June 9, 1980: Whitey Herzog manages his first game for the St. Louis Cardinals

On the day of Whitey Herzog’s first game as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, he found himself, somewhat baffled, in Marietta, Georgia, trying to get to the team hotel in nearby Atlanta.

His misadventure began when he was given the wrong departure time for his flight. Then, after catching a later plane to Atlanta, he hopped into a cab and asked the driver to take him to the Marriott. Mistaking Herzog’s request, the driver took him to Marietta. Later, Herzog would cut himself shaving and required first-hand experience with trainer Gene Gieselmann’s ministrations.[1]

Despite the challenges, Herzog, whom August A. Busch Jr. had introduced as the Cardinals’ new manager the day previous at a sprawling estate that once belonged to Ulysses S. Grant, was convivial during pre-game batting practice.

“I feel great,” Herzog said. “Why? Because I haven’t lost a game in this uniform yet.”[2]

Thanks to a three-run, 10th-inning home run from center fielder George Hendrick, Herzog could still say the same at day’s end.

Herzog had inherited a St. Louis team from previous manager Ken Boyer that had won just five of its past 26 games and at 18-34 held the worst record in baseball. The Cardinals’ struggles had come despite an offense that led the league with a .275 batting average. In fact, entering that day’s game Keith Hernandez (.343), Ken Reitz (.335), Ted Simmons (.297), Hendrick (.296), and Garry Templeton (.288) each ranked among the league’s batting leaders.

“I certainly like the averages on this team but the main concern is the pitching,” Herzog said. “There is no guarantee that I can do any more with it than Kenny did, but we’ll try to get the injuries healed up and then see where we stand.”[3]

The Cardinals’ beleaguered pitching staff was anchored by right-handers Pete Vuckovich and Bob Forsch. 41-year-old left-hander Jim Kaat, whom the Cardinal had purchased from the New York Yankees on April 30, provided leadership and depth, but injuries and ineffectiveness had plagued the rest of the pitching staff.

John Fulgham, who had gone 10-6 with a 2.53 ERA in 1979, had a 3.04 ERA but was just 2-3 on the year and had lasted just three innings in his last start against the Montreal Expos. Silvio Martinez, who won 15 games the previous season, had a 4.50 ERA when he went to the disabled list at the beginning of June with an elbow injury. A former player of Herzog’s in Kansas City, closer Mark Littell, also was on the disabled list with an elbow injury that would require season-ending surgery.

Altogether, the Cardinals had combined for a 4.28 ERA – the worst in the league – heading into Herzog’s debut.

In a 10-minute meeting prior to the game, Herzog would lay out the ground rules for his new club. There would be no curfew on the road, though players would be permitted to drink in the hotel bar, reversing a rule Boyer had instituted just a few days prior. If players wanted to listen to music while traveling with the team they had to use headphones, and there would be no music in the clubhouse after a loss. Most importantly, Herzog said, everyone was required to show up on time and anyone who failed to hustle could expect a fine.[4]

“He was saying things that really made sense to people,” second baseman Tom Herr said.[5]

That task complete, Herzog handed the umpires a lineup that had been selected by his brother Butzy (pronounced “bootsy”[6]) – a devoted, lifelong Cardinals fan who still lived in Herzog’s hometown of New Athens, Illinois.[7]

As they had much of the season, the Cardinals produced early, jumping out to a 5-0 lead. Templeton opened the game with a single to center field, then stole second base before Hendrick hit a two-out RBI single to put the Cardinals on the scoreboard. Templeton singled home Reitz in the second inning and Simmons hit a solo home run to right field in the third.

The Cardinals tacked on two more runs in the sixth as Simmons and Hendrick led off the inning with back-to-back doubles, and Hendrick scored on a sacrifice fly by Bobby Bonds. However, just as Herzog got his first glimpse of the Cardinals’ offensive firepower, he also saw why the team was at the bottom of the National League.

Kaat had cruised through five innings before Dale Murphy and Chris Chambliss hit consecutive doubles in the sixth inning to put Atlanta on the scoreboard. In the seventh, Kaat would do himself no favors, walking Bruce Benedict to lead off the inning before Charlie Spikes doubled to left field. Benedict scored on a wild pitch, and with one out, Spikes scored on an error by Templeton at shortstop. After Chambliss hit an RBI single to make the score 5-4, Herzog made the first pitching change of his Cardinals career.

