MIAMI • After it was over, with the Cardinals defeating the Miami Marlins 4-1 to shatter the mirror ball in this garish disco of a ballpark, the mischievous players went after manager Mike Matheny.

They invaded the visiting manager's office at Marlins Park and dragged him out into the hallway, though Matheny didn't put up much of a fight. His players celebrated his first major-league victory by showering him with chilled bottles of ice water.

"And then we pulled him out and doused him again," pitcher Adam Wainwright said.

Said the drenched but happy Matheny: "The refrigerators are working well in this place."

Matheny had every reason to grin. It was his first night as a big-league manager, and his team's opening game of the 2012 season, all of it showcased on ESPN. And his players delivered a clean, crisp 4-1 win. How does it get any better than this?

Here's how: Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, presenting Matheny with a game ball. Remember 2004? Matheny was the veteran, tough as a railroad tie. Molina was the fabulously skilled rookie, called up from the minors to be groomed to take Matheny's starting job.

Matheny could have given Molina a cold shoulder. He could have resented the kid. Instead, Matheny conducted catching classes for Molina, schooling him in every way imaginable. Matheny wanted to prepare his successor, and that's exactly what happened. Matheny signed a free-agent contract with San Francisco after the season. And Molina planted himself behind the plate for a long and successful term as the team's catcher.

And now, on this virtually perfect Wednesday night, Molina handed the game ball to his manager. "And Yadi was smiling ear-to-ear," Matheny said.

It was Molina's way of showing respect, and affection. The feeling was shared in the clubhouse. In the postgame receiving line on the field, Matheny shook hands with every player.

"The guys all came through and all had something to say," Matheny said. "It meant a lot to them, and that means a lot to me that they care about it."

The players sure seem to like their manager.

"I was thinking about that all spring, getting that first one for Mike, here in this park in the season opener," third baseman David Freese said. "That's what we wanted to do. It was a special night for sure."

Freese helped make it happen with a first-inning, two-out, two-strike, two-run single. (It's still October.) Kyle Lohse was magnificent, getting nicked for a mere two hits and one run in 7 1/3 innings. Shortstop Rafael Furcal smoked three hits and drove in a run. Jon Jay's expert tracking in center field keyed an exceptional defense.

A special night, indeed. The entire day was.

Matheny was up at dawn, ready to go to work, in no mood to reflect, dawdle or otherwise waste time. It was perhaps the most important day of his baseball life, his first official game as a major-league manager. So he looked at video, read scouting reports, studied numbers.

Matheny was anxious, yes. And pumped for sure. But he wasn't nervous. It just felt right. Before the game, I asked him if this was comparable to his first major-league game as a player on April 7, 1994.

"As a player I didn't do myself a service," Matheny said. "I did myself a disservice worrying so much about the game, and everything else. I didn't take the moments to enjoy it. But I'm enjoying this."

Matheny was standing at the edge of the clubhouse, and he gestured in the direction of his players.

"I think about what I have in with these guys, and how prepared they are, how they've handled everything," Matheny said. "I love what I'm doing. I know this is what I should be doing."

A torrent of text messages kept Matheny's phone buzzing and chiming all day. They came in from family, friends, former teammates, baseball contemporaries. They all touched his heart through the bip-bip-bip of texting.

"It's been neat to see," Matheny said. "I have a lot of friends and family and people inside the game that have followed up, just to wish us well, and to wish a good season for us. I appreciate them reaching out. There were even some people I even went to elementary school with. Names I almost had to go look up. But it's been fun. I really didn't think it would be that much different than (being) a player, but it really is. It's been a little surprising."

Matheny's managerial debut had some interesting quirks. The retired former manager Tony La Russa was in the house, watching the game from the press box. And several candidates who interviewed for the STL job were roaming around the Cardinals' clubhouse.

Two were members of Matheny's coaching staff, Jose Oquendo and Chris Maloney. But former Boston manager Terry Francona, analyzing the game for ESPN, was there, too. (No Ryne Sandberg sightings, however.)

When the Cardinals were introduced during the ritual pregame ceremonies, it must have been a little strange for La Russa to take in the scene, given his daily connection to the franchise for 16 years, and his role as a major-league manager for the past 33 seasons.

La Russa recalled his own first game as a big-league manager, after the Chicago White Sox put him in charge on Aug. 3, 1979. The White Sox won 8-5. It was the first of 5,097 regular-season games managed by La Russa, the second-highest total in MLB history.

La Russa was only 34. He remembers how his stomach flipped inside, before that first test.

"I knew I was underqualified," La Russa said. "Other guys who had paid more dues were more deserving of a shot to manage. But once I was given the opportunity, I attacked it with everything I had."

And now, so many decades later, La Russa sat in the first row of the press box on opening night, hands folded, and quietly watched his successor take command.

As the Cardinals trotted onto the field, one by one, La Russa reacted only once.

As if not to draw attention to himself, the old manager clapped as softly as possible when Matheny, 41, bounded out of the dugout to join his 2012 Cardinals along the first-base line.

With that sincere and meaningful gesture from La Russa to Matheny, the torch was passed to the new generation. And Matheny knew what to do with it.

"Just an all-around good day," Matheny said. "I'm not afraid to smile."

Each pennant represents one season. Hover over a pennant for details of that season.

Key: Missed playoffs    Playoffs    Won NLCS    Won WS    Hall of Fame



Patsy Donovan

Patsy Donovan

1901-033 SEASONS

Donovan, at the time considered the most successful Irish-born player in the majors, had one winning season as Cardinals player-manager, his first one, when his team finished 76-64. He was dismissed after a 43-94 mark in 1903.

Games
421
Wins
175
Losses
236
Win pct.
.426
Best finish
4th
Ejections
1
Pct v Cubs
.333

Charles 'Kid' Nichols

Charles "Kid" Nichols

1904-052 SEASONS

Nichols was a Hall of Famer as a pitcher, becoming the youngest pitcher to reach 300 victories at age 30 and posting 11 seasons of 20 or more wins out of his 361 wins overall. He won 20 in his only full season as the Cardinals' player-manager when his team was 75-79 but was let go during the next year.

Games
169
Wins
80
Losses
88
Win pct.
.476
Best finish
5th
Ejections
0
Pct v Cubs
.346

HOF

Jimmy Burke

Jimmy Burke

19051 SEASON

The third baseman became player-manager a couple of months into the season. He was 34-56 before being replaced by co-owner Stanley Robison and would resurface as a manager in St. Louis with the Browns from 1918-20.

Games
90
Wins
34
Losses
56
Win pct.
.378
Best finish
6th
Ejections
1
Pct v Cubs
.091

M. Stanley Robison

M. Stanley Robison

19051 SEASON

After returning third baseman Jimmy Burke to player status only, Robison took over for the final 50 games of the season. He wasn't any more successful than his predecessor, posting a 19-31 mark.

Games
50
Wins
19
Losses
31
Win pct.
.380
Best finish
6th
Ejections
0
Pct v Cubs
.286

John McCloskey

John McCloskey

1906-083 SEASONS

Nicknamed "Honest John," McCloskey's teams were, honestly, very bad. His best in three seasons was the 1906 club which limped home at 52-98. The Cardinals suffered their only two 100-loss seasons in his next two seasons, "peaking" at 105 defeats in 1908.

Games
463
Wins
153
Losses
304
Win pct.
.335
Best finish
7th
Ejections
0
Pct v Cubs
.231

Roger Bresnahan

Roger Bresnahan

1909-124 SEASONS

An innovator, the Hall of Fame catcher was the first to use shin guards and later the protective face mask. After his first two seasons as Cardinals manager he was given a five-year extension by owner Stanley Robison because attendance had risen. But Robison died and Bresnahan was fired after the 1912 season.

Games
618
Wins
255
Losses
352
Win pct.
.420
Best finish
5th
Ejections
15
Pct v Cubs
.307

HOF

Miller Huggins

Miller Huggins

1913-175 SEASONS

Huggins, another Hall of Famer, would go on to later fame as manager of the great New York Yankees teams in the 1920s. With the Cardinals, "Mighty Mite" Huggins, a 5-foot-6 second baseman, had two winning seasons out of five as a player-manager but never achieved more than 82 victories.

