Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 31, 1963: Stan's Pop Fly Leads To Victory

     On May 31, 1963, an unusual pop fly off the bat of Stan Musial proved be a game winning hit in a hard fought 6-5 win over the Giants at Sportsman's Park. The Birds had found themselves down 5-2, before a comeback began to mount in the bottom of the sixth, when Tim McCarver cut the deficit in half by knocking in a run. Bill White smashed a two-run shot in the seventh with a man on in the seventh to tie it, before a ninth inning that would leave the fans surprised by the turn of events that led the Cardinals to the win column. The inning started off with a walk to Curt Flood, then the Giants tried to take down the lead runner not once, but twice, and failed, which led to a bases loaded situation for the Cardinals legend. The game winning hit wasn't a hit at all, as Musial popped it up, just beyond second baseman Cap Peterson, into shallow centerfield where Willie Mays made a hard charge, and he was joined by Felipe Alou racing in from right field. The infield fly rule went into effect which meant Musial was out, but the fielders failed to make a clean catch. The moment Flood realized the ball had hit the ground, he was off to the races and home plate was his, as he scored the winning run. The RBI by Musial was the 1,921st of his career. An article that was printed in The Southeast Missourian called it the strangest RBI of his Hall of Fame career. Stan added 30 more ribbies to his totals by season's end, which was also marked the final season that The Man swung the bat as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Check out the box score here:

Friday, May 30, 2014

May 30, 1931: The Birds Move Into First Place and Don't Look Back

     On May 30, 1931, the Cardinals claimed sole possession of first place by knocking off the Cincinnati Reds in both ends of a doubleheader. The Birds took the first contest by the score of 12-4, behind the solid pitching of Jesse Haines, and a 15 hit offensive attack. The Cardinals hurler start was a rocky one, as he surrendered four runs in the first frame, before posting zeroes all the way across the board the rest of the way. The offensive attack was highlighted by George Watkins, who smacked 2 home runs, which added up to four ribbies on the day.The Birds took the second tilt by scoring five runs in the seventh inning that quickly erased a 4-0 Cincinnati lead. Ripper Collins led the way in that one with a double that scored three runs.

     The Cardinals had entered the day in a virtual tie with the New York Giants, who were beaten in both ends of a doubleheader in Brooklyn. The Cardinals retained first place from that day on as they made a charge toward their second World Series title. The club finished with a 101-53 record, which made them the first Cardinals squad to win at least 100 games. By season's end they were 13 games ahead of the Giants and would go onto meet Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's in the Fall Classic, and a classic it was, as it went the full seven games before the Cardinals were crowned champions.

Check out the box scores here:

Thursday, May 29, 2014

May 29, 1971: Joe Torre's Triple Caps Off The Comeback

     On May 29, 1971, Joe Torre's bases loaded walk off triple capped off a classic comeback that saw the Cardinals take down the Braves 8-7 at Busch. The triple for Torre was one of eight that the he posted in the stat columns during that MVP campaign. Torre's eight triples were good for fifth best in the National League. His .363 average led the league, and he also led the league in hits with 230, and in RBIs 137. Torre started off that '71 season with a 22 game hitting streak, and he played in 161 of the 162 games on the schedule. Torre only failed to get a hit in 28 of those contests, while never going more than 10 at bats without a hit.

      The game looked to be a disaster early, as Bob Gibson got rocked for five runs in the top of the third, then left the game in the bottom of the frame with a thigh injury after legging out a single. The squad led by Red Schoendienst refused to lose, and began to mount a comeback within moments of the injury, by scoring their first run of the ballgame on an RBI by Matty Alou.

      The Birds continued to peck away in the fourth when Dick Schofield knocked in Joe Hague who had doubled with one out in the inning, and in the seventh the club tied it up on RBIs by Alou, Ted Simmons, and Joe Torre. Reliever Frank Linzy, took over in the eighth, and with help of a double play that erased Hank Aaron posted a zero on the board. With one out, a man on second, in the ninth, Schoendienst went to lefty Don Shaw who watched the tied ballgame go up in smoke by committing an error that led to two runs, and gave the Braves a 7-5 edge.

     The ole Redhead called on Moe Drabowsky to put the fire out for Shaw, and Drabowsky got the job done quickly. The Braves skipper, Lum Harris called on his closer Cecil Shaw to shutdown the Birds in the bottom of the inning. However, it was not going to be an easy task since the Cardinals had the top of the order coming at him, which began with Lou Brock, then was followed by the bats of Alou, and Simmons. Brock and Alou both singled, and Simmons reached on an error by Upshaw who failed to field a sac bunt cleanly, that set the table for the Torre to win the ballgame with his walk off triple.

     The ballgame featured some historic moment for the visitors. Hank Aaron picked up his 3,152nd hit, which moved him into a seventh place tie with Paul Waner on the all time list, and Darrell Evans hit his first ever big league home run. Evans spent 21 years in the big leagues, and was a member of the 1984 World Series Champion Detroit Tigers squad. He also hit a total 414 bombs in his career, and will always be able to tell those that know him Bob Gibson was the first pitcher that he took deep.

     The injury by Gibson sidelined the ace for three weeks. He had already been off to a rough start before the injury, and it took a couple starts to get himself back on track when he returned in late June. Despite his struggles with the injury bug Gibby still notched 16 wins for the club. With that said, the achilles heel of that Cardinals club was the pitching staff who posted a 3.85 E.R.A., which was the second worst in the National League. However, they did win 90 games and were in the hunt until September. There were bright spots on that staff as well, which included Reggie Cleveland, who was named best rookie pitcher after winning 12 games, and most notably Steve Carlton put together a complete turnaround by winning 20 games. Carlton had led the league with 19 losses in 1970.

