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Whitey Herzog had Jose Oquendo as his secret weapon when he managed the Cardinals. Tony La Russa had his own version, Miguel Cairo.

Twenty years ago, on Aug. 10, 2001, Cairo signed with the Cardinals after he was placed on waivers by the Cubs.

Intelligent and versatile, Cairo played multiple positions and helped the Cardinals reach the playoffs. He was similar to Oquendo, who earned the nickname “Secret Weapon” because of the many ways he helped Herzog’s teams in the late 1980s.

In commenting about Cairo’s attributes, La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Oquendo is a very good comparison.”

Making the rounds

Born and raised in Venezuela, Cairo was 16 when he signed with the Dodgers. A right-handed batter, he played in the farm systems of the Dodgers and Mariners before making his debut in the majors with the Blue Jays when he was 21.

In November 1996, the Blue Jays dealt Cairo to the Cubs. His first multi-hit game in the majors came against the Cardinals. Boxscore

The Devil Rays chose Cairo in the November 1997 expansion draft and he was the starting second baseman in the franchise’s first regular-season game. Boxscore

“Defensively, he’s as good as I’ve seen,” Devil Rays third baseman and future Hall of Famer Wade Boggs told The Sporting News.

Possessing smooth hands, speed and athleticism, Cairo was the Devil Rays’ second baseman in their first three seasons. He said it was a thrill when he and a fellow Venezuelan, shortstop Ozzie Guillen, formed the Devil Rays’ keystone combination in 2000.

Released in November 2000, Cairo signed with the Athletics, who dealt him to the Cubs in March 2001.

Smart pickup

Cairo opened the 2001 season in the minors but was called up to the Cubs in May. He helped fill in for injured third baseman Bill Mueller and also backed up Eric Young at second base.

Cairo hit .285 in 66 games for the 2001 Cubs, but was placed on waivers when Mueller was close to returning from the disabled list.

When the Cardinals claimed him, they were in third place in their division, trailing the front-running Cubs by seven games.

The Cardinals envisioned Cairo, 27, as a player who could provide infield depth and a right-handed bat off the bench.

“I’m a utility player for the Cardinals,” Cairo told the Post-Dispatch. “I know my role. I’m ready.”

While the Cubs nosedived, with records of 13-16 in August and 10-12 in September, and dropped from contention, the Cardinals got hot. They were 20-10 in August and 17-5 in September, finishing in a tie for first with the Astros and qualifying for the playoffs.

Pitcher Woody Williams, acquired in August from the Padres for Ray Lankford, was a major factor in the Cardinals’ surge, posting a 7-1 record in 11 starts, but Williams also credited the performance of Cairo.

“To tell you the truth, when I got here, it didn’t seem like anybody was heading in the right direction,” Williams told the Post-Dispatch. “I was shocked. It changed when Miguel got here. He’s been the lucky horseshoe.”

Cairo hit a three-run, game-winning home run against the Phillies on Aug. 18. It was his first career home run as a pinch-hitter. Boxscore

A month later, Cairo had three doubles in a win versus the Pirates, even though he didn’t enter the game until the fifth inning. Boxscore

Cairo hit .333 for the 2001 Cardinals, including .429 in September. He hit .368 as a pinch-hitter. His overall batting average against left-handers was .538.

The 2001 Cardinals used Cairo at five positions: left field and all four infield spots.

“We could tell from watching him with the Cubs that he knew the game,” La Russa said to the Chicago Tribune. “Since we’ve gotten him, we’ve been even more impressed. He has a nice stroke, can hit all over the park and knows when to be aggressive or take a pitch.”

La Russa told the Post-Dispatch, “What you don’t know until you are around him is that he’s really an intelligent player.”

Mutual respect

Cairo made valuable contributions to the Cardinals again in 2002. He hit .322 as a pinch-hitter and was second in the National League in pinch-hits (19).

He played seven positions for the 2002 Cardinals: left field, right field, designated hitter and all four infield spots.

In the postseason, Cairo hit .529. He entered Game 2 of the National League Division Series versus the Diamondbacks after third baseman Scott Rolen was injured and drove in the winning run in the ninth inning. Boxscore and Video at 3:06.41 mark

In Game 3, Cairo was 3-for-3 with two RBI and reached base four times. Boxscore

Cairo hit .385 in the National League Championship Series against the Giants and had a home run versus Kirk Rueter in Game 1. Boxscore

La Russa, a former utility infielder before turning to coaching and managing, became a role model for Cairo.

“Miguel will be an outstanding coach like Jose Oquendo is,” La Russa predicted to the Post-Dispatch. “You watch how active he is during the game. He’s conversing with guys. He’s seeing things and making comments. He’s really helpful.”

Cairo said, “I like to learn about the game. When I’m not playing, I like to see what happens in certain situations. I like to see how Tony handles it. I watch him a lot when he manages.”

After hitting .245 for the 2003 Cardinals, Cairo became a free agent and signed with the Yankees. Released in August 2007, he rejoined the Cardinals and hit .444 for them as a pinch-hitter.

Cairo also played for the Mariners (2008), Phillies (2009) and Reds (2010-12). He produced 1,044 hits in 17 seasons in the majors.

After the 2012 season, Cairo became a special assistant to Reds general manager Walt Jocketty. It was Jocketty who brought Cairo to the Cardinals in 2001.

In 2021, when La Russa returned to managing with the White Sox, he chose Cairo to be the team’s bench coach.

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In his 20th season in the big leagues, pitcher Arthur Rhodes fulfilled his goal of playing in a World Series, but not with the team he expected.

Ten years ago, on Aug. 11, 2011, the Cardinals signed Rhodes after he was released by the Rangers. Two months later, the Cardinals beat the Rangers in an epic seven-game World Series.

Rhodes, who turned 42 during the World Series, contributed significantly to the Cardinals’ effort. A left-handed reliever, he pitched in eight postseason games for the 2011 Cardinals and didn’t allow a run. Three of his appearances came in the World Series, including the decisive Game 7.

Career builder

A high school pitcher selected by the Orioles in the second round of the 1988 draft, Rhodes was 21 when he made his debut in the majors with them in 1991.

Converted from starter to reliever in 1995, Rhodes was 9-1 for the Orioles in 1996 and 10-3 in 1997.

He became a friend of teammate Cal Ripken, who set the major-league record for consecutive games played despite engaging in a risky ritual.

“We wrestled every day before the game, rolling around the floor. Every day,” Rhodes told Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty. “He was in such good shape, he never worried about getting hurt.”

After the 1999 season, Rhodes became a free agent. He pitched for the Mariners, Athletics, Indians and Phillies before sitting out the 2007 season because of reconstructive surgery on his left elbow.

Heart-wrenching loss

In 2008, Rhodes returned to the Mariners and finished the season with the Marlins. He became a free agent after the season and received interest from multiple teams, including the Cardinals.

“For years, we wanted Arthur on our ballclub and it never worked,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Rhodes signed with the Reds on Dec. 12, 2008. Four days before Christmas, he was devastated when his 5-year-old son, Jordan, died from an illness.

Afterward, whenever Rhodes came into a game to pitch, he etched his son’s initials, J.R., behind the pitching rubber. As Mike Lopresti of Gannett News Service wrote, “When he takes the mound, the first act comes not from his arm but his heart.”

Rhodes also had a tattoo of angel wings put on his right calf in memory of his son. “He loved to wake up in the morning,” Rhodes told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He loved going outside. He loved just playing. Whatever I loved doing, he loved doing, too.”

Despite his heartache, Rhodes produced two terrific seasons for the Reds. He had a 2.53 ERA in 66 appearances in 2009 and a 2.29 ERA in 69 games in 2010. Rhodes had 33 consecutive scoreless appearances for the 2010 Reds and was selected an all-star for the only time in his career. In seven games against the Cardinals in 2010, Rhodes yielded no runs in 6.1 total innings.

Match game

A free agent after the 2010 season, Rhodes, 41, wanted to sign with a team that would give him his best chance at reaching the World Series for the first time. He chose the Rangers, the 2010 American League champions.

The Rangers were as good as Rhodes hoped they’d be, but at the end of July they made a pair of trades for relievers, getting Koji Uehara from the Orioles and Mike Adams from the Padres.

Though left-handed batters hit .216 against him as a Ranger. Rhodes (3-3, 4.81 ERA) was deemed expendable. The Rangers released him on Aug. 8.

The Phillies, who had the best record in the National League, made an offer. Rhodes said he was tempted until the Phillies told him they wanted him to first go to their farm team in Clearwater, Fla., and get some work in.

“I had enough work for four months,” Rhodes told the Philadelphia Daily News. “Why should I go down to Clearwater and wait? If I don’t get called up, I’d be at home.”

The Red Sox, who had the best record in the American League, also called, but Rhodes liked best what he heard from the Cardinals. He said when they called, they said, “We want you.”

The Cardinals were in second place in their division and were not assured of reaching the playoffs, let alone the World Series, but Rhodes said he was sold on playing for La Russa.

Dream come true

Rhodes gave the Cardinals a second left-handed reliever, joining Marc Rzepczynski.

Rhodes made 19 regular-season appearances for the Cardinals and was unscored on in 15 of those. Overall, he was 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA.

The Cardinals finished fourth in the National League, but got into the playoffs as a wild-card entry. Rhodes played a valuable role for them in each step toward the championship.

In the National League Division Series against the Phillies, he made three appearances, totaling an inning, and allowed no runs or hits.

Rhodes got into two games in the National League Championship Series versus the Brewers, totaled two-thirds of an inning and allowed no runs or hits, helping the Cardinals win the pennant.

Regarding Rhodes reaching the World Series in his 20th season, La Russa told the Philadelphia Daily News, “That’s a lot of dues. So very special. Special as it gets.”

The pattern was the same in the World Series. In three appearances totaling an inning, Rhodes gave up no runs or hits. Video

“Not only is he an effective pitcher, but he’s got a dynamic presence,” La Russa said to the Post-Dispatch.

The World Series championship was a fitting way for Rhodes to end his pitching career.

He became the third big-leaguer to play for both World Series participants in the same season, joining Lonnie Smith (1985 Cardinals and Royals) and Bengie Molina (2010 Giants and Rangers).

Rhodes finished with a career record of 87-70 and 33 saves in the big leagues. He was better as a reliever (69-48, 3.43) than as a starter (18-22, 5.81). He limited left-handed batters to a .217 batting average.

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Matty Alou had the perfect audience to appreciate a daring dash around the bases.

Fifty years ago, on Aug. 7, 1971, Alou used skill, imagination and nerve to produce the winning run for the Cardinals in a victory versus the Dodgers at St. Louis.

With the score tied at 2-2, Alou batted with one out and none on in the 10th inning. He reached base on a bunt single, then made a fearless sprint from first to home while the Dodgers botched every attempt to catch him.

Alou’s aggressive baserunning was reminiscent of Enos Slaughter, who scored the winning run for the Cardinals on a mad scramble from first to home in Game 7 of the 1946 World Series.

Twenty-five years later, Slaughter and several of his contemporaries were in St. Louis for a reunion of the 1946 World Series teams and were at the ballpark to witness Alou’s performance.

Making it happen

After sweeping the Giants, the Cardinals (62-50) were seven games behind the division-leading Pirates (69-43) as they entered a three-game series with the Dodgers at Busch Memorial Stadium.

The opening game, played on a Saturday night, featured left-handed starting pitchers Claude Osteen of the Dodgers and Steve Carlton of the Cardinals. The Dodgers went ahead, 2-0, with a pair of runs in the sixth, but the Cardinals tied the score in the seventh on a RBI apiece by Jim Beauchamp and Jerry McNertney.

When the game moved to the bottom of the 10th, Pete Mikkelsen, a former Cardinal, came in to pitch. He struck out the first batter, Julian Javier, before Alou, batting .325, stepped to the plate.

Batting left-handed, Alou executed a drag bunt between first base and the mound. Another former Cardinal, first baseman Dick Allen, fielded the ball, but Alou eluded his tag attempt and reached base safely.

Meeting over

Cleanup batter Joe Torre was up next, but Mikkelsen was focused on Alou. He gathered second baseman Jim Lefebvre and shortstop Maury Wills for a conference between the mound and second to discuss whether to try a pitchout on the first pitch.

As the group gabbed, Alou realized no one had called timeout, so he bolted for second. “I thought I could beat them to the base,” Alou told the Los Angeles Times.

Dodgers manager Walter Alston said, “There’s an umpire at every base. All you’ve got to do is call time.”

Though caught by surprise, Lefebvre got to the bag before Alou did. “The consensus among the Dodgers was Alou would have been out by 10 feet if Mikkelsen had made a good throw,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Instead, Mikkelsen hurried a high toss to Lefebvre. As Lefebvre reached for it, the ball went off the top of his glove and into center field. Alou kept running and headed to third on Mikkelsen’s error.

“I went to third because I know on the AstroTurf the ball would go a long way,” Alou explained to the Los Angeles Times.

However, Alston noted, “The ball only went 15 feet.”

Bold move

Lefebvre got to the ball, but failed to field it cleanly while trying to keep an eye on Alou.

“When I saw Lefebvre couldn’t pick the ball up, I thought I could score,” Alou told the Los Angeles Times.

Alou sped for the plate and arrived ahead of Lefebvre’s throw to catcher Joe Ferguson, giving the Cardinals a 3-2 triumph. Boxscore

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Alston told the Post-Dispatch, “and I never want to see it again.”

Dom DiMaggio, center fielder for the Red Sox team that opposed the Cardinals in the 1946 World Series, said, “They were running fools then, like Alou now.”

In baseball, though, a bum one day can be a hero the next. Sure enough, the day after his role in the Dodgers’ lapse, Lefebvre got redemption, hitting a three-run home run against Jerry Reuss and helping the Dodgers recover for a 4-2 victory. Boxscore

Alou finished with 192 hits, 85 runs and a career-high 74 RBI for the 1971 Cardinals.

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With the sort of name once found in dime store novels, Pickles Dillhoefer made quite an impression as a Cardinals catcher.

At 5 feet 7, 154 pounds, Pickles was a gherkin who played a position filled with hulks. What he lacked in size he made up for in spirit. Aggressive and energetic, Dillhoefer was popular with teammates and fans.

An example of his fiery approach occurred 100 years ago, on Aug. 4, 1921, when he came to the defense of a fallen teammate in a game against the Giants.

Sadly, six months later, soon after one of the happiest events of his life, Dillhoefer experienced a tragic twist of fate.

On the move

William Martin Dillhoefer was born and raised in Cleveland. The first four letters of his surname led to him being called Pickles by boyhood pals, according to the Society for American Baseball Research. The nickname followed Dillhoefer into baseball.

Dillhoefer reached the big leagues with the Cubs as a backup catcher in 1917 and made his debut in a game against the Cardinals. Boxscore

After the season, the Cubs swapped Dillhoefer, Mike Prendergast and $55,000 to the Phillies for Bill Killefer and future Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander. Dillhoefer played in eight games for the 1918 Phillies before enlisting in the Army during World War I.

Discharged, he was packaged in a trade on Jan. 21, 1919. The Phillies sent third baseman Milt Stock, pitcher Dixie Davis and Dillhoefer to the Cardinals for pitcher Gene Packard and infielders Doug Baird and Stuffy Stewart.

Handy man

Frank Snyder was the Cardinals’ Opening Day catcher in 1919, with Dillhoefer and Verne Clemons the backups. When the Cardinals dealt Snyder to the Giants in July 1919, Clemons became the starter.

Sometimes, when Dillhoefer wasn’t playing, manager Branch Rickey used him as a coach on the baselines. Dillhoefer possessed a “foghorn voice and peppery coaching tactics,” the St. Louis Star-Times noted.

A right-handed batter with little power, Dillhoefer made 24 starts at catcher for the Cardinals in 1919 and 57 in 1920.

The Star-Times described Dillhoefer as “a brainy player noted for his aggressiveness.”

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Dillhoefer was one of the most popular players in St. Louis. He had such a fighting spirit, boundless enthusiasm and excellent baseline coaching qualities. He was considered one of the club’s best assets on the field and at the box office.”

Playing rough

On Thursday afternoon, Aug. 4, 1921, when the Giants and Cardinals played at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, the catchers were Frank Snyder, the former Cardinal, and Dillhoefer.

The Cardinals broke a scoreless tie in the sixth inning. Joe Schultz led off with a single, advanced to second on Milt Stock’s sacrifice bunt and scored on a Rogers Hornsby single.

In the eighth, Schultz collapsed when hit behind the left ear by a pitch from Art Nehf. The plunking apparently was unintentional because Nehf’s “groan of regret could be heard in the press box,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Cardinals rushed from the dugout to attend to Schultz. “After two or three minutes, he was able to sit up and take a drink,” according to the Post-Dispatch.

Dillhoefer barked at the Giants, accusing Nehf of trying to brush back Schultz. He warned them to be ready to duck when it was their turn to bat.

Those were fighting words to Frank Snyder. He approached Dillhoefer, threw down his mask and glove, and “began swinging rights and lefts,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Snyder landed at least one punch to Dillhoefer’s face, according to the New York Daily News.

Snyder was 6 feet 2 and 185 pounds, five inches taller and more than 30 pounds heavier than his counterpart, but Dillhoefer “waded right in and was holding his own” until umpire Ernie Quigley got between the two men.

Quigley “locked his arm around Snyder and pushed him halfway across the diamond,” the Post-Dispatch reported. “Either Quigley is very strong, or Snyder did not want to fight any more, for Quigley wheeled him around the field like a toy wheelbarrow.”

Snyder and Dillhoefer were ejected. As Schultz was helped to the dugout, “several policemen appeared on the scene, half a dozen Cardinals held the enraged Dillhoefer, and the crowd yelled at Snyder,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

According to the Star-Times, Snyder “tried to climb into the stands” to reach the hecklers, and was escorted by two policemen to the dugout.

Angered by something a spectator said, Giants outfielder Casey Stengel started a fight and was ejected. “In the excitement,” the Post-Dispatch noted, “half a dozen bottles and several seat cushions were thrown in the general direction of the Giants’ dugout.”

After play resumed, Cardinals rookie starter Bill Pertica completed a six-hit shutout. Boxscore

Heartbreaking turn

Dillhoefer made 42 starts for the 1921 Cardinals and was in their plans for the next season.

On Jan. 14, 1922, Dillhoefer married teacher Massie Slocum in her hometown of Mobile, Ala. After a honeymoon in New Orleans, they were returning to St. Louis when Dillhoefer became ill. He was admitted to St. John’s Hospital in St. Louis on Jan. 19 and was diagnosed with typhoid fever.

According to the Mayo Clinic, typhoid fever is caused by salmonella typhi bacteria. Contaminated food and water or close contact with an infected person cause typhoid fever.

Dillhoefer, 28, still was in the hospital when he died on Feb. 23, barely a month after his wedding.

“I can hardly believe Dilly is gone,” manager Branch Rickey told the Star-Times from the Cardinals’ spring training camp in Orange, Texas.

“I knew he was a very sick man, but it is a big shock to learn of his death. Dillhoefer endeared himself to me and all the players. He wasn’t very big as catchers go, but he made up for lack of size by possessing a lion heart.”

Two days after his death, Dillhoefer was buried in Mobile. Among the pallbearers were Rickey, Cardinals players Verne Clemons, Bill Sherdel and Milt Stock, and Cardinals scout Charley Barrett, the Associated Press reported.

The St. Louis Browns, who held spring training in Mobile, were represented at the funeral by manager Lee Fohl, coach Lefty Leifield and catchers Hank Severeid and Pat Collins.

According to the Society for American Baseball Research, Dillhoefer’s widow remained a teacher and never remarried. She died in 1985, 63 years after her wedding, and was buried beside her husband.

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Howie Krist, who had his share of hard luck, experienced a season of unusual good fortune with the Cardinals.

Eighty years ago, in 1941, Krist posted a 10-0 record for the Cardinals.

A right-hander, Krist is the only National League pitcher to have 10 or more wins and no losses in a season. Three have achieved the feat in the American League: Tom Zachary (12-0) of the 1929 Yankees, Dennis Lamp (11-0) of the 1985 Blue Jays and Aaron Small (10-0) of the 2005 Yankees.

Ups and downs

Krist was born in West Henrietta, N.Y., near Rochester, and raised on a family farm. His father, from Germany, and mother, from Denmark, immigrated to the United States, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.

Krist was 18 when he was signed by Warren Giles, president and general manager of the Cardinals’ Rochester farm club and future National League president.

In 1936, his second season as a professional, Krist recovered from appendicitis and posted a 20-9 record for the Cardinals’ farm club in Columbus, Ga. Eddie Dyer was the manager.

Krist had several setbacks, including a severe case of influenza and a broken ankle, in 1937, but persevered and got called up to the Cardinals in September. He pitched in six games, including four starts, for the 1937 Cardinals and was 3-1.

Krist began the 1938 season with the Cardinals, but was returned to the minors in April.

In March 1939, Krist underwent surgery on his right elbow. “Several small pieces of bone that had become embedded in the soft tissue surrounding the joint were cut out of his elbow,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Remarkably, Krist pitched 103 innings in 1939 for the Cardinals’ Houston farm team. With Eddie Dyer again his manager, Krist posted a 5-2 record.

The next year, Krist was back with Houston and playing for Dyer. Pain-free, Krist was 22-9 with a 1.71 ERA for Houston in 1940. He issued 50 walks in 253 innings and was dubbed “a master of control” by the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

Good impression

Krist, 25, was given a serious look by the Cardinals at spring training in 1941 and made the Opening Day roster as a reliever.

He got into only one game in April and, according to The Sporting News, the Cardinals were considering returning him to the minors to get more work.

Needing a spot starter for a game versus the Phillies on May 2, manager Billy Southworth turned to Krist.

Krist was “fighting for his job,” the Globe-Democrat reported.

He responded by pitching a complete game and limiting the Phillies to five hits in a 4-2 Cardinals victory. Boxscore

After that, the Cardinals changed their minds about sending Krist to the minors.

Used as a reliever and spot starter, Krist showed “fine control as well as deceptive stuff,” the St. Louis Star-Times reported.

Though described as “frail,” Krist, 6 feet 2 and 175 pounds, “has shown he can stop the best of the league’s hitters,” the Post-Dispatch noted.

After Krist boosted his season record to 6-0 with a win in relief against the Giants on July 10, the Post-Dispatch declared, “You can bet the Cardinals’ manager is happy today he held onto Krist three months ago when he was trimming the pitching staff.” Boxscore

Krist got his 10th win on Sept. 14 in another relief stint versus the Giants. Boxscore

Pennant chances damaged

Though Krist never was the losing pitcher in a game, the season wasn’t without its setbacks for him.

The Cardinals entered play on Sept. 20 a half-game behind the league-leading Dodgers. At St. Louis that day, the Cardinals led, 3-1, after eight innings against the Cubs.

