The answer is Steve Trachsel. The trivia question is what Chicago Cubs pitcher surrendered the record-breaking 62nd home run to St. Louis first baseman Mark McGwire?
The historic date was September 8th, 1998. McGwire’s chase to break Roger Maris’ single season home run record electrified the baseball world. The excitement McGwire conjured helped to re-popularize the game of baseball after the 1994 players’ strike.
For some, due to the shadow of steroids use, this era and the memories associated with it, are forever tainted. For others, that summer was the greatest time they ever had watching baseball. But for the St. Louis Cardinals it was just one of the many great moments in the franchise’s long and illustrious history.
The Cardinals are the National League’s most successful team. The franchise has won 10 World Series (second only to the New York Yankees and their 26) and 17 National League Pennants.
How the Cardinals Began
The Cardinals were founded in 1882 as the St. Louis Brown Stockings in the American Association. After the AA went bankrupt in 1892, the franchise joined the National League. In 1899, they changed their name to the “Perfectos.” The following year they settled on the “Cardinals.”
While in the AA, the Cardinals won four pennants as well two World Series, or the 19th century equivalent. Those two “World Series” victories came against a team from Chicago known as the White Stockings. That team would eventually be known as the Chicago Cubs. Those early matchups provided the foundation for one of baseball’s oldest and fiercest rivalries.
From the turn of the century onwards, the Cardinals’ roster has contained one baseball legend after another. From Rogers Hornsby to Albert Pujols, the story of the Cardinals can be told through its long list of great players.
With Smith making eye-popping plays at shortstop, future hall of fame pitcher Bruce Sutter closing games and Whitey Herzog managing the team, the Cardinals would defeat in-state rivals, the Kansas City Royals, for the 1982 World Series title.
The Cards' New Busch Stadium
In 2006, the team moved into a New Busch Stadium. Despite winning just 83 games that year, the underdog Cardinals defeated the Tigers in five games to claim their 10th World Series title. It was just the second time in Major League history that a team won a World Series in the first season of a new stadium (the first being the Yankees in 1923).
That year the team won its third straight Central Division title. Between 2000 and 2007, the Cardinals failed to win their division just once. Manager Tony La Russa, who joined the team in 1996, had the Cardinals playing exceptionally well over that time span, of course it’s easy to win with Albert Pujols on your team.
Rookie of the year in 2001, Albert Pujols quickly established himself as the most dominate hitter in the game. He won the NL MVP in 2005 and 2008, a Gold Glove in 2006 and has been selected to seven All-Star games.
At the end of the 2008 season, Pujols led all active players in batting average with .334. He’s already 80th in career home runs and is the fastest player to reach the milestone of 300 career home runs, he was just 28 years and 170 days old. Pujols is just the latest in a long line of great Cardinal players.
He continues the legacy of Hornsby, Musial and Gibson, while paving the way for Cardinal legends of the future. This cavalcade of baseball luminaries has established the St. Louis Cardinals as one of Major League Baseball’s most venerated franchises.