Ted Simmons hadn’t been on the field at Busch Stadium since 1988 when he finished up his playing career with the Atlanta Braves. But after the official ceremony in Ballpark Village, the newest St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer was feeling more comfortable with the anticipated reaction he would receive from the crowd before the first pitch.

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“I think I can get through it pretty easily now,” said Simmons. “This Cardinal Nation fan-group, pretty heavy-duty. They were pretty vocal today, that was pretty nice. It was a little surprising when those people this afternoon got vocal like they did and I think if it happens again tonight, I’ll live through it now.”

Simmons was used to performing in front of Cardinals fans during his 13 seasons in St. Louis. He hit 172 home runs and drove in 929 runs as a Cardinal to with a .298 batting average. But Simmons has had a full house of nearly 30 relatives staying with him the last couple days for the ceremony and had some pretty high anxiety in anticipation of the Hall of Fame events.

2015 Hall of Fame plaque Simmons“Well, it’s huge because all the history really is centered around four places,” explained Simmons. “The Brooklyn-LA Dodgers. The New York-San Francisco Giants. The New York Yankees. The St. Louis Cardinals. They’ve got all the Hall-of-Famers, they’ve got all the pennants. Those four places are huge. So when any one of them and in this case the Cardinals, with all their history, embraces you and brings you forward and lifts you up along with their fan-base, and says ‘hey, we really think something special about you’–it’s huge. It’s bigger than life and you can’t ignore that this is a really, really special day.”

With six seasons of 20 or more home runs and 10 consecutive years of at least 75 RBIs there are many, such as Al Hrabosky, make a strong case that Simmons should also be in Cooperstown, the former six-time All-Star doesn’t dwell on the issue. Being recognized by the Cardinals–alongside his former battery mate in Bob Forsch, meant a lot.

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“Bob Forsch had a pitch, that when he got in a crisis he could throw and it didn’t matter who knew it was coming,” stated Simmons. “It didn’t matter if the fans knew, didn’t matter if the writers knew, it didn’t matter if the broadcasters knew, and it didn’t matter if the hitter knew. He pounded that sinker and everybody knew that ball was apt to be hit on the ground. If it was bases loaded with one-out, truly you’ve heard this before, but truly Bobby was always just one pitch away from getting out of whatever crisis he was in if there was one out.”

And Simmons witnessed Forsch grow into a larger leadership role as Bob Gibson retired and Steve Carlton was traded away from the team.

“He was the guy,” said Simmons. “Bobby was a fun guy. A loving guy. Funny guy. He was always drawing people to him. His leading was kind of a natural thing, but a fun thing. What I was trying to do was get through the physical aspect of what the demands of catching here everyday was like and trying to be a leader on a team that was trying to win three times a week back then as opposed to six times a week like they do now. It’s pretty tough for anybody to walk around and say I’m the leader of this bunch because we weren’t winning nearly in the 70’s like we are now.

“Bobby was the kind of guy–like a magnet. Attracted people to him. Had fun. Great sense of humor and just rock solid with that sinker.”

Simmons 172 home runs rank 9th and his 929 RBIs are the 7th most in Cardinals franchise history. Forsch ranks 2nd amongst the Cardinals with 401 starts, third in wins (163) and is the only pitcher in franchise history to throw two no-hitters.

 

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