John Littlefield, a rookie right-hander whom Herzog would mistakenly refer to as “Littlejohn” after the game,[8] got St. Louis out of the seventh and retired the side in order in the eighth – all on ground balls – before a ninth-inning RBI single by Glenn Hubbard tied the game, 5-5.

“I thought after that, we’d surely win the game,” Hubbard said. “Especially on a team that’s been losing so much. I didn’t think they’d come back, but they did.”[9]

With one out in the 10th, Hernandez drew a walk and Simmons singled to center, prompting Braves manager Bobby Cox to turn to veteran reliever Gene Garber to face Hendrick.

Hendrick was not fooled by Garber’s twisting, sidearm delivery or the pitch (the St. Louis Post-Dispatch would report that Hendrick indicated it was a change-up, the Atlanta Constitution quoted Simmons as saying Hendrick called it “some kind of slider”) as he deposited his 12th home run of the season over the left-field wall.

Even then, the Braves refused to allow Herzog’s first Cardinals win to come easily. Herzog removed his third pitcher of the evening, Kim Seaman, after he allowed a leadoff single to start the 10th.

Before sending Seaman to the showers, Herzog looked at the infielders who had gathered around the mound. “Just like Kansas City,” he said. “Never a dull moment.” As Seaman’s teammates laughed, Herzog told the young reliever that despite the result, he’d thrown a good pitch.[10]

With that out of the way, George Frazier got a double-play ball and a strikeout to end the game.

“I don’t think we’re a last-place club and that’s no reflection on anyone, but we’ve dug ourselves a big hole and we’ve got to put some streaks together,” Herzog said. “But it’s hard to put a streak together unless you get consistent pitching. We’re going to have to straighten the pitching out.”[11]

It didn’t take Herzog long to realize that even with their potent offense, the Cardinals needed a roster upheaval. After three consecutive home losses against the Cubs, Busch asked Herzog what the team’s trouble was and Herzog didn’t mince his words.

“Well, Chief, you’ve got a bunch of prima donnas, overpaid SOBs who ain’t ever going to win a goddamned thing. You’ve got a bunch of mean people, some sorry human beings. It’s the first time I’ve ever been scared to walk through my own clubhouse. We’ve got drug problems, we’ve got ego problems, and we ain’t ever going anywhere.”

Busch seemed disappointed but not entirely surprised when he asked Herzog if it was really as bad as the skipper made it sound.

“We ain’t going to win with this sorry bunch,” Herzog said. “We’ve got to do some housecleaning.”[12]

That August, Busch fired general manager John Claiborne and installed Herzog in his place. To focus on these new duties, Herzog temporarily handed the manager’s job to Red Schoendienst.

That winter, Herzog remade the Cardinals’ roster around pitching, speed, and defense. He began by signing free agent catcher Darrell Porter and dealing Terry Kennedy, Littlefield, Al Olmsted, Mike Phillips, Seaman, Steve Swisher, and John Urrea to the San Diego Padres for Rollie Fingers, Bob Shirley, Gene Tenace, and Bob Geren.

One day after the Padres trade, Herzog sent Leon Durham, Reitz, and Ty Waller to the Chicago Cubs for Bruce Sutter. He followed that exchange by trading Fingers, Simmons, and Vuckovich to the Milwaukee Brewers for David Green, Dave LaPoint, Sixto Lezcano, and Lary Sorensen. By Christmas, Herzog also had released the aging Bonds. Those moves would firmly establish the Cardinals as Herzog’s team and laid the groundwork for St. Louis’s 1982 World Series championship.

Much like his path to Fulton County Stadium for his Cardinals debut, Herzog may have taken a roundabout way of getting there, but eventually he arrived exactly where he expected.

 This story has appeared as part of the Society for American Baseball Research Games Project at https://sabr.org/gamesproj/game/june-9-1980-whitey-herzog-wins-first-game-as-cardinals-manager/.

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[1] Rick Hummel, “‘New Air In Atmosphere’ For Redbirds,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 10, 1980: A10.

[2] Ernest Reese, “Herzog Winner In Debut,” Atlanta Constitution, June 10, 1980: D1.

[3] Ken Picking, “Herzog Has Tough, Attractive Challenge” Atlanta Constitution, June 10, 1980: D1.

[4] Doug Feldmann, Whitey Herzog Builds a Winner: The St. Louis Cardinals, 1979-1982 (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc.), 58.

[5] Hummel.

[6] Feldmann, 43.

