Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 15, 1964: The Birds Take The Title

     On October 15, 1964, the Cardinals were crowned World Series Champions after beating the New York Yankees 7-5 in Game 7 of the World Series. It had been 18 seasons since the City of St. Louis could celebrate as champions, and Bob Gibson's complete game MVP performance on just two days of rest had a large part in making the celebration possible. The Birds also took advantage of key opportunities which led to the year 1964 being a year that will forever be celebrated in the history of the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

      Mel Stottlemyre was on the bump for the Yankees, and the rookie hurler was locked up in a dual with the 28-year-old Gibson through the first three innings. However, things unraveled for Stottlemyre in the third. Ken Boyer started the inning off with a single, and Dick Groat followed it up with a walk. Tim McCarver looked like he had hit into a double play, only to have Phil Linz throw wide to first. Boyer scored on the play, while McCarver stood on first. Mike Shannon moved the Cardinals catcher over to third with a single to right center, and the Birds were beginning to fly. When things are going right it seems everything falls into place, and the next Cardinals run is a great example of that, as McCarver and Shannon executed a double steal with Shannon swiping home for the second Redbird run. Dal Maxvill  added another one to the board with a single that brought McCarver in, before Stottlemyre could get the last two outs of the inning. When reflecting on the game later Yogi Berra saw the throwing error by Linz as the play that made all the difference in the inning, and quite possibly the game.

     Not only did the Cardinals plate three runs on the young Yankee hurler in the third, they also ended his day. He had tried to dive for the ball before Linz's critical error, and hurt his shoulder in the process. Berra said it led to his decision to pinch hit for him in the fifth. The Yankees could not get anything going in that inning. Then in the bottom of the frame Lou Brock took Stottlemyre's replacement Al Downing's first pitch, and put it in the stands to lead things off. It was going to be another big Redbird inning. Downing did not even record an out. He gave up a single to Bill White, then a double to Ken Boyer, before he was given a ticket to the showers. Rollie Sheldon inherited Downing's mess, and while he was able to record three successive outs, the first two were productive outs that brought White and Boyer trotting in. After five the Cardinals held a 6-0 lead, and the fans in the stands were buzzing. They could feel victory in the air.

     There was a man on that Yankees roster who would bring some of them back down to earth in the sixth. He was future Hall of Famer, and he had already broke a few Cardinals hearts with a walk off blast in Game 3. That man's name was Mickey Mantle, and he made Bob Gibson pay for giving up back-to-back singles by hitting a three run bomb that touched the clouds in St. Louis, and cut the Cardinals lead in half.  Gibby picked up two outs, then walked a man before ending the inning by striking out Clete Boyer.

     Ken Boyer grabbed one of those runs back with a solo shot in the seventh, and Gibby sailed into the ninth up 7-3. Just three outs away. They were not going to be easy outs. However, Gibby did strike out Tom Tresh to start things off. Suddenly the short rest might of caught up with Gibson, as he served one up to Phil Linz who was doing what he could to make up for the earlier error by launching a solo shot. Gibby then set down pinch hitter Johnny Blanchard with his ninth K, and he needed one more out to wear the crown. Clete Boyer made him wait by launching a bomb of his own into the seats, which made the Boyer brothers the first siblings, to both hit a home run in one World Series contest. To date, they are only brothers to accomplish that feat.

     As you could imagine there had to be many fans with their hands put together as they prayed, while other fans could hardly bring themselves to watch what turned out to be a historic last out. That out came with a soft pop up by Bobby Richardson that landed in the glove of Dal Maxvill.It had been a true seven game battle, and every man on each of those rosters gave their all before the St. Louis Cardinals were crowned World Series Champions.

Check out the box score here:

     Afterword: As mentioned before it had been 18 years since the fans could celebrate a World Series title in the city, and when Maxvill recorded that out, hundreds poured onto the field, as McCarver and the rest of the team ran to the mound to congratulate the warrior, the World Series MVP, the champion, Bob Gibson. The season had many ups and downs. From Bing Devine getting fired after building what proved to be a championship ballclub, to overcoming an 11 game deficit just to have a shot at winning that title. What the club had been through had simply battle tested them, and they were ready to take the title when they got their chance.

