Review by Harry Levins
Fretting about a Father's Day present? Consider a copy of Doug Feldmann's "St. Louis Cardinals Past & Present." The text reads smoothly, the hundreds of photos grab the eye - and the price is a bargain for a book of coffee-table dimensions.
Feldmann teaches education at Northern Kentucky University and scouts part-time for the Cincinnati Reds. In whatever spare time he has, he writes baseball books. This one is his fourth on the Cardinals.
Most baseball club histories proceed chronologically. Feldmann takes a refreshingly different approach. His chapters proceed by topic - first basemen, for example, or sluggers, or ballpark dimensions, or broadcasters. Feldmann's chapters include some off-speed stuff - superstitions, for example, or uniforms.
One such fascinating chapter details Cardinals nicknames, such as '30s catcher Spud Davis, '40s infielder Creepy Crespi and (of course) '80s outfielder Skates Smith. Other chapters chronicle homegrown heroes like Dick Sisler and Mike Shannon and bad boys like Ducky Medwick and Joaquin Andujar.
Gems of trivia pop up regularly. Did you know that George Hendrick started the long-pants style in uniforms? Or that late in World War II, the Cardinals held spring training in Cairo, Ill.? Or that Stan Musial never led the league in home runs?
And oh, the photos! There's Bob Gibson, magnificently off-balance after hurling another strike. There's Jack Clark belting a home run of armor-piercing velocity. There are fedora-wearing fans in 1954 at Sportsman's Park. And there, poignantly, is an ailing Jack Buck interviewing a young Albert Pujols in 2001. "Past & Present," indeed. This book will stir long-dormant memories for Cardinals fans. Do you remember Bob Tewksbury? Those awful blue road uniforms of the '70s and early '80s? Do you remember when the Springfield Redbirds played in Springfield, Ill., not Springfield, Mo.?
I fault author Feldmann on just one count. His book makes absolutely no mention of the immortal Glenn Brummer. Otherwise, it's a winner.