The St. Louis Cardinals called up Brock Peterson this weekend, continuing a trend for the organization of loveable players that capture the fans’ heart. Peterson’s story deserves to be known, a 29-year old who nearly gave up on his dream after lingering in the minor leagues and independent baseball for over a decade. Finally he reached the majors this year and no matter how long he stays or what he does he will always be able to say he wore a St. Louis Cardinal uniform and will remember that RBI in his first at bat.
With Peterson’s call-up it brings to mind some of the other fan favorite players that quickly won over the Cardinal fans hearts. There are plenty of players from the recent teams that could go on this list. Players such as Aaron Miles, Joe McEwing, Hector Luna and the grandfather of them all Rex Hudler. But these players were all able to carve out somewhat lengthy careers in the majors so I wanted to focus on those players that flashed quickly in the majors but are still remembered to this day.
BO HART- My all-time number one spot goes to Bo Hart. What a start to his career he had. Hart broke in the with the Cardinals in June 2003 at the age of 26. He set a MLB record for his first 10 games, hitting .460 and with 23 hits. Hart maintained a .300 batting average until mid-way through August and finished the season with a .277 average in 77 games with 28 runs batted in. He broke spring training in 2004 with the club as well and played in 14 games, registering just two hits before being sent back down to the minors. While his career lasted just 88 games a mention of his name to any fan will still bring a smile.
JOHN RODRIGUEZ- My number two spot is John Rodriguez, or also known by a nickname which was stupidly argued over whether or not he had enough time in the league to be called; J-Rod. J-Rod, 27 at the time of his debut, was instant offense for the Cardinals during 2005 and 2006. Rodriguez made his debut in mid-July, and with the temperature rising his bat arrived red-hot as well. In 56 games that season he hit .292 with five home runs and 24 runs batted in. He remained on the team as an extra outfielder in 2006 and played in 102 games hitting .301 but seeing his power production drop with just two home runs and 19 runs batted in. Still he was a member of a team that brought a championship to St. Louis and even got an at bat in the post-season that year.
STUBBY CLAPP- Stubby Clapp had more talent than his “cute” name may invoke. Clapp holds three records at Texas Tech where he played collegiately and his #10 jersey was retired by the Memphis Redbirds, the first number to be retired by the team. Clapp also was a member of Team Canada, helping them to a fourth place finish in the Olympics, and registering a game winning walk off hit against the U.S. team that year. The 5’8″ Clapp made his Cardinal debut in 2001 at the age of 28 and his career lasted just 23 games. He had just five hits in 25 at bats but his small stature and non-stop hustle endeared him to the Cardinal fans.