It should come as no surprise that some St. Louis Cardinals fans have trouble saying goodbye to former team members who depart, whether via trade or free agency. Popular Cardinals having left the organization in the last 14 months include Allen Craig, Joe Kelly, Jason Motte, Shane Robinson and Shelby Miller.
It is easier to hold onto their memories if the club does not immediately reissue their past heroes’ uniform numbers to others.
However, the reality of the situation is that numbers are tight. With 11 coaches and 12 retired numbers, the chances for a new Cardinal to receive a number under Tommy Pham’s 60 are severely limited. As a result, non-roster invitees (NRIs) to big league camp are usually issued uniforms in the 60s, 70s or 80s. In fact, Stephen Piscotty wore 91 the last two springs.
Here are some of the currently-unavailable numbers.
|1||Ozzie Smith||3||Bill Mueller|
|2||Red Schoendienst||11||Jose Oquendo|
|6||Stan Musial||25||David Bell|
|9||Enos Slaughter||26||Mike Matheny|
|10||Tony La Russa||34||Derek Lilliquist|
|14||Ken Boyer||39||Jamie Pogue|
|17||Dizzy Dean||47||John Mabry|
|20||Lou Brock||49||Blaise Ilsley|
|24||Whitey Herzog||76||Kleininger Teran|
|42||Bruce Sutter /||77||Chris Maloney|
|Jackie Robinson||90||Dennis Schutzenhofer|
As spring training concluded, only seven numbers in the below-60 range were available, five having been vacated by the aforementioned former Cardinals, plus one by a departing coach, Mike Aldrete. The other was turned back in when David Bell claimed former hitting coach Mark McGwire’s number 25. Bell is the first non-Big Mac Cardinal to wear it since 1997.
Though McGwire has left the ranks, five other unofficially out-of-service numbers remain in that status. They are Albert Pujols’ number 5, Chris Carpenter’s 29, Willie McGee’s 51, the late Darryl Kile’s 57 plus 69. Another previously among them was the late Josh Hancock’s 32. Matt Adams has worn the number the last two seasons after Rob Johnson donned it briefly in 2013.
Now that McGee has finally been recognized by his 2014 induction into the Cardinals Hall of Fame, it is time to release his 51 as well. Though some will disagree, it is no different than his co-inductee Jim Edmonds, whose 15 has since been worn by Hal McRae, Matt Holliday, then Jon Jay, Rafael Furcal and now, Randal Grichuk.
|#||Unofficially out of service|
|5||Albert Pujols (since 2011)|
|29||Chris Carpenter (since 2013)|
|51||Willie McGee (since 1999)|
|57||Darryl Kile (since 2002)|
Six of the seven under-60 numbers available as 2015 spring training camp ended have since been claimed by others. Three went to former NRIs who earned 40-man roster spots. When making their St. Louis debuts, they shed their 70s and 80s – Ed Easley (72 to 23), Mitch Harris (73 to 40) and since-suspended Cody Stanley (80 to 43).
While Kelly’s old 58 was the only one of this group reissued immediately this spring, to John Gast, it was freed up again when the lefty did not make the big-league club.
As a result, the numbers of all of the 2014 departees have already been reused.
|Previously available||Reclaimed in 2015|
|#||(last worn by/year)||#||(spring training #)|
|21||Allen Craig (2014)||21||Brandon Moss|
|23||David Bell (2014)||23||Ed Easley (72)|
|28||Mike Aldrete (2014)||28||Steve Cishek|
|30||Jason Motte (2014)||30||Jonathan Broxton|
|40||Shelby Miller (2014)||40||Mitch Harris (73)|
|43||Shane Robinson (2014)||43||Cody Stanley (80)|
|58||Joe Kelly (2014)||58||John Gast (spring only)|
A final note. Upon making his MLB debut in July, Piscotty moved to since-released Scott Moore’s spring 55, which was most recently identified with Skip Schumacher and worn briefly by Jermaine Curtis in 2013.
Of course, nothing ever stays the same. As free agents depart this fall and new players take their places, the number shifting will continue.
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