Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 30, 1921: Hornsby Day at The Ballpark

     On September 30, 1921, Rogers Hornsby day was held at Sportsman's Park. The man of the hour was presented with flowers, two diamond rings, and a diamond studded pin. Mayor Henry Kiel also presented the him with $2,000 in Liberty Bonds that would be put toward a down payment on a home in the St. Louis area. Hornsby rewarded those who rewarded him with a 3 for 5 day at the plate that included a home run, two doubles, three runs scored, and three RBIs. The performance led the way to a 12-4 victory that had dimmed the hopes of a Pirates pennant in Pittsburgh. They were on the heels of the Giants, and the Birds made sure they stayed there.

     The Cardinals were in the hunt for their first pennant at that point, and they put up a fight that season to win 87 games, just three games short of the second place Pirates, and seven back of the league leading, and eventual World Series Champion New York Giants. Hornsby carried the club to those wins with a .397 average, 21 homers, and 126 RBIs. The 21st home run came on Hornsby Day. He ended up two shy of a triple crown. However, he would achieve that feat as well. In fact he would achieve it twice, with the first coming one season later, and the second coming in 1925.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN192109300.shtml

Monday, September 29, 2014

September 29, 1963: The End of an Era; Stan The Man's Career Comes To a Close

     On September 29, 1963, one of the finest eras in the history of Major League Baseball came to an end as Stan Musial stepped on the major league diamond as a player for one last time. "The Man" went out, much like he came in, as he picked up two hits, and figured into a 3-2 Cardinals victory in St. Louis. 22 years earlier Stan had picked up two hits in his major league debut that came on September 17, 1941, and had helped the Cards take that game by an identical score. He was just a 20-year-old kid that had dreams to make it in the big leagues on that day in '41. He would not only achieve those dreams, he would become one of the greatest players to ever step on a major league diamond.

     Before the contest began against the Cincinnati Reds there was an emotional ceremony held that featured speeches from Cardinals owner August Busch, the commissioner of baseball Ford C. Frick, NL President Warren Giles, AL President Joe Cronin, the Mayor of St. Louis Raymond Tucker, as well as Missouri Governor John Dalton. Two Cub Scouts presented Stan with the neckerchief he wore throughout the ceremony, before Musial's teammates presented him with a ring that had six diamonds in the shape of the famous six that had been worn on his back for oh so long. Gussie Busch made it be known that no man who wore those birds would ever wear that number again. Musial humbly thanked the dignitaries, the fans, and God for his good fortune, before making his away around the field in a convertible where the fans that had loved him for many years cheered and waved.

     Now it was time to play some ball. Stan's 3,026th contest started out with him striking out against the Reds ace Jim Maloney who was going for his 24th win of the season. Stan had an ace in the hole as well. That ace in the hole had the name Bob Gibson written on his birth certificate, and Gibson had won 18 games up to that point. The two pitchers were locked in a duel when Musial ripped a one out single that shot by a young rookie second baseman by the name of Pete Rose in the fourth. Maloney worked his way around the inning with no damage done. He was not so lucky when Musial stepped to the dish in the sixth with one out, and knocked in Curt Flood who had doubled to leadoff the inning. "The Man" had put the Birds up 1-0, and it would be the last time he had pleasure of doing so, as Gary Kolb was sent out to first to pinch run for the man who had spent most of his adult life wearing those two birds on that bat.

     When Musial trotted off the field 27,756 souls cheered. They had just witnessed his 1,815th hit at home, which matched his 1,815 hits on the road. Baseball's perfect split for baseball's perfect knight. He had amassed a .331 career average, which had 475 home runs, as well as 1,951 RBIs attached to it. That crowd had witnessed history. There was more history to be made.

     The Birds padded the lead with back-to-back singles off the bats of Ken Boyer and Bill White that setup a Charlie James sac fly that scored  Kolb. That second Cardinals run of the day was a very important run. Gibby looked like he was going to nail it down easily, as he sailed into the ninth with 11 strikeouts. He sat down the first two men he faced, then the tables turned. Back-to-back singles, and a wild pitch later there were men at second and third, and shortstop Leo Cardenas played the spoiler by ripping a single that brought both men into score. Free baseball. Extra innings here we come.

     Gibby's day might have been spoiled, but the efforts of Ron Taylor and Ernie Broglio out of the Cardinals bullpen insured that Musial's day would not be. They kept the Reds off the board until the 14th inning, which setup Dal Maxvill to win it in the bottom of that inning with a double. Three hours and 45 minutes had ran off the clock since the first pitch crossed the dish. When that winning run scored Musial celebrated with his teammates one more time. There stood baseball's perfect warrior, there stood baseball's perfect knight. The time had come. One of the greatest eras in the history of the game had dropped the curtain.

Stan's final box score : http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN196309290.shtml

If you would like to read about Stan's first game, that also features a newspaper article from the day that followed check this out: http://onthisdayincardinalnation.blogspot.com/2014/09/september-17-1941the-storybook-begins.html

Sunday, September 28, 2014

September 28, 1930: Dizzy Dean Makes an Impressive Debut

     On September 28, 1930, Dizzy Dean impressed in his major league debut by allowing just three hits, and struck out five, during a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Sportsman's Park. The 20-year-old product of the Texas League was had joined a club that had sown up the National League Pennant two days before, and the management was getting their first major league look at the kid who would end up immortalized not only in St. Louis. Dean did more than pitch, he also picked up his first major league hit, and scored his first major league run. Dean would win a total of 134 games with the club through 1937. The win that came on that last day of the 1930 season was the first mile marker on a road that would lead to Cooperstown.

Dizzy's first big league box score: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN193009280.shtml

Saturday, September 27, 2014

September 27, 1942: The Cardinals Take The Flag

     On September 27, 1942, with a 9-2 victory over the Cubs during the first game of a doubleheader at Sportsman's Park the Cardinals punched their ticket to the World Series. Ernie White led the way to the pennant clinching victory by striking out eight, and allowing just five hits, while Terry Moore led an 11-hit offensive outburst by going 3 for 5 with three RBIs, and two runs scored. The final out of the ballgame came off the bat of Clyde McCullough, and sailed into the mitt of a 21-year-old rookie by the name of Stan Musial. It was said that when that ball hit the mitt a celebration broke out at the ballpark that reverberated through the neighborhood. St. Louis was buzzing. The National League Crown had returned for the first time since 1934. The club followed up the pennant clincher by knocking off the Cubs 4-1 in the second game, as they prepared for a battle against the Yankees.

     The '42 Cardinals were a young hungry bunch that had won 43 out of their last 51 games, which led to the number 106 being featured in the win column. No team in franchise history has won more ballgames than that group of men. They had held off the Dodgers by just two games in what was great race of baseball thoroughbreds. They had another thoroughbred in front of them with the New Yankees who had won the World Series in five of the previous six seasons. While many had the Bronx Bombers picked to win it, there were many who thought that the Cardinals could get the job done, and that they did. Eight days after that pennant clinching game the Cardinals were World Champions. They had toppled the mighty Yankees in five games.

