For an organization that trails only the New York Yankees in World Series championships, a quarter-century is a long time to wait for a title. But for the Cardinals, 1982 marked the last time St. Louis won the Fall Classic.
It's the longest stretch without a title in the history of a franchise that has captured nine titles and been to the World Series 16 times. But for the second time in three years and the fourth time since 1982, the World Series returns to St. Louis.
Starting this weekend, the 2006 Redbirds will try to capture their first title since Bruce Sutter was the team's closer against the Detroit Tigers. The two teams have faced each other in two previous World Series, both decided by seven games.
The Cardinals won the 1934 World Series, a series capped off when then-Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis removed Joe Medwick in Game 7 because Tigers fans started throwing bottles and fruit after he slid hard into third base.
Detroit captured the 1968 Series, when Mickey Lolich outdueled the great Bob Gibson in Game 7. Since that fall, the Cardinals are 1-3 in World Series. After their 1victory, they have fallen short three times, including twice in seven games.
This year, though, could change everything. The improbable Cardinals reached the World Series with only 83 regular-season victories, tying the 1973 Mets for lowest victories in the regular season by a team that reached the World Series.
Still, the team has exhibited a sterling run of consistency in the playoffs, winning seven of 11 games, including dispatching the Mets in seven games in the NLCS, marking the second World Series trip for the Cardinals in the last three seasons.
The 2004 Cards -- a 105-game winner that was arguably one of the best teams in club history -- was swept in four straight games by the Red Sox. The 2006 version, a team that crept in on the final day of the season, could reverse the franchise's own past history and finally take home a ring, bringing a title to baseball-crazy Cardinal Nation.
A ring wouldn't just mean the first victory in 25 years. It would also signify the first championship in manager Tony La Russa's tenure and the first title for many Cardinal greats, including Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen, mainstays who have seen three straight playoff appearances and four in the past five years, but no title.
Cardinals World Series history:
Nine world championships, 16 pennants, and 22 playoff appearances
2004: Red Sox 4, Cardinals 0
The Red Sox, after recovering from a 3-0 hole to win the ALCS in seven games, crushed the Redbirds. Only the first game, an 11-9 win by Boston, was close. After that contest, the Cardinals were outscored 13-2 in the final three games.
1987: Twins 4, Cardinals 3
The Twins made the most of home-field advantage, winning all four games at the Metrodome. Frank Viola outpitched Danny Cox in Game 7, winning the title for the Twins.
1985: Royals 4, Cardinals 3
One of the most controversial series ever. Game 6 was marred by the infamous Don Denkinger call. With the Cardinals leading the series 3-2 and the game, 1-0, Jorge Orta hit a slow roller down the first-base line. It appeared that Todd Worrell caught the flip from Jack Clark and made the play, but Denkinger called Orta safe. The Royals went on to win the game, and won 11-0 in Game 7.
1982: Cardinals 4, Brewers 3
The last title for the Redbirds and the first for Whitey Herzog and the Runnin' Redbirds. The team, led by Ozzie Smith, stole seven bases in the series. Darrell Porter was the offensive hero with a homer and five RBIs. Joaquin Andujar (2-0) won Game 7. Bruce Sutter captured the final out for the Cardinals.
1968: Tigers 4, Cardinals 3
Bob Gibson struck out a World Series-record 17 batters in Game 1, helping the Cardinals take a 3-2 series lead. The Tigers, though, won Game 6 and beat Gibson in Game 7 behind Mickey Lolich. Jim Northrup provided the major blow with a two-run seventh-inning triple over Curt Flood's head. It appeared Flood could have made the catch, but he fell going back for the ball. Lou Brock had another tremendous series, hitting .464 with two homers and seven steals.
1967: Cardinals 4, Red Sox 3
Bob Gibson was the story. The right-hander was completely unstoppable, winning three games, tossing 27 innings and allowing just three runs. In Game 7, Gibson went the distance and homered in a 7-2 win. Lou Brock wrecked plenty of havoc, stealing seven bases and hitting .414.
1964: Cardinals 4, Yankees 3
Lou Brock, acquired in midseason from the Cubs, helped the Cardinals win the NL pennant on the regular season's final weekend. In the World Series, Brock was the leadoff catalyst, hitting .300 with a homer and five RBIs. Bob Gibson tossed three complete games and won Game 7, outpitching Mel Stottlemyre for a 7-5 win.
1946: Cardinals 4, Red Sox 3
One of the most famous moments in baseball history happened in Game 7 of the 1946 World Series. With the score tied at 3, Enos Slaughter singled to lead off the bottom of the eighth. After two outs, Harry Walker uncorked a drive to left-center. Slaughter was running on the pitch and sprinted through a stop sign by third base coach Mike Gonzalez. Slaughter beat Johnny Pesky's throw and the Cardinals took a 4-3 lead in the game. They captured the series an inning later.
1944: Cardinals 4, Browns 2
The Cardinals captured the only all-St. Louis series in baseball history, holding the Browns to fewer than two runs a game. Offensively, Stan Musial (.304 with a homer) led the team to its second title in three seasons.
1943: Yankees 4, Cardinals 1
One of the lowest scoring series ever, the teams combined for just 23 runs in five games. Only once did the Redbirds score more than three runs in a game. In the last three contests, New York held the Cardinals to just three runs. Marty Marion (.357) was the only regular to hit over .300 for St. Louis.
1942: Cardinals 4, Yankees 1
This marked Billy Southworth's first title and started a string of three championships in five years. Johnny Beazley and Ernie White (3-0, 1.00 ERA) led the pitching. This was the first title of Stan Musial's career.
1934: Tigers 4, Cardinals 3
This series is remembered most for its crazy Game 7. The Cardinals rolled up an 11-0 lead in Game 7 after Medwick tripled. Medwick slid hard into third baseman Marvin Owen. Landis pulled Medwick from the game after Detroit's fans started pelting him with various objects when Medwick took his position after the inning was over. Other than Game 7, the series was very close. Three of the contests were decided by two runs or fewer.
1931: Athletics 4, Cardinals 3
The two squads were regular-season juggernauts, combining for 208 victories. The Cardinals, who won 101 games, won the rematch of the '30 series. Starting pitching proved the difference, as Burleigh Grimes (2-0, 2.04 ERA) outdueled George Earnshaw in Game 7, winning 4-2. Bill Hallahan (2-0, 0.49 ERA) also pitched brilliantly for the Cardinals.
1930: Athletics 4, Cardinals 2
This series was tied at two games apiece, but the A's captured games five and six behind Lefty Grove and George Earnshaw. The Cardinals couldn't touch those two hurlers, as they combined for a 4-1 record in the series. Jesse Haines (1.00 ERA) enjoyed a fine series for the Redbirds.
1928: Yankees 4, Cardinals 0
The powerful New York lineup crushed the Cardinals in a rematch of the '26 series. None of the contests were within two runs. The Yankees outscored St. Louis 30-10 in the series, including winning three games by four runs or more. Babe Ruth (.625) and Lou Gehrig (.545) crushed Cardinal pitching. Gehrig alone had more RBIs (nine) than the entire Cardinals team (eight). As a team, St. Louis batted just .206.
1926: Cardinals 4, Yankees 3
This title, the first in St. Louis history, is remembered most for Grover Cleveland Alexander's performance in Game 7. The future Hall of Famer had won Game 6 the day before, and as some accounts say, was asleep in the bullpen with manager Rogers Hornsby phoned the bullpen. Alexander awoke and entered the game with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and the Cardinals leading, 3-2. With the bases loaded and two outs, Alexander struck out Tony Lazzeri and retired the side in the next two innings.
Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.