Where Were You in ’82?

The 1982 World Championship was the St. Louis Cardinals’ first since 1967, a span of 15 years, and would be the only one to break up the long, dry spell from ’67 until 2006.

As most Cardinals fans already know, Whitey Herzog’s 1985 and 1987 clubs would again knock on the door, but those National League champs were turned away in the seventh game of the Series by the Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins, respectively.

Not this time.

On October 20, 1982 at Busch Stadium II, the then-American League champion Milwaukee Brewers sent out the former Cardinals Pete Vuckovich and Ted Simmons as their battery for Game 7 of the World Series. The former was the American League Cy Young Award winner that season, while the latter had been arguably the greatest catcher in club history, both having been traded away in controversial deals made by the then-unproven Whitey Herzog.

The Cardinals answered with their “one tough Dominican”, the often unpredictable Joaquin Andujar. “Vuke” was knocked out in the sixth as Silent George Hendrick and Keith Hernandez powered the Cards from a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead they would not relinquish. The final was 6-3.

Hall of Fame closer Bruce Sutter (left) finished up Andujar’s win with two scoreless innings and leadoff man Lonnie “Skakes” Smith had three hits, including two doubles and scored twice. The Cardinals stranded 13 runners or the outcome would have been worse. Catcher Darrell Porter was awarded the Series Most Valuable Player Award.

The club had won 92 games during the regular season and took their first-ever National League Eastern Division crown, then stomped the Atlanta Braves three straight for the NL championship. At Scout.com, we ranked this 1982 team as the number 12 all-time Cardinals squad.

I don’t need to watch the replay on MLB.com, part of a series called “Baseball’s Best”, but I encourage everyone to do so who doesn’t already own the game on tape or disc. I purchased my copy as part of the DVD box set entitled “Greatest Games of Busch Stadium”. (Currently on sale at A&E Shop.)

It clearly was one of the greatest!

Looking back, I realize that I had grown up a bit spoiled by the success of the Cardinals of the 1960’s and after the terrible 1970’s, was more than excited about this Series victory.

Just as with other key points in one’s life (Where were you when Kennedy was shot, etc.?), I remember exactly where I was on the night of October 20, 1982.

Sadly, I was not at the ballpark. A business trip put me in Dallas, Texas. I watched the game at the then-Granada Royale Hometel on Stemmons Freeway. Despite the sub-optimal setting, I will never forget the feelings of release of my 15-years of pent-up excitement that night.

Bob Forsch, Keith Hernandez, Bruce Sutter, Whitey Herzog and Willie McGee at a 1982 team reunion in 2005. (AP)
Bob Forsch, Keith Hernandez, Bruce Sutter, Whitey Herzog and Willie McGee at a 1982 team reunion at the old Busch in 2005. (AP)

Maybe it was my then-relative youth, but even the 2006 victory, after a longer wait of 24 years, did not seem as sweet as that long-awaited 1982 championship!

Thanks to Whitey and the boys!

A question to my fellow old-timers out there. Where were you for the ’82 win?