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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Breadon outshines Busch and DeWitt as Cardinals owner

Dizzy Dean, Frankie Frisch and Sam Breadon in spring training, 1935 (Getty Images)Lost in all the excitement over the Monday announcement of the election of Whitey Herzog to Baseball’s Hall of Fame and the outrage of former union chief Marvin Miller missing out again was a defeat for the history of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Veterans Committee for Executives and Pioneers was unable to agree on a single name from their candidate list of ten. In the process, they left behind another most deserving man along with Miller, the late owner of the Cardinals, Sam Breadon.

Being named on nine of 12 (75 percent) of the ballots was necessary. Voters were instructed to vote for up to four names.

Here are the results:

  • John Fetzer, Detroit (eight votes, 66.7%)
  • Marvin Miller, players union (seven votes, 58.3%)
  • Jacob Ruppert, Yankees (seven votes, 58.3%)
  • Ewing Kauffman, Royals (six votes, 50%)
  • Fewer than three votes, less than 25%: Gene Autry, Breadon, Bob Howsam, John McHale, Gabe Paul and Bill White.

Breadon’s showing was especially disappointing since the 12 voters included two with deep Cardinals knowledge – Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch and club chairman Bill DeWitt.

The other committee members included Hall of Fame players Robin Roberts and Tom Seaver; former executive John Harrington (Red Sox); current executives Jerry Bell (Twins), Bill Giles (Phillies), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Orioles) and John Schuerholz (Braves); and media veterans Hal McCoy (Dayton Daily News) and Phil Pepe (New York Daily News).

Breadon and others may receive another chance in two years. The two Veterans Committees that vote on managers and umpires as well as executives and pioneers will consider candidates again in 2011 for 2012 induction. The bar is high, with fewer than a dozen owners currently enshrined.

Perhaps it is because I just wrote about retired numbers and still disagree over the related decision to honor Gussie Busch in that manner, but I decided to make a quick comparison of the owners, Breadon and Busch, along with the current group under DeWitt. They make up the longest-tenured and most dominant of the seven different Cardinals owners in the club’s recognized history starting in 1892.

I recognize that the Hall of Fame is different from retired number recognition, but that backdrop seems an interesting introduction to their respective legacies.

Owner Years Won Loss Win rate NL pennants NL pennant % WS champs WS %
Breadon 31 2657 2061 0.563 9 29.0% 6 19.4%
Busch 43 3477 3280 0.515 6 14.0% 3 7.0%
DeWitt 14 1232 1034 0.544 2 14.3% 1 7.1%

(Three losing years are included under Breadon during which he was a minority investor and there was no majority owner. Busch’s years include the six following Augie’s death when the brewery ran the team.)

As the above table indicates, Breadon’s Cardinals teams not only had the highest regular season winning percentage, they also collected the most National League pennants and World Championships. Not only that, but when Breadon’s club made the Series, they won 2/3 of the time as opposed to half the time for the others.

I added percentage columns as an equalizer. Breadon’s clubs took the NL crown twice as frequently as during the other two ownership tenures and the ultimate prize almost three times as often. (For more information about Breadon, check out this article, “Breadon among deserving Hall of Fame candidates”.)

As an aside, note the striking post-season similarities between the Busch and DeWitt regimes, though the current owners have a better regular season mark.

Bottom line, Sam Breadon appears to have solid Hall of Fame credentials, and based on results is more deserving of special recognition from the game of baseball than Busch.

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