[7] Feldmann, 57.

[8] Hummel.

[9] Reese.

[10] Hummel.

[11] Reese.

[12] Herzog, Whitey and Kevin Horrigan, White Rat: My Life in Baseball (New York, N.Y.: HarperCollins, 1988), 118.

What I’m Reading: “Snap Me Perfect! The Darrell Porter Story” by Darrell Porter with William Deerfield

There were several stories, moments, and observations in Snap Me Perfect! The Darrell Porter Story that made me cringe as I read them. Moments so intimate, so personal, that I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable.

In some ways, that’s the point of this book. Most baseball autobiographies are designed to celebrate a player’s career or provide a glimpse into life on a major-league baseball team. Snap Me Perfect focuses upon Porter’s personal demons and his descent into drugs and alcohol, and the journey he took to bring his life back on track.

Porter starts at the very beginning – not of his own life, but his father’s. After his own rough childhood with an unloving foster family, Porter’s father adopts a hard relationship with his son, driving him to achieve more in sports while showing little if any affection. Porter believes this relationship is at the core of his need to please others and a perpetual battle against self-confidence. This lack of confidence, in turn, made Porter susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse.

Porter shares a variety of stories about the dissolution of his marriage, and of he and his friends driving drunk and starting fights. Perhaps the most terrifying story in the book takes place when Porter – then with the Royals – devolves into paranoia and believes the Royals and Major League Baseball are following him. Carrying a shotgun, Porter has his brother drive him around the city at 2 a.m., following the cars they see because Porter is certain that they are part of the conspiracy. Finally, his brother talks him into returning home, but Porter says that he during this time he would spend hours each night perched at his upstairs window with the shotgun, watching for the MLB representatives that he is certain will try and storm his house.

Baseball serves as a backdrop to Porter’s personal challenges throughout the book. He talks briefly about the Royals’ three American League West championships, and is very complimentary toward Whitey Herzog, who supported him throughout their years together in Kansas City. Porter describes his frustrations following Herzog’s firing from the Royals and his excitement about rejoining Herzog in St. Louis.

However, while the book was written after the championship 1982 season in which Porter won the National League Championship Series and World Series MVP awards, he doesn’t dedicate much time to that season. In fact, in the 259-page hardcover edition, Porter doesn’t sign with the Cardinals as a free agent until page 233.

Porter does describe the challenge he faced in replacing Ted Simmons in St. Louis, and says that the Cardinals’ fans boos made him hate going to the ballpark. Even during the World Series, fans’ preference for Simmons had an impact on him. He even mentions at one point staying in the clubhouse during pre-game introductions so he wouldn’t have to hear Cardinals fans cheer Simmons.

Ultimately, though, as Porter notes in his epilogue, this book isn’t truly about baseball or Porter’s career. It’s about Porter’s personal battle with substance abuse and the feelings of inadequacy that he feels drove that substance abuse. Even as he details the way in which his faith helped him find a new lease on life, he emphasizes that it is a never-ending battle, and admits to drinking a beer during the 1981 players strike.

Though Porter ends his book on a positive note following the World Series title, his second marriage, and the birth of a daughter, it’s bittersweet for readers who know that drug abuse ultimately cost Porter his life. In 2002, Porter was found dead outside his vehicle in a Kansas City suburb. An autopsy found that he had died of a cocaine overdose at the age of 50.

Porter was unable to overcome his substance abuse problems, but that doesn’t invalidate the message behind Snap Me Perfect. If anything, it shows that even as Porter opened up and admitted his issues, sought the root cause of his dependence on drugs and alcohol, and surrounded himself with supportive friends and family, he still was unable to overcome his addiction. Perhaps the only way Porter could have overcome his addictions was to never try drugs or alcohol.

It’s a sad story, but an important one.

What I’m Reading: “Wizard” by Ozzie Smith and Rob Rains

Wizard, by Ozzie Smith and Rob Rains, was the first sports autobiography I ever read.

I got the book from the bookmobile that came by Ellisville Elementary School, which in retrospect is strange, as our school had a library. Nonetheless, I remember emerging from the bookmobile with my prize, leaning my back against the wall of the hallway, and beginning to read as other members of my class finished choosing their books.

To be honest, the fact that I still remember this, probably 30 years later, is more a reflection of the fact that I was a baseball-mad kid and that Ozzie Smith was my favorite player than the book itself. Nonetheless, Wizard created something of a stir shortly after it was published, mostly due to comments Smith makes regarding Whitey Herzog, umpires, a few former teammates, and about the Cardinals’ recent playoff opponents.

