Cardinals Cubs Rivalry Heads to the Baseball Hall of Fame
The Cardinals and the Cubs have a rivalry, much in the same way as the Yankees and Red Sox do. Except, of course, the games don't dominate the national television broadcasts as much. And I'd suggest the rivalry is much more friendly. because well, the fans aren't jaded bitter New Yorkers or rough and tumble Bostonians with an inferiority complex towards New York. But I digress. On May 28 the Cardinals and Cubs rivalry will be on display during the Baseball Hall of Fame Classic Legends Game in Cooperstown. Sort of.
That's because Baseball Hall of Famers Ozzie Smith and Fergie Jenkins will manage the teams playing each other in the Hall of Fame Classic Legends Game at Doubleday Field as part of the Baseball Hall of Fame's Classic Legend Weekend.
Ozzie Smith, of course, is the Hall of Fame shortstop who wore #1 for the Cardinals and dazzled baseball fans everywhere with his fielding and speed. Fergie Jenkins is the Hall of Fame pitcher who is mostly associated with the Chicago Cubs. As a Cub Jenkins achieved six straight 20-win seasons and won the 1971 Cy-Young Award.
So what about this rivalry thing? Well, that's MLB.com reporter Henry Palattella's angle on writing about the Baseball Hall of Fame Classic Legends Game. Because, well, it's a fun angle to view the game from, especially if you're a Cardinals or Cubs fan.
Yet, I'm not sure I'd characterize Jenkens and Smith as rivals. Or that there was a lot to the Cardinals and Cubs rivalry during the years they faced off against each other. Palattella's article says the two faced off against each other 19 times in1982 and 1983. And it occurred at the end of Jenkens career, and five years into Smith's career. In other words, it's not like these are two rivals who spent their career battling it out over the dish.
The Cubs at this point were Chicago's sleepy second baseball team. They played only day games. Charismatic broadcaster Harry Carey had just joined the Cubs broadcast booth extolling the virtues of the Friendly Confines. And while the Cubs reach on superstation WGN gave them a huge fan base, it hadn't translated into butts in the seats. And they hadn't yet won a division to reignite anything.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, would win the World Series in 1982 but would finish a lackluster fourth in the National League East in 1983. That said they finished second in 1981 and third in 1984, the year the Cubs finally woke up from hibernation and won the division. My point is, there was a lot more to cheer about as a Cardinals fan in '82 and '83.
And yet, according to Palattella, Jenkins has a leg up in the rivalry holding Smith to a .167 batting average in their 19 matchups. Yet, I don't think that bothers Smith too much as he was named to 15 All-Star teams, won 13 Gold Gloves, and picked up a Silver Slugger. And oh yeah, a 1982 World Series ring.
Unfortunately, for those of us who watched baseball in the '70s and the '80s, you won't see a lot of these era players actually playing in the game. They'll coach. Wade Boggs, Jack Morris, Tim Raines, Ted Simmons, Lee Smith, and Alan Trammell will all serve as Smith and Jenkens' coaches.
Yet playing the game you'll have the younger retirees. Names like the Phillies Bobby Abreu, the Cardinals David Freese, the Royals Willie Aikens, the Tigers Alex Avila, the Mets Todd Zeile. and the Dodgers Steve Sax.
So who will win the 20th meeting between Ozzie Smith and Fergie Jenkins? I don't know, but looking at the game through that lens makes it more interesting to me.
The Hall of Fame Classic Game is part of the events of the Hall of Fame Classic Weekend, which sounds like a fun weekend for baseball fans young and old. You can learn more about the weekend on the Baseball Hall of Fame website.