How could there have been any better nickname for Albert Fred Schoendienst than “Red”. I
know, it came from his red hair, but it might as well been for the fact that he wore the
Cardinals’ uniform more than anyone else in the long history of the franchise. Stan Musial
was “The Man”, but as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch headline read, Schoendienst was “Mr.
Cardinal”. Let this fact soak in for a moment; at the time of his death, he had worn a
Major League uniform for 74 consecutive years as a player, coach, or manager, and had
served 67 of his 76 years in baseball with the Cardinals! That’s unbelievable. I’ve been
here 33 years and will have to do that and more to match the redhead at one place. In fact,
there were times I forgot about the red hair reference and thought more of “Red”
Schoendienst and “Red”birds. And, for a figure that was such a prominent part of the
tradition-rich Cardinals, is there a Hall of Famer that flew under the radar more than Red
Schoendienst on the national level? Schoendienst had the distinction of being teammates
with Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Willie Mays while playing for the Braves,
Cardinals and Giants. Do you suppose the nation would put Red on that Mount Rushmore of
baseball talent? Yet, quoting Rick Hummel’s story in the Post-Dispatch, “The
Milwaukee franchise won its first and only World Series in 1957, with Henry Aaron named the
Most Valuable Player that year. But, in Aaron’s mind, there was only one MVP and it wasn’t
himself. Aaron said, “We don’t win it without Red. He was our Most Valuable Player”. As a
manager, Red won 1,041 games. As a player, he had 2,449 hits. If winning is how you judge
stars, Red was a five-time World Series champion. If productivity is your barometer, Mr.
Schoendienst was a 10-time All-Star.
Thank you Mr. Schoendienst for your dedication to the St. Louis Cardinals. Rest in peace.