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At the time it seemed a small contribution to make. On Aug. 19,
1951, Bill DeWitt Jr., a nine-year-old batboy for the St. Louis
Browns, was asked to peel off his white-and-brown uniform and
lend it to the newcomer on the team. While dressed in DeWitt's
wool duds, 3'7" Eddie Gaedel strolled to the plate, eyed four
straight balls and walked to first. That turned out to be the
only batting appearance by a midget in baseball history, and
DeWitt's borrowed uniform is on display at Cooperstown.

History is built on small contributions. These days DeWitt is
merely one of 10 investors who shelled out a total of $150
million to purchase the Cardinals from Anheuser-Busch in
December. But on baseball matters the consortium will depend
heavily on DeWitt's lifelong exposure to the game: His father,
Bill Sr., owned the Browns from 1949 to '51 and the Reds from
1962 to '66; and Bill Jr. has held stakes in the Reds, Rangers
and Orioles. If the Cards' free-agent moves this winter were any
sign of DeWitt's influence, then St. Louis's Gaedelian low of
1995 will not soon be repeated.

In the off-season the new owners dished out more than $44
million to reel in some mid-lineup pop (leftfielder Ron Gant and
third baseman Gary Gaetti, who had a combined .534 slugging
percentage in '95) and some mid-line starters (righthanders Todd
Stottlemyre and Andy Benes, who pitched a total of 391 1/3
innings last year). DeWitt and Co. also enticed manager Tony La
Russa away from Oakland (page 10), along with his highly
esteemed pitching coach, Dave Duncan, who last season coaxed 205
strikeouts out of Stottlemyre. And they dealt for A's reliever
Dennis Eckersley, 41, to replace stopper Tom Henke, who retired
in December.

But after the free-agent headlines faded, Busch Stadium remained
a fragile house of Cards. La Russa's first delicate task will be
to decide whether 41-year-old Ozzie Smith will do his backflips
at shortstop come April 1. The Wizard missed nearly half the '95
season with a sore right shoulder, and as insurance St. Louis
picked up Royce Clayton from San Francisco in a December trade.
"If [Smith] can play, he'll play," La Russa says. "If he can't
play, he'll have to take a different role. But I'm fully
convinced he'll compete for the job."

In the deal for Clayton, the Cardinals traded away righthander
Rich DeLucia, who would have served La Russa well in the
bullpen. And for starters, the Cards are still without an ace.
Stottlemyre's career numbers (83-77, 4.41 ERA) are middling, and
Benes posted a 5.86 ERA in Seattle after the Mariners picked him
up last August for the stretch drive. Nor can St. Louis count on
veteran Mike Morgan, who is 102-144 lifetime.

Help may arrive, however, in the form of 6'5", 215-pound righty
Alan Benes, who gives the Cards their third brother pitching
act, following in the footsteps of the Deans and the McDaniels.
Alan is five years younger, one inch shorter and 25 pounds
lighter than Andy, but he throws as hard and seems twice as mean
on the mound.

Gant, the two-time Comeback Player of the Year, will patrol
Busch Stadium's new natural turf, joined by Ray Lankford in
center and Brian Jordan in right. But offensively it may take
90-90 output from this fearsome threesome to keep the club
competitive. Catcher Tom Pagnozzi has had three straight seasons
cut short by injuries, and if Gaetti fails to approximate his
career year of '95, the infield will pack as much wallop as
Peter McNeeley.

The new ownership seems committed to making the deals necessary
to keep the team in the hunt. The group includes three boyhood
chums from St. Louis Country Day School--banker Drew Baur, lawyer
Frederick Hanser and investment adviser DeWitt--who have pledged
to be more visible and involved in the team than their
predecessor, August Busch III. Busch would attend the home
opener, leave after the second inning and not be seen at the
stadium the rest of the season. "We won't be hiding upstairs in
a luxury box," Hanser says. "We'll be sitting in different
areas, talking to the fans. We want to be the fans' owners."

"I'm touched by how much the team means to the people of St.
Louis," adds Baur. "There is a citywide feeling about this team
that you won't find in many communities."

Indeed, it seems that now even history is knocking on the
Cardinals' door. "Hey, you guys need a lefthanded hitter?"
legend Stan Musial asked Baur recently. "I hear you're paying


COLOR PHOTO: CHUCK SOLOMON COVER PHOTO [Varies by region] New Look Dennis Eckersley pitches in for the revamped Cardinals COLOR PHOTO: STEPHEN GREEN To contend, the Cards will need Lankford's bat even more than his glove. [Ray Lankford in game]


1995 Team Statistics (NL rank in parentheses)

Batting Average .247 (14)
Home Runs 107 (13)
ERA 4.10 (6)
Fielding Pct. .979 (12)


This season Busch Stadium will have a natural grass playing
surface for the first time since 1969. The switch from
artificial turf to natural grass is not without precedent:
Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium, Chicago's old Comiskey Park and
San Francisco's Candlestick Park all had carpet at one time and
later switched to grass. Here's a breakdown of Cardinals' career
batting averages on grass as opposed to artificial turf. Listed
are all St. Louis players with at least 500 at bats and how they
fared on both surfaces; interestingly, seven of the 10 hit
better on artificial turf.

Cardinals on Grass vs. Artificial Turf

Grass Artificial Turf
ABs Hits BA ABs Hits BA Diff.

Pagnozzi 650 184 .283 1,629 393 .241 +.042

Gallego 2,307 562 .244 438 101 .231 +.013

Clayton 1,369 343 .251 421 102 .242 +.009

Borders 1,060 266 .251 1,413 358 .253 -.002

Gant 2,474 649 .262 1,128 300 .266 -.004

McGee 2,707 798 .295 3,793 1,135 .299 -.004

Gaetti 3,529 889 .252 3,674 943 .257 -.005

Lankford 741 187 .252 1,855 508 .274 -.022

Oquendo 1,111 269 .242 2,091 552 .264 -.022

Smith 3,437 827 .241 5,732 1,569 .274 -.033


Even though St. Louis bulked up its bullpen by trading for
Dennis Eckersley, the Cards may use righthander T.J. Mathews as
an occasional closer. A converted starter who grew up in
Belleville, Ill., just 15 miles from Busch Stadium, the 6'2",
200-pounder fanned 28 and walked 11 in 30 innings' work last
year. With his low three-quarters delivery, the 26-year-old has
upper-80's heat and a knuckle curve. Says outgoing stopper Tom
Henke, "From what I've seen, T.J. has what it takes."



2B Geronimo Pena .267, 1, 8, 3
1B John Mabry .307, 5, 41, 0
CF Ray Lankford .277, 25, 82, 24
LF Ron Gant[**] .276, 29, 88, 23
RF Brian Jordan .296, 22, 81, 24
3B Gary Gaetti[**] .261, 35, 96, 3
SS Royce Clayton[**] .244, 5, 58, 24
C Tom Pagnozzi .215, 2, 15, 0


SS Ozzie Smith .199, 0, 11, 4
IF Mike Gallego[**] .233, 0, 8, 0
OF Willie McGee[**] .285, 2, 15, 5


RH Andy Benes*[**] 4-7, 4.17
RH Todd Stottlemyre[**] 14-7, 4.55
LH Donovan Osborne 4-6, 3.81
RH Mike Morgan 7-7, 3.56
RH Alan Benes (R) 2.41 ERA in AAA


RH Dennis Eckersley[**] 29, 4.83
LH Tony Fossas 0, 1.47
RH T.J. Mathews 2, 1.52
LH Rick Honeycutt[**] 2, 2.96

*National League statistics only
[**] New acquisition (R) Rookie