(Updated Nov. 5, 2015)
From 2007 to 2014, the Cardinals had a different Opening Day shortstop for eight consecutive years.
Here are the Cardinals’ Opening Day shortstops from 2007 to 2014:
_ David Eckstein, 2007.
_ Cesar Izturis, 2008.
_ Khalil Greene, 2009.
_ Brendan Ryan, 2010.
_ Ryan Theriot, 2011.
_ Rafael Furcal, 2012.
_ Pete Kozma, 2013.
_ Jhonny Peralta, 2014.
Peralta broke the streak in 2015 when he was the Cardinals’ Opening Day shortstop for a second consecutive year.
From 1971-77, the Cardinals had seven consecutive seasons with a new Opening Day shortstop each year. The list:
_ Ted Sizemore, 1971.
_ Dal Maxvill, 1972.
_ Ray Busse, 1973.
_ Mike Tyson, 1974.
_ Ed Brinkman, 1975.
_ Lee Richard, 1976.
_ Garry Templeton, 1977.
In 1973, the Cardinals lost a gamble when they selected Busse as their starting shortstop. Busse was 24 when he began the 1973 season as the St. Louis starter.
Busse, an undrafted amateur free agent when he signed with the Astros, hit .271 with 13 home runs in 92 games for Class AAA Oklahoma City in 1971. Bob Kennedy, the Cardinals’ director of player development, rated Busse the top shortstop in the minor leagues that year, The Sporting News reported.
Busse appeared ready for a breakout season in 1972. Instead, misfortune struck. His father committed suicide. Busse suffered a shoulder injury. Limited to 70 games, Busse hit .207 and committed 27 errors for Oklahoma City in 1972.
Cardinals general manager Bing Devine went to baseball’s winter meetings in November 1972, seeking “a shortstop with some sting in his bat,” The Sporting News wrote. In August 1972, the Cardinals had traded shortstop Dal Maxvill to the Athletics and they had no clear-cut replacement.
Harry Walker, who joined the Cardinals as a hitting instructor after managing the Astros, recommended Busse. So did Kennedy. On Nov. 28, 1972, the Cardinals dealt catcher Skip Jutze and infielder Milt Ramirez to the Astros for Busse and infielder Bobby Fenwick.
“Walker considers Busse a good gamble because of his age and his batting potential,” Devine told The Sporting News.
Said Kennedy: “He (Busse) has a fine arm, good range and could become a good hitter.”
Busse went to spring training in competition with Mick Kelleher, Mike Tyson, Dwain Anderson and Ed Crosby for the starting shortstop position. Busse “quickly took charge of the shortstop sweepstakes,” wrote The Sporting News.
In his first spring training at-bat for the Cardinals, Busse singled in a run. Soon thereafter, he hit a three-run home run against the Mets’ Ray Sadecki. Busse completed spring training as the Cardinals’ leader in RBI (11). He hit .254.
Though he ended spring training in an 0-for-18 slump, the Cardinals named him their starting shortstop. “He’s done a real fine job,” Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst told Larry Harnly of The State Journal-Register of Springfield, Ill. “He’s done everything expected of him … If you make a mistake on Busse, he’ll hit that ball.”
The Cardinals opened the 1973 regular season on April 6 at Pittsburgh with an all-rookie left side of the infield (Ken Reitz was at third base).
It was a disaster for Busse from the beginning.
Busse made an error on the first ball hit to him _ a grounder by Pirates leadoff batter Rennie Stennett in the first inning. Busse went 1-for-4, made two errors and the Pirates won, 7-5. Boxscore
The Cardinals lost 20 of their first 25 games. Busse took much of the blame.
On May 14, 1973, fans booed Busse and Reitz throughout a 10-5 Phillies victory at St. Louis. The loss dropped the Cardinals’ record to 8-23. Busse was batting .143 with 21 strikeouts in 24 games. He had committed 11 errors. Boxscore
After the game, Reitz shrugged off the boos when approached by reporters. Busse responded to the booing by saying, “Often I wonder what we come to the ballpark for. When you’re down, it’s pretty easy for somebody to get down on you, but that’s when you need them (the fans) the most.”
Busse never appeared in another game for the Cardinals. Schoendienst named Tyson the starting shortstop. Busse remained on the bench until the Cardinals traded him back to the Astros for infielder Stan Papi on June 8, 1973.
Asked by The Sporting News whether he had been given a fair shot by the Cardinals, Busse replied, “No, but that’s nobody’s fault but my own.”
Astros manager Leo Durocher said, “We’re tickled to get him back.”
Busse never recovered. He hit .059 in 15 games for the Astros in 1973 and .206 in 19 games for them in 1974, his last season in the major leagues.