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Sports & Recreation

Best Ex-Cardinal Whose Number Isn't Retired in Right Field 

Willie McGee

Quick, name the center fielder to whom this one-season stat line belongs: .353 batting average, 216 hits, 114 runs, 82 RBI, 56 stolen bases, 18 triples and a .503 slugging percentage. Joe DiMaggio, right? Well, no -- Joltin' Joe was fleet, but not 56-stolen-bases-and-18-triples-quick. Willie Mays, perhaps? Wrong again. This is Willie McGee's 1985 campaign, one of the greatest single seasons ever put up by a center fielder in the bigs. And McGee was no one-year wonder, chalking up 2,254 hits over an eighteen-year career, thirteen of which were spent with the Redbirds. All told, McGee -- who as a rookie in 1982 was a vital component on the Cards' last World Series championship squad -- put up numbers that might qualify him for Cooperstown consideration. And yet McGee's number 51 is conspicuously absent from the hallowed Busch Stadium shrine, where reside the retired jerseys of Stan the Man, Rogers Hornsby, Gibby and the Wizard of Oz. That's a crying shame. If fellow California boy Mark McGwire's andro-drenched number 25 beats Willie's svelte duds to the right-field perch, it'll be a travesty.

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