Friday, December 20, 2013

December 20, 1926: Hornsby For Frisch

     On December 20, 1926, in what was called the biggest deal since the Yankees purchased Babe Ruth, the Cardinals stunned the baseball world by sending second baseman Rogers Hornsby to the New York Giants in exchange for second baseman Frankie Frisch and pitcher Jimmy Ring.

     Hornsby and Cardinals President Sam Breadon were at odds over a contract dispute in which the star second baseman was demanding a three year contract as well as a substantial raise. Breadon offered him $50,000 for one year, it was a raise of $20,000, but the length of the contract was not enough for the man who had just guided the Birds to the first title in the history of the franchise.

     The list of accomplishments for Hornsby in St. Louis is long. He began his career with the Birds in 1919 and developed into one of the best hitters in the game, winning two Triple Crowns, an MVP award, then topped it off with the World Series title.

     After the deal was announced the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor of the city Victor Miller contacted the Commissioner of Baseball Kennesaw Mountain Landis hoping they could get the trade voided to no avail. The divorce between the owner and the player was an ugly one. Hornsby said that leaving the fans in St. Louis was one of the hardest blows of his life. However, he was upset with some of the statements that Breadon made about him and in a letter to his former employer he wrote "If you say that I wanted to leave St. Louis that is untrue, but to terminate relations with you, that is the truth." Breadon believed that after the '26 season that saw Hornsby's average fall from his MVP total of .425 in '25 to .317 in '26 that he was clearly in decline and was not going to offer him a multiyear deal. Despite Breadon's assumptions Hornsby had a lot of great years ahead of him.

     The fans in St. Louis were upset about the deal that sent Hornsby to the Big Apple, Breadon even had to disconnect his home phone after receiving numerous harassing phone calls. While the fans in the Lou weren't happy the deal was not a bad one at all. Frisch otherwise known as the "Fordham Flash" had already appeared in four World Series with the Giants, winning two titles. In St. Louis, he appeared in four more World Series and won two more rings along the way. After falling just short of the title in '28, then again in '30, Frisch and the Birds won it all in '31. After being named player/manager in '33, Frisch was described as the "driving force" behind the Gashouse Gang as he guided the club to the 1934 World Series title. When he first stepped to the plate in St. Louis, Frisch would listen to the crowd chant "We want Hornsby!!" "We want Hornsby!!!", by the time he retired in 1937, Frisch was a Cardinal legend and I'm sure many of those fans were glad he that wore those birds on the bat.

You can checkout the career numbers of Horsby and Frisch here

Sidenote: Ring went 0-4 with the Cards then retired after posting a 4-17 record with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1928.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

December 8, 1966: Maris Traded To The Birds

On December 8, 1966, Cardinals general manager Bob Howsam sent a journeyman third baseman by the name of Charley Smith to the New York Yankees in exchange for Roger Maris. Smith arrived in St. Louis as a part of a deal that sent Ken Boyer to the Mets in '65. In his one season as a Cardinal he hit 10 homers, knocked 43 runs, .266 over 116 games. With the Yankees shopping the man who broke Babe Ruth's home run record Howsam saw it as a good fit that could add a bit of pop to the team, play the outfield, as well as become a solid option off the bench. What the Cardinals were receiving was a two time MVP that had capped off the second MVP campaign with 61 bombs in the '61 season. He was also a champion before he arrived in the Lou, winning back-to-back titles as a member of the Yankees in '61 and '62. Despite all the success the media and fans alike turned on him. During the great home run chase of '61 Mickey Mantle looked to be the true favorite amongst both parties which made it a season of great success for Maris, however, it was a season of undue stress and criticism. It was something he had to battle through. After the second championship in New York, Maris was hampered by injuries. He had an off year in '63, back on in '64, then a hand injury limited him to just 46 games in '65 which led to the decision to shop him. The Cardinals were buying, with Smith headed to New York they plugged Mike Shannon in at third, had Maris playing right and would go on a run that ended with a parade downtown. During that '67 campaign he played in 125 games, hitting .261, 9 homers, and 55 ribbies. It was during the postseason that the trade paid true dividends. In the World Series he hit .385, parked a ball over the wall, and knocked in 7 runs on 10 hits he won his third championship ring. After helping the Cardinals return to the Fall Classic in '68 Maris called it a career. Smith played one more full season in the bigs which simply hammers home it was a great deal by Cardinals management. However, it was more than a great deal for the Cardinals it was a great deal for Maris as well. He found new life in St. Louis being out of the scrutiny of New York was a breath of fresh air for him. He was closer to his family that lived in Independence, Missouri and it didn't take long for him to endear himself to the fans and his teammates. In his first at bat with a Cardinal uniform on he stretched an apparent single into a double and the fans gave a loud ovation to their newest Cardinal. Curt Flood once said that the Cardinals wouldn't have won the National League Pennant in '67 without his quiet leadership and intensity. When he was on the field it was said he never made a fundamental mistake which helped each of those players around him work that much harder to be the best they could be. In the end Maris was another piece to a Championship puzzle and he was a perfect fit. When he was asked if he was happy in St. Louis he said " I've never been happier in my life."  I might be too young to have watched him play but I can tell you as a lifelong  fan of the St. Louis Cardinals I am happy that he wore those Birds on the Bat.

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2, 1948: Stan The Man Wins His Third MVP Award

On December 2, 1948, Stan "The Man" Musial was named the National League's Most Valuable player. It was was the greatest season of his legendary career. The 27 year old led the league with a .376 batting average, 230 hits, 135 runs scored, 46 doubles, and 18 triples. He also hit a career high 39 home runs during the campaign. Ralph Kiner of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Johnny Mize of the New York Giants both hit 40 which denied Musial the Triple Crown. When it came to the MVP voting Musial received 18 of the 24 first place votes, Boston Braves ace Johnny Sain came in second place in the voting after posting a 24-15 record. Stan's longest slump lasted four days in which he went to bat 13 times without a hit. Even over those four days he was parking the ball on the warning track they just happened to be caught by the outfielder. He opened the season on fire and the fire burned all season long. Musial hit safely in 121 out of 155 games played. The month of June was a nightmare for any pitcher that had to face him as he hit .412. In 68 games he picked up at least two hits and in 79 games he picked up at least one extra base hit. The team that had the best pitching in the league resided in Brooklyn and Musial owned them which is how and where he got his nickname. In one, three game series against those Bums he went to bat 16 times and picked up 11 hits, which included a homer, a triple, and four doubles. Unfortunately those same Bums would win the National League pennant by 6.5 games over the Redbirds, by no means does that take away from the absolutely legendary season for the one they called The Man.

MVP!!! MVP!!! MVP!!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 1947: Sam Breadon Sells The Birds

On November 25, 1947, it was announced that Robert Hannegan, Fred Saigh, along a group of local investors would be purchasing the St. Louis Cardinals from longtime owner Sam Breadon. The decision by Breadon to sell came as he was in failing health and did not want to leave his family with a financial burden that the inheritance would leave them with. Breadon had been a part of the organization since 1917 when he invested $200 into Cardinals stock as a civic gesture. Over time the ownership found themselves struggling financially and eventually the automobile dealer turned investor would buy enough shares to become the majority owner by 1920. He was a business man who was tight with his money but would also spend for a winner. Breadon made moves such as sell Robison Field and lease Sportsman's Park, in turn he let Branch Rickey develop a minor league system that would transform the Cardinals from the doormat of the National League into a Championship ballclub. Over the course of his 27 years at the helm of the Redbirds, Breadon saw the team win nine National League Pennants and six World Series Titles. When he was stricken with cancer in his later years he quietly shopped the team in an effort to assure they would stay in the city of St. Louis. The deal with Saigh and Hannegan was estimated close to $4 million a record amount at the time. While he walked away from the game richer than most people could ever dream of walking away from the game was far from easy for the 71 year old Breadon. His press conference alone showed how hard it was for him to sell the team as he announced with tears rolling down cheeks that the team would be sold. He let several longtime members of his staff speak before handing over the keys to Hannegan who would be the new team President. The former Postmaster General from the Truman administration reiterated that he would no longer have any association with politics and his focus would be on the team along with his partner. Before Fred Saigh found himself as a member of the baseball world he was a tax lawyer and an investor who owned several office buildings in downtown St. Louis. Together they came up with a little more than $60,000 in cash and Saigh masterminded a variety of loans to finish the deal. The 44 year old Hannegan had grown up a fan of the Cardinals. He talked about how he used to sell peanuts in the bleachers at Robison Field when he was boy, saying the reason he sold peanuts was simply to watch the Cardinals play. It had to be a dream come true as he stood before the press and announced that he would now own that team he grew up a fan of . There are several unfortunate things that go along with the story of the sale of the team in  '47.  The first one is the former owner Sam Breadon succumbed to cancer in May of 1949. In October of that same year Hannegan passed away after a bout with heart disease that he could not overcome. Just a few months earlier he had sold his shares to Saigh as he could see the writing on the wall. Saigh would have his own share of trouble, luckily for him it wasn't health, but he did find himself in a mess with tax evasion. On January 28, 1953, he was convicted and sentenced to 15 months in prison. Although, he served just 5 of those 15 months. He chose not to fight for his right to retain the team, acknowledging that he would not want to embarrass baseball as a whole. Saigh turned down significantly higher offers from investors out of Milwaukee and Houston to make sure the team would remain in St. Louis. Less than a month after his conviction Saigh sold the team to August Busch Jr, the St. Louis beer baron would owned the team until he passed away in 1989. The ownership of Saigh and Breadon might have been short lived but t is a very important part of the history of the organization. Without each of these men mentioned in this piece the Browns might just be the team playing in downtown St. Louis today.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19, 1962: Bing Devine Trades For Dick Groat