     One of the lessons that I have taken from looking into the history of club is a team does not have to win the World Series every season, for all seasons to be appreciated. It seems like some fans expect that out of a ballclub, which it is impossible. That '71 season in St. Louis is a great example of season to be appreciated, although there was no parade at the end. It was truly a great year of baseball in St. Louis, as Torre put together a historic season that will not be forgotten. I do understand disappointment when a team falls short, but I will never be the one who berates a team when they gave it all they had. I look at the baseball seasons like I look at the years in my life. Some years will stand above the rest, but when I look back I hope that I can say I enjoyed them all.

Check out the box score here:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May 28, 1941: The Birds Rally Past The Cubbies In St. Louie

     On May 28, 1941, down 5-3 headed into the bottom of the ninth at Sportsman's Park, the Cardinals stage a comeback by scoring three runs to beat the Cubs 6-5. The rally started with  a double by Terry Moore, who had already belted a home run in the contest. Coaker Triplett followed up Moore's double with an RBI triple to put the Cards within one, and Steve Mesner rapped a single that tied the ball game. Mesner moved over to second on an error, and over to third on a sacrifice by Enos Slaughter. Billy Southworth called on Don Padgett to bat for catcher Gus Mancuso who came up with the winning single that put the Birds in the win column for the ninth consecutive time. The winning streak would stretch to 11 before being snapped in the second game of a doubleheader on the 30th. The 11 game winning streak was the longest winning streak of that '41 season for the Redbirds who posted a 97-56 record, which was just two and a half games back of the Pennant winning Dodgers at season's end.

Check out the box score here:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May 27, 1975: Lou Brock Hits For The Cycle

     On May 27, 1975, Lou Brock hit for the cycle during a 7-1 win over the San Diego Padres at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Facing Dave Freisleben, Brock singled in the first inning, homered in the third, and tripled in the fifth. Brock was tagged out after he rounded third on the triple, as thoughts of an inside-the-park shot spun through his mind. Had he scored on the play the cycle would have been denied. He completed the feat with a double off of Alan Foster in the eighth. Check out the historic box score here:

     Since 1918, the cycle has been accomplished 16 times by 15 different ballplayers who had the Birds on the Bat across their chests.  Outfielder Cliff Heathcote was the first man to do it, while Ken Boyer is the only man who accomplished the feat twice in the modern era. It was accomplished four times pre 1900 by the club who would become known as the Cardinals when the club called themselves the Browns. In 1887, long before Boyer hit for his second cycle, Tip O'Neill picked up his second cycle, just eight days after he did it for the first time. Mark Grudzielanek is the last Cardinals player to hit for the cycle, which came on April 27, 2005.

Here is the complete list of men who have hit for the cycle as a member of the National League club that call St. Louis home. *Note: the club joined the National League in 1892, and before that they were a member of the American Association.

  • Fred Dunlap, 5/24/1886
  • Tip O'Neill, 4/30/1887
  • Tip O'Neil,l 5/7/1887
  • Tommy Dowd, 8/16/1895
  • Cliff Heathcote, 6/13/1918
  • Jim Bottomley, 7/15/1927 
  • Chick Hafey, 8/21/1930
  • Pepper Martin, 5/5/1933
  • Ducky Medwick, 6/29/35
  • Johnny Mize, 7/13/1940
  • Stan Musial, 7/24/1949
  • Bill White, 8/14/1960
  • Ken Boyer, 9/14/1961
  • Ken Boyer, 6/16/1964
  • Joe Torre, 6/27/1973
  • Lou Brock, 5/27/1975
  • Willie McGee, 6/23/1984
  • Ray Lankford, 9/15/1991
  • John Mabry, 5/18/1996
  • Mark Grudzielanek, 4/27/2005

Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26, 1953: The Cardinals Sign Lightnin Len Tucker

     On May 26, 1953, the Cardinals split a doubleheader with the Baby Bears in Chicago by taking the first game 6-3, before dropping the second tilt 3-2. The first contest was highlighted by a 3 for 3 performance by Red Schoendienst who blasted a first inning home run. However, that is not the reason the date was historically significant in Cardinals history, as the organization made history off the field on that day as well by signing a young outfielder by the name of Len Tucker out of Fresno State College in California. Tucker, was the first ever African American ballplayer to be signed by the club. This came six years after Jackie Robinson changed the course of history with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Tucker never did get a call to the majors, but he was a man who helped the wheels of progress move forward. Within a year there were 14 African American men in the organization, which included Tom Alston, who became the first African American to play for the big club in April of '54.

Here is an article about "Lightnin Len" that was written in 2008:

We should also tip our caps to all of those who have sacrificed their lives to protect our freedoms. I believe that it is important to remember these men everyday, not just on holidays. Tucker was a veteran. He served his country proudly as a member of the United States Air Force.  If you have served or are currently serving Thank You for your service.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 25, 1924: Eddie Dyer's Pitching Arm, and His Bat Lead The Birds To Victory

     On May 25, 1924, hurler Eddie Dyer helped the Cardinals to a 5-4 ten-inning victory over the Phillies in at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. Dyer did more than just pitch an extra inning complete game for the Birds, he also helped lead the club to victory with his bat. Down 4-1 in the sixth, the Birds came through with two singles, and a double, before Dyer stepped to the dish and rapped a game tying RBI triple. The hurler came through again in the tenth with a walk off single that sealed the win in the history books for the Birds.

     Dyer had a brief career on the mound for the Birds, going 15-15 over the course of  four seasons. His best season came during that '24 campaign, when he went 8-11. He was a member of the Championship club, although he pitched in just six games. However, he did claim a win during those six games for the team who won the National League Pennant by a two game margin. After being tabbed a player/manager in for a minor league affiliate of the Cardinals organization, another career began for Dyer. By 1933, he turned his full attention to managing, and by 1946 he celebrated a World Series Championship as a Cardinals skipper.

If you would like to know more about the path that Eddie Dyer traveled in baseball give this a read: It was a very interesting career.

Check out the box score here:

Saturday, May 24, 2014

May 24, 1974: Who's at Home?

