If we told you Dorrel Norman Elvert Herzog would be in Ina later this month, it probably wouldn’t mean much, would it?
But what if we said the "White Rat" who revolutionized St. Louis Cardinals baseball with "Whiteyball" in the 1980s was coming to The Hitting Zone at Rend Lake College on Thursday, September 25? We’ve got your attention now, huh?
One of the most popular men to ever wear the birds-on-bat uniform, former Manager Whitey Herzog, will be signing autographs for an hour and a half, from 5-6:30 p.m., in the Warrior baseball complex, according to first-year RLC Baseball Coach Bob Simpson. The public is invited. Area fans will be able to get Herzog’s signature on two items for a fee of $10.
Warrior coaches also will be available to show off the dedicated baseball/softball facility and sign up prospective players ages 8 and older for group instruction sessions evenings and weekends. The Hitting Zone is located on-campus adjacent to the baseball and softball fields, just off County Line Road.
The World Championship manager (1982) who also guided St. Louis to National League pennants in 1985 and 1987 is appearing as a favor to the Rend Lake College Foundation through his friendship with fishing/hunting/golfing buddy John Reilly, who operates the nearby Rend Lake Resort complex.
The Sporting News recently named Whitey Herzog as its manager on its all-time St. Louis Cardinals team. His teams from mid-season in 1980, when he succeeded Ken Boyer, to mid-season 1990, when frustrations with the modern ballplayer caused him to resign in disgust, relied heavily on speed and the running game to manufacture runs and a solid defense to prevent them. They won with strong closers and with Bullpens by Committee.
A career .257 hitter as an outfielder during eight nondescript seasons with Washington (2), Kansas City (3), Baltimore (2) and Detroit (1), Herzog also led the Kansas City Royals to three successive division crowns in a five-year managerial tenure prior to joining the Cards. His overall record as a manager with Texas (one season), California (four), K.C. and St. Louis is 1281-1125, a .532 winning percentage.
Columnist Larry King once said of the Manager of the Year for 1976 (UPI), 1982 (TSN and UPI) and 1985 (Baseball Writers Association), "Every game is like a chess match with Whitey, and other managers must feel like they are playing against 10 guys when they go up against him."
Typically, Herzog’s name is one of the first mentioned when speculation about a manager’s status comes into question, particularly that of Tony LaRussa in Whitey’s St. Louis backyard. This in spite of the fact he is 72 years of age and hasn’t been in a dugout on a regular basis since July 6, 1990.
In both 1981 and ’82, when he also served the Cardinals as General Manager, he was named United Press International "Executive of the Year."
Sports Illustrated tabbed him often. His S.I. credentials include Man of the Year, Manager of the Year and Manager of the Decade.
Compared to a star-studded managerial career, his playing days were for the most part uneventful. A trivia question for you . . . Whose claim to fame in the majors was hitting into the only All-Cuban triple-play in MLB history? You guessed it.
Thereafter, the New Athens native played the Name Game as a field general. In Texas, he took over for Ted Williams and was replaced 11 months later by Billy Martin. His four days as interim boss of the Angels in 1974 yielded to Dick Williams. He replaced Jack McKeon in Kansas City and Boyer in St. Louis. When he left St. Louis and headed for retirement, he was replaced by Red Schoendienst temporarily and then on a permanent basis by Joe Torre.
He helped nurture such Hall-of-Fame careers as those of George Brett and Ozzie Smith, plus other standouts like Jack Clark, Willie McGee, Darrell Porter and Frank White.
Noted his profile on the Internet website for Capitol City Speakers Bureau, "As player, coach, scout, manager, general manager, director of player development and executive vice-president, Whitey Herzog served baseball in more capacities than any other player. His career of more than three decades is truly unparalleled."
Continues the Speaker’s Bureau, "After retiring, he co-authored his popular autobiography with journalist Kevin Horrigan, 'White Rat: A Life in Baseball.”' More recently, 'You’re Missing a Great Game: From Casey to Ozzie, the Magic of Baseball and How to Get It Back' shares his unique perspective on the state of baseball.
Herzog also remains in the public eye due to his many endorsements in newspaper ads and television commercials.
"Baseball has been good to me," says the living legend, "since I quit trying to play it."
And his rules for living would be much the same as those for his players during his managerial days: 1) Be on time. 2) Bust your butt. 3) Play smart. 4) Have some laughs while you’re at it.
One final Whiteyism. "The only thing bad about winning the pennant is that you have to manage the All-Star Game the next year. I’d rather go fishing for three days."
On Thursday, September 25, in the RLC Hitting Zone, a relaxed Herzog will be talking baseball with Warrior coaches and exchanging quips with his public. He enjoys that almost as much as fishing.