    On November 19, 1962, Cardinals General Manager Bing Devine engineered a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates that brought shortstop Dick Groat along with relief pitcher Diomedes Olivio to St. Louis in exchange for pitchers Don Cardwell and Julio Gotay.

     The 32 year old Groat was the lynchpin of the deal for the Cards and he would end up becoming an integral part of the 1964 World Championship club. Olivio was a 42 year old rookie lefty reliever who had posted a 5-1 record and recorded 7 saves during the '62 campaign but he never found his footing with the Cardinals and spent most of the '63 season in the minors. On the Pittsburgh side of the trade their General Manager Joe Brown was looking for younger athletes and he got them with Cardwell being 27 and Gotay just 23 years old. However, neither pitcher lived up to what the fans in Pittsburgh hoped for while Groat became a leader in the St. Louis clubhouse.

     Groat began his major league career with the Pirates in 1952. He stood beside second baseman Bill Mazeroski and formed one of the better defensive duos in the game. After hitting .284 during his rookie season he found himself in the rookie of the year conversation and his star was just beginning to shine in the Steel City. After missing the '53 and '54 seasons due to military service, Groat returned and got back to work for the Buccos.

     Like any young player his bat was a little slow to develop but his defense was a force to be reckoned with. In that '55 season he led the National League in putouts which was a feat he would accomplish several more times in a Pirates uniform. He could do more than flash the leather; he could also swing the stick. Over his 9 years in Pittsburgh he carried a .290 average. His best season came in 1960, he helped lead the Pirates to a World Championship by leading the league with a .325 average  on his way to winning the National League MVP award.

     The reason I include all this information about his days with the Pirates is to show how much of an established major leaguer the Cardinals got when they made the deal late in '62. The Cardinals had a need at short and Groat didn't disappoint.

     In his first season in St. Louis he led the league with 43 doubles and hit .319 which was good for third in the National League batting race. The '64 season started a bit rough for Groat, however, he was able to get it together, and hit .292 on the year while playing in every regular season game for the Pennant winning Cardinals.

     In the '64 World Series he hit just .192, however, in Game 4 when Ken Boyer hit his famous grand slam Groat was one of the men who scored as he got on base with an error. He also pulled off the hidden ball trick in that same game by tagging out Mickey Mantle in the third inning. It was only the second time that happened in the World Series and it hasn't happened since.

     That Cardinals infield included Bill White at first, Julian Javier at second, Ken Boyer at third, and Groat at short. This easily is one of the best all around infields in the history of the organization. While the trade worked out great for the Birds all good things must come to an end, and with his numbers in decline he was traded to the Phillies along with Bill White following the '65 season. Groat wore the birds on the bat for three seasons, over the course of those seasons he was at or near the top in putouts and assists, and carried a .289 average while picking up 104 doubles, and 22 triples. It's hard to say for sure, but if the deal to bring Dick Groat to St. Louis never took place there is a good chance that when you look up at those World Championship flags at the ballpark there might be one missing.

Check out his career numbers here:

Saturday, November 16, 2013

November 16, 1932: Cardinals Shortstop Charlie Gelbert Is Injured In a Hunting Accident

On November 16, 1932, Cardinals shortstop Charlie Gelbert was out hunting rabbits in the mountains of Pennsylvania when he accidentally shot himself in the ankle after tripping over vine. Gelbert was just 26 years old at the time of the accident and it would sideline his promising career. Gelbert came to the Cardinals had in 1929, he was a 23 year old kid, coming off .340 season for the Rochester Red Wings. He hit .262 in his rookie season, then followed it up with a .304 season as the Cardinals won the first of back-to-back National League Pennants in 1930. The Birds would fall to the Yankees in six but not because of the defense of Charlie Gelbert. During the 1930 series he began a streak of 80 chances without committing an error.The streak would extend to the 1931 World Championship Cardinals that took down the Philadelphia A's in seven games. After the disappointing season of '32, Gelbert and every other man that wore those birds on the bat had hopes of a bounce back season in '33. Unfortunately for Gelbert the accident happened and his career in baseball would be changed forever. He had to undergo several operations to repair nerve damage, then gangrene set in which required another surgery before he began to try and work his way back to the game he knew and loved. He finally did return to the diamond in 1935. At that point the Cardinals had acquired Leo Durocher who was the everyday shortstop. In 62 games he hit .292, then played in 93 the next season hitting just .229 before the Cardinals moved him as a part of a three team deal that brought the Birds Spud Davis. Davis started 107 games for the Championship winning Cardinals in '34. Gelbert bounced around with a few teams as a utility guy until his playing days ended in 1941. While his playing days came to an end, his career in baseball was far from over. He coached the baseball team at Lafayette College out of Eaton, Pennsylvania for 21 years and compiled more than 300 victories while guiding the Leopards to 5 College World Series appearances before he passed away in 1967. In 2004 Gelbert's #20 was retired by the school. He might not have been able to put together the career he had hoped for after the accident, but he led a life that would be remembered by many.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 10, 2005: Chris Carpenter Wins The Cy Young

On November 10, 2005, Cardinals hurler Chris Carpenter took home the Cy Young award after posting a 21-5 record along with a 2.83 E.R.A. during the regular season. The road that Carpenter took to the Cy Young was a long road indeed. Just a couple of years before while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays, Carpenter had suffered an arm injury that required surgery. He went through a slow rehab and right when it looked like he might be poised for a comeback he suffered a setback that had him questioning if he would be able to continue to play baseball. After he was encouraged to continue to follow his dream by his wife Alyson, Carp underwent another surgery. After the surgery the Blue Jays organization wanted to send him to the minors. He decided to opt for free agency instead and signed with the Cardinals December of '02. He still had a long rehab ahead of him and had to sit out all of '03 before making a triumphant return in 2004. In his first year back he posted a 15-5 record for the National League Champion Cardinals and was named Comeback Player of the Year. The 21-5 campaign in '05 earned him 19 of the 32 first place votes in the Cy Young balloting, beating out Marlins hurler Dontrelle Willis for the award. The road that Carpenter traveled to get to that point made winning one of baseball's most prestigious awards that much sweeter. To date, Carpenter is one of two Cardinals to take home the Cy Young award. When he won the award on that day in 2005 he joined the legendary Bob Gibson who had won the award in 1968 and 1970. While we all know that Carpenter would be forced to battle through injuries later in his career he would be a key force in both the 2006 and 2011 championship titles. I know that I truly appreciate Chris Carpenter and everything that he has done for the Cardinals organization. He is more than the last Cardinal to take home the Cy Young, in my opinion he is a legendary member of some of the great Cardinals teams that we have seen in the recent past.