Check out the pennant clinching box score:http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN194209271.shtml


Friday, September 26, 2014

September 26, 1983: Forsch Throws His Second No-Hitter

     On September 26, 1983, it took Bob Forsch just 96 pitches to no-hit the Montreal Expos at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The performance led the way to a 3-0 Redbird victory that will never be forgotten. It was the second time Forsch had achieved the feat with the Birds on the Bat across his chest making him the one and only pitcher in franchise history to record two no-hitters for the club.

     His first no-hitter came on April 16, 1978 against the Phillies at Busch. Many considered it to be controversial because it looked like the Phillies snuck one past Kenny Reitz at third in the eighth, but it was ruled an error by Neil Russo of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. When Reitz was asked he said he should have had it, and the call by Russo was the right one. Forsch followed up the miscue with a double play ball, then set down the last four men he faced. While the feat was celebrated it did have a cloud hung over it. That fact made the no-hitter in September of '83 one that Forsch would hold in much higher regard. There would be no cloud over this one.

     The Cardinals came into that game simply looking to finish the year strong. It had been a disappointment for the defending champions. They had stayed in the race until mid September, before skidding to fourth place finish. Forsch was simply trying to right the ship. He came into the contest 8-12, and had been struggling to put together a strong outing. That was about to change, for that one night the disappointing season by the team, and Forsch alike would be forgotten, and this night would forever be remembered.

     Only two men reached against the virtually untouchable Forsch, and they both came in the second inning. He had set down the first five men he faced. The fifth man was Tim Raines, and that second inning at bat was the only at bat that looked like it might turn into an Expo hit, as he crushed one that Willie McGee had to recover on the warning track. Forsch then sailed one in on Gary Carter that caught the backstop, and sent him trotting down to first. The hit batsman was followed with a hotshot to third that went through the legs of Ken Oberkfell, but this error was a no doubter, and would not leave the same taint as the error in '78. Forsch shook off the misfortune, and retired the next 22 men in a row. He was provided with the tuns he needed in the fifth, then finished off one of the finest gems of them all; a no-hitter.

    Bob's second no-no came one year after his brother Ken had achieved the feat in Houston, which made them the only two brothers in the history of the game to do so. When the last out were recorded on that day in '83, Bob became just the 20th player in the history of Major League Baseball to throw two no-hitters in his career. Today he is just one of 32 men to achieve that feat. Out of those men one of them stand above the rest in Cardinal Nation, and his name is Bob Forsch.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN198309260.shtml

Thursday, September 25, 2014

September 25, 1934: Dizzy Wins His 28th

     On September 25, 1934, Dizzy Dean won his 28th game of the season, and helped the Cardinals move one step closer to a National League pennant with a complete game performance in Pittsburgh. Dean was given a 3-0 lead early with RBIs from Ducky Medwick, Ripper Collins, and Spud Davis. The cushion looked to be all Dean would need for a W. He allowed just six hits in the contest, but one of them was a big fly in the ninth that came off the bat of  the Buccos shortstop Arky Vaughan. The two run shot might have had the crowd come alive with hopes of a comeback, but Dean shook off the misfortune, and locked down the victory. One of the many things that could be considered spectacular about Dizzy Dean and his 30 win season is the fact that he locked down the last three wins, which included this one over a five day stretch, and he went the distance in each of those contests. To top it off the last two games were shutouts.

     The New York Giants had lost 4-0 to the Phillies at the Polo Ground that same day Dean won his 28th, which put the Cardinals just one game behind in the standings. With just a handful of games left all of the mathematical scenarios were put together, and there was talk of what to do in case of an unprecedented tie, which would have led to a one game playoff. That scenario never played out. The Giants lost their last three, while the Cards lost just one game out of their last five. Dean's dominance continued into the postseason, as he and his brother Paul each claimed two wins apiece during the seven game Fall Classic.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN193409250.shtml


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 24, 1900: Cy Young Outduels Rube Waddell In St. Louis

     On September 24, 1900, a pitching duel for the ages took place at Robison Field in St. Louis as Cy Young outdueled Rube Waddell during a 1-0 Cardinals win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Both pitchers allowed four hits in the contest,  and they picked up an error as well. The error committed by the Pirates came in the seventh when the Cardinals shortstop shot one right at the Pirates shortstop Bones Ely who could not get a handle on it. Wallace grabbed second base on a sac fly, and Dan McGann knocked him with a single to left. That run was all Young needed to defeat Waddell and the visitors, in what was a Hall of Fame battle at the turn of the century.

      Young won 45 games of his 511 wins as a member of the Cardinals. Waddell won 193 games during his career. While Waddell never did wear the uniform of the National League club that called St. Louis home, he did don the uniform of the American League's St. Louis Browns during the last three years of his storied career, going 33-29 during that stretch. While he wrote the last chapters of his Hall of Fame career in St. Louis, the best pages had been written well before he got there. His finest season came in 1905 with the Philadelphia Athletics when he won the pitching Triple Crown by leading the A.L. in wins, earned run average, and strikeouts.

     The story in the picture was published in the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette the following day. I consider it to be a true gem.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September 23, 1941: Stan Musial Hits His First Big League Homer

     On September  23, 1941, a crowd of more than 13,000 witnessed Stan Musial hit the first home run of his major league career at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. The big blast came during the second game of a doubleheader that had the Cards looking to bounce back from a 4-0 loss, that included an 0 for 4 game by the kid who grew up roughly 30 miles from the ballpark. Bounce back they did. Musial went 3 for 4 with the big blast that came off of Rip Sewell in the fifth. It opened up a 6-0 lead, that was tacked on to in the seventh when Estel Crabtree blasted a three-run homer to cap off the day's scoring.

     A great deal of Stan's family and friends witnessed that historic blast. They had made the trip from Donora. Coincidentally when Musial's ball sailed over the right field wall it landed in the hands of a friend that put it back in the hands of the 20-year-old with the number 6 on his back. Stan swapped him a ball, and told said that the home run ball would be kept in his household. That was 1 of 475. All with the Birds on the Bat across his chest.

     The clipping today was featured in the Pittsburgh Press the following day. Hence the title "Local Boy Makes Good .. With The Cardinals". They were very proud of their native son for making it in the big leagues.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT194109232.shtml

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22, 1948: Stan Musial Equals Cobb's Mark By Going 5 For 5 In Boston

     On September 22, 1948, the Cardinals stopped an eight game winning streak, and prevented the Braves from clinching the National League Pennant for the first time since 1914 by beating them 8-2 in Boston. The Birds unleashed 17 hits, and Stan "The Man" Musial owned five of them. The 5 for 5 performance included a homer, a double, and three singles, as well as two RBIs, and three runs scored. Many years later when Stan was asked about the best game of his career it was said he did not even have to think about it. It came on that day in Boston.

       He had come into the contest with a pair of sore wrists that resulted from a diving catch in the outfield one day, and beanball on another. The wrists were so bad that the team doctor wanted to tape him up, but Stan took tape off because it hampered his swing. The Cards were set to face Warren Spahn, so Musial decided to try to hit everything to left against the lefty. He just could not snap his wrists enough to pull the ball. Needless to say the strategy worked. His first hit was a looped single to left. He followed it up by knocking a ball over the left fielder's head for a double in the third, and by the fourth the Birds had helped send Spahn to the showers early. Red Barrett was on the mound in the fifth when Musial sailed one into the bullpen in right for his 38th home run of the year. He said he swung from his heel, and that his wrists were tied in knots when he connected on that one, and his wrists were on fire when he was able to shoot a Clyde Shoun pitch through the hole at third and short for his fourth hit of the day in the sixth.

