7 significant Cubs who also played for Cardinals
Whether St. Louis is “boring,” as Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant once said, or whether the Cardinals represent “the right side of the rivalry,” as former Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot once said, the Cubs-Cards rivalry is still going strong almost 140 years after the first game between the teams.
What does that mean for those who have worn both uniforms and sworn both allegiances — not to mention the fans of those teams and players?
“It’s like, ‘Who do you love more, your mom or your dad,’ “ Theriot said of playing for both teams when confronted by media before his first game at Wrigley Field in a Cardinals uniform.
In other words, it’s complicated.
Here are the stories of seven of the most significant players who played for both the Cubs and Cardinals and somehow survived the rivalry to tell their tales.
LF Lou Brock (Cubs 1961-64, Cardinals 1964-79)
Two words: Ernie Broglio. A few more: Long considered the standard for lopsided trades, Brock famously went to the Cardinals in a six-player trade three days before his 26th birthday, then 15 years later finished a Hall of Fame career that included 3,023 hits and the single-season and career records for stolen bases (both since broken by Rickey Henderson).
Broglio, the key player for the Cubs in deal, was a fine pitcher and former 20-game winner, who had been pitching since 1963 with an elbow injury he had kept hidden (going 7-19 with a 5.40 ERA over 2 1/2 seasons for the Cubs).
2B/SS Rogers Hornsby (Cardinals 1915-26 and ‘33, Cubs 1929-32)
Hornsby earned his Hall of Fame stripes primarily with the Cardinals, including a modern-record .424 batting average in 1924, and a player-manager stint that included the Cardinals’ first championship in 1926. But he also was an impact player for the Cubs’ 1929 pennant winner at 33 before fading over the next three seasons until the Cubs released him in August 1932. His lasting influence in Chicago, however, might have come as the minor-league instructor (1958-60) who identified and nurtured the talents of future Hall of Famers Billy Williams and Ron Santo.
RHP Dizzy Dean (Cardinals 1930-37, Cubs 1938-41)
A four-time All-Star and 30-game winner for the 1934 champs, Dean broke his left toe in the 1937 All-Star game (on a ball hit back to the mound), returned early from the injury, then wound up with arm problems as a result of altering his delivery to compensate for the pain in his toe. The Cubs responded by paying $185,000 to acquire him in a multiplayer trade the following April. They got only 10 starts and three relief appearances from the ailing pitcher that season, but that included a decisive 2-1 victory over the Pirates in his final start of the season to help secure the pennant. He made only 24 starts the rest of his career.
CF Jim Edmonds (Cardinals 2000-2007, Cubs 2008)
Did someone say career-twilight effort by a former Cards All-Star to help put the Cubs over the top? Maybe not. But Edmonds, who was considered washed up by the Cards and Padres, was signed to a bargain contract in May 2008 by the Cubs — and hit 19 homers in 85 games, producing a .937 OPS, to help the Cubs win a National League-best 97 games. Despite a flap with Cards manager Tony La Russa over comments in the media about being tired of getting asked about his Cardinal past, Edmonds was given a standing ovation before his first at-bat in his return to St. Louis — and then was booed the rest of the game.
RHP Pete Alexander (Cubs 1918-26, Cardinals 1926-29)
The Cubs only got one of the top pitchers in the game in the four-player Pickles Dillhoefer trade of 1917 because Phillies owner William Baker “needed the money” (the Cubs added $55,000 to the deal). Alexander made only three starts for the Cubs before being drafted into World War I but came back with huge seasons in 1919 and 1920 for also-ran clubs. By the time the Cards claimed him off waivers in 1926, the 39-year-old was considered washed up but won nine games down the stretch for a pennant winner and two more complete games against the Yankees in the World Series.
Then, in one of the most famous relief appearances in history, hungover from celebrating his Game 6 victory, he entered Game 7 with the bases loaded and two out in a one-run game, struck out Tony Lazzeri and finished off the Yankees with two more hitless innings for the Cards’ first title.
RHP John Lackey (Cardinals 2014-15, Cubs 2016-17)
Lackey wasn’t with either team for very long, but his impact over those final four seasons of his career were significant after being acquired by the playoff-bound Cards in a trade deadline deal from the Red Sox in 2014. He made 33 starts for a 100-win Cards team in 2015 and beat the Cubs in the playoffs — the Cards’ only win in that NLDS. The Cubs then signed him to a two-year, $32 million free agent deal just in time for Lackey to help the Cubs win their first World Series in 108 years, then finished with another trip to the NLCS in 2017.
SS Ryan Theriot (Cubs 2005-10, Cardinals 2011)
Never one to be shy with the media, the Cubs fan favorite hit the bullseye in stoking the rivalry after signing with the Cards as a free agent in 2011. When asked about the Cubs-Cards relationship by a St. Louis radio outlet, he celebrated how good it was to “finally be on the right side of the rivalry.” A few months later, the starting shortstop on the Cubs’ 2007 and ’08 playoff teams was cornered by Chicago media at Wrigley Field and booed by Cubs fans. A few months after that he and the Cards won the World Series. He stands by the comments to this day; as he said at Wrigley that year, “What do you want me to say? … It’s like, ‘Who do you love more, your mom or your dad.’“
RF Jason Heyward (Cardinals 2015, Cubs 2016-present)
Heyward belongs in the Cubs-Cards pantheon if only because of the bidding war that ensued for him as a free agent after the Cardinals acquired him in a trade ahead of that big 2015 push, in hopes of signing him to an extension as they had done with other pending free agents acquired in trades, such as Edmonds and Matt Holliday. Depending on what you think of Heyward’s value, it either worked or didn’t work out for the Cardinals, as Heyward spurned their 10-year, $200-million offer for the Cubs’ eight-year, $184-million deal. Heyward will forever be remembered by Cubs fans for his inspirational rain-delay speech before the Cubs’ outscored Cleveland in the 10th inning of Game 7 for the 2016 title. As for the rest of his value for that deal — talk about fodder for a rivalry.