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After eight years as the center fielder for the Cardinals, Jim Edmonds had no intention of taking a reduced role with the team. If the Cardinals couldn’t commit to him, Edmonds told them, he’d rather play somewhere other than St. Louis.

Concerned Edmonds no longer was durable and convinced they had candidates within the organization to replace him, the Cardinals decided the time was right to part with a player who had been among their most popular and productive.

Ten years ago, in December 2007, John Mozeliak made his first trade as Cardinals general manager, sending Edmonds to the Padres for minor-league third baseman David Freese.

The deal sent away a player who had performed a key role in helping the Cardinals win a World Series title in 2006 and brought them a player who would perform a key role in helping them win another World Series championship in 2011.

Special talent

Edmonds, acquired by the Cardinals from the Angels in March 2000, was a central figure in the franchise’s success from 2000 to 2007. In that period, the Cardinals won a World Series crown and two National League pennants and qualified for the postseason six times.

With the Cardinals, Edmonds won the Gold Glove Award six times and was named an all-star three times.

In his eight seasons with St. Louis, Edmonds produced 1,033 hits and batted .285. He had an on-base percentage of .393.

Edmonds hit 241 home runs for St. Louis, placing him fourth all-time among Cardinals. Only Stan Musial (475), Albert Pujols (445) and Ken Boyer (255) hit more. Musial is the lone left-handed batter with more career home runs as a Cardinal than Edmonds.

Also, Edmonds had a .555 slugging percentage for St. Louis. Only six others _ Mark McGwire, Pujols, Johnny Mize, Chick Hafey, Rogers Hornsby and Musial _ have higher slugging percentages as Cardinals than Edmonds.

“If we consider the combination of offense and defense, Edmonds was the best overall center fielder in Cardinals history,” wrote Bernie Miklasz, columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

That’s high praise considering the franchise has had standout center fielders such as Curt Flood, Ray Lankford, Willie McGee and Terry Moore.

Time takes toll

In 2007, however, Edmonds showed signs his health and his skills were eroding. He had surgery on his right shoulder and left foot after the 2006 World Series. During the 2007 season, Edmonds was on the disabled list from June 16 to July 18 because of back problems. Late in the season, he had a groin injury and made just one start after Sept. 17.

Edmonds played in 117 games in 2007 and batted .252 with 12 home runs and 53 RBI. He hit .198 against left-handers.

In the off-season, Edmonds, 37, heard speculation the Cardinals might reduce his playing time in 2008 and shift him to right field.

“After running down all of those line drives in the gaps, he couldn’t outrun his age,” Miklasz wrote of Edmonds.

Edmonds approached Cardinals management and asked about their plans for him. “Basically, the feedback wasn’t so great, and they couldn’t guarantee anything,” Edmonds said to the Associated Press.

The Cardinals believed Rick Ankiel, the converted pitcher, was ready to take over in center field. “I think Rick Ankiel has emerged as a force,” said Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. The Cardinals thought their top minor-league prospect, Colby Rasmus, could compete for the center field job, too.

Edmonds, believing he still could be a starter in center, agreed to relinquish the no-trade clause in his contract. He gave the Cardinals a list of teams. His preference was a Southern California club because he had a home in Irvine, Calif.

“I wanted a chance to play every day,” Edmonds said.

California dreaming

The Padres were in the market for a center fielder. Their 2007 starter, Mike Cameron, had become a free agent. San Diego was interested in Japanese League import Kosuke Fukodome, but he signed with the Cubs. Cameron went to the Brewers.

Edmonds became the Padres’ best option. “We felt it was a risk worth taking,” said Padres general manager Kevin Towers.

The Cardinals and Padres agreed to a deal on Dec. 14, 2007. The Post-Dispatch broke the news on its Web site that night. The trade formally was announced the next day, Dec. 15.

“I’m kind of shocked but excited because I get to be in Southern California next to my family and play for a contending team in a beautiful ballpark,” Edmonds said.

Towers predicted to the San Diego Union-Tribune that Edmonds would bat .270 and hit 15 to 20 home runs for the Padres in 2008.

