My efforts to place into context the Scrabble scoring of the surname of St. Louis Cardinals left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski first led me to a comparison to current Cardinals major and minor leaguers, then to the all-time Cardinals major league roster.
After taking a several month break to re-sort my tiles, I am returning to this mini-series with the Cardinals All-Time Scrabble Team.
Before I do that, a quick, but related diversion. I hope many of you found this gift item underneath your Christmas tree this past December. It is a perfectly-themed item, a Cardinals Scrabble Game.
Unfortunately, “Scrabble,” being a late July addition to the Cardinals and all, does not appear on the box. Let’s hope Hasbro fixes that in their second version. In what would now appear to be a savvy move, Albert Pujols’ image is not to be found, either.
Ok, back to our team. Qualification was simple. The player with the highest scoring last name was placed at his primary position played with St. Louis. I included both left- and right-handed starters and relievers, along with a utility player.
Because of ties, the 13-position team consists of 17 players. As one might expect, career high Scrabble scorers Rzepczynski and Ed Mierkowicz (30 points each) are the honorary captains.
All-Time Scrabble Team, St. Louis Cardinals
|Position||Cardinal (points – years played)|
|LHSP||Ed Zmich (21 – 1910-1)|
|RHSP||Pete Vuckovich (26 – 1978-80)|
|LHRP||Marc Rzepczynski (30 – 2011)|
|RHRP||Blake Hawksworth (26 – 2009-10)||Ken MacKenzie (26 – 1963)||Johnny Grodzicki (26 – 1941, 46-7)|
|C||Orlando Sanchez (21 – 1981-3)||Skip Jutze (21 – 1972)||Bob Scheffing (21 – 1951)|
|1B||Mike Fitzgerald (24 – 1988)|
|2B||Mark Grudzielanek (27 – 2005)|
|SS||Jose Vizcaino (22 – 2006)|
|3B||Ray Jablonski (22 – 1953-4, 9)|
|OF||Ed Mierkowicz (30 – 1950)|
|OF||Ossee Schreckongost (25 – 1899)|
|OF||Joe Schultz (21 – 1919-24)|
|UT||Tom Heintzelman (25 – 1973-4)|
Starting pitchers. Pete Vuckovich is one of the most prominent players on the Cardinals all-time Scrabble squad, having won 39 games from 1978-80 until his trade to Milwaukee as part of the Ted Simmons deal. He faced his old teammates in the 1982 World Series. Finding a lefty starter for the team was a challenge, but Ed Zmich fit the bill. Despite going 0-5 as a starter for the 1910 Cards, Zmich did score his only MLB win in relief the next year.
Relief pitchers. Three right-handers tied with 26 points and join lefty Rzepczynski in the All-Scrabble bullpen. Blake Hawksworth toiled for seven years in the minor league system as a starter before joining the 2009 Cardinals in relief. He moved to the Dodgers during last off-season in a trade for Ryan Theriot. Ken MacKenzie appeared in just eight games out of the pen late in the 1963 season before being traded away. Once a promising prospect, Johnny Grodzicki never realized his potential due to injuries sustained in World War II. He pitched in a total of 24 games for the Cardinals before and after the war.
Catchers. Another three-way tie at 21 points is an oddity in itself. Orlando Sanchez might be most known for having been included in the lyrics of the Cardinals adaptation of the 1981 Terry Cashman song, “Willie, Mickey and The Duke,” re-titled “Talking Cardinals Baseball.” (30 years later, that song can still get stuck in my head!) Skip Jutze had appeared behind the plate in 21 games for the 1972 Cards while Bob Scheffling concluded his MLB career with 12 games for the 1951 team.
Infield. A first-round pick in the June 1984 draft, the MLB career of Mike Fitzgerald consisted of 13 games for the 1988 Cardinals. Veteran Mark Grudzielanek put in a decent season at second during his only year in St. Louis, 2005. Shortstop Jose Vizcaino is most remembered as a Los Angeles Dodger and Chicago Cub, but concluded his MLB career with 16 games for the 2006 Cardinals. Third baseman Ray Jablonski drove in over 100 runs in both 1953 and 1954 and was an all-star the latter season before being traded away. He returned for a brief curtain call in 1959. The utility player is Tom Heintzelman, who appeared at second, third and short for the 1973-74 Cards.
Outfield. There is apparently not a strong correlation between a high level of play and high Scrabble-scoring outfield surnames. Along with Mierkowicz, there is Ossee Schreckongost. Also known as Ossee Schreck, he played 11 years in the majors, but just part of the 1899 season with the franchise as part of the questionable player shifting between the Perfectos and the dreadful Cleveland Spiders. The final outfield choice is Joe Schultz, who played for the Cardinals from 1919-24. He is the father of Joe Schultz, Jr., a catcher in the minors for the Cards, majors with the Browns as well as a coach with St. Louis during the 1960s.