On June 6, 2018, the St. Louis Cardinals lost the longest-tenured member of their organization. Red Schoendienst was more than a long time member of the Cardinals. Known simply as “Red,” he was the very embodiment of the Cardinal Way.
Albert Fred “Red” Schoendienst came to the St. Louis Cardinals in the spring of 1942 at an open tryout. He was noticed by a scout who signed him out of Germantown, IL. Red joined the organization and quickly ascended through the minors where he emerged as a top prospect.
He was a tough ball player and wasn’t one to run from a challenge. Faced with an eye injury sustained in his youth, Red taught himself to bat left-handed when he had trouble seeing the breaking balls right-handers would throw to him.
Red was a complete player. For 30 years he held the single-season record for fielding percentage set in 1956 and also led the league in stolen bases during the 1946 season. He was a lifetime .289 hitter.
A member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Red Schoendienst was a five-time World Series champion and 10-time All-Star. He won the World Series as both a player and a manager.
What stands out about Red among everything else though was his example of the Cardinal Way. Red spent 67 of his 76 years in baseball wearing a Cardinal uniform. He was at Spring Training every year he was able, eager and ready to help teach.
Every player that has played with the Cardinals during Red’s time with the team credits him as being one of the best to learn from. They all sing his praises. Players from Bob Gibson to Albert Pujols all have nothing but good things to say about the man who wore the Birds on the Bat longer than any other person.
In many ways, Red was the Cardinal Way. As player, coach, and manager Red had done it all. He had seen the game from just about every angle possible. He poured that knowledge into the players that came after him, knowing that their success was his legacy. In truth though, it wasn’t his legacy he cared about. It was always about the players and the team.
That’s who Red Schoendienst was. He was a man who loved the game and gave it everything he could. There was as much joy in watching others play the game well as there was in playing it himself. Red passed that on and touched every player he met in an impactful way.
As a fan, I can’t think about this team without thinking about old number two. He was always there. From the first moment, I can remember watching the Cardinals until now. I can’t imagine what baseball will be like without his presence.
Actually, I can. Red will always be there in the players he helped mold into champions. His legacy will continue on as those players pass on what they learned from one of the greatest teachers of the game who ever lived. Godspeed Red. Cardinal Nation will forever hold you in its heart.