Return on investment

The Cardinals were glad to get a player for Edmonds before he became eligible for free agency after the 2008 season.

Freese, who grew up in St. Louis and graduated from Lafayette High School, had been chosen by the Padres in the ninth round of the 2006 amateur draft. In 2007, playing for the Lake Elsinore Storm of the Class A California League, Freese batted .302 with 96 RBI and scored 104 runs.

Asked his reaction to being traded for Edmonds, Freese said, “It’s been a dream of mine to play for the Cardinals. Now it may become a reality.”

Freese debuted with the Cardinals in 2009 and became their primary third baseman in 2010.

Ankiel was the Cardinals’ primary center fielder in 2008 and Rasmus became the starter in 2009.

Edmonds played in 26 games for the 2008 Padres, batted .178 and was released in May. He spent the rest of the season with the Cubs and hit 19 home runs for them.

After sitting out the 2009 season, Edmonds played for the Brewers and Reds in 2010, producing 11 home runs and 23 RBI. He attempted a comeback with the Cardinals the following year at spring training, but announced his retirement on Feb. 18, 2011.

Freese earned a permanent place in Cardinals lore with his postseason performance in 2011. He had 21 RBI _ five in the NL Division Series versus the Phillies, nine in the NL Championship Series against the Brewers and seven in the World Series versus the Rangers.

With the Cardinals on the brink of elimination in the World Series, Freese’s two-run triple with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 6 tied the score and his home run leading off the 11th gave St. Louis the win.

Previously: Jim Edmonds ignited Cardinals with hot start

From the Cardinals’ perspective, hard-throwing Mark Littell was a younger, clean-cut, right-handed version of Al Hrabosky. So, when given the chance to swap Hrabosky for Littell, the Cardinals acted.

Forty years ago, on Dec. 8, 1977, the Cardinals traded their left-handed closer, Hrabosky, to the Royals for Littell and catcher Buck Martinez.

Littell, 24, was nicknamed “Country.” He had a low-key personality, an all-American look and he excelled at striking out batters with an impressive fastball.

Hrabosky, 28, was nicknamed “Mad Hungarian.” He was a high-strung showman who liked to grow a Fu Manchu, performed self-psyching theatrics on the field and he excelled at striking out batters with an impressive fastball.

Both relievers had become available on the trade market for different reasons.

Littell slumped in the second half of the 1977 season and lost the closer role.

Hrabosky feuded throughout the year with Cardinals manager Vern Rapp and openly defied franchise owner Gussie Busch on the club’s facial hair ban.

Made in Missouri

Littell was born in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and grew up in the town of Gideon in the southeast corner of the state. “Population 800,” Littell told The Sporting News. “Soy beans, cotton and wheat.”

His father was a farmer and his mother was a nurse. Littell worked on his father’s farm and developed strength. “I plowed, planted and loaded soy beans _ 60-pound sacks, 500 or 600 a day,” Littell recalled. “I liked farm work.”

When he was 9 and 10 years old, Littell went to Cardinals games in St. Louis with his family. Among the players who made the most memorable impression on him were Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Curt Simmons, Minnie Minoso and Bill White.

“We used to come to see the Cardinals six, maybe 10, times a year,” Littell told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “… I saw Musial get a game-winning hit with two out in the ninth inning … I can still visualize him hitting that ball. He went the opposite way with it, between shortstop and third base.”

Ups and downs

At age 20, Littell debuted in the major leagues with the Royals in 1973.

Littell became their closer in 1976. The Royals won the American League West Division title that year under manager Whitey Herzog. Littell was 8-4 with 16 saves and a 2.08 ERA.

With the score tied 6-6 in the decisive Game 5 of the 1976 AL Championship Series, Littell yielded a ninth-inning home run to Chris Chambliss that clinched for the Yankees their first pennant since 1964.

Littell recovered from that setback. He was dominant in the first half of 1977, posting a 2.59 ERA with 12 saves.

He struggled, however, in the second half of the season. Littell had a 5.20 ERA and no saves after the all-star break. Doug Bird replaced him as the closer.

“I just wasn’t as consistent,” Littell said. He also was slowed by back muscle spasms and a sore rib cage.