     On May 24, 1974, the Cardinals grabbed a 1-0 victory at Wrigley Field in comical fashion, when the Cubs failed to cover home plate during a rundown in the ninth. The fateful play happened with one out, and Joe Torre standing at first, while Ted Simmons stood on third. Tim McCarver came to the dish and hit a grounder to Billy Williams at first, and Williams fired the ball home to his catcher Tom Lundstedt who looked to have Simmons dead to rights, before he flipped the ball to his third baseman Matt Alexander. Realizing no one was covering the plate, Simmons dashed past Lundstedt, and scored what proved to be the game winning run, while Alexander was chasing him in vain. The unusual ending took away from what was an absolute great pitching duel, as both starters went the distance for their respective clubs. Sonny Siebert took home the win, by scattering five hits, while striking out five for the Cards. While the Cubs starter Rick Reuschel gave up five hits of his own, while striking out nine men. However, Reuschel was his own worst enemy. By forgetting to cover the dish, he had helped the Cardinals celebrate a victory.

Check out the box score here:

Friday, May 23, 2014

May 23, 1963: Broglio and Oliver Lead The Birds To Victory In Chi-Town

     On May 23, 1963, a fifth inning home run off the bat of Cardinals backup catcher Gene Oliver proved to be all Ernie Broglio needed, as he pitched a five hit gem that led the club to a 1-0 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

     The man who hit the game winning big fly in the fifth, Gene Oliver, was primarily a backup catcher, with a strong arm, and some pop in his bat as well. The game winning shot on this day in '63 was his fifth of the campaign. On June 13th of that season Oliver added another home run to his totals with an inside-the-park shot. It was his last home run as a member of the Cardinals. Two days later, he was sent to the Milwaukee Braves in exchange for Lew Burdette. Burdette's better days were behind him, as he posted a 4-8 record with the Cards, before being dealt to the Cubs in '64, while Oliver had moderate success with the Braves. He hit eleven more homers in '63, and put a career high in the home runs department in '65 with 21. Oliver also wore the uniform of the Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago Cubs during a career that spanned over 10 seasons.

     The other hero of the day, Ernie Broglio will forever be known as the player who was traded to those same Cubs for Lou Brock. However, as it has been well documented that many fans in Cardinal Nation were upset to see him shipped to the Windy City. Especially when you consider, Brock was considered a disappointment in Cubland. Broglio posted an 18-8 record during that '63 campaign. Three seasons earlier he had won 21 games with the Birds on the Bat across his chest, and those fans who were upset about the deal saw great potential in the young hurler. We all know how that worked out, Broglio won seven games for the Cubs over three seasons, while Brock forged a Hall of Fame career with his former club. With that said, Broglio had some good days with the Cardinals uniform on and this was one of them.

Check out the box score here:

Oliver's career numbers:
Broglio's 70 wins as a Redbird rank 25th on the franchise's all time wins list. You can view his career numbers here:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

May 22, 1883: Comiskey Reaches Base On A Strikeout, Then Scores On A Wild Pitch In St. Louis

     On May 22, 1883, the St. Louis Browns knocked off the Columbus Buckeyes 6-3 at Sportsman's Park. The club who would later become known as the Cardinals, saw their first baseman Charlie Comiskey score one of the runs without the benefit of a hit. The scoring play started when Comiskey was called out on a third strike, but the ball got past the Columbus catcher Rudy Kemmler, and Comiskey dashed all the way to second base before he could round it up. Moments later, the Buckeyes hurler Frank Mountain delivered another wild pitch that brought Comiskey flyin around to score.

     Comiskey is best known as the longtime owner of the Chicago White Sox. However, his playing days as a professional began in St. Louis when he was just 22 years old with the upstart Browns of the American Association. By the end of the 1883 season, Comiskey was named the player/manager of the St. Louis club. The team won four straight American Association Pennants with Comiskey at the helm, and in 1886 guided the club to its first World Championship title, by knocking off the Chicago White Stockings in six games (The club also laid claim to the title in 1885. However, it was disputed and the Series was called a draw).

You can read more about the life and times of Charlie Comiskey here:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May 21, 1926: The Bats Come Alive In The Seventh as The Cards Bury The Phillies

     On May 21, 1926, with the help of a seven run explosion during seventh inning of a contest against the Phillies at Sportsman's Park the Cardinals sailed to a 12-4 victory over the visiting Phillies. The team's ace, Flint Rhem got the call to start the contest, and was roughed up a bit through the first three, as he gave up three runs in the first, and another in the third. Philadelphia's starter, Willard Dean had just about the same luck as his counterpart, as he gave up a run in the second, and two more in the bottom of the third that evened the score at 4 apiece. Rhem settled in after his early hiccups and held the visitors off the board the rest of the contest, while Dean looked to be doing the same until he allowed a run in the sixth that gave the Birds a 5-4 advantage. In the seventh the hit parade began that had the Cardinals marching around the bases, and across home plate one after another. Dean was charged with each of the runs, and he gave up another in the eighth, before Rhem turned the lights out on the Phillies in the ninth.

     Rhem is an interesting character from the Cardinals' past. The '26 season was a career year for the hurler, as he went 20-7 with a 3.21 e.r.a for the club who was destined to claim their first World Series crown. He never did reach that level again. In fact, he often found himself in trouble with a drinking issue he battled with, and never did post an e.r.a. better than 3.50 throughout the rest of his time in the big leagues. While his big league career was not always the smoothest, it is safe to say that the flag that flies at the ballpark with the words "1926 World Champions" across it would not exist if not for the career year that Flint Rhem put together in 1926.

