Originally written August 04, 2012 on Fox Sports Midwest:
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ST. LOUIS - When the St. Louis Cardinals acquired shortstop Ozzie Smith prior to the 1982 season, manager Whitey Herzog had a plan to get the defensive wizard to start producing at the plate. For each time Smith hit the ball on the ground, Herzog would give him a dollar. If the shortstop struck out or hit the ball in the air, he had to give his manager a dollar. "I think I was about 350 down about July and I said, 'You've got enough, I think you got the idea,'" Herzog said Saturday. "He'd collect it right there in the clubhouse. I'd give him three or four bucks every night." And Smith was apparently the missing piece the Cardinals needed. They went on to beat the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 7 of the 1982 World Series that year to capture their first World Championship since 1967. The pair of Hall of Famers were back in town Saturday for the 30th reunion of the 1982 World Champions, parading around the warning track in the back of convertibles during a pregame ceremony that featured the appearance of the 1982 Commissioner's Trophy. The 2012 group improved to 11-4 in their past 15 games with a convincing 6-1 win over the Brewers Saturday night. Adam Wainwright tossed his second complete game of the season and 10th of his career, facing just three over the minimum. The win moved the Cardinals to within just 2.5 games of the second Wild Card spot in the National League. Both the Pirates and Braves currently lead the two N.L. Wild Card spots but both lost Saturday night. They trail the Reds by eight games in the division race. With the 1982 team serving as a reminder, the Cardinals hope this is just the beginning of another magical October run. And they can take plenty from Saturday's ceremonies. "Realizing that it's pretty nice that they carry that tradition on and people don't forget and 30 years from now, we do something special this year and we've got the ability to come back," said manager Mike Matheny. "I also think they probably were reminded of what they did last year, the guys that were here and realized what a big deal it is and people don't forget. They don't forget how much fun it was last year and they want to be a part of it again." The Cardinals and Brewers wore retro 1982 throwback uniforms Saturday night and fans were given a replica ticket to Game 7 of the 1982 World Series. Friday night, fans received a bobblehead of Hall of Fame closer Bruce Sutter, who finished off their 1982 title with a strikeout of the Brewers' Gorman Thomas. Nearly 25 players, coaches and team personnel returned to town to celebrate their thrilling seven-game series victory over the Brewers. "Besides the fact that it was probably one of the best defensive teams I ever played on, it had the most veterans I ever played on," Smith said. "Just how consistent we were. In 82, I think we probably played as good and as exciting as we had seen in this town in a long time. It was fun. It was certainly great times." In addition to Herzog, Smith and Sutter, those who returned for Saturday's ceremony included first baseman Keith Hernandez, third baseman Ken Oberkfell and pitchers Dave LaPoint, Jim Kaat, John Stuper, Jeff Lahti, Steve Mura, John Martin, Doug Bair and Jeff Keener, Bench coach Red Schoendienst was also on hand, as were outfielders Tito Landrum, David Greenand Gene Roof, Dane Iorg, infielder Mike Ramsey, catcher Glenn Brummer, general manager Joe McDonald and trainer Gene Gieselmann. "It's great, it's great to see the guys," Sutter said. "Everybody looks good. We're all getting a little greyer, but we're hanging in there." Asked what he remembered most about the 1982 season, Sutter said, "How good a team we were. How good we were defensively. How much speed we had, how much we just frustrated other teams. It was pretty special." Despite having arguably the best team in the National League the previous year in 1981, the Cardinals missed the playoffs because of the player's strike that resulted in the season being split in half and the leaders of the first and second half meeting in a Divisional Playoff round. The Cardinals finished second in both halves. With the 27-year-old Smith at shortstop and a rookie named Willie McGee providing a big boost following his call-up in early May, the Cardinals got their revenge in 1982. George Hendrick who is currently the Tampa Bay Rays first base coach and couldn't attend hit .282 with 104 RBI and 19 home runs to lead the Cardinals offense while Hernandez hit .299 and had 94 RBI, 33 doubles and 100 walks. The Cardinals hit just 67 home runs as a team but finished 92-70 to win the National League East by three games over the Philadelphia Phillies. They swept the Atlanta Braves in three games in the NLCS before overcoming a 3-2 series deficit to Milwaukee in the World Series by winning Game 6 and Game 7 at Busch Stadium. "Nobody picked us to win," Herzog said. "They took it away from us the year before, the division title, and then we came back and won. We got Ozzie during the winter and I think that was the final straw that made us a good team. We had two Hall of Famers. Nobody thought our pitching staff was any good. We never lost more than three games in a row all year. We just turned out to be World Champions." The Cardinals returned to the World Series under Herzog in 1985 and 1987 but lost the deciding Game 7 both times. They've won the Fall Classic twice since, in 2006 and 2011 under now-retired manager Tony La Russa.
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