Games
774
Wins
346
Losses
415
Win pct.
.455
Best finish
3rd
Ejections
10
Pct v Cubs
.436

HOF

Jack Hendricks

Jack Hendricks

19181 SEASON

Four of the seven managers who have law degrees managed the Cardinals: Hendricks was one, along with Miller Huggins, Branch Rickey and Tony La Russa. Hendricks quit after one season of war-time ball when the club was 51-78 and he later resurfaced as manager in Cincinnati.

Games
133
Wins
51
Losses
78
Win pct.
.395
Best finish
8th
Ejections
0
Pct v Cubs
.167

Branch Rickey

Branch Rickey

1919-257 SEASONS

The "Mahatma," another Hall of Famer, Rickey became more famous as a general manager and the originator of baseball's farm system as we know it when he was with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Cardinals had winning seasons in 1921-23 but Rickey was fired in 1925.

Games
947
Wins
458
Losses
485
Win pct.
.486
Best finish
3rd
Ejections
1
Pct v Cubs
.463

HOF

Rogers Hornsby

Rogers Hornsby

1925-262 SEASONS

After leading the Cardinals to their first world title in 1926, Hornsby asked for a contract paying him $50,000 for each of the next three seasons. Sam Breadon countered with one year for $50,000 and when Hornsby refused that offer, he was traded to the New York Giants for Frank Frisch, among others.

Games
271
Wins
153
Losses
116
Win pct.
.569
Best finish
1st
Ejections
2
Pct v Cubs
.553

1

1

1

HOF

Bob O'Farrell

Bob O'Farrell

19271 SEASON

The catcher and National League Most Valuable Player for the 1926 World Series champions, O'Farrell won three games more in 1927 than Hornsby won the year before but a dissatisfied Sam Breadon, thinking O'Farrell left his pitchers in too long, paid him a $5,000 bonus to step down as manager.

Games
153
Wins
92
Losses
61
Win pct.
.601
Best finish
2nd
Ejections
0
Pct v Cubs
.571

Bill McKechnie

Bill McKechnie

1928-292 SEASONS

McKechnie won the Cardinals' second pennant but was sent back to manage Class AAA Rochester after McKechnie's Cardinals were swept in four games by the Yankees in the 1928 World Series. McKechnie was brought back as Cardinals manager later in 1929 but resigned to go to the Boston Braves.

Games
217
Wins
129
Losses
88
Win pct.
.594
Best finish
1st
Ejections
1
Pct v Cubs
.444

1

1

0

HOF

Billy Southworth

Billy Southworth

1929, 1940-457 SEASONS

After winning 97 games in Southworth's first full season, 1941, the Cardinals reeled off win totals of 106, 105 and 105 in the next three seasons and won the 1942 and 1944 World Series. After the Cardinals finished second to the Cubs in 1945, Southworth jumped to the Boston Braves for $50,000 in 1946.

Games
981
Wins
620
Losses
346
Win pct.
.642
Best finish
1st
Ejections
2
Pct v Cubs
.623

3

3

2

HOF

Gabby Street

Gabby Street

1929-335 SEASONS

"Old Sarge" Street led the Cardinals to a league title in 1930 and a World Series championship in 1931. But, after the Cardinals dipped to 72-82 in 1932 and were fifth in July, 1933, Street was fired and replaced by player-manager Frank Frisch.

Games
556
Wins
312
Losses
242
Win pct.
.563
Best finish
1st
Ejections
8
Pct v Cubs
.538

2

2

1

Frank Frisch

Frank Frisch

1933-386 SEASONS

A player-manager as a second baseman, Frisch oversaw the famed "Gashouse Gang," which won the 1934 pennant, World Series and won 96 games but finished second to Chicago in 1935. But the Cardinals' win total dropped in each of the next three seasons and the "Fordham Flash" was replaced in 1938.

Games
822
Wins
458
Losses
354
Win pct.
.564
Best finish
1st
Ejections
17
Pct v Cubs
.465

1

1

1

HOF

Mike Gonzalez

Mike González

1938, 19402 SEASONS

Third-base coach Mike González twice served as interim manager, going 8-8 at the end of 1938 and 1-5 in 1940. The Cuban's greatest legacy was coining the oft-used phrase, "Good field, no hit," when describing a prospect he was scouting.

Games
23
Wins
9
Losses
13
Win pct.
.409
Best finish
3rd
Ejections
0
Pct v Cubs
.333

Ray Blades

Ray Blades

1939-402 SEASONS

The McLeansboro, Ill., native had a .301 lifetime average and led the Cardinals to 92 wins in his only full season, 1939, when he banned alcohol in the clubhouse. But when the Cardinals went 14-24 at the start of1940, Blades was fired, replaced ultimately by Billy Southworth.

Games
194
Wins
106
Losses
85
Win pct.
.555
Best finish
2nd
Ejections
1
Pct v Cubs
.548

Eddie Dyer

Eddie Dyer

1946-505 SEASONS

The Cardinals won the World Series in Dyer's first year, 1946, but then finished second three years in a row as the Brooklyn Dodgers, the first club to sign African-American players, took over the Cardinals' perch as the preeminent team in the National League. Dyer resigned after a fifth-place finish in 1950.

Games
777
Wins
446
Losses
325
Win pct.
.578
Best finish
1st
Ejections
6
Pct v Cubs
.573

1

1

1

Marty Marion

Marty Marion

19511 SEASON

He managed just one season for the Cardinals before moving to the Browns to manage the next season. Marion would also manage the Chicago White Sox but was never as successful in that endeavor as he was a slick fielding player on the Cardinals' championship teams in the 1940s.

Games
155
Wins
81
Losses
73
Win pct.
.526
Best finish
3rd
Ejections
1
Pct v Cubs
.591

Eddie Stanky

Eddie Stanky

1952-554 SEASONS

When the Cardinals finished 88-66 in 1952, Stanky was named National League Manager of the Year. But that was the best of his four seasons and he was fired in 1955 with the club at 17-19. "The Brat" would return as a front office executive with the club a few years later.

Games
501
Wins
260
Losses
238
Win pct.
.522
Best finish
3rd
Ejections
15
Pct v Cubs
.438

Harry Walker

Harry Walker

19551 SEASON

Walker was called up from the Cardinals' AAA affiliate in Rochester in 1955 to replace Eddie Stanky as manager. The Redbirds ended up losing even more ground in the standings and finished the season 30½ games behind Brooklyn. Walker would have later stints managing the Pirates and the Astros.

Games
118
Wins
51
Losses
67
Win pct.
.432
Best finish
7th
Ejections
4
Pct v Cubs
.400

Fred Hutchinson

Fred Hutchinson

1956-583 SEASONS

"The Big Bear" likewise was named Manager of the Year in 1957 when the Cardinals finished second at 87-67. But, when general manager Frank Lane departed the next year and the Cardinals trudged to a fifth-place finish, Hutchinson was fired in September.

Games
454
Wins
232
Losses
220
Win pct.
.513
Best finish
2nd
Ejections
11
Pct v Cubs
.576

Stan Hack

Stan Hack

19581 SEASON

An outstanding third baseman, Hack was also something of a matinee idol. In 1935, Detroit Tigers employee Bill Veeck staged a "Smile with Stan" promotion, with Hack's face on the other side of mirrors given to fans. But when fans reflected sunlight into opposing hitters' eyes, umpires threatened to forfeit the game.

Games
10
Wins
3
Losses
7
Win pct.
.300
Best finish
5th
Ejections
0
Pct v Cubs

Solly Hemus

Solly Hemus

1959-613 SEASONS

Hemus' Cardinals team finished third in 1960, posting an 86-68 mark. But, in 1961, after the Cardinals started 3-16 and then were drifting at 33-41 in mid-season, Hemus was replaced by coach Johnny Keane.

Games
384
Wins
190
Losses
192
Win pct.
.497
Best finish
3rd
Ejections
11
Pct v Cubs
.607

Johnny Keane

Johnny Keane

1961-644 SEASONS

In 1964, amid rumors that owner Gussie Busch wanted to hire Leo Durocher as manager, Keane led the Cardinals' miracle comeback, which culminated in a World Series championship. At this point, Busch was ready to retain Keane but the latter jumped to the Yankees the day after the World Series ended.

Games
567
Wins
317
Losses
249
Win pct.
.560
Best finish
1st
Ejections
6
Pct v Cubs
.641

1

1

1

Red Schoendienst

Red Schoendienst

1965-76, 80, 9014 SEASONS

Schoendienst directed back-to-back National League championships in 1967-68 and his team won the World Series in 1967. In the 1970s, the Cardinals contended several times, finishing second three times from 1971-74 but fell short and, after a record 12-season run, Schoendienst was replaced.

Games
1,999
Wins
1,041
Losses
955
Win pct.
.522
Best finish
1st
Ejections
7
Pct v Cubs
.534

2

2

1

HOF

Vern Rapp

Vern Rapp

1977-782 SEASONS

Rapp, more of a disciplinarian, led the Cardinals to a third-place finish in 1977 but he gradually lost the clubhouse — he had a notable disagreement with relief ace Al Hrabosky and the matter of facial hair — and, after a 5-11 start in 1978, Rapp gave way to popular former Cardinals third baseman Ken Boyer.

Games
179
Wins
89
Losses
90
Win pct.
.497
Best finish
3rd
Ejections
2
Pct v Cubs
.611

Jack Krol

Jack Krol

1978, 19802 SEASONS

Third-base coach Krol took over in 1978 for two games from Rapp, who was disliked by the players. In 1980, general manager John Claiborne could not get to Montreal in time to fire Ken Boyer before a doubleheader, so he fired Boyer between games. Krol lost the nightcap and Whitey Herzog took over the next night.

Games
3
Wins
1
Losses
2
Win pct.
.333
Best finish
4th
Ejections
0
Pct v Cubs

Ken Boyer

Ken Boyer

1978-803 SEASONS

Boyer finished third in his only full season, 1979, but the Cardinals started badly in 1980 and he was gone in early June. Boyer was replaced for one game by Jack Krol and then by Whitey Herzog and Red Schoendienst.

Games
357
Wins
166
Losses
190
Win pct.
.466
Best finish
3rd
Ejections
3
Pct v Cubs
.366

Whitey Herzog

Whitey Herzog

1980-9011 SEASONS

One of the most entertaining periods of Cardinals history was the "Whiteyball era," which produced very few home runs, very many stolen bases and league championships in 1982, 1985 and 1987. Herzog resigned in 1990, when he felt his message wasn't getting through to a team which had a number of potential free agents.

Games
1,553
Wins
822
Losses
728
Win pct.
.530
Best finish
1st
Ejections
21
Pct v Cubs
.530

3

3

1

HOF

Joe Torre

Joe Torre

1990-956 SEASONS

After Red Schoendienst managed a month in 1990, former Cardinals star Torre returned to St. Louis. He couldn't stop the Cardinals from finishing last in 1990 but the club finished second and then third three times in a row. In 1995, Torre was fired, only to go on to fame and fortune as Yankees manager.

Games
706
Wins
351
Losses
354
Win pct.
.498
Best finish
2nd
Ejections
15
Pct v Cubs
.423

0

0

0

HOF

Mike Jorgensen

Mike Jorgensen

19951 SEASON

Jorgensen managed the last 96 games of 1995. An unusual highlight was that Jorgensen and the Cardinals were awarded a forfeit win, 2-1, on Aug. 10 in Los Angeles when Dodgers fans, dissatisfied with the umpiring, fired souvenir baseballs onto the field for the third time in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Games
96
Wins
42
Losses
54
Win pct.
.438
Best finish
4th
Ejections
1
Pct v Cubs
.300

0

0

0

Tony La Russa

Tony La Russa

1996-201116 SEASONS

The numbers speak for themselves. Nine playoff appearances, three league championships, two World Series titles. La Russa retired after the 2011 championship with the longest tenure, 16 seasons, and most victories, 1,408, of any Cardinals manager.

Games
2,591
Wins
1,408
Losses
1,182
Win pct.
.544
Best finish
1st
Ejections
40
Pct v Cubs
.529

9

3

2

HOF

Mike Matheny

Mike Matheny

2012-NOW4 SEASONS

Despite a lack of previous professional managerial experience, Matheny guided the Cardinals to appearances in the NLCS Championship and the World Series in each of his first three seasons.

Games
648
Wins
375
Losses
273
Win pct.
.579
Best finish
1st
Ejections
11
Pct v Cubs
.581

4

1

0


Photo sources: Post-Dispatch; Associated Press; St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame; National Baseball Hall of Fame Library, Cooperstown, NY.

Stat sources: Bob Tiemann and David Vincent of the Society for American Baseball Research; mlb.com; baseball-reference.com; wikipedia.org