photo: David Freese (USA TODAY Sports Images)
This is the first of a series highlighting the best St. Louis Cardinals lineups of all-time hailing from different parts of the country, starting with the State of Texas.
To date, Texas has produced 1,092 major league baseball players, 15 of whom are enshrined in Cooperstown, according to Baseball-Reference.com. Although the Cardinals made many draft picks of Texans, a relative few have made it to the majors with the club. This lineup, however, is focused on players who were born in Texas and eventually played with the Cardinals regardless of how they arrived into the organization.
Here are the Cardinals’ Texas best by position.
In the winter of 2010, the Cardinals made a surprise move with the addition of Lance Berkman. Some thought the signing of the 34-year-old Waco, TX native to fill a starting outfield spot was downright crazy. One reason why it was questioned was that Berkman had not played an inning in the outfield since 2004 and he came with two bad knees.
Many also thought the switch hitter was on the decline after he hit just .171 from the right side with one home run the previous year while moving from his long-time home in Houston to the Yankees. In 480-plus plate appearances, he batted a combined .248 with one home run and 14 RBI.
So what were the Cardinals thinking? Simply speaking, they had a guy who when healthy could hit for average and with good pop in his bat, not to mention another veteran to add to a contending roster. And they were right.
In 2011, Berkman hit .301, crushed 31 home runs, drove home 94 runs and was huge in the postseason, helping the Cardinals to the World Series title. Though his second campaign with St. Louis in 2012 was injury-plagued, Berkman’s contributions were crucial to the 2011 championship.
Mumphrey was the fourth-round pick of the Cardinals in 1971. It took the Tyler, Texas native just three short years to make it to the big leagues. The fleet-footed outfielder made his major league debut the same night that Lou Brock broke the single season stolen base record, on September 10, 1974.
Originally a left fielder, Mumphrey was not going to replace the future Hall of Famer Brock, but he found another route to regular time. In 1976, due Bake McBride’s injuries, he became a fixture in center sandwiched between Brock and Willie Crawford. In his six seasons at Busch Stadium, Mumphrey hit a respectable .276 before being traded to Cleveland along with John Denny for Bobby Bonds.
One of the most unheralded players to ever patrol center field, Flood is more remembered for his off-field stance that led to modern day free agency. Originally signed out of high school by the then Cincinnati Redlegs, he made his big-league debut on September 9, 1956 against the same club to which he would be traded in December 1958, St. Louis.
The Houston, Texas native spent 12 seasons with the Cardinals, helping lead them to three World Series, including wins in 1964 and 1967. Flood received seven Gold Gloves, earned three All-Star nods and batted over .300 six times. He is 13th on the all-time Cardinals batting average list at .293 for players with a 1,000 plus games in a St. Louis uniform.
Another December acquisition, this time in 2018, Goldschmidt arrived in St. Louis via a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Although it was well-known that Arizona was interested in dealing Goldschmidt, most thought he would end up in the Bronx as a New York Yankee or in Houston with his home-state Astros.
Dubbed “America’s First Baseman” because of both his character and his prowess on the baseball field, The Woodlands, Texas native has lived up to the billing in St. Louis. His arrival gave the Cardinals a truly consistent power hitting corner infield regular for the first time since Albert Pujols left.
Not counting the shortened the 2020 season, Goldschmidt has crushed 30 plus home runs and averaged 98 RBI since his arrival. He was the offensive catalyst if the franchise setting win streak in September. During the 17-game streak, he logged a .391 batting average, seven homers, eight doubles, 16 RBI, nine multi-hit games and an OPS of 1.317. The more Goldschmidt produces, the more he etches himself into Cardinals lore.
This may be the one guy that some would question as a true Texas native because he spent most of his life growing up in Wildwood, Missouri, just outside St. Louis. Freese, though, was born in Corpus Christi, Texas and thus for the intents of this article qualifies as a Texas native.
There is no doubt that Freese grew up a Cardinals fan and broke the hearts of Lone Star State fans in the 2011 World Series. Freese stole the spotlight when he hit his legendary two strike, two out triple in the bottom of the ninth to tie Game 6 and the walk-off with two strikes for the win.
His walk-off put him the Cardinals record book as one of just two Cardinals to hit a postseason walk-off in extra innings. Jim Edmonds was the other and coincidentally Freese was traded from San Diego to St. Louis for Edmonds. He became only the fifth player in Major League baseball to hit a walk-off in extra innings with his team facing post season elimination. He also set the MLB RBI postseason RBI record (21) in the bottom of the first in Game 7. During his five plus years with St. Louis, Freese hit a solid .286 with a .960 fielding percentage.
One day, the number “4” will hang among the retired numbers at Busch Stadium, but the name under it won’t be arguably the greatest right-handed hitter in baseball history. Tempestuous and fiery infielder Rogers Hornsby won seven batting titles (six consecutive) and batted over .400 three times. Born in Winters, Texas, “The Rajah” was one of the youngest players in baseball history when he broke in with the Cardinals at the age of 19. Despite going hitless in his first six at bats, Hornsby went on to post a lifetime average of .358, second only all-time to Ty Cobb.
