Whitey Herzog

7/25/2010: Whitey Herzog is inducted into the Hall of Fame

On July 25, 2010, Whitey Herzog took the stage in Cooperstown, New York, joined by 50 Hall of Famers who had gathered to induct him into baseball’s most exclusive club.

His only goal? To keep from breaking down and crying in gratitude.

“Ever since December, every question that anybody asked me is this: What’s it feel like to be a Hall of Famer,” Herzog said. “Well, I didn’t know. I kept saying, ‘I won’t know until July 25.’ Now I can tell you what it feels like. Being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, is like going to heaven before you die.”[1]

More than 30 years after he managed his last game for the Cardinals, Herzog was inducted before an audience of approximately 10,000 fans on a rainy day in Cooperstown alongside Andre Dawson and Doug Harvey. Jon Miller was presented the Ford C. Frick Award and Bill Madden won the J.G. Taylor Spink Award.




Herzog didn’t initially appear to be on a Hall of Fame path. The New Athens, Illinois, native played eight seasons in the big leagues, bouncing around between the Senators, Athletics, Orioles, and Tigers. He appeared in 634 games across his career, retiring after the 1963 season with a .257 batting average, 25 home runs, and 172 RBIs.

“I wasn’t a very good player, but I did get (eight) years in the big leagues when there were only 16 teams and 50-some (in the) minor leagues,” Herzog said. “I got my pension. I was the kind of player everybody wanted. When they got me, they didn’t know what the hell to do with me. I’ll be honest about that.”[2]

When his playing days ended, Herzog got into the coaching game and made a name for himself working under Mets manager Casey Stengel.

“When something like this happens to you, you say to yourself, ‘How did this happen?’ Then you start thinking about all the good people you worked with, all the good people you worked for, all the good coaches that worked for you,” Herzog said. “I’m not here because I’m a player. I’m here, obviously, because of managing, and I had a lot of good players play for me.”[3]




Herzog’s first managerial opportunity was short-lived. In 1973, he managed the Texas Rangers to a 47-91 record before he was fired in the midst of his first season. After serving as a third-base coach for the Angels in 1974 (and serving a four-game stint as the team’s interim manager), Herzog was named the Royals’ manager midway through the 1975 season. After leading Kansas City to a 41-25 record and a second-place finish in the American League West, Herzog guided the Royals to three consecutive division titles. In 1979, after the Royals went 85-77 and finished second in the division, Herzog was fired.

Kansas City’s loss proved to be the Cardinals’ gain.

In 1980, the Cardinals named Herzog manager, then added general manager duties to his responsibilities. In this role, Herzog built the foundation of the 1982 World Series championship club, adding players such as Darrell Porter, Bruce Sutter, Willie McGee, Lonnie Smith, and Ozzie Smith.

“I probably would not be standing here if he had not got on that plane and come out to San Diego,” Ozzie Smith said of Herzog’s trip to convince him to waive his no-trade clause and join the Cardinals ahead of the 1982 season. “I’ll never forget the words he told me. He said, ‘If you come to St. Louis, there’s no reason we can’t win it all.’ Fortunately, we won it my first year.”[4]




Though Herzog stepped back from his general manager duties in 1982, he continued to guide the team to the top of the standings, winning the World Series in 1982 and capturing the National League pennant in 1985 and 1987. When he resigned in 1990, Herzog had compiled an 822-728 record (.530 winning percentage) across 11 seasons. Altogether, he ended his managerial career with a 1,281-1,125 record (.532) over 18 seasons.

“I’ve got three Hall of Fame players, and if all three of them hadn’t played for me, I wouldn’t be here today,” Herzog said. “I’d probably be back in New Athens, Illinois, digging ditches or something.”[5]

All three of those players – George Brett, Ozzie Smith, and Sutter – attended Herzog’s induction ceremony. As he began his remarks, Herzog pulled a small notebook from his pocket, but rarely looked at it as he decided on the fly to cut six minutes from his speech.

“I could have talked longer, but the program was dragging a little bit and I wanted to hurry it up,” Herzog said.[6]




Instead, Herzog’s 11-minute speech was the shortest of the day.

“I’m satisfied I got through it,” Herzog said. “I didn’t cry or anything. It wasn’t as bad as I thought.”[7]

A few days earlier, Herzog’s voice had cracked when Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. announced that Herzog’s No. 24 would be retired.[8]

In his remarks, Herzog thanked a number of people who influenced his career, including Stengel and former Cardinals chairman August Busch Jr. He noted that he resigned in 1990 partly because “I certainly didn’t think I could find another Gussie Busch.”[9]


Check out more Whitey Herzog stories below!

June 17, 1956: Whitey Herzog steals home

June 9, 1980: Whitey Herzog manages his first game for the St. Louis Cardinals

July 6, 1990: Whitey Herzog resigns as Cardinals manager


[1] David Wilhelm, “Whitey joins the immortals,” Belleville News-Democrat, July 26, 2010.

[2] David Wilhelm, “Whitey joins the immortals,” Belleville News-Democrat, July 26, 2010.

[3] David Wilhelm, “Whitey joins the immortals,” Belleville News-Democrat, July 26, 2010.

[4] Rick Hummel, “Smooth entrance,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 26, 2010.

[5] David Wilhelm, “Whitey joins the immortals,” Belleville News-Democrat, July 26, 2010.

[6] Rick Hummel, “Smooth entrance,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 26, 2010.

[7] Rick Hummel, “Smooth entrance,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 26, 2010.

[8] Rick Hummel, “Smooth entrance,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 26, 2010.

[9] David Wilhelm, “Whitey joins the immortals,” Belleville News-Democrat, July 26, 2010.

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