     Stan had come into that game knowing about a record set by Ty Cobb in 1922. That record was the record for most five-hit games during a single season. That was record was four. Stan also knew he was one hit away from tying that record. He had battled, he had worked his way through the pain, and he going to tie that record. The chance to do so came in the eighth. At that point the Braves had Al Lyons on the bump. Described as a righty who lacked control, he lived up to the description by throwing issuing back-to-back balls to Musial. The Cardinals bench chimed in quickly, as they yelled for Lyons to put one over. Stan was not even sure if the next pitch was in the strike zone or not, he just swung at it, and for a fraction of a second he thought it was going to be an out, before it was rolling on the grass in right. He had match Cobb's longstanding record, and he did it in just five swings. His wrists  had hurt him so bad that he decided not to waste swings, so he put the wood on the ball when he took a cut, and each cut he took turned into a hit.

     The game also saw Enos Slaughter get his nose broken when struck by a line drive off the bat of Nippy Jones while on the basepaths in the fourth. It was terrible luck, and with just handful of games left Slaughter's season was done. With that said, Slaughter bounced back from it the next year, and had many more years left on the major league diamond.

      I would bet it is safe to say that Stan hated to see his season end that way, but as we all know the beat goes on after an injury, and "The Man" continued to swing the stick. The moment he tied Ty Cobb's record of four five-hit games in a single season had to be a great moment. Especially knowing how much he went through to get them. That feat has only been accomplished two times since that day: Tony Gwynn (1993) and Ichiro Suzuki (2004).

     Stan enjoyed the finest season of his storied career during that '48 campaign. Musial's led the league with a .376 average, 230 hits, 46 doubles, 18 triples, 429 total bases, and a .702 slugging percentage. Musial would have taken the Triple Crown had it not been for a lost home run due to a rainout. Just think a few clouds spoutin some rain denied Stan of a Triple Crown. Even though that might be the case, Stan was awarded the MVP award for the third time in his career.

     From ownership, to management, down to the players, and the fans alike, there had to be some level of disappointment with that a second place finish. However, after that disappointment subsided they could look back and smile at what the man who wore the number 6 on his back did, and we can smile about it today.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BSN/BSN194809220.shtml

Stats of a legend: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/musiast01.shtml



Sunday, September 21, 2014

September 21, 1934: Dizzy Tosses a Gem; Paul Steals The Show

     On September 21, 1934, Dizzy and Paul Dean put on a show during a doubleheader at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Dizzy took the ball in the first game, and held the Dodgers hitless until the eighth inning of what turned out to be a 13-0 rout that featured a 17 hit attack by the Birds that was highlighted by a 4 for 5 performance by Ripper Collins, which included two doubles, and a home run. Ultimately, Dizzy had to settle for a three hitter in what proved to be his 27th win of the campaign, then he sat and watched his kid brother, a rookie, toss a no-hitter. It was a thing of beauty.

      The Cardinals did not pour it on in the second game like they did in the first, but they did not need to, because brother Paul turned in the no-hit performance that was nearly perfect, as he led the way to a 3-0 victory. The bid for perfection was broken up early, as he walked Len Koenecke with two out in the first, but from there the lights were turned out on the Dodgers lineup. Paul did more than toss a gem, he also picked up two of the seven Cardinals hits in the contest, and scored the first run of the ballgame in the sixth. Ducky Medwick scored the other two runs in the contest. At the end of that day Paul Dean was the just the third man in franchise history to toss a no-hitter, and just the fifth rookie in the history of the game to achieve the feat. It would not be accomplished by another Cardinals rookie until 1999 when Jose Jimenez joined the club. Bud Smith joined the club as well in 2001.

     The league leading Giants won that day against the Braves in Boston, but since the Birds played two they had moved up in the standings by a half a game, and were trailing the New Yorkers by three games. As the season winded down the Cardinals kept gaining on them, and with three days left in the campaign they tied them in the standings, Two days later they won the National League Pennant by two games, and nine days after that they were World Champions.

     The Dean brothers accounted for 49 of the Cardinals 95 wins. Dizzy won 30 of those 49, while Paul locked down 19. Paul's 18th win of that season is one that will never be forgotten, as he had achieved what most pitchers can only dream of; a coveted no-hitter. It has been said that Dizzy joked about it saying if he knew his kid brother was gonna throw one he would have threw one too. He came close, and if he would have achieved the feat they would be the only pair of brothers to do so for the same team on the same day. It's too bad it did not work out that way. However, it was still quite the day in Cardinal Nation.

Check out the box scores here
Dizzy's gem: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BRO/BRO193409211.shtml
Daffy's no-no: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BRO/BRO193409212.shtml

Sidenotes: The three hits allowed in the doubleheader stood as record for fewest hits during a twin bill until 1992, when Matt Young of the Red Sox no-hit the Indians, but still managed to lose the game 2-1. Young's performance was followed up by a two-hit performance by Roger Clemens that had the Sox come out on top 3-0. To date only one pair of brothers have both tossed a no-no. Bob Forsch pitched two with the Cardinals, with the first coming in '78, and the other coming in '83, while his brother Ken tossed one for the Astros in '79.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

September 20, 1974: The Lives of Brock and McBride are Threatened

     On September 20, 1974, the Cardinals knocked off the Chicago Cubs 5-2 at Busch. The game was highlighted by a fourth inning three run homer by Ted Simmons that gave the Birds a 4-1 lead, and proved to be key in leading the club to victory. The win was a big one that kept the Birds perched atop the N.L. East. With that said, the game that was played that day and the games played in the days that followed were game that were being played under duress because that morning when the mail was delivered to the Cardinals offices at Busch there were a pair of identical letters in the stack of mail that threatened the lives of outfielders Lou Brock  and Bake McBride.

     Brock had broken Maury Wills' record of 104 stolen bases 10 days before that letter arrived, and looked to be leading the way to a division title. McBride was on the way to winning Rookie of the Year, and had played a huge role in the club's success as well. The fan that sent the letter had claimed he was dying of a brain tumor and had just months to live. He had also claimed he lose $50,000 on bet that was place on the Pittsburgh Pirates to win the East. He thought that Brock and McBride were going to make him lose that bet. It was full of racial slurs that will not be repeated on this page, but I will give you a version of the letter without any of that language. It went as follows:

"By beating out the Pirates this year you're costing me $50,000 in winnings I would have had as a result of a bet at large odds I placed on them to win back in April when they were already counted out even by the oddsmakers. This is no idle threat; If I think so I can assure you that neither of you will live past the 3rd, 4th, or 5th playoff game whether it be in L.A. or Cincy. I have only a month or two to live: I have a brain tumor--- inoperable---and the pain will---my doctor advises me increase to the intolerable stage: I do not intend to go through that agony: I had hoped to leave my wife and children that $50,000, therefore, since you damn Cardinals are taking me, I've decided to take 2---possibly---more with me. I'll have a revolver loaded with six shots and be in the stands close enough to get you both and save the last shot for myself as since I suicide is my only way out---unspeakable agony is not going to be mine. I am going to follow you to St. Louis, Chicago, Montreal, and L.A. and Cincy if I decide to wait until the end meanwhile you 2... can sweat it out wondering if I am going to wait to make my move in St. Louis---wait til Chicago---wait til Montreal---or wait to L.A. or Cin. I'm going to let you sweat it out but I assure you I'm going to kill you both so every time go out to the outfield you can look anxiously towards the stands for I'll be there and be sure to say goodbye to your family each morning for between now and the next two weeks or so you will have said goodbye for the last time. If this was an idle threat why would I go to all this trouble: I ASSURE YOU I AM GOING TO KILL YOU BOTH."
(Signed), Outraged and despondent pain wracked

