You booked a room at the Millennieum, packed up the family truckster, even bought a sleeve of baseballs from Walmart, and now you’re ready to head up I-64 for some sweet, sweet Cardinal autograph action at this weekend’s Winter Warm-Up.
Only one problem, you forgot to go to the Cardinals web site and sign up for an autograph session with your favorite Cardinals players (for a specific additional donation of course). Great. Now you can forget about that Lou Brock autograph you always wanted ($75). Lance Berkman too ($100). World Series MVP David Freese ($75)? Forget about it. Hell, you can’t even get J. C. Romero ($5).
But don’t worry, because there are plenty of free autographs to be had. And the best part is we’ve done all the leg work for you, sifting through the list of unremarkables to comprise another Joe Sports Fan Top 7: Must-Have Free Autographs at the 2012 Cardinals Winter Warm Up.
7. T. J. Matthews
In a way, this whole Mark McGwire fiasco was his fault. Yeah! And while you’ll never be able to get Mark McGwire’s autograph for free (unless you’re a Baseball Hall of Fame voter), you can get the guy McGwire was traded to the Oakland A’s for, and unlike a McGwire autograph, it won’t even cost you your integrity.
6. Curt Ford
No, not Curt Flood. Curt Ford. The former sacrificed his life and livelihood so that today’s players could think that God wants them to go to Los Angeles for $240 million instead of stay in St. Louis for $220 million. The latter’s two-run single broke a scoreless tie and propelled the Cardinals to a 4-2 victory in Game 5 of the 1987 World Series, during which Ford hit a healthy .318. The Cardinals wouldn’t win another World Series game for 19 years, and Curt Ford’s career would end abruptly and sadly – just like Curt Flood.
Together, the brothers Benes combined for 79 wins and 23 arm surgeries while wearing the birds on the bat. In fact, the only thing more stitched than the baseball you’ll give them is the arm they’ll use to sign it. But the duo helped boost the Cardinals to a memorable 1996 playoff run, and that’s got to be worth more than nothing, doesn’t it? The answer here is clearly maybe.
4. Glenn Brummer
A little-known third string catcher steals home during the magical championship season of 1982, and one of the greatest moments in Cardinal lore is born. So let me see if I get this straight…the Cardinals have no problem selling “souvenir” toilets to their fans, but they can’t even charge $5 for a Glenn Brummer autograph? You’ve got to be kidding me. That’s worth at least two used toilets, maybe three.
Just so you can do the joke, “Hey, I got Mike Tyson’s autograph! Mike Tyson the guy that played second base for the Cardinals from 1972-1979, not Mike Tyson the boxer!” to all your friends until one of them punches your face in, a la Mike Tyson. And it will serve you right, you dumb son of a bitch.
2. Tom Lawless
To get the full Tom Lawless free autograph experience, you’re going to need a bat for him to sign. Then, you ask him to stare straight ahead and flip it behind him, without a care for what (or who) is back there, just like he did when he homered in Game 4 of the 1987 World Series. Yep, this is quite possibly the best idea I’ve ever had.
1. Rex Hudler
It’s likely that more than a few witnesses to the debacle that was the 1990 St. Louis Cardinals would say that team wasn’t very much fun to watch. But those people obviously missed the 89 games in which Rex “The Wonder Dog” Hudler played or appeared in. Hudler’s speed, power, and fiery red hair proved an explosive combination, as he finished third on the team with 7 home runs and chipped in 18 steals in limited action. But Hudler’s statistics paled in comparison to the unwavering heart and hustle he displayed every time he stepped on the field.
Why, if diving head-first into third base was worth 5 runs, that 1990 team would have finished 18 games out of first place instead of 25. Hudler is now an award-winning broadcaster and, not surprisingly, a motivational speaker. He resides in California with his wife and four children, sadly, according to the above photo, none of whom are ginger.
Michael Grubb is a (semi) regular contributor to Team JSF. When he’s not ranking things that don’t matter, he can be reached at: