The World Series is the pinnacle of achievement for MLB teams. It is a measure of a franchise to consider their World Series record, and when you take a look at the history of the St. Louis Cardinals, their World Series record speaks for itself. In their time, the Cardinals have taken 11 World Series, the greatest number of victories in the National League, and the second-greatest overall bested only by the phenomenon of the New York Yankees. In addition to the World Series, they have won 19 NL pennants, alongside 13 divisional titles. All in all, it is one of the greatest statistical records in the game, and it is clear evidence of the team’s impact on the game, an impact that continues today.
Finding their Feet
The history of baseball in St Louis dates from the earliest times of the modern game. From a rather rocky, scandal-ridden start with the antediluvian-sounding Brown Stockings, the St. Louis Cardinals can perhaps start their family tree with the 1882 founding of the Browns under the ownership of the magnificently mustachioed Chris von der Ahe, a larger-than-life figure who would make and lose a fortune. While the start of the franchise was not untroubled financially, there were positive early signs and a good deal of success in play. In those first days, the rivalry with Chicago began, thanks to the White Stockings, and the Chicago Cubs continue to battle the Cardinals with flinty glee to this day.
Making their Mark
From where did the name Cardinals come? Shortened from their antecedents the Brown Stockings to the Browns, they went by the Perfectos for a time, with their team uniform featuring a cardinal trimming. A newspaper report repeated a fan’s comment, praising the hue, and the sobriquet of the Cardinals stuck, being formerly adopted in 1900. The first couple of decades of the 20th century were not stellar about performance, but fan support was always firm. From the 1920s onwards, the franchise began to rack up successes, building a head of steam that has been pretty well maintained until the present time.
One of the significant contributors to the Cardinal’s success was the legendary Branch Rickey. Among his many contributions was his formulation of a workable farm system that would feed the Cardinals with valuable talent. We could fill multiple blogs with the sporting records and historic benchmarks set by Cardinals players, such as Roger Hornsby’s double Triple Crowns, but it is a shorthand to look at the value of the club, reflective as it is of the sum of the all the playing excellence that has gone before. The franchise is currently rated the seventh most valuable in the Major League, put at $1.8 billion this year. In large part, this worth is backed up by the fantastic fan support the franchise receives, with the Cardinals featuring in the MLB top 3 local ratings for TV broadcasts.
This season promises much for the Cardinals, and while it may be too soon to call their success in the post-season, it surely cannot be long before they make those 11 World Series an even 12.
Originally published at No Halftime.