You can view Rhem's career numbers here:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

May 20, 1984: Darrell Porter's Walk Off Blast Leads The Cards Past The Reds

     On May 20, 1984, Darrell Porter launched a walk off two run bomb in the bottom of the ninth at Busch, that led the Cardinals to 3-2 victory over the visiting Cincinnati Reds. Porter also drove in the first Redbird run of the contest with a game tying single in the seventh, before watching Cincy's Dan Driessen come up with a pinch hit RBI in the eighth that put the Birds down 2-1. After failing to plate a run in the bottom of the eighth the Cardinals had one more shot at victory, and it was an opportunity that would not be wasted. Ken Oberkfell led off the frame with a double, which set up the ninth inning heroics by Porter. The Cardinals backstop came to the plate simply hoping to put the ball over an outfielders head. He definitely did that, as he gave it a 400 foot ride over the rightfield wall to give the Redbirds the W. The victory capped off a three game sweep of the Redlegs.

Check out the box score here:

Monday, May 19, 2014

May 19, 1937: The Battle at Sportsman's Park

     On May 19, 1937, fists flew in front of more than 26,000 fans at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis during a battle that featured Cardinals ace Dizzy Dean, and New York Giants ace Carl Hubbell. While it was originally billed as "The Battle of The Century", it would end up being dubbed as "The Battle at Sportsman's Park" as a ninth inning brawl overshadowed the game that was played on that day in mid May.

     With the help of a Ducky Medwick homer Dean carried a 1-0 lead into the sixth, before having a balk called on him that set the Redbird hurler off. The National League President, Ford C. Frick made a change to the balk rule, which instructed pitchers to come to a full stop in his delivery after checking a baserunner. An incensed Dean did not believe he had balked and he let the umpire George Barr know it by going on a tirade that lasted a full five minutes before he returned to the bump. When he returned to his pitching duties the wheels fell off the bus as Dean gave up three runs before the inning was over. The Milwaukee Sentinel claimed that Dean was "madder than a wet hen" following the umpires ruling, and that anger did not subside as the game moved on.

     Dean, who had been a bit wild that day due to a taped up thumb, came into the ninth still fuming over the earlier ruling. He had gotten a pass for his earlier wildness due to the thumb issue, but in that ninth inning the Giants hitters began to get tired of his tactics as he threw at batter after batter. When New York's center fielder Jimmy Ripple stepped to the dish, picked up a sign from his bench to bunt, and laid one down the first base line. The bunt brought Dean over to cover the bag, and when Ripple met him there fists started flying. The benches cleared and a free for all ensued, before police officers and umpires were able to get things under control. The Giants catcher Gus Mancuso, along with the Cardinals catcher Mickey Owen were ejected before the teams went back to work, and the Giants tagged Dean for another run, while Hubbell set down the Redbirds with ease in the bottom of the ninth.

     The story did not end there. On May 23rd, Dean took the mound again. While he led the Cardinals to a 6-2 victory over the Phillies in St. Louis, he did it by making a mockery of the rule that had caused the battle just a few days before. The act of rebellion occurred during the second inning with a man on first when Dean came to a dead stand still for nearly four minutes after checking the runner. The man behind the dish, Beans Reardon was not amused by the antics and called a balk on him. Not caring, Dean did it again and yet again Reardon called a balk. After the inning was over Dean settled in and pitched the Birds to victory, he made a statement that did not go over well with Frick, or the umpires who were trying to enforce the rule.

     To make matters worse, on June 1st, Dean was quoted in the Bellville Daily Advocate saying that Frick and the umpire George Barr were "the two biggest crooks in baseball." At that point Frick had enough of Dean and initially suspended him indefinitely. After announcing the suspension Frick said "It's now strictly up to Dean whether the suspension lasts one day or three months." Frick was demanding a written apology from the hurler, and scheduled a meeting with the Cardinals hurler who would be accompanied by the Cardinals skipper Frankie Frisch. Dean still insisted that he had done nothing wrong, and  while glancing out of the 19th floor window of Frick's office at the RCA building in New York, he said "I'll jump out of this window before I sign anything. I've got nothing to apologize for my conscience is clear."

     Dean threatened to go to the commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, and Frick made a compromise by saying that he could issue a statement that did not include the word "apology." The letter that Dean drafted to pass on to Frick is to the right.

     The letter was enough for Frick to reduce the suspension to just two days, and ultimately Dean just had a start pushed back. The papers of the day proclaimed Dean the winner in the saga that lasted more than two weeks. It all started with the "The Battle of Sportsman's Park." That day another part of the story that was put on a backburner was that Hubbell had claimed his 22nd consecutive victory. That streak would reach 24 before it came to an end. Hubbell and Dean met again on June 9th, and Dean came out in front, however, on June 27th Hubbell walked away victorious in the final meeting between the two players. Hubbell led the league with 22 wins that season, while Dean won 13.

     The next year Dean was sent to the Cubs via trade, and while I know it is speculation on my part, I wonder if one of the reasons that the Cardinals owner Sam Breadon gave him his walking papers was in part because of the way he handled things with the fiasco that followed. In many of the papers I read about this, Breadon was clearly unhappy with the situation as a whole.  I suppose we will never know, but what we do know is Ole Dizzy was quite the character from the Cardinals past, and on that day in Cardinal Nation a little chin music set off quite the chain of events.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

May 18, 1940: Five Big Blasts For The Birds In Brooklyn

     On May 18, 1940, the ball was flying well in Brooklyn as the Cardinals blasted five home runs at Ebbets Field on their way to a 6-2 win over the Dodgers. The offensive explosion was led by Johnny Mize and Terry Moore who each knocked two out of the yard, while Ducky Medwick joined the both of them with one big blast. Mize also tripled in the contest.

     The 1940 season was quite the year for Mize. He led the National League with a career high 43 round trippers, along with 137 RBIs. Mize finished second in MVP voting to Cincinnati's first baseman Frank McCormick. McCormick did not have the power numbers that Mize had, but he did lead the league in doubles, hits, and at bats, for the club who went onto knock off the Detroit Tigers in the World Series in a classic seven game battle. Mize only exceeded the 137 ribbie mark one time in his career, and that came in 1947 when he wore the uniform of the New York Giants.

