The St. Louis Cardinals first joined the Class A-Advanced Florida State League in 1966. That year, the Dodgers and their St. Petersburg Saints left the ten-team circuit, to be replaced by the Cardinals, using their spring training home, Al Lang Stadium.
Following is the log of the last ten years, 25 years, full franchise and league histories along with combined results from the Cardinals’ Class A-Advanced clubs. Including a six-year stop in the Carolina League, the Cards have maintained a presence at this level for the last 43 years and counting.
|Record all clubs||66-08||0.521||3067||2824||15|
|25 year all clubs||84-08||0.500||1720||1719||7|
|10 year all clubs||99-08||0.478||662||723||3|
|FSL record||66-96, 03-08||0.531||2685||2371||17|
|Carolina League record||97-02||0.457||382||453||0|
|Palm Beach||2008||0.547||75||62||2||L1||Gaylen Pitts|
|Palm Beach||2007||0.507||71||69||2||Gaylen Pitts|
|Palm Beach||2006||0.556||75||60||1||L1||Ron Warner|
|Palm Beach||2005||0.493||69||71||3||WC||Ron Warner|
|Palm Beach||2004||0.545||73||61||2||Tom Nieto|
|Palm Beach||2003||0.408||58||84||6||Tom Nieto|
|Potomac (Car League)||2002||0.421||59||81||3||Joe Cunningham|
|Potomac (Car)||2001||0.471||66||74||3||Joe Cunningham|
|Potomac (Car)||2000||0.449||62||76||4||Joe Cunningham|
|Potomac (Car)||1999||0.388||54||85||4||Joe Cunningham|
|Prince William (Car)||1998||0.518||72||67||2||Joe Cunningham|
|Prince William (Car)||1997||0.496||69||70||2||Roy Silver|
|St. Petersburg||1996||0.543||75||63||4||Chris Maloney|
|St. Petersburg||1995||0.489||64||67||5||Chris Maloney|
|St. Petersburg||1994||0.532||74||65||3||Mike Ramsey|
|St. Petersburg||1993||0.564||75||58||3||Terry Kennedy|
|St. Petersburg||1992||0.429||57||76||5||Dave Bialas|
|St. Petersburg||1991||0.359||47||84||5||Dave Bialas|
|St. Petersburg||1990||0.448||60||74||4||Joe Pettini|
|St. Petersburg||1989||0.540||75||64||2||LC||Dave Bialas|
|St. Petersburg||1988||0.500||68||68||3||Dave Bialas|
|St. Petersburg||1987||0.599||85||57||1||L1||Dave Bialas|
|St. Petersburg||1986||0.647||88||48||1||WC||Dave Bialas|
|St. Petersburg||1985||0.557||78||62||2||L1||Dave Bialas|
|St. Petersburg||1984||0.493||71||73||3||Jim Riggleman|
|St. Petersburg||1983||0.522||70||64||2||Jim Riggleman|
|St. Petersburg||1982||0.519||69||64||2||Nick Leyva|
|St. Petersburg||1981||0.523||69||63||2||Nick Leyva|
|St. Petersburg||1980||0.515||70||66||2||Tommy Thompson|
|St. Petersburg||1979||0.474||64||71||4||Sonny Ruberto|
|St. Petersburg||1978||0.600||84||56||1||L1||Hal Lanier|
|St. Petersburg||1977||0.597||83||56||2||LC||Hub Kittle|
|St. Petersburg||1976||0.496||70||71||3||Hal Lanier|
|St. Petersburg||1975||0.652||88||47||1||WC||Jack Krol|
|St. Petersburg||1974||0.454||59||71||4||Roy Majtyka|
|St. Petersburg||1973||0.575||84||62||1||WC||Roy Majtyka|
|St. Petersburg||1972||0.500||66||66||3||Roy Majtyka|
|St. Petersburg||1971||0.511||72||69||3||Joe Cunningham|
|St. Petersburg||1970||0.600||78||52||1||LC||Joe Cunningham|
|St. Petersburg||1969||0.415||54||76||6||Jack Krol|
|St. Petersburg||1968||0.559||80||63||2||L1||Ron Plaza|
|St. Petersburg||1967||0.691||96||43||1||WC||Ron Plaza|
|St. Petersburg||1966||0.669||91||45||1||LC||Sparky Anderson|
WC = won championship
LC = lost in the finals
L1 = lost in first playoff round
As will be detailed in the following, the Cardinals had early success in the FSL which drove their overall mark since 1966 of 243 games over .500 (.521). The club has just one more win than loss over the last quarter century, however.
