Sunday, August 31, 2014

August 31, 1963: Boyer Makes Musial's 3,000th Game One To Remember

     On August 31, 1963, Ken Boyer made Stan Musial's 3,000th game in the majors a memorable one, as he blasted an 11th inning two run home run that proved to be the difference maker in a Cardinals 7-5 win over the Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia.

     The two teams battled their asses off in this one, as Boyer sparked a three run inning with a leadoff double in the second. With the help of a walk, an error, and a two run double off the bat of Ruben Amaro in the bottom of that inning the 3-0 lead shrank to 3-2, as the Fightin Phillies shifted the momentum right back to them. Curt Flood took the wind out of their sails in the fourth with a solo shot, and Boyer doubled for the second time, then scored in the sixth to give the Cards a 5-3 edge. At that point it looked like the Cardinals starter Ernie Broglio was locked in, and victory would go to the Cardinals until the hurler served up a game tying home run to Clay Dalrymple with no outs in the ninth. It is just an example how quickly the tables can turn. Back to work.

     Broglio was lifted in the 10th for a pinch hitter, and his 15th win of the campaign would have to come on another day. That pinch hitter wore the number 6 on his back. As it turned out he would not be adding to his totals, as he popped out with a foul ball that landed in the glove of the rightfielder, but the game did have significance for him, because as mentioned before it was his 3,000th major league contest. He would appear in 26 more games before that season came to a close. To date, only eight men have played in 3,000 games.

     While Stan might not have come through during that 10th inning, he had reached another milestone in what is perhaps the most storied career that has ever been written in the City of St. Louis, and Boyer would still make it a very memorable one in the inning that followed. Johnny Klippstein had come on in relief  for the Phillies in the eighth, and he did one helluva job, until he saw it unravel in the 11th. The game winning rally started with an out by Dick Groat, then with two outs, Klippstein served Boyer up a pitch that the third baseman gave a long ride to the roof of the left field pavillion. Bobby Shantz worked his second scoreless inning in the bottom of the frame, and Stan, along with Boyer, and the rest of the boys who wore the Birds on the Bat across their chests left the ballpark winners.

Check out the box score here:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

August 30, 1941: Lon Warneke No-Hits The Reds

     On August 30, 1941, Lon Warneke became the fourth man in the history of the Cardinals organization to record a no-hitter. The historic outing took place at Crosley Field in Cincinnati before a crowd of 9,859 who chose to cheer Warneke on, as they realized they were witnessing one of the greatest performances they might ever see. From an arsenal of pitches that allowed him to dominate in various ways to a splendid defense that erased the only three men who reached with base with quick turns of a double play. The man who was dubbed the "Arkansas Hummingbird" after he was traded from the Cubs to the Cardinals in the Fall of '36 had everything working for him. The performance also catapulted the Cardinals into first place, however, that was a race they would lose as they battled the Brooklyn Dodgers down the stretch. With that said, Warneke's no-hit performance was one of the great highlights of 1941 for the club that won 97 games. One of those 97 had the words no-hitter attached to it. It would take 27 years for another Cardinal to throw a no-hitter, as Ray Washburn recorded the fifth in the history of the franchise in September of '68.

Check out the box score here:

If you would like to learn more about the life and career of Lon Warneke give this a look:

Friday, August 29, 2014

August 29, 1944: Wilks Locks Down His 11th Win In A Row

     On August 29, 1944, with a dominant three hit performance, Ted Wilks recorded his 11th consecutive win, as he led the way to a 3-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Sportsman's Park. The Redbirds centerfielder Johnny Hopp provided Wilks with the run all the support he needed with an RBI double in the third, then he gave him a little more breathing room with a big fly in the fifth. Whitey Kurowski put the final Cardinals run on the board with an RBI in the sixth, and up to that point Wilks had not allowed a hit. His bid for a no-no was broken up in the eighth, however, he still proved to be dominant as he worked around another knock, and got out of the inning with no damage done. The 28-year-old rookie would then work around one more hit in the ninth before his 14th win of the season was added to his stat line. Wilks' winning streak came to an end the next time out, but he did finish that pennant winning campaign with 17 wins, and his contributions helped bring the Cardinals another title.

That '44 season proved to be the best of Ted Wilks' career. He was a two time champion with the Cardinals. However, his success in the postseason was very limited. With that said, he did something that most can only dream of, as he forged out a career on a major league diamond. You can read more about the life and times of Ted Wilks here:

Check out the box score here:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

August 28, 2003: Kerry Robinson, and One Great Night In August

     On August 28, 2003, Kerry Robinson belted a walk off home run during the ninth inning of a contest against the Cubs at Busch. The St. Louis native's big blast off of Mike Remlinger gave the Cardinals a 3-2 win, and capped off one of the most memorable series of that season, as it was documented in the book Three Nights In August. While the book told the tale of a rift between Robinson and the Cardinals skipper Tony LaRussa, it was all forgotten, at least momentarily, as the ball sailed over the wall in right. It was time to celebrate walk off style.

     The game was a battle from beginning to end, as Matt Morris and Carlos Zambrano went toe to toe like two boxers in a ring. Morris served up a big fly to Sammy Sosa in the first, and watched Ramon Martinez knock in a run with a sacrifice in the third. It might have looked like the Cubs had Morris on the ropes, but he settled down before Robinson came up with an RBI double in the sixth to spark the Cardinals offense. One inning later Scott Rolen took Big Z deep to knot things up at 2, and just like that it was a new ballgame.

     Steve Kline's dirty cap came in to pitch the eighth for the Cards, and he got himself in trouble quickly by putting runners on first and third after recording the first out of the frame. LaRussa called on newly acquired Mike DeJean to put the fire out, and he got the job done with an inning ending double play. The Cubs went to Remlinger in the bottom of the inning, who set the side down in order. DeJean matched Remlinger with  1-2-3 top of the ninth, then came Robinson. The man who wore the number 0 on his jersey battled the Cubs reliever in that final at bat, as he fell behind 0-2, then worked the count to 3-2, before he ended it with a swing of the bat that made it one very memorable night in August.

Get up baby!! Get up!!! Watch Kerry hit it, and listen to the Moon Man make the call here:

Check out the box score here:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

August 27, 1960: Stan The Man Walks Off Against The Buccos

     On August 27, 1960, with the score knotted at 4-4 with  two out in the bottom of the ninth at Busch Stadium, Stan Musial ended the game with a walk off blast off of Pittsburgh's Roy Face to give the Cardinals a 5-4 victory in front of a crowd of more than 30,000.

     The Cardinals looked like they were going to grab victory early as the offense plated two runs in the first, another in the third, then one more in the fifth. While the Cardinals offense was feasting on Pittsburgh's starter Tom Cheney, Bob Gibson was dominating their lineup. He had allowed just two hits entering the seventh, then in the blink of an eye the spectacular performance turned south. He opened up that seventh with a leadoff double to Bob Skinner, then walked Roberto Clemente after retiring a man, before Smokey Burgess came up with a single that scored Skinner. Solly Hemus pulled the plug on Gibson's day, and called on Lindy McDaniel to put the fire out, but McDaniel could not put it out quick enough. The reliever watched the second Pirates run of the day score on a sac fly, and moments later pinch hitter Dick Stuart laced a double into left that scored two, and tied things up. Whole new ballgame.

     McDaniel was able to work past the hard luck, and kept the Pirates off the board in the eighth, while Face who had come on in relief for the Pirates worked around an eighth inning jam. The Cardinals called on Ron Kline to pitch the ninth, and he did not disappoint, as he set down the Pirates in order. Face came back to the mound in search of his third scoreless inning of work, and he damn near came up with it, as he retired Curt Flood and Joe Cunningham in quick succession, but he had to face one more man, and it was not just any man it was The Man. Stan came to the plate, fell behind 1-2, before unleashing his corkscrew stance on one that sent the ball flying onto the roof of the right field pavillion.

