On Monday, May 4th, the newest members of the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame were announced in a televised special on Fox Sports Midwest.
They are: Ted Simmons, Bob Forsch, and Curt Flood, and George Kissell.
Both Simmons and Forsch were inducted by fan voting. Flood was inducted by the Red Ribbon committee, and one by the organization themselves. On August 15th of this year, in a special ceremony at Ballpark Village, these three players will take their rightful place in Cardinals Hall of Fame.
Simmons, a switch-hitting catcher, was drafted by the Cardinals in the first round of the 1967 MLB Draft. Considered one of the greatest hitting catchers in baseball history (and also considered by many to be the greatest catcher in Cardinals history), in a 13-year tenure with St. Louis, Simmons scored 736 runs, garnered 1704 total hits, 332 doubles, 37 triples, and hit 232 home runs. He also hit 1389 RBI’s in his tenure with the Cardinals. Simmons was consistently in the top 10 of hitting statistics in the National League, even winning a Silver Slugger in 1980.
In 1975, he set a National League record for hits by a catcher with 188. Six out of his 13 seasons with St. Louis involved him hitting over .300.
Over the course of his 21-year career (he had stints with Milwaukee and Atlanta), he was an 8-time All-Star, but throughout his career, he was usually overshadowed by the Reds’ Hall of Fame catcher, Johnny Bench. While Bench has more home runs, and was known for being better behind the plate, as an overall catcher, Simmons statistically was better. But one thing is for sure, and that is they both are two of the greatest catchers to every play the game.
Next is pitcher Bob Forsch. Throughout his 15-year tenure with the Cardinals, Forsch pitched two no hitters, in 1978 and 1983. His 163 total wins with the Cardinals are third in team history, and he started in a total of 401 games, with Bob Gibson being the only pitcher ahead of Forsch in that regard. His career ERA is 3.76, and his W-L record is 163 -136, pitching 67 complete games.
A member of the Cardinals during the 1982 World Series season, another one of Forsch’s most famous stats is that he was a 20-game winner during the 1977 season. His final season (1988-89) was with the Houston Astros, but it was no doubt he would be most remembered with his tenure with the Cardinals.
The third inductee announced is a player who had one of the most key moments in regards to the labor relations in the history of Major League Baseball.
That player is Curt Flood.
After one season with the Cincinnati Reds, Flood became a member of the Cardinals during the 1958-59 season. He was a member of the team until the 1969 season. During his 12 career with the Cardinals, Flood scored 845 runs, hit 1853 times, a combined 315 for doubles and triples (44 of them were triples), while hitting 84 home runs.
He was (and is) also very well known for his fielding. In his 15-year career, he only had 54 errors, with many seasons consisting of him only committing one error.
In 1966, he did not commit a single error in the outfield, which is an NL record for an outfielder (226 games).
But what he is probably most famous for, however, was when he, along with three other members of the St. Louis Cardinals, were traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for three players. And Flood refused outright to be traded to the Phillies for various reasons. He mailed a letter to then MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, expressing how he would much rather become a free agent instead of being traded.
He was denied by Kuhn.
While all of the legal proceedings were occurring, Flood sat out the entire 1970 season.
Flood v. Kuhn was argued in May and June 1970 in the southern district of New York. Eventually, the case was brought before the Supreme Court, and, while Flood did lose the case, in 1970, the MLBPA and owners created what is known as the “10/5” rule (or the Curt Flood Rule). The rule allows for players who’ve played for over 10 years, the last five with the same team, to veto any trade.
In November of 1970, Flood would be traded to the Washington Senators, but after one season, he would retire from baseball.
Lastly, there’s the man who spent nearly 70 years in the Cardinals organization as a player, coach, instructor, and a scout. From 1940 to 2008, this man was such an integral part of the “Cardinal way” and was beloved by those who knew him.
His name is George Kissell.
Kissell was signed by Branch Rickey in 1940, and the rest is history. As an organization, the Cardinals have been noted for decades by their deep farm system, and how players are brought up and developed. Kissell played a key role in that, as far back as the 1950’s, when he was a manager in the farm system, as well as a scout.
From the 80’s until the 2000’s, Kissell took a role as field coordinator of system-wide instruction, and until 2008, was still active in the Cardinals organization.
As beloved and legendary as these four Cardinals mentioned are, sadly, only one will be able to see their induction take place. In early 1997, after being diagnosed with throat cancer, Flood passed away at the age of 59. Then, in 2008, one day after being involved in a car accident, Kissell passed away at the age of 88. And, in late 2011, Forsch suddenly suffered an aortic aneurysm, and passed away at the age of 61. That leaves Simmons as the only living member of the quartet being inducted this year.
Despite the passing’s of Flood, Kissell and Forsch, them, along with Simmons are legends in the history of what’s known as Cardinals baseball. Their legacy will live on, as will future classes, for future generations, and they will always be a part of the St. Louis Cardinals.
(Photo credit: St. Louis Cardinals Archives)