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4, 1963: The Redbirds Trade For Roger Craig

On November 4, 1963, Cardinals GM Bing Devine sent outfielder George Altman and pitcher Bill Wakefield to the New York Mets in exchange for hard luck hurler Roger Craig. The 6 foot 4 righthander had posted the most losses in the National League in back-to-back seasons with 24 losses in '62, then 22 losses in '63. A move to St. Louis didn't provide an instant turnaround for him as he posted just a 7-9 record during the regular season but it was what he did in the postseason that made the trade a great one. Craig turned in a relief performance in Game 4 of the '64 World Series that earned him a win and a key victory in a battle that would take 7 games for the Cardinals to prevail over the New York Yankees. When it came to the players that the Cardinals sent to New York, only Altman would play significant time in the major leagues. He never did hit higher than .235 after he was shipped out of St. Louis. While Craig spent just one season with the Cardinals, it was a season that ended with a World Series ring.

You can read about Craig's victory in the Fall Classic here:

This is a story did for On This Day In Sports that is  about Craig putting his losing streak to bed during the '63 season in New York:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 30, 1929: Gabby Street Gets The Job

On October 30, 1929, Gabby Street was named manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. The former Washington Senators catcher had joined the Cardinals coaching staff that season and after several changes at the helm, Street was named the skipper. The '29 season was a rough one for the Birds who had been swept out of the '28 World Series which led team owner Sam Breadon to firing Bill McKechnie despite the fact he had guided the club to a pennant. The choice that Breadon made was not necessarily a great one as it put the club in disarray, Billy Southworth took over at the beginning of  the '29 season but he couldn't keep the owner happy and by July, Breadon decided to bring McKechnie back. It didn't last. Before the season came to an end McKechnie was out and Street took over as an interim manager for the last few games of the campaign. After the season ended and Street got the job full time he began to help get the Cardinals back on track. He guided them to the National League Pennant in 1930 and  a World Series title in 1931. His run as Cardinals skipper came to an end midway through the '33 season after the team fell 10 games under .500 much to the owner's dismay. While Street's run as manager was a short one, he had helped the team refocus and accomplished a lot in that short span. Street's given name was Charles, but his gift of gab earned him a nickname that stuck with him for a lifetime. Before he became a coach he was the man who caught the great Walter Johnson in Washington. After his stint with the Birds he managed for a few seasons in the American Association then was hired on to manage the St.Louis Browns in 1938. The Browns just didn't have the talent for any manager to turn them into a contender and after one year Street returned to the Cardinals as a broadcaster. He would sit in the broadcast booth along side Harry Caray where the fans would listen to his stories of yesteryear while they were calling ballgames.

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28, 2011: What a Ride!!! What a Year!!!

On October 28, 2011, with a 6-2 win in Game 7 of the World Series, the Cardinals won the 11th title in franchise history. Just one day earlier they survived Game 6 due to David Freese's late inning heroics. Twice in that fateful Game 6 the Texas Rangers were one strike away from a World Series Title, and lightning struck twice in the form of David Freese. First he tied it in the ninth with a triple, then he hit a walkoff shot that gave the Birds a 10-9 victory in the eleventh. The Game 6 victory was something you would only expect to see in a movie that probably had me on the edge of a heart attack multiple times. After the jubilation of victory passed the fact was they needed one more win to call themselves World Champions. With it all on the line Chris Carpenter made his third start of the series on three days rest and after rough first inning he settled down and turned in a performance that would help bring the club another ring. Carp gave up the only two Texas runs of the game in that first when Josh Hamilton and Michael Young connected on back-to-back RBI doubles. Things didn't go any better for the Rangers starter Matt Harrison, David Freese's hot bat tied the ballgame with a two RBI double in the bottom of the first. From there Carpenter found his groove while Harrison served up a solo shot to Allen Craig that gave the Cards a 3-2 lead and there was no looking back. The Rangers bullpen added to the Cardinals score with a bases loaded walk in the fifth, then a it batsmen one batter later to give the Cardinals a 5-2 lead. Yadi capped the scoring off with an RBI single in the seventh as the Cardinals bullpen held the Rangers in check before Jason Motte took over in the ninth. Motte made quick work of the Rangers, he got Nelson Cruz to flyout, retired Mike Napoli on a grounder, and finished it off with a David Murphy fly ball that landed in the glove of Allen Craig. As Yadi rejoiced to The God of Baseball Heaven, the Cardinals were World Champions.

Check out the box score:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

October 27, 2006: The Cardinals Win Their 10th Championship

On October 27, 2006, St. Louis celebrated the first World Championship since 1982 with a 4-2 Cardinals victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game 5 of the Fall Classic. The Tigers sent Justin Verlander to the hill while the Birds countered with Jeff Weaver and once again the Tigers rookie pitcher struggled  against the Cardinals. He was wild from the start, he threw two wild pitches in the first and barely escaped a bases loaded jam in the first. A familiar hero by the name of David Eckstein delivered in the second with a two out RBI single that put the Birds up 1-0. On the other side of the diamond, Weaver was looking strong. He had four strikeouts through three innings before a defensive miscue and a pitch to Sean Casey gave the Tigers a 2-1 advantaged in the fourth.  Weaver started that fourth inning with a quick out before Chris Duncan dropped a fly ball off the bat of Magglio Ordonez, the next pitch from Weaver was launched into the right field seats by Casey. The 2-1 lead for the Tigers was short lived, in the bottom of that fourth inning the Cardinals answered right back. Yadier Molina and So Taguchi picked up back to back one out singles before Weaver came to the plate hoping to move them over with a bunt. Weaver laid it down and Verlander fielded it, instead of going to first base for the sure out Verlander tried to get the lead runner and threw the ball away which led to Molina scoring the tying run, one batter later David Eckstein knocked Taguchi in with a groundout and the Birds were up 3-2. Verlander was able to settle down and give his club 7 innings but the damage had been done. The Birds added a little insurance in the eighth, Tigers reliever Fernando Rodney Eckstein gave up a single to Eckstein to lead off the inning, then walked Preston Wilson before getting the next two men out. Scott Rolen made Rodney pay for his mistakes with a single into right that brought Ecsktein into score the fourth Cardinals run. Weaver pitched a 1-2-3 eighth before handing the ball over to Adam Wainwright to close it out. Waino made it a little interesting, the first batter worked the count full before grounding out. The next man up, Sean Casey also worked the count full but he delivered with a double that brought the tying run to the dish. After getting Ivan Rodriguez to groundout Wainwright walked Placido Polanco. With men at first and third and two out Brandon Inge came to the plate with Detroit's season on the line, Waino did't toy around with him, Inge fell behind 0-2 then fired in the third strike that Inge swung but missed on. The Cardinals were World Champions for the first time in 24 years. It was an unlikely run by a team that just wouldn't give up. They had lost 10 of their last 14 regular season games and literally backed into the playoffs. Once the playoffs start the regular season numbers just don't matter, everyone that is in starts with 0 wins and 0 losses. Tony LaRussa's team had belief in themselves that they could compete with anyone and it was something they did on the way to the championship. They never gave up.

Here's the box score:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 26, 2006: The Cards Move One Step Closer To a Title

October 26, 2006,  in front of more than 46,000 fans at Busch, the Cardinals moved one step closer to a World Championship with a 5-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game 4 of the Fall Classic. The game didn't look like it was going the Cardinals way early on, Sean Casey took Jeff Suppan deep in the 2nd that gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Casey came up big again in the third with a two out RBI single then Ivan Rodriguez followed it up with an RBI of his own. With the score now 3-0, the Cardinals needed to get to work if they wanted to stop the Tigers from evening the series at two games apiece. To work they went. In the bottom of the third, David Eckstein delivered with a two out RBI double off of Jeremy Bonderman that scored Aaron Miles to put the Birds were on the board. They continued to peck away at the lead in fourth, the Tigers lead shrank to 3-2 when Yadi connected with a 2 out double that brought Scott Rolen into score. The score stayed the same until the seventh, Eckstein began the inning with a double, then pinch hitter So Taguchi went to the dish with a sacrifice bunt in mind, he laid it down perfectly, while Eckstein was on his way to third, Fernando Rodney was airmailing it over Placido Polanco's head at first. What should have been a simple sacrifice, turned into an E1, and a tied ballgame as Eckstein capitalized on the error. Three batters later Preston Wilson put the Birds in front with a two out RBI single and just like that the score was 4-3 Cards. The lead didn't last long, Braden Looper got into a bit of trouble in the top of the eighth, he allowed a leadoff double to Ivan Rodriguez, then Polanco moved him over on a groundout. The Cardinals skipper, Tony LaRussa then went to his young rookie Adam Wainwright who had suddenly found himself closing out games with the hopes of a Championship on the line. Unfortunately for Waino he couldn't keep Rodriguez from scoring, Brandon Inge tagged the Cardinals hurler for a double that tied the game which just set the table for someone that had been tearing it up all night long. Jim Leyland sent Joel Zumaya out to pitch the bottom of the eighth, he led the inning off with a walk to Yadi, the Cardinals backstop was eliminated from the basepaths on a fielder's choice off the bat of Aaron Miles. Zumaya got his second out of the frame with a strikeout of Juan Encarnacion but not before a wild pitch put Miles at second base. Then came David Eckstein, he had done damage all night long and he wasn't done just yet, the scraptastic shortstop came up with his fourth hit and third double of the game that brought Miles into score what proved to be the game winner. Waino put the exclamation point on it with a 1-2-3 frame and the Birds were one win away from the first title the team had seen since 1982.