While the teams at this level have a sub-.500 mark over the last decade, it is really a story with two distinct chapters. In the first five years, the club lost over 100 more games than won. Since 2004, the team is 40 games over .500 with three playoff appearances and one championship.
The early years – St. Petersburg (1966-1996)
The St. Pete Cardinals’ first manager in 1966 was a then-32-year-old former second baseman named George Anderson, later known to all of baseball as “Sparky”, the skipper of the 1970’s Big Red Machine from Cincinnati.
Anderson’s club not only had the best record in the league, they had at least two memorable events. The club won 22 consecutive games at one point, the eighth-longest run in minor league history at the time. The Cardinals also played a 29-inning contest, a 4-3 loss to Miami on June 14 that was the longest game in the history of organized baseball.
Though they fell in the 1966 finals, the Cardinals made the playoffs in four of their first five seasons and took three league championships in their first ten years. Ron Plaza’s 1967 club, the first champs, set a franchise record with a .691 winning mark (96-43) that still stands today.
A pair of future major leaguers helped lead the way to the next two pennants. Outfielder Jerry Mumphrey paced the FSL in hits and runs to fuel the 1973 run to the top. For the 1975 champs, Bill Caudill led the league in strikeouts (153) and tied for tops in wins with 14.
Tommy Herr also led the FSL in runs and hits for Hub Kittle’s 1977 club that lost in the finals. Greg Mathews took the league’s ERA title in 1985 with a 1.11 mark that remains the lowest qualifying mark at any level of the Cardinals organization in history.
In 1986, three managers took the club’s reigns during what would become a championship season, Dave Bialas, Marty Mason and Mike Jorgensen. Mason and Jorgensen are still with the organization today, with the former being the major league bullpen coach and the latter a special assistant to the general manager.
A long, dry spell ensued as 1986 would mark the Cardinals last FSL flag for 20 years, a period during which they earned just two playoff appearances. Bialas would remain to manage St. Petersburg for five of the next six seasons and seven of eight overall.
Six years in the Carolina League (1997-2002)
1997 brought major change as the Cardinals moved their A-Advanced affiliation to Virginia and out of the FSL into the Carolina League. Under the name Prince William Cannons, the club competed for two seasons. Respective Pitchers of the Year were future major leaguers Cliff Politte and Rick Ankiel. The latter led the circuit with 12.93 strikeouts per nine innings in 1998.
The team became the Potomac Cannons for 1999 as Joe Cunningham remained to lead the club through its four seasons of existence. All four Potomac seasons, from 1998 through 2002, were losing ones. In their final year, outfielder Skip Schumaker was the club’s lone All-Star.
A home of their own – back in the FSL (2003-present)
The franchise that had been known as the (Port) Charlotte Rangers from 1987 through 2002 was purchased by the Cardinals organization from Texas and relocated to Jupiter, where it became the Palm Beach Cardinals. In the process, the Cards returned to the Florida State League in 2003 after six years away.
By their third year back in the FSL, 2005, the Cardinals forgot about a 10-game below .500 first half to roar back and both take the second-half East Division crown and the FSL championship. Shortstop Brendan Ryan was an All-Star for Ron “Pop” Warner’s club.
Warner’s Cards again took the second-half East flag in 2006, but fell in the finals. Reliever Mike Sillman paced the FSL in games (57), games finished (54) and saves (35). After a winning, but non-playoff year in 2007, Gaylen Pitts’ club exited in the first round of the 2008 post-season.
With the big league Cardinals firmly planted at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter and ownership of their Florida State League franchise, there is no reason to assume the Palm Beach Cardinals won’t be continuing for many years to come.
Cardinals system records – Palm Beach/Potomac/Prince William/St. Petersburg
|Last ten years (1999-2008)||Level||Mark||Record||Years||Club|
|Last 25 years (1984-2008)||Level||Mark||Record||Years||Club|