A Cardinal Legend Among Us
FULTON - There is a St. Louis Cardinal legend living in Fulton, and many people have no idea.
He didn't hit the famous grandslam in Game 4 that Ken Boyer did , or set a World Series record of 31 strikeouts like Bob Gibson.
But Charlie James was a part of the 1964 Cardinal team that brought the New York Yankees to their knees.
The World Series win made the ups and downs of ballplayer life worth it.
"We played, of course, the first several years in the minor leagues and things were very different at that time," said Charlie's wife Jo.
The "we" in the last statement sums up how the James family approached baseball.
"I worked that hard and got that nervous. Charlie wasn't near as nervous as I was. It's harder on the wives," Jo added.
After doing his time in the minors, Charlie finally got the call to the Big Leagues.
"My dad used to take me to old Sportsmans Park. I said 'Dad, I'd sure like to be playing down there one of these days.' And, wouldn't you know it happened," Charlie said.
Charlie got to mix with some real legends in his day, hanging out with the like's of Dizzy Dean and Harry Caray (when he was broadcaster for the Cardinals.
One of the most influential figures in Charlie's early playing days was Stan Musial, whose widely regarded as the greatest Cardinal. Charlie considered him a mentor.
"Stan was a really nice guy and a very important part of my career. He helped me with how to hit certain pitchers, what to look for," he said.
A highlight worthy moment in Charlie's career came courtesy of legendary pitcher Sandy Koufax.
"I closed my eyes and swung real hard and hit a ball with the bases loaded on top of the pavilion in right center field. I had a grand slam homerun off him. I think it might be the only one off of him," James said.
Talking about baseball puts a twinkle in Charlie's eye.
"Look out in right field and have flags from all of the world championships. It kinda gets to you when you see it," he said.
James is a living Cardinal legend, but he won't be quick to point that out.
"I don't know how much of a legend, but i was definitely a living Cardinal."
Unfortunately, Charlie's career didn't have the fairy tale end it deserved.
"After I helped them to a World Championship [the Cardinals] traded me to Cincinnati," James said.
However, at heart he's a Cardinal all the way.
After retiring from baseball, James bought into Central Electric in Fulton.