If you’re a St. Louis Cardinals fan, you may not believe what you are about to hear from former second baseman Tom Herr who played on three Cardinals World Series teams in the 1980s.
Yes, those included the 1985 club that lost to the Kansas City Royals in the World Series and had Game 6 in Kansas City slip away, in part, because of the blown call at first base by umpire Don Denkinger. Herr believes the Cardinals probably would have won it all without the missed call; there was no instant replay back then.
Yet Herr is not a big fan of instant replay. Really.
“It’s tough,” he said. “I kind of lean toward the traditional view. Major league players are the best in the world and major league umpires are the best in the world. I just like the human element involved. However, in ’85, that call would have been reversed with replay. It could have made us world champions.”
But he doesn’t like the trade – getting more calls right through technology – at the expense of losing emotion.
“It’s almost robotic,” Herr said of today’s instant replay process. “In years past, Billy Martin would go nose-to-nose with an umpire.”
Herr, 58, is coming to Memphis as part of the Mobil Super “Go The Distance” Baseball Tour. On Saturday, May 10, Herr will be at AutoZone Park from 4 to 6 p.m., before the Redbirds game, to talk with fans and sign autographs.
Herr had his career year in 1985 when he was an All-Star and batted .302 with 110 runs batted in; he finished fifth in National League MVP voting. The most amazing part about the 6-foot, 175-pound switch-hitter’s season was he hit only eight home runs; he also hit 38 doubles and stole 31 bases.
He played in an era when the National League was home to cavernous, cookie-cutter ballparks where flyballs became doubles, triples or outs, but did not easily float away for home runs.
“My numbers were a product of the time I played in,” said Herr, who finished his 13-year career with more triples (41) than home runs (28).
His last season was 1991 with the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants; he says at the end of his career a few players were “dabbling in steroids.” Dabbling would turn into abusing in short order, but none of that figures to be top of mind with fans this weekend.
“Those teams of the 80s are revered in St. Louis and all around Cardinal Nation,” Herr said. “You had Whitey (Herzog), this swashbuckling guy (as manager) who would shoot from the hip, and it was a fun time.”
The current edition of the Cardinals, which is coming off a pennant-winning 2013 season, lacks a lot of what that 1985 team had. There is no one who remotely does what Vince Coleman and Willie McGee did in that batting order. Jhonny Peralta won’t ever be confused with Ozzie Smith at shortstop. And no matter how many different players they run out to second base this summer, they might not approach half of Herr’s RBI total combined.
Herr’s advice to fans: patience.
“Their pitching is so good and so deep they’re gonna be in a lot of games,” he said. “Milwaukee’s gonna come back to the pack. There’s nothing to be alarmed about.”