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It's No Wonder That the Cardinals Wear Red : Schoendienst Has Become as Much a Fixture in St. Louis as the Arch Itself

October 25, 1987|JOHN NELSON | Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — For 11 years, Red Schoendienst roomed with Stan Musial on the road as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. Now, he walks past a statue of Musial outside Busch Stadium every day on his way to work.

"It's the only time I've ever seen a pigeon get him," the red-head said, and laughed.

A Cardinal for 14 of his 19 years in the major leagues, then a coach, then a manager and now a coach again, Schoendienst has seen time and many of his former teammates and players pass him by.

"You know, someone in Chicago once asked me if I realized how many years I've put in on this field right here and all the others--Ebbetts Field, the Polo Grounds, old Forbes Field," the 64-year-old Schoendienst said. "You get out here two or three hours early. It's hard to imagine how much time I've spent here."

A coach for the Cardinals since 1979 this time around, Schoendienst is in his ninth World Series--three as a player, two as a manager and four as a coach. He has won five and lost three, and all of the previous eight have gone seven games.

"Curious, huh?" he said.

Schoendienst is surrounded by former associates like Musial, the Hall of Famer. Schoendienst played second base on the 1946 World Series champion Cardinals on which Musial starred along with Enos Slaughter and Harry (The Hat) Walker. Musial is now a Cardinals vice president and a member of the board.

"I managed Dal Maxvill, and he's now our general manager," Schoendienst said. "I managed Bob Gibson. He's a broadcaster. Tim McCarver. Bill White. Nellie Briles. He used to be a broadcaster. I tried to count them up one time."

During his playing career, which began in 1945, Schoendienst amassed 2,449 hits and a lifetime batting average of .289. He was selected to 10 National League All-Star teams and played on nine. He was with the Cardinals from 1945-56, spent four years with the Milwaukee Braves, then returned to the Cardinals in 1961 to finish out the last three years of his playing career.

He played in the 1957 and '58 World Series with Milwaukee. The Braves beat the New York Yankees in seven games in '57, then lost to the Yankees in '58, again in seven.

"Those two teams were the best teams I've ever been with," Schoendienst said. "We had some pop, and everything else. We had Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette, (Del) Crandall and (Del) Rice, (Hank) Aaron and (Eddie) Mathews. Those teams had speed, pitching and they could really hit. People forget that Hank Aaron could run, and he was a hell of an outfielder."

Schoendienst was a Cardinals coach in 1964, when St. Louis beat the Yankees in a seven-game series, highlighted by Ken Boyer's grand slam and McCarver's .478 batting average.

In 1965, Schoendienst began a 12-year run as Cardinals' manager, longest of any man to hold the position. He managed the Cardinals to a World Series title in 1967--in seven games again, over the Boston Red Sox--with players like Gibson, McCarver, Maxvill, Lou Brock and Curt Flood. With the same players, the Cardinals lost the 1968 Series to the Detroit Tigers. In seven.

Schoendienst also was with the Cardinals as a coach for their seven-game victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982 and their seven-game loss to the Kansas City Royals in 1985.

"The funny thing about those three seven-game Series I lost is that in each of them, we were ahead, 3-1," Schoendienst said.

With all his old buddies either broadcasting or running ballclubs, why does Red still hit fungoes to third every day, then sit at Manager Whitey Herzog's right hand in the Cardinals' dugout.

"Well, you can only fish so much," Schoendienst said. "I've had opportunities to manage other clubs. But my home is here. I wanted to stay around as long as they wanted me, and as long as I can do it.

"That's why I'm still working around these young guys," he said. "They keep me young."

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