Herzog resigns from Cardinals, wrapping up career
Whitey Herzog began his big league career with designs on becoming the best player he could be.
By the time he finished his stint in uniform, Herzog had become one of the best managers the game had ever seen.
On July 6, 1990, Herzog put an end to a career – by stepping down as Cardinals manager – that saw him in just about every position baseball had to offer.
He was a player, scout, general manager, coach and farm system director – but what earned him his enshrinement into the Hall of Fame were his managerial skills.
“I think what he did was to get everybody focused on more team-oriented goals instead of individual goals,” said Cardinals second baseman Tommy Herr. “Obviously, with Whitey over here, the thinking of the whole organization changed to go along with his philosophy.”
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Herzog enjoyed his most successful run as a manager with the Cardinals, winning three National League pennants, including a World Series title in 1982. In addition to serving as the manager of champs, he was also the general manager for the 1981 and ’82 seasons.
“Whenever you face the Cardinals, you think of Whitey Herzog,” longtime general manager Dave Dombrowski told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the day Herzog resigned. “You just don’t replace somebody like that. He had a background in everything – the perfect baseball resume.”
Herzog built his teams around speed, defense and a strong bullpen. The Cardinals had seven players finish with double-digit steal totals in ’82 including left fielder Lonnie Smith, who finished second in the NL MVP voting as well as second in stolen bases (68) on the year.
The team defense was given a boost with the acquisition of future Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith prior to the 1982 season.
“The Wizard of Oz” won his third straight Gold Glove Award in his first year in St. Louis. And Hall of Fame reliever Bruce Sutter anchored the bullpen with his league-leading 36 saves.
The team that Herzog built and managed went on to win an exciting seven-game World Series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Before Herzog’s tenure with the Cardinals even began, he showed his ability to transform talent into wins. In his five years with the Kansas City Royals from 1975-79, he won 90 games or more on three occasions and never had a winning percentage below .525.
His retirement from the Cardinals ended an 18-year big league managerial career that produced 1,281 regular-season wins.
Herzog was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2010.
Kevin Stiner was a Public Relations intern for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum