Known as one of the game's best strategic managers and storytellers, Herzog's first brush with destiny occurred years before he guided the St. Louis Cardinals into the first of three World Series. In 1948, Herzog, then nicknamed "Relly," was a junior center-fielder for the New Athens Yellow Jackets, who were playing Granite City in the Illinois state championship baseball game.
"I remember we were saying, `We can beat these guys,' " said Edgar "Bud" Wirth, the New Athens pitcher and Herzog's best friend. "But I'll be darned, we lost, and the kicker was the key play in the seventh inning. They had the bases loaded, two outs, and someone lifted a fly to center. I was thinking, `Thank goodness, they hit it to our best guy.' But he lost it in lights. See, we never played at night before, and the ball dropped 15 feet away from him and the bases cleared. We lost 4-1, and to this day, we've never let him forget about it."
[Joe] McGinnity was not called "Iron Man" because of his fondness for Black Sabbath. He pitched both ends of a double-header three times in August of 1903-a season during which he set a National League record of 434 innings pitched. In McGinnity's 381 career starts, he threw an amazing 314 complete games. Thus, on our dream team, McGinnity goes a full nine every fourth day, and 18 innings for double-headers, making it OK for Herzog to use his three relievers (Denny McLain, Bill Gullickson and Charlie Leibrandt) sparingly.