Showing posts with label Red Schoendienst. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Red Schoendienst. Show all posts

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Why Joe Presko faces his biggest mound challenge yet

Standing 5'9" and 165 pounds in his prime, Joe Presko could have easily blended in with the great St. Louis Cardinals fans that filled Sportsman's Park; however, Presko was far from ordinary. He stood tall on the mound alongside his Hall of Fame St. Louis Cardinals teammates Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, and Enos Slaughter in the 1950s while he went toe-to-toe against the star-studded lineups of the National League in his era. Throughout his six major league seasons with the Cardinals and Detroit Tigers, "Baby Joe" went 25-37 in 128 appearances.

During a recent trip to my local baseball card shop, the owner just received a small box of vintage 1952 Topps baseball cards. I waited until the guy next to me was done looking at them, and shortly after I started my search, Presko's iconic 1952 card jumped to the forefront. A few dollars later, his card became the first from that landmark set to enter my collection. The next day, I sent it off to Presko with the hopes of his signature and a possible interview.

Joe Presko Signed 1952 Topps Card / Author's Collection
A week later, Presko returned the card boldly signed with a note that exemplifies the connection that the men of this generation made with their fans. At 89, Presko made time to sign the card despite taking chemotherapy treatments to battle an opponent more fortuitous than the likes of Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Duke Snider.

His desire to continue to reach out to his fans while battling cancer, speaks loudly to the close bond those who played during his era feel with the fans who keep their memory alive.


Note From Presko to the Author / Author's Collection

Thursday, July 16, 2015

How Red Schoendienst had to prove himself in the Cardinals minor league system

Throughout this season, the St. Louis Cardinals have been encouraging fans to celebrate Red Schoendienst’s 70 years in uniform. Today, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred got on the bandwagon, asking fans to pay tribute to one of the franchise pillars by using the hashtag #LoveRed2.

The 92-year-old Hall of Fame second baseman started his career in 1942 at the bottom of the minor league rung with the Cardinals Class-D affiliate in Union City, Tennessee. Three years later, save for a few months of World War II service in 1944, Schoendienst built a Hall of Fame resume with his continuous service as a player, coach, and manager for seven decades.

Red Schoendienst
Schoendienst currently serves as a special assistant to general manager John Mozeliak, and can be seen prominently at Cardinals spring training giving assistance to young ballplayers in a similar fashion that he received from Branch Rickey back in 1942. Once in awhile, he can still be seen wielding his trademark fungo bat, blasting rockets at infielders.

Back in 1943, Schoendienst started with the Lynchburg Cardinals in the Piedmont League. After batting .472, the Cardinals quickly sent him to their top farm club in Rochester, New York. One of his teammates there was Jean-Pierre Roy, a future pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Speaking with Roy in 2011, he mistook the 20-year-old redhead as someone who was looking for a workout.

“He came on a Saturday afternoon," Roy recalled. “I saw a guy walk in with a little glove, a white t-shirt, and of course, red hair. He looked like someone who wanted to practice with us."

Roy wanted to make sure the unfamiliar face was in the right place. He extended an olive branch to the unsuspecting rookie.

“I asked him, ‘Sir are you looking for someone?’ He said, ‘I’m going to the clubhouse.’ I said, ‘Follow me, I’m going.’"

It didn’t take long for Roy to notice that Schoendienst belonged. After watching him play that evening, he knew that the infielder was there to stay.

“I later saw him in uniform, he was another ‘pure’ one (ballplayer)," Roy said.