Tom Herr Nominated To Cardinals HOF
Updated: May 4
By Sean A. Reeves
“A player that valued winning above everything.” That's how Tom Herr described his approach to the game. Herr was an undrafted free agent picked up by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1974 after graduating high school. His 13-year major league career was highlighted by 10 seasons in Cardinals red where he and Ozzie Smith combined for one of the best double play machines in all of baseball.
But even though Herr portrayed his competitive spirit on the field, he was even more driven to be a great family man off of the field. Tom married his high school sweetheart, Kim, and they had two sons, Aaron and Jordan. “My mom and brother and me were first in his life,” said his oldest son Aaron.
“I would go to Spring Training with him every year for my first 11 years of my life. I’d be at the field with him until dark, taking ground balls with him, shagging out in the outfield with him and just being part of the locker room - I used to have my own locker, actually, beside his,” said Aaron.
Aaron, a Cardinals batboy for most of his dad's career, spent so much time at the field that he says, “Whitey [Herzog] was like a second grandfather to me.”
His teammates and fans knew what to expect on the diamond from Herr night in and night out, but so did his family. “Once he left that locker room, he never brought his job home. He could’ve had the best game or the worst game, when he came out of that locker room to go home it was always the same: even-keeled, happy to be with his wife and kids,” said Aaron.
During his five years in the minors, Tom Herr and his teammates brought home winning seasons for Cardinal farm-clubs including two championships. When he was called up in 1979, he expected the winning to continue.
“We had a really good minor league system and got used to winning. So when I got to the big leagues, winning was just part of the equation for me,” said Herr.
Herr’s very first game ever played on the big stage was on the same night Lou Brock got his 3000th hit. Cardinals Legacy’s Executive Board member, Mark Littell, was on the mound that night.
As Littell describes it, "The night Lou Brock picked up his 3000th hit was a great night at the ballpark. Not only did we beat the Cubs, but I got the win! That same night, Ken Reitz picked up his 1000th hit in the bottom of the 9th with the score tied 2-2. That was Tom Herr’s first appearance when he was put in to pinch run for Rietz. Templeton hits a sac fly and scores Herr for the walk-off. His entire career, Tom always found a way to contribute…and it started that night in August.”
Littell played four seasons with Herr and said, “Tom was a quiet man. Steady is the best way I could describe him.”
Consistent in his hard-nosed, disciplined, team-mentality, Herr has always been destined for the Cardinals Hall of Fame.
Tom was always unselfish on the field. He knew his role and made smart baseball moves to win for the team. He was patient at the plate, took pride in getting deep into counts and was a great two-strike hitter. He had the wits and discipline to play “Whitey Ball” the way Herzog wanted it played.
Herr was part of three National League Titles (1982, 1985, 1987) highlighted by a 1982 World Series Championship. If you wanted a reliable glove at second base in the 1980s, Herr was your man. He had four seasons where he finished first in double plays turned by a second basemen and seven times in his career he was in the top 10.
Herr finished his career with a .989 fielding percentage, which at the time was the best ever for a National League second baseman, and is currently ranked 11th all-time best fielding percentage for second basemen. The difference between Herr and the top ranked player? 0.006.
Let that sink in. Of all the second basemen over the 140-year history across all the MLB teams, only 10 have a better fielding percentage than Tom Herr.
His 1985 All-Star season stands out. Herr finished 5th in the NL MVP Voting during the 1985 season with a .302 average, 110 RBI, and 8 home runs.
He is the last National League player with more than 100 RBIs and less than 10 home runs. Herr led the league in sacrifice flies (13) in 1985 and again in 1987 (12). He spent most of the 1985 season in the three-hole behind Willie McGee and Vince Coleman. Herr would allow the speedsters to steal as he worked the count and then drive them home with his contact.
Across his entire career, Herr had more walks (627) than strikeouts (584), which is a rare feat in today’s game where only 22 batters in 2019 can make that claim. Herr finished with 1450 hits, a .271 average, 574 RBIs, and 28 home runs over 1514 games. When compared to other Cardinals second basemen, his stats put him second all-time in fielding percentage, third in stolen bases (152), and fifth in hits (1021) and RBIs (435).
It’s hard to get a team-oriented and quiet individual to talk about themselves, but when asked about his favorite Cardinals moment it flowed out of him easily. No, it was not his extra inning walk-off grand slam against the division rivals New York Mets.
Tom Herr's Grand Slam Home Run on Seat Cushion Night
No. Tom’s favorite moment was Jack Clark's three-run home run in game 6 of the 1985 National League Championship Series to give the Cardinals a 7-5 lead over the Dodgers in the top of the 9th.
“It was just the culmination of a great year for everyone,” said Herr, “It was one of those moments where if you're a Cardinals fan, you always remember where you were when Jack hit the home run.”
And where was Herr when Jack hit that home run? Attempting to steal 2nd base of course.
Jack Clark's NLCS Home Run over Dodgers
After retiring from the MLB, Herr coached at multiple levels. Both Aaron and Jordan played professional baseball. Aaron was a first round draft pick by the Atlanta Braves and had a strong 12-year professional career.
When asked about his dad's involvement in his baseball development, Aaron said, “He let me do my own thing. We worked at it when I wanted to. I saw him really bear down on me later in my high school years when he knew that my talent level could get me somewhere.” Aaron pointed to his dad’s commitment to their family throughout the years as motivation to have that same family-first passion.
Cardinals Legacy Director of Operations, Brian Becker, meet Herr in 1991, "I met Tommy in North Carolina at a Chuck Colson prison ministry event. Speakers and musicians from across the country came in to share the gospel in every prison in North Carolina over two weekends. My wife and I got to have dinner with Tom and Kim and it was one of my life's highlights. I'm so happy Cardinals Nation nominated #28 for our Hall of Fame and I hope everyone votes to make him a 2020 inductee."
Herr was a key piece to the 1980s Cardinals success with his consistent and reliable “team first” winning mentality and helped bring three National League Championships and a World Series to St. Louis. It’s time to give back to the man who has given so much to his community and to Cardinals Nation.
Cardinals Legacy asks for your support to vote for Tom Herr for Cardinals Hall of Fame.
Chosen by the fans, two players from each year's ballot are elected into the Cardinals Hall of Fame. Additionally, the Red Ribbon Committee elects a veteran player who has been retired for more than 40 years. The other nominees on the ballot for the 2020 Hall of Fame are: Steve Carlton, Keith Hernandez, Matt Morris, Edgar Renteria, Lee Smith, and John Tudor.
**UPDATE** Voting has ended. Please visit https://www.mlb.com/cardinals/fans/hof-vote and vote for Tom Herr. Voting opens March 1st and ends April 17th.
The 2020 Induction Class will be announced at 6:00pm on May 8th. Coverage can be seen on Fox Sports Midwest, and pre-game versus the Mets at Busch Stadium. Formal Enshrinement into the Hall of Fame will be August 29th.