Herzog embraced by Cardinals' fans before first pitch

Herzog embraced by Cardinals' fans before first pitch

ST. LOUIS -- Minutes before he walked onto the field at Busch Stadium, his Cardinals red jacket matching his rosy cheeks, Whitey Herzog offered up a prediction for his first pitch before Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday.

"What you're going to see is an 82-year-old with a fastball that's going to be about 25 feet and 15 mph," Herzog said, beaming.

  Date Recaps Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 11 SF 3, STL 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 12 STL 5, SF 4 video
Gm 3 Oct. 14 SF 5, STL 4 video
Gm 4 Oct. 15 SF 6, STL 4 video
Gm 5 Oct. 16 SF 6, STL 3 video
Sure enough, Herzog, who managed the Cardinals to the 1982 World Series title, delivered just that -- a one-hopper to current Redbirds third-base coach Jose Oquendo, who played for Herzog from 1986-90.

Of the biggest cheers before the first game of this series between the Cardinals and Giants -- and that included player introductions -- none was bigger than the one Herzog received.

"You know, I haven't lost a game since 1990," Herzog said of his last season as manager. "I haven't won any, either. But it's nice when I go to the grocery store or bank and people still come up to me and say, 'Thanks for 10 years of exciting baseball.' That makes me feel good."

Herzog, who will turn 83 next month, managed the Cardinals for parts of 11 seasons (1980-90), and his teams were built on speed, pitching and defense, playing on artificial turf in a big ballpark where lean athletes could run, run and run.

Herzog also managed the Royals (1975-79), who lost in the American League Championship Series in his final three seasons. He admitted to keeping an eye on the ALCS, where the Royals took a 2-0 lead in that series against the Orioles with a 6-4 victory in Baltimore on Saturday.

But Herzog, who lives in nearby Sunset Hills, Mo., doesn't just watch the games.

"Every night, I win one and I lose one, because I manage both sides," he said.

The first 40,000 fans that passed through the ballpark turnstiles on Saturday received white Cardinals rally towels, which were whipped into a veritable frenzy before first pitch.

The national anthem was performed by the St. Louis Symphony Trumpet Section.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.