     The game winning blast was the 11th walk off  home run in the storied career of Stan Musial. That crowd that watched it was the largest crowd the ballpark had seen since the Summer of '56. The house was packed because the Pirates had a stranglehold on the National League, and those fans were hoping to see their Birds make it a race. The Birds tried. The next day they swept the Bucs out of town with a 5-4 win that closed the gap to 5 1/2 games. It was as close as the Cardinals would get, as the club from Pittsburgh ran away with it down the stretch. With that said, there were some great days for the fans in St. Louis that season, and one of them came on this day, in the bottom of the ninth, with two out, and Stan "The Man" Musial swinging the stick.

Check out the box score here:

The art featured with today's fact was done by Ebbets Sports Art. If you are interested in purchasing the piece you can contact them here: The page features a lot of great art other than this one as well. Be sure to check it out.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 26, 1981: Garry Templeton Flips His Lid at Busch

      On August 26, 1981, Cardinals shortstop Garry Templeton was fined $5,000, and suspended indefinitely by Whitey Herzog for making obscene gestures toward the fans at Busch. The incident proved to be a precursor to an offseason trade that put Ozzie Smith in a Cardinals uniform. 

     There was trouble on the horizon before a pitch was even delivered, as Templeton told Herzog he was too tired to play. The skipper was not hearing it, and penciled him into the lineup anyway, which in turn led to a halfhearted effort by the Cardinals leadoff man. His trouble began during his first at bat, after he failed to run out a called third strike that got past San Fran's catcher Milt May. The crowd quickly showed their displeasure, as they poured boos upon him. As he walked off the field he reacted with an offensive gesture that looked as if  he was flipping off the crowd. The action earned him a warning from home plate umpire Bruce Froemming, but in the end the warning meant nothing as this pot was just beginning to boil.

     The fans continued to jeer the embattled Templeton when he took his place in the field, and into the bottom of the third inning when he was left standing on deck at the end of the inning. He had reached his breaking point, and once again he made the gesture toward the crowd. Froemming immediately tossed him from the game, and Whitey pulled him into the dugout like an angry father. He threw him against the wall, and told him to get the hell out of there. He could not grasp how a man making major league dollars could act like a child. The entire ballclub was embarrassed by the incident. In many ways this day has become almost celebrated as we realize that it was a day that helped Ozzie become a Cardinal, but it was dark day in Cardinal Nation. Especially for Templeton. 

    The big story of that day should have been an eight run outburst in the fifth that led to a 9-4 Cardinals victory. That was not the case though, as Templeton grabbed the headlines.The team ordered him to seek psychiatric treatment following the incident, and after doing so he was able to return to the lineup in mid September. His time missed had hurt the team in many ways, which included thoughts of a postseason run. Templeton's return came with an apology, and with hopes that the water would flow under the proverbial bridge. With that said, the bitter feeling had existed before that day in August, as he had requested a trade earlier that Summer, and once this incident took place it seems there was an irreparable rift, which led to the trade. While those within the organization denied that a trade would happen during the season, there were many who speculated that the Padres would swap Smith for Templeton . It was simply speculation at the time, but it was speculation that proved to be true as the team swapped shortstops in December of '81. It worked out quite well.

     Templeton spent six years with the Birds on the Bat across his chest, and during that time he proved that he was extremely talented, as he hit .305, appeared in two All Star games, and took home a Silver Slugger. When the trade sent him to the West Coast, Ozzie had just completed his fourth year with the Friars. Smith was still finding himself at the plate, as he carried a .231 average over those four years. However, he had showed everyone across the ranks of Major League Baseball that his defense was superior, as he earned back-to-back Gold Glove awards in '80 and '81. The Cardinals gambled on his bat coming around to his defense, and made the deal that would give Templeton new scenery to right the ship, while the Cardinals had a clean slate with the defensive mastermind who became known as "The Wizard of Oz." 

      Had Templeton kept his cool on that day at Busch there is a very good possibility that Ozzie would have played his Hall of Fame career elsewhere. Templeton had a solid career with the Padres, and as time marched on the incident became a bad memory. In many ways I look at it like that's life. I was just four years old when the incident happened, so for me there is no reason to dislike him. While they never did iron things out with an apology, both Templeton and Herzog both said they held no grudges. It worked out for both parties. Templeton worked his tail off in San Diego, and because of that he was named the Captain of the team in 1987. It was a position he held until he was traded in '91. He would end up sitting in the managerial seat after his playing days came to an end, and that is a testament to the man he became. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone moves on. He did exactly that, and so did the Cardinals organization.

     While Templeton was turning over the new leaf in San Diego, Ozzie was in St. Louis thrilling the fans in for more than a decade. He represented the club in the All Star game 14 times and laid claim to 13 Gold Glove awards while wearing the uniform that features Birds on the Bat. He also helped the team win the World Series in his first season with the club, and was key in winning the National League Pennant in '85 and '87. His performance in the '85 NLCS earned has become legendary, as he led the way to victory with a walk off home run in a pivotal Game 5 of the series. The call made by Jack Buck that came with that home run is perhaps the most famous call in the history of Cardinals baseball. From backflips to postseason heroics "The Wizard" put together a Hall of Fame resume in the Gateway City, and when you glance at his plaque in Cooperstown there is an STL on his cap. For that, I say thank you to Garry Templeton. No hard feelings...

Wish I had the video, check out the box score:

Monday, August 25, 2014

August 25, 1964: Lou Brock Bombs The Buccos In The 13th

     On August 25, 1964, the Birds and Bucs played a wild one in St. Louis that came to an end with one swing of Lou Brock's bat in the bottom of the 13th as Al McBean's pitch landed on the roof of the right field pavillion at the ole ballyard, and gave the Cardinals a hard fought 7-6 victory. The Birds were off and running early, after plating four runs in the second, but could not hold onto the lead, as the Bucs countered with a run in the third, then three more in the seventh. While reliever Barney Schultz settled in after surrendering the game tying run in that seventh inning, he unraveled in the 12th, and allowed two runs to score. With the Bucs up 6-4 they might have thought they had the win in the bag, but the Birds still had some fight left in them as they answered right back in the bottom of the inning by scoring two runs on RBIs by Bill White, and the "Moon Man" Mike Shannon. Ron Taylor came on in relief in the top of the 13th, and set the side down in order, which set the table for the walk off heroics. McBean had come on in the tenth, and was responsible for the two Cardinals runs in the 12th, before he served up the big fly to Brock in the 13th. The 13 inning contest proved to be the longest contest of the season for the Cardinals. They were nine games out at that point, but they kept on fighting until the very end, and when the finish line was crossed the top prize was theirs.

Check out the box score here: 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

August 24, 1989: Joe Magrane Dominates In Hotlanta

     On August 24, 1989, the only thing hotter than the weather in Atlanta was Cardinals left hander Joe Magrane, as he allowed just three hits, and led the way to a 4-1 victory over the Braves at Fulton County Stadium.

     Two of those three hits came during the second inning, as the hurler allowed a two out single to Tommy Gregg, and moments later Jody Davis drove him in with a double. Magrane settled down quickly, and retired the next man. However, the Cardinals had no easy task in front of them with Tom Glavine on the hill for the Braves. The 23-year-old Glavine was still coming into his own as a pitcher. He had led the National League in losses the season before, but was well on his way to his first winning season in the bigs, but on this day he was going to add a loss to his totals.