     Historically, the series has been looked at as a last hurrah for that Yankees club who had built on decades upon decades of success. Mantle had won seven World Series titles beginning in 1951. His last came in 1962. He did not appear in another World Series following the '64. In fact, he hung up the cleats at the end of the '68 campaign, and the Yankees did not make it back to the Fall Classic until 1976. That run in 1964 made Bob Gibson's name known in every household across America. He was already making a name for himself before that World Series before that title run, but after it came his name was splashed across the headlines of every major newspaper in the country. His legendary tale was just beginning, and it helped make the Cardinals one of the best clubs in the National League during the latter half of the decade.

     There would be immediate changes in management, as Johnny Keane resigned the next day. He ended up taking Yogi Berra's job in New York. Through the years I have read that it was big surprise, and it may have been. However, speculation was rampant during the World Series that Keane would be leaving St. Louis, and Gussie had to at least have some idea that the Cardinals skipper might be on his way out. Keane was not happy with the way things went with Devine, and there were rumors that Leo Durocher had already been tabbed the next Cardinals manager before the historic run had take place. Keane scoffed at the offer Gussie made him at season's end, and when the World Series was over he would not let the Cardinals owner make another offer. He was done. He did not let it turn into a distraction during that run to glory, which is something that makes me have a great respect for him. Keane did a masterful job of managing during that group of men. The speculation after Game 7 was that he was going to managing the Pirates. Nobody thought it would be the Yankees, considering Berra had just skippered them to a pennant winning season. However, the bar was set higher than a pennant in New York, and someone in that front office thought Keane would be able to  reach that bar. After just two years in the Bronx his days as a skipper were over, and a year after that he passed away just a month after taking a job with the Angels as a scout.

     Devine went onto win Executive of the Year after building the club that took the flag, then went
onto build a foundation that would evolve into the Miracle Mets in 1969. Coincidentally, he was back with the Cardinals following the Championship run in '67. Seems he never enjoyed the fruits of his labor the way he deserved to. He served as the Cardinals GM from '68 to '78, and after a brief stint with the football Cardinals he returned to the baseball Cardinals as a special adviser. A lifelong St. Louisan, Bing Devine's name is one of many names that each every Cardinals fan should know.

     The sudden departure of Keane opened a door, and it was not Leo Durocher that walked through It was Red Schoendienst, and he was at the helm when they took the top prize just three years later. He managed the team until 1976, and has been with the team in some capacity ever since, which included two other stints as skipper. In my opinion St. Louis has many treasures, and Schoendienst is one of them.

       I will be taking a break from the daily posts. I hope that all of those who have spent the time to read these have enjoyed them. I know that I have enjoyed writing them. This has been a fun season, and I feel blessed to know that as a Cardinals fan our postseason continues later today. Win or lose I will always be a proud fan of the St. Louis Cardinals.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October 14, 1964: The Bronx Bombers Bomb The Birds In Game 6

      On October 14, 1964, the Yankees forced a Game 7 by knocking off the Cardinals 8-3 in front of more than 30,000 at Busch. The game featured starters Curt Simmons on the mound for the Cardinals while the Yankees countered with the Jim Bouton in what was a rematch of Game 2. Coincidentally, the Yankees prevailed in that game by the same exact score. However, the circumstances were very different, as the Bronx Bombers lived up to the nickname by bombing their way to victory.

     Things started out good for the Cardinals, as Curt Flood and Lou Brock picked up back-to-back hits to lead off the first. Flood moved over to third on Brock's hit, then scored when Bill White hit into a double play. While the double play ball was one of misfortune for White, there also a bit of fortune because it gave the club an early 1-0 lead, Curt Simmons looked to be on his game early, he worked into the fifth clinging onto the one run lead. It was that inning that he saw the score get knotted up. It began with a ground rule double by Tom Tresh, who ended up at third after Clete Boyer grounded out. With Tresh just 90 feet away Bouton came to the dish and lashed an RBI single. The .139 regular season hitter had come through against the veteran. Simmons got out of that inning by retiring Phil Linz with a long flyball that landed in Lou Brock's glove in left, but it was a whole new ballgame.

     Going into the bottom of the fifth still knotted at one Simmons was set to face the heart of that Yankees lineup, and they let him know that their heart was still beating strong. The Cardinal hurler set Bobby Richardson down to start the inning, then came the thunder and lightning of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle who hit back-to-back home runs. The score might have only been 3-1 at that point, but the staggering booms had dealt a hefty blow to the Cardinals. Simmons did settle down after the two big hits, but it hardly mattered because Bouton was keeping them off the scoreboard.

       Simmons was lifted after allowing a one out single to Clete Boyer in the seventh,  To make matters worse that single ended up with Ken's brother standing on second after Lou Brock committed an error in left. Simmons' day did not go the way he wished, With that said, the Cardinals were still in it, and Ron Taylor was able to get out of that inning with Bouton hitting a scorcher to second, which ended up with Boyer getting doubled off.

