Publish date:


St. Louis had waited 18 years for a pennant before the Cardinals fought their way to the National League championship last fall. Now, in October, the New York Yankees were coming to town for the World Series. St. Louisians camped on sidewalks to be in line for tickets and then, inside Busch Stadium, as the color photographs on the following pages show, had a glorious time cheering their heroes home. When it was over the Cardinals were world champions, and St. Louis had a triumph it would never forget.

Gleeful St. Louis fans raised banners and blew horns, while on the field Mickey Mantle (No. 7) watched stolidly as Cardinals held off Yankees in the seventh game

The crowd poured from the stands after the final out, engulfing St. Louis heroes like Bob Gibson (left, with Catcher McCarver) as they moved happily toward the dugout


As you may have heard, August A. (Gussie) Busch Jr. did not get all the good hops last year. He did, however, have a baseball season and a business year the likes of which no owner may ever again know. His Anheuser-Busch brewery sold 10.3 million barrels, an alltime world record which, when reduced to business statistics, was at least two million barrels more than its closest competitor and, when reduced to advertising statistics, was enough beer to fill 6,600 swimming pools. His St. Louis Cardinals won their first pennant in 18 years and then beat the New York Yankees in the World Series. His star player, Ken Boyer (left, with Busch at the Cardinals'' victory party), was named Most Valuable Player in the National League.

"On that final Sunday of last season in St. Louis," Gus Busch said not long ago while dressed in a flamboyant yellow sports jacket and his red Cardinal cap, "I was beside myself with excitement and frustration. All during the week the thing had become tremendous. One night we beat the Phils and then had to wait to hear how the game between the Pirates and Reds would come out. I remember sitting in the darkened ball park as the game was being broadcast and sweating out every pitch and every play. It was something like two hours after our game had ended when the Pirates finally scored in the 16th inning, and I was as happy as a child that we were in first place. But then we played the Mets in that final three-game series and they beat us Friday night 1-0 and really beat us [15-5] Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, when the Mets got ahead of us 3-2, I left my box seat and went up to the 'Redbird Roost' high up in the stands. It's my private club, and I walked around for a minute, and then...well, to tell the truth, I kicked a hole right in the wall. And then we won. It was wonderful.

"When we [the Anheuser-Busch brewery] bought the Cardinals back in 1953 I didn't know an awful lot about baseball. I guess maybe I even leaned a little bit toward the Browns in my younger days, because they had George Sisler. There was a lot of talk in the early 1950s about moving the Cardinals out of St. Louis, and I guess we bought them partly as a civic gesture. Stan Musial and Red Schoendienst used to shoot ducks with me, and that probably helped influence me, too.

"A lot of people wonder if baseball is a business or a sport. Well, I'll say what I think. First of all, it is a great sport, and then it is a son of a, son of a, son of a gun of a business. I love it! I am thrilled with it! I am thrilled with the double play when it is perfectly made, when it is a tough one. But baseball can do other things to you, too. I remember the third game of last year's World Series, when Mickey Mantle hit the homer off Barney Schultz in the ninth inning to beat us 2-1. Barney had done a great job for us, and when Mantle hit that ball it broke my heart. Those are the things about baseball that come to mind.

"I consider this to be an important year for the Cardinals. We have a wonderful chance to win again, but the whole National League race is going to be a good battle. You can't discount anyone. This year we have the highest season-ticket sale in our history, and next year we are moving into our new 50,000-seat stadium in downtown St. Louis. What with the rent we'll be paying there and giving up the concessions we owned in the old ballpark, we'll need 1.3 million in season attendance just to break even." (In the 12 seasons Anheuser-Busch has owned them the Cards have averaged a healthy 1,016,314 a year in the small, 30,500-capacity Busch Stadium.)

During his time with the Cardinals, August A. Busch has fired Eddie Stanky, Harry Walker, Fred Hutchinson, Solly Hemus and Bing Devine, and he seemed to be close to firing Johnny Keane last year when the Cardinals were struggling. Hutchinson once grew angry when Busch wanted a colorful rookie named Tom Alston to play first base instead of the player Hutchinson was playing there. "Mr. Busch," said Fred, "if you want a clown to play first base for you why don't you hire Emmett Kelly?" The Keane-Devine affair last season left Gussie, who is used to having egg in his beer, so to speak, with egg all over his face. Keane, who resigned after winning the World Series, was voted Manager of the Year, and the already-fired De-vine, whose trade for Lou Brock was the key to the success of the Cardinals, was named Executive of the Year.

Today Busch does not care to discuss those elements of last season, and by his silence he seems to admit that he may have been wrong. He has been wrong before; he admits that he was once guilty of a huge blunder in the brewing business. In 1953 he raised the price of his beer 15¢ a case wholesale. Sales fell off 800,000 barrels, and Busch told his stockholders: "We made what was probably the worst mistake in the company's history. As your president I take sole responsibility." The stockholders were so amazed by his honesty that they promptly adjourned the meeting.

As for baseball, Busch says, "I wish I could get to talk to the visiting players more, but there is so little time. Often they will come over to the box and say a few words to me. Once Willie Mays told me that Curt Flood was just as good as he was, and I got a kick out of it for Flood's sake. Great boys on this team. Flood, Bill White, Dick Groat, Bob Gibson, Tim McCarver, Lou Brock, Mike Shannon, Ken Boyer....

"We hope that we will be in there again this year, but it will be tough. It's a lot to live up to. I remember that I was so happy with winning the pennant that I couldn't see straight, and then I was even happier when we won the Series. I'd sure love to go through both feelings again."