     The letters that had crossed the borderline of insanity had been postmarked on September 18th. The team tried to keep it quiet, but rumors were flying around, and security had clearly been tightened up. Brock and McBride both had been assigned protection, and on September 29th a press conference was held at the offices at Wrigley Field in Chicago to inform the public why the measures had been implemented.  Brock sat by the side of Bing Devine and helped explain the situation. McBride sat out the press conference, but I believe it is safe to say he had more than baseball on his mind. Brock acknowledged that the threats affected his play on the field, but he did not know to what extent. The book titled "Bob Forsch's Tales From The Cardinals Dugout" makes it seem as if Lou took it in stride, while the rookie McBride had a much harder time dealing with it. The toll it had to take on both players had to be greater than anyone could realize. A variety of parties became involved in trying to find the person who had sent the letters, which included the head of Major League Baseball's security, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, as well as the FBI.  To my knowledge the culprit was not caught.

     The club stumbled over the last week of the season, and eventually lost the division title to the Pirates by just one and a half games. Hard to say if the threats had a hand in that division title being stripped away, but ultimately that hardly matters. What matters more than the numbers in the standings is that the two players were safe and sound. Some speculated it was a cruel joke to rattle the players, however, that was simply speculation, and it is very possible that the person had every intention on hurting both players. I searched and searched without being able to find more information about the case, so I imagine as time moved on it went cold, and Brock and McBride moved on with their lives.

     Through the years there have been well documented cases of athletes being threatened. Hank Aaron received numerous threat as he approached Babe Ruth's coveted home run record, and there have been many more cases of threats in the sports world as well. Even today when someone drops a ball in a big game or an umpire makes a bad call they are subject to death threats. It is my opinion that fans that make those threats are not fans at all. In the end they are cowards hiding behind anonymity.

     There is one well documented case of an obsessed fan shooting a player in 1949. The player's name was Eddie Waitkus. He had played for the Cubs for a number of years, but eventually the was traded to the Phillies. The fan, and obsessed woman who had become infatuated with him while he played in Chicago lured him into a trap and shot him. Waitkus was able to recover, but the incident was something that he carried with him the rest of his life. The reason I bring up Waitkus is because while most cases of people threatening athletes might be looked at as a bad joke, there is a very real possibility that someone could snap, and the worse case scenario could play out. That is why each threat must be taken seriously.

     No player, coach, or umpire deserves to have their life threatened. I can only imagine how bad the nerves of Brock and McBride must have been during that tumultuous time in their lives. It is times like those that sensible people realize it is just a game, and life means so much more than any game. Unfortunately, everyone does not have that sensibility.

If you are interested in knowing more about the aforementioned story about Eddie Waitkus check this out: http://onthisdayinsports.blogspot.com/2014/06/june-14-1949-eddie-waitkus-gunned-down.html

Friday, September 19, 2014

September 19, 1922: Hornsby's Hitting Streak Reaches 33

     On September 19, 1922, Rogers Hornsby extended a hitting streak that began on August 13th to 33 games during an 8-4 win over the Braves in Boston. Rajah went 1 for 4 on the day, with a seventh inning single that led to a run. He also knocked in a run, as he helped the club sweep the hometown squad. The streak ended the next day in Brooklyn during a 6-1 loss against the Dodgers in the first game of a doubleheader, but Hornsby bounced right back in the second game by parking two home runs in the seats at Ebbets Field. Those big blasts were his 38th and 39th of the season. He would finish with a league leading 42 home runs. He also led the league with 152 RBIs, and a .401 average, which led to the first of two Triple Crown's.  

     The 33 game hitting streak stood as the longest hitting streak by a second baseman until 2002 when Luis Castillo surpassed it with a 35 game streak of his own. Chase Utley equaled Castillo's mark in 2006. While Hornsby's streak has been surpassed by another second baseman, it still stands as the longest hitting streak by a Cardinal. Stan Musial flirted with the mark in 1950, but had his snapped at 30 games, and Albert Pujols equaled Stan's mark in 2003. As you read this today Hornsby's franchise mark has stood for 92 years. I believe that is a testament to how great of an accomplishment it was. 


Thursday, September 18, 2014

September 18, 1969: Simba Delivers In The Ninth

     On September 18, 1969, just four games into his major league career Ted Simmons provided the Cardinals with a two run walk off single that gave them an 8-7 victory over the Pirates in St. Louis. The late inning heroics came after the Cardinals blew a 3-0 lead in the seventh that saw them come out of the inning trailing 7-3. They got three of those runs back in the bottom of the inning, on a two out RBI single by Curt Flood, and a home run that came off the bat of Vada Pinson. That big fly was a milestone for the Cardinals rightfielder, as it became hit #2000 the moment it sailed past the fence.

      Pinson's 2000th hit also set the table for the fair haired boy who was just brought up for the farm to win it in the bottom of the ninth. Reliever Sal Campisi did his job by working his way through the eighth, and the top of the ninth without allowing another Pirate to score, then Red Schoendienst lifted the hurler for Phil Gagliano in the bottom of the ninth who rapped out a single to leadoff the inning off of Joe Gibbon, who had come on in relief for the Bucs in the seventh, and even though he had a bit of a rough inning the game was his to win or lose in the ninth.

      Luckily for Cardinals fans it was his to lose. Red made another move as soon as Gagliano reached first by calling on Vic Davalillo to run. Gibbon then struck out Lou Brock, before allowing a single to Curt Flood. The heat was on, but he came close to putting it out with a strikeout that denied Pinson of hit number 2,001. Gibbon needed one more out, but as you and I both know that 27th out of the ballgame is the hardest out to get, and on this day Gibbon would not lock it down. Joe Torre reached on an error that scored Davalillo, and the Cards were within one. Then came the kid with the number 23 on his back and his name last name Simmons above it. The kid laced one into right that brought Flood wheeling around to score, and within  moments the kid was being mobbed by his teammates. He was the hero of the day.

     There would be many more great moments for the kid who became known as "Simba", as he spent parts of 13 seasons with the club. He played in 1,564 games with the Cardinals, and during that time he hit .298, with 1,604 hits, which included 172 home runs, 929 RBIs. He ranks in many of the top offensive categories in franchise history, and it is my opinion that he deserves a spot in Cooperstown.