In some ways, Wizard is a very ordinary sports biography, as Smith chronologically takes the reader through his childhood, brief minor-league career, and summarizes each season. At 184 pages in the hardcover edition, this is not a long book, and Smith doesn’t linger long on any of the specific baseball moments that take place in the book. Even Smith’s home run in the 1985 NLCS against Tom Niedenfuer, arguably the most historic play of his career, receives just a couple sentences:

For the first time in my professional career, I hit a home run batting left-handed. I wasn’t trying to hit a home run; it just happened. Niedenfuer threw me a fastball inside, and it got a little more of the plate than he had intended. I was able to drive it well enough so that it just got over the wall.

While Smith’s recollections of the clubhouse and on-field events are relatively cursory and he claims to have absolutely no knowledge of his teammates’ drug use, he’s utterly unafraid to express his opinions about the game. At times, it almost reads as though he is auditioning for one of ESPN’s modern sports-talk shows, where he has to throw out as many hot takes as he can. In some cases, such as when he recommends that Major League Baseball move from separate American and National League umpiring crews or advocates for instant replay, he appears prescient. At other times, such as when he predicts that Bob Horner is going to thrive while replacing Jack Clark as the Cardinals’ first baseman in 1988 or suggests that he may retire after his contract concludes in 1989, history shows that he was significantly off the mark.

Mostly, though, this book provides Smith the opportunity to throw some haymakers at those who he feels have disrespected him during his career. He pulls no punches when discussing the San Diego Padres organization, criticizing the lack of instruction he says he received in the minor leagues and the firing of Alvin Dark during spring training of his rookie season. He also accuses Ed Whitson of intentionally hitting him with a pitch that broke his wrist and expresses frustration that his teammates immediately thought it was an accident.

A large portion of the book is focused on his contract negotiations, and Smith says that racism may have been involved in the team’s refusal to pay Dave Winfield or him what they were worth. According to Smith, when his agent, Ed Gottlieb, purchased an ad in the San Diego paper requesting part-time job offers on Smith’s behalf to supplement the meager income the Padres were paying him, Gottlieb did that on his own without Smith’s authorization. That incident, however, leads to Joan Kroc, the wife of the Padres’ owner, sarcastically offering Smith a job as her gardener. Smith is rightfully offended and indicates that this is when he knew he couldn’t stay with the Padres.

Smith goes after other former teammates and opponents as well. He says that Neil Allen was not mentally strong enough to deal with the scrutiny that came with becoming the Cardinals’ closer after Bruce Sutter left for Atlanta in free agency. He says that Jack Clark should have taken a cortisone shot to see if he could have played through his injury during the 1987 playoffs. He says that since he signed a larger contract, his strike zone has become larger as umpires try to humble him. He criticizes the Mets and Giants for comments they made during playoff series against the Cardinals. He says that he and his teammates were frustrated by Herzog’s repeated comments that he couldn’t believe the Cardinals reached the 1987 World Series. He even theorizes that the Twins turned the air vents in the Metrodome on and off to gain home-field advantage. Most humorously, he goes after Bob Brenly after the Giants’ catcher suggested that Smith was trying to be too flashy during their 1987 playoff series:

Bob Brenly, who in my opinion is mediocre at best, said after the game that I didn’t make the play because I was ‘styling.’ He once made four errors in the same game playing third base and he’s telling me about playing defense. I don’t tell him how to catch or say anything about all his passed balls. If you walked down the street and asked 20 people if they know who Bob Brenly is, I guarantee 19 of them wouldn’t know him.

Incredibly, Smith spends more words on what is admittedly a pretty epic takedown of Bob Brenly than he does in describing the single most important home run of his career (also, I love the idea of Smith combing through box scores looking for Bob Brenly’s worst defensive game just to include that zinger in the book).

The myriad opinions Smith shared in the book made a few days’ worth of news during 1988 spring training. To promote the book, Smith participated in an interview with Tom Boswell of GQ magazine, and Boswell used parts of Smith’s book and the interview in the article. According to a March 30, 1988, St. Louis Post-Dispatch story, the GQ article created a bit of a stir.