     After tying things up in the fifth, the Cardinals took the lead in the sixth on an RBI double by Pedro Guerrero, and that was all Magrane needed, as he allowed a hit in the bottom of that inning before turning out the lights the rest of the way. Just to give the Redbird hurler a little more breathing room Guerrero belted a two run shot off of Glavine in the eighth, and after walking a man his day was over. On the other side of the diamond Magrane set down man after man until he had added his sixth consecutive win to his totals.

     The win was also Magrane's 17th of the season, as he had solidified himself as one of the top pitchers in the league. After the game Whitey Herzog called him the best in the league, saying that the only run that Atlanta scored came on a chopper that fell in. While it was a dominant outing, Magrane himself thought he dropped 10 pounds in the 96 degree Atlanta heat. He said it was no picnic, and his strategy was simply to attack the zone. It was a sound strategy that led to victory.

Check out the box score here:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

August 23, 1955: Stan The Man Leads The Way In New York

     On August 23, 1955, Stan "The Man" Musial led the Cardinals to a 2-1 win at the Polo Grounds in New York by going 3 for 4, while his alertness on the basepaths led to what proved to be the game winning run in the eighth inning. The Giants had been clinging to a one run lead since the third, then watched it disappear in the seventh when Rip Repulski ripped a pinch hit single that brought Ken Boyer into score. The winning tally in the eighth started with Red Schoendienst standing on first after picking up his third hit of the day. Stan came to the dish and knocked a single into right, which sent Red scampering to third. The Giants right fielder threw to third in an unsuccessful attempt to take Red off the basepaths, while Musial moved on over to second. The Giants starter Johnny Antonelli had worked around jam after jam all day long, and when he was able to get Red out on a fielder's choice he might have thought he was going to get out of this one. However, Stan had taken third, and Antonelli's luck ran out two batters later when catcher Bill Sarni hit a slow roller down the third base line that brought Stan into score the most important run of the day. Paul LaPalme who had come on in relief in the seventh did not allow one more Giants batter to reach base the rest of the way. Another day to remember from the life and times of Stan The Man, as well as the rest of the men he called teammates on that fine day in the Big Apple.

Check out the box score here:

Friday, August 22, 2014

August 22, 1977: Freed Caps Off a Big Rally at Busch

     On August 22, 1977, Roger Freed capped off a seven run ninth inning with a pinch hit three run walk off home run that propelled the Cardinals to an improbable 8-6 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Busch. As the headline states, the big fly by Freed was more than a gift to the fans in the stand in St. Louis, it was also a gift to his mother who was at her home in Baldwin Park California knowing that her kid would deliver, and deliver he did.

     The Birds scored the first run of the game in the second, but that lead disappeared in the third, as John Denny allowed back-to-back singles to begin the inning, then watched Ron Cey tie it up with a single. Denny got the next two men out, then hit Dusty Baker with a pitch to load them up. Los Angeles' catcher Steve Yeager made him pay for the hit batsman by launching a grand slam that opened up the lead to  5-1. From there L.A.'s Burt Hooton settled in and looked like he was going to sail to victory, as he watched his club tack on another run in the ninth. While they held a comfortable 6-1 lead, those Dodgers had one little problem, which was they needed three more outs to grab the victory.

     The inning began with Hooton giving up a leadoff single by Jerry Mumphrey. Up 6-1 it might have looked harmless, as many of the fans were surely headed to their cars as the hands of defeat were wrapped around the throat of the hometown Birds. Those hands loosened a bit, when Garry Templeton came to the plate and rapped out a triple that brought Mumphrey into score, and it quickly ended Hooton's day. Tommy Lasorda called on Lance Rautzhan put the Birds to bed, but the reliever could not get a man out. Ted Simmons knocked in Templeton with a single, and Keith Hernandez doubled which scored Simmons after shortstop Bill Russell mishandled a relay. The Birds were in business. There were still no outs, the score was 6-4, and Lasorda was making yet another call to the bullpen.

     The number that was called was the number 49, which was worn by Charlie Hough, who had a knuckleball in his arsenal. That knuckleball killed him as it got away from Yeager who had been a hero in the Dodger dugout not too long ago. The passed ball brought Hernandez trotting in now that comfortable 6-1 lead had become a slim 6-5 lead. Hough struck out the next man, but gave up a single to Kenny Reitz, which was followed by a single by Mike Tyson. The stage was set. Vern Rapp yelled over to Freed to pick up a bat, and he let the Mad Hungarian that his day was done. Freed walked to the dish knowing that his Mom would not turn off the television until the last man had took his at bat, and he was determined to be that last man. Freed fell behind 1-2, then connected on a scorching liner that cleared the fence in left. The walk off shot was the first of Freed's career. The man who had just 22 career home runs under his belt would hit another walk off in 1979, but we'll save that tale for another day...

     This win in 1977 came one day after I was born. The Cardinals had lost the day before to the Padres 7-0, then pulled off the ridiculous comeback the next day. I like to joke that it was my first baseball lesson in life. I came out of the womb wanting to know the score, and was madder than hell when I heard we were getting trounced by the Friars. 24 hours later I was celebrating my first win. I often refer to the baseball season as a rollercoaster, and the first 24 hours of my life is a great example of the rollercoaster that I have learned to love so much. Go Cards!!!

Check out the box score here:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

August 21, 1964: Dark Makes a Move That Pays Off Big For The Birds

     On August 21, 1964, the Cardinals came into the ninth inning trailing the Giants 5-3 at Candlestick Park, before staging a rally that included one too many chess moves by San Francisco's skipper Alvin Dark which led to three Cardinal runs, and a 6-5 victory in the City by the Bay.

     The Birds had grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first after Ken Boyer knocked in Curt Flood and Dick Groat, but the Giants took that lead out from under them with three runs in the bottom of the inning which was highlighted by a two run bomb off the bat Jim Hart. San Fran added a run in the third, another in the fourth, and looked to be in cruise control until that wild ninth came rolling along.

     The inning began with a single by Lou Brock. It was followed with two quick groundouts by Groat and Boyer. One out to go... this thing was in the bag... or not. The next man up was Bill White who had the potential to tie it with one swing of the stick. Dark made the fateful decision to intentionally walk the slugger, and it you looked like a good move on paper, when you consider Dal Maxvill hit behind him. Maxvill was one of those guys who might have been thought of as an easy out. He had made his coin by flashing the leather, not swinging the stick.

     However, there were days he put the bat on the ball, and the ball found a hole. This day was one of those days, as he shot a single into left that brought Brock around to score. The wheels weren't off the Giants bus but ole Dal Maxvill made them rattle with the score now sitting at 5-4. Mike Shannon followed the big hit up with a big hit of his own. The hit by the "Moon Man" was a single into center that brought White wheeling around third, and as he was headed home San Fran's second baseman Hal Lanier threw wildly to the dish in an effort to keep White from tying it up, and as the ball sailed passed Tom Haller, Maxvill rounded third, and scored the game winner.  The shellshocked Giants were retired in order in the bottom of the inning, as they had truly let one get away.

     While this was a game that got away from the Giants, it was a huge win for the Cardinals. The perfect storm was coming together as the Birds began to win, while the Phillies began to Phold. Each and every win and loss were crucial in the run that ended with a World Series celebration in St. Louis, as the Cardinals took the flag by just one game. It is hard to say if the story of the '64 season would have been the same had Dark pitched to White, but I know I am glad he chose not to. By doing so he proved that every man on the roster is valuable. Unfortunately for him, he proved it for the wrong roster. On behalf of Cardinal Nation, thanks Al.

