TCN St. Louis Cardinals 2021 Top Story #8: Simmons’ No. 23 Retired

photo: Ted Simmons (St. Louis Cardinals)

Prior to 2021, just 14 individuals had received retired number recognition in the history of the St. Louis Cardinals. So, it is a major news item when another joins the most elite group of former team employees.

On July 31, the Cardinals held a ceremony to celebrate the retirement of “Simba’s” uniform number 23, preceded by the unveiling and dedicating of a new Simmons statue outside Busch Stadium.

The statue, created by St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame sculptor Harry Weber, joined the 11 existing statues outside Busch Stadium. It was the first addition to the group since Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith’s statue debuted in 2002.  Other statues include Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, George Sisler (St. Louis Browns), James “Cool Papa” Bell (St. Louis Stars), Dizzy Dean, Enos Slaughter, Red Schoendienst, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and broadcaster Jack Buck.

Ted Simmons (St. Louis Cardinals)

Simmons is the first individual associated with the organization to have his number retired since Hall of Fame Manager Tony La Russa’s number 10 was retired in 2012. The ceremony opened with Ted riding around the warning track in a convertible and concluded with him throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Fans in attendance received a Simmons bobblehead.

The St. Louis ceremony preceded Simmons’ official induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. After a quarter century of waiting, he was voted in by a veterans committee in 2019. Simmons entered in Cooperstown, N.Y. on September 8 with fellow Class of 2020 inductees Derek Jeter, Larry Walker and Marvin Miller. Due to COVID, his Cooperstown recognition had been delayed one year. Simmons became the 50th individual inductee with ties to the Cardinals.

Ted Simmons (Orlando Ramirez/Imagn)

Simmons, the Cardinals’ first round draft selection in 1967, played 13 of his 21 seasons with St. Louis, debuting in 1968 at the age of 19.  The switch-hitter batted a career .285 with 248 home runs and 1,389 RBI in 2,456 games played.  The eight-time All-Star (six with St. Louis) and Silver Slugger award winner ranks among the franchise’s career top-10 in home runs (172), RBI (929), and total bases (2,626), and is still the Cardinals all-time single-season leader in home runs (26 in 1979) and RBI (96 in 1972) among catchers.  Following his playing career, which included stints with Milwaukee and Atlanta, Simmons served as the Cardinals Director of Player Development from 1988-1991 before taking the GM post in Pittsburgh in 1992.

Simmons was inducted into the Cardinals team Hall of Fame in 2015.

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