ST. LOUIS — The sight of Jon Lester in a Cardinals jersey never really looked quite right.
Sure, he pitched well down the stretch and was a welcome addition to the clubhouse, but man, did it look strange seeing the Red Sox and Cubs star wearing the "Birds on the Bat".
Lester is simply the latest in a long line of these instances in Cardinals history.
Over the course of their life as a franchise, the Cardinals have welcomed in a number of players who became synonymous with other franchises. And it looked weird pretty much every time.
I'm focusing on the guys who we look back (or will look back) 20 years later and go, "Oh wow remember when ___ played in St. Louis"?
So, let's have some fun and take a look back on some guys who it's still weird to think about as Cardinals.
Think I missed someone? Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jon Lester, John Lackey, A.J. Pierzynski, Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman, Brad Penny
Lackey, the career Angel and Cub, and Pierzynski the White Sox standard at catcher for eight years.
Even stranger, the two were the battery for the Cardinals against the Giants in Game 3 of the 2014 NLCS, which San Francisco won on a 10th-inning walk off.
Lackey did have an underrated and impressive stint with the Cardinals those two years in 2014 in 2015, though. Acquired in the Allen Craig, Joe Kelly trade, the Cardinals got an absolute steal on him when it came to salary.
In 43 starts, Lackey went 16-13 with a 3.10 ERA and a 3.28 strikeout to walk ratio.
From a Cardinals killer, to a Cardinals star, Carlos Beltran had a great two-year stint under the Arch.
From 2012 to 2013 you could make the case for the former Mets and Royals star as the Cardinals' MVP. In fact, it seems like Beltran played longer than that in St. Louis.
Beltran hit .282 with a .836 OPS in St. Louis with 56 home runs and 181 RBI. He helped the team reach the 2013 World Series, and was an All-Star in both years as a Cardinal.
How many games would you guess Lance Berkman played as a Cardinal? The answer is 177. That's a little more than a full season. But the former Astros star certainly left an impression.
"The Big Puma" joined the Cardinals in 2011 and was one of the key cogs to their championship season. He was an All-Star, and hit .301 with a .959 OPS. He also smashed 31 home runs and 94 RBI. Oh, and he was a playoff monster, hitting .423 in the World Series with a signature moment of his own in the legendary Game 6 against the Texas Rangers.
He only played 32 games in his second and final season in St. Louis in 2012 due to injury, but Berkman will always have a special place in the hearts of Cardinals fans.
Brad Penny was once one of the best pitchers in baseball, a back-to-back All-Star with the Dodgers and had a third-place finish in the Cy Young vote in 2007. By the time he got to the Cardinals in 2010, he wasn't the same pitcher but was still decently effective for St. Louis.
In nine starts with the Cardinals, Penny had a 3.23 ERA. He also hit a grand slam as a Cardinal. Which totally ruled.
Notable mentions: Corey Patterson, Justin Masterson and Randy Winn
- John Smoltz, Troy Percival, Larry Walker, Bobby Bonilla, Will Clark, Chuck Finley
Some interesting names in this decade. Let's start with John Smoltz.
The Hall of Famer spent the second half of his 21st and final season in the big leagues in St. Louis at the age of 42 after he was released by the Boston Red Sox earlier in the 2009 season.
Smoltz won 213 games, collected 154 saves and finished with a 3.33 ERA in his career — mostly in Atlanta — but wasn't awful in St. Louis. He started 7 games as a Cardinal with a 4.26 ERA. He also made one appearance in the NLDS against the Dodgers in 2009, allowing one run in two innings.
Hall of Famer Larry Walker is best known as a member of the Colorado Rockies, but he did have a memorable coda to his career in St. Louis.
Joining the juggernaut 2004 Cardinals in the middle of the season, Walker was a key contributor in the team's run to the World Series. He had a good 100 games in 2005 as well at age 38, hitting .289 with 15 home runs.
In his two years in St. Louis, Walker hit .286 with a .908 OPS, 26 home runs and 79 RBI in 144 games.
He also got a standing ovation in his first-ever at-bat as a Cardinal at Busch Stadium, which he brings up often when asked about his days in St. Louis
Cardinals fans probably know two things about Bobby Bonilla at a minimum.
1: He's still getting paid by the Mets.
2: His injury opened the doors for a young Albert Pujols to make the team in 2001. And we know how that turned out.
Bonilla was a six-time All-Star before reaching St. Louis in 2001, but played just 93 games as a Cardinal, hitting five home runs, driving in 21 and hitting a paltry .213.
Fighting Jose Oquendo and Ozzie Smith probably isn't the way to endear yourself to the St. Louis fan base.
But for the last two months of the 2000 season, the former Giants star was magic as a Cardinal.
Brought on to fill in for an ailing Mark McGwire at first base, Clark hit 12 home runs, drove in 42 runs and hit .345 with a 1.081 OPS in 51 games as a Cardinal. That success bolted the team into the playoffs, where they eventually fell to the Mets in the NLCS. Don't blame Clark, though. He hit .412 in five NLCS games before retiring at the end of the season.
Notable mention: Joe Girardi and Tino Martinez
- Eric Davis, Dmitri Young, Dennis Eckersley, Fernando Valenzuela, Andres Galarraga
Lots of fun names in the 1990s. Too many to talk about, but let's pick a few.
Remember Dmitri Young? The Cardinals took him with the fourth overall pick in the 1991 MLB Draft. He only played 126 games in St. Louis, but went on to have a fine career with his best years coming in Detroit.
Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley spent a couple of years playing for his former manager Tony La Russa in St. Louis in the mid-'90s. Though he's synonymous with the Oakland A's and Boston Red Sox, Eckersley donned the "Birds on the Bat" in 1996 and 1997.
In 120 appearances across that time, Eckersley saved 66 games while blowing 11 and had a 3.58 ERA. He was perfect in the playoffs for the Cardinals in 1996, saving four games before the Braves knocked them out in the NLCS.
Fernando Valenzuela as a Cardinal. Tell St. Louis fans that in the 1980's.
The man who inspired "Fernando Mania" in Los Angeles finished his career in 1997 in St. Louis after a stint earlier that year in San Diego. It did not go well.
Valenzuela went 0-4 with a 5.56 ERA in just five starts as a Cardinal and was released in July.
Before he went on to become a full-fledged star with the Rockies, Andres Galarraga made a stopover in St. Louis in 1992 after a trade with the Montreal Expos.
In one season in St. Louis, Galarraga played in just 95 games, hitting .243 with two home runs and 10 RBI. Things went better for him in Colorado, as he hit 172 home runs with an OPS of .944 over the next five years as a Rockie.
Notable mentions: Shawon Dunston, Rick Sutcliffe, Rex Hudler, Dan Quisenberry
1980s and 1970s
- Clint Hurdle, Rollie Fingers*, Dick Allen
You might recognize Clint Hurdle as the long-time manager of the Colorado Rockies and Pittsburgh Pirates. But before that, he was a Cardinal.
Hurdle spent 1986 in St. Louis as a utilityman. In 78 games for the Cardinals he hit .195 with three home runs and 15 RBI. His managerial career was much more successful.
So yes it's true that Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers never played a game as a Cardinal. But he technically was Cardinals' "property".
Whitey Herzog traded with the Padres for Fingers on Dec. 8, 1980. One day later, Herzog went and dealt for Bruce Sutter from the Cubs. On Dec. 12, Fingers was traded to Milwaukee with Ted Simmons and Pete Vukovich for David Green, Dave LaPoint, Sixto Lezcano and Larry Sorenson.
So while he never threw a pitch as a Cardinal, Fingers spent four days in St. Louis limbo.
Dick Allen is one of the most underrated players in baseball history, and a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame to this day.
He was a three-time All-Star and Rookie of the Year in Philadelphia, but ended up in St. Louis in 1970.
In his one year as a Cardinal, Allen was an All-Star, hit .279 with a .937 OPS, 34 home runs and 101 RBI. He was traded to the Dodgers after the season, but went on to win an MVP award with the White Sox in 1972.
Notable mentions: Dan Driessen, Don Kessinger, Willie Davis,
1960s and Earlier
- Orlando Cepeda, Roger Maris, Bob Uecker, Minnie Minoso, Hoyt Wilhelm, Mordecai Brown, Cy Young
We're into the way back machine now.
Orlando Cepeda is a Hall of Famer, mostly for his work as a San Francisco Giant at the beginning of his career.
But his three-year stint in St. Louis from 1966 to 1968 was a productive one.
Cepeda was the NL MVP and a World Series champion in 1967, and hit .290 while socking 58 home runs and driving in 242 runs as a Cardinal.
Roger Maris is one of the most famous non-Hall of Famers in the history of baseball. His single-season record of 61 home runs with the New York Yankees in 1961 stood until Mark McGwire broke it in 1998.
Maris was a two-time MVP in New York but finished his career in St. Louis in 1967 and 1968.
Over those last two seasons, Maris hit .258 with 14 home runs and 100 RBI. He was a key contributor in the Cardinals' 1967 World Series championship over the Boston Red Sox, hitting .385 with a home run and seven RBIs.
Bob Uecker has made a living for decades as the voice of Milwaukee Brewers broadcasts. But long before he made the trek up to the broadcast booth, he was a backup catcher in the Cardinals organization.
Uecker recalls his Cardinals days often in interviews, and the picture of him with a Tuba before Game 2 of the 1964 World Series has always been a big hit.
Uecker played two years in St. Louis in 1964 and 1965. He hit .215 with three home runs and 16 RBI as a Cardinal.
Newly-elected Hall of Famer Minnie Minoso spent 1962 in St. Louis with the Cardinals. He played in 39 games as a 36-year-old outfielder and hit .196 with a home run and 10 RBI.
Hall of Fame knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm had part of one year in St. Louis nestled in his 21-year Cooperstown career. As a Cardinal in part of 1957, Wilhelm went 1-4 with a 4.25 ERA out of the bullpen.
Hall of Famer Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown is one of the most legendary pitchers of the early 1900s. He started his career in St. Louis in 1903. In 26 games as a rookie, Brown went 9-13 with a 2.60 ERA and 19 complete games. He was traded to play for the Cubs, where he became a star.
Cy Young (yes, that one) is the most decorated pitcher in the history of baseball. He is the all-time leader in wins, losses, games started, complete games, innings pitched, hits allowed, runs allowed, earned runs allowed and batters faced.
In-between long stretches with Cleveland and Boston, Young called St. Louis home.
Over the 1899 and 1900 seasons, Young went 46-34 for the Cardinals with a 2.78 ERA. He started 77 games as a Cardinal and threw a complete game in 72 of them.
Notable mentions: Vada Pinson, Mudcat Grant, Sal Maglie