Check out the box score here:

Saturday, May 17, 2014

May 17, 1967: McCarver Delivers In The Ninth

     On May 17, 1967, Tim McCarver led the bottom of the ninth off with a pinch hit walk off home run that led the Cardinals to a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at Busch. McCarver was simply getting a day off while John Romano got the call to catch Steve Carlton who turned in a solid performance on the mound by allowing just one run over six and two thirds. However, the Phillies starter Chris Short turned in a solid performance of his own by retiring the first 15 batters he faced through six, before walking Orlando Cepeda to lead off the seventh. Cepeda came around to score after the next batter, Mike Shannon belted a triple, that made it look like the Cardinals were in business. The jubilation of tying the ballgame did not last long, as Philadelphia took the lead right back in the top of the eighth on an RBI by shortstop Bobby Wine. Orlando Cepeda came back with a clutch hit in the bottom of the frame that scored Curt Flood, and tied the ballgame, which set the table for the pinch hit heroics by McCarver in the ninth.

     McCarver enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 1967, by hitting .295 and knocking in a career high 69 runs. Defensively his efforts led the Cardinals to victory on a regular basis, and because of that he finished second in MVP voting behind his teammate Orlando Cepeda.

Check out the box score here:

Friday, May 16, 2014

May 16, 1946: Cross Steals Home!!!

     On May 16, 1946, unlikely hero/pinch runner Jeff Cross scored the winning run in a 9-8 victory over the Braves in Boston by stealing home in the top of the tenth inning. Cross, whose given name was Joffre, was a utility man that seen very little playing time in a career that lasted just four years in the big leagues. His career batting average sits at .162, and in the eyes of some he might be considered just another player that came and went. In the eyes of this Cardinals fan he is a guy who helped the Cardinals win an intense contest, during a season that they would go onto win the World Series. That '46 season had the Cardinals finish just two games ahead of the Bums from Brooklyn, which is a testament to the importance of every victory as well as every man on the roster.

Check out the box score here:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

May 14, 1965: Groat Triples, Groat Scores, Cards Win

     On May 14, 1965, Dick Groat led a Cardinals comeback in the ninth at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh with an RBI triple that tied the game at 7-7, before Bill White knocked him in with a single to give the Cardinals an 8-7 edge. The former Pirate went 2 for 3 in the contest, and knocked in three of the Cardinal's runs. The win marked the 14th straight victory for the Cardinals while facing the Pirates, and it was a streak that would extend to 17 games before the Buccos finally claimed a W. Groat had called Pittsburgh home for the first nine years of his career, before a trade put the Birds on the Bat across his chest. He was a key piece of the '64 Championship club, and while his time in St. Louis lasted just three seasons Groat provided his fair share of exciting moments with the Cardinals uniform on, which included this spectacular performance at his old stomping grounds in Pittsburgh.

Check out the box score here:

Here is link to a piece I wrote about the trade that brought Groat to St. Louis:

May 15, 1928: George Harper Hits His First Redbird Blast

     On May 15, 1928, George Harper led the Cardinals to a 3-1 victory with a two run blast in the sixth inning of a rain-shortened contest at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. It was Harper's first home run with the Birds on the Bat across his chest.

     Just 5 days earlier Harper was a member of the New York Giants, until Sam Breadon made a trade that shocked many by sending catcher Bob O'Farrell to New York for the well traveled  36-year-old outfielder. O'Farrell, in a player/manager role, had managed the club to a second place finish in '27, and was considered popular among players and fans alike. However, he was limited to just 61 games behind the dish, and the Cardinals needed an outfielder with some pop.

     Harper might have been just 5' 8" and a 170 pounds, but he could swing the stick, and he fit the bill, as a player who had ranked amongst the Top 10 home run hitters in 1924, '25, and '27. The day after the deal was made for Harper the newspapers were questioning who would take over as the full time catcher. Before the question could seriously be asked, Breadon had answer: Jimmie Wilson who he sent Spud Davis and Homer Peel to Philadelphia in exchange for. Wilson was much more durable, and the Cards got the outfielder they were needing as well.

     While the shakeup might have seemed drastic it proved to be fruitful. Harper hit .305 with 17 bombs that season, which was good for sixth in the National League, and Wilson spent the next six years with the Cardinals, which included the Championship season of 1931. The '28 team that featured the likes of George Harper, Jimmie Wilson, Chick Hafey, Frankie Frisch, and Jim Bottomley won 95 games and the National League Flag by holding off those same Giants that Harper had played for on Opening Day.

     George Harper's time with the Cardinals was short lived. Following the '28 season Breadon kept shifting pieces, and he was shifted to the Boston Braves organization in a deal for cash. However, his time in a Cardinals uniform was memorable one, as he became the first Cardinals during the modern era to blast three home runs in one game. He accomplished the feat in the first game of a doubleheader against the Giants on September 20th of that season, leading the Cardinals to an 8-5 victory. Considering that the club finished just two games ahead of the Giants that 3 home run day was more than just a feat, it helped keep the team in a race that would see them finish in first by a nose.

     Unfortunately, there was no World Series celebration in St. Louis following the heated pennant battle. The Birds ran into the powerhouse New York Yankees who swept them right out of the Fall Classic. With that said, the '28 season was a special season in the Gateway City, as the Cardinals wore the National League Crown with pride.

Check out the box score:

If you would like to read more about the life and times of George Harper check this out:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May 13, 1958: Stan The Man Picks Up Hit Number 3,000 at Wrigley

     On May 13, 1958, Stan "The Man" Musial recorded the 3,000th hit of his career at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The manager of the Birds, Fred Hutchinson had sat Musial on the bench in hopes of the Cardinals legend be able to reach the milestone in front of the Redbird faithful in St. Louis the next day. However, Hutchinson had no choice but to call on the number 6 during the sixth inning with the team trailing 3-1 with one out, a man on second, and the Cardinals hurler Sam Jones on deck who promptly gave way to the 37-year-old legend of the game. Musial stepped to the plate, and worked the count to 2-2, before Moe Drabowsky delivered a curveball that turned into a milestone hit as Musial slapped an RBI double into left-center. His 3,000th hit sparked the Cardinals offense to a four run frame, and the club went onto win 5-3.

