- Drama and Pride in the Gateway City: The 1964 St. Louis Cardinals ed. by John Harry Stahl and Bill Nowlin
The 1964 baseball season was a watershed moment in the history of the St. Louis Cardinals. After winning nine National League pennants and six World Series titles in a twenty-one-year span ending in 1946, the fabled club watched as their competitors the Dodgers, Braves, and Giants integrated and then captured thirteen of the following seventeen pennants. For the Cardinals, the situation began to change, albeit slowly, when August A. Busch, Jr. purchased the club in 1953 and, with the aid of general manager Bing Devine, aggressively signed African-American players. These efforts culminated in an unexpected World Series championship in 1964 following one of the most exciting three-team pennant races in baseball history. Drama and Pride in the Gateway City, edited by John Harry Stahl and Bill Nowlin, commemorates this team as part of the Memorable Teams in Baseball History series jointly published by the University of Nebraska and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). The volume includes detailed biographies of all players from the regular-season roster and coaching staff, as well as selected members of the front office, sportswriters, and announcers. A timeline recounting all of the games of the season and World Series provides dramatic context to the volume.
All of the biographies follow the well-established format of SABR’s ground-breaking Baseball Biography Project which consists of more than 2,000 biographies of major and minor league players, coaches, managers, executives, and important individuals in the history of the game. The biographies are more than a simple sum of statistics and numbers; rather, they present the person’s career in baseball, from juvenile baseball, scouting and signing, and influences through the player’s development in the minor leagues and career in the major leagues to life after baseball. In many cases, interviews with the players or players’ families provide invaluable insights and context. The authors, all volunteers, have combed archives, data banks, newspapers, and a host of other publications to produce scholarly biographies complete with notes and bibliographies.
For much of the 1964 season, the Cardinals languished in fifth place, playing .500-ball until late July, and were eleven games behind the league-leading Phillies on August 23. A 21–8 record in September, coupled with the Phillies dramatic “phold” propelled the Redbirds into a tie with the Cincinnati Reds for first place on September 29, giving rise to the possibility of an unprecedented three-way tie for first place. Not until the very last day of the season, did the Cardinals secure the pennant. The club was led by some of the best players in baseball, such as Bob Gibson who served as the cornerstone of the team’s three pennants in five years (1964, 1967, and 1968); outfielder Lou Brock, acquired in mid-season from the Chicago Cubs; and graceful centerfielder Curt Flood who later challenged baseball’s reserve clause, all of whom have been the subject of full-length books. But despite all of the attention to individual accolades, baseball is also a team sport. Drama and Pride in the Gateway City is not just about the 1964 season but rather about the careers of [End Page 183] all those associated with the team. The casual baseball fan may remember names like Gibson, Brock, and Flood, or others who became much more well known after their playing careers, such as future National League president Bill White and broadcaster Tim McCarver and the legendary Bob Uecker, but names like Dave Bankenhaster, Charlie James, or Carl Warwick have been forgotten or lost in the passing of time.
Drama and Pride in the Gateway City is an invaluable contribution to baseball history and research because it presents for the first time all of the team’s players, coaches, and selected writers, announcers, front-office personnel together and tells their unique...