10 Greatest St. Louis Cardinals of All Time

by JoeYancey

1 Rogers Hornsby

Known by some as “The Rajah,” Hornsby was a prolific hitter from 1915-1937. When looking at his early career numbers during the dead-ball era it’s even more impressive. His career average of .358 is second in MLB history to Ty Cobb. A Texas native, Hornsby saw his first big league action with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1915. Hornsby is the only Hall of Famer to play for both St. Louis clubs, the Cardinals and Browns. Hornsby was widely considered a bullheaded, bad teammate and many player accounts note him as selfish and an egomaniac. On the field he was no shortage of greatness. I could just as easily swapped 1 and 2, and who could call me wrong? Both of these guys could be considered top 10 players in MLB history. Rogers passed in 1963, two decades after his induction into the Hall of Fame.

  • Career .358 hitter
  • 7x NL Batting Champion
  • MLB Hall of Fame
  • 2x NL Home Run leader
  • 2x Triple Crown Winner
  • 2x NL MVP
  • 4x NL RBI leader

2 Stan Musial

Simply put, “The Man” Stan needs no introduction, but we should touch on his accomplishments and explain why he tops the list of all-time greats to wear the uniform. Beloved by all, Stan was highly visible on and off the field with the Cardinals organization up until his death in 2013, Musial truly was Mr. Cardinal. Stan was potentially the most consistent hitter in the history of baseball. Musial posted exceptional numbers and is considered by many a top 10 player of all time. He even went on to take the Cardinals to the 1967 World Series title as a General Manager. He was renowned for his humility, courteousness and respect for the game; Musial was impossible not to love.

  • 3x World Series Champion
  • 2x NL RBI leader
  • 24x All-Star
  • 3x NL MVP
  • MLB Hall of Fame
  • Career .331 hitter
  • 3,630 career hits
  • 7x NL Batting Champion

3 Albert Pujols

El Hombre was a shot in the arm for all of Cardinals Land, and Tino Martinez is equally deserved of this spot… What if this world had never known Albert? That’s a world I would never want to live in. Albert emerged like Cruise in Days of Thunder and man did this town need it. After years of futility and mediocrity, someone to build upon and around finally showed itself, and Albert was ready and willing for the task. Though not conventional, expected or likely, Albert helped lead the Cardinals to a World Series title in 2006, and then another in 2011. After many successful years in ST. Louis, Albert skipped town for a larger contract, off seasons in sunny California, a chance to DH daily and new opportunities to further his charitable contributions he started in St. Louis. Can’t really blame the guy, irrelevant to local fan reaction.

  • 10x All-Star
  • 2003 NL Batting Champion
  • 6x Silver Slugger
  • 2x Gold Glove
  • 3x NL MVP
  • 2001 NL Rookie of the Year
  • 600 Home Run Club
  • 2x World Series Champion

4 Bob Gibson

Robert Gibson is the best Cardinals pitcher to ever wear the uniform, and you will find few to none that would disagree. Simply known as “Gibby,” few were as serious, determined and all-business on the mound, but Bob was known as a loose, warm teammate off it. Gibson still holds the single-season record for lowest ERA at an inhumane 1.12. (Live-ball era). Gibson won the 1968 NL MVP. A feat no other pitcher would achieve until Clayton Kershaw did in 2014. Bob owns the third most gold gloves at his position (9), most consecutive quality starts (26) and most strikeouts during a World Series Game (17). Gibson is still remembered for his scary presence on the mound and dominance that led to the mound being lowered to even the playing field for batters, literally.

  • MLB Hall of Fame
  • 9x All-Star
  • 2x World Series Champion
  • 1968 NL MVP
  • 2x NL Cy Young Award
  • 2x World Series MVP

5 Joe Medwick

The only one to make the list from the Gas House Gang is “Ducky.” A native of New Jersey, Joe had two stretches in St. Louis. First from 1932-1940, and then again from 1947-1948. At the twilight of his career, Joe almost became the second Hall of Famer to play for both St. Louis clubs, but after a rough spring training with the St. Louis Browns he was unable to make the team. Rightfully so, Joe returned to where it all started, St. Louis, to finish his career with the Cardinals. Joe became a member off the MLB Hall of Fame class in 1968. Joe remained a member of the community making his home in Sunset Hills, MO until his 1975 death in Florida.

  • 1934 World Series Champion
  • 1937 Triple Crown
  • 3x NL RBI leader
  • MLB Hall of Fame
  • 10x All-Star
  • Career .324 hitter
  • 1937 NL MVP

6 Ozzie Smith

The “Wizard of Oz” came to St. Louis via trade in exchange for Gary Templeton, and others. A deal that almost fell apart. Luckily for St. Louis fans it didn’t. Templeton showed Cardinals fans the bird, the Cardinals front office showed him the door, and the rest is history. Despite losing some offensive production with Templeton’s departure, Ozzie instantly took to the “Best Fans in Baseball,” and for 15 years put on a show you would have to see to believe. I was fortunate enough to live this as a young boy and well into my young-man years. Ozzie Smith was more than late game heroics, backflips and making folks go crazy; Ozzie was a defensive machine, an outstanding base runner and an excellent situational hitter. The mark Ozzie left on St. Louis through his play and work in the community is impossible to explain on paper.

