One of the most beloved members of the St. Louis Cardinals' organization was rememberd Friday as a humble man who loved baseball and his family. Albert "Red" Schoendienst has been laid to rest. The baseball Hall of Famer died June 6. He was 95.
Many inside a packed Cathedral Basilica shared their thoughts, emotions, and stories about a man who spent roughly seven decades with the Cardinals.
"He was the man," said Cardinals announcer Mike Shannon.
"He was a great friend, mentor, adviser, hunter, fisherman, leader, baseball great and, most of all, a family man."
Schoendienst was born Feb. 2, 1923 in Germantown, Illinois. He broke into the Major Leagues in 1945 to fill a roster spot when fellow Cardinals' great Stan Musial was serving in the Army.
Schoendienst had a lengthy playing career before becoming a manager and a front office executive. He was elected to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1987 and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989. He was a member of the inaugural Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014. The Cardinals retired his number 2 in 1996.
Bill DeWitt Jr., the team's chairman, said Schoendienst's talents extended beyond the baseball diamond.
"Of course, Red excelled at everything he did," DeWitt told those gathered for Friday's funeral.
"He was just a superb athlete. In fact, he played on the Budweiser national bowling team one year."
Dozens of fans dressed in Cardinals red came to the service to pay their respects.
Lowell Martin Jr., a lifelong fan from University City, came decked out in a red newsboy cap and Cardinals letterman jacket, even the patent leather of his shoes was tinted red.
Martin said he was sad to say goodbye to Schoendienst, “You know, it’s not going to be the same, not seeing him sitting on that bench. But the Cardinals have a legacy like no other team. We’ll carry on.”
Annie Pogue, a fan from south St. Louis, was dressed from head to toe in Cardinals apparel, down to her bedazzled baseball earrings. Pogue noted how grateful she was to be a part of the final farewell.
“I’d like to thank the family. Cardinal nation is a group of people that just...we don’t just put on this garb, we do it because we want to. It’s our spirit. And, I want to thank them for letting us do this--to come in public, to share with them--because this is a celebration of Red’s life and I got to be a part of it today. I’m so thankful for them,” she said.
Cardinals luminaries were dressed more somberly in suits and darks colors with the number two, Schoendienst’s number, pinned to their lapels.
The Cardinal legend's daughter, Colleen Schoendienst, also spoke during the service, describing her father as a man who enjoyed making eggs for his family before heading to the ballpark.
"Our breakfast conversations were around the day's baseball game, our friends and school," she said.
"We had a loving, happy home full of music, laughter and, of course, baseball."
She wrapped up her remarks with an emotional message to her father.
"Your greatness wasn't just on the playing field. It was that you were a decent man. We will miss you. Always love you," she said.
"And, Dad, you are the best."
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Abigail Censky contributed to this report