There was Vince Coleman, Willie McGee, Ozzie Smith, Tom Herr, and even Andy Van Slyke. All of those players had at least one 30 stolen base season at some point when I was a kid, with Coleman frequenting 100, and McGee and Smith crossed 50 at some point. The Cardinals were fun to watch, but after Whitey left the team in the early nineties the team stopped running and the team slowed down.
Finding players in the Cardinals mold to watch and cheer on was a difficult task. I moved on to home run hitters for much of the 90s, but would still glance up at the stolen base leaders from time to time. It was just hard to watch players like Brian Hunter and Roger Cedeno on a daily basis. Finally in 2000 the baseball word was introduced to Juan Pierre.
I did not get to see Pierre in person until I attended the Cardinals home opener in 2001 against the Rockies. What did I see? I saw the first home run that Albert Pujols hit at home in his career, but I also saw Juan Pierre leading off for the Rockies. I enjoyed watching Pierre's game and he reminded me a lot of some of the players that I grew up watching on the Cardinals. As a card collector I went out and picked up a copy of some Pierre rookies. This was my favorite....
I followed Pierre's career for a long time. I checked his box scores and checked in to see if his name was at the top of the stolen base leader boards. When Pierre moved over to the Marlins I had a great time watching the 2003 playoffs and was happy to see the young upstart Marlins team defeat the Yankees. Pierre batted at the top of the Marlins line up batting .303 against the Cubs in the NLCS and .333 against the Yankees in the World Series.
Off the field I still enjoyed collecting Pierre cards. He is a player who has a somewhat limited array of cards, but still always nice to see one of his cards pop up in a pack of cards or cheap on Ebay. I have dozens of favorites, but I have always been partial to the Rockies and Marlins cards...
I still enjoyed watching Pierre on the Cubs, Dodgers, and White Sox later in his career, but kind of drifted away from his cards. Honestly, there were not a lot of them towards the end of his career. Usually there was a base card in the Topps set, sometimes a Topps Heritage card, and every great once in awhile he would pop up in another Topps product like Allen & Ginter. I guess Topps missed out on the fact that he lead the American League in steals in 2010.
Juan Pierre ended up on the Phillies for a year and then back on the Marlins for a final season in 2013. It was cool to see Juan Pierre reach 600 steals last summer.
Only 18 Major League players have ended their careers with more than 600 stolen bases. Juan also picked up more than 2000 hits and scored 1000 runs. He was a fun player to watch and collect I will miss seeing Juan play and steal bases.