Whitey Herzog visits Mt. Pulaski
August 5, 2013, By Phil Bertoni, Former St. Louis Cardinal World-Series Champion skipper and Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer Whitey Herzog was in Mount Pulaski over the weekend on a local fishing outing with his son, Jim, and two grandchildren, while his wife, Mary Lou, and daughter-in-law, Ann Hubbard Herzog, shopped at Saddies Secret Place on the west side of the Mount Pulaski Square.
Afterwards, they all were given a cook's tour of the Mt. Pulaski State Historic Site Courthouse by docent, Phil Bertoni. Whitey was his usual studious self, asking questions left and right, as were his grandsons and other family members. Besides being in the actual courtroom that Mr. Lincoln walked and worked in, he appeared most impressed with the map on the courtroom wall showing the 1850's Illinois 8th Judicial Circuit route on which lawyer Abraham Lincoln spent so many months and years riding his horse, then horse and buggy, over the 450 mile circuit twice a year (1849-1860) following his 2-year stint as an Illinois Representative in the United States Congress(1847-1848).
Several pictures were taken of his grandsons donning stove-pipe hats sitting in Judge David Davis's chair and in the witness-stand chair alongside, with the United States stars and stripes hanging above showing its 1848 look of only 30 states.
Whitey enjoys telling the story of trading his Red Bird short-stop Garry Templeton for Ozzie Smith of the San Diego Padres after the 1981 season when Templeton made the Cardinal fans and its management extremely upset due to his giving an obscene gesture to the home crowd. Whitey recounts that Ozzie came to St. Louis in the dead of winter to take a look at the surroundings and for a final interview with the Cardinal management. Whitey was "scared to death" that the snow storm would deter Ozzie from agreeing to the trade — in fact, Ozzie showed up in a parka and boots, as a tease to Whitey who was so excited about the possibility of landing the services of Ozzie. As we know, Ozzie agreed and "you know the rest of the story".
His lovely and engaging wife, Mary Lou (they were high school sweethearts), relates that Whitey was drafted by the Yankees at the same time that Mickey Mantle surfaced — 1950. It wasn't too long before they noticed the superstar status in Mantle, which relegated Whitey to the bench.
But, not to be discouraged, as Mary Lou continued, Whitey took paper and pencil and began taking notes of pitchers, hitters and managerial moves. When an ear infection put an end to his playing days a few years later, Whitey switched gears and went into coaching, then managing. He had done some managing during his state-side stint in the US Army Corps of Engineers during the Korean War and enjoyed it immensely. T
he folks in his home town of New Athens, Illinois, know him as Dorrel Norman Elvert Herzog and call him "Relly", but the rest of us know him as "Whitey".