Herzog and Smith sat down to clear the air regarding several of Smith’s comments from the book, and Herzog arranged for a phone call between Smith and National League President Bart Giamatti to discuss Smith’s criticism of umpires. Clark responded angrily to Smith’s recommendation that he should have taken a cortisone shot and tried to play through the pain, pointing out that he participated in a simulated game and simply couldn’t compete.

“I think he did one too many backflips,” Clark said in a separate March 30 Post-Dispatch article under the headline, “Clark Lashes Out At Ozzie’s Comments.”

“Now Ozzie wants to be the manager and the doctor. I don’t know why he’s deciding right now to speak his mind. Maybe it’s because he was a .230 lifetime hitter and he suddenly got paid $2 million and it hasn’t been until the last couple of years that he feels he’s started to earn it.”

Ultimately, though, while the book may have made headlines when it was published prior to the 1988 season, I think I would only recommend it to hardcore Ozzie Smith fans. Other books do a much better job of documenting the Cardinals’ pennant-winning teams of the ’80s, and it obviously doesn’t cover the final nine years of Smith’s Hall of Fame career. Smith really doesn’t dive into any details of his personal life outside of brief stories about how he met his wife and the day his first son was born, and since the book is relatively brief, every incident outside of his contract negotiations comes and goes pretty quickly.

The biggest takeaway I gained from reading Wizard is an appreciation of Smith’s competitive nature. After reading this, I really get the feeling that he played with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, determined to show the people who thought he was too small, or couldn’t hit enough, or thought he was a hot dog. For a guy who always seemed fairly polished in front of the TV cameras, Wizard shows the tremendous personal pride he had throughout his career and how he dealt with it when he felt disrespected by others.

What I’m Reading: “The Cardinals Way” by Howard Megdal

The Cardinals Way: How One Team Embraced Tradition and Moneyball at the Same Time is an ambitious book that does a lot of things really well and makes for a captivating read.

Author Howard Megdal illustrates the way in which the team’s conversion to analytics was not out of line with the team’s history, which included the innovations of Branch Rickey and the commitment to continuous improvement of longtime baseball men like George Kissell, and also includes a sustained commitment to scouting and player development.

As a result, The Cardinals Way ends up becoming several books in one. Megdal devotes the early chapters to tracing the Cardinals’ history under Branch Rickey and the innovations he introduced to the St. Louis Cardinals, including the creation of a minor league system designed to continuously pump fresh talent onto the major-league roster.

Megdal then devotes significant time to Kissell, the Cardinals’ long-time minor-league coach, whose baseball philosophy remains a significant part of the Cardinals’ identity. Of all the Cardinals books I’ve read, I have not yet found another that is as dedicated to showing the impact Kissell has had on the Cardinals behind the scenes. At one point in this section, Megdal describes an interview with a minor-league instructor who played under Kissell. As that coach glowingly describes their interactions with Kissell and the impact he had upon their life and career, another player-turned-coach overhears them and begins to share their own Kissell stories. Soon, yet another coach joins them to share additional stories.

The section on Kissell alone makes this book worth reading.

Megdal follows that section by discussing Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. and his growing belief after buying the team that the Cardinals need to improve their data gathering and analysis. To implement that plan, DeWitt hires Jeff Luhnow, and Megdal describes the changes that take place in the St. Louis Cardinals organization and the challenges Luhnow faced in implementing his vision for more data-based decision-making.

One of Megdal’s real strengths in this book is the access he obtains. He interviews all the key players, including DeWitt, Luhnow, Walt Jocketty, Sig Mejdal, and Dan Kantrovitz, and they all seem to be genuinely open and honest with him about that time period. Megdal actually dives into the personalities of Mejdal and Kantrovitz – arguably the two least well-known of the key players in the Cardinals’ shift to analytics – but I would have liked to have seen Megdal dive more into who these other men are and how their backgrounds shape their decision-making.

He’s fair with Jocketty and is quick to point out that what Jocketty was doing was working – as evidenced by the World Series appearance in 2004 and the World Series championship in 2006 – but he doesn’t give us any understanding as to how Jocketty got to this position or what his organizational philosophy has been.

I also would have liked to have gotten a better feel for who Luhnow is as a person. He’s obviously a key player in the story the book is telling and Megdal quotes him throughout that section of the book, but as a reader, I really never got to know much about him outside of his professional background and his philosophy for the organization. Obviously, Luhnow’s personal characteristics are more interesting now, in 2020, given the manner in which his career with the Astros ended.

