Few teams inspire the passion of their fans more than the St. Louis Cardinals. The 11 Cardinals World Series wins are second only to the New York Yankees. And they’re not resting on the past accomplishments, either. The team has won two championships in the 21st century.
According to fanbase maps done by the New York Times and Seatgeek, the “Redbird Nation” covers much of Missouri and Illinois, as well as most of Arkansas (south Arkansas belongs to the Texas Rangers) and southern Iowa (most of Iowa belongs to the Chicago Cubs). Over the many years of Cardinals history, the team has given their large fanbase a lot to cheer about.
Cardinals World Series Wins
The St. Louis club entered baseball in 1882 as the St. Louis Brown Stockings (note to die hard St. Louis baseball historians: we’re skipping the original 1876 National League charter member team later disbanded). They became the Browns from 1883-1898, the Perfectos in 1899, and finally the Cardinals in 1900. It’s stayed that way for 121 years (and counting).
The team initially played as part of the American Association. Under the direction of manager Charles Comiskey, St. Louis won four consecutive AA titles between 1885-1888. When the AA went bankrupt in 1891, St. Louis moved to the National League. They’ve remained there ever since.
With creation of the World Series in 1903 between the National League and American League, the Cardinals’ success continued. Here’s an overview of the team’s championships.
1926 World Series
The Cardinals defeated the Yankees, 4-3. The team featured legends such as Grover Cleveland “Pete” Alexander and Rogers Hornby (who also managed the team). Alexander started Game 6 and pitched in relief in Game 7, playing a critical role in the Cardinals’ victory. The series ended with Babe Ruth getting thrown out while stealing second by catcher Bob O’ Farrell (throwing to Hornsby for the tag). No other World Series has ended with a player caught stealing for the final out.
1931 World Series
The Cardinals won National League pennants in 1928 and 1930, but lost in the World Series to the Yankees and Philadelphia Athletics, respectively. But in 1931, in a rematch against the Athletics, the Cardinals won the series, 4-3. Pepper Martin, a 27-year-old rookie who spent seven years in the minor leagues before 1931, led the team in the series in runs scored, hits, doubles, RBI and steals. He also made a spectacular outfield catch to end an Athletics rally in Game 7. He went on to become a four-time All Star, playing for the Cardinals through 1940.
1934 World Series
This series marks the high point for the Gashouse Gang, a nickname given the Cardinals in the 1930s because of their shabby appearance and tough style of play. The team defeated the Detroit Tigers in seven games. General Manager Branch Rickey later broke the infamous “color barrier” as GM for the Brooklyn Dodgers, bringing in Jackie Robinson. Led by player-manager Frankie Frisch, the team featured pitchers (and brothers) Dizzy and Daffy Dean. Both won two games in the series.
1942 World Series
In 1942, the Cardinals once again faced the Yankees, this time winning 4-1, sweeping the next four games after the Yankees won Game 1. All but one position starter came up through the farm system built by Rickey. The team included future Hall of Famers Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter. Fans remember Whitey Kurowski for hitting the Game 7-winning home run, but that clubs pitching staff also deserves praise, including Johnny Beazley (who won two games), Max Lanier and Ernie White.
1944 World Series
This is the only World Series that featured two teams from St. Louis – the Cardinals and the Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles). This ended up being the last series played in one ballpark (Sportsman Park) until the 2020 series when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers to play all their games at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. In the 1944 series, the Cardinals won, 4-2. The stars of the series included a strong pitching staff led by Mort Cooper, Max Lanier and Blix Donnelly (pitching in relief in Game 2). It marked the third straight series appearance for the Cardinals, who lost the 1943 series to the Yankees.
1946 World Series
The Boston Red Sox returned to the series for the first time since winning it in 1918, but fell to the Cardinals, 4-3. This marked the last championship of the great 1940s Cardinals teams, with Enos Slaughter scoring the series winning run in Game 7 on what is known as his “mad dash” from first base to home plate after Harry Walker bashed a double with two outs in the eighth inning. A generation of Cardinals fans had to savor this one for a long time. The Cardinals did not return to glory for almost two decades.
1964 World Series
In the 1960s, the Cardinals went on a run that recalled the glory days of the 1930s and 1940s. Led by pitching legend Bob Gibson, the Cardinals stormed back into the World Series in 1964, defeating the Yankees again, 4-3. Although no one could know it at the time, the series also ended a run where the Yankees made the championship series in 15 out of 18 years. The turning point came in Game 4, when Ken Boyer hit a grand slam off Yankee pitcher Al Downing. Gibson, who lost Game 2, came back to win both Game 5 and Game 7.
1967 World Series
In 1967, the Cardinals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-3, once again powered by Gibson and a lineup that included Lou Brock, Tim McCarver, Roger Maris and Curt Flood. Gibson won three games, and Nelson Briles also pitched well, starting in one game and coming on in relief in another. A young Steve Carlton also started Game 5 for the Cardinals, giving up just one unearned run but still getting the loss. In an era dominated by pitching, the Cardinals ranked among the best. This lineup made one more series appearance in 1968, losing in seven games to the Detroit Tigers.
1982 World Series
Once again, the Cardinals won in seven games, this time defeating the Milwaukee Brewers in that team’s only World Series appearance to date. This version of the Cardinals featured speed and balance, including position players such as Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Ken Oberkfell and pitchers Bob Forsch, Joaquin Andujar and closer Bruce Sutter.
2006 World Series
In their first championship of the 21st century, the Cardinals defeated the Tigers, 4-1. The team had just moved to its new stadium – Busch Stadium III. The Cardinals finished the season 83-78, the worst record ever for a World Series champion. Led by manager Tony La Russa, the team featured Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen and a pitching staff anchored by Chris Carpenter.
2011 World Series
The Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers in what many consider one of the best World Series, certainly of the last few decades. It’s most remembered for Game 6, when the Rangers were only one strike away in both the 9th and 10th innings from winning the franchise’s first championship. However, the Cardinals battled back both times, overcoming two-run deficits, then winning in the 11th on a walkoff home run by David Freese. Oddly, the series also featured one of the biggest blowouts in World Series history, a 16-7 win by the Cardinals in Game 3.
The 11 Cardinals World Series wins have given fans of the club more happy moments than any other franchise not named “Yankees.” That’s a source of pride for Cardinals fans everywhere.