Still, in 104.2 innings, Littell struck out 106 batters and yielded 73 hits.

“His ratio of strikeouts and hits to innings pitched is remarkable,” said Cardinals general manager Bing Devine.

Quality swap

At the 1977 baseball winter meetings in Honolulu, the Royals were seeking a left-handed power pitcher to pair with Bird, a right-hander, in the bullpen. The Cardinals were willing to trade Hrabosky, who was 6-5 with 10 saves and a 4.38 ERA for them in 1977.

“I talked to all the National League managers and they told me Hrabosky was messed up last season because of his troubles with Rapp,” Herzog said. “They told me he still is an outstanding pitcher. We think he is.”

When the Royals offered Littell for Hrabosky, the Cardinals agreed.

“Now we have a left-hander coming out of the bullpen who can blow people away,” Herzog said. “We didn’t go to Hawaii with an idea of trading Mark Littell, but we knew the Cards liked him.”

Admitting he and Rapp “definitely had personality conflicts,” Hrabosky said of the trade, “The only sad thing about the whole thing is I’m leaving St. Louis as a bad guy.”

Asked his reaction to the deal, Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons told columnist Dick Young, “In the past, when there was a personality difference, this team would unload a man for a song and a prayer. This time we at least got value for Hrabosky.”

Said Devine of Littell: “If we need a strikeout, he’s the man to bring in.”

Results are in

Littell requested uniform No. 17 from the Cardinals, but the club had retired that number in honor of Hall of Fame pitcher Dizzy Dean. Littell took No. 32 instead.

In 1978, Littell was 4-8 with 11 saves and a 2.79 ERA for the Cardinals. He struck out 130 batters in 106.1 innings. He also was second in the NL in appearances (72).

Hrabosky was 8-7 with 20 saves and a 2.88 ERA for the 1978 AL West champion Royals.

In 1979, Littell was 9-4 with 13 saves and a 2.19 ERA for the Cardinals. Hrabosky was 9-4 with 11 saves and a 3.74 ERA for the Royals.

After that, the careers of both pitchers declined.

Hrabosky ended his playing days with the Braves, totaling seven saves in three years (1980-1982).

Littell had four total saves in his final three seasons (1980-1982) with the Cardinals.

Overall, in five years with St. Louis, Littell was 14-18 with 28 saves, a 3.31 ERA and 233 strikeouts in 261 innings.

Previously: How Al Hrabosky stood up to Gussie Busch

Previously: 100 Ks: Mark Littell, Trevor Rosenthal, Seung Hwan Oh

Needing a proven right-handed hitter to balance and bolster their lineup, the Cardinals appeared to make the right move when they acquired the player who had been the Cubs’ most consistent run producer of the mid-1970s.

The timing, however, turned out to be terrible.

Jerry Morales, an all-star outfielder with the 1977 Cubs, was a bust with the 1978 Cardinals.

Forty years ago, on Dec. 8, 1977, the Cardinals got Morales and catcher Steve Swisher from the Cubs in a trade for outfielder Hector Cruz and catcher Dave Rader.

At the time, the Cardinals’ best batters either were switch-hitters (Ted Simmons and Garry Templeton) or left-handed (Lou Brock and Keith Hernandez).

Cardinals right-handed batters collectively hit .217 versus right-handed pitching in 1977.

At the baseball winter meetings in December 1977, Cardinals general manager Bing Devine went shopping for a productive right-handed bat.

Chicago hit man

Morales debuted in the major leagues at age 20 with the 1969 Padres. After five seasons with San Diego, he was traded to the Cubs in November 1973.

Morales became one of the Cubs’ premier players. He led them in RBI in 1974 (82) and 1975 (91) and hit a career-high 16 home runs in 1976.

“He has that knack of driving in the tough runs,” Cubs pitcher Rick Reuschel said.

Morales hit .331 in the first half of 1977 and was selected to the all-star team. “Morales has an unmistakable batting stance,” The Sporting News observed. “He keeps his feet wide apart and holds the bat over his head … This unusual stance, he insists, enables him to wait longer on the pitch.”