     Pinson's time in the Gateway City was not long. In fact, it was just one season. He amassed 2,757 hits in his career, and was a 4 time All Star, as well as a Gold Glove winner for the Reds in 1961. While he called St. Louis home for just one season it was a season he would remember, and the day he got his 2,000th hit would be one to remember as well, as he along with the rest of the boys celebrated around the new kid in the ninth.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN196909180.shtml

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September 17, 1941:The Storybook Begins; Stan Musial

   On September 17, 1941, page one was written in the major league career of Stan Musial. The 20-year-old kid from Donora, Pennsylvania sat on the bench for the first game of a doubleheader against the Boston Braves, and he enjoyed watching his club win 6-1, behind a strong pitching performance by Howie Pollet, as well as a big fly off the bat off of Estel Crabtree. When Billy Southworth filled out his lineup card for the next game the name Musial was in the three hole. It was the beginning of what has to be considered the finest era by any individual that has worn the Birds on the Bat.

     The kid that would become known as "The Man" did not disappoint his new skipper, as he picked up a two RBI double in his second plate appearance. The two runs looked like they might be enough for Max Lanier to lock down a win, until he allowed two runs in the seventh that tied it up at 2-2. Lanier got past the misfortune, and kept the Birds in it. He was rewarded with a W because of his efforts in the ninth, as Crabtree hit his second home run of the day. The walk off blast was a solo shot that gave the Cardinals a 3-2 victory, and made Stan's first day on a major league diamond one to remember.

     The Cardinals were hoping to grab the flag as the season winded down in '41, and that kid from Donora gave them everything he had, as he hit .426 in 12 games. They were on the heels of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and Stan's debut win put them just a game back. They would come as close as a half game, but ultimately the Brooklyn squad won the race by 2 1/2 games. With that said the best was yet to come for the man who wore the number 6. Two other players, Harry Walker and Pep Young had worn the number 6 on their backs that '41 season. Once Stan put it on no other Cardinals player would wear it again.

     In 22 seasons Stan topped the .300 mark 17 times, and won seven batting titles with the famous corkscrew stance that produced 3,630 hits. My favorite Stan stat will forever be the fact that 1,815 of those hits came at home, and 1,815 of them came on the road. I often call it the perfect split for baseball's perfect knight. The famous stance also produced 1,951 RBIs, and 475 home home runs. In 1943 he took home his first of three MVP awards. The other two came in 1946 and 1948. He also helped the Cardinals capture three championship titles, and appeared in a record setting 24 All Star games. Only Willie Mays and Hank Aaron have matched that mark. Stan's major league storybook was documented in newspapers all across America during those days on the diamond, and the story featured in the photo was the first page written. This particular story appeared in the Pittsburgh Press.  They loved him there because of the Pennsylvania ties. While the story does not have his name splashed across the headline the Donora boy was mentioned. That page, and the pages that followed were the pages to a Hall of Fame resume. 

If you enjoy the great tales from the rich history of the Cardinals organization you can follow On This Day In Cardinal Nation on twitter: @CardinalHistory, or catch up with me at on Facebook at: Facebook.com/OnThisDayInCardinalNation I also welcome people to follow on google plus as well. 

If you would like to read more about the life and times of Stan Musial check out his SABR bio here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/2142e2e5 I would also highly recommend the book: Stan Musial: An American Life by George Vecsey.  It's a personal favorite.

Correction 10/19/2014: With Stan Musial serving his country in 1945, Red Schoendienst actually wore the number 6 during his rookie campaign. I was just looking over some of Red's stats, and noticed the number on his list of numbers worn. The 6 caught my eye pretty quick. When Stan returned his number was returned to him, and Red put on the number 2, and as they say the rest was history. What great history it was. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 16, 1924: Sunny Jim Knocks In 12

     On September 16, 1924, Cardinals first baseman "Sunny Jim" Bottomley set the major league record for the most RBIs in a game, with a 6 for 6 performance in Brooklyn that knocked in a total of 12 runs. The performance led the way to a 17-3 win over the Dodgers. Bottomley knocked in two with a single in the first, doubled home another run in the second, parked a grand slam in the seats in the fourth, hit a two run blast in the sixth, then singled in two more runs in the seventh, before breaking the record with an RBI in the ninth.

     The record  of 11 RBIs in one contest had stood since 1892, and the man who had set it was sitting there in ballpark managing the Dodgers. "Uncle Robbie" as they called him had been dealt a serious blow when it came to the hopes of the Dodgers playing in October. They were chasing the Giants, and were right on their heels, but they did not catch them. However, ole Uncle Robbie witnessed quite the performance, as Bottomley stormed past him in the history books. Coincidentally another Cardinal achieved the feat of 12 RBIs in one game, but it took awhile, as Mark Whiten matched him with 12 ribbies of his own with a four home run performance on September 7, 1993. It has not been accomplished since.

      Something I think about often is how great we have it with technology. A quick google search will bring up a highlight video of Whiten's 12 RBI day, but we are not so lucky when it comes to something that happened oh so long ago. With that said, the newspaper clippings can put you right back in the moment. That's the main reason I started using the articles with the photos featured on my pages. The clippings in the photo today are actually form two different papers. I found the cartoon in a paper that was issued three years later, while the article to the side of it was on the newsstands the next day. Ya know "Sunny Jim" had big smile on his face when he woke up that morning.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BRO/BRO192409160.shtml

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15, 1991: Lankford Hits For The Cycle

     On September 15, 1991, Cardinals outfielder Ray Lankford became the first rookie to hit for the cycle with the Birds on the Bat across his chest since Cliff Heathcote accomplished the feat for the club in 1918. The historic performance keyed the Redbirds to a 7-2 win over the New York Mets in front of more than 26,000 Cardinal faithful at Busch. Lankford's run at the record books began with a double in the first. He then singled in the third, and tripled in the fifth. Those first three hits had come against Pete Schourek who had gotten the call to start against Rheal Cormier. Schourek could not get out of that inning, as he gave up three runs, before getting the hook. On the other hand, Cormier was strong. In fact he went the distance, while Ray completed one of the greatest feats in baseball with a solo shot off of Wally Whitehurst to lead off the seventh. The cycle was complete, and Ray had scored for the fourth time that day when he touched the plate. To top things off Lankford had also snatched a bag in the contest... a little cycle bonus material. Quite the day for the kid who would call St. Louis home for more than a decade.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN199109150.shtml

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

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

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

Sunday, September 14, 2014

September 14, 1982: The Cards Enter First Place By Beating the Phillies at The Vet

     On September 14, 1982, a third inning two run home run off the bat of Darrell Porter proved to be all the Cardinals needed to beat the Phillies at Veteran's Stadium in Philadelphia. The Cardinals backstop not only provided the biggest hit of the day, but also caught a gem from rookie hurler John Stuper. Stuper allowed just four hits through seven and a third innings pitched. Then John encountered a bit of a jam with one down in the eighth by issuing a free pass to Bob Molinaro and a single to Pete Rose. Whitey acted quickly by calling on baseball's best closer Bruce Sutter. Things did not start off the way Bruce had in mind, as he loaded the bases by giving up a single to Gary Mathews. However, moments later he was able to get the always dangerous Mike Schmidt to hit into an inning ending double play. Sutter worked his way past a one out walk in the ninth, and locked down his league leading 32nd save of the year. The win was a big one as it propelled the Birds into first place in the National League East, and there was no looking back for the team that was destined to celebrate as World Champions by mid October.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PHI/PHI198209140.shtml

Saturday, September 13, 2014

September 13, 1953: Haddix Wins His 18th, Bilko Leads The Way, Stan Steals Home; The Cards Roll Over The Phillies 17-3

     On September 13, 1953, Harvey Haddix locked down his 18th win of the season with a 17-3 win over the Phillies at  Busch Stadium. Obviously ole Harvey had a bit of help in this one, as the Birds rapped out 19 hits in the contest. Steve Bilko led the offensive onslaught with 4 hits in 6 trips to the plate that included two doubles, a homer, and three ribbies. Enos Slaughter knocked in four with three hits, while Stan Musial knocked in two with a 3 for 3 day, which included a stolen base. It wasn't your average stolen base, as it was part of a double steal in the first that had Musial stealing home for the second run of the ballgame. From there the runs kept coming, and Haddix kept dealin. At the end of the day Haddix had allowed just five hits, with the biggest blow coming off of Del Ennis' bat in the ninth. It was a two out, two run homer, that Haddix had to shake off before finishing off the Fightin Phils who hardly put up a fight at all.

