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On St. Louis Cardinals number 11 on 11/11/11

At least 40 men have worn the number 11 on their St. Louis Cardinals uniform jersey since 1923. They include such notables as Specs Toporcer, Terry Moore, Pepper Martin, Howie Pollet, Ray Jablonski, Alvin Dark, Dick Schofield, Hector Cruz, Don Kessinger, Bernie Carbo and Glenn Brummer. The latter was proudly sporting the digits when he famously stole third base and then home on August 22, 1985 to win an extra-inning game over the Giants during the pennant race.

Here on 11/11/11, just days after the club won its 11th World Championship, it seems only natural to acknowledge the longest holder of the number, Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo.

A versatile middle infielder, Oquendo was acquired from the Mets in 1985 and spent that season in Triple-A. With St. Louis, “The Secret Weapon” wore 11 from 1986 until his retirement as an active player. That occurred after he failed to make the team in Tony La Russa’s first spring training with St. Louis in 1996.

After two years coaching in the minor league system, Oquendo returned to St. Louis and his number 11 in 1999 as the team’s bench coach under La Russa. He moved to the third base coaching station the next season, where he has remained ever since.

Interestingly, three players wore 11 in between Oquendo’s two decade-long stints with St. Louis.

One of the most controversial players of La Russa’s early years with the Cardinals, shortstop Royce Clayton, picked up the number 11 in 1996. Incumbent Ozzie Smith took exception to how the manager handled the starting competition between himself and Clayton and continues to hold a grudge to this day. Clayton kept the number until his trade to Texas at the July 1998 deadline as part of the Fernando Tatis acquisition.

Tatis donned 11 briefly after the trade before assuming his more familiar number 23, which he picked up in a swap that season with reserve infielder Luis Ordaz. Oquendo reclaimed the number 11 from Ordaz upon his 1999 return.

Now held most famously by World Series MVP David Freese, 23 was also the number worn by Tito Francona as a reserve outfielder/first baseman with the 1965 and 1966 Cardinals. Tito is the father of current Cardinals managerial candidate Terry Francona (who sported number 47 as the Red Sox skipper).

If Oquendo, another of the six candidates to replace La Russa, does not get the top job, he may not be wearing his familiar number 11 for St. Louis in 2012 after 23 years. It remains to be seen if the son of a former number 23 would be the cause.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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13 Responses to “On St. Louis Cardinals number 11 on 11/11/11”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    Brian, fine article above!

    Freese (23) hit a famous homer this October WS. Bernie Carbo (11) hit a famous two strike WS homer, then wearing a Red Sox uniform.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    Tito Francona had a monster season during 1959, with a batting average of .363. It was his 4th year in the majors and playing for the Indians. Maybe the example of Tito’s big advance during his 4th season can inspire Colby Rasmus to improve next year with the Blue Jays.

  3. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:


    • blingboy says:

      You mean the Marlins, I assume. Loria would have to sell a lot of tickets.

      • Bw52 says:

        BB-if Marlins did in fact offer that amount then Albert should jump on it.I doubt Cards get close to that AAV.If that is the amount then i really have mixed feelings on Cards trying to work out something remotely close.I just don`t know about having 1 player taking up that much payroll.What a fix management is in now.This should have been taken care of a couple of years ago.

      • CariocaCardinal says:

        Chump change. How much more can he get for luxury suites with Pujols on board? For Local TV and radio rights? Radio and TV rights throughout the Caribbean?

        • blingboy says:

          At best, the new stadium and new big FA stars will bump attendance to 2M for a year, then it will fall back as it has in the past. Miami just isn’t a MLB focussed town and never will be.

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    If Oquendo were to be selected as manager, Sandberg could be offered 3rd base coach. Moloney move up to first base coach, Matheny could be bench coach. If McGwire and Duncan remain, then collectively this would be a strong leadership team, with some new blood, yet also continuity with the Champs of 2011.

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