Batting in the All-Star Game against Sparky Lyle, Morales was hit on the knee by a pitch.

The knee became sore and bothered Morales the remainder of the season. He also wrenched his back and broke a finger. The injuries took a toll. Morales hit .218 in the second half of the season.

Though his overall batting average that year was a career-best .290, Morales called 1977 “the most disappointing season of my career” because he tailed off so badly after a stellar start.

Mix and match

After the 1977 season, the Cubs signed free-agent slugger Dave Kingman, making Morales expendable.

The Cubs needed a starting catcher. Their general manager, Bob Kennedy, began a “relentless search” for one, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Kennedy, who had been the Cardinals’ director of player development before becoming general manager of the Cubs in November 1976, made Rader his “main target,” the Tribune reported.

With workhorse Ted Simmons at catcher for St. Louis, Rader seldom played and he had asked the Cardinals to trade him.

Cruz also appealed to the Cubs. Though Cruz had flopped as the Cardinals’ right fielder in 1977 (.236 batting average, six home runs, 42 RBI), Kennedy liked him. In 1975, when Kennedy ran the Cardinals’ farm system, Cruz was named Minor League Player of the Year by The Sporting News.

When Kennedy asked the Cardinals for Rader and Cruz, Devine demanded Morales. “We had been trying to get Morales for two or three years,” Devine said.

Said Kennedy: “We didn’t want to give up Morales, but he’s the only guy who had enough value for us to get the catcher we wanted.”

Cardinals nemesis

In its report on the trade, The Sporting News called Morales the Cubs’ “most consistent hitter the last four seasons” and “a good all-round player.”

With the Cubs, Morales had batting averages against the Cardinals of .352 in 1975, .300 in 1976 and .313 in 1977.

“He’s an altogether different kind of hitter in a tight game with a runner on second or third base,” Simmons said. “He’s been one of the five or 10 hitters I’ve least wanted to see up there at bat (against the Cardinals) when it counts.”

Cardinals manager Vern Rapp envisioned an outfield of Morales in right, Brock in left and Tony Scott in center.

When the Cardinals began the 1978 season, the top five in their batting order were Brock, Templeton, Morales, Simmons and Hernandez. In the April 7 season opener against the Phillies, Morales had three singles against Steve Carlton and scored a run in a 5-1 Cardinals victory.

That turned out to be one of his few Cardinals highlights.

Morales had a miserable May, batting .194, and struggled to recover.

In July, The Sporting News reported, “Morales, who was counted on as a big RBI man, had been trying extra hard, as witness a 30-minute extra batting practice session one day and 10 minutes extra before the next game, but continued to be disappointing.”

Morales finished the season with a .239 batting average, four home runs and 46 RBI. He hit .205 against right-handers.

Traveling man

The Cardinals finished 69-93 in 1978. Devine was fired and replaced by former Red Sox assistant general manager John Claiborne. Morales asked to be traded, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Claiborne was happy to oblige.

“He hit a lot of 385-foot outs at Busch Stadium, but they were still outs,” Claiborne said.

The Cardinals talked with the Red Sox about a trade of Morales for pitcher Bill Lee, who was feuding with manager Don Zimmer, The Sporting News reported.

However, the Tigers, who had been trying to acquire Morales for more than a year, were the most aggressive pursuers.

In Claiborne’s first trade as general manager, the Cardinals sent Morales and pitcher Aurelio Lopez to the Tigers for pitchers Bob Sykes and Jack Murphy.

Morales hit .211 for the 1979 Tigers and was dealt to the Mets. He spent his last three seasons (1981-1983) with the Cubs.

Morales played a lot better against the Cardinals than he did for them. In 115 career games versus St. Louis, Morales hit .327.

From 2002-2004, Morales was a coach on the staff of Expos manager Frank Robinson. He coached again in 2007 and 2008 on the staff of Nationals manager Manny Acta.

Previously: Cardinals made mistake giving up on Jose Cruz

If Ted Simmons is elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, he would become only the second switch-hitting catcher to receive the honor and the first to have played in the major leagues.