     Haddix enjoyed the best season of his big league career in '53, as he finished with a record of 20-9. The hurler might best be known for a carrying a perfect game into the 13th inning, before having it busted up, as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1959. Haddix won 53 games with the Birds over five seasons. While the hard luck of '59 would not be forgotten. The next year he celebrated as a World Champion with the Pirates. He started and won Game 5 of the Fall Classic, then was called on in relief in Game 7. He had inherited runners after Bob Friend had put two men on with no outs in the ninth. The Pirates were clinging to a 9-7 lead at that point, and Haddix could not work his way around the jam. He gave up a single to RBI single to Mickey Mantle, and one batter later Yogi Berra tied it up 9-9 with a groundout. If he had not blown the save Bill Mazeroski would have never hit the only Game 7 walk off home run in baseball history, and Haddix got the decision.

     Steve Bilko was an absolute great player in the minor leagues, however his minor league success did not carry over to the big leagues. With that said, he spent parts of 10 years on the big league diamond, and that is 10 more years than me.  He played in more games during the '53 season than any other, as he took to the field in all 154 contests, and hit .251 with 21 homers. After that he shuttled between majors and the minors in the years that followed. In 1956 and '57 he had back-to-back season of 50+ plus home run seasons with the PCL's Los Angeles Angels. It was in Los Angeles that Bilko would have career resurgence with 20 home runs in '61 with the newly christened Major League Baseball version of the Angels. The next season was his last in the bigs. One more interesting note about Bilko is it was said that his name inspired the character Sergeant Bilko.

     Funny thing about this fact is I told you quite a bit about Haddix and Bilko when my favorite part is Stan stole home. It was the fourth time in his career that he had stolen the base that mattered the most, and the second time that season. It was also the last time he snatched it. Mark over at http://retrosimba.com put together a great piece about all four of those steals. Check it out here: http://retrosimba.com/2012/11/21/the-story-of-how-stan-musial-stole-home-_-4-times/

Have a great day Cardinal Nation. Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN195309130.shtml

Friday, September 12, 2014

September 12, 1942: The Birds Enter a Tie With a Win Over The Bums In Brooklyn

     On September 12, 1942, a second inning two run shot off the bat of Whitey Kurowski, and a five hit, five strikeout performance by Max Lanier led the Cardinals to a 2-1 victory over the Dodgers at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. This was a very important game for the '42 club. On August 5th of that season they were down by 10 games, and  it looked like those Bums from Brooklyn would lay claim to their second consecutive National League crown. However, the National League team that called St. Louis home came storming down the stretch, and made up ground at a breakneck pace.

     The Cardinals took the lead in the National League the next day with a doubleheader split, and there was no looking back, as the Dodgers had gotten stuck in the midst of a five game losing streak. That was Brooklyn's longest losing streak of the season, and the Cardinals made the most of it. The Dodgers did right the ship, as they went 10-2 in their last 12, with eight of those games coming in a row to finish off the season. However, the Cardinals went 11-1 during that same stretch of ball, and clinched the pennant with a doubleheader sweep of the of the Cubs on the 27th of September. Eight days after that pennant clinching sweep the Cardinals were World Champions.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BRO/BRO194209120.shtml

Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 11, 2001: A Tribute To Those Who Were Lost, and Remembering Jack Buck's Words That Followed

     On September 11, 2001, life changed forever. The world stopped in shock as terrorists claimed nearly 3,000 innocent lives by hijacking four planes, then crashing them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. The days that followed were surreal, as it seemed like we were stuck in the continuous loop of footage documenting the horrible events. Everything stopped. However, we as Americans began to pick up the pieces, and began to move forward. It is what has to be done after a tragic event, and Jack Buck's heartfelt poem  that was delivered six days later let us all know that.

     Some of the most powerful words he delivered for me were "Should we be here? Yes." And we should be. While it is very important to continue to live our lives, it is also very important to never forget that day. I thought about posting a fact about a great win from yesteryear, but decided to pay tribute to those who were lost on 9/11 instead. This goes well beyond On This Day In Cardinal Nation, because this nation as a whole is all of ours.

     I like many of you can tell you right where I was when I heard the horrible news. In my case I was at a little gas station in Wildwood, Missouri. When I walked in to grab my breakfast the lady behind the counter asked if I had heard. I hadn't heard, and when I was told that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center I did not realize how bad it was. I worked outside mowing grass at the time, so I did not have a tv in front of me, and I went about my day. As the news kept coming in on the radio I began to realize how bad it was. What I remember the most about that day was being in Chesterfield next to the airport with no planes in the air. It was an eery feeling. I did not see the footage until later that evening, and I was as shocked as everyone. It was surreal.

     Jack reminded us that we are a nation of resolve, and we would pick ourselves up and continue to live. He also reminded us that if a war is waged against us we will not lay down. We will stand together and fight. This was coming from a man that had served his country proudly, and had seen his fair share of conflict throughout his life. He believed it in his heart, and I believe it in mine today.

      My heart breaks for those who were lost, and for those that loved them. I hope and pray they have been able to move forward with their lives while keeping the memory of their loved one alive as well. I do believe that on a day like today we should make sure our armed forces, as well as our first responders know that what they do is very much appreciated. If you are a firefighter, police officer, or a soldier, I thank you. Those two words are not said to all of these men and women often enough.

God Bless America, and thank you for the words that were so eloquently spoken Jack. We will never forget.

The full 6 minute video with an introduction of law enforcement and firefighters can be viewed here; http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/16401516/v13081149/jack-buck-reads-a-moving-speech-and-poem-in-st-louis

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 10, 1914: The Reds Allow Just One Hit During a 3-2 Cardinals Win in Cincy

     On September 10, 1914, in the midst of a no-hitter at Redland Field in Cincinnati, Reds left hander Rube Benton walked the first three Cardinals batters he faced, before being lifted for a reliever by the name of Phil Douglas. The no-no was still intact, and the Reds had a slim two run lead when Douglas took the ball, but the wheels would fall off the Reds bus at a rapid rate, as the reliever walked in two runs, then surrendered a hit to Ivey Wingo to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead. The hit proved to be the only Cardinals hit of the ballgame, as they found a way to the win column in a rather unorthodox fashion.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CIN/CIN191409100.shtml

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September 9, 1924: Chick Hafey Makes His Presence Known

     On September 9, 1924, the Cardinals were playing the part of spoiler, as they took two games from the Pirates at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. The first game gave Cardinals fans a glimpse of things to come with a kid by the name of Chick Hafey who had been called up at the end of August. Hafey led the club to a 7-4 victory in the first game, as he drove in six runs with a triple, a home run, and a sacrifice hit. The triple came with the bases loaded in the first, and moments later Hafey scored the fourth run of the inning, as he and his peers were off and running. The future Hall of Famer belted a two run homer in the third. Then picked up his sixth ribbie of the day with a sac fly in the seventh. With the help of some Pirates errors the Cardinals won the second game by the score of 6-4. Hafey capped off the day's production by picking up an RBI in that contest, that had dealt a severe blow to the Pirates hope of a National League pennant.

