April 15 - 17, 2010 - Springfield, Missouri

Whitey Herzog – Baseball Legend

by | January 31, 2010 | In Comments Off on Whitey Herzog – Baseball Legend

Whitey was born November 9, 1931 in New Athens, IL. As a boy, he loved the game of baseball and would cross the Mississippi to catch a Cardinals game at Sportsman’s Park at every opportunity. Little did he know that his illustrious career would bring him back so close to home.

Always known for his honesty and quick- wit, Herzog admits, “Baseball was very good to me..after I quit trying to play it.” Whitey was originally signed by the New York Yankees immediately following his graduation from New Athens High School. During his minor-league career, Bill Speith (a McAlester sportscaster) gave him the “Whitey” nickname due to his light-colored hair. He logged eight years in the majors as a player, including stints with Washington, Kansas City, Baltimore and Detroit as an outfielder- first baseman. His best season was in 1961, when be batted .291 and clubbed five pinch-hit home runs for the Orioles.

After his last year of playing in 1963, Herzog began his baseball management career, which included coaching and scouting. He was the Director of Player Development for the New York Mets from 1967-1972, where he groomed players for the major league level. It is where is prowress of evaluating talent and his excellent baseball mind were discovered.

His first season of managing was in 1973 and he went on to manage in parts of 18 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers and California Angels. He compiled a 1281- 1125 won-lost record. Whitey is considered to have been one of the best managers in the game, having gotten the most out of his low budget teams. He even transformed the Cardinals into the 1982 World Champions from the General Manager’s chair, when he held dual roles in the early 80’s. His trademark “Whiteyball” (which emphasized speed, defense, pitching and fundamentals) was a hit in both Kansas City and St. Louis as wins and attendance figures soared.

In four full seasons in Kansas City, he had three division titles and one second- place finish. In nine full seasons in St. Louis, the “White Rat” (for which he is affectionately known) directed the Cardinals to a World Series victory in 1982 and National League titles in 1985 and 1987.

His Cardinals also had the best overall divisional record in 1981, when the players’ strike split the season and the Redbirds finished second in each half.

He was named “Manager of the Year” in 1976 by UPI and the Baseball Bulletin and in 1982 by The Sporting News and UPI. The UPI also named him “Executive of the Year” in 1982. In 1985, he was again voted “Manager of the Year” by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America for taking a club generally picked to finish last and winding up in the seventh game of the World Series. He was named Sports Illustrated’s “Manager of the Decade” for the 1980s. He most recently was voted “Manager of the Century” for the storied Cardinal franchise by the fans of St. Louis in a Post-Dispatch reader poll and was elected to the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame.

During his coaching career and after his retirement in January 1995, Whitey has filled the role of “entertaining after dinner speaker” with enthusiasm to the delight of audiences all across the country. Herzog has stayed active in the spotlight with product endorsements, television commercials and personal appearances.

During his free time, you can find Whitey fishing, golfing and skiing. He also keeps busy supporting his grandchildren playing baseball. Always a great storyteller and student of the game, Whitey has authored two books, “The White Rat” in 1987 and “You’re Missing a Great Game” in 1999.