Of the 18 catchers enshrined in the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., the lone switch-hitter is Biz Mackey, who played for Negro League teams over three decades (1920s, 1930s and 1940s). Segregation kept Mackey from playing in the major leagues.

As the most productive switch-hitting big-league catcher of all-time, Simmons deserves to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

Simmons, who played for the Cardinals from 1968 to 1980, is one of 10 candidates being considered for induction by the Hall of Fame’s Modern Baseball Era committee. The 16-member committee will consist of a mix of Hall of Fame inductees, baseball executives and media members. The Hall of Fame considers the modern era to be for candidates who primarily were active between 1970 and 1987.

Simmons played for the Cardinals, Brewers and Braves in a 21-season career spanning 1968 to 1988.

This is the third time Simmons has been a finalist for induction. He twice was a candidate on what was called the Expansion Era ballot, but wasn’t elected. A candidate needs votes from 12, or 75 percent, of the 16 committee members.

Results of balloting from the Modern Baseball Era committee are expected to be revealed the evening of Dec. 10, 2017.

Swing like Kaline

As a youth in Michigan, Simmons was a natural left-handed batter, but he could throw a baseball effectively with either hand. His older brothers, Jim and Ned, encouraged him to become a switch-hitter.

“They’d throw whiffle balls at me from 30 feet away,” Simmons said in the 1977 book, “The Ted Simmons Story,” written by former Cardinals pitcher Jim Brosnan. “I’d swing hard and hit a few now and then. They’d tell me just to relax and lay the bat on the ball.”

Simmons’ favorite player was Tigers outfielder Al Kaline. A right-handed batter who would amass 3,007 hits in a Hall of Fame career, Kaline had a classic, level swing, a line-drive hitter, rather than the uppercut of a slugger. Simmons worked to develop a swing like Kaline’s.

When Simmons got to the big leagues _ Stan Musial, Kaline’s favorite player, was the St. Louis general manager when Simmons was selected by the Cardinals in the first round of the draft _ he initially hit much better as a left-handed batter against right-handers than he did as a right-handed batter versus left-handers.

In 1971, his first full season with the Cardinals, Simmons hit .333 against right-handers and .235 versus left-handers.

“The last time I hit left-handed against a left-handed pitcher was in Little League,” Simmons said. “They don’t throw curves in that league. It’s a great advantage for a hitter always to see that curveball break toward him rather than away.”

Simmons strived to become as adept from the right side as he was from his natural left side. Determining that his left arm was the key to giving him a stronger swing from the right side, Simmons worked to build strength in that arm. During the winter after the 1972 season, he exclusively used his left arm to throw footballs, shoot basketballs and swat hockey pucks.

That effort helped Simmons elevate himself into an elite class of baseball hitters.

Select company

While catching nearly every game, Simmons batted .300 from each side of the plate in three seasons: 1973, 1975 and 1977.

His 1975 performance was remarkable for its level of achievement and consistency. He hit .331 against right-handers and .333 versus left-handers that season.

For his career, Simmons batted .287 against right-handers and .281 versus left-handers. His overall batting average is .285.

In a 2010 article for ESPN.com, Tim Kurkjian reported that just six percent of all non-pitchers in baseball history have been switch-hitters.

“How many of that six percent are even capable of hitting .300?” Simmons said. “Now that six percent goes down to maybe two percent.”

Excluding pitchers and managers, 13 position players are in the Hall of Fame as switch-hitters: Roberto Alomar, Dave Bancroft, Cool Papa Bell, Max Carey, Roger Connor, George Davis, Frankie Frisch, Biz Mackey, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray, Tim Raines, Red Schoendienst and Ozzie Smith. Within the next five years, two more, Chipper Jones and Carlos Beltran, are likely to join that group.

Among all switch-hitters in baseball history, Simmons ranks sixth in RBI (1,389), 10th in total bases (3,793) and 11th in hits (2,472). He has more career hits than Hall of Fame switch-hitters such as Mantle, Schoendienst and Smith.

Simmons ranks first in all three of those categories among switching-hitting catchers all-time. Other top switch-hitting catchers have included Todd Hundley, Victor Martinez, Jorge Posada, Mickey Tettleton, Jason Varitek and Butch Wynegar.

Among all catchers all-time, Simmons ranks second in hits (2,472), second in doubles (483) and second in RBI (1,389). The only catcher with more hits (2,844) or more doubles (572) than Simmons is Ivan Rodriguez. The only catcher with more RBI (1,430) than Simmons is Yogi Berra.

Hall of Fame catchers who batted right-handed are: Johnny Bench, Roger Bresnahan, Roy Campanella, Gary Carter, Buck Ewing, Rick Ferrell, Carlton Fisk, Josh Gibson, Gabby Hartnett, Ernie Lombardi, Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez and Ray Schalk.

Hall of Fame catchers who batted left-handed are: Yogi Berra, Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey and Louis Santop.

The fact Simmons batted both left-handed and right-handed _ and did so while hitting at a caliber better than most other catchers in the Hall of Fame _ makes it crystal clear he deserves election to the shrine.

Previously: Can Ivan Rodriguez help Ted Simmons into Hall of Fame?

Previously: Why Carlton Fisk must support Ted Simmons for Hall

Paired with an innovative coach who provided a seal-tight offensive line, reliable running backs and sure-handed receivers, Jim Hart was among the NFL’s top quarterbacks in the mid-1970s and secured his place as the best who played for the St. Louis football Cardinals.

The Cardinals played 28 seasons (1960-1987) in St. Louis and Hart was a quarterback for them for 18 of those years (1966-1983).

On Dec. 3, 2017, Hart will be inducted into the Cardinals’ Ring of Honor in ceremonies at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Like the franchise, Hart had many ups and downs. When he came to the Cardinals as an undrafted prospect from Southern Illinois University, Hart competed with another underrated quarterback, Charley Johnson, for the starting job.

Hart prevailed when Johnson was traded to the Oilers after the 1969 season, but when Bob Hollway became Cardinals head coach in 1971 he soured on Hart. By 1972, Hart was a reserve behind Gary Cuozzo and Tim Van Galder.

The arrival of Don Coryell as Cardinals head coach in 1973 revived Hart’s career. Coryell recognized Hart as a special talent and named him the starter.

Coryell also supported Hart with a cast that included offensive linemen Dan Dierdorf, Conrad Dobler, Bob Young, Tom Banks and Roger Finnie; running backs Terry Metcalf and Jim Otis; and receivers Mel Gray, Jackie Smith, Earl Thomas and Ike Harris.

Hart led the Cardinals to their best St. Louis seasons. The Cardinals finished in first place in the NFC East Division in 1974 (10-4) and 1975 (11-3) and in second place in 1976 (10-4). They got to the playoffs in 1974 and 1975, years when only four teams from the NFC qualified for the postseason.

Here are 10 facts to know about Hart based on research, most especially from Pro Football Reference:

1. Leader of the pack

Hart is the Cardinals career franchise leader in passing yards (34,639), completions (2,590) and touchdown passes (209). That’s no small feat. The franchise has been in the NFL since 1920. The Cardinals started in Chicago (1920-1959) and relocated to St. Louis (1960-1987) and Phoenix (1988-present). Hart highlight video

2. Best in class

In 1974, Hart led the NFL in pass attempts (388) and ranked first in the NFC in both completions (200) and touchdown passes (20). Hart was named 1974 NFC Player of the Year by United Press International.

3. Tough to beat

Hart threw more career touchdown passes (35) against the Cowboys than he did against any other foe. The Cardinals, however, had a 7-17 record versus the Cowboys in games in which Hart played.

In 1975, Hart threw seven touchdown passes in two games against the Cowboys. On Sept. 28, Hart connected on two touchdown passes to Gray and one each to Thomas and Smith, but the Cowboys beat the Cardinals, 37-31. On Dec. 7, the Cardinals defeated the Cowboys, 31-17, with Hart completing two scoring strikes to Gray and one to Metcalf. The victory gave the Cardinals control of the NFC East.

4. Playing long ball

Hart had an exceptionally strong arm and was effective at completing long passes, or bombs. Forty-one percent of his career touchdown throws (87 of 209) were of 30 yards or more.

In his 1977 book, “The Jim Hart Story,” Hart said, “The bomb is partly feel and partly luck. The feel is knowing where to throw it. You want to get it over the receiver’s outside shoulder, so the defender can’t get to it. The luck is having the right speed, the right velocity. You can’t always control that.”

5. Longest yard

Hart’s longest completion, however, didn’t produce a touchdown.

On Dec. 10, 1972, against the Los Angeles Rams, Hart completed a 98-yard pass to Bobby Moore (later named Ahmad Rashad). The play went from the Cardinals’ 1-yard line to the Rams’ 1-yard line. It’s the longest non-scoring play in NFL history.

“If I scored, it wouldn’t have been a record,” Moore said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Hollway sent in the play _ a fly pattern _ figuring the Rams were expecting the run.

Moore snared Hart’s pass at the Cardinals’ 40-yard line and cut downfield. He was caught from behind by Al Clark. Video

On the next play, Donny Anderson ran for the touchdown.

6. Productive target

Gray was the receiver who caught the most touchdown passes from Hart. Gray and Hart connected for 38 touchdowns.

The most famous came on Nov. 16, 1975, against the Redskins. On fourth down, Hart completed a seven-yard scoring pass to Gray. Officials initially disagreed on whether Gray maintained possession, but the call went in the Cardinals’ favor. Some refer to it as the “Phantom Catch.” Video

St. Louis won in overtime, 20-17, and earned the label “Cardiac Cardinals.”

7. Welcome to the NFL

Hart played in his first regular-season Cardinals game on Dec. 17, 1966, against the Browns.

Appearing in relief of starter Terry Nofsinger, Hart completed four of 11 passes for 29 yards. The Browns won, 38-10.

Asked about Hart’s debut, Cardinals head coach Charley Winner said, “Most of those passes he completed were short and to the sidelines. You’re supposed to complete those passes.”

8. On-the-job training

The first regular-season touchdown pass thrown by Hart was 12 yards to Prentice Gautt on Sept. 17, 1967, against the Giants.

Hart, making his first start, was intercepted four times. The Giants won, 37-20.

“After that loss, I felt so poor that I didn’t want to look anybody in the eye,” Hart said.

9. On the run

Hart had 16 career rushing touchdowns. The longest was his first, a 23-yard run on Sept. 24, 1967, versus the Steelers.

“I had to run with it,” Hart said. “The play was a fake up the middle and a pitch to the fullback. (Linebacker) Andy Russell made a good move to get in the way of the pitch. I was going to throw it, but with our linemen already down the field I couldn’t. I had to run.”

Jim Bakken kicked seven field goals and St. Louis won, 28-14.

10. Picked off

In 1967, Hart was intercepted 30 times in 14 starts.

The only quarterbacks to be intercepted more times than that since then are Vinny Testaverde (35 interceptions), 1988 Buccaneers; Fran Tarkenton (32), 1978 Vikings; and John Hadl (32), 1968 Chargers.

George Blanda of the 1962 Oilers holds the single-season record. He was intercepted 42 times.

Previously: Football Cardinals finally got it right with Don Coryell

David Eckstein wanted to stay with the Cardinals. For a while, the Cardinals wanted him to stay, too. Instead, though, the Cardinals ended up with Cesar Izturis at shortstop and Eckstein was exiled to Canada.

A productive and popular Cardinals player, Eckstein was an effective leadoff batter who earned a special spot in franchise lore when he won the World Series Most Valuable Player Award for his performance with the 2006 champions.

After the 2007 season, Eckstein became a free agent, though he hoped to remain with the Cardinals. His departure from St. Louis was an example of the consequences of poor communication and bad decision-making.

Motivated to find a shortstop in a limited market and uncertain of Eckstein’s intentions, the Cardinals 10 years ago turned to Izturis, a free agent, and signed him on Nov. 30, 2007.

With Izturis in the fold, Eckstein no longer fit the Cardinals’ plans and he accepted from the Toronto Blue Jays a less lucrative offer than what St. Louis first proposed.