Check out the box score here:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August 20, 1917: The Birds Double Steal a Game In Boston

     On August 20, 1917,  the Cardinals stole a game from Braves in Boston, as a ninth inning double steal was executed that had outfielder Walton Cruise swiping home. The play gave the Birds a 7-6 edge that proved to be an edge that would hold as they came away with the victory.  Cruise hit .270 with 15, home runs, and 126 RBIs over five seasons in St. Louis. The 1917 season proved to be his best year on the diamond, as he belted out a .295 average in 153 games played. He also hit 5 home runs that year, which was good for the seventh most dingers in the National League. The next season he played in just 70 games, and cranked out six home runs, which was good for second most in the league. While the information I could find about him was rather scarce I can tell you he was sold to the Braves in 1919, and he spent the rest of his career with the National League squad that called Beantown home. When it was all said and done he called Boston home for six seasons before hanging up the cleats. I'm sure Cruise had great memories of playing in both cities, and one of those great memories came when the Birds stole one from Braves with a double steal in the ninth.

Another great stolen base effort that Cruise participated came in June of that 1917 season when he was a part of a triple steal in St. Louis:

You can view Cruise's career numbers here:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 19, 1942: Mort Swaps Uniforms With Walker

     On August 19, 1942, wearing his brother Walker's number 15, Mort Cooper won his 15th game of the season, as he went the distance in a 5-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Sportsman's Park. The hurler usually wore the number 14, however, on this day he asked his little brother who would be catching him to swap him out jerseys, and Walker quickly obliged. The number change did not affect the backstop, as he joined Enos Slaughter in the home run department en route to victory. Mort scattered seven hits in the contest, and looked like he was gonna get a shutout until the Cubs plated a run in the eighth. The eventual 22 game winner settled for the 5-1 complete game win, as he helped the club march toward the National League pennant.

Check out the box score here:

Monday, August 18, 2014

August 18, 1983: Andy Van Slyke Ends It With a Big Fly In The 10th

   On August 18, 1983, rookie outfielder Andy Van Slyke treated the crowd of more than 27,000 at Busch to a 3 for 4 performance that was capped off with the first walk off blast of his career. Van Slyke singled, tripled, received a walk, and stole a base in the contest before connecting with the tenth inning blast off of Houston's Bill Dawley to give the Cardinals a 5-4 win.

     Joaquin Andujar started the game for the Birds, and struggled early, as he surrendered two runs right out of the gate. The same could be said for the Houston starter Joe Niekro who returned the favor by giving up two runs of his own to knot things right back up. The first of those two runs came with an RBI single by Van Slyke who was just getting started. The rookie drew his walk with one out in the third, and followed it up by stealing second , before Darrell Porter knocked him in with a single. The Birds were up 3-2, but they still had work to do. The 3-2 lead turned to a 4-3 deficit in the seventh, as former Cardinal Jose Cruz knocked in two runs with a two out single. While the wind had been taken out of the sails momentarily, there would be a mighty gust in the bottom of the eighth when Van Slyke opened up the inning a triple.

      There Van Slyke stood 90 feet away from tying things up, while Whitey Herzog was pulling out all of the stops as he called on George Hendrick, and Floyd Rayford to pinch hit in hopes of knocking in the equalizer. Both moves failed to produce the run, but Willie McGee did not let the triple go to waste. The Redbirds centerfielder rapped out a single, and just like that it was a whole new ballgame. The two teams sailed through the ninth, and Dave Rucker made quick work of the Astros in the tenth before Van Slyke stepped to the plate with one out on the bottom of the inning and belted the seventh home run of his career. It was the first walk off shot for the man who hit 164 career homers. He only hit one more walk off big fly in his career, which came in 1990 when he donned the uniform of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

     Van Slyke spent four seasons with the Birds on the Bat across his chest, and during that time he hit .259 with 41 home runs. He was a member of the 1985 pennant winning club, but was traded to Pittsburgh in the Spring of '87. He enjoyed his best years in the Steel City, as he snagged 5 Gold Glove awards, 2 Silver Slugger's, and made three trips to the All Star game.

     While Van Slyke's days in the Gateway City were limited he will forever be remembered as a part of Cardinal Nation. His four years in St. Louis were development years. He was just 22 when he put that one over the wall in 1983. It took him time to come into his own as a player. When he did he was wearing another uniform. Something to think about when we see one of the youngsters trying to find his way today. Baseball is a game of patience. Some might take a little longer than others to develop, and in reality some might develop at all, but in the end fans and management alike have to learn to be patient. Had that patience been exercised,Van Slyke would have had many more thrilling moments in a Redbirds uniform. Don't get me wrong, I do understand that his numbers were not Hall of Fame worthy, but he was a solid player for many years. Just a little food for thought.

Check out the box score here:

Andy Van Slyke's career numbers:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

August 17th: The Great Comeback of 1904

     On August 17, 1904, the Cardinals pulled off an epic comeback at the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia. The club from St. Louis came into the ninth down 7-3, and proceeded to knock out six runs off of Philadelphia's starter Tully Sparks who was saddled with the loss, as the Cardinals hung onto win 9-7.

     The Phillies looked good early, as they plated four runs in the first. From there the Cardinals starter Chappie McFarland settled down. The two clubs each plated a run in the fifth, and they both scored two in the sixth, which set the score at 7-3. Sparks looked to have it in the bag when the ninth frame opened up, the tide turned. The Philadelphia Record called the ninth inning Sparks' Waterloo. For those who do not get the reference, Waterloo was the famous battle in which Napoleon Bonaparte suffered defeat. The battle came after Bonaparte had been victorious time and time again, then he picked the wrong fight. That same paper laid blame on Philly's player/manager Harry Wolverton for not getting Sparks out of there when things began to unravel. Of course hindsight is 20/20. 

     The unraveling began with a free pass to Homer Smoot, then Sparks gave up a single to George Barclay, before he was able to record an out. Mike O'Neill hit for McFarland and ripped a double, that was followed by back-to-back-to-back singles. The lead was still intact, but two wild throws later the Birds were on top as six men had crossed the dish. The astonished crowd of 1,152 (when I looked at the attendance total I'll admit I laughed) then watched Jack Taylor end all hopes of a rally in the bottom of the inning, when he set down the side in order. 

     The funny thing about this fact is I was looking through a newspaper for a story about a no-hitter that was thrown by Boston's Jesse Tannehill that had occurred on the same day. As I was scrolling through I see a headline about a Cardinals rally. It's crazy how it works. One man is in Chicago tossing a no-hitter, while another man is in Philadelphia suffering his own Waterloo. In the words of Ron Washington "That's how baseball go." 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

August 16, 1953: Dick Schofield Becomes The Youngest Cardinal To Hit a Big Blast

     On August 16, 1953, after dropping the first game of a doubleheader to the Reds in Cincinnati, the Cardinals bounced back with a 6-2 victory. The Birds got to work early in the second game by plating three runs in the first. the fifth run of the contest was a history maker, as shortstop Dick Schofield belted his first major league home run off of Frank Smith in the seventh. The solo shot made Schofield the youngest player in the history of the organization to put one past the fence, as he was exactly 18 years and 223 days old at when he took the cut. Stan Musial knocked in a run in the eighth, before the Cardinals starter Stu Miller locked down a complete game victory after surrendering back to back home runs in the ninth.

     Schofield was what they called a "bonus baby" which basically meant that any player that signed a contract that exceeded a certain number had to be placed on the major league roster, and could not take the time in the minors to develop. The idea was introduced to the game in an effort to keep the talent rich teams from buying up the best prospects, then hoard them in their farm systems. The Cardinals were one of those teams who were talent rich, so this had a direct effect on the franchise.

     Schofield was the first "bonus baby" signed by the team. He was kid right out of high school putting ink on a $35,000 contract that guaranteed him a roster spot with the big club. By today's standards that would equate to more than $300,000. Not bad coin for a youngster. There was the problem with the "bonus babies" though. Kids need to develop, and what happened the majority of the time is they would contribute off the bench, rather than get those at bats in the minors that helped season them for the big leagues. While there were exceptions, such as Sandy Koufax and Al Kaline, the majority of these kids had their career development severely stunted because of skipping the minors.

     Schofield was a prime example of the stunted growth. While he did make some history, he struggled at the plate for the Birds, as he hit a meager .147 over the course of five seasons with the club. He was shipped to the Pirates in 1958. While he never did turn into a premier major league hitter, he did have value, and he proved that in 1960 when Dick Groat went down with an injury during the stretch run in 1960. He stepped in and hit over .400 down the stretch, and even after Groat returned he was productive in the World Series that was won a walk off blast by Bill Mazeroski in Game 7 against the Yankees. Simply being in the house for that one had to be something that he never forgot.

     All in all Schofield spent 19 years on the big league diamond. He was just a .227 hitter, who hit 21 home runs, while wearing seven different uniforms as he forged a career as a utility infielder. He returned to the Cardinals organization twice, after his departure in '58. The first time came in 1968 as utility player for the pennant winners, and then again in 1971, but he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers mid season. That '71 season proved to be his last. He had come a long way since that day when he put one over the fence in Cincy. His career might not of been a career that ended with an induction ceremony, but even then it is career to be admired, and yeah you can admire a career .227 hitter. He lived a dream that many kids have the moment they pick up a stick on a sandlot. That dream started in St. Louis.

Check out the box score here:

This link is one of the best interpretations of the bonus baby rules I could find:

Friday, August 15, 2014

One Man's Opinion About Being a Part of The Best Fans In Baseball

     I just saw someone refer to Mike Matheny as a cancer. When people refer to Cardinals fans as the best fans in baseball it is because we have a reputation as fans who understand and appreciate the game. When we see the opposition do something great on our home turf we will stand and applaud. It is an understanding and a love for the game as a whole. When I see someone refer to Matheny like that I think that fan is simply claiming to be one of the best fans in baseball, and that person has a lack of understanding that every manager wins and loses with his team. There is no doubt that Matheny has made some questionable decisions. The same can be said about every man who has ever filled out a lineup card. Matheny has managed the club to an LCS and a World Series, and the team is in the hunt once again. If he fails to be a model of perfection I think it is something that has to be accepted. There is no true model of perfection.

     Some would say Matheny inherited a team, which is simply not true. Just look at the turnover the roster has had since 2011. He inherited some pieces to a championship team. Every team, and every year is different. Calling Matheny a cancer because of an underperforming offense is simply pointing a finger at one person, rather than understanding that all successes, and failures are part of a team effort. Some of those fans truly believe he should be fired. I do understand not being onboard with every decision, but  that is so damn ridiculous. If Sam Breadon was still the owner they might get their wish, but that is not how the organization works these days, and I for one am glad that is the case. I guarantee you that one of the reasons that players enjoy playing in St. Louis is a stable atmosphere that starts with the manager.

     The unreal expectations of some fans to win the trophy every year is so ludicrous it makes me wonder if they understand reality. Some of the people who call themselves the best fans are actually the most spoiled fans. They lack the appreciation for the game that it takes to be truly the best. I often refer to the baseball season as the greatest roller coaster rides in the word of sports. Highs and lows are part of the deal. When you can understand that and accept it the game becomes that much more enjoyable. I preach that you should enjoy each and every year win or lose, because in reality it is another year in your life that you will not get back. Enjoy the ride.

     I am a fan of my favorite teams no matter what the final score is. I will not claim to have all the answers. I will voice my opinion, but at the end of the day every single person within those organizations will have my unequivocal support. That is a part of being one of the best fans.

August 15, 1939: Terry Moore Day at The Ballpark

     On August 15, 1939, the Cardinals held "Terry Moore Day" at Sportsman's Park with a 7-6 ten inning win over the visiting Chicago Cubs. Before the game the Cardinals centerfielder was given a handful of gifts, that included a 20-gauge shotgun, a hunting dog, some hunting and fishing apparel, as well as a gold pin and some coupon for free shaves at a local barber. Once the game got going he rewarded those who rewarded him by going 3 for 5 with an RBI and two runs scored.

     The Cardinals were up 6-4 headed into the eighth, before watching the Cubs inch closer with a run in that inning, then they tied it in the ninth. The late inning rally simply set up a thrilling finish for the Birds in the tenth. Jack Russell had pitched two scoreless innings for the Baby Bears before handing the ball to a familiar name in Dizzy Dean in the tenth. The first man Dean faced was the hot hitting Moore who singled. The base knock was followed by what was supposed to be a simple sacrifice by Don Gutteridge, but the Cubs first baseman Rip Russell overthrew second base trying to gun Moore down, which moved him 90 more feet over to third. Moments later, Cardinals pitcher Bob Bowman singled off of Dean, and Moore came into score the winning run.

     The RBI was the first of Bowman's short big league career. The '39 season was his rookie season, and he showed great promise by going 13-5 with an E.R.A. of 2.60. However, is record fell off to 7-5 in 1940, and his E.R.A. ballooned to 4.33. The club sold him to the New York Giants in December of that year. He struggled in 1941, which led to a shift to those Cubs he help beat on Terry Moore Day in 1939. Bowman appeared in just one game for the Cubbies before his days on the big league diamond came to an end. Over the course of the four years he had recorded 26 wins and dropped 17 decisions. His career batting line included a light .153 average, and four RBIs. I like to think that game winning RBI that came against Dizzy Dean was one he talked about for many years to come.

     Moore could arguably considered one of the most underrated Cardinals players of all time. I would like to see the club honor the former Redbird with a "Terry Moore Day" today. I think since this generation never got to watch him play his days on the diamond might be forgotten to some degree. He found himself on as a member of the defending champion Cardinals in 1935. While Moore missed out on the championship season of the year before, he did help the club win the World Series in 1942. He like many of the men across the ranks of Major League Baseball served his country during World War II. His service began in 1943 when he was 30 years old and in his prime. He returned to the club in 1946 and helped the club win the big prize once again.

     Moore's days on the diamond ended after the 1948 season. The four time All Star was solid hitter who carried a career .280 average that knocked in 513 runs. He was often overshadowed in that St. Louis outfield by Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial who manned each of the corners. With that said those who were in the Cardinals locker room had such great respect for his leadership and his great play in the field that they called him "Captain Terry." Speaking of that great play in the field, some said that only Willie Mays and Tris Speaker could cover more ground than St. Louis' Terry Moore. If the Gold Glove award had existed he would have had a shelf full of them.  He was a true student of the game who was always looking to improve, and he was one of those guys who made the men who stood around him better.

     Before Jim Edmonds, Willie McGee, or Curt Flood, there was man named Terry Moore who patrolled centerfield for the Cardinals. He was truly one of the greats, and if his name appears on the balloting for selection into the Cardinals Hall of Fame next season I hope that the fans click on his name. From my perspective there are a handful of players that should have been inducted immediately Terry Moore and Ted Simmons are on top of that list.That is simply an opinion, but it is an opinion I stand by with conviction. The tale of "Terry Moore Day" that happened 75 years ago today is simply the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what he did as a Cardinal. His name is one that each and every Cardinal fan should know.

Check out the box score here:

You can look at Moore's career numbers here:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

August 14, 1971: Bob Gibson No-Hits The Buccos

     On August 14, 1971, 30,678 souls stood and cheered for Bob Gibson at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, as they realized they had just witnessed history when the Cardinals legend struck out their own legend,Willie Stargell for the 27th out of a no-hit performance against their hometown Pirates. The Birds offense provided plenty of punch by knocking out 11 runs, while the dominant Gibson struck out 10 men on his way to becoming the sixth man in the history of the franchise to capture a no-no.

     The no-hitter was something that Gibson had come to accept was not in his deck of cards. He said that "I'm always getting the ball high." It was something that eluded him, and it was something he accepted. When you consider that he had 200 wins under his belt before he achieved the feat, it is easy to understand why he might not think it was going to happen at the age of 35.

     While Gibby might not have believed, but that belief changed before that day he stepped on the bump. Gibson said that he had told Joe Torre that he was going to throw a no-hitter. However, he said "I've said it a thousand times before though." This time it came true. His battery mate, Ted Simmons had a premonition two nights earlier while breaking some bread with  pitcher Chris Zachary. Simmons said to him "Gibson is going to throw a no-hitter Saturday night." He would later say "I don't know why, I just said it."

     The offense did all they needed to do in the first inning, which was highlighted by a three run homer by Joe Hague. In the innings that followed Joe Torre and Ted Simmons each picked up four hits. Gibson got in on what ended up being a 16 hit parade with an RBI sac fly in the fifth, and a single that scored two in the eighth.

     While the offense provided plenty of excitement, the story of the day was Gibson's. Red Schoendienst said the performance reminded him of Gibby's 17 strikeout game in the '68 World Series. It was truly the game of a lifetime. While most would never acknowledge the thought of a no-hitter running through their brain, the fireballer said he was thinking about it in the first inning. As the game progressed he said nobody talked about it, but in his mind it did not matter. He was locked in.

     Gibby did walk three men, and had a man reach on one of his 10 strikeouts, while the defense played great behind him. There were only two balls that raised the eyebrow, with the first coming when Milt May drove one deep to center that was tracked down by Jose Cruz 400 feet away, and in the eighth Dave Cash hit a hot shot to Torre at third who gunned him down at first base for the third out of the inning.

     With the Pittsburgh crowd buzzing Gibson stepped on the mound in the ninth and retired Vic Davalillo with a ground ball to Dal Maxvill at short. Maxvill fired to Matty Alou at first. The next man up, Al Oliver hit one to second baseman Ted Kubiak who fired over to Alou for the second out of the inning, then came Stargell. If there was a man who could break up the historic event it was the man who wore the number 8 in Pittsburgh. Not today. Today was Bob Gibson's day. Bob Prince called the game for the fans in Pittsburgh, and he spoke of Stargell's pursuit of his 40th home run, Gibson was in pursuit of a no-hitter, and he was going to get it.  He got Stargell to swing at the first pitch, before throwing one inside to even the count. Stargell swung and missed at the next one, then moments later he stood there looking when strike three hit the mitt of Ted Simmons who threw his mask off and ran toward the hurler who had just painted a masterpiece. As the crowd stood and cheered, all of his teammates mobbed Gibson in celebration of one of the greatest accomplishments during his storied career.

     The no-hitter was the first one thrown in the Steel City since 1907 when Nick Maddox painted his own masterpiece against the Brooklyn Dodgers. The no-hitter by Gibson proved to be the only one he would add to a resume that is littered with greatness. That greatness included 2 Cy Young Awards,  9 All Star appearances, an NL MVP award, 2 World Championships, which were accompanied by 2 World Series MVPs, and one badass no-hitter. That resume is one that has had its place in Cooperstown since 1981. Generations to come will know the name Bob Gibson.

Check out the box score here:

Listen to Prince make the call here: STRIKE 3!! He got him!!!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August 13, 1979: Lou Brock Joins The 3,000 Hit Club

     On August 13, 1979, in a game against the Cubs, in front of a packed house at Busch Stadium, Lou Brock became the 14th player in the history of Major League Baseball to record 3,000 hits. The 40-year-old legend of the diamond came into the contest two hits shy of the magic number, and he moved one step closer with a first inning single. The epic moment came with a leadoff infield single in the fourth that deflected off of the Cubs starter Dennis Lamp. The game was stopped as the St. Louis crowd chanted "Lou" over and over again, while he was surrounded by teammates who celebrated the milestone by his side. Brock was only the second man to record 3,000 hits with the Birds on the Bat on his chest, with the first being Stan Musial who joined him on the field as the game was stopped. Brock stayed in the game through the top of the fifth, before being replaced with a pinch hitter in the bottom of the frame. He was also treated to a win in the bottom of the ninth, when his teammate Garry Templeton came up with a game winning sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth that gave the Cardinals a 3-2 victory on one of the very special days in the career of Lou Brock.

     The '79 season was the last season that Brock spent on the major league diamond. The man who was best known for his base thievery was sitting on 929 stolen bases that August day, and he would snag nine more bags to bring his career totals to 938. He cranked out 23 more hits after reaching 3,000. 2,713 of those hits came in a Cardinals uniform. It only seems appropriate that 3,000 came against the club that sent him to the Gateway City in 1964. The 16 years that followed that trade were 16 years of legendary achievements. One of those achievements came on this day in 1979.

Check out the box score here:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August 12, 1946: Stan The Man Tears It Up

     On August 12, 1946, Stan "The Man" Musial led the way to a 5-0 victory over the Cubs in Chicago with a 4 for 4 performance, which included two RBIs. The Cardinals hurler Al Brazle helped the cause by turning in a  three-hit pitching gem as he locked down the complete game shutout, but the true story was Musial's hot bat. One day earlier the team played a doubleheader in Cincinnati, and "The Man" went 4 for 5 in each of the games. The Birds took the first tilt 15-4, before Musial led the way to a 7-3 victory in the doubleheader sweep. Musial's first game of that doubleheader included three singles, a triple, and a ribbie, while the second game included a double, and a home run. After the team got done playing ball the next day in the Windy City "The Man" had recorded 12 hits in 14 trips to the plate.

     Musial had been one of the best outfielders in the game before he left the club to serve his country in 1945. When he returned he shifted to first base, which some might have thought would have been a difficult transition for the 25-year-old. That was not the case. In large part because Musial embraced the move. He went on to lead the league in  runs scored with 124, doubles with 50, triples with 20, slugging percentage with .587, and his .365 average led the league as well. The totals earned Musial his second MVP award, and it led the Cardinals to a National League Pennant, and a World Series championship. 1946 was one great year for "The Man." There were many great years to come, before he announced that his days on the diamond would be coming to an end. It just so happened that announcement came on this same date in 1963. I wrote about that day for my On This Day In Sports page today. Please read it if you get the chance. I will be sure to share it later today as well.

Check out the box score here:

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 11, 1970: Carl Taylor Walk Off Slam

     On August 11, 1970, Carl Taylor hit a walk off pinch hit grand slam in the bottom of the ninth at Busch to give the Cardinals an improbable 11-10 victory over the visiting Padres.

     Down 8-1 headed into the bottom of the seventh, I would imagine that some of the reported 16,734 fans were either making their way home, or were on their way to their favorite watering hole when the comeback began to mount. The Birds scored two in the seventh, three in the eighth to close the gap to 8-6, then watched the Friars score two in the top of the ninth that pushed the deficit back up 10-6. Things weren't looking good, but as you and I know, just like the players in the dugouts, the final out must be recorded for a game to be put in the books.

