"Cardinals: Out of Character"
Signed and Numbered Limited Edition 20" x 16" Lithograph
After a string of harsh injuries, a series of losing streaks, and a grueling late-season slump to match, Manager Tony La Russa's St. Louis Cardinals had just 83 regular-season wins. Nobody could have predicted that the Redbirds would batter the New York Mets in seven games, winning their 17th National League Pennant and making their way to the World Series... But with the help of a stingy bullpen and tenacious batting, the Cardinals did just that.
Few gave the Cardinals much hope in the World Series, either, not up against the 2006 Coach of the Year, Jim Leyland, and his Detroit Tigers - a team that had already humiliated St. Louis in a three game sweep during the regular season. Criticism was taken in quiet stride, though, and the underdogs stunned the sports world by routing Detroit 4 games to 1.
At the top of the painting stands proud the St. Louis Arch, rested behind and overlooking the brand new Busch Stadium in its first season of play.
In the background to the left, is the stout defensive strongman David Eckstein (#22) at bat. Eckstein had an uncharacteristically outstanding Post Season offensively, hauling in three doubles and four RBI's in Game Four and Game Five. Nobody could have predicted Eckstein's batting would earn him the World Series MVP Award.
To the right is one of baseball's most impressive players, Albert Pujols (#5), in his incredible sprawling catch from Game Five. In 2006, Pujols' defensive abilities were beyond impressive. His improvements were illustrated by his show-stopping Post Season performances, and made even more obvious by receiving his first Gold Glove Award.
To Pujols' right we see Manager Tony La Russa (#10) standing in the dugout. La Russa is only the second manager in history to win a World Series in both leagues.
At the foreground of this piece, symbolically sharing the mound in a five-part pitching motion, we have Anthony Reyes (#23), Chris Carpenter (#29), Jeff Suppan (#37), Jeff Weaver (#36), and Adam Wainwright (#50).
Taking the sign is Rookie Starter Anthony Reyes, during Game One. On this freezing evening in Detroit, Reyes, with trademark long socks and flat-billed cap, kept the heat on by retiring 17 consecutive batters from the 1st Inning to the 6th. This victory marked the Cardinal's first win in a World Series since 1987.
Starting Pitcher Chris Carpenter is the first Cardinals player with a Cy Young Award since Hall of Famer Bob Gibson. In Game Three, Carpenter's World Series debut, he pitched eight shutout innings - giving up only three hits and allowing no walks in 82 pitches.
Starting Pitcher Jeff Suppan was the National League Championship MVP after proving to be a threat on both ends. He hit a home run at the plate in Game Three, while retiring thirteen consecutive batters from the mound in eight scoreless innings. In Game Seven, Suppan returned to allow only 1 run in 7 Innings. In a bitter cold Game Four of the World Series, Suppan held strong against an aggressive Tiger offensive - facing 28 batters and allowing 3 runs in 6 innings.
Jeff Weaver started Game One of the National League Championship, where he pitched five scoreless innings before giving up the game-winning home run to Carlos Beltran. Weaver would redeem himself with a strong performance in Game Five, where the Cardinals took lead of the Series against the Mets. Weaver returned to the mound in Game Five of the World Series, where he pitched 8 innings allowing only one earned run.
To the right, Relief Pitcher Adam Wainwright and Catcher Yadier Molina (#4) celebrate after the dramatic end of Game Seven in the National League Championship against the New York Mets. Wainwright, with bases loaded, struck out Carlos "the Cardinals Killer" Beltran on a beautiful curve ball to secure St. Louis' 17th Pennant. Wainwright and Molina found themselves in an identical embrace at the close of Game Seven of the World Series, where he once again closed a series with a blazing strikeout, this time a slider to the Tigers' number two man in RBI's and home runs, Brandon Inge - the first series-ending strikeout in a World Series since 1988.
For more than three decades, Rick Rush has captured with his paintings one of the oldest traditions in American lifestyle - its love of baseball. For many years to come, Rick hopes that through his painting, people will be able to relive or experience for the first time, the excitement of being there at Busch Stadium to witness the St. Louis Cardinals' thrilling 10th World Series win.
THE OUT OF CHARACTER ATHLETES
• Foreground: Pitchers Anthony Reyes (#23), Chris Carpenter (#29), Jeff Suppan (#37), Jeff Weaver (#36), Adam Wainwright (#50), and Catcher Yadier Molina (#4)
• Middleground: 1st Basemen Albert Pujols (#5), and Shortstop David Eckstein (#22)
• Background: Coach Tony La Russa (#10) and Staff
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