Waiting game

After four seasons with the Angels, including a World Series title in 2002, Eckstein became a free agent and signed with St. Louis in December 2004. At 5 feet 6 and with the look of a schoolkid, Eckstein appeared to be the ultimate underdog and he won the hearts of Cardinals fans with his hustle and skill.

In 2005, Eckstein batted .294 with 90 runs scored for a Cardinals club that reached the National League Championship Series. The next year, he hit .292 for the 2006 NL champions. In the five-game World Series versus the Tigers, Eckstein batted .364, drove in four runs and scored three.

At spring training in 2007, the Cardinals approached Eckstein and offered him a three-year, $20 million contract, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Eckstein decided to discontinue contract talks until the season was completed.

It was a decision he would regret.

All talk, no action

Because of injuries, Eckstein was limited to 112 starts at shortstop in 2007. He committed a career-high 20 errors. The year before, he made six miscues.

Eckstein batted .309 for the 2007 Cardinals, but management was alarmed by his lapses on defense. With Eckstein turning 33 before the start of the 2008 season, the Cardinals became concerned about committing to him beyond a year or two.

After the 2007 season, Eckstein told the Post-Dispatch, “I instructed my agent to tell (the Cardinals) of my desire to stay. They knew of my desire.”

The message was delivered, but without details.

“It was never defined by either party what ‘staying in St. Louis’ looked like,” said Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak.

Said Eckstein: “I was not looking for anything specific. I was willing to look at anything.”

While the Cardinals waited for Eckstein to say what he wanted, Eckstein waited for the Cardinals to respond to his expressed desire to stay.

It was a communication breakdown.

As time ticked away, the Cardinals decided it was in their best interests to fill the shortstop spot before their options evaporated.

Playing the field

The Cardinals had trade discussions with the Astros regarding shortstop Miguel Tejada and with the Pirates regarding shortstop Jack Wilson, according to the Post-Dispatch, but nothing developed.

“When you look at the shortstop market, there are not a lot of options,” Mozeliak said.

Izturis emerged as the Cardinals’ top choice.

In 2001, at age 21, Izturis made his major-league debut with the Blue Jays. After the season, he was dealt to the Dodgers and developed into a premier shortstop for them. In 2003, he led NL shortstops in assists (481). The next year, he batted .288 with 193 hits, led NL shortstops in putouts (234) and earned a Gold Glove Award. Izturis was selected to the NL all-star team in 2005.

In July 2006, Izturis was traded by the Dodgers to the Cubs for pitcher Greg Maddux. He split the 2007 season with the Cubs and Pirates, batting .258, and then became a free agent.

The Cardinals signed Izturis to a one-year contract for $2.85 million with incentives. Izturis would turn 28 before the start of the 2008 season.

One-year rental

“He’s looking for a challenge,” Mozeliak said of Izturis. “We wanted somebody ready to take the challenge … One of the things we needed to address in support of pitching was our defense. I think we accomplished that.”

Media reaction to the Izturis signing was mixed.

_ Bernie Miklasz, Post-Dispatch columnist: “The Cardinals like his glove, but others say he’s slipped defensively.”

_Dan O’Neill, Post-Dispatch columnist: “Why do people get bent out of shape about the Cardinals’ signing of Cesar Izturis? It’s not like winning championships with a light-hitting, sharp-fielding shortstop is a foreign concept. For reference, see Dal Maxvill, 1967 and 1968.”

With the door closed to the Cardinals, Eckstein signed a one-year deal with the Blue Jays for $4.5 million.

Izturis, a switch-hitter, batted .263 with 24 stolen bases for the 2008 Cardinals. He hit .304 against left-handers and .237 versus right-handers.

Izturis started 110 games at shortstop for the Cardinals _ Brendan Ryan and Aaron Miles also got playing time _ and ranked third among NL shortstops in fielding percentage at .980. Only the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins (.988) and the Astros’ Miguel Tejada (.983) did better.

After the 2008 season, Izturis became a free agent and signed with the Orioles for two years at $5 million.

The Cardinals went with Ryan, who was developed in their farm system, at shortstop in 2009.

Previously: Why David Eckstein was perfect fit for Cardinals