Simmons was the greatest offensive catcher in Cardinals history, playing for St. Louis from 1968-1980. He was named to six All-Star Games, caught two no- hitters and set a National League record with 182 home runs as a switch-hitter.
Simmons is considered one of the best hitting catchers in Major League Baseball history. He was renowned as a volatile competitor with an intense desire to win.
At the time of his retirement, Simmons led all catchers in career hits and doubles and ranked second in RBIs behind Yogi Berra and second in total bases behind Carlton Fisk. He also retired with the National League record for home runs by a switch-hitter despite playing several years in the American League. Simmons hit .300 seven different times, hit 20 home runs six times, and caught 122 shutouts, eighth-most all-time.
Steve Carlton, nicknamed “Lefty,” used martial arts and weightlifting as part of his conditioning program and got himself to a fitness level that allowed him to throw for 24 seasons in the big leagues. A focused competitor, Carlton used his biting slider and a great fastball to achieve excellence on the mound.
“Lefty was a craftsman, an artist,” said Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn. “He was a perfectionist. He painted a ballgame. Stroke, stroke, stroke, and when he got through it was a masterpiece.”
Born on Dec. 22, 1944, in Miami, Carlton signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1963. He made the big league club in 1965. He appeared in both World Series appearances for the Cardinals in 1967 and 1968, earning a ring in 1967. In 1971, he had his first 20-win season and requested a contract of $60,000 for the following year.
“Auggie Busch traded me to the last-place Phillies over a salary dispute,” said Carlton. “I was mentally committed to winning 25 games with the Cardinals and now I had to rethink my goals. I decided to stay with the 25-win goal and won 27 of the Phillies 59 victories. I consider that season my finest individual achievement.”
His first season in Philadelphia, Carlton led the league in wins, ERA, innings pitched and strikeouts. It earned him his first Cy Young Award.
In 14-plus seasons with the Phillies, Carlton led the league in wins four times, winning 20 or more games four times. The 10-time All-Star would go on to win three more Cy Young Awards and a Gold Glove in 1981. On Sept. 24, 1983, he became just the 16th pitcher to win 300 games.
“Lefty has a hard time being human as a pitcher, so he became superhuman, and did things that were superhuman,” said his long-time Philadelphia battery-mate Tim McCarver.
He signed with the San Francisco Giants in 1986 and finished out his career with the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins. He finished his career with 329 wins – second to only Warren Spahn among lefties – and 4,136 strikeouts.