Herr Elected to Cardinals Hall of Fame
by Bryan Zarpentine
The Cardinals Legacy Foundation for Baseball would like to congratulate Tom Herr on being selected to the Cardinals Hall of Fame. After being nominated earlier this year among a half-dozen other St. Louis legends, Herr is one of three players who will be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2020. The former second baseman and longtime fan favorite will be joined in the class of 2020 by first baseman Bill White and pitcher John Tudor. A date for the induction ceremony is yet to announced.
“I was very honored to be on the ballot and then to get in was really Special,” said Herr, who felt “elation and gratitude” upon learning he had been voted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame.
Herr’s journey to St. Louis began after he went undrafted following his senior season of high school. He had offers on the table from five major league clubs and also considered attending to the University of Delaware as a multi-sport athlete. But his relationship with scout Tim Thompson pushed him to sign with the Cardinals and begin his pro baseball career.
His time in the minors taught Herr to become the kind of player that Cardinals fans would grow to know and appreciate. That player was one who did whatever was necessary to help his team win. Herr was always a team-oriented player who was patient at the plate, excelled at situational hitting, and worked hard to be sound defensively at the keystone. During his five seasons in the minors, Herr was part of two championship teams and credits managers and coaches in the St. Louis farm system like George Kissel, Hub Kittle, and Hal Lanier in helping him become a player who put winning ahead of individual accomplishments.
“In the minor leagues, I was fortunate to play on winning teams at every level, so winning became paramount in my thought process,” says. Herr. “Playing the game to win meant becoming a good situational player and that attitude just continued into the major leagues.”
Before being traded to the Twins in 1988, Herr spent parts of 10 seasons with the Cardinals, helping St. Louis reach the World Series three times, winning a world championship in 1982. He spent most of that time as the middle-infield partner of defensive wizard Ozzie Smith. The two formed one of the best double-play tandems of the 1980s. In fact, at the time of his retirement, Herr had the highest fielding percentage of any National League second baseman in baseball history.
Herr also excelled offensively, using his contact-oriented approach to collect 1,450 career hits while hitting .271 in his career. In 1985, he made the All-Star Team and finished fifth in National League MVP voting after amassing 110 RBIs despite hitting just eight home runs. To date, he’s the last National League player to hit fewer than 10 home runs while driving in over 100 runs in the same season.
More than 30 years after playing his last game with the Cardinals, Herr will return to St. Louis this summer to be honored. After learning he’d been selected, Herr said his first thought was of his former manager Whitey Herzog, who gave him a chance to be an everyday player. Earlier this year, it was Herzog who called Herr to let him know that he was going to be on the ballot for the Cardinals Hall of Fame.
“Our family as a whole was very emotional and obviously thrilled when they announced his nomination,” explains Herr’s oldest son, Aaron. “I have been expecting this for the last couple years, but I knew and had a feeling when Whitey called him this year to tell him he was on the ballot that it was going to happen.”
Even with this year’s ballot including the likes of Keith Hernandez, Lee Smith, Steve Carlton, Edgar Renteria, and Matt Morris, Herr was one of the players selected. Fittingly, the input of over 113,000 fans who voted helped Herr over the top. Throughout the 1980s, fans in St. Louis always showed Herr great love, and the feeling was always mutual.
“I view his legacy as a competitor and his love for the city and the fans,” says Aaron. “He loved playing there and winning for the crowed and never took it for granted. That is why I think he finally got so many votes because the real St Louis fan could see his genuine love for the city and fans.”