For more than 125 years now, the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs have engaged in one of the most bitter rivalries in Major League Baseball. The two teams have played one another nearly 2,500 times since their first meeting in 1892 and while the Cubs hold a slight edge in the regular-season series — they also won the teams’ lone playoff meeting in 2015 — the Cardinals have certainly had more overall success. St. Louis has won 19 National League pennants to Chicago’s 17 and holds a big advantage in World Series titles, having won 11 to the Cubs’ three.
Now, we could sit here and break down this rivalry piece by piece and perhaps we’ll get to that at some point. But we wanted to have a little more fun today and literally mix things up by putting together an all-time starting lineup featuring only Cardinals and Cubs players. But we’re not talking guys who just showed up for a season or two and took off. We’re talking the legends of these franchises. So let’s get to it.
First Baseman-Albert Pujols
The Cubs have had some solid players at first base over the years but never anyone that can match up with Albert Pujols. Easily one of the best players in baseball during his tenure in St. Louis, Pujols played 11 seasons with the Cardinals and had a slash line of .328/.420/.617 with 445 home runs, 1,329 runs batted in, and 84 stolen bases. He was the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year, a three-time NL MVP, a nine-time All-Star, a two-time Gold Glove winner, a one-time batting champion, and helped the Cardinals to two World Series titles.
Second Baseman-Rogers Hornsby
Second base was actually a very easy choice as Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby played for both the Cardinals and Cubs during his 23-year MLB career. In parts of 13 seasons in St. Louis, Hornsby had a slash line of .359/.427/.568 with 193 home runs, 1,072 runs batted in, and 118 stolen bases. He was the 1925 NL MVP, a two-time Triple Crown winner, a six-time batting champion, a two-time home run leader, a four-time RBI leader, and helped the Cards to a World Series title in 1926. He went on to play four seasons with the Cubs, adding a second NL MVP award in his first season in the Windy City, and had a slash line of .350/.435/.604 with 58 home runs and 264 runs batted in.
If this were a group featuring only St. Louis Cardinals, we’d give the nod at shortstop to Ozzie Smith but there’s certainly no question that Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks deserves the starting spot in this mixed lineup. Banks played his entire 19-year career on the North Side and was a 14-time All-Star, a two-time NL MVP, a two-time home run leader, a two-time RBI leader, and one-time Gold Glove Award winner. He ended his Hall of Famer career with a slash line of .274/.330/.500 with 512 home runs, 1,636 runs batted in, and 50 stolen bases.
Third Baseman-Ron Santo
Banks’ longtime teammate with the Cubs, Ron Santo, gets the nod at third base, although the choice was a little tougher than you might think as longtime Cardinals third baseman Ken Boyer was right in the mix. Like Banks, Santo played his entire career in Chicago but played his final season with the White Sox after 14 years on the North Side. In those 14 seasons with the Cubs, Santo had a slash line of .279/.366/.472 with 337 home runs, 1,290 runs batted in, 35 stolen bases, and was a nine-time All-Star and a five-time Gold Glove winner.
Stan Musial was a bit of a tricky case as he split time between the outfield and first base. But there was no way that we were going to leave him out of this lineup as he’s arguably the greatest player in Cardinals history. Musial played his entire 22-year career in St. Louis and had a slash line of .331/.417/.559 with 475 home runs, 1,951 runs batted in, and 78 stolen bases. He was a 24-time All-Star (two All-Star games were played for a time back in the day), a three-time World Series champion, a three-time NL MVP, a seven-time batting champion, and a two-time RBI leader.
OK, so we’re fully aware that this is a controversial choice given the PED drama surrounding longtime Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa. But given his stats and the fact that he and former Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire helped save the game of baseball in 1998, we’re giving him one of the three spots here. In 13 seasons with the Cubs, Sosa had a slash line of .284/.358/.569 with 545 home runs, 1,414 runs batted in, and 181 stolen bases. He was a seven-time All-Star, a six-time Silver Slugger Award winner, a two-time home run leader, a two-time RBI leader, and was named the 1998 NL MVP.
This last outfield spot was really tough to choose as it was down to Lou Brock and Billy Williams. The beautiful thing about Brock is that he played for both the Cubs and Cardinals and keeps the lineup balanced for the most part. And he’s certainly got the stats to be included. He had a slash line of .293/.343/.410 with 149 home runs, 900 runs batted in, and 938 stolen bases, still the second-most in MLB history, and was a six-time All-Star and a two-time World Series champion. As for Williams, he had a slash line of .296/.364/.503 in 16 seasons with the Cubs with 392 home runs, 1,353 runs batted in, 86 stolen bases, and was also a six-time All-Star.
As we really don’t have a ton of speed in this lineup, we’re going to go with Brock here. And that fact that he wore both uniforms certainly helped his case. But if this lineup were actually real and going to an American League park, Williams would be in at DH to add even more power.
Pitcher and catcher
Catcher was one of the toughest calls to make as Yadier Molina has been an absolute rock for the St. Louis Cardinals organization for nearly two decades. But we’ve gotta give the edge to longtime Cubs catcher Gabby Hartnett, who played 19 years on the North Side before playing the final season of his career with the New York Giants. Wearing a Cubs uniform, Hartnett had a slash line of .297/.370/.490 with 231 home runs, 1,153 runs batted in, and 28 stolen bases. The Gold Glove Award wasn’t around during his playing days so we’ll never know how many of those he would have won but he was a six-time All-Star and was named the 1935 NL MVP.
Had Greg Maddux played more of the prime years of his career with the Cubs, he might get the starting nod here but as he won three of his four Cy Youngs with the Atlanta Braves, the easy call becomes Cardinals legend Bob Gibson, who played his entire 17-year career in St. Louis. A nine-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion, Gibson had a 251-174 record with a 2.91 ERA and 3,117 strikeouts against 1,336 walks.
Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference