Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 31, 1937: Win #210 For Ole Jesse Haines

     On July 31, 1937, Jesse Haines complete game performance against the Dodgers in St. Louis led the way to a 4-3 Cardinals win over the Brooklyn Dodgers. The 43-year-old knuckleballer worked his way around eight hits to survive in the contest that was highlighted by a 2 for 4 day by third baseman who came away with two RBIs, which included the game winning ribbie in the sixth. While the performance by Haines was not the most dominant of his career, it has a great historical significance because it was his last, and his 210th win in a Cardinals uniform. Only Bob Gibson's 245 wins rank higher than Haines on the franchise's all time wins list.

     The first time Haines tossed a ball for the Redbirds came in 1920. He gave the next 18 years of his life to the organization winning 18 games or more three times, and was the ace of the staff throughout the 1920s. He tossed a no-hitter for the club in 1924, and was key in beating the Yankees in the 1926 World Series, as he pitched the club to victory twice in the Fall Classic, which included a strong performance in the seventh game of the series. Haines was also part of pennant winners in 1928, 1930, 1931, and 1934. He pitched in each of those World Series besides the 1931 series, however, his 12-3 record had helped the club get to where they wanted to go. While Haines has not had a number retired by the club, nor is he recognized on the wall of fame in left, he truly is one of the great Cardinals from the past. The man they called "Pop" joined the ranks of baseball's immortal bunch in Cooperstown in 1970.

Check out the box score here:

You can view the all time wins list here:'R'&elem=%5Bobject+Object%5D&tab_level=child&click_text=Sortable+Player+pitching&league_code='MLB'&page=1&ts=1406783293372

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July 30, 1933: Dizzy Strikes Out 17

     On July 30, 1933,in the first game of a doubleheader against the Cubs at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, Dizzy Dean set a modern day record by striking out 17 if the Cubs batters as he led the way to an 8-2 victory. The offense was highlighted by a 4 for 4 day by Ducky Medwick, Ernie Orsatti knocked in two, and Dizzy did more than pitch, as he went 3 for 4, with two doubles, and two RBIs. While the offense rolled, Dizzy baffled batter after batter with a mixture of fastballs and curveballs. The previous modern day record was shared by Frank Hahn, Christy Mathewson, Rube Waddell, and Nap Rucker. The all time record of 19 had been set in 1884 by Charles Sweeney of the Providence Grays, and was matched that same season by Hugh "One Arm" Daily that same year. It should be noted that the rules to the game were very different when those records were set. The strikeout record was not the only record setting performance at the ballpark that day, as the Cardinals catcher Jimmie Wilson's 18 putouts set  another record as well. While neither one of the records would stand the test of time, that day at Sportsman's Park is one to be remembered.

Check out the box score here:

     While the legendary performance by Dean was the headline grabber, the second game of the doubleheader was won by the Cardinals by the score of 6-5. That game was highlighted by a three run shot off of Medwick's bat, and a 2 for 3 day by Pepper Martin who scored three times, and knocked out a triple.

Check out the box score here:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July 29, 1974: Brock Steals His 700th

     On July 29, 1974, Lou Brock stole his 700th base during an 11-4 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The base burglar led the game off with a single, then stole his 65th bag of the season, and the 700th of his career. The game came to a halt while the base was uprooted and given to the living legend. That '74 season was something special in the career of Lou Brock, as he finished the season by setting the modern day record of 118 stolen bases. He had a lot more left in the tank too, as he finished his career with 938 stolen bases. 888 of those came with the Birds on the Bat across his chest. His base thievery began with the Cubs in 1962 when he stole 16 bags. He stole 34 more for the Cubbies before being shipped to St. Louis where he burned up the basepaths for the next 16 years as he ran straight toward Cooperstown, New York.

Check out the box score here:

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28, 1967: Cha-Cha Goes Boom Boom

     On July 28, 1967, Orlando Cepeda blasted two home runs, while Dick Hughes fired six hit ball on the way to a 9-1 win over the Braves in Atlanta. Cha-Cha's first big fly was a solo shot that sailed past the fences in the third to give the Birds a 1-0 lead. The Braves evened things up in the bottom of that same inning when Felipe Alou knocked Denis Menke in on a sac fly, but it would be all they would be able to come up with as Hughes locked in, and sat down batter after batter. On the other side of the diamond the Cardinals plated two runs in the fourth, then three more in the fifth, before Cepeda's MVP swing came around and launched a two run bomb that brought Curt Flood into score. The second home run opened up an 8-1 lead, that would extend to 9-1 when Dal Maxvill came up with his third ribbie of the day in the ninth. Cepeda finished the day 3 for 5, with three ribbies of his own, while Dick Hughes strong pitching performance was a highlight of the game as well. The performance by Hughes included six strikeouts, and just two walks, as he led the way from the bump, while Cepeda led the way from the batter's box.

     Cepeda spent just three years in St. Louis. During that time the future Hall of Famer helped the club win the World Series in '67 with an MVP campaign, and he helped them win the National League Pennant in '68 as well. While his time with the Birds was short, he will forever be considered another legendary performer from the rich history of the organization.

Check out the box score here:

Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 27, 1955: Wally Moon Slams The Buccos

     On July 27, 1955, an eighth inning grand slam off the bat of Wally Moon highlighted a 6-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in St. Louis.

      The game was a duel leading with Roy Face toeing the rubber for the Buccos, while Harvey Haddix was on the bump for the Birds. The Cardinals struck with a run in the fourth on an RBI by Bill Virdon, that brought Stan Musial trotting in, before watching Pittsburgh's rookie third baseman Gene Freese launch a game tying solo shot in the sixth. Both pitchers looked to shrug off the runs and continued to dominate, until the bottom of the eighth rolled around.

     Haddix helped start the eighth inning rally by picking up a one out single, and Ken Boyer followed with another. The next man up was second baseman Red Schoendienst, popped one up into foul territory that looked like it would be caught by Pittsburgh's catcher Jack Shepard. The backstop had to reach into the first row of seats to make the grab, but a couple fans beat him to the punch. Shepard was irate, but since the ball was on the fans side of the wall no interference was called. Moments later Red rocked a single to right that scored Haddix. With the score now 2-1, Face just wanted to put the fire out, but the fire was just getting going. He issued a free pass to Stan Musial to load the bases, before Moon took the first pitch he looked at and parked it over the wall in right-center. The grand slam by Moon busted the game wide open, and Haddix who allowed just three hits on the day, had no trouble putting the Bucs to bed in the ninth.

   Moon spent the first five years of his career with the Cardinals. He had the distinction of being the guy who replaced Enos Slaughter. Not the easiest shoes to fill. However, he belted a home run in his first game with the club, and the fans in St. Louis would quickly become a fan of the kid who took home rookie of the year honors in 1954. Moon blasted 78 home runs in a Cardinals uniform. The grand slam that came on this day in '55 was the second of five career grand slams. After a down year in 1958, Moon was sent to the Dodgers for Gino Cimoli. It was terrible trade, as Moon bounced back and hit over .300 for the next three seasons while Cimoli played one season in St. Louis before he was shipped again. While the trade did not work out for the fans in St. Louis, it proved to be a beneficial one for Moon, as he won two titles with the Dodgers. The first came during his first campaign with the club in '59, while the second title capped off his 12 year career in 1965.

Check out the box score here:

Saturday, July 26, 2014

July 26, 1963: Gibby Takes Down The Cubbies

     On July 26, 1963, Bob Gibson earned his 12th win of the season with a complete game effort during a 4-1 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The hurler allowed just four hits in the contest, and knocked in the first run of the day in the top of the second on a force play. He watched the 1-0 lead disappear in the bottom of the inning when Ernie Banks doubled to leadoff the inning, then came into score on  Ken Hubbs single. Gibby gave up just two more hits the rest of the way, while Ken Boyer belted his 13th home run of the season in the sixth. The two run shot by Boyer proved to be all the Birds would need as Gibson took care of business. The win was Gibson's fifth straight, and his 11th during his last 12 decisions. Gibson finished that '63 campaign with 18 wins, which was the same total as fellow starter Ernie Broglio. The club won 93 games, but fell short of winning the pennant by six games. With that said, the 27-year-old Gibson was becoming one of the most dominant pitchers in the game, and there would be several pennants coming his way in the very near future.

Check out the box score here:

Friday, July 25, 2014

July 25, 1964: Boyer Helps The Birds Survive In Philly

     On July 25, 1964, up 10-2 headed into the bottom of the ninth at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia, the Cardinals survived a furious rally by the hometown Phillies on the way to a 10-9 victory. Ken Boyer's bat was responsible for five of the Cardinals runs, as The Captain got things going with a fifth inning grand slam. The grand salami opened up a 4-1 lead, and after Mike Shannon tripled, then scored in the sixth, Boyer struck again with a solo shot in the seventh. The big blast opened up a 6-2 lead, before the Birds scored two more in the eighth, and two more in the ninth, as they looked to have the game in the bag. However, that Philadelphia club most definitely made the men who called St. Louis home earn their paychecks, as they put together a rally that fell just short of victory.

     The Cardinals starter, Curt Simmons who had spent 13 seasons in a Philadelphia uniform looked to be on cruise control until the bottom of the ninth came around. Some say the 27th out is the hardest to get, well on this day Simmons could not get past the 25th out. He gave up a leadoff single, issued back-to-back walks, then surrendered back-to-back singles that shrank the lead from 10-2 to 10-4. Still plenty of breathing room, but not for long. Glenn Hobbie took over for Simmons with the bases still loaded and walked Tony Gonzalez, before falling behind 2-0 to Dick Allen, which led to a quick hook. Hobbie handed the ball to Ron Taylor, only to watch him complete the walk to Allen. The 10-2 lead was now 10-6, and there were still no outs. Taylor followed the walk up by surrendering a two run single to leftfielder Alex Johnson, and that once comfortable lead had shrunk to 10-8.

     The Cardinals skipper called on his fourth pitcher of the inning in Mike Cuellar just hoping to salvage the victory. Cuellar was able to get John Herrnstein to hit into a rally killing double play. While the at bat produced the ninth Phillies run of the day, it also brought them down to their last out which came in the form of a popfly by catcher Gus Triandos. Triandos was the man who started the rally with the lead off single   I would imagine the celebration in the clubhouse after a win like that was one of relief, as they had just escaped the grasps of defeat.  It was also a very important win when you consider the fact that the '64 club laid claim to the pennant with a slim one game margin.

     Boyer had 18 two home run games during his storied career. Other than the friendly confines of Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, Boyer hit more home runs in Philadelphia than in any other town he played in, as he blasted 25 past the fences at Connie Mack. He also enjoyed playing in Chicago, which ranks second on the list, as he put 23 past the ivy. The grand slam on that day in Philly was his second of the season, and it turned out to be the last one he hit during a regular season. However, later that same year he belted a grand slam in a pivotal Game 4 of the Fall Classic that led the Birds to a narrow 4-3 victory. Had it not been for the regular season heroics, the postseason heroics would have most likely never existed. Had it not been for Ken Boyer there is a good chance that the flag that flies at Busch with the number 1964 on it would be flying elsewhere.

Check out the box score here:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

July 24, 1949: Stan The Man Hits For The Cycle

     On July 24, 1949, just one day after a dramatic ninth inning comeback, the Cardinals poured one on the Dodgers at Ebbets Field with a 14-1 blowout, that was highlighted by Stan "The Man" Musial hitting for the cycle. The victory put the Birds into first place in the standings in what proved to be a true battle to the end. Musial tripled in the first off of Don Newcombe, singled in the third off of Paul Minner, and homered in the fifth off of Carl Erskine. Musial completed the feat in the seventh with a double off of Erskine, who then walked him in the ninth. Every other batter in the Cardinals starting lineup besides catcher Joe Garagiola produced a hit, even the pitcher Howie Pollet got in on the action.

     Musial had obtained his nickname "The Man" at Ebbets Field in '46, and he gave those Brooklynites good reason to call him that. In '48 and '49 alone, he hit .531 at Ebbets Field with 43 hits in 22 games. 11 of those hits were doubles, five were triples, and eight sailed past the fence. 37 of his 475 home runs came in front of Brooklyn fans before the team transferred to Los Angeles. The only other ballpark that Musial had more home run success at on the road was at the Polo Grounds that sat a little more than 15 miles due north from of the home of the Dodgers.

Check out the box score here:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July 23, 1949: The Birds Rally To Beat The Bums In Brooklyn

    On July 23, 1949, in front of 28,396 Dodger faithful at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn the Cardinals found themselves down to their last strike, before Marty Marion and Joe Garagiola came up with clutch hits that propelled the club to a 5-4 win over the hometown Dodgers.

     The Birds had fought an uphill battle throughout, as they trailed 2-1 after two, and 3-1 after six, before tying it up in the seventh, only to have the Bums retake the lead in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Jackie Robinson. Despite the four runs on the board the Cardinals starter Gerry Staley had kept the team in it until he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the eighth. While the strategy failed to produce a run, the reliever Ted Wilks made quick work of the Dodgers in the bottom of the inning, before the Cardinals offense got one more shot at the plate. It was an opportunity that would not be wasted, as Stan Musial was issued a free pass to lead off the ninth, which was just the beginning of a rally that would put the Birds just a half game out of first place.

     The walk to Musial led the Dodgers skipper Burt Shotton to calling on Erv Palica to shut the door. Palica immediately gave up a single to Nippy Jones, before the momentum looked to shift right back toward the Dodgers as Enos Slaughter smoked a ball right at Gil Hodges who raced to the bag before Jones could get back for an unassisted double play. Just like that there were two outs, and Musial was still standing on second base. Moments later Musial dashed to third on a passed ball, then watched his teammate Lou Klein reach with another walk. The boys were in business.

     Lou Klein was the next man up, and he was only in the game because All Star third baseman Eddie Kazak sprained his ankle in the second inning after knocking in the first Cardinals run of the day with a double. Klein was issued the second free pass of the inning as the Cardinals refused to go quietly. Marty Marion then stepped in and fell behind 0-2, before fouling off the next two, then as Klein broke for second on the hit and run, Marion connected with a single to right that brought Musial into score the game tying run, as Klein dashed all the way to third. Joe Garagiola followed Marion with a shot past Pee Wee Reese at short that brought Klein into score what proved to be the game winner. Wilks looked to give the Bums a breath of life with a two out walk in the bottom of the frame, but he quickly knocked the wind right out of that sail as Duke Snider struck out looking to end the game. One helluva comeback right there.

      The injury that the 28-year-old suffered was not considered very serious at the time, although it proved to be much more severe than realized as the papers of the day speculated he would be out two weeks. It turned into much more than that as the third baseman played in just five more games in late September. The injury ultimately changed the career path of Kazak who had just appeared in his first All Star game. Tommy Glaviano stepped in at third and played well enough that Kazak became a bench player the following year and thereafter as well.

     The Cardinals took sole ownership of the next day with as Stan Musial hit for the cycle during a 14-1 blowout against that same Dodgers team. The Cardinals held onto first place the majority of the way as they stormed down the stretch. However, those Brooklyn Bums hot on their heels, as the Birds never held more than a 2.5 game lead. With that said there was stretch between August 17th and September 27th that the Cardinals did not trail in the standings. Unfortunately for the Cards the season did not end on the 27th of September. They dropped one to the Pirates that day, then lost another to the Pittsburgh crew, before dropping two to the Cubs. The four game stretch spelled doom for the hopes of a pennant even though they did end on a high note by knocking off the Cubs 13-5 on the final day of the season.

     If it were today the two teams would have had a shot at meeting in the playoffs, but since this happened 20 years before the playoff expansion in baseball there was one winner in the National League, and one winner in the American League. While the Dodgers took the NL crown they were not able to take the World Series crown as they fell to the Yankees in the Fall Classic four games to one. The Cardinals fell just one game short that season of the goal with 96 wins. Still a great year by most standards, just a bittersweet ending. While there was no run in October I believe that Summer of '49 was a great one in St. Louis. Stan Musial belted 36 homers, led the league in triples with 41, and carried a .338 average. He finished right behind Jackie Robinson in the MVP voting. I am sure there was disappointment, but I am also sure those men held their head high as they had gave it their all.
     The Summer of '49 also highlighted what was once a great rivalry between the Dodgers and Cardinals. The two clubs had battled each other throughout the 40's. In 1941, the Cardinals won 97 games, but it was not enough as the Dodgers took the flag with 100 wins even. In '42, the Cardinals snatched the flag from their grasp with a 106 win season, while the Dodgers put 104 in the win column. Another great race came in '46 as the two teams once again battled to the end with the Cardinals prevailing with 98 wins compared to Brooklyn's 96. Unfortunately for those in Cardinal Nation the pendulum swung back toward the Dodgers during the last three years of the decade, but the rivalry was great.

     With the recent series between the two clubs it might seem like there is a rivalry heating up once again, but the rivalry will never come close to those days in the 1940's. Not even close. While I like every other Cardinals fan was annoyed with the Kershaw love festival that ESPN put on the other day, I did come to the realize that we should enjoy the hell out of this. Rivalries are fun, and they bring out the best in the teams you are watching. They might not reach the peak of yesteryear, but I can guarantee you this: there will be a day that we look at this era of Cardinals baseball as a fond memory. Win or lose, be sure to enjoy it.

Check out the box score here:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 22, 1903: Homer Smoot Wins It With An Inside The Park Walk Off

    On July 22, 1903, down 7-5 to the Reds in the ninth at League Park in St. Louis, Homer Smoot stepped to the plate with two on, two out, and rocked a Jack Harper pitch all the way to the right field wall, that turned into a walk off inside the park home run that gave the Cardinals a dramatic 8-7 victory.

     The big hit looked to be a sure triple according to the Sporting News, who also said that the Cincinnati outfielder Cozy Dolan either did not see the ball or he thought that the first two runs that crossed the dish were all the Cardinals needed as he made no effort to retrieve it. It was the second time that Smoot had beat the Redlegs in walk off fashion that season, and the first time he did it came with another three run inside the park home run on April 26th.

     Smoot hit just 15 home runs in his five year career, and 10 of those were inside the park shots. He also accounted for half of the team's big blasts with four during the 1903 season. Of course this was in an era before the ball flew over the wall on a frequent basis as Brooklyn's Jimmy Sheckard led the National League with nine.

     The walk off win capped off a four game sweep of the Reds which proved to be the longest winning streak for the club that season. They posted a 43-94 record and were the occupants of the National League's basement. The club had been dominate as the American Association's Browns in the late 1800s as they took home the pennant in 1885, 1886, 1888, and 1889.

     When the American League's Milwaukee Brewers came to town in 1901 the owner of the AL squad Robert Lee Hedges raided the Cardinals roster which turned his newly christened Browns into a serious contender, while the Cardinals had been turned into the doormats of the National League. It took until 1911 for the club to post a record above .500, and even then they seesawed their way through the standings for a number of years before the '26 season came along and ushered in new era of Cardinal baseball.

     Unfortunately, Homer Smoot who was also known as Doc, never did see those winning days with the team. His days in a Cardinals uniform came in July of 1906 when he was traded to Cincinnati. He played the season out in Cincy before his playing days came to an end. Before that trade was made he had called St. Louis home since 1902. Another article in the Sporting News that featured Smoot proclaimed that he might be able to hit but he could not run or throw. He proved he could run with those inside the park shots, and he stole 84 bases with the team as well. In three of those five seasons he wore a St. Louis uniform he stole 20 bags or more, and the other two he came close with 19 and 17 respectively. While one writer never gave him a chance, he had proved he could play with the big boys by carrying a .292 average with the club, and proved he could play the field as well with a .950 fielding percentage.

     In all likelihood Smoot would have never gotten a chance on a big league diamond had the Browns not come to town and raided the cupboard. It just goes to show that even though it was a rough time in the history of the club, it did prove to be an opportunity for the kid that was nicknamed Doc, and he made the most of. It also is a great example of no matter how bad a record looks on paper there are most definitely silver linings that lie within. One of those silver linings from 1903 came as Smoot rounded third and scored the game winner with his inside the park shot in the ninth on that day in St. Louis oh so long ago.

You can look at Smoot's career numbers here:

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21, 1933: Dizzy Walks In On a Robbery

     On July 21, 1933, with his wife by his side Dizzy Dean walked into a robbery in progress at the drugstore inside the Forest Park Hotel in the Central West End. It was reported that Dean thought it was a joke at first until one of the assailants shoved a gun into his ribs, and told him to keep quiet while they did their business. The theft netted the the thieves $200 which would be more than $3,600 by today's standards. When the story hit the newspapers one of the robbers realized that Dean was the late arrival to his robbery, he called him on the phone, and apologized to the hurler saying that it wasn't personal and he would send him a bunch of nice new neckties to prove it. Sure enough a half dozen neckties were delivered to the hurler and he shared them with his teammates. When the incident was reported in the Sporting News they took a jab at Dizzy by saying "Dizzy Dean was held up the other night. Reports say this is the only time Dean kept his mouth shut and his pockets open."

     This story was a hard one to substantiate through my normal newspaper outlets. In fact I was only able to find two little articles like the one featured in the picture, other than that tidbit out of the Sporting News. Other details of the story were provided by Mark Tomasik from as well as an author by the name of John Heindry who wrote a book called "The Gashouse Gang." I extend my thanks to both of them. You can find Mark on twitter at @RetroSimba on twitter. He is one of my favorites on the tweet machine. You can also find me on there at @CardinalHistory. I repost the facts of the day on there every afternoon.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 20, 1932: Orsatti and The Boys Put One On Brooklyn

     On July 20, 1932, the Cardinals offense exploded for 22 hits during a 16-5 romp of the Brooklyn Dodgers at Sportsman's Park. Third baseman Jake Flowers led the attack with five hit in six trips, which included a big fly, while center fielder Ernie Orsatti rapped out four hits in five trips which included two doubles in an eight run seventh inning. Jim Lindsey, who had taken over pitching duties for Tex Carleton after the starter worked just one inning locked down the win, as he gave the team eight strong innings as they opened a can on the Brooklynites.

     Orsatti is an interesting figure from the baseball's past, as he performed as a stunt double in the offseason for silent film star Buster Keaton. His brother broke into the moving picture industry as an assistant director, and Ernie soon followed. He did a little bit of everything in the industry: prop man, cameraman, assistant director, as well as stuntman.

     While in Hollywood he began playing ball on a studio baseball team. Mike Donlin who had spent 12 years on a big league diamond before turning to acting saw him play and said he had what it took to play at the big league level. The word got out, and the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League scouted, then signed him, and sent them to a lower affiliate out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Just 5' 7" and a 150 pounds the odds might have been stacked against him, but he tore it up in his first season with a .340 average. The production caught Branch Rickey's attention, and the man who was said to have had the ability to spot talent from a moving train inked him to a deal to play within the Cardinals organization.

      Orsatti continued to impress, and by the end of 1927 he had a 27 game cup of coffee with the club. Orsatti returned in 1928 and helped the team win the National League pennant. The 1928 pennant was the first of four for Orsatti, who also helped claim the flag in 1930, and the championship years of '31 and '34. His playing days with the Birds came to an end after the 1935 season. In the overall picture Orsatti would be what you call a fourth outfielder. With that said he was a very productive fourth outfielder who spent nine seasons with the Cardinals batting .306, with 327 RBIs, and 10 home runs. He spent a little bit of time on the PCL diamond following his major league career, before devoting his full attention to Hollywood, as he joined his brother Vic in starting the Orsatti Talent Agency. The siblings represented many well known names which included the comedy team of Laurel and Hardy.

     The story of Orsatti struck me as such an interesting one, as Hollywood found its way into being intertwined with the career of a former Cardinal. He passed away in 1968 at the age of 65. He lived quite the life, and I bet he had a lot of stories to tell from the silver screen and the baseball diamond as well. One of those stories from the diamond would be about the day the team rapped out 22 hits en route to beating those Bums from Brooklyn. Probably one of a million stories from the life of Ernie Orsatti.

Check out the box score here:

You can check out the career numbers of Orsatti here: 


Saturday, July 19, 2014

July 19, 1924: Hi Bell Earns Iron Man Distinction From The Bump

     On July 19, 1924, Cardinals hurler Hi Bell pitched complete games victories in both ends of a doubleheader against the Boston Braves at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis.

     The six foot tall righty flirted with a no-no in the first game, as  he held the visitors hitless until giving up an eighth inning hit to Don Padgett. Bell settled for a two hitter as the Birds sailed to a 6-1 victory behind a 12 hit performance that was highlighted by a Jim Bottomley three run homer that came in the bottom of the first and set the tone.

     According to the Sporting News  the Cardinals skipper Branch Rickey was so impressed with the performance that he stopped Bell while he was headed to the shower and asked if he wanted to go again. The 26-year-old said sure, and got ready to go again. He was in fine form, and he needed to be as the Braves hurler Johnny Cooney matched him pitch for pitch as they both allowed just four hits during a 2-1 Cardinals win.

     Bell's six hit "Iron Man" performance accounted for two of his three wins during that 1924 season which were accompanied by eight losses. He put together a 32-34 record that was scattered over eight seasons. He was a part of a pennant winner three times which included the 1926 Championship club. Bell's double duty complete game performance had only been matched one time by a player who wore the Birds on the Bat, and that came one season earlier when Johnny Stuart pitched and won both ends of a doubleheader. Bell was the last Cardinals to do it, and it was only accomplished two more times, with the first coming from the arm of Urban Shocker  who represented the Browns later that same year, and Dutch Levsen who accomplished it for the Indians in 1926.

If you would like to read more about the Iron Man pitching club check this out. Well worth the read:

Friday, July 18, 2014

July 18, 1984: Porter Connects With a Walk Off Slam

     On July 18, 1984, catcher Darrell Porter belted a two out walk off grand slam that gave the Cardinals a 8-4 victory over the visiting San Francisco Giants. Porter hit 188 home runs in his career, with the first coming in 1971 as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. He spent six years in Milwaukee, and four years with the interstate rival Kansas City Royals, before signing with the Cardinals in December of 1980. In his five years in a Cardinals uniform he put 54 over the fence, which included his only two walk off blasts. The one that came on this day in '84 was the second walk off. The first came on May 20th of that same season, which came in the form of a two run bomb in the ninth inning that led the club to a dramatic 3-2 victory. The MVP of the 1982 World Series parted ways with the club following the '85 season, and signed with the Texas Rangers where he spent the last two years of his career.

Check out the box score here:

I actually use d Porter's first walk off blast on the page earlier this year. You can read about it here:


Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 17, 1982: Herr Leads The Way To Victory

     On July 17, 1982, the mercury was rising in St. Louis, and the bats were getting hot as well, as Tommy Herr broke out of a 4 for 31 slump with three singles in four trips to the plate. Herr's performance included an RBI, and a run scored. The slumpbuster of a day helped lead the Birds to a 4-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Busch.

     Herr had tough luck at the beginning of that '82 season, missing 26 games due to a leg injury. After coming back from the injury, he was swinging the bat well, then had to fight through pneumonia that took a toll, but he still battled through. The same can be said about the '82 squad as a whole. They had taken some lumps through the first half of that season, and even with the win on that scorcher of a day in July they lost 21 of their last 37 games.

     The club needed a spark, and the sparks came in many forms, as the club came together, and heated up like St. Louis weather as they made a run to the National League Pennant, and a World Series title. As stated in the article, Herr was struggling at the plate with a .235 average that day. He finished the season with a .266 average, 36 RBIs, and 25 stolen bases. The numbers might not make you look twice, but he was quick to flash the leather at second base, and Whitey Herzog considered him the guts of the team.

     A great lesson that can be taken from this is to expect to take the lumps, but no matter what you do, do not give up the fight. That applies to life, not just a baseball diamond. That is what that '82 squad did as they went 7-3 in the finals days of July, then kept battling as they put together a 34-26 record the rest of the way and took over the National League East, before going on a run that brought the Gateway City a title for the first time since 1967.

Check out the box score here:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July 16, 1887: Comiskey Saves The Day

     On July 16, 1887, the Browns were up 1-0 on the visiting Philadelphia Athletics when mayhem ensued, as one of the horse drawn carriages that was tied up around the edge of Sportsman's Park broke free, and took off around the playing field, where player/manager Charlie Comiskey sprang into action, and ran the carriage down. The crowd cheered the first baseman as he had saved the carriage from being destroyed.

     The fans would continue to enjoy the afternoon as Comiskey's boys put one on the visitors by plating eight more runs on the way to a 9-2 victory. I loved the description of the game by the Baltimore American that came out the following day when they talked about pitcher Dave Foutz who pitched a fine game to Jack Boyle, while the catcher threw to the bases with marked success, as well as centerfielder Curt Welch who recorded the 1887 version of a web gem. It was quite the day at the ballpark, and after the fans shuffled out they had quite the story to tell. The Browns leader had saved the day, then made a fast dash to victory.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July 15, 1927: Sunny Jim Hits For The Cycle

     On July 15, 1927, "Sunny Jim" Bottomley hit for the cycle during a 9-7 Cardinals win against the Phillies at the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia. Bottomley's day was a perfect one, as he went 5 for 5 at the plate with two singles, as well as a double, a triple, and the homer.

     The club needed every bit of Bottomley's contributions, and then some, as the Birds starting pitcher Bob McGraw was tagged early and often. The hurler was charged with all seven of the Philadelphia runs in four and two thirds of an inning worth of work. Fortunately for the club from St. Louis the bullpen got the job done, with Hi Bell, Vic Keen, and Bill Sherdel holding the Philadelphia batsmen in check the rest of the way.

     Bottomley began his march toward the history books with singles in the first and the fourth, before doubling in the sixth, homering in the seventh, then putting the icing on the cake with  triple in the ninth. Surprisingly, the first baseman who always had a smile on his face only had one RBI in the game which came from his big fly. He did score three times in the tilt, while leftfielder Wattie Holms led the way in the RBI department with three. Holmes went 3 for 5 with two doubles, while every other position player on the Cardinals roster got in on the action in one form or another. The only position player who failed to get a hit was the backstop Taylor Douthit who came up with an RBI following Bottomley's triple in the ninth.

     Bottomley was just the second man to hit for the cycle as a member of the Cardinals during the modern era. Cliff Heathcote was the first, which came in June of 1918. Three players who were members of the team that would become known as the Cardinals had accomplished the feat before the turn of the century. Including those three men, and Bottomley as well, 18 players have hit for the cycle as a member of the St. Louis club that represents the National League, and each of them will not be forgotten in Cardinal Nation.

Check out the box score here:

If you would like to learn more about the life and times of the man they called "Sunny Jim" check this out: and below is the list of Cardinals players who have hit for the cycle.

  • 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, July 14, 2014

July 14, 1961: Carl Sawalkoffski Day At The Ballpark

     On July 14, 1961, catcher Carl Sawatski hit the only walk off home run of his 11 year career, which propelled the Birds to a 2-1 victory over the visiting Milwaukee Braves.

     The game was a pitching duel from beginning to end, as Larry Jackson toed the rubber for the Birds, and surrendered just two hits. While Bob Buhl was on the bump for the Braves. Buhl was dealin. His only hiccup before the ninth inning big blast came in the second when he served up a leadoff double to Stan Musial, who was knocked in by Sawatski on a groundout two batters later. If not for the effort by the 40-year-old Musial, Sawatski would have never had the chance for the late inning heroics.

     Unfortunately for Jackson one of those two hits he gave up came in the form of a game tying home run that was off of the bat of Milwaukee's first baseman Joe Adcock in the fourth. While Buhl went the distance Johnny Keane called on Red Schoendienst in the seventh to pinch hit for Jackson. Sawatksi had picked up a one out single in the inning, and was moved over to second on a groundout. While Keane had hopes of Schoendienst knocking in the go ahead run, the Milwaukee manager Chuck Dressen had another idea which was an intentional walk, so they could get to a light hitting second baseman by the name of Bob Lillis. The strategy worked out, as Lillis flied out to center, and the 1-1 deadlock remained intact.

     Lindy McDaniel took over pitching duties for the Birds in the eighth, and he did a masterful job by working around a two out jam in that inning, then setting the side down in order in the ninth. The table was set for Sawatski who watched Charlie James pop one up to first before he ended it with the walk off bomb.

     Sawatski spent the last four years of his big league career with the Cardinals. He arrived on the scene in 1960, and played through the '63 season. He hit just 58 home runs during his career, with 35 of those coming with the Birds on the Bat across his chest. While his name might be one that is rarely remembered when it comes to the history of the club, I can guarantee you this, those fans in St. Louis most definitely enjoyed watching him park the walk off shot over the right field wall on that July day in 1961.

Check out the box score here:

Sawatski's career numbers:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

July 13, 1964: Brock and The Birds Beat Up on The Buccos

     On July 13, 1964, led by Lou Brock, the Cardinals took two from the Pirates at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Brock picked up seven hits in eleven trips to the plate in the two games.

     In the first game Lou went 3 for 5 with a double and an inside the park home run. That game was a true battle as the Buccos tied it in the ninth, before Bill White put the Birds up 4-3 in the tenth with a solo shot. The lead was short lived for the Cards, as Bob Bailey knotted it right back up with a double in the bottom of the inning. The game would reach the twelfth inning before the Cardinals struck again, as Bill White, and Mike Shannon got on with back to back singles, before a passed ball put them 90 feet closer to scoring a run. Julian Javier followed the passed ball up with what proved to be the game winning single that brought White into score. Ron Taylor, who had come into the game in the eleventh had worked his way out of a jam in his first inning of work before setting the side down by retiring the side in order in the bottom of the twelfth to secure the 5-3 victory.

     The bats continued to rock and roll in the second game, with Brock going 4 for 6 with a home run that went over the fence, a triple, and three runs scored. The Birds unleashed a 20 hit attack in that second tilt, giving them 35 hits on the day. Bill White muscled up for his second home run of the day in that contest, Julian Javier went 4 for 4, Dick Groat picked up two hits to bring his total to five on the day, and Ken Boyer went 3 for 6 with an RBI. Boyer had picked up a hit in the first game with a two ribbies. While Brock had led the way, the entire club had enjoyed one helluva day in the Steel City.  The two wins put the Cardinals 8.5 games out of first place, as they were in search of their first National League pennant since 1946. The team battled all the way until the final week of the season to obtain that pennant, then went on a run to World Series glory.

Check out the box scores here.
Game 1:
Game 2:

Saturday, July 12, 2014

July 12, 1955: Stan The Man Leads The National League To Victory With a Walk Off Blast

     On July 12, 1955, with more than 45,000 in the stands at County Stadium in Milwaukee, Stan The Man Musial blasted a walk off solo shot in the bottom of the 12th that propelled the National League to a 6-5 comeback victory in the 22nd playing of the midsummer classic.

     Musial came into the contest during the fourth inning and yet to connect with a hit before the walk off blast that capped off a miraculous comeback. The National League had fell in a 4-0 hole in the first which was highlighted by a three run home run by the Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. The A.L. squad tacked on another in the sixth, and the work would be cut out for the National Leaguers.

     The tide turned in the seventh. Giants legend Willie Mays made an unbelievable grab in the top of the inning that robbed Ted Williams of a homer, then in the bottom of the inning he led things off with a single. May stood at first, and watched the next two men be retired in quick succession before Hank Aaron of the hometown Braves drew a two out walk. Aaron's teammate Johnny Logan came to the dish and rapped a single that brought Mays into score from second. One batter later Phillies catcher Stan Lopata was called off the bench to hit for Smoky Burgess who called Cincinnati home. Lopata hit a hot shot right at White Sox shortstop Chico Carrasquel who bobbled the ball, which led to Aaron crossing the plate, while Lopata stood at first. The long inning ended when pinch hitter Gene Baker of the Cubs was retired on a routine popup to center. The 5-0 advantage had been cut to 5-2, as the National League squad showed they would not go quietly.

     The wave of momentum carried over to the eighth, although, it looked like the A.L. was going to bring it to a stop pretty quick, as Red Schoendienst and Stan Musial grounded out in succession. Then came Willie Mays. The Giants slugger had sparked the first rally, and he would do it again with a single to right, that was followed by another single to right off the bat of Cincinnati's Ted Kluszewski that led to Mays taking third base, before Cubs third baseman picked up the third single in a row to bring Mays into score. 5-3. Just like the inning that came before it, an error would haunt the A.L. squad. Hank Aaron came to the dish with a chance to do some damage, and just like the three men that came before him he singled into right. The A.L.'s rightfielder Al Kaline of the Detroit Tigers tried to fire the ball to third, where it could not be handled by Cleveland's Al Smith. The error was a fatal one as two runs scored in the process, and just like that it was a whole new ballgame with the score knotted at 5.

     From there it became a pitching duel, as Frank Sullivan of the Red Sox matched Cincy's Joe Nuxhall pitch for pitch. Nuxhall struck out five and Sullivan struck out four, as they dueled into the 12th. Musial was the first man up in that 12th inning and he would be the only man that would make a plate appearance for the National League in the frame. As he walked toward the batters box, his teammate Harry Walker shouted "Let's end this now, Stan. I'm hungry." Musial stepped to the plate, where Yogi Berra of the Yankees was crouched in the catcher position. Berra said something to the effect of my feet are killing me, and Stan told him to relax he would have him home in a minute. Musial was not kidding, as he took the first pitch from Sullivan and crushed it into the right field bleachers. As Al Kaline watched it sail over his head, Musial began a home run trot with a great celebration on tap, as he was greeted at home plate by a mob of victorious teammates.

     The big blast was a record breaker, as Stan came into the game tied with Ted Williams and Ralph Kiner with three home runs in the Mid Summer Classic. Musial appeared in 24 All Star games, a record that has only been matched by Willie Mays. He belted two more long balls in the All Star game, with the fifth coming in  1956, then the final one coming in 1960. The six All Star game home runs is a still standing record for the man who wore that same number on his back. In 2011 the game winner in 1955 was voted as the top moment in All Star history. Watch it here:

Check out the box score here:

Friday, July 11, 2014

July 11, 1911: The Cardinals Survive a Deadly Train Accident in Connecticut

     On July 11, 1911, a little after 3:30 a.m., just outside of Bridgeport, Connecticut, the entire St. Louis Cardinals baseball team survived a deadly train accident that claimed 14 lives, and injured 47 more. The cars that were occupied by Cardinals were the only ones left on the tracks. Realizing that the ballplayers had only suffered minor injuries the Cardinals skipper Roger Bresnahan coordinated a rescue effort, as the players and coaches went from accident victims to rescue workers in a matter of minutes.

     The accident was caused by a fatal error by the engineer who was running late, and was trying to make up time with the throttle wide open. The engineer blew through a crossover that had a speed limit of 15 MPH at 60 MPH. The newly installed crossover was designed to slow the train down for a stop at the station in Bridgeport. Just moments before hitting the crossover the train flew past a towerman that said the steam had been turned off, as the engineer realized his error, and was trying to slow it down. It was too late.

     The Day out of New London, Connecticut described what happened next in grave detail as they wrote "When the heavy vestibuled train of nine cars struck the switch at full speed the locomotive leaped into the air like a rearing horse, rocked and swayed over the ties for nearly 150 yards and finally leaped to the street below, dragging six cars down the bank." The bank that was spoken of was an embankment of nearly 20 feet.  
     It has been said that Bresnahan had complained about the club being put in the front of the train before they left Philadelphia, which got them transferred to the back. However, there were several accounts of the story, with some contradicting the claim. The one that was widely reported was the railroad mixed up the order of the cars which put them in a fateful position. Either way it goes the club was very lucky to be shifted to the back, as the cars in front were crushed like matchsticks, and held no survivors. The players suffered cuts on their feet and hands as they dug through the wreckage. Some of the things that they seen and heard were unspeakable as everyone could not be saved. However, the team came together and helped the many injured while emergency workers arrived on the scene.  If not for their quick response the death toll would have been higher.

      The club was in the midst of a great stretch of baseball, when they hopped on that train called the "Federal Express" in Philadelphia that was set them to take them to Boston for a matchup against the Rustlers (who would later become known as the Braves). The train had taken its nickname as a frequent rider just happened to be the President of the United States William Howard Taft. The accident caught the attention of the White House because of this, and the scrutiny of the company who had an inexperienced engineer followed. Lawsuits followed, and were settled, while the Cardinals players each received $25 apiece for their lost luggage. In the end there was nothing that could be done to fix his fatal mistake that made him one of the 14 lives lost. Besides try to learn from the mistakes that were made of course.

     Just hours after the accident the Cardinals were put on a special train to get them to Boston. The team was presented with an opportunity to forfeit against the Boston club on the 12th, but chose to play and took the first game of a doubleheader 13-6, then tied the second game 6-6 that came to a close with the sun setting in the Boston sky. They were very lucky to see that sunset. The amazing story of tragedy and survival would end up taking a toll on the team, as many players did not want to step on a train after the incident, and were haunted by the accident. While they won six of their next eight, they put together a 27-40 record in the last two months, and finished just a game over .500 with a 75-74 record. With that said they lived to tell the tale, and they lived to play on another day in Cardinal Nation.

This link is to a picture gallery from the accident. I was a bit surprised to find it. I had seen the battered images in the old newspapers beforehand, but these really hammer it home on how bad of an accident this was:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

July 10, 1897: The Great Umpire Egging of 1897

     On July 10, 1897, with the scored tied 2-2 in the fifth inning, during a contest against the Brooklyn Bridegrooms at Robison Field in St. Louis, umpire Jack Sheridan was egged by a fan after a close call went toward the Brooklyn club. According to Sporting News two eggs were thrown before the embattled umpire called upon the Browns owner Chris von der Ahe to provide him protection from the unruly spectators. The owner beckoned three local police officers to stand with him in front of the grandstands to grab control of the situation. The team that would take on the Cardinals nickname in just three years went on to win the game 4-2 with second baseman Bill Hallman knocking in what proved to be the game winning run in the eighth.

     The win that day was a rarity for the Browns. It was their second in a row, which proved to be the longest winning streak they could put together during the season that saw them win just 29 games while losing 102. However, there were some highlights, and quite a few lowlights, which included a couple of eggs flying at an umpire. Quite frankly it makes me laugh just thinking about walking through a gate at a ballpark while the guy in front of me has a dozen eggs with him. While this might sound off the wall (because it is) there were many off the wall moments in the early days of baseball. Everything from fans forming angry mobs and running umpires out of parks, to people firing off pistols in the stands on the Fourth of July. The great game that is played on a diamond is by far the most storied game of them all, and on this day in 1897 ole Jack Sheridan became a part of one those classic stories.

Hey ma, don't forget to grab them eggs.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July 9, 1955: Musial Slams The Cubbies

     On July 9, 1955, Stan The Man Musial erased a 1-0 deficit with a sixth inning grand slam that proved to be all the Cardinals would need to beat the Cubs by the score of 4-2 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Tom Poholsky grabbed the W with a complete game effort that included six strikeouts. Poholsky did have a couple hiccups in the contest, as he served up solo shots to Jim King and Hank Sauer. On the other side of the diamond Warren Hacker was in search of his 10th win of the season, and he made a strong run at it until the bottom of the sixth inning rolled around. A free pass, and two perfectly laid out bunts, and an error later, the bases were loaded. The Man who wore the six on his back stepped to the plate sent the 310th home run of his career over the wall. It was the fifth grand slam of his Hall of Fame career. He had four more packed in his bat.

Check out the box score here:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 8, 1962, Stan The Man Launches Three In The Big Apple

     On July 8, 1962, with a three home run performance during a 15-1 thrashing of the Mets at the Polo Grounds in New York, Stan The Man Musial tied a major league record for home runs in consecutive at bats. Musial had belted a home run in his last at bat the day before, which proved to be a game winner as the Birds prevailed over that same Mets squad 3-2, then he returned to the ballpark the next day and entered the record books once again. The 41-year-old was no stranger to the record book at that point in his career, and he made it look easy, as he belted a solo shot in the first off of Jay Hook, then victimized the hurler once again with a solo shot in the fourth. When he stepped into the batters box in the seventh, there was a rookie on the mound by the name of Willard Hunter who served up the third home run of the day. The three home run barrage made Musial the oldest player to hit three home runs in a game, and the oldest to hit four home runs in consecutive at bats.

     Before that day only 12 major leaguers had hit four home run in consecutive trips to the plate. Today, 22 men are on that list. Albert Pujols joined him in the exclusive club in 2006, and Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies is the last to achieve the feat, as he joined the club in 2012.

Check out the box score here:

Monday, July 7, 2014

July 7, 1922: Hornby's Walk Off Blast Buries The Dodgers In St. Louis

     On July 7, 1922, Rogers Hornsby capped off a Cardinals comeback with a ninth inning walk off shot that propelled the Birds to a 6-5 victory over the visiting Brooklyn Dodgers at Sportsman's Park. Hornsby's big blast was his 21st of the season, which matched his total of the previous season. The 26-year-old who became known as "Rajah" was on a record breaking tear as he chased both the modern day National League record, as well as the League's all time record. The modern day record (post 1900) of 24 had stood since 1915 and was owned by Gavvy Cravath of the Phillies. Hornsby's 25th came on July 19th with another walkoff in St. Louis, and the National League's all time record which was held by Chicago's Ned Williamson was broken on August 5th. Unfortunately the 27th blast came during a 2-1 loss, but it did not stop the home run swinging bat of Hornsby who would end up shattering the record with 42 homers on the season.

      The record stood until Chuck Klein of the Phillies blasted 43 in 1929. It was a short lived run as the National League's single season home run king, but it was still a season to be remembered as he topped the .400 mark for the first time as he worked on his Hall of Fame resume.

Check out the box score here:

Sunday, July 6, 2014

July 6, 1952: Stan's Walk Off Sparks A Doubleheader Sweep

     On July 6, 1952, in the first game of a doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Sportsman's Park, Stan Musial led the Cardinals to a 6-5 winner with ninth inning walk off shot. Musial's bat was on the ball throughout, as "The Man" picked up a double, a single, the home run, and crossing the dish twice. The last time he crossed the dish his teammates mobbed him as the walk off hero. The Birds capped off a doubleheader sweep with a 6-4 victory in the second game that was highlighted with home runs by Dick Sisler and Del Rice. Musial crossed the dish twice in the contest as well.  

     Stan Musial hit 12 walk off home runs during his storied career, which stood as a shared record for most walk offs in a career. Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, and Frank Robinson hit 12 walk offs during their careers as well. Jim Thome surpassed Musial and company in 2012 when he connected with the 13th walk off shot of his career.

Check out the box scores here:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 5. 1977: Mike Tyson's Grand Slam Propels The Birds To Victory

     On July 5, 1977, second baseman Mike Tyson led the Cardinals to a 7-3 victory over the Pirates in Pittsburgh with his first, and his last grand slam of his major league career. The big blast came in the fourth inning off of John Candelaria, and opened up a 5-0 lead. Al Oliver took a Bob Forsch pitch deep in the fifth that cut the lead to 5-3, before Ted Simmons blasted a two run shot in the eighth that put the Buccos away. None of the runs scored by the Pirates were charged to Forsch, as sloppy defense led to Oliver's opportunity do damage. Forsch made quick work of his opponents thereafter, before working around a jam in the ninth, and locking down a complete game winner. 

     Arriving on the scene as an everyday player in 1973, Tyson played with the Cardinals until 1979. He was not known for his bat or his glove, and the grand slam was probably a bigger surprise to him than to anyone in the house. He joked about it after the game saying that he never hit one before, not even in little league. During his stretch with the Birds, Tyson averaged .244, and hit just 22 home runs. His best power numbers coming during that '77 campaign when parked seven in the seats. He was traded to the sCrUBS in 1979, and spent two years in the Windy City before his career came to a close. Out of those 22 home runs that Tyson hit with the Birds on Bat across his chest, the grand slam in Pittsburgh has to stand above the rest. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4, 1945: Augie Bergamo Celebrates The Fourth With A Bang

     On July 4, 1945, Cardinals rightfielder Augie Bergamo starred in both ends of a doubleheader against the Giants at the Polo Grounds in New York. The Birds belted out 16 hits in the first game with Bergamo going 3 for 5, with an RBI, and two runs scored. His teammates Buster Adams and Ray Sanders each hit home runs, as the Cardinals sailed to victory behind a complete game effort by Red Barrett. Bergamo had the game of his life in the second contest, going 5 for 6 with two home runs, four runs scored, and eight RBIs as he led the way to a 19-2 rout. His second home run was the fifth and final home run of his career, and it was a memorable one as it came in the form of a grand slam. With Bergamo guiding the ship, the Birds picked up 20 hits in the second game, which brought their total to 36 hits on the day, and once again their starting pitcher went the distance. This time it was Bud Byerly who earned the complete game victory while Bergamo and the rest of his teammates feasted on the Giants pitching staff.

     Bergamo found his way to the big leagues because of the player shortage that came with World War II. He helped the club win the World Series in 1944, by hitting .286 during the regular season, then returned in '45 and hit .316. The club fell just three games short of the National League crown in '45, but it wasn't because of a lack of effort by Bergamo and the men who surrounded him.

     Bergamo was a product of the sandlots out of Detroit. Just 5' 9" and 160 pounds, the scouts in his hometown told him he did not have the size to make it in the major leagues. Some would think the dream would end there, but that was not the case. In 1937, the Cardinals held a tryout in Flint, Michigan, and Bergamo decided to take a shot with the club. More than 800 kids had hopes of finding their way to the Cardinals minor league system, and Augie was one of the lucky ones who was handed a contract to play when the tryout came to a close. He still had his work cut out for him He was sent to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he survived an elimination camp, that guaranteed he would be playing ball with the Cardinals Class D affiliate out of Paducah, Kentucky. His star would rise.

     The 21-year-old Bergamo made his presence known in Paducah by winning the Kitty League batting title with a .358 average in 1938. His star kept rising, as he shifted to the Class B affiliate out of Columbus, Georgia where he hit .345 in 1939, before moving onto the Rochester Red Wings out of New York in 1940. Over the next several seasons Bergamo played with the Rochester club and the Columbus club before he got his chance at the big league level. He made the most of that chance, and for two seasons he helped bring smiles to many faces while he wore the Bird on the Bat in St. Louis.

     After the War ended Bergamo was sent back to the minor leagues where he played until 1951. His tale might not be a storybook tale  from baseball's past, but he did achieve his dream of playing in the big leagues, and on the 4th of July in 1945 that scrappy little outfielder had one helluva day in Cardinal Nation.

Happy Fourth of July to all of you, and thank you to our service men and women who preserve our freedoms. Be safe out there.

Check out the box score here:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 3, 1967: Gibby And Company Brawl With The Reds At Busch

     On July 3, 1967, with more than 34,000 in the seats at Busch Stadium the Cardinals exploded for seven runs in the first inning of a contest versus the Cincinnati Reds. The offensive explosion would be the secondary story in this one, as brawl in the top of the fifth inning brought cops, billy clubs, and chaos into the mix in the blink of an eye.

     The Reds starter Milt Pappas only retired one batter, and gave up three runs before he got the hook. He handed the ball over to reliever Don Nottebart who inherited a bases loaded situation that Dal Maxvill unloaded with a double, before the shortstop came into score on a throwing error. Nottebart gave up a single to the Birds hurler Bob Gibson, before Lou Brock reached on a fielders choice. The speedster, then decided to steal second, but was gunned down by Don Pavletich. That was the precursor to the melee that was about to follow.

     As you could imagine, Brock trying to steal with a seven run lead might not have sat well in the visiting clubhouse, and in the fourth inning Nottebart drilled him in an apparent act of retaliation. Gibson, who was no stranger to retaliation, knew that he would send a message when he came to the bump, and that message came when he sailed one over Tony Perez's head. When Perez popped up he had a few choice words for the Cardinals hurler. Gibby was not one to back down to anybody, and he shouted a few choice words of his own at Perez before the catcher came charging at him.