     While Musial was not able to record the hit in St. Louis, he got a heroes welcome when he arrived at Union Station in St. Louis,with a large crowd cheering "We want Stan!! We want Stan!!!" as the train rolled in. When Musial stepped off the train and was mobbed by fans, and newsmen. He proclaimed "I know now how Charles A. Lindbergh felt." The Man went onto say "You're wonderful, you St. Louis fans. I'd like to have made the hit here, but we felt the game was more important."

      Musial was the eighth player in the history of the game to record 3,000 hits, which included the likes of Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb. He added 630 more hits to his totals before his legendary career came to an end, and while he missed out on hit number 3,000 at home, he made 3,001 one to remember for the home crowd as he parked his 387th home run over the wall at Busch. He went 3-4 for that day, and once again his bat proved key in victory as the Cardinals knocked off the Giants 3-2.

     Musial truly embodied everything that is great about the game that we call America's National Pastime.  I have said this before, and I will say it time and time again. There is no other athlete that I admire more than Stan Musial. What I admire most is not the player, but the man that he was. When you can say that about a player that was as a great as Stan, you know that he was much more than a ballplayer. (The picture to the right was on the cover of the Sporting News  on May 14, 1958.)

Watch footage of the historic hit here, that also includes interviews with Musial:

Historic Box Score:

Stats of a Legend:

Monday, May 12, 2014

May 12, 1981: Herr Squeezes In The Winner

     On May 12, 1981, a suicide squeeze off the bat of Tommy Herr brought Gene Tenace into score what proved to be the game winning run in the tenth inning of a 3-2 victory over the Astros at the Astrodome. The Birds jumped out to a 1-0 lead on an RBI sacrifice fly off the bat of Sixto Lezcano in the top of the fourth. Only to see it evaporate in the bottom half of the frame when former Cardinal, Jose Cruz rocked a two run shot off of Bob Forsch. Houston's Bob Knepper held the Cardinals off the board until the eighth, when Ken Oberkfell scored from second on a two out single off the bat of Garry Templeton. Oberkfell singled and stole a base to leadoff the inning, before Templeton came through with the clutch hit that set the table for Herr's suicide squeeze in the tenth.

     Herr took over at second base in '81, as Oberkfell took over third base duties. In 1982, Ozzie Smith arrived on the scene, and the two turned more than 87 double plays per season over the six seasons that Herr had The Wizard by his side. Those seasons included a World Series Championship in '82, and World Series appearances in '85 and '87.

Check out the box score here:

Sunday, May 11, 2014

May 11, 1970: Dick Allen Walks Off Against Philly

     On May 11, 1970, Dick Allen broke up a pitching duel between Cardinals hurler Steve Carlton, and Philadelphia's Jim Bunning by smashing a three-run walkoff shot at Busch in the bottom of the ninth to propel the Cardinals to a 3-0 victory over the Phillies. The pitching duel marked a battle of two future Hall of Famers, and they lived up to their reputations by posting zeroes straight across the board until that ninth inning that saw the Cardinals walk away victorious. Bunning struck out five men though eight, and Carlton struck out 10.

      The bomb by Allen was his tenth of the season, and it was an important one to him. He had been a member of the Phillies from 1963 to 1969, before being shipped to the Cardinals in what has become a famous trade that was supposed to include Curt Flood. After Flood refused to play in Philadelphia the Cardinals sent Willie Montanez in his place to complete the deal. While Flood was fighting his court battle Allen settled into the St. Louis lineup, and that day when he smashed the walkoff against his former club.

     One of the primary reasons Flood refused the trade to Philadelphia was he considered it to be a racist city. It was the exact reason why Allen was happy to get out of there, and he relished the moment that he walked off against his former club.

     That bottom of the ninth began with a leadoff double by Leron Lee. Bunning then issued a free pass to Lou Brock with Allen on deck. The 38-year-old hurler had tied Allen up twice and was sure he could do it again, and it looked like he had him right where he wanted him with Allen falling behind 0-2 quickly. The next pitch was up and away, but Allen put a cut on it anyway, and that cut proved to be the game decider as it sailed over the wall in right center. When he talked to a reporter from the Associated Press after the game Allen said "That one right there, my man, was worth 10 for me." He also spoke about Philadelphia saying "I thought it was good to get out of there, but this is too much."

     The 1970 season was Dick Allen's only season in St. Louis, and it was a fruitful one. He hit .279 with 34 home runs and 101 RBIs. In October of that year, Allen was traded again, this time he was head to the Dodgers, and the Cardinals were getting Ted Sizemore and Bob Stinson in return. Stinson had a cup of coffee with the club, while Sizemore spent five years in St. Louis, hitting .260 during that time. After a year in L.A., he was on the move once again, as the White Sox made a deal that landed him in their lineup. It was in Chicago where he enjoyed an MVP season in '72. After three years with the White Sox, Allen returned to Philadelphia for two seasons before wrapping up his career in Oakland.

     Allen enjoyed his time in St. Louis. He cried on Opening Night at Busch as the sold out crowd of more than 45,000 gave him a standing ovation when he was introduced. After the game he called it the greatest thing that had ever happened to him. The end of his days with the Cardinals began with a hamstring injury on August 14th, he tried to work through it, but it proved to much to handle. His final start came on September 8th, and he went 2 for 3 with his 34th home run of the year. The walkoff against Philly was his 10th big fly of the year, and it was a memorable one that sent his old club to the showers with their heads down, while his new club mobbed him in celebration.

