Cardinals honor Herzog by retiring No. 24

Cardinals honor Herzog by retiring No. 24

ST. LOUIS -- Whitey Herzog stepped up to the podium on Saturday night at Busch Stadium, and the fans exploded into a standing ovation. Whitey put up his hands to quiet down the crowd, and the clapping got louder.

The 2010 Hall of Fame inductee smiled, and put his hands up once again, but the fans persisted.

Finally, with his number retirement ceremony stalling from the tireless applause, Whitey implored to the crowd: "You know, we've got to get the ball game going on."

Spoken like a true Cardinals manager.

Joining the fans in honoring Herzog were former players from the 1980's Cardinals teams. Fellow Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith proclaimed what an honor it was to play for him. Herzog was trotted onto the field in a carriage hitched to the Budweiser Clydesdales. The governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, announced that July 31 would be known as "Whitey Herzog Day." And to finish off the ceremony, No. 24 was revealed on the left-center-field wall.

Whitey did his best to return the love.

"But let me tell you, folks, to be here tonight getting my number retired in front of wonderful fans, all the players and family, it is right up there with Cooperstown," Herzog said in his speech. "Because all the fans going to the game can see my name and number for the next 100 years. And that is really great.

"You are wonderful."

Herzog won 822 games with the Cardinals -- 1,281 overall as a manager -- and brought home three National League pennants to go with the 1982 World Series title. His teams were known for their speed and defense, coined "Whitey Ball," and won games in a manner few had attempted.

He is the 14th name retired on the left-field wall for the Cardinals.

"It was an honor," Herzog said.

Michael Bleach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.