In 2011, one of the major ongoing questions as we sit just a few weeks from Opening Day is how the team can replace injured star Adam Wainwright.
For those fans who experienced a similar question 23 years ago, all we can ask of the Cardinals is for them not to convince us that Bob Horner is the answer.
In 1988 the player being replaced was Jack Clark, who accounted for nearly 40% of the team’s homerun total the prior year then fled for New York via free agency. To put his loss in perspective, Clark’s ’87 season produced a 6.5 WAR, not far off the 7.2 WAR that Albert Pujols put up in 2010.
But what made matters worse is that the spring training performance of Clark’s replacement – Bob Horner – started to make many in Cardinals Nation confident that things might be okay. After all, Horner was the guy that won the Rookie of the Year award over Ozzie Smith ten years earlier, he was in great shape, he might make us all forget about The Ripper right?
Articles such as the following one found in the March 8, 1988 edition of the Juction City Sunday Union – Horner’s hometown paper – made us all feel warm and cozy…
In reality, it didn’t take long to realize that the team had just handed over the job to a chunky first baseman who had spent the previous season hitting less homeruns for the Yakult Swallows of the Japanese league than Clark hit in the Majors.
Maybe it was the hype, maybe it was the unrealistic expectations, maybe it was the shoulder he blew out 60 games in, whatever the reason, Horner didn’t quite live up to the expectations when he belted a whopping 3HR, drove in 33 and racked up a .703 OPS in 247 plate appearances.
Just know that, if Fox Sports Midwest announces that they’re bringing Bob Horner in to take over Jack Clark’s old spot in the post-game booth, they’re screwed.