     While the high fives were flying in the visitors dugout, the Birds were getting ready to ruin their day. Joe Hague led the bottom of the inning off with a single off of Ron Willis. Hague was forced out at second on a fielder's choice by Dick Allen, before Joe Torre reached with his fourth hit of the day. Jose Cardenal took off an 0 for 3 collar by rapping a single that brought Allen trotting in, and in turn it sent Willis to the showers. With the score now 10-7, and just one out the Birds were in business.

     The Birds had started a fire, and the Padres skipper Preston Gomez called on Ron Herbel to put that fire out. The reliever was able to pick up the second out of the inning when he got Mike Shannon to hit into a fielder's choice, but then he walked shortstop Eddie Crosby. The bases were loaded, the pitcher was on deck, and Red Schoendienst made a move of his own by calling on the man who wore the 44 on his back to pinch hit.Taylor stepped to the dish, pounced on the second pitch and gave it a ride over the left field wall. Those fans that chose to stay were treated to an epic comeback that ended with the best home runs of them all. A grand slam walk off winner.

     Taylor spent just one season in St. Louis. In a lot of stories about him he was often referred to as "Boog Powell's stepbrother", which he was. Carl's mom married Boog's dad when Carl was just seven-years-old. Boog was nine at the time. The both grew up together, and even played on a team together that reached the little league World Series. While they both made it to the bigs, Powell's time in the big leagues is much more storied.The older brother was in Baltimore en route to an AL MVP award while the little brother was swinging the stick for the Birds during that 1970 season.

     That grand slam that Taylor hit at Busch Stadium was the first grand slam of his major league career, and an overjoyed Taylor later said it was more than that. In the postgame interviews he said "It's gotta be the biggest thrill I ever had, because this won the ball game." He went onto say "Heck, it's my first grand slam ever, even in little leagues."

     Taylor hit just 10 home runs during a big league career that spanned from 1968 to 1973, and only one of those was a walk off shot, and only one of those was a grand slam. While he did play a few more years that walk off grand slam proved to be his last major league home run. He had the distinction of hitting his first and last home run off the same pitcher, as Ron Herbel put them on the platter. Not sure how many players have done that, but I would bet it is a handful at best.

     Carl never did achieve the legendary status that his brother Boog did in Baltimore. If Carl would have hit 329  more home runs he would have tied his older brother he would have tied Boog. It just didn't work out that way. With that said, Carl did achieve what most men can only dream of. He stepped on the big league diamond as Major League Baseball player. He might not have achieved all of his hopes and dreams on that diamond, but I would bet ya that when that grand slam sailed over the wall in left there was one dream checked off the list.

Check out the box score here:

Sunday, August 10, 2014

August 10, 1944: Cooper and Kurowski Lead The Birds To The Win Column

     On August 10, 1944, Mort Cooper led the way with his arm, and Whitey Kurowski led the way with his bat during a 2-0 win at Sportsman's Park. Cooper's complete game performance led to his 15th victory of the campaign, while Kurowski's second inning two run blast was his 13th of the year. The two players would lead the clubs in wins and dingers. Cooper with 22 wins, and Kurowski with 20 big flies. The two players efforts, along with the rest of the men on the roster were instrumental in the club's success that ended with a World Series championship, which came against the hometown Browns who the Cardinals defeated in six games.

     That day those Browns were in New York beating the Yankees, which extended a winning streak to a season's best 10 games. I used the 10 game streak by the Browns as a fact for On This Day In Sports today, and after writing it I thought why not see what the Cards did that day to intertwine the two. This weekend might have been a tough one for the Birds, but I thought since we were playing that club who used to call themselves the Browns it would make it interesting. As a person who loves the history of not only the Cardinals, but the city of St. Louis as a whole, I often think about how great that had to have been to have two pennant winning clubs in the city. It had to be something. That's for sure.

Check out the box score here:

Saturday, August 9, 2014

August 9, 1934: There Was Dizzy, There Was Daffy, There Was Elmer The Great

     On August 9, 1934, Elmer "The Great" Dean decided selling peanuts in St. Louis was not for him. The oldest brother of Dizzy and Paul had been talked into coming to the big city by his brothers and given a job by the club. He had sold peanuts for a Cardinals minor league affiliate in Houston called the Buffaloes before he made the trip to the Mound City, and he quickly realized that it was not for him.

     The story of Elmer Dean is an interesting one. He had dreams of making it on the big league diamond, but that never came to be. With that said, his tale is one that should be told, because even though his time in Cardinal Nation was short, he too has his place amongst the great tales from the past.

     Like his brothers, Elmer's date of birth came with question mark. There was a time where that it was not all that unusual, as birth records were not kept in the same way that they are today. What we do know is he was the first brother in the Dean clan of three. There was a time when the siblings were growing up that they had gotten separated while the Dean's were traveling through Texas working the cotton fields. It was several years before someone asked Elmer if they knew of this pitcher that called himself Dizzy who was pitching for Houston. He showed him a newspaper clipping of his younger brother, and Elmer went to Houston where they were reunited. Dizzy got him a job slingin peanuts and drinks, which was far better than the job he had been working at on a farm where he had been making ten cents a day. It was said when Elmer wasn't at the ballpark he loved riding elevators in the office buildings around Houston. It was his only vice.

   Elmer did try his hand at the sport that was going to make his brothers famous. He claimed that everything they knew was taught to them by him. However, his did not have that natural abilities, but he sure thought he did. In 1935, Lon Warneke of the Chicago Cubs watched Elmer during a pitching school in Houston. Warneke told him to ease off on the way he was throwing a bit, but the ever defiant Dean brother told the pro that he was just as good a pitcher as his brothers, and he had never had a sore arm. He also claimed he had a screwball that was better than Warneke's. It's safe to say that was not true since Warneke spent 15 years in the big leagues,which included a no-hitter as a member of the Cardinals in 1941. One of the funnier things that came out of the pitching session with Warneke is Elmer tried to deny the fact that he was a peanut vendor when it was well documented. He was a pitcher in his own mind that day.

     While Dean did join the House of David baseball team in 1936 he never did make it as a professional. The House of David was a bearded club that barnstormed around the United States during the first half of the 20th century. It is speculation on my part, but with a familiar name like Dean on their club it might have helped sell a few tickets. By 1937 he was back in Houston sellin peanuts, and cracker jacks, while helpin fans not care if they ever got back. By all accounts the fans their enjoyed him, and it seemed like he had a good relationship with them as well.

     The information about the eldest Dean brother is scarce. There was a small window where his name grabbed quite a few headlines, but that window closed. It was reported by the Sporting News that he passed away on September 24th of 1956 at the estimated age of 47. The small article that was printed about his death said he had worked as a farmer later in life. I have often heard Paul referred to as "the other Dean." There was another Dean as well. His name was Elmer. He was part of Cardinal Nation for just a minute, but during that minute he forever placed himself into the great history of the organization.

Friday, August 8, 2014

August 8, 1961: Boyer Bombs The Reds

     On August 8, 1961, Ken Boyer's second home run of the day came in the bottom of the ninth with one out, and propelled the Cardinals to a dramatic 6-5 victory over the visiting Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium. 

     It was a true battle from beginning to end, as the Cardinals starter Ernie Broglio surrendered a run in the first, before watching the Birds bounce back in the bottom of the inning when Bill White and Boyer connected on back-to-back singles off of Cincy's hurler Bob Purkey. White and Boyer knocked in back-to-back runs in the third with that pair of home runs it gave the Cardinals a 4-1 lead, but the ball was not done flying on that day in St. Louis. Broglio served up two big flies in the fifth. The first was hit by Cincinnati's pitcher to leadoff the inning, and the second was a two out blast by Vada Pinson that closed the gap to 4-3. 