In the ninth, the Cubs tied the score versus starter Lon Warneke, who departed with runners on second and third. Krist relieved and gave an intentional walk to Clyde McCullough, loading the bases. Rookie Bob Scheffing, batting for shortstop Johnny Hudson, swung at Krist’s first pitch and socked it deep into the seats in left for a grand slam.

The Cubs won, 7-3, with the loss going to Warneke. The Dodgers, who swept a doubleheader from the Phillies, moved two games ahead of the Cardinals. Boxscore

Winning five of their last seven, the Dodgers (100-54) finished in first place, 2.5 games ahead of the Cardinals (97-56).

Krist finished 10-0 with two saves and a 4.03 ERA. He was 6-0 with a 3.03 ERA in 29 relief appearances and 4-0 with a 5.23 ERA in eight starts.

Five of Krist’s 10 wins came against the Phillies.

More adversity

Krist helped the Cardinals win consecutive pennants in 1942 and 1943. He was 13-3 with a save in 1942 and 11-5 with three saves in 1943.

Serving in the Army in 1944 and 1945, Krist experienced combat in Europe during World War II. According to The Sporting News, he was seriously injured in France in November 1944 and spent considerable time in a hospital in England, recovering from leg wounds.

“I tore a bunch of muscles in my leg when I was carrying a machine gun and stepped in a hole,” Krist told the Post-Dispatch.

A few days after his discharge in January 1946, Krist suffered a fractured jaw and lost several teeth when the car he was driving struck a culvert near Wellsville, N.Y. State police said a front tire blew out, causing the accident. Krist’s wife (bruised back and cuts) and 4-year-old daughter (sprained knee) also were injured.

Two months later, Krist reported to Cardinals’ spring training camp. Eddie Dyer, in his first season as Cardinals manager, gave Krist a spot on the team. He was 0-2 in 15 relief appearances, but remained on the roster as the Cardinals went on to become World Series champions.

The 1946 season was Krist’s last in the majors. His career record with the Cardinals was 37-11, including 17-2 versus the Phillies.

Three years later, Krist was shot in the right hip and groin in a hunting accident in Delevan, N.Y.

According to the Associated Press, “The accident occurred when Krist banged his rifle on the ground to catch a young woodchuck. The stock broke and the gun discharged, causing the .22 caliber bullet to enter the groin through the hip.”

Hospital officials described the injury as a “flesh wound” and said Krist was in good condition, the Associated Press reported.

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In his 11 seasons with the Braves and Dodgers, shortstop Rafael Furcal reached the playoffs nine times, but never got to a World Series. When the chance came to join the Cardinals, Furcal sensed they might get him where he wanted to go.

Ten years ago, on July 31, 2011, the Cardinals acquired Furcal from the Dodgers for outfielder Alex Castellanos. As a player with 10 years or more of big-league service, including at least five with the same team, Furcal’s permission was needed to make the deal.

Furcal gave his approval, and both he and the Cardinals benefitted. Taking over the leadoff spot in the batting order and providing consistent defense, Furcal reached the World Series for the only time, helping the 2011 Cardinals win the championship.

Premier player

Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Furcal was 22 when he debuted in the majors with the Braves in 2000. He won the National League Rookie of the Year Award, finishing ahead of Cardinals pitcher Rick Ankiel.

In 2003, Furcal turned an unassisted triple play against the Cardinals. He also achieved double-digit totals that season in doubles (35), triples (10) and home runs (15) and was named to the National League all-star team for the first time.

Furcal had a career-high 46 steals in 2005 and again got to double digits in doubles (31), triples (11) and home runs (12). 

After six seasons (2000-2005) with the Braves, he became a free agent and joined the Dodgers. In 2006, Furcal had a career-high 196 hits and scored 100 runs for the fourth consecutive year.

Furcal twice opposed the Cardinals in the playoffs, with dissimilar results. He hit .091 against them in the 2000 National League Division Series and .500 in the 2009 Division Series.

