The fact that baseball has changed a lot in the past 30 years was clearly visible on Saturday night at Busch Stadium, as the Milwaukee Brewers took the field in their light blue 1982 road jerseys, a uniform color that has pretty much passed into sporting oblivion. (Until, of course, Sunday, when the Cards wear their '82 baby blue road uniforms.)
As the Cardinals players from their 1982 World Series championship team paraded around the field prior to the game, one of those players, pitcher John Stuper, was living proof of how baseball's thought process has changed.
In Game 6 of the '82 series, with the Cardinals down three games to two, Stuper threw a complete game, itself a relatively rare event nowadays, but he threw the final three innings after a two-hour, 13-minute rain delay in the bottom of the sixth. Nowadays, almost any kind of rain delay will cause a manager to shut down his pitcher. Not then.
"I was just talking to Marc (Rzepczynski)," Stuper, now the baseball coach at Yale, said before the game, "and we were signing autographs and as people came through the line, they were commenting on the rain delay and he wasn't really familiar with it. I told him what had happened and he said, 'That would NEVER happen today.' I probably wouldn't even have come back after the first one. (The game had also been delayed 26 minutes in the bottom of the fifth.)
"I'm glad I did it and if I had to do it over again, I'd do it over again. They probably would have to pull the ball out of my hands and there might have been a fight in the dugout."
Manager Whitey Herzog said he and pitching coach Hub Kittle talked about taking Stuper out after the second delay. But Herzog had an eye on history and on riding a hot hand.
"I said (to Kittle) there's never been a rookie to throw a shutout (in the World Series) and he's got all winter to rest," Herzog said. "I said heat him up. I remember Hub coming in and saying he feels good."
However, Stuper, who got multiple rubdowns from the trainer during the delay, didn't get the shutout. The Cards won 13-1, forcing a Game 7, as the Brewers scored a run in the ninth.
"I blame (catcher Glenn) Brummer because I put Brummer in to catch the ninth inning to get him in a World Series box score and he gave up a run," Herzog said. "That they didn't call the game was the most ridiculous thing I'd ever seen."
Fifteen members of the 25-man World Series roster were on hand Saturday for the reunion, plus relatives of two members of the team who have died, pitcher Bob Forsch and catcher Darrell Porter — Sunday is the tenth anniversary of Porter's death — and several players who were on the team but didn't make the World Series roster. Among those in attendance were first baseman Keith Hernandez and shortstop Ozzie Smith, though some of the other big names on that team — Willie McGee, Lonnie Smith, George Hendrick and Joaquin Andujar — didn't make it.
For those on hand, it was a happy afternoon, as players recalled one of the high points of their careers. The current teams wore copies of the uniforms from that season, the Cards jersey including the black armband the team wore that year in memory of former manager Ken Boyer.
"It doesn't seem like 30 years," Herzog said. "I've seen a lot of them along the way, but some I haven't seen since the 20-year reunion."
The '82 Series marked the start of Whiteyball, the Herzog style which stressed base running and pitching, though Herzog attributes that to the nature of Busch Stadium II, which didn't reward the long ball.
Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.