     The Redlegs tied it up in the sixth, which proved to be the end of the day for Broglio. He handed the ball to Lindy McDaniel, who watched Charley James knock in a go ahead run in the seventh. McDaniel had gotten the last two outs of the sixth, and was nearly flawless, as he only gave up a hit in the eighth, before he watched pinch hitter Jerry Lynch launch one into the seats to lead off the ninth. McDaniel retired the next three men in succession, but I bet ya he walked to that Cardinals bench feeling a bit down as he had given away the lead. That wouldn't last long, as Boyer stepped to the plate after watching White strike out. Purkey was still on the bump for the Reds, and he was about to help send 17,660 souls home happy, as he served up the pitch to Boyer that The Captain crushed. Adios, goodbye, and see you later. That's a Winner. 

Be sure and check out: Kevin McCann is the author writing this upcoming book, and I am excited to see the finsihed product. I consider him a friend, although we have never met. The fact of it is like anybody else that reads this we are friends through a common bond that involves two birds on a bat. He can also be found on twitter at @kenboyerbook I can be found on there @CardinalHistory. 

Pepper and His Race Car

     I was digging around looking for photos of the old Gashouse Gang when stumbled across this gem. According to the book Pepper Martin: A Baseball Biography ole Pepper had this race car built, and dubbed it the "Redbird Special." The book also said it was raced by a professional during the baseball season, but Pepper never drove it on the track, although he did drive it around Oklahoma City, and on his farm as well. When it was raced by the professional, Pepper would often gather up a few teammates like Dizzy Dean, Don Gutteridge, and Frankie Frisch to serve as pit members. If the car stalled they would hop the fence, and either help get it going, or get it out of harms way. When Branch Rickey learned of this he was not pleased, and asked Pepper to sell the car. Martin obliged, but even then another great tale from the days of the Gashouse Gang had been written.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

August 7, 1959: Stan The Man Belts A Walk Off Blast Against The Phillies

     On August 7, 1959, tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Stan "The Man" Musial beat the Phillies with one swing of the bat, as he belted a two run walk off shot to give the Birds a 3-1 victory. The two-run shot was set up by a leadoff walk by Joe Cunningham, then moments later Ruben Gomez served up a 2-1 pitch to The Man who gave it a long ride to victory. This was the 10th of 12 walk off shots for Musial, who had also hit one in May of that same season.  1959 was not the best year in the career of the legendary slugger with the corkscrew stance. it was said that at 38 years of age, he tried to back off a bit in Spring Training, which led to a slow start, and an overall mediocre season, as he hit just .255 with 14 home runs. While some might have thought his career was at the finish line, there was still a ways to go. He hit .275 the next season, and followed it up with a .288 campaign. There are many numbers from the career of Musial that I love to look at, one of those numbers is the average he put up in 1962. which was .330 at the age of 41. Quite frankly that is an astounding number for any man, even more so at that age. When it came from the bat of "The Man" nobody should  have been surprised. He swung that stick for one more year, before that proverbial finish line was crossed, and when it was he was the greatest player that St. Louis had ever seen run the race.

Check out the box score here:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

August 6, 1935: A Walk Off Big Blast For Dizzy

     On August 6, 1935, Dizzy Dean recorded his 18th win of the season by hitting a tenth inning three run walk off shot off of Reds reliever Emmett Nelson that gave the Cardinals a crazy 6-3 victory in front of a home crowd at Sportsman's Park. The table was set for Dean when Bill Delancey doubled and Charley Gelbert was issued a free pass before Leo Durocher moved Gelbert over with a sacrifice. Dizzy, who had come on in relief in the seventh stepped to the plate just hoping to put wood on the ball, and that he did, as he came around on it and rocked it over the wall in left. The walk off shot was Dizzy's seventh home run of his career. He only hit eight, and only one of those was a walk off shot. Unfortunately, I could not find a good quote from Dizzy after he hit that one, because you know he had a few in him.

     According to the Society of American Baseball Research only 32 pitchers have hit a walk off home run, which includes one that happened by a hurler in the American Association, and another that came off the bat of a Federal League hurler. The last time it was accomplished by a pitcher came in 1986 when a fever ridden Craig Lefferts blasted a walk off that gave his Padres a dramatic win over the Giants in San Diego.

Check out the box score here:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August 5, 1954: Stan The Man Helps Welcome Tommy Lasorda To The Bigs

     On August 5, 1954, Stan "The Man" Musial made Brooklyn's Tommy Lasorda's big league debut a memorable one by knocking in seven runs, with two three run home runs, and a sacrifice fly during a 13-4 win at Ebbets Field in New York.

     Every single batter in the Cardinals lineup produced, including the pitcher Brooks Lawrence who not only went the distance, but picked up three hits in three trips to the plate, and scored twice. Rip Repulski's four hits in six trips led the hit parade, while Ray Jablonski and Bill Sarni each rapped out three. The big story of the day was "The Man" who hit towering drives over the screen in right not once but twice, and both times he had two men on ready to pat him on the back at the dish. The first big blast came in the top of the third, and put the Cardinals up 4-2, and ended a frustrated Preacher Roe's day. The Brooklyn starter was so angry with himself that he hurled his glove into the audience as he walked toward the dugout. Erv Pavlica took over for Roe, and Musial busted things wide open with him on the bump in the fourth with his second blast of the day which put the score at 8-2. Lasorda came into relieve in the fifth, and was greeted by Musial in the sixth with a sacrifice fly that brought Wally Moon into score, which was also Stan's seventh RBI of the day.

      In his first three innings of work the future Hall of Fame manager gave up six hits, and three runs in three innings of work. The Cardinals catcher Bill Sarni might have made the biggest impression on the 26-year-old Lasorda, as he took him deep in the seventh. After Tommy handed the ball off to the next victim, the Cardinals continued to roll, until the ninth inning brought about a merciful ending for the Bums from Brooklyn.

     That win in Brooklyn was a highlight from a season that saw the Cardinals finish near the bottom of the standings with a 68-86 record. It marked the first losing season for the club since 1938. The 86 losses were the most losses the club had recorded since 1924. The bright spots on the pitching staff was Luis Arroyo's 11-8 record, but the rookie's last win came in mid July, while the anchor of the pitching staff Harvey Haddix posted a 12-16 record. Pretty rough. When it came to the position players, Musial was the only one who hit over .300 on the year. Both Bill Sarni and Red Schoendienst suffered through slumps, while the rest of the squad were youngsters who struggled to live up to expectations. There were some bright spots though, such as Bill Virdon who took home rookie of the year honors with a .281 average, and Wally Moon who flirted with .300 before finishing up at .295.

     The team that the Cardinals faced that day in Brooklyn was a team of destiny who were in search of their first World Series championship. They had come close multiple times, but for one reason or another they were not able to achieve the ultimate goal. That changed in 1955, as they won 98 games, the National League Flag, then the World Series in a classic seven game battle that saw them topple the mighty Yankees. It was a lesson in baseball for the Cardinals. Every year is not your year. You tip the cap to the opponents when they do well, and in many cases the opponents do the same when you do well. Sportsmanship. If there was ever a man who defined that word his last name was Musial.

Check out the box score here:

Sidenote about Lasorda's career on the diamond. It was a short one. Just three years in the majors, but he did spend a total of 14 years in the minor leagues. His record in the majors was 0-4, in 26 appearances. They often joke that some of the worst players make some of the best managers, and ole Tommy proved to be a pretty damn good skipper. Good enough that he has a plaque in the hallowed halls in Cooperstown. I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Lasorda, along with the men he helped achieve their dreams. While we might be rivals on game day it should never influence the respect we have for the players and coaches who do things the right way. Tommy Lasorda is one of those men.