Hornsby’s first Triple Crown in 1922 showcased his hitting prowess. His .401 batting average was almost 50 percentage points higher than the second-place finisher; his 42 home runs were 16 more than anyone else; his 152 RBI led the league by 20; his 250 hits topped the league by 35; his 450 total bases were 136 more than any other; and his .722 slugging percentage led the league by 150 points. As a player-manager, Hornsby led the Cardinals to their first and his only World Series title in 1926.
In fairness, Hornsby has already received retired number recognition by the Cardinals, but because players in his era did not regularly wear uniform numbers, no specific digit is associated with his recognition.
Templeton, selected by the Cardinals in the first round of the 1974 draft, seemed destined for greatness. After turning down a football scholarship offer from UCLA, the Lockney, Texas native followed his dream based upon advice from his father who had played in the Negro Leagues.
The Cardinals decided the natural right-handed hitter with exceptional speed should become a switch hitter. It was a move that would put Templeton into the major league records book in 1979 when he became the first player to collect 100 hits from both sides of the dish.
His irascible behavior led to him being traded after the 1981 season for future Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith. Templeton left St. Louis with a .305 batting average through six seasons, stealing 138 bases and scoring 443 runs. Ironically, these two of the best shortstops to wear a Cardinals uniform both wore number 1.
A traveling back-up catcher for many years, Mancuso caught five Hall of Fame pitchers throughout his career including St. Louis pitchers Dizzy Dean and Grover Cleveland Alexander. The Galveston native began his professional career by signing with a St. Louis farm team, the Houston Buffaloes in 1924.
Perhaps Mancuso’s best season came in 1930 when he hit .366 with an OPS of .965 filling in for the Cardinals starting catcher Jimmie Wilson helping them reach the 1929 World Series. It was the first of five World Series in which he would play. Mancuso garnered the Cardinals first hit of the series and scored their first run as he caught the opening two games before Wilson returned. Philadelphia won the 1930 title but Mancuso and the Cardinals returned and won the 1931 series over the A’s. Mancuso left St. Louis after the 1932 season. Nine seasons later, he returned to the Cardinals as a backup, capping six years in a Redbirds uniform out of a 17-year big league career. Mancuso spent 36 years in baseball as player, coach and minor league manager.
In 1951, he joined legendary Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Caray in the Cardinals broadcast booth. After the Budweiser bought the Cardinals in 1954, Mancuso was replaced by future Hall of Famer broadcasters Jack Buck and Milo Hamilton. Mancuso returned to his native Texas and scouted for the Cardinals and the Colt .45’s.
Carpenter, the 13th round pick by the Cardinals in 2009, wore number 13 for 11 big league campaigns. It took just two minor league seasons for Carpenter to find his way to the big leagues. A natural third baseman, Carpenter learned to play second base and first with the same adeptness.
In 2013 as the Cardinals starting second baseman, Carpenter put together his finest season in St. Louis, hitting .318 and slugging 55 doubles, a franchise record for left-handed hitters. His total surpassed Cardinal great Stan Musial, who hit 53 in 1953. The Galveston, Texas native also led the majors with 63 multi-hit games, recorded a league high 126 runs scored and tied for the league lead in hits (199). His effort earned him a Silver Slugger Award, the first ever by a Cardinals second baseman.
Some may have done a double take when they read that best pitcher from Texas to ever throw for the Cardinals was Houston native Woody Williams. The right-hander was acquired in a surprise waiver wire deal in 2001 for fan favorite Ray Lankford. His arrival at Busch Stadium was circumspect at best considering he was 8-8 with a 4.97 ERA.
Pitching coach Dave Duncan though was able to work wonders with the 34-year-old as Williams went 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA, leading St. Louis to a second half record of 38-16 and a berth in the 2001 postseason. Williams four- year run in St. Louis was the best period of his career. The Cardinals hurler finished 45-22, 23 games over .500 with a respectable 3.53 ERA. In 2003, he posted a career best 18-9 earning the only All-Star appearance of his 15-year career.
Although many pitchers have come from Texas and pitched for the Cardinals, none have been more electric than Jordan Hicks. Able to consistently hit 100 mph-plus on the radar gun, the Houston native was sidelined by Tommy John surgery in 2019 and opted out of the 2020 season.
Hicks’ comeback in 2021 was limited to just 10 innings. The right-hander’s pick to be on this list is based more on potential than performance. Primarily a starter until he arrived at the big-league level, Hicks has averaged nearly a strikeout per inning in his relatively brief career.
Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation
In 2021, the Cardinal Nation Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.
20% off Blowout Sale now underway on the spiral-bound, printed version.
Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.
Follow Lou Roesch on Twitter @sportsguy409.
© 2022 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.