     Then came the inning that put the Cardinals to bed. A hero of Game 1 was called on when Johnny Keane handed the ball to Barney Schultz, and the well traveled veteran gave up a lead off single to Phil Linz. He then picked up back-to-back outs. They were productive outs though, as Linz moved over to third as they were recorded. Schultz wanted nothing to do with the big bat of Mickey Mantle, who had already taken him deep with the big walk off in Game 3, so he put him on intentionally. The Yankees backstop Elston Howard followed it up with an RBI single to give his club a 4-1 lead, then Schultz walked the bases full by issuing a free pass to Tresh. The Cardinals skipper Johnny Keane pulled the plug on Schultz, and called on a rookie southpaw to pitch to Pepitone in what was going to be a lefty on lefty matchup. The rookie hung a curve ball, and Pepitone pounced on it. As soon as he took the cut he knew it was a goner. It was the tenth grand slam in World Series history. It came just four days after Ken Boyer's historic slam in Game 4, and made Pepitone the just the tenth man in the history of the Fall Classic to belt a long ball with the bases full. The score was now 8-1, and the Yankees were well on the way to victory.

     Bouton had said that he did not feel comfortable until Pepitone gave him the big cushion, and even after he was given the comfortable lead the Cardinals made him work. Curt Flood led off the eighth with a walk, then was moved over to third on a Lou Brock double, before scoring the second Redbird run of the day on a ground out by Bill White. Bouton got out of the inning, then watched Bob Humphreys work a scoreless top of the ninth. He was lifted for Steve Hamilton after allowing back-to-back one out singles in the ninth. Hamilton gave up an RBI single to pinch hitter Bob Skinner, which brought the score to 8-3. It was too little to late though, as Flood hit into a double play to end the contest. The Yankees had come in with their backs against the wall, and did what they had to do to play another day. It was going to take a seventh game and the winner would take the crown. The Cardinals had been there before. Johnny Keane would be calling on Bob Gibson to get the job done, while Yogi Berra called on Mel Stottlemyre. It was going to be a classic that would end with celebration in St. Louis.  

Check out the box score here:

Monday, October 13, 2014

October 13, 1964: The Birds Receive a Warm Welcome After Taking Two In New York

     On October 13, 1964, the Cardinals returned to Busch Stadium where they prepared to take on the Yankees in Game 6 of the Fall Classic. The night before the team received a heroes welcome when their plane arrived. An estimated crowd of 10,000 people joined a marching band to cheer on their Birds who had stunned the Yankees by taking two in New York, which set up a possible clincher in front of the St. Louis faithful. It is safe to say those fans who had waited 18 years were more than ready to celebrate a World Championship title.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

October 12, 1964: McCarver's Tenth Inning Blast Gives The Birds a 3-2 Edge In The Fall Classic

     On October 12, 1964, Tim McCarver's three run home run in the 10th inning proved to be the difference maker in a 5-2 Cardinals win over the Yankees in Game 5 of the Fall Classic in New York. A crowd of 65,633  witnessed the game that pushed the Yankees against the wall, as the Cardinals headed back home with a 3-2 edge in the series. They would have two chances to take the cake in front of the fans in St. Louis, and that cake would be theirs.

      Coming into Game 5 the Cardinals had their hands full with a hero of Game 2 with Mel Stottlemyre on the bump. However, Bob Gibson countered the Yankee hurler, and turned in a 13 strikeout performance, as he helped lead the Birds to victory. The two hurlers were locked in a dual until the fifth when Gibby helped his own cause by picking up a one out single. Curt Flood followed it up by reaching base on an error by Bobby Richardson. It was the second day in a row that the Yankees second baseman had committed an error, and once again it would haunt him. Lou Brock followed with an RBI single that brought Gibby trotting in, then Bill White knocked in Curt Flood for the unearned run of the inning. Stottelmyre set Ken Boyer down with a ground out to the end the frame, but the damage had been done. The Cardinals were up 2-0 and Gibby was dealing.