Check out the box score here:

Saturday, May 10, 2014

May 10, 1966: Cepeda Debuts With The Birds

     On May 10, 1966, Orlando Cepeda made his debut with the Cardinals, and made a quick impression by going  2 for 4 with a home run in what turned out to be 8-0 beatdown of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley. His big fly was a sixth inning solo shot, and it was the first of 58 home runs that he would hit in the three years that he wore the Birds on the Bat.

     Bob Gibson got in on the offensive action with an inside-the-park home run in the seventh. Curt Flood and Mike Shannon added solo shots of their own before it was in the books. Gibby went the distance in the contest, as he scattered six hits, and struck out seven.

     Two days earlier Cepeda was a member of the San Francisco Giants. He had been with the club since the '58 season when he won the Rookie of the Year award. The next year another Giants player arrived on the scene by the name of Willie McCovey. Both Cepeda and McCovey were first baseman, so the Giants organization had to stick one or the other in the outfield to keep both bats in the lineup. This led to Cepeda being an expendable player in the eyes of Giants General Manager Chub Feeney who knew he wanted to add a lefty to the Giants staff. A month before Cepeda was dealt to the Cards he came very close to becoming a member of the Cubs, but a deal that would have sent Dick Ellsworth to the City by the Bay fell apart. A month later Cepeda was hitting a home run for the team that called St. Louis home.

      The trade was not well received by some of Cardinal Nation, because some looked at Sadecki as an up and coming pitcher. Afterall, he was he was only 25 years old, and he had won 20 games in the Championship year of 1964.However, the '65 season was proving to be a tough one for Sadecki who had a record of 6-15 when he was dealt. Sadecki pitched for 10 more seasons after he left St. Louis, but never did come close to that 1964 form. On the Cardinals side of the deal the team got exactly what they were looking for. Bill White had been a solid presence at first base from 1960 to 1965, but he had been dealt to the Phillies, and there was a hole with Phil Gagliano penciled in at first. Gagliano hit .240 in '65, and adding a guy like Cepeda added some pop to the lineup that it was seriously lacking.

     The '66 campaign was one that saw the Cardinals finish sixth in the National League. However, the addition of Cepeda was a key in what would come in 1967. Cepeda not only won the National League MVP Award, he was also crowned a World Series Champion. He batted .303 in '66 for the Birds, then .325, with a league leading 111 RBIs during his MVP campaign. His average dropped to .248 in '68, and right before Opening Day in 1969, Cepeda was shipped to Atlanta in exchange for Joe Torre who had a pretty good stretch of his own in St. Louis that included a League MVP Award in 1971. The Cha-Cha era in St. Louis might have been a short one, but it sure the hell was a memorable one, and it started out with a bang On This Day In Cardinal Nation.

Check out the box score here:

You can read more about Cepeda's life and Hall of Fame career here:


Friday, May 9, 2014

May 9, 1977: Ted Simmons Walks Off In The Tenth

     On May 9, 1977, Ted Simmons capped off a nationally televised contest against the Reds with walk off home run against knuckleballer Dale Murray to give the Birds a 6-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Busch. The odds were stacked against Simmons, as Murray had only given two home runs in 306 innings. However, Simmons guessed right on the trick pitch that he knocked out of the yard. The home run heroics were set up by a ninth inning that saw the heart of the Reds order come to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs before Al Hrabosky set the next three men down with three consecutive strikeouts. He worked around another jam in the tenth, before Simmons ended it with the big blast.

Check out the box score here:

Thursday, May 8, 2014

May 8, 1948: Brecheen's Near Perfecto

     On May 8, 1948, a weak seventh inning single deprived Harry "The Cat" Brecheen of a perfect game during a 5-0 win over the Phillies at Sportsman's Park. The Cardinals lefty had retired 20 men before Philadelphia's leftfielder Johnny Blatnik hit a hopper down the third base line that Whitey Kurowski fielded perfectly and fired the ball to Nippy Jones at first, before Blatnik beat it out by a half a step. Brecheen moved right past the misfortune and retired the next seven men without allowing another baserunner. Jones provided the majority of the Cardinals offense that day with 4 RBIs in a 2 for 3 performance that included a home run.

     The 1948 season was one to remember for Brecheen. He posted a career high 20 wins, and led the league in several categories which included E.R.A. (2.24), shutouts (7), and strikeouts (149). Brecheen started 30 games for the Birds that season and completed 21 of them. Had the Cy Young award existed, it would be safe to say that the name of Harry Brecheen would have been in the mix. Brecheen spent 11 of his 12 years in the big leagues with the Cardinals. During that time he posted a 128-79 record along with a 2.91 E.R.A., and 857 strikeouts.

Check out the box score here:

The Cat's career numbers:

The 857 K's rank eleventh on the all time Cardinals list. That list can be viewed here:'R'&elem=%5Bobject+Object%5D&tab_level=child&click_text=Sortable+Player+pitching&league_code='MLB'&page=1&ts=1399508376085

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

May 7, 1959: 400 Homers For Stan The Man

     On May 7, 1959, Stan "The Man" Musial knocked his 400th ball out of the yard. The historic home run not only made Musial the sixth player to reach the plateau, it also won the game as it came in the form of a walkoff blast that propelled the Cardinals to a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium.

Musial had 75 more home runs left in his bat before his career came to a close. 252 of his 475 home runs came in St. Louis. He victimized the Giants more than any other ballclub by knocking 89 balls out of the yard while facing them. The team that  helped provide Stan with his nickname, the Dodgers followed with 74, then came those baby bears from Chicago's North side. Cubs outfielders turned their heads and watch the ball fly over the wall 67 times when Stan swung that bat, which included that big blast on this day in '59.

Stats of a legend:

Check out the historic box score here:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May 6, 1977: Sparks Fly at Busch

     On May 6, 1977, "The Mad Hungarian" combined with Pete Falcone in a three-hitter in a 4-1 win over the Houston Astros at Busch. Sparks flew in the bottom of the ninth when closer Al Hrabosky plunked Houston's Cesar Cedeno to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Cedeno charged the Cardinals hurler and the benches cleared. It took ten minutes for the dust to settle that ended with ejections of Houston's Joaquin Andujar, and St. Louis' Roger Freed, before Hrabosky earned the save.

Check out the box score here:

Monday, May 5, 2014

May 5, 1933, Pepper Martin Hits For The Cycle

     On May 5, 1933, Pepper Martin hit for the cycle at the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia. His historic performance led the charge in a 5-3 victory over the Phillies. Martin came into the big leagues with a bang in 1931 for the club who would go onto win the World Series. He hit .300 during his rookie season, before rockin a .500 average during the World Series. The 1932 season saw Martin's average dip to .238 before bouncing back with a .316 average. He also led the league with 122 runs scored, as well as 26 stolen bases during that '33 campaign.

Check out Martin's stats here:

Check out the box score here:

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May 4, 1922: A Wild Ninth Inning Ends With A Cardinals Victory

     On May 4, 1922, in a game versus the Reds at Sportsman's Park, the Cardinals watched a 3-1 lead turn into a 7-3 deficit in the top of the ninth inning, as the club from Cincy plated six runs in the frame. The implosion was forgotten in the bottom half of the inning when the Birds scored five runs to win the game 8-7. The rally began with a one out bases loaded single off the bat of  Joe Schulte. Eddie Ainsmith picked up another single to load the bases again, and Jack Fournier drew back-to-back walks that pushed in the tying run. Rogers Hornsby followed them with a long drive to right that capped off the ninth inning heroics. The reported attendance was 4,000 people. I'm sure many of them began making their way home after watching the lead disappear in the ninth. Those who stayed witnessed an epic comeback that they would not soon forget.

     Hornsby won the Triple Crown in 1922 with a .401 average, 152 RBIs, and 42 home runs. In 1924 he led the league with a .424 average which has not been matched since. He followed it up with another with his second Triple Crown in 1925 with a .403 average, 143 RBIs, and 39 homers. The only other Cardinal to accomplish the feat was Ducky Medwick who did it in 1937. Stan The Man Musial almost joined Hornsby and Medwick , but fell one home run short of taking the Crown in his MVP season of 1948. Frankie Frisch was asked about Hornsby once and he responded with "He's the only guy who could hit .350 in the dark."

Stats of a legend:

Saturday, May 3, 2014

May 3, 1934, Medwick Slams The Cards To Victory

     On May 3, 1934, a Ducky Medwick fourth inning grand slam against Philadelphia's Phil Collins highlighted an 8-7 victory over the Phillies at Sportsman's Park. The big blast proved to the difference maker as the club from Philly made a late surge before being put to bed by Jesse Haines who earned the save. The '34 season started off with a bang with the Cardinals blowing out the Pirates 7-1. However, they lost five in a row after the Opening Day victory, before claiming their second victory of the season. The team lost another couple of games and had a record of 2-7 before they beat the Cubs on April 29th. The rough start became a thing of the past as the club got hot and rattled off seven wins in a row starting off with the victory in Chicago. Medwick's grand slam performance came in the fifth game of that seven game winning streak. The seven game winning streak proved to be the longest streak of the season. It would be matched two more times during the season that the Gashouse Gang were crowned Champions.

Check out the box score here:

Friday, May 2, 2014

May 2, 1954: Stan The Man Blasts 5 Homeruns In One Day

     On May 2, 1954, Stan The Man Musial set a major league record by blasting 5 home runs during a doubleheader against the Giants at Busch Stadium. In the first contest, The Man blasted a solo shot in the third, a two run shot in the fifth, and a three run shot in the eighth. The first two came against Johnny Antonelli, and the third came with Jim Hearn on the mound. Musial also singled in the contest as he finished the first game 4 for 4 with six RBIs. The Cardinals fell to the Giants 9-7 in the second tilt, but it wasn't because of a lack of effort by The Man who blasted two more against reliever Hoyt Wilhelm. The fourth Musial blast was was a two run shot in the fifth, then he capped off the record setting performance with a solo shot to lead of the seventh. Stan's final home run of the day smacked into a taxicab on Grand Avenue. The driver, Joe Caparo, was listening on the radio, and returned the historic ball to Musial. In return, The Man signed a ball for him. At the end of the day Musial had not only set a new record for home runs in a doubleheader, he had also set a record for total bases with 21, and the bat that he had used was sent to Cooperstown.

      The 5 home runs in a doubleheader was matched by San Diego's Nate Colbert in 1972. Colbert surpassed the 21 total bases mark by one, and still holds that record today. To date, Colbert is the only other player to join Stan in the 5 home runs in a doubleheader club. A native St. Louisan, Colbert was sitting in the stands the day The Man set the mark, and nearly 20 years later he joined his childhood hero in a club that includes just him and the one the only Stan The Man Musial.

Not one, but two historic box scores On This Day In Cardinal Nation:

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May 1, 1954: Stan The Man on The Saturday Evening Post

     On May 1, 1954, Stan The Man Musial appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. The painting done by John Falter depicted the Cardinals legend signing autographs for a group of youngsters. Two of the children were native St. Louisans by the names of Bill Fassett and Michael Lane. Fassett appeared on the cover twice, once as the redhead, then again with black hair. Between the two of them, they received 40 autographs from the pen of Musial, and were excited about the possibility of reaping a great rewards when they sold them to classmates in school. Some fans quickly pointed out what they believed to be an error, as Musial was signing the autographs with his right hand. However, they were mistaken. While Musial hit from the left side, and threw from the left side, he used his right hand to write. When asked about it, Musial said "(Fans) seem to think I should be left handed all the way, and I remind them I am, except in writing and thinking." The original copy of the magazine was presented to the Commissioner of Baseball Ford C. Frick where it hung in his office. (Makes me wonder where that copy is today)