"64 Cardinals" | Reviewed by Bill Schwab
Updated: Jun 17
Before there were designated hitters, wildcards, and division championships, the only way for the Cardinals to compete in the World Series was to end the year in first place in the National League. On July 24th, 1964, the Cardinals were tied for seventh place, 10 games behind the first-place Philadelphia Phillies. The Cards had 47 wins and 48 losses at this point of the season.
Their pitching staff included Bob Gibson, Ray Sadecki and Curt Simmons. Team captain Ken Boyer, Dick Groat, Tim McCarver, Mike Shannon, Bob Uecker, Curt Flood, Barney Schultz, Julian Javier and Bill White filled the roster. Lou Brock joined the team through a trade with the Chicago Cubs, but as a newly acquired player, he was ineligible to compete in the playoffs.
The 1964 Cardinals spent nearly a fourth of their season with less than a one percent chance of making the playoffs. But in an amazing turnaround, the team won 46 of their final 67 games surging to “the greatest comeback of all time.” Then they eventually won the World Series against the perennial favorites New York Yankees in seven games. It had been 18 years since the Cardinals’ previous World Series appearance.
Many of the 1964 players went on to influence baseball on and off the field. McCarver, Shannon, and Uecker had successful broadcasting careers. Bill White became a broadcaster and later worked as president of the National League. Curt Flood challenged the reserve clause and won his case which improved players’ rights and created free agency.
In this tribute to that spectacular year, the authors have gathered a photo archive, a plethora of game statistics, and a wealth of fascinating baseball stories to create an outstanding coffee table book for Cardinal fans and sports historians as well.
Tiemann and Jacober also recount the major cultural changes taking place in 1964 which gives historical context to that winning season. The segregation of the players into separate hotels and restaurants because of skin color is just one example of the cultural milieu they discuss. Front-office drama is recalled in detail, thanks to owner Gussie Busch and his “special consultant” Branch Rickey who fired manager Bing Divine during the season and manager Johnny Keane after the Cardinals’ World Series win.
“64 Cardinals” is handsomely illustrated. The 154-page book of historic images, newspaper articles, facts, and narratives is published by Reedy Press and is an enjoyable, readable rundown of one of the most thrilling years in Saint Louis sports history.
About the Authors: Baseball historian Robert L. Tiemann has written several award-winning books and has contributed to and edited many journals for the Society for American Baseball Research. He is a co-author of “Ten Rings: Stories of the Saint Louis Cardinals World Championships.”
Ron Jacober has covered sports on radio and television for 47 years. A longtime sports director for KMOX radio, he is a member of the Saint Louis Radio Hall of Fame, the Saint Louis Media Hall of Fame, the Saint Louis Sports Hall of Fame, and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.