continues to dance for the crowds, shoot t-shirts their way, and even beak the heads of a few lucky fans.
The Cardinals went on to claim their first NL pennant in 17 years in 2004. Two World Series victories would follow in 2006 and 2011, thanks in large part to 2005 Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter. They scored another pennant in 2012 under La Russa's successor, catcher-turned-manager Mike Matheny. As the achievements continue to pile up, the Cards are primed for even more success, while devoted fans keep cheering them on and downing those dogs.