Time is right

In 2008, Furcal had back surgery. He twice was on the disabled list in 2010 and spent two more stints there with the Dodgers in 2011.

Soon after he came off the disabled list for the second time in July 2011, the Cardinals sent scouts Marty Keough and Bill Gayton to follow him for a week.

“One of the more animated players in the clubhouse, Furcal also was the Dodgers’ offensive spark when healthy,” the Los Angeles Times noted.

The Cardinals were in the market for a shortstop to replace Ryan Theriot, who went into a batting slump in July 2011.

The scouts liked what they saw from Furcal. The Dodgers, who wanted to create an opening for shortstop prospect Dee Gordon, were willing to deal.

Furcal told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “It’s part of my dream to win a World Series ring. I think it’s time to do it.”

Contributing to the cause

Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz endorsed the trade, calling Furcal a “winning player.”

The Cardinals hoped Furcal would play as well for them as he had against them. He hit .344 versus the Cardinals in his career.

On the day of the deal, the Cardinals (57-50) were in second place in their division, 1.5 games behind the Brewers. With Furcal’s arrival, Theriot shifted to second and shared playing time with Skip Schumaker.

In September, Furcal contributed to the Cardinals’ successful surge.

On Sept. 9, in the opener of a three-game series versus the Braves at St. Louis, Furcal had three walks, a hit and scored two runs, including the tying one in the ninth, in a 4-3 Cardinals victory. Boxscore

Two weeks later, on Sept. 19, Furcal had three hits, including two doubles, and scored a run, helping the Cardinals beat Phillies ace Roy Halladay for the first time. The 4-3 win moved the Cardinals to within 2.5 games of the Braves for the wild-card spot. Boxscore

The Cardinals were 18-8 in September and got into the playoffs. Furcal had 50 hits in 50 regular-season games for them and scored 29 runs.

“You saw how much better our club was when he was on our team,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said to the Post-Dispatch. “He really solidified our defense up the middle.”

In a January 2012 interview, Cardinals broadcaster and former pitcher Rick Horton told me, “Defense matters. It’s an absolute fact that if you can’t catch the ball better than the rest, you’re going to lose games you shouldn’t lose … The Cardinals became better up the middle when they had Furcal at shortstop.”

Making an impact

Furcal had a prominent role in each of the Cardinals’ decisive games of the 2011 postseason.

In the finale of the National League Division Series versus the Phillies, Furcal led off the game with a triple against Roy Halladay and scored on Skip Schumacher’s double. Chris Carpenter pitched a shutout and the Cardinals won, 1-0. Boxscore

When the Cardinals clinched the pennant with a win in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Brewers, Furcal hit a home run. Boxscore

Furcal batted leadoff in every game of the Division Series and League Championship Series, and in the first six games of the World Series versus the Rangers.

For Game 7 of the World Series, manager Tony La Russa put Theriot in the leadoff spot and dropped Furcal to seventh. Furcal responded with two hits. He also was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the fifth, scoring Albert Pujols from third.

The Cardinals won, 6-2, and were World Series champions. Boxscore

Knockout blow

Eligible to become a free agent, Furcal signed a two-year, $14 million contract with the Cardinals in December 2011.

He was selected to the National League all-star team in 2012 and was the starting shortstop. In the fourth inning against the Rangers’ Matt Harrison, Furcal tripled and scored on Matt Holliday’s single. Boxscore

Furcal’s season ended on Aug. 30, 2012, when he suffered a ligament tear in his right elbow. Pete Kozma replaced him and helped the Cardinals return to the playoffs.

At spring training in 2013, Furcal injured the elbow again while making a sidearm throw. He had Tommy John surgery to repair the torn ligament and was sidelined the entire season.

Furcal briefly played for the Marlins in 2014.

In 14 big-league seasons, Furcal batted .281 with 1,817 hits and 314 stolen bases. Highlights video

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