The list of major leaguers who were born and raised in St.Louis and then had the talent and opportunity to play for their hometown St.Louis Cardinals is not a long one. Gerald Peter Buchek was one of that small exclusive group. He recently passed away in January of 2019. The McKinley High product spent five seasons as a Cardinal and seven seasons overall in the major leagues. Amazingly, he began his major league career at the age of 19 after driving in 92 runs in the minor leagues the year before. He was a member of the 1964 World Series Champions and was 1-1 in his only World Series at bat. He also scored the first ever run at Busch Stadium II. Mike Shannon was quoted as saying,
“He was a South St. Louis kid (like Shannon), he was a heck of a player and he made the big leagues in a hurry. And he wasn’t awed by anything.” (From STL Post-Dispatch article by Rick Hummel, 1-8-19)
I am acknowledging this former Cardinal for personal reasons. My younger brother grew up playing soccer and baseball with his son, David Buchek. (And as an interesting confluence of events, David is married to Tiffany Buchek (Brummer), who is the daughter of Cardinal hero Glenn Brummer) My mother has a personal and close friendship with Jerry's wife, Jan Buchek. Through these relationships I came to know Jerry as a kind and gentle man who was always very patient in working with younger players as a coach and mentor. To players he worked with, he exemplified class and a respectful approach to the game. Seeing him at countless soccer and baseball games as a father, he was always reserved and respectful of coaches, umpires, and other parents while also being completely unassuming. Unless it came up in some other way, Jerry would not be the first one to make sure you knew he had played in The Show.
Please join me in saluting and recognizing the life and legacy of this former Cardinal and hometown St.Louisan.