     The Pittsburgh Press said that Hafey had not been in the major league for a fortnight when he stepped to the dish that September day and dealt the hefty blow to their hopes of October baseball. However, they were not giving up on the season just yet, as they were on the heals of league leading New York Giants. Ultimately they would not catch the Giants. They ended up 3 games back at season's end.  Meanwhile, the 1924 season for the Cardinals was not a great one for the club, as they finished sixth in the standings. However, there were great moments, and personal accomplishments to be celebrated as Rogers Hornsby hit a career high .424 during the campaign. The National League club from St. Louis was laying groundwork for a Championship foundation. Hafey himself would become an integral part of that groundwork, as he had showed very early on that he had what it took to play with the big boys.

Check out the box scores here
Game1: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN192409091.shtml
Game 2: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN192409092.shtml

Check this great video about Hafey out: http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/26196506/v20032941/chick-hafey-played-with-cardinals-from-1924-to-1931

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8, 1989: Pedro Guerrero Puts an Exclamation Point On a Rally In Wrigleyville

     On September 8, 1989, the Cardinals faced an uphill battle in Chicago, as the division leading Cubs built a 7-1 lead after four innings, before the Birds came storming back with a run in the fifth, four more in the seventh, then five more in the eighth, which led to a huge 11-8 victory. The capper on the comeback was a three run bomb off the bat of Pedro Guerrero that broke up an 8-8 deadlock in the eighth, and proved to be the decider in this one. Guerrero's three run shot was an exclamation point on a 4 for 4 day that ended with five RBIs for the Redbirds first baseman. It was also a spoiler for Chicago's Ryne Sandberg who had went 4 for 5 with two home runs, but could only sit there and watch as his club failed to hold onto what was once a very comfortable lead.

     That win  positioned the Cardinals on the heels of the Cubs, as they trailed them by just a half game after it was put in the books. However, that was as close as they would get as they stumbled through the final month of the season. With that said, Guerrero was a bright spot from that '89 campaign, as he hit .311, with 17 home runs, and 117 RBIs. He also led the league with 42 doubles, and with everything else combined he came in third in the MVP voting. Quite the year for the man who wore the number 28 on his back.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN198909080.shtml

Sunday, September 7, 2014

September 7,1949: Stan Musial Night at The Ballpark Is Celebrated With a Wild Ending

     On September 7, 1949, Stan "The Man" Musial night was held at Sportsman's Park. Stan was given $6,000 in savings bonds, as well as a station wagon before the contest against the Cubs, and nine innings later he stood alongside his teammates and celebrated a wild win in front of the crowd of 19,454. Musial went 1 for 3 in the tilt, with his lone hit coming in a scoreless first inning. While he was not able to help put runs on the board. He did do his job in the outfield, and his teammates, along with a bit of luck led to the big a big victory during a heated pennant race.

     The Baby Bears jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the fifth, when Hank Sauer came up with a two out RBI single. While there had been some damage done, the Cardinals starter Howie Pollet struck the next man out, and left two men on in the process. The 1-0 deficit became a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the inning, as the Cardinals rookie first baseman Rocky Nelson took Doyle Lade deep. The big fly by Nelson was a blemish on an otherwise spectacular outing by Lade, as it was just one of four hits he had given up until the ninth rolled around. Before the ninth rolled around Lade looked to help his own cause by knocking in the go ahead run with a fielder's choice to give the Cubs a slim 2-1 lead.

     The joy of taking that lead would disappear in the bottom of the ninth, as Nelson led the inning off with a single off of Lade who was hoping for a complete game victory. However it would be Pollett who would be celebrating a complete game with a little help from circumstance. Lade retired a man, before Solly Hemus came through with a single. The Hemus single was followed up by the improbable, as Nippy Jones stepped to the dish as a pinch hitter, and bounced one down the third base line that looked like it was going to turn into a game ending double play. However, the ball hit the bag, and bounced over Bob Ramazzotti's head, which brought Nelson into score the game tying run, while Jones stood at first base relieved that he had not ended it. Lade loaded the bases by putting Red Schoendienst on with an intentional walk to get to Marty Marion who hit a hot shot past third to bring Hemus into the game winning run.

     The 3-2 victory helped the Cardinals maintain a lead in the National League standings that they had held since the mid August. However, the lead was a slim one. The widest margin the team held was just 2.5 games over the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Cardinals maintained the slim edge over Brooklyn until the last week of the season. Then with just four games to go it slipped away. The team hit a four game skid that ended up causing them to finish just one game back of the team from Flatbush. It was a heartbreaking way for the season to end. However, 1949 was a great year in Cardinal Nation. I always like to look at the win totals, and think that each and every victory is a reason to celebrate. I know without a doubt that Stan Musial Night at the ballpark, that featured one wild ending was one of 96 reasons to celebrate that season, and there would be many more wins in the years to come.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN194909070.shtml

Saturday, September 6, 2014

September 6, 1928: George Harper Blasts a Walk Off In The Tenth

     On September 6, 1928, the Cardinals found themselves trailing the Pirates 3-2 in the bottom of the 10th in St. Louis when George Harper stepped to the plate and hit a pinch-hit two run walk off home run to win it 4-3. The game was a wild one that saw the Cardinals take a 2-0 lead on a two run blast by Chick Hafey in the fifth. It was a mere hiccup for the Pirates starter Burleigh Grimes who kept the Birds off the board, while the Cardinals hurler Clarence Mitchell matched him pitch for pitch. With the 2-0 lead intact Mitchell rolled into the ninth ready to add his tenth win to that season's resume. Paul Waner had other ideas, as he tried to spoil the day by blasting a two run shot to tie it up in the ninth. Grimes who was in search of his 23rd win of the season then came up with what looked to be the game winning single in the top of the 10th inning when he knocked Paul Scott in with a single. However, Grimes had to get three more outs to win this one, and he would fail to do so, as he gave up a single to catcher Jimmie Wilson, before Harper pinch hit for the pitcher and sent the fans home happy with one big swing of the bat.

     The walk off was the second walk off home run of Harper's career. The last time he accomplished the feat was in 1924 when he wore the uniform of the Cincinnati Reds. Harper was a well traveled player who lived the major league dream. He donned the uniform of five different clubs during his career. The year he called Cardinal Nation home he blasted 17 home runs, and was a huge part of a pennant winning ballclub. If you would like to know more about the life and times of George Harper give this a look: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/aa4987d5

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN192809060.shtml

Friday, September 5, 2014

September 5, 1963: Flood and Simmons Help The Winning Streak Stay Alive

     On September 5, 1963, Curt Flood's 5 for 5 day, along with a complete game effort by Curt Simmons highlighted a 9-0 beatdown of the Mets in St. Louis.