     In the beginning it started as a typical baseball fight with a little bit of pushing and shoving. In the end, it was far from it. Trying to play the role of peacemaker Orlando Cepeda got between Perez and Gibson, only exchanging punches with Pete Rose, before the dust seemed to be settling. Then came Cincinnati reliever Bob Lee running in from the bullpen who stirred it right back up, as all hell broke loose. More than a dozen police officers stormed onto the field, and started swinging billy clubs at anyone who was throwing punches. It took the officers 12 minutes to get control of the situation, that had started with a message pitch.

     The only injury reported was to one of the officers who had suffered a dislocated jaw. The players had bumps and bruises, and only Bob Lee was ejected. The seven runs would prove to be all the Cardinals would score in the tilt that saw them prevail by the score of 7-3. All three of the Cincinnati runs came in the eighth, with a late rally that was sparked by an Art Shamsky home run. The Reds plated two more runs before Gibby's day on the bump came to a close, as he handed the ball over to Nelson Briles, who recorded the last four outs of the contest.

     The win put the Cardinals in a first place tie with the Chicago Cubs who ended up third, while the Birds took home the National League Crown. The Reds were in a tailspin at the time. They had lost eight of their last nine, and were on their way to a fourth place finish.

     Gibson reflected on this game in 1981, when Joe Torre brought him onboard with the Mets organization to help teach his young pitchers attitude. If anyone could teach attitude his name was Bob Gibson. The Cardinals legend would knock down any batter in the league if given a reason. Some said that he would knock down his own mother if it meant his team would win. Gibby laughed about the melee with the Reds, saying that when Perez barked, he told him to bring it, and Perez obliged. The next thing he knew he was punching anyone that got in front of him, and he might have even punched a teammate or two. When Torre heard the talk that Gibson would knock down his own mother, he chuckled when he said that he doubted he would do that "unless she dug in and took a hell of a rip." Moral of the story: Don't mess with Bob Gibson.

Check out the box score here:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July 2, 1942: Johnny Beazley Dominates The Buccos

     On July 2, 1942, Cardinals starter Johnny Beazley picked up his seventh win of the season with a complete game effort during a 3-1 win over the Pirates at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis.

     The Cardinals hurler scattered five hits in the contest, and held off a late rally, as the Buccos plated their lone run in the ninth. The Cardinals catcher Ken O'Dea came up with the biggest hit of the day. He had scored the first run on a Creepy Crespi single in the fourth, before he singled to right in the eighth, that brought Terry Moore and Stan Musial into score two very important runs. Only one of those two runs were charged, as Pittsburgh's catcher Babe Phelps dropped the ball as Musial came across the dish. At the end of the day, Beazley's five hit performance was the one that made headlines, as he had tossed a true gem in front of the fans in St. Louis.

     Beazley won 21 games that season for the Cardinals, before he won two games in the Fall Classic, as he helped the bring another World Series title to St. Louis. Only one other pitcher had more wins in the National League that season, and that pitcher was Beazley's teammate Mort Cooper who won 22. His career was short. He like most of the ballplayers of his era, he served his country during World War II. He was assigned to a morale unit that helped keep troops spirits high with the great game that is played on a diamond. Somewhere along the way, he hurt his throwing arm, and he ended up never being the same.

     When he returned in '46, he had moderate success with a 7-5 record. He tossed just one inning in the World Series that season, as the club celebrated another title. The club sold him to the Boston Braves in '47. He won just two games for them that season, and only appeared in a handful of games before he retired at the age of 31 in 1949. The brightest spot of his career will forever be that 1942 season, as the 21 game winner helped bring another Championship to the city that lies just west of the Mississippi.

Check out the box score here:

You can read more about Beazley's life and career here:

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 1, 1979: Terry Kennedy Delivers Big In a Doubleheader Sweep

     On July 1, 1979, after being forced into action because of an injury to Ted Simmons, rookie catcher Terry Kennedy played the hero during both games of a doubleheader against the Phillies at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Kennedy hit his first major league home run, which just happened to be a grand slam during the first contest that had the Cardinals come out on top 13-7. Then he knocked in the game winner during the second game, with a pinch hit walk off single in the ninth that was won by the score of 2-1. Reliever Mark Littell recorded the win  in both contests.

       The first game was a true seesaw battle, with the Phillies scoring four runs in the first, before the Birds could knot things up with three runs in the third, and another in the sixth. The seesaw battle continued with the Phillies taking a 6-4 lead with two runs scored in the seventh, before the Cardinals grabbed their first lead of the day with three runs in the bottom of that frame. Philadelphia's shortstop, Larry Bowa led the eighth off with a triple, then scored on a groundout. The score was 7-7, and Philadelphia's skipper called on Tug McGraw to preserve the tie. However, the wheels fell off of the bus for the hurler.

     McGraw recorded one out, hit a batter, gave up a double, then issued an intentional walk to load them up for centerfielder Tony Scott. While McGraw was able to retire Scott with a popup that was caught in foul territory, he followed it up with back-to-back walks. The first one was issued to the hard hitting Keith Hernandez which pushed in the go ahead run, then McGraw walked the Cardinals hurler Mark Littell, to give the Birds a 9-7 lead. While the wheels had loosened in rapid fashion, they had still not fallen completely off the bus. Then came Terry Kennedy, who with one swing of the bat, sent the wheels flying, with the grand slam that gave the Birds the 13-7 lead, that Littell held onto in the ninth.

     The tale of the second game was far different than that of the first. Both starters were strong. The Cardinals hurler, Roy Thomas scattered three hits through seven innings. The Phillies plated a run against him in the sixth, on a Mike Schmidt RBI single that brought Pete Rose trotting in from second. On the other side of the diamond Randy Lerch was tossing a gem of his own for the Phils. He allowed just five hits through eight, but one of those five hits was an eighth inning solo shot off the bat of Kenny Reitz that made it a whole new ballgame with the score tied up at one.

      Littell got the call in the pen after Will McEnaney recorded two outs in the eighth. McEnaney served up back-to-back singles to lead off the frame. He did induce Bowa into a double play, but he walked Pete Rose which was enough for Ken Boyer to make the call. For the second time that day Littell did not disappoint, as he got the job done by retiring Schmidt to end the threat.

      After the Cardinals failed to score in the bottom of the eighth, Lerch trotted back out to the mound for the Phillies in the ninth. He only faced a batter, which ended up being a free pass to Hernandez, before the Phillies made a call to the pen for Ron Reed. The reliever walked George Hendrick, then recorded two quick outs. One more out and this one would be going into extras. That out wasn't gonna happen, as Boyer pulled back Steve Swisher, who had got the start behind the dish, and he put the bat in the hands of Terry Kennedy who dropped one into center that brought Hernandez into score the winning run.

     It was quite the day for the 23-year-old catcher who just wanted to find a permanent spot on the big league roster. The organization recognized his talent, however, Simmons owned the backstop, which left the team with a decision to make. They tried him in the outfield during the 1980 season, before trading him in December of the same year. Kennedy went onto have a decent career at the major league level, which included four All Star appearances. His road through the big leagues began in St. Louis, took him through San Diego, Baltimore, and San Francisco. He appeared in two different World Series, with the first coming in 1984 with the Padres, and the second coming in 1989 with the Giants. His playing career came to an end in 1991. Long before that day came, Kennedy played the hero not once, but twice on the same day in Cardinal Nation. It was quite the day indeed.

Check out the box scores here:
Game 1:
Game 2:

Terry Kennedy's career numbers: