The brace of redbirds that perched so jauntily on the chests of the famous Gas House Gang and other colorful Cardinal teams of the past will be missing from this year's uniforms. Whether or not that will help "the best seventh-place team in the history of the National League" depends greatly on what Fred Hutchinson, the new manager, can build around two of the game's greatest stars—Musial and Schoendienst. The pitching, particularly in relief, has been the Cards' major problem, part of which has been remedied by the return from Service of big Wilmer (Vinegar Bend) Mizell, part by the purchase of old Ellis Kinder, who was for so many years the fire chief of the Boston Red Sox. Catching and shortstop are still trouble spots big enough to allay serious pennant fever in St. Louis for the time being, but the Cardinals should definitely be on the way up in 1956.
2 AL SCHOENDIENST, SECOND BASE: Last year this best-of-all NL second basemen was having eye trouble and his hitting dropped to .268, but his lifetime average is still .289. After winter eye exercises he feels back to par, and his switch-hitting in the No. 2 spot (he is better from the left side) will mean much to the Cardinal attack.
6 STAN MUSIAL, RIGHT FIELD: What more need be said about The Man than that he has been six times NL batting champion, holds the league's highest lifetime batting average among active players with .342, and has thrice been voted its Most Valuable Player.
20 WALLY MOON, FIRST BASE: As Rookie of the Year in 1954, he played outfield, was shifted to first last year but now will start there as a regular for the first time. Like most of the Cardinal power, he bats from the left side.
42 HARVEY HADDIX, PITCHER: A 20-game winner in his first full season with the Cards in 1953, this wily little curve-baller slipped to a disappointing 12-16 last year. No explanation, but the new bridegroom says he feels "right" this year.
The Cardinal infield is hard to criticize defensively, with Solly Hemus and Alex Grammas rotating at short, and Ken Boyer, a 1955 rookie who hit 18 home runs and stole 22 bases, at third. But Hemus and Grammas can't hit and of late neither can Bill Sarni, who seems to have the catching spot tied up. Rip Repulski and Bill Virdon, two consistent hitters, help Musial in the outfield, and that leaves the pitching. Temperamental Luis Arroyo should be better than his 11-8 of last year. Will Schmidt, up from Omaha last year, should improve his 7-6 record with experience, but the relievers are still the question mark.
NEWCOMERS TO WATCH
3 DON BLASINGAME, INFIELDER: Latest in the Cards apparently bottomless well of great rookies. Has only fair arm but he may be the answer to the shortstop dilemma. Hit .302 at Omaha last year, spent the last five games with the Cards, getting on base 12 times in 23 trips, batting .375.
16 ELLIS KINDER, PITCHER: If the grand old man of the Red Sox can still put out fires, Redbird hopes will rise.
17 WILMER MIZELL, PITCHER: When all 6-foot-3 of Vinegar Bend gets behind his fast ball, it looks like a marble. During two years in the Army he grew to 205 pounds but kept fit and promises to equal or better his seven-strikeout-a-game average set in 1952-53.
BOARD OF STRATEGY
29 FRED HUTCHINSON, MANAGER: A big, quiet man who seethes inside, Hutch was a pitching prodigy at 18, hurled for Detroit until appointed manager in 1952. After two more years he quit in a contract dispute, led Seattle to Coast league pennant last year. Likes a fast, aggressive team.
Coaches are JOHNNY HOPP (40) and TERRY MOORE (34), both onetime Card heroes in their pennant years, and BILL POSEDEL (33), a former pitcher.
17 WILMER MIZELL