Check out the box score:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October 24, 2006: Carpenter Dominates Game 3 of The Fall Classic

On October 24, 2006, the first ever World Series game was played at the new Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis the Cardinals blanked the Tigers 5-0. The Cardinals had split the first two games in Detroit and were looking to take a 2-1 lead in the series with Chris Carpenter making his first ever World Series start in Game 3. It was something they would accomplish, the Cardinals hurler was flatout dealing while the offense capitalized on a double by Jim Edmonds in the fourth that scored two runs. Then a throwing error by pitcher Joel Zumaya in the seventh led to two more runs before a wild pitch by Zach Miner led to the fifth Cardinal run of the ballgame. The story of the day was Carpenter, he allowed just three hits over 8 innings of work. There was a minor scare in the seventh, after Placido Polanco lined out to Albert Pujols, Carp came off the mound looking like he might have hurt his hand. The entire training staff gathered around him while Josh Kinney began to warmup at a rapid rate. Minutes later Carp was right back to work, he set down batter after batter as the Cardinals were on their way to a very important victory. He got a standing ovation when he came out to bat in the eighth as the fans knew they had witnessed one of the best at his best. It was a long eighth inning for the Redbirds which led to Braden Looper finishing off the ninth with three quick outs. It was a masterful performance by Carpenter, he not only held the dangerous Tigers lineup to three hits, he also struck out 6, and walked no one, while helping move the Cardinals one step closer to a championship.

Check out the box score:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October 23, 1995: The LaRussa Era Begins In St. Louis

On October 23, 1995, it was announced that Tony LaRussa would become the 48th manager in the history of the St. Louis Cardinals organization. The former skipper of the Chicago White Sox and Oakland A's came to St. Louis with high expectations as he took the number 10 to signify his desire to bring the Cardinals their 10th Championship title in franchise history. He also expressed his hope to see the club surpass the 3 million in attendance number by fielding a good product that the fans in St. Louis would be proud of. The team drew 3 million+ during 13 of 16 years with  LaRussa at the helm. He was the guiding force to 8 Division Titles, 3 National League Pennants, and 2 World Series Championships. Over 16 years the skipper became the winningest manager in franchise history with 1,408 victories while wearing the birds on the bat across his chest. After the 2011 Championship, LaRussa went out on top. He had reached expectations then exceeded them after his long tenure with the Birds. He will forever be remembered for being the captain of the ship that could boast the most win during the 2000s with 913 in the decade, and the most postseason wins of any ball club in the major leagues from 1996 to 2011 with 33. He not only retired as the winningest manager of the Cardinals, his 2,728 managerial wins is good for third on the all time list, only John McGraw's 2,763 and Connie Mack's 3,731 stand before him. Following his retirement the Cardinals retired his #10 as he is among the greatest to ever wear a St. Louis Cardinals uniform.

Check out the all time list of Cardinals managers:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 22, 2011: Albert Joins The Babe and Mr. October

On October 22, 2011, in a 16-7 Cardinals win in Game 3 of the World Series, Albert Pujols became just the third player in the history of the game to hit three bombs in one World Series contest. The Cardinals slugger went 5 for 6 with six runs batted in and tied Paul Molitor for most hits in a World Series contest. He also set a record for total bases with 14, as well as becoming the first player in World Series history to pick up a hit in four consecutive innings. Albert's bat had been quiet up to that point in the series then it came alive with bombtastic results. The Cardinals jumped in front early after Allen Craig went yard in the first, they tacked on 4 more in the fifth and it was looking like it was going to be all Cardinals in this one. Then, Kyle Lohse served up a solo shot to Michael Young in the fourth, and two batters later Nelson Cruz connected with a two-run shot that shrank the Cardinals lead to 5-3. The Cardinals answered right back in the fifth, Pujols led the inning off with a single then Rangers reliever Scott Feldman issue back-to-back walks that would come back to haunt him. Following the walks David Freese came up with a productive groundout that brought Pujols into score the sixth Cardinal run before a clutch double by Yadier Molina opened the lead up to 8-3. That Rangers team refused to go down without a fight, they scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to get within two runs of tying the ballgame only to have Pujols crush their rally with a three run bomb in the sixth. Molina added another RBI to his total before the inning ended to give the Cardinals a commanding 12-6 lead. The battering of the baseball wasn't over just yet. Albert went yard once again in the top of the seventh, this time it was a two-run bomb that opened the lead up to 14-6. Mike Napoli knocked in the last Rangers run of the day in the bottom of that inning. While the Rangers were done scoring the Cardinals had a couple more in the tank. Yadi capped off his day at the plate by knocking in Daniel Descalso in the eighth, then Pujols joined a very short list of legendary men when he rocked his third solo shot over the wall in the ninth that gave the Birds the 16-7 lead. Only Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson had hit three home runs in a World Series contest and Babe Ruth did it twice against your very own St. Louis Cardinals. The first time Ruth did it was during the 1926 Series, then the second time was during the 1928 series. Jackson joined Ruth in 1977, it would take 36 years for Pujols to join the club. Just one year later Pablo Sandoval added himself to that list with a 3 home run performance in Game 1 of the 2012 Fall Classic.

Watch the historic performance here:

Here's the box score:

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21, 2006: Reyes Shines In Game 1 Of The Fall Classic

On October 21, 2006, the Cardinals took Game 1 of the World Series with a 7-2 victory over the Tigers in Detroit. The game was a matchup of rookie pitchers that had Anthony Reyes on the bump for the Birds and Justin Verlander going for the Tigers. When you look at those names on paper you might think Verlander would dominate this ballgame but that wasn't the case as Reyes gave the Cardinals 8 strong innings, giving up just 4 hits, striking out out 4, while allowing the 2 runs. On the flip side Verlander gave up all 7 of the Cardinals runs in 5 innings of work. The night didn't start well for Reyes, he gave up a run in the first on an RBI by Carlos Guillen before settling down and turning in the stellar performance. The 1 run lead didn't last long for the Tigers, Verlander dropped one in Scott Rolen's wheelhouse in the top of the second and the Cardinals third baseman hit one out of the yard to tie it up. The score stayed even until the third when Yadier Molina led the inning off with a single before being knocked in by Chris Duncan with a two out double that gave the Birds a 2-1 lead. Then came the big blow of the inning, even with first base open Jim Leyland chose to pitch to the perennial MVP candidate Albert Pujols, and #5 made him pay. Pujols took a 93 mph Verlander fastball and parked it over the fence in right that gave the Cards a 4-1 advantage. Meanwhile, Reyes was simply taking care of business while he waited for the offense to add on to the total. His wait ended in the sixth, the Cards broke it open in that inning with three more runs to give them a 7-1 advantage. Reyes was the star of this one, he had the fewest wins of any Game 1 starter in World Series history and he set down a World Series rookie record 17 men in a row before giving up a single to Carlos Guillen in the seventh. Reyes was only removed after giving up a leadoff home run to Craig Monroe in the ninth. With the comfortable 7-2 lead, Braden Looper had no problems shutting the door on the Tigers to secure the victory for  St. Louis.

