Goold: How many wins do the Cardinals have? It depends on who’s counting

From Derrick Goold at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on June 8, 2018, with mention of SABR members John Thorn and Tom Shieber:

In the coming week or two, the St. Louis Cardinals of the National League will join a select group of the game’s oldest and dearest clubs by winning their 10,000th game in team history.

Or, it already happened nine years ago.

Or, it might be four seasons from now.

Depends on who’s counting.

The early days of professional baseball were a mishmash of pop-up franchises, rival leagues and teams named for the color of their socks. From a primordial soup of Bridegrooms, Beaneaters, Colonels, Orphans, Alleghenys, Red Stockings (and White), Metropolitans, and, of course, Browns, emerged as the modern-day National League, though not even the teams can agree on how to pinpoint their precise birthdates. History, as one official said this past week, is “slippery.” The Reds assert they were established in 1869, yet have a decadelong hole in their record book. The Giants, the first big-league team to reach 10,000 wins, had a head start by claiming a founding in 1883, seven years before their transcontinental rival Dodgers begin their official recordkeeping despite having a claim to an 1884 origin.

The Cardinals’ continuity traces back to 1882 as the only American Association club to win four consecutive league titles, and they recently scored a pricey memento from their 1886 championship. These Cardinals are definitely the direct decedents of the 1899 Perfectos, who were rebooted in St. Louis via a franchise swap and boasted ace Cy Young, the actual guy. The modern club, for at least two generations, has decided its history started when it joined the National League, in 1892, thus leaving one world championship and 780 wins to the winds. That “Est. 1892” appears on T-shirts around the ballpark and available now online for $34.99, and 1892 is also validated by the team’s media guide, history pages on, and the current 10,000-win campaign on social media. The sands of time, however, can shift.

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Originally published: June 11, 2018. Last Updated: June 11, 2018.