Ultimate competitor: Forsch up for Cards Hall of Fame
Fans can vote for up to two players through April 22; enshrinement ceremony Aug. 16
Each time Jeffrey Leonard would hit a home run, the outfielder would trot around the bases at a modest pace, one arm dangling stiffly at his side in what became known as his signature "one flap down" routine.
In Game 3 of the 1987 National League Championship Series, Leonard helped his Giants to an early four-run lead over the Cardinals with a solo homer, his third of the series, each of which was followed by his limp-armed scamper around the diamond.
By the time his third at-bat came around in the fifth inning, veteran hurler Bob Forsch appeared to take issue with Leonard's baserunning antics. The right-hander plunked him in the back with a fastball, and the Cards then rallied for a 6-5 victory en route to the World Series.
That one at-bat, says former Cardinal Willie McGee, tells you everything you need to know about Forsch, his beloved teammate who was a hard-nosed competitor with an old-school mentality.
"He was probably the best competitor I played with," McGee said. "You go out there and you show him up or you disrespect the game, you're gonna get one planted. And that incident with Jeffrey Leonard in the playoffs, Bobby Forsch told you just who he was."
Forsch -- who passed away in November 2011 at age 61, just days after his Cardinals won their 11th World Series championship -- is one of eight candidates for the new Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum gallery located in Ballpark Village.
From now through April 22, fans can vote at cardinals.com for up to two of the eight modern legends: Forsch, McGee, Mark McGwire, Matt Morris, Keith Hernandez, Jim Edmonds, Ted Simmons and Joe Torre.
The top two vote-getters will be enshrined during an Aug. 16 ceremony at Ballpark Village, joining the 22 Cards who received automatic induction because they are either already in the National Baseball Hall of Fame or have had their number retired by the organization.
Drafted by the Cardinals in the 26th round of the 1968 Draft, Forsch played 15 seasons in St. Louis. While with the Cards, he amassed a 163-127 record, which ranks as the third-most wins by a pitcher in club history. Forsch was a 20-game winner in 1977, and he is also the only Redbirds pitcher with two no-hitters on his resume.
The first came on April 16, 1978, against the Phillies, though its legitimacy came into question when a grounder to left field bounced off the tip of the third baseman's glove and was controversially ruled an error by the official scorer. Forsch's second no-no, however, was accomplished without controversy on Sept. 26, 1983, against the Montreal Expos.
The Cardinals reached the postseason three times (1982, '85 and '87) while Forsch was in St. Louis, advancing to the World Series in all three years. In his first postseason appearance during the 1982 NLCS, Forsch pitched a shutout against the Braves, allowing three hits and no walks while fanning six on 104 pitches.
Though Forsch would lose both of his starts in the '82 World Series, the Cards defeated the Milwaukee Brewers for the title, which he called the highlight of his career.
"Without a doubt. I was able to win 20 games and pitch no-hitters, but those don't come close," Forsch told MLB.com in October 2011. "The fact that all winter you could drive around and know that you are the world champions and there is no team better than you and you were going to keep that title until Spring Training."
Forsch remained in St. Louis until he was traded to the Astros in August 1988. He spent the final season and a half of his 16-year career in Houston, retiring in 1989.
Less than a week before he died, Forsch took the mound in St. Louis one last time to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 7 of the 2011 World Series.
"Bobby was a genuinely good person," McGee said. "He just went about his business right and was just a perfect professional in my mind."
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.