Reyes posted a 5-8 record with a 5.06 ERA in 17 regular season starts. He was the first starter to have a losing record since John Matlack started Game 1 of the '73 Fall Classic. Matlack posted a 14-16 record during that '73 campaign. When it came to Verlander, he was on his way to winning rookie of the year honors after posting a 17-9 regular season record. In the end what happens during regular season just didn't matter because in the postseason you just never know who will step up.

Check out the box score:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 20, 1982: The Cardinals Win The World Series

On October 20, 1982, in front 53,723 fans at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, the Cardinals captured their first World Series title since 1967, with a thrilling come from behind 6-3 victory over the Brewers in Game 7 of the Fall Classic. The Birds found themselves down 3 games to 2  after 5 games then came back in Game 6 and smoked the Brew Crew 13-1 to force a Game 7. The Birds got on the board first with an RBI single off the bat of Lonnie Smith in the fourth. The 1-0 lead disappeared in the top of the fifth when Ben Oglivie tied it up with a solo shot to right off of the Cardinals starter Joaquin Andujar to leadoff the inning. Things got worse for the Birds before they got better, the Brewers tacked on two more runs in the top of the sixth. Joe Gantner led that inning off with a double then one batter later, Paul Molitor knocked him in with what should have been a single. Molitor ended up at second base when Andjuar aired one out trying to gun him down at first, the error came back to haunt Andujar, a single by Robin Yount followed that moved Molitor to third, then Cecil Cooper knocked him in with a sacrifice fly. The Brewers came out of the top of the sixth with a 3-1 lead but it didn't take long for the Cardinals to answer right back. In the bottom of that sixth inning Ozzie Smith picked up a one out single and it was followed with a double by Lonnie Smith. The double by Lonnie ended the day for the Brewers starter Pete Vuckovich, he had given up 10 hits but still kept his team in the game before handing the ball over to Bob McClure who walked pinch hitter Gene Tenace load the bases. Keith Hernandez came to the dish with the sacks jammed and promptly brought both of the Smiths into score by knocking a single into right. The score was now tied and the Birds weren't done just yet. George Hendrick gave the Cardinals the lead with another single that brought Mike Ramsey into score, Ramsey had been called into pinch run for Tenace following his walk. McClure retired Darryl Porter before being replaced by Moose Haas who was able to get the last out of the inning. The game did have some drama. In the seventh inning second baseman Jim Gantner hit a ball right to Andujar, the Cardinals hurler held onto the ball until the last possible second then fired the ball to first for the force out. Ganter responded by calling Andujar a blankety blank hot dog and the fiery Andujar responded with a few choice words of his own. After words were exchanged the two players nearly had a fisticuffs moment before the umpires were able to restore order. That proved to be the last inning of work for Andujar, he handed the ball over to Bruce Sutter in the eighth with the 4-3 lead intact. After a 1-2-3 top of the eighth by Sutter, the Cardinals hitters gave him a little breathing room when Darryl Porter and Steve Braun added an RBI apiece to open the lead up to 6-3. With the team just three outs away from a championship Sutter didn't even give the Brewers hope, he retired the first two men he faced in the bottom of the ninth with groundouts, then put an exclamation on the win with a strikeout of Gorman Thomas. As the fireworks went off  in the background, the crowd came storming onto the field. The St. Louis Cardinals were World Champions.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

October 19, 2006: Yadi Punches a Ticket To The Fall Classic

On October 19, 2006, Yadier Molina's 2-run homer in the top of the ninth gave the Cardinals a 3-1 lead
over the Mets and proved to be the game winner in Game 7 of the NLCS at Shea Stadium in New York. The game was a classic battle from the start. The Cardinals sent Jeff Suppan to the mound while the Mets countered with Oliver Perez, both pitchers turned in stellar performances as they each wanted to get a chance to play for the top prize. The teams had to deal with the elements, it was raining lightly from the beginning and it got worse as the game progressed.  The Mets got on the board in the bottom of the first on an RBI from David Wright, then the Birds answered right back in the top of the second when Jim Edmonds came into score on a sacrifice bunt by Ronnie Belliard. From there it was a pitching duel that would stay tied until that fateful ninth. The highlight of the Mets day came in the sixth inning, with the Cardinals up to bat, Perez issued a one out walk to Jim Edmonds, the next man up was Scott Rolen and he gave a Perez pitch a ride to left that was almost sure to leave the yard only to have Endy Chavez make an absolutely spectacular catch that not only robbed Rolen of his homer, the alert Chavez then relayed the ball into second baseman Jose Valentin who doubled off Edmonds at first base. It was a huge play in the game as it kept the Cardinals from taking the lead in the well pitched contest. The sixth was the last inning of work for Perez who did an outstanding job of keeping his team in it by allowing just one run on four hits. The Cardinals starter, Suppan was a step above Perez, he allowed just two hits and the one run in 7 innings of work. The game would come down to bullpens as each starter exited with the game deadlocked at 1. Chad Bradford pitched a scoreless frame for the Mets in the seventh then handed the ball over to Aaron Heilman following that inning. On the Cardinals side Randy Flores took over for Suppan after the starter issued a walk to lead off the eighth, Flores set the next three men down and the 1-1 score was still intact. Then came the ninth inning that I'll never forget. In his second inning of work, Heilman struck out Edmonds to begin the inning. Scott Rolen stepped to the dish with hopes of redemption on his mind, he had not only been robbed of a home run, he had also given up a costly error in the sixth that helped load the bases with one out. Luckily for Rolen, Suppan was on his way to being named MVP of the series and worked his way around the jam. When he stepped up in the ninth his misfortunes were forgotten when he dropped a single into left, then came Molina. The 23 year old catcher had hit just 6 home runs in the regular season, delivered a postseason blow that flew over the left field wall to put the Cards up 3-1. The crowd in New York was stunned by the long ball, however, the Cardinals needed three more out to make it stand. Tony LaRussa sent rookie Adam Wainwright to the mound to close it out. The only reason Waino was on the hill was an injury had sidelined Jason Isringhausen in mid September. The inexperienced Wainwright gave up back-to-back hits to start off the bottom of the ninth, then retired the next two batters before walking the bases full. All the Birds needed was one out to go to the series but they had a guy by the name of Carlos Beltran stepping to the plate. As most of us surely remember, Beltran was a Cardinal killer, he had homered three times in this series and had hit 4 home runs and carried .417 against the Birds  in the postseason while he was with the Astros. Today was not the day that Beltran would be the hero, Wainwright got ahead of him quickly then fired in a knee buckler that caught Beltran looking for the the final out of the game. It was an epic moment as Molina and Wainwright celebrated at the mound. The Cardinals were on the way to the World Series.

The home run by Molina is by far my favorite Yadi moment. I'll never forget that grin that came across his face within moments of making contact with the ball. Watch it here:

Here's the box score:

Friday, October 18, 2013

October 18, 2013: Go Cards!!!

With the end of October approaching fast I might not be able to come up with a fact on a daily basis. Today is one of those days. I looked for a good fact for quite awhile then realized that I just couldn't lock one down for the 18th of October. Hopefully the Cards give us an October 18th that we'll never forget tonight. The Cardinals have won 11 Championships and 18 National League Pennants, every single one of those were earned much like this team has to earn it. They can do this. We have them at home, with a 3 to 2 advantage in the series, in front of a packed house and now it's time to take the National League Pennant. Believe in them. While I might not have a fact for today the great stories from the past are far from over and hopefully the Birds make history tonight.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

October 17, 2005: Albert Pujols Rocks Brad Lidge in Game 5 of The NLCS

On October 17, 2005, Albert Pujols hit one of his most memorable home runs in a Cardinals uniform in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Astros in Houston. The defending National League Champion Cardinals came into the game with their backs against the wall down 3 games to 1 and Chris Carpenter on the mound in hopes of staving off elimination. The Astros got on the board in the bottom of the second with an RBI by Craig Biggio. Then the Cards struck back in the top of third when Mark Grudzielanek picked up a bases loaded 2 out bloop single off of Andy Pettite that scored 2 runs and suddenly the Cardinals had the advantage. Carpenter held the dangerous Houston lineup off until Lance Berkman launched a three run shot in the seventh inning that gave the Astros a 4-2 lead that the Astros bullpen was able to hold onto until they called on their closer Brad Lidge to pick up three outs that would send the Houston club to the Fall Classic. Lidge got the first two men to strikeout looking before David Eckstein got on with a single, then Jim Edmonds walked which set the stage for the Cardinals first baseman. The damage he did was more than just to the scoreboard as he crushed the second pitch of the at bat all the way to the train tracks above the left field wall at Minute Made Park. The monster shot put the Cards up 5-4 and after Jason Isringhausen tossed his second scoreless inning of the ball game the Cardinals had forced a Game 6 in St. Louis. The most memorable thing other than the crushing blow, was the reaction in Houston, you could hear a pin drop at the park that just minutes earlier had been on the edge of eruption with a World Series appearance just one out away. Unfortunately for the Cardinals and their fans, the Astros would win the next one and find themselves facing the White Sox in the World Series. They got swept in that series in which Lidge served up a walkoff shot to Scott Posednik in Game 2. The home run by Pujols seemed to have a long lasting effect on Lidge, he just wasn't the same pitcher as he was before the legendary blast. While he was able to recover from it and even earned the save in the deciding game of the 2008 World Series when he was a member of the Phillies. I can tell you this with no doubt in my mind... that swing by Pujols had to haunt him in his dreams.

