We’ve made it to the top four teams in Cardinal history. Why stop there?
In the first semi-final, the winner of the Musial Region – the 1967 Cardinals – will face the Gibson Region Champion – the 2011 Cardinals.
1967 (from regional host Pitchers Hit Eighth): This team wasn’t fair. Cha Cha, Brock, Flood, Maris, Carlton, Gibson, Hughes, the Moonman, et al – for the World Series win.
This team won the National League by 10.5 games over the San Francisco Giants, and behind the first-ever unanimous NL MVP Orlando Cepeda, went on to defeat the Boston Red Sox in seven games to win the World Series. The Cardinals also drafted some guy named Ted Simmons in July of this year. Not bad.
Bob Gibson pitched three complete games against the Boston Red Sox in the ’67 Series, posting three wins and an ERA of 1.00. Gibson and the rest of the Cardinal pitching staff (among the names on the ’67 squad – Steve Carlton, Dick Hughes, Nelson Briles) stymied the Red Sox and AL Triple Crown winner Carl Yastrzemski.
The ’67 Birdos’ best player (by bWAR) was Orlando Cepeda at 7.1 WAR. Their best pitcher was Dick Hughes, with 4.5 WAR. Yes, this team won a lot of games without a full complement from Bob Gibson.
The 1967 Cardinals repeatedly show up on various lists of the best Cardinal teams of all time. Their continued advancement in this tourney is great example of why, and they haven’t even really been threatened.
2011 (from regional host Aaron Miles’ Fastball): You don’t need much, if any, explanation about this team — they don’t even get their World Series rings for two weeks yet. Just in case, a few reminders: 10 1/2 back in wild card on Aug. 25 then 23-9; Chris Carpenter in Game 162, NLDS Game 5 and World Series Game 7; Rally Squirrel; the bullpen in the NLCS; Albert Pujols 3 home runs; David Freese; Game 6; #11in11.
…and in the other semi-final, our lone underdog hopes that the slipper continues to fit.
The 1942 Cardinals made it out of the Buck Region as the top seed, and they will face the lone team remaining that is not a number one seed, the winner of the Smith Region, the 1968 Cardinals.
1942 (from regional host I-70 Baseball): The 1942 Cardinals hold the record for the most wins in franchise history (106). They won the World Series, only losing one game to the Yankees. Enos Slaughter was the team’s top performing player posting a 7.1 WAR.
The 1942 team was the beginning of one of the few dynasties in Cardinals history, which would see the team play in four of five World Series and bring home three titles. A young rookie named Stan Musial had joined the team and pitcher Mort Cooper would bring home a Most Valuable Player Award for his performance.
The team featured the top two finishers in the Most Valuable Player voting. Enos Slaughter, in his final season before serving military service for three years, would finish second in the voting after leading the team in Home Runs (13), Batting Average (.318) and Runs Batted In (98). The offensive presence was not enough for Slaughter to beat out Mort Cooper, however. Cooper would post a 1.78 Earned Run Average, 22 wins, ten shutouts, and a 0.987 WHIP in route to the MVP Award. Cooper’s success did not carry over into the post season, however, as he was roughed up in two starts against the mighty Yankees, taking the team’s only loss in the Fall Classic that year.
1968 (from regional host C70 at the Bat): The 1968 team is the Cinderella of this Final Four, being the only team left not rated a number one and the only team left that didn’t win a World Series title. Being the underdog hasn’t fazed them yet, though, taking down the Smith Regional #1 (2004) and #2 (1934) teams.
Just because they didn’t win the title doesn’t mean that this wasn’t a very good team. There weren’t many changes between this squad and the 1967 team that is representing the Musial Regional in this affair, plus it had Bob Gibson in the original Year of the Pitcher. It’s tough to imagine that he of the 1.12 ERA lost 9 times that season, but amazingly he did.
Most expected the Cardinals to win the 1968 World Series and, save for a ill-timed slip by normally sure-footed outfielder Curt Flood, they might well have done so. This was also the last great hurrah for the Cardinals until the Whiteyball resurgence in the ’80s.
Vote now! Polling will close tomorrow night (Tuesday) at 8pm so we can prepare and open voting on the final, to close right before first pitch of Opening Day!