When it comes to discussing the conflict within the front office, however, Megdal gets unparalleled access, including interviews with Jocketty about his days with the Cardinals. Personally, I found this part of the book fascinating as well, as it covers topics related to baseball, but also provides great insights regarding organizational goals, communication, and leadership. This transition to incorporating analytics into their decision-making is as important as anything that has happened to the Cardinals under DeWitt’s ownership, and this is the deepest dive into that transition that I have seen.

In the final portion of the book, Megdal illustrates how important the Cardinals’ scouts and player development professionals are to the team’s success. Megdal speaks to a number of Cardinals prospects – regular, run-of-the-mill prospects looking to make their major-league dreams come true. At the same time, he also spotlights the Cardinals’ scouts, primarily Charlie Gonzalez. Charlie is a memorable character, and the scenes where Megdal brings us into the scouts’ meetings in advance of the draft provide a fascinating glimpse into the process.

As you can probably tell, I enjoyed all three pieces of the book, as they paint the full picture of how the Cardinals’ analytics version ties the past with the future and the analytics movement with an emphasis on superior scouting and player development. The publisher doesn’t actually divide the book into these three sections, but these shifts in focus are so defined that I can see why readers would like one or two of the book’s sections more than the others.

Ultimately, though, I think all three pieces are necessary to fully paint the picture of how the Cardinals have incorporated analytics into their operations. I love that Megdal placed a spotlight on George Kissell and the impact he has had upon Cardinals baseball. I was impressed by the access Megdal was given to the club, even in discussing its internal conflict and its scouting decisions, and I liked that this book took me inside the Cardinals’ front office with a perspective I haven’t seen during this generation of St. Louis baseball.

For Cardinals fans, even those who haven’t bought into analytics, this book offers a bit of everything. It’s definitely worth reading to better understand the process that led to the 2011 World Series and established the foundation for the Cardinals teams of today.

What I’m Reading: “Whitey Herzog Builds a Winner” by Doug Feldmann

With Whitey Herzog Builds a Winner: The St. Louis Cardinals, 1979-1982, Doug Feldmann traces the Cardinals’ path to the 1982 World Series championship from Lou Brock’s final season in 1979 to Bruce Sutter’s final pitch in Game 7.

Feldmann’s decision to focus the first two chapters on Brock’s resurgent final season is an interesting one as he seeks to tie the Cardinals of the 1960s and ’70s to the team Whitey Herzog would create following his arrival in 1980. Even as the 1970s weren’t a particularly successful era in Cardinals history, Brock’s return to form in 1979 after subpar seasons in 1977 and 1978 provides a positive opener to help bookend the story.

Ultimately, though, those first two chapters feel like part of a different book. After Herzog takes Kenny Boyer’s place as manager of the Cardinals, he quickly takes the measure of his players and tells Gussie Busch that the Redbirds need a complete overhaul. As a result, Busch fires John Claiborne and makes Herzog the general manager duties as well. It doesn’t take long for Herzog to start wheeling and dealing, and by the time Feldmann begins to dive into the Cardinals’ championship season, almost all of Brock’s former teammates are out of the picture.

Feldmann’s research is largely built around newspaper accounts; autobiographies by Herzog, Brock, Jack Buck, Darrell Porter, and Red Schoendienst; and interviews with Herzog, Ken Reitz, Don Kessinger, Mark Littell, and John Fulgham. There are a lot of good stories shared, and Feldmann does a good job bringing the games to life, particularly during the 1982 playoffs.

Of course, the Cardinals had a variety of interesting personalities in those days, and while Feldmann touches on each of them, he doesn’t dive as deep into the 1982 players as he does the final year of Brock’s career. Though it would have made the book longer, I would have liked to have seen him provide more biographical information for some of the Cardinals’ stars of the era, including George Hendrick, Keith Hernandez, Ozzie Smith, Bruce Sutter, and others.

However, while the book doesn’t dive into the personalities as much I might like, Herzog gets a significant spotlight and Feldmann does a good job shining a light on Herzog’s unique personality and approach to the game.

Ultimately, Whitey Builds a Winner is a great book for readers seeking an introduction to Herzog and the 1982 Cardinals. Feldmann is very thorough in detailing the moves Herzog made to build the roster he needed and in showing the way that the entire Cardinals roster – including both the stars and the reserves – contributed to the 1982 triumph. For 24 years, the 1982 season would stand as the Cardinals’ most recent championship and this book provides a really good look at the season and how Herzog made that World Series win possible.