Watch it here:

Here's the box score:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

October 16, 1985: Jack Clark's Big Blast Send The Cardinals To The World Series

On October 16, 1985, with two on and two out in the top of the ninth inning of Game 6 of the NLCS in L.A., Jack Clark launched a Tom Niedenfuer fastball over the left field wall to give the Cardinals a 7-5 lead and an eventual victory that punched a ticket to the World Series for the Cardinals. The Dodgers showed up hoping to force a Game 7 and they looked like they had come to play after scoring a run in each of the first two innings. In the third inning the Cardinals starting pitcher Joaquin Andujar tried to help his own cause by leading of the inning with a double, a couple batters later Tommy Herr knocked the hurler in with an RBI single that cut the lead to 2-1. The Dodgers tacked on 3 more runs in the sixth on a sac fly by Pedro Guerrero, then a two run homer by Bill Madlock who was responsible for knocking in the first run of the ballgame. With the score 4-1 going into the top of the seventh the Cardinals needed to come up with a rally and that's exactly what they did. Darryl Porter and Tito Landrum began the inning with back-to-back singles, then Steve Braun moved both the runners to second and third on a groundout before Willie McGee knocked both men in with a one out single that moved the Birds to within one run of tying it up. The hit by McGee sent the Dodgers starter Orel Hershiser  packing and he would hand the ball over to Tom Niedenfuer in hopes that he would be able to preserve the lead. That hope didn't last long. Niedenfuer was set to face Ozzie Smith who had hit a dramatic walkoff home run against him just two days earlier. Smith might not have knocked this one out of the park but he did drill one all the way to the wall that brought McGee into score the tying run. After putting Herr on with an intentional walk Niedenfuer got out of the inning with back-to-back strikeout of Clark and Andy Van Slyke. In the bottom of the seventh Todd Worrell took over on the hill for the Cardinals and he had to navigate his way around a lead off triple by shortstop Mariano Duncan. After getting out of the frame with no damage done the Dodgers closer set the Cardinals down 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth. In the bottom of that inning Mike Marshall put the Dodgers in front when he led the inning off with a solo shot that gave them a 5-4 edge, they needed just three outs to force a Game 7 and all the pressure was on Niedenfuer to get those outs. The fateful ninth began with a strikeout by Cesar Cedeno before Willie McGee got on with a single. Neidenfuer had to face Ozzie once again, he walked the Cardinals shortstop then Tommy Herr moved both runners over with a groundout. Then came Jack The Ripper, with first base open some might have thought they would have walked the hard hitting first baseman but Tommy Lasorda decided to let his closer pitch to him. In the words of Jack Buck here's what happened next; "The Dodgers righthander is set and here's his pitch to Jack Clark. Swing and a long one into left field!! Adios, goodbye, and maybe That's a Winner!!! A three run homer by Clark and the Cardinals lead by the score of 7 to 5 and they may go to the World Series on that one folks!!!" It was an epic moment that Ken Dayley capped off with a 1-2-3 inning that ended with the Cardinals as Champions of the National League.

Watch the shot here:

Check out the box score:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October 15, 1946: Enos Slaughter's Mad Dash To A Championship

On October 15, 1946, at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, Enos Slaughter made a Mad Dash straight into the history books in Game 7 of the World Series versus the Boston Red Sox. With the game knotted at three in the eighth, Slaughter led the inning off with a single, it looked as if it wouldn't amount to much as the next two batters were retired quickly and the Cardinals starting pitcher Harry Breechen was coming to the plate. Breechen had hit a meager .133 during the regular season so in most cases he could be considered an easy out, that was not the case on this day. The Cardinals hurler drove a ball all the way to the wall in left and Slaughter was off to the races. The Boston center fielder Leon Culberson cut the ball off quickly and spun around and threw it to his cutoff man, shortstop Johnny Pesky. Everyone in the ballpark probably expected a first and third situation but Slaughter had something else in mind as he just kept running. A surprised Pesky attempted to gun him down at the plate but he pulled his catcher Roy Partee up the line as Slaughter came sliding into home.  Breechen had come up big and was standing at second, while Slaughter had come up even bigger as made his Mad Dash home. In the top of that eighth inning, Breechen was called into relieve the Cardinals starter Murry Dickson. The Cardinals were clinging to a 3-1 lead at that point and Dickson got into a bit of trouble after giving up back-to-back hits that led to a first and third jam. The Cardinals manager, Eddie Dyer called on Breechen to hold the Red Sox off but it was something that he was not bale to do. The first batter he faced, Dom DiMaggio connected with a double that scored both runners and tied the ballgame up. It simply set up for Slaughter's run into history as he became an instant hero in the bottom half of the inning. After Slaughter put the Cards in from Breechen needed to get three more outs to finish the Red Sox off. He made it interesting by giving up back-to-back singles before setting down the next three batters in a row before the Championship celebration began in St. Louis.

Here's the box score:

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14, 1985: "Go Crazy Folks!!! Go Crazy!!!"

On October 14, 1985, Ozzie Smith hit one of the most memorable home runs in the history of the Cardinals organization in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Dodgers. The Cards struck first with two runs in the first inning when Fernando Valenzuela issued a pair of walks before Tommy Herr connected with a double that both runners. Then,in the fourth the Dodgers tied things when they got to Bob Forsch for a couple of runs. The Cardinals bullpen took over for Forsch during the rough inning and Ken Dayley, Todd Worrell, and Jeff Lahti pitched a combined shutout the rest of the way. On the other side of the diamond Valenzuela was able to get over his rough first inning and was lights out until he was replaced by Niedenfuer in the ninth with the score still knotted at 2. After the Dodgers closer retired Willie McGee with a pop out to begin the inning, the Cardinals defensive wizard came to the dish with an extra base hit in mind. The switch hitting Smith stepped into the box hitting from the left side. Hardly known for his power, he had never hit a home run from that side of the plate in 3,002 at-bats, that was about to change. Ozzie pounced on a a 1-2 pitch that can only be described by the legendary Jack Buck's call; "Smith corks one into right down the line. It may go!! Go Crazy Folks!!! Go Crazy!!! It's a home run, and the Cardinals have won the game by the score of 3-2 on a home run by The Wizard!!! Go Crazy!!!" You gotta love it. The win put the Cardinals one game away from winning the National League Pennant and would set up for another very memorable game in Los Angeles just two days later. Stay Tuned.