  • 15x All-Star
  • 1985 NLCS MVP
  • 1987 Silver Slugger Award
  • 1995 Roberto Clemente Award
  • 13x Gold Glove Award
  • MLB Hall of Fame
  • 1982 World Series Champion

7 Lou Brock

Hall of Famer, Lou Brock was the swiftest of the swift, and the happiest of the happy. A man that always appeared to be grateful to do what he loved.. Lou was known for an infectious smile, grit and obvious competitiveness. “You can’t teach speed,” or so the saying goes, but if you could, Lou would be the professor.  Ty Cobb’s all-time stolen base record was eclipsed in 1972 by the speedy Brock. He also finished as the runner-up in the 1974 MVP voting. Lou Brock is still one of only two men with 900+ stolen bases and 3,000 hits. Though not the statistical wonder of others on the list, his impact on Cardinals baseball was strong, as well as the lasting impact on the community through outreach, charitable contributions and appearances that still continue today.

  • MLB Hall of Fame
  • 2x World Series Champion
  • 6x All-Star
  • 8x NL Stolen Base leader
  • 1975 Roberto Clemente Award
  • 3000 hit club

8 Ken Boyer

Missouri born Ken Boyer played 11 years as a Cardinal and a manager for 3. At the time of Boyer’s retirement he held the third highest career slugging percentage at his position, 3B. 1964 was a year for the ages for Boyer, winning both the MVP and World Series. Ken made his home in St. Louis after his retirement from the game. Less #10, Ken is the only member of the list not in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame (Pending Albert), a controversial topic when looking at many enshrined since he became eligible. Boyer stayed in St. Louis until his death. Ken Boyer passed away just one month before the Cardinals defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1982 World Series.

  • 11x All-Star
  • 1964 World Series Champion
  • 5x Gold Glove Award
  • 1964 NL RBI leader
  • 1964 NL MVP

9 Steve Carlton

Steve was a 2x World Series Champion, winning his first with St. Louis. Carlton finished his career with an impressive win-loss record of 329-244, 4,136 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.22. If Steve did not spend the bulk of his career elsewhere, he would rank higher on the list. Many do not consider Carlton a Cardinal, but for a time he was. After a short holdout and a failure to connect on terms, he was dealt to the Phillies in exchange for Rick Wise in 1972. The Redbirds were a 65k contract away from Carlton potentially being a lifelong Cardinal, or at minimum spending his prime in St. Louis, but no one could know he would turn out to be this good. The accolades are plentiful, including:

  • 1972 Triple Crown Winner (Wins/Strikeouts/ERA)
  • 10x All Star
  • 4x NL Cy Young Award Winner
  • 5x NL Strikeout leader
  • 1972 ERA leader
  • 2x World Series Champion
  • MLB Hall of Fame

10 (Tied) Mark McGwire/Johnny Mize

One half of the Bash Brothers, Big Mac is the sole member here with an area of the ballpark dedicated to his deep balls. Amidst controversy of performance enhancing drugs, Andro, diluted samples and more, McGwire still holds a big place in St. Louis baseball history for putting the city on his back when there wasn’t much else to cheer for. Major League Baseball owes him, and challenger Sammy Sosa even more for potentially saving the game from sinking into what could have been. Although most of Mac’s years were spent in Oakland, the five he gave St. Louis were as memorable as they come. Mark would later return to St. Louis as a member of Larussa’s coaching staff and win a ring in 2011.

  • 12x All-Star
  • 2x World Series Champion
  • 1987 AL Rookie of the Year
  • 1990 Gold Glove Award
  • 1999 NL RBI leader
  • 3x Silver Slugger Award
  • 5x MLB Home Run leader
  • 500 Home Run Club

As a United States veteran, Johnny “The Big Cat” Mize sacrificed a few years of his playing career for the greater good, but still had an impeccable career. Mize spent 6 years with the Cardinals before eventually retiring in 1953. Although not a Cardinal at the time, Mize became the first and only player in history to hit 50 or more home runs and strikeout less than 50 times in a season in 1947. A large man in stature with an intimidating presence at the plate, Mize was known to be a very likeable and approachable guy off the field, and recognized as one of the funnier guys in the clubhouse. Mize passed away in 1993.

  • Career .312 hitter
  • 5x World Series Champion
  • 1939 NL Batting Champion
  • 4x NL Home Run leader’3x NL RBI leader
  • 10x All-Star
  • MLB Hall of Fame

Honorable Mention:

Ted Simmons, Joe Torre, Jim Edmonds, Jim Bottomley, Dizzy Dean, Yadier Molina, Keith Hernandez, Willie McGee, Enos Slaughter, Curt Flood, Frankie Frisch, Adam Wainwright,

Like all lists, it’s subjective and while there are many great players that have worn the uniform like Dennis Eckersley, Bruce Sutter, John Smoltz, Kid Nichols, Pete Alexander and more, if the player was not active with the organization for five years or more, I did not consider him an option. It should also be noted the overall career is what was measured, not their career as a Cardinal, although a longer Cardinal career played somewhat of a role, hence Steve Carlton.


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