     Flood's efforts included a triple, a ribbie, and two runs scored. Tim McCarver also tripled in the contest to open up a 5-0 lead in the seventh, then the Cardinals backstop capped off a four run eighth with a single, which was followed by Flood's fifth hit of the day. While the Cardinals offense was pounding New York's pitching, their batters had no answer for Simmons  who scattered six hits, struck out seven, and did not walk a man.

     The win had extended the Cardinals winning streak to eight straight, and they would win the next game as well to extend it to nine the next day. However, it was also snapped that next day, as the club dropped the second game of a doubleheader to the Pirates in Pittsburgh. At that point it was their longest winning streak of the season, as they made a late charge at the National League Pennant. After losing that second game in Pittsburgh the Cardinals rattled off 10 wins in a row. At the end of that streak they were trailing in the standing by one game.

     Unfortunately the it all came apart right there at the end, as they lost 7 of their last 10, and ended up six games back in the standings. While that might have been the case, the Cardinals finished with a respectable 93-69 record. One year later the club finished with an identical record, but with a little help from the Phillies, and one great stretch of baseball they took the top prize in the National League, and they followed it up by taking the top prize in all of baseball.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN196309050.shtml

Thursday, September 4, 2014

September 4, 1964: A Walk Off For The Captain

     On September 4, 1964, Ken Boyer capped off a 15-hit attack by knocking in his 100th RBI of the season with a three run walk off bomb that beat the Cubs 8-5 in front of a home crowd in St. Louis. The game also featured one of the most exciting plays in baseball, as "The Moon Man" Mike Shannon stole home in the eighth, before Boyer ended it with his fifth career walk off blast in the ninth. It was more than just the fifth walk off blast for The Captain. It was the final walk off blast during a career that should forever be remembered in Cooperstown, New York.

      The game did not start off well for either starter. Curt Simmons surrendered two runs in the top of the first, but the lead did not stand long for those Baby Bears from the Windy City, as Dick Groat and Bill White came up with RBI singles off of Dick Ellsworth that knotted things right back up in the bottom of the inning. The Birds jumped ahead in the third, when Groat came up with another RBI single that was followed by a double play ball off the bat of Boyer. While Boyer had to be disappointed by the twin killing it was a productive twin killing, as it brought Lou Brock into score from third, to give the Cardinals a 4-2 edge.

     Simmons looked like he had the Cubs number after that first inning. He was cruising through their lineup until the seventh when he gave up a two out single to catcher Jimmie Schaffer. The Cubs second baseman Ron Campbell followed it up with  a double that scored Schaffer to cut the score down to 4-3. The double ended Simmons' day, and Johnny Keane called on reliever Ron Taylor who gave up a pinch hit RBI single to Len Gabrielson. The game was tied, and this one was going to be decided by the bullpens.

     Things got worse before they got better for the Birds. Taylor surrendered a leadoff triple to Ellis Burton in the top of the eighth, which was followed by an RBI single by Billy Williams. The Cubs had a 5-4 edge, with no outs and Williams standing on first. Taylor was able to work his way around it. He sat Ron Santo down with a flyout, struck Ernie Banks out, then worked around an error that put another runner on the basepaths, before recording the last out of the inning. While he was able to work his way around the mess the damage had been done, but this fight was far from over.

     Lindy McDaniel had come in relief of Ellsworth in the seventh, and he struck out the side . The former Redbird came out in the eighth and recorded two quick outs, and they were big outs, as his victims were Boyer and Bill White. McDaniel's problem was his sixth consecutive out never came. Shannon came to the dish, and dropped a single into left, then Keane sent Bob Skinner into pinch hit for Julian Javier.  The move paid off, as Skinner singled to right, which sent Shannon over to third. Moments later Tim McCarver was standing at the dish hoping to tie it up when Skinner and Shannon executed the perfect double steal that tied the ballgame at 5-5. McDaniel finally did get that last out, with a groundout right back to him by McCarver, but the chain of events that preceded it had breathed new life into the surging Cardinals.

     Taylor came on in the ninth, and struck out the first man he faced. He followed up the K with back-to-back walks, and just like that the Cubs were threatening. Keane wasted no time. He called on Gordie Richardson who would record one of his six major league wins that day, which came after he induced an inning ending double play.

    The chess match continued in the bottom of the ninth, as Keane sent Carl Warwick to the plate to pinch hit for Richardson to leadoff the inning. Once again the move he made delivered with a single that came off of reliever Don Elston who had taken over pitching duties for the Cubs. Warwick was moved over to second on a sac bunt by Curt Flood, which spelled the end of Elston's day. The Cubs skipper Bob Kennedy went to a lefty on lefty matchup by calling on John Flavin to pitch to Lou Brock. The move backfired. Brock singled into center, and Flavin's day ended almost as quick as it began, as Kennedy called on his third hurler of the frame by calling on Freddie Burdette. The big righty retired Groat on a fielder's choice that ended up with Warwick being called out at home, before Boyer came to the plate and finished the Cubs off with a big fly into the seats. It had been a battle, and the man that the team called their Captain had ended it with one big swing of the stick. That's the kind of thing an MVP does. It was quite the ballgame, and I'm sure the fans that walked through the turnstiles that day were nothing but smiles as they left the ballpark.

     Boyer is arguably one of the most underrated players of all time. In his 11 seasons with the Cardinals he hit .293, knocked in 1,001 runs, and parked 255 in the seats. What he did in 1964 was put the team on his back throughout and carry them to glory. While every man on that roster is due a large amount of credit, the contributions of The Captain were key in taking that National League Crown. His average in the World Series is very deceiving at .222, because when he did hit they were clutch hits. The grand slam in Game 4 of the series was a pivotal moment, and his three hit performance in Game 7 was a capper to an improbable season in which the stars aligned as Boyer and Birds brought home a ring. When you take your kids down to the ballpark, and you look out at that wall in left, be sure to tell them about each of those men who adorn it, and whatever you do don't forget to tell them about The Captain. When you do, turn and point up to that flag that has the numbers 1964 across it, and take a moment to tip your caps to the man who wore the number 14.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN196409040.shtml

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September 3, 2004: Morris Mows Down The Dodgers

   On September 3, 2004, with 37,000+ cheering him on, Matt Morris turned in a two hit complete game performance that included 11 strikeouts during a 3-0 win over the Dodgers at Busch. Reggie Sanders put the Birds on the board with an RBI double off of Jose Lima in the second, then to pay him back Lima picked up the first Dodgers hit of the ballgame with a two out single in the third. Morris shook it off and went right back to work by setting the next man down, and after Robin Ventura hit a one out single in the fifth not another man reached base against the big righty. Sanders gave Morris a bit of breathing room in the fifth with a solo shot off of Lima, and the future skipper Mike Matheny extended the lead to 3-0 with a long ball of his own in the seventh. Morris had had his struggles that season, however, he worked his way through them, and turned in his best performance of the year on that day in early September.