Watch the historic shot here:

Here's the box score:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

October 13, 2006: The Birds Pull Off The Comeback In Game 2 Of The NLCS

On October 13, 2006, at Shea Stadium in New York the Cardinals pulled off a huge comeback 9-6 win in Game 2 of the NLCS versus the Mets. The Mets struck first blood when Carlos Delgado took a Chris Carpenter pitch deep that put three runs on the board in the first inning. It didn't take long for the Birds to answer back, in the second inning John Maine issued a leadoff walk to Jim Edmonds, then Scott Spiezio reached on an error. Maine continued to struggle with his location and ended up walking the bases full by issuing a free pass to Juan Encarnacion. The Mets hurler was able to get John Rodriguez to pop out but didn't have the same luck with the young up and coming catcher Yadier Molina who drove a line drive double into right that scored both Edmonds and Spiezer and cut the Mets lead to 3-2. While Maine was able to get out of the inning with just the two runs scored the Cards had showed they came to play some ball and that they did. Jose Reyes gave the Mets a 4-2 advantage with an RBI in the bottom of the second, before Jimmy Ballgame evened the score at 4 all with a two run shot in the top of the third. It was a true battle and it would be a battle all the way to the end. The Cards fell behind once again in the fifth when Delgado hit his second homer of the ballgame, a solo shot off of Carpenter that gave the Mets a 5-4 lead. Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock took over on the mound in the sixth inning and he got himself in trouble by issuing one out walk to the speedy Reyes, Paul Lo Duca made the reliever pay for that walk by smacking a double into left that brought Reyes flying around the bases and into sore the sixth Mets run of the contest. While the Cardinals trailed the team fought and clawed right back into it. In the seventh inning, Scott Spiezio came to the dish with Albert Pujols standing at second and Jim Edmonds standing at first, the third baseman who was only in the game for an injured Scott Rolen delivered with a triple that brought both runners into score and once again it was a whole new ballgame as the score was tied at 6. It set up for another unlikely hero to give the Redbirds a lead in the ninth, that hero was none other than the So Man, SoTaguchi, he led the inning off with a solo shot off of closer Billy Wagner that gave the Cards a 7-6 lead. Taguchi was only in the game as a defensive replacement, he took over in left for Chris Duncan in the eighth. There was no looking back at that point, Scott Spiezio came up big once again with an RBI double off of Wagner before Encarnacion knocked in the ninth Cardinals run of the ballgame. They still needed three outs to seal the deal in the bottom of the ninth, so Tony LaRussa called on lefty Tyler Johnson to face the dangerous Delgado. Johnson got his job done by striking out Delgado then he handed the ball over to Adam Wainwright who retired David Wright and Shawn Green on back-to-back ground balls to secure the huge W for the Birds.

Check out the box score:

This was such a great series and I like many of you remember this one like it was yesterday. Much like in this game both teams battled each other right to the end before the Cardinals were able to prevail in 7 games.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

October 12, 1967: Gibson and The Birds Take The Title

On October 12, 1967, at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, the Cardinals clinched their 8th World Series title with a 7-2 win over the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the Fall Classic. The Birds won the game behind a masterful performance by Bob Gibson who allowed just three hits and hit a home run in the contest. Gibson was a true warrior throughout the series, he was the winning pitcher in Game 1, Game 3, and the title clinching Game 7 battle. After splitting the first two games the Cardinals won games 3 and 4 to give them a 3 games to 1 edge in the series only to have the resilient Red Sox club take games 5 and 6 to force the Game 7 in Boston. The skipper of the Red Sox, Dick Williams decided to send Jim Lonborg to the mound on just two days rest, while Gibby was had an extra day of rest. Lonborg got tagged for all 7 of the Redbird runs through 6 innings of work, although one of those runs was unearned. The Cardinals began their scoring in the third after shortstop Dal Maxvill led the inning off with a triple. Lonborg picked up two outs before Curt Flood smacked a single into center that put the club up 1-0. Roger Maris moved  Flood over to third with a single then with Orlando Cepeda at the dish Lonborg threw a wild pitch that brought the Cardinals center fielder into score the second run of the inning. With the score still 2-0 Birds in the fifth, Gibby took Lonborg deep to push the lead to 3-0. Lou Brock followed Gibson with a single then stole second and third base before Roger Maris knocked him in with a sacrifice fly to right. The Birds were in control of this one, however, the Red Sox weren't going to go down without some semblance of a fight. In the bottom of the fifth, Gibson gave up one of those three hits to George Scott. The Red Sox first baseman hit a lead off triple in the inning then scored when Julian Javier threw the ball away in an attempt to gun him down. With the score 4-1 heading into the sixth, Javier made up for his throwing error with a 3 run shot over the Green Monster to open up a 7-1 lead. The dream of a World Series title was fading quickly with the dominant Gibson on the hill, he did allow the second Boston run of the ballgame in the eighth but he maintained his composure and got out of the inning with minimal damage. Brock stole his record setting third base of the game in the top of the ninth, it was not only a single game record it was his seventh of the series which was also a record. In the bottom of the ninth, Carl Yastrzemski led the inning off with a single, this led to a visit by the Redbird skipper Red Schoendienst who simply said a few words to his stud pitcher before letting him finish the job. Ken Harrleson erased Yaz with a double play and Gibson needed one more out to clinch the series. He finished the ballgame off with a strikeout of George Scott. While there were many heroes throughout this series none shined brighter than Bob Gibson. His dominance earned him MVP honors and he was presented with a brand new car for the second time in four seasons, he won the car after the '64 championship as well. With the series in Boston the bars in and around St. Louis were packed with Cardinals fans, when Gibson struck out Scott to finish off the ballgame, the downtown area erupted in man made snow as an avalanche of paper came out of the office building in the city. One woman said "I have never seen anything so beautiful in my life" as she watched the paper fall from the skies above. It was a thrilling finish for the Cardinals that once again were World Champions.

Check out the box score:

A couple little sidenotes; The '67 Cardinals club won 101 games and took the National League pennant by 10 1/2 games over the San Francisco Giants. They were a club full of stars like, Brock, Cepeda, Maris, McCarver, and Gibson. The road to a 101 wins was not a road that was easily traveled, they had to overcome a devastating injury to Gibson that had him sidelined for a good part of the year, which simply led to other men on the club stepping up in his absence. When Gibson returned he was the same dominant pitcher he was before the injury and you never know without the injury things could have went a whole different way for the Series MVP.

On the flip side, the Red Sox had a season that was dubbed "The Impossible Dream" they were led by Yastrzemski and Lonborg and they posted their first winning season since 1946. Going into the last week of the regular season the Red Sox, Tigers, Twins, and White Sox were all within a game of each other in the standings. The White Sox lost their last 5 games of the season to fall out of contention, while the Red Sox and the Twins  met in the final two games of the season. With Minnesota up by a game before the two teams met, the Red Sox swept them but still had to wait on the results of a doubleheader between the Tigers and the Angels in Detroit, after the Tigers split that bill Boston was crowned the Champions of the American League. Much like in 1946, they would meet and get beat by the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

Friday, October 11, 2013

October 11, 1964: Ken Boyer Slams The Yankees

On October 11, 1964, Ken Boyer's sixth inning grand slam off of Yankees starter Al Downing led the Cardinals to a 4-3 victory in Game 4 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium in New York. With a much needed victory the manager of the Cardinals, Johnny Keane sent Ray Sadecki to the mound to counter Downing. The Cardinals starter got knocked around early, the first four men he faced reached base before he was yanked by the skipper with the Yankees up 2-0. Roger Craig took over for Sadecki and gave up an RBI single before putting the fire out. All three runs were charged to Sadecki and Craig came in and did an admirable job as he kept the Yankees from adding to their lead before he was lifted for a pinch hitter in that big sixth inning for the Redbirds. The pinch hitter, Carl Warwick led the inning off with a single, he was moved over to second with a single off the bat of Curt Flood, after Downing got Lou Brock to fly out, the Cardinals shortstop Dick Groat hit a ball up the middle that looked like a sure inning ending double play only to have the Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson mishandle the ball which led to all of the Cardinals runners being safe. Boyer had committed an error in the first which led to a run, the costly error was quickly forgotten with one swing of the bat when he parked the Al Downing pitch into the stands in left. The grand slam only proved to be the game winner after Ron Taylor pitched 4 innings of no-hit ball, the Cardinals hurler was nearly perfect, he allowed just one man to reach base on a walk. This was a crucial victory for the Birds, after splitting the first two games in St. Louis, the Yankees won the third and held a two to one edge in the series. Boyer's grand slam and the relief performances of Craig and Taylor evened the series at two all instead of putting the Cards down three games to one. While the victory was a huge one, every man on that team knew they had work to do, as the club was in search of its first title since 1946.

Check out the box score:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October 10, 1926: The Cardinals Win Their First Title

On October 10, 1926, the Cardinals won their first title in the modern era with a 3-2 victory in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium in New York. Jesse Haines took the mound for the Birds while the Yankees sent Waite Hoyt to the hill.  Babe Ruth parked a solo shot in the right field bleachers in the third to put the Cardinals down 1-0, only to have shoddy defense lead to a 3 run fourth inning for the Cardinals. The Cardinals rally started with a one out single off the bat of Jim Bottomley, then Les Bell hit a hot shot to short that was booted by the Yankees shortstop Mark Koenig and moved Bottomley over to second while Bell was standing on first with an error charged to Koenig. The next man up Chick Hafey fell behind 0 and 2 before he looped a single into left to load'em up, then came the Cardinals catcher Bob O'Farrell. The backstop lofted a long fly ball into left that looked like it would simply be a sacrifice, then the left fielder Bob Meusal dropped the ball as Bottomley came into score while O'Farrell was standing at first with an error charged to Meusal.The Cardinals shortstop Tommy Thevenow followed O'Farrell with a single into right that brought both Hafey and O'Farrell into score the second and third runs of the inning. It proved to be all the runs the Birds would need. Although the victory was far from easy, Haines ran into trouble in the sixth, he gave up a two out single to third baseman Joe Dugan, then Hank Severeid knocked Dugan in with a double. Haines got out of the inning after pinch hitter Ben Paschal grounded out. In the seventh, Herb Pencock relieved Hoyt. Pencock had been the winning pitcher in games 1 and 5  and he proved he was up tot he task as he allowed just three hits tot he Cardinals the rest of the way. Haines got in a bit of trouble in the seventh, he gave up a lead off single to Earle Combs, then a one out intentional walk to Ruth , before issuing a two out walk to Lou Gehrig, After walking Gehrig, Haines was pulled from the game after developing a blister on his hand. The Cardinals skipper Rogers Horsby called on 39 year old Grover Alexander  to take over on the hill. Legend has it that Alexander was severely hungover, he had pitched a complete game the day before and celebrated the victory well into the night. It was reported the Alexander was sleeping in the bullpen when he his name was called. When he woke up he came in and got out of the bases loaded jam with a strike out of second baseman Tony Lazzeri. With the count 1-1 Lazzeri came within inches of a grand slam, he gave the third pitch of the at bat a ride deep down the left field line, fortunately for Alexander and the Cardinals the ball sailed foul then Alexander punched him out on the next pitch. It was a golden opportunity for the Yankees that Alexander quickly squashed. After a 1-2-3 eighth, Alexander came into shut down the Yankees in the ninth, he got two quick outs, then walked Babe Ruth. With Bob Meusal coming into face Alexander all of the fans knew all it would take was one swing of the bat to possibly bring Ruth into tie it up. Meusal had hit .315 during the regular season, had knocked in 81 runs, and picked up a double and a triple off of Alexander in Game 6. While it looked like the table was set for the Yankees, Ruth made a decision that might have just cost his Yankees a title. The slugger took off for second base on the first pitch to Meusal and O'Farrell gunned the ball to Hornsby at second who applied the tag on Ruth. To date, it's the only time a World Series has ended on a stolen base attempt. It was a thrilling finish for the Cardinals who could return home World Champions. The team hadn't won it all since 1886 when they were a part of the American Association and were known as the Browns. The city erupted in celebration following the victory, many of the residents sat around loudspeakers in the city and listened to the broadcast while every other Cardinals fan sat next to a radio in hopes of a Championship winner. As soon as the last out was recorded the streets of downtown St. Louis filled with thousands of people as they celebrated the Series win. On most Sundays in St. Louis the city was virtually deserted, not on this day, confetti poured from the roof of the Railway Exchange, whistles, cowbells, and car horns rang out while people beat on dish pans and everything else they could find to add to the uproar. People of every age literally danced in the streets as they celebrated the victory, cars were decorated with banners that said things like "The Cardinal is our National Bird" and "Alexander for President." It was quite the scene in St. Louis and one day later the team would return to a heroes welcome. They were more than heroes, they were World Champions!!!
Check out the box score:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October 9, 1934: The Gashouse Gang Wins The Title

On  October 9, 1934, the Cardinals won their third championship title in franchise history with an 11-0 victory over the Tigers in Game 7 of the World Series at Navin Field in Detroit. The deciding game of the series came with some controversy as Ducky Medwick was forced from the Cardinals lineup by the commissioner of baseball Kennesaw Mountain Landis after he spiked Tigers third baseman Marv Owen in the sixth. Dizzy Dean handled pitching duties for the Cards, he had literally been knocked out in Game 4. Dean came into that contest to pinch run and he got smoked in the head while he was trying to breakup a double play. Dean had to be rushed to the hospital where he was given a clear bill of health. In fact, the Cardinals 30 game-winner pitched the next day in Game 5, a 3-1 loss. After the Game 5 defeat in St. Louis, the Tigers were up 3 games to 2 with the series headed back to Detroit. With their backs against the wall the Birds pulled off a 4-3 victory in Game 6. Dizzy's brother Paul not only went the distance in that game he also knocked in what proved to be the game winning run with a seventh inning RBI single. More than 44,000 packed Navin Field for Game 7, they all were anticipating victory while the Cardinals had other plans. The Tigers sent Elden Auker to the hill in the decider, he was no match for the Cardinals bats. The Tigers starter got through the first two innings cleanly, then things started going the way of the Cardinals in the third. Dizzy hit a one out double into left, Pepper Martin followed him with a single that put Dean at third. After Martin swiped second base,  Auker walked Jack Rothrock to load'em up which simply set the table for the player/manager of the team Frankie Frisch. The Cardinals second baseman delivered with a double that brought all three runners into score. The bases clearing double spelled the end of the day for Auker and Schoolboy Rowe was called in to relieve, despite the fact he had pitched all nine innings of the Detroit loss the day before. Rowe was able to get the second out of the inning with a groundout by Medwick, however, it was a productive out as it moved Frisch over to third. The next man up Ripper Collins knocked Frisch in with a double to left, then the Cardinals catcher  Bill Delancey smacked a double to right that brought Collins into score the fifth run of the inning.  Delancey was the last batter Rowe faced, Chief Hogsett  took over for him and the wheels continued to fall off the Tigers bus. Hogsett walked the Cardinals center fielder Ernie Orsatti which brought shortstop Leo Durocher to the dish, Durocher was the first batter of the inning as the Cardinals had batted around. The first time Durocher was up he flied out to center, this time he delivered with a single that loaded the bases for the second time in the inning. Dean promptly picked up his second hit in the frame that brought Delancey into score. Hogsett then walked Martin forcing in the seventh run of the frame. The Tigers finally got out of the inning after Tommy Bridges replaced Hogsett and got Rothrock to groundout. As you could imagine the fans in Detroit were a bit stunned and probably a more than pissed after they watched things unravel in such a big way. The fans hit a boiling point in the sixth, Martin led the inning off with a single, then with two outs Medwick knocked him in with a triple to right. As Medwick came into third he spiked the third baseman Marv Owen, which brought players pouring out from both dugouts as Owen and Medwick looked like they might just throw some punches. After order was restored Ripper Collins picked up his fourth hit of the day which brought Medwick into score the ninth Cardinals run. Bridges ended the sixth with an out of Frisch, then Medwick went to take his position in left. He was welcomed by a thousands of angry fans that showered him with bottles, fruit, vegetables, and anything else they could find to throw at him. It led to the decision by the commissioner to remove the embattled left fielder. It's the only time in the history of the game that a commissioner chose to remove a player from a game. While Medwick insisted it wasn't intentional, it was probably the right choice as it calmed things down. Medwick had to be led to the locker room by six police officers for his own safety. The Cards added a couple more runs in the seventh with RBIs by Martin and Rothrock,they were the last two runs in the 11-0 beatdown. At the end of the day the Cardinals had recorded 17 hits while Dean allowed just 6 hits. It was quite the end to a series that was a true battle between both clubs. While it might have ended with some drama for the fans in Detroit, the fans in St. Louis rejoiced as their Cardinals would be returning home World Champions.

Check out the box score:

The Tigers posted a 101-53 record during that '34 season, that .656 winning percentage is the best in the long history of that franchise and  they finished 7 games ahead of the Yankees in the American League Standings. On the flip side the Cardinals posted a 95-58 regular season record and won a heated race with the New York Giants by two games.