The St. Louis Cardinals are a professional baseball team based in St. Louis, Missouri. Founded in 1882, the Cardinals are the oldest team in Major League Baseball and are often referred to as the “Cardinals” or the “Cards”. They compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) Central division.

One of baseball’s most storied franchises, the Cardinals have won 11 World Series titles, the first coming in 1926 and the most recent in 2011. They have also won 19 National League pennants, second most behind the San Francisco Giants. Many baseball legends like Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, and Albert Pujols have played for the Cardinals over the years. The Cardinals are also known as one of baseball’s best-run franchises, having experienced only 5 consecutive losing seasons in over 100 years.

The early years in St. Louis (1882–1919)

The Cardinals were founded in 1882 as the St. Louis Brown Stockings, the franchise’s first name. They were one of the older National League teams along with the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, and Philadelphia Phillies. In the early days, the Cardinals spent most seasons finishing around .500, never achieving great success or failure.

In 1899, the team name was changed to the Perfectos as a newspaper-sponsored name, before finally settling on the current name St. Louis Cardinals a year later in 1900. During their early years, the team featured star players like pitcher Bob Caruthers and first baseman Baggy Bill Killilea. But it wasn’t until the 1910s that the Cardinals began to build a stronger, more competitive franchise.


In 1912, Branch Rickey was hired as the Cardinals’ business manager, and soon transformed the team’s operations. Rickey created a strong farm system to develop young talent. He also was one of the first executives to sign black players like pitcher Walter Johnson to the minor league teams he owned, as segregation in baseball was still common in the early 20th century.

The 1920s — the “Gashouse Gang” and first World Series title

The Cardinals breakout success began in the 1920s. Led by players like Rogers Hornsby, Jim Bottomley, and manager Branch Rickey, the 1924 Cardinals won their first National League pennant. They lost the 1924 World Series to the New York Giants.

Two years later, the infamous 1926 “Gashouse Gang” Cardinals team won the franchise’s first World Series title, defeating the heavily favored Yankees. Managed by Gabby Street, the team featured roughhousers like Frankie Frisch, Pepper Martin, and Jim Bottomley. They played with attitude and plenty of fights and brawls that earned them their memorable nickname.

The 1930s-1940s – Stan Musial and additional titles

In the 1930s, the Cardinals continued contending, winning National League titles in 1930, 1934, and 1942, though only winning the World Series in 1934 over the Detroit Tigers. One of the greatest Cardinals ever, Stan Musial made his debut in 1941 at just 20 years old.

Musial would go on to become one of baseball’s all-time greatest hitters. Over 22 seasons all with St. Louis, Musial batted .331, smashing 475 home runs and 3,630 hits, while winning 7 batting titles. In the 1940s, the Cardinals still featured future Hall of Famers like pitcher Mort Cooper, but didn’t achieve the same level of success they had in the previous two decades.


The 1950s – Additional titles behind Gibson and Flood

In the 1950s, the Cardinals returned to prominence, winning the World Series in 1964 and 1967. Led by future Hall of Famers like pitcher Bob Gibson, and outfielders Stan Musial and Curt Flood, the Cardinals were back winning pennants in 1942, 1944, and 1946.

Gibson in particular emerged as one of the game’s most dominant pitchers ever. His 1968 season winning 22 games with a minuscule 1.12 ERA is considered one of the single greatest pitching seasons of all-time. Flood meanwhile was a 6-time All-Star and crucial part of the Cardinals 1964 and 1967 championship teams.

The 1960s – Continued success and more titles

The 1960s saw the Cardinals continue their run of success that had defined much of their franchise history. Behind stars like pitcher Bob Gibson, outfielders Lou Brock and Curt Flood, and managers Johnny Keane and Red Schoendienst, the Cardinals claimed National League titles in 1964, 1967 and 1968.

They went on to win the World Series in 1964 and 1967. The ’64 championship team in particular is best remembered for Gibson’s complete game victory in Game 7. It marked the franchise’s first title since 1946 and 8th overall. Gibson and Brock in particular cemented their legacies in St. Louis during this era.

Later 20th century successes (1970s-2000s)

While they did not dominate the 1970s and 1980s quite like previous eras, the Cardinals still achieved plenty of success, including NL East titles in 1970, 1973, 1982 and 1985, and World Series wins in 1982 and 2006. Stars like Ted Simmons, Keith Hernandez and Willie McGee powered many of these teams.


In the 1990s and 2000s, the Cardinals continued racking up division titles and playoff appearances behind players like Gregg Jefferies, Ray Lankford, Edgar Renteria, and Larry Walker. They did not capture any World Series championships during this time period after their 1991 and 2006 titles.

Modern Cardinals (2010-present)

The Cardinals have remained one of MLB’s elite franchises well into the 21st century. Led by all-time greats like Albert Pujols and Adam Wainwright, as well as franchise pillars Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals have made the playoffs 12 times from 2000 to 2020.

This included winning the 2011 World Series, defeating the Texas Rangers behind World Series MVP David Freese. Under the leadership of Hall of Famer Tony La Russa and current manager Oli Marmol, the Cardinals maintain high standards of both on-field success and organizational stability. Players like Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and jack Flaherty have helped extended the Cardinals run excellence for over 100 years running now.

The St. Louis Cardinals rank among baseball’s model franchises due to their incredible sustained success and player development over a history spanning nearly 140 years. No other National League team can match their 11 World Series championships and their “Bird” logo has become one of baseball’s most identifiable brands. The Cardinals look primed to remain a elite MLB franchise well into the future.

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