Cards celebrate history of 'birds on the bat' logo

Cards celebrate history of 'birds on the bat' logo

FERGUSON, Mo. -- The St. Louis Cardinals hosted a special presentation Sunday at the First Presbyterian Church of Ferguson celebrating the birth of their iconic "birds on the bat" logo at the site of the inspiration that helped create it.

Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III was joined by Gary Kodner, author of "St. Louis Cardinals Uniforms & Logos: An Illustrated History"; Paula Homan, manager and curator of the Cardinals Hall of Fame & Museum; and Brian Finch, manager of stadium tours and museum operations. 

Together, they helped present the story of the design's origin in a presentation that included a Q&A session about the various changes to the Cardinals' uniforms throughout the years.

"We have always been fond of the story of how the birds on the bat were invented and it was in the First Presbyterian Church here in Ferguson where there was an evening event back in 1921, and [team manager] Branch Rickey noticed some great cardinal table decorations and thought that Allie May Schmidt, who had set it up, might be able to take that idea and put it on the uniform," DeWitt said. "That's something that happened a long, long time ago and yet so much of a part of our identity traces back to that moment. So for us to come here, tell the story, get people familiar with it and kind of celebrate Ferguson and what their contributions are to Cardinals history, I think is important as well."

Schmidt had been asked to design table decorations for a Men's Fellowship Club event at the Ferguson Presbyterian Church in February 1921. Schmidt, as Homan explained, had seen a cardinal bird perched on a tree outside her window. 

That inspiration turned into two red cardinal birds on white tablecloths for the club event, and when Rickey saw the table decorations, an idea was born.

The birds on the bat first appeared on the Cardinals' uniforms a little more than a year later, on April 8, 1922, when the Cardinals played the St. Louis Browns.

"It's really important to understand the impact of that young lady's inspiration," Homan said. "We have had the birds on the bat from that point in 1922 forward, except for that year of 1956. The fact that it was a woman that helped us have that inspiration for our longstanding logo, I think is a very important thing and I'm really glad that we're here recognizing it today."

Nate Latsch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.