By Jordan Palmer
(The Chirp) - News of the trade of Skip Schumaker to the Los Angeles Dodgers will not set the baseball world on fire,or be the top discussion topic among baseball pundits across the country, but here in St. Louis, it should be noticed that a popular player is leaving town.
Why was Skip Schumaker so popular as Cardinal? He was never a "super star," nor an All-Star for that matter. He never lit up the fanbase with towering home run's or lengthy hit streaks. No, Schumaker captured the Cardinal Nation imagination by playing the "Cardinal Way."
The Cardinal Way is what is taught to every new ball player that comes to town. It defines a hardnosed style of play that is regarded now as a throwback style to the days of the Gas House Gang and Stan Musial. It is what is expected if you want to play in St. Louis.
Skip understood the Cardinal Way. He played hard, wasn't afraid to get dirty, stretch out for a fly ball, or to go head first into the wall. He was a hustler and played with grit. Cardinal fans love that.
Skip put team first. Since the days of Fernando Vina, second base has been a question mark nearly every season. In 2009, the headline of Spring Training was that manager Tony La Russa asked Skip to learn to play second. Skip could always hit, and the idea was to keep his bat in the lineup as much as possible, but a position switch like that is not easy, but Skip gutted it out, and even though it wasn't always pretty, he did the best he could. He played hard, and again always displayed the Cardinal Way. He was never a super star, and you got the impression that he didn't care.
But first and foremost I was struck by how in 2012, with his season pretty much ruined by two injuries, he still did forget what was really important, and took a role in helping out a friend. His best friend in life's daughter was born with a rare disease in which treatment was possible but expensive. Skip organized a fund raising effort locally to benefit his friend and his family. He organized his teammates and the community to reach out and do what was right.
Skip wasn't a Cardinals super star, he was a role player, who engrained himself in the collective Cardinal Nation psyche with is hard nose play and grit. He was one of the good ones, and he'll be missed.