     Stottlemyre put the bad inning past him, and worked through a scoreless sixth and seventh. He was lifted in the bottom of the seventh for a pinch hitter by the name of Hector Lopez. The Yankees skipper Yogi Berra was hoping the pinch hitter could get to Gibson.... Gibson had other things in mind as he made Lopez his 11th strikeout victim of the day. The day looked like it belonged to the Cardinals pitcher. However, the tide did turn in the ninth. Mickey Mantle opened up the inning with a hotshot to Dick Groat who could not get a handle on it. The Cardinals shortstop said he knew something bad would happen almost instantly, as every error in the series had ended up with runs on the board. It seems that Gibby did not have that mindset. He went back to work, and struck out the Yankees catcher Elston Howard for the first out of the frame.

     The first out was followed with what has to be considered the finest defensive play of the game, as Joe Pepitone hit one right back at Gibby where it bounced off of his hip and rolled toward third. The future Hall of Famer had the presence of mind to snag the ball quickly and fire an off balance throw to Bill White at first to record the second out. The next man up was left fielder Tom Tresh, and he tied the ballgame up with one swing of the stick. If Gibson would have not made that previous play the series would be headed back to St. Louis with a 3-2 Yankees lead.

     While there had to be some level of disappointment on the Cardinals bench it was a group of men who had battled back before. Johnny Keane made sure Gibby knew that when the hurler took his seat in the pine during the tenth. He said "Don't worry we have been a scrapping team all year, and we can scrap back again." The men on the bench knew those words were very true, and they wasted no time in getting back to scrapping out the win.

     Bill White opened up the tenth by working a walk out of Pete Mikkelsen who had taken over on the bump for the Yankees with one out in the eighth. Mikkelsen had not allowed a Redbird hit going into that tenth inning. He was hoping to set the stage for his Yankees to win it in the bottom of the frame, but Keane and company had other ideas. The Cardinals skipper then made what might have been considered an unconventional decision when he called on Ken Boyer to bunt. The Cardinals captain had led the team with 24 big blasts, and just 24 hours earlier his grand slam had decided Game 4. With that said, Keane was worried about a double play ball, so the made the call. Boyer had only been called on to bunt just three times that season, and each of those times he bunted foul, before taking a swing that turned into a hit. He had not dropped a successful bunt down all year, but he would today, and it would be good for a single.

     The Cardinals were primed. White took third when it looked like he was going to get picked off at second, then Dick Groat ended up hitting into a fielder's choice that erased Boyer from the basepaths. This had all set the table for the 22-year-old Cardinals catcher Mr. Tim McCarver. He worked the count to 3-2 before taking the swing that sent the Mikkelsen pitch crashing over the wall in right. There would be no hijinx in the bottom of the inning for the Cardinals, as Gibby set the first two men down before Phil Linz tried to breathe life into the Yankees with a single into center. It was a gasp at best though. Roger Maris flied out to Boyer at third and the series was coming home. There was still work to do. Another battle had been won. The Yankees did have their backs against the wall, but they had not lost this war just yet.

Check out the box score here:


Saturday, October 11, 2014

October 11, 1964: Ken Boyer Slams The Birds To Victory In a Pivotal Game Four

     On October 11, 1964, Ken Boyer became just the ninth man in the history of Major League Baseball to hit a Grand Slam in the World Series. The historic shot off of Al Downing came in the sixth inning, and it proved to be all the Birds would need to prevail 4-3 in front of a crowd of more than 66,000 at Yankee Stadium in New York.

     The day did not start off the way anybody in the Redbird clubhouse had hoped for. Ray Sadecki got the call to start for the club, and while he had recorded a win in Game 1, and locked down 20 wins during the regular season this was not going be his day, as the Yankees bats teed off on him early. Shortstop Phil Linz led off the first with a double, then grabbed third on an error by Boyer at the hot corner. The Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson then came through with an RBI single, that was followed by a single by Roger Maris. Definitely a rough day at the office for Sadecki, and it was going to be an early day at the office as well. Mickey Mantle sent him to the showers by coming up with single that scored Richardson. Luckily for the Cardinals, Mantle ended up out when he tried to advance to second on the play, and when Johnny Keane called on Roger Craig to take over on the bump he had one less out to worry about.

     Craig had led the National League in losses in 1962 with 24, then again in 1963 with 22. If you took one glance at that one might think disaster was on the Redbird horizon. Far from it. When this one was put in the books he was one of the heroes of the game. However, the 34-year-old gave up a RBI single to Elston Howard before setting down the next two men. Eight men had come to the plate during the Yankees half of that first inning, and the momentum from Mantle's walk off in Game 3 seemed like it had carried over to Game 4.

     Downing was on the bump for the Yankees because Whitey Ford had come up injured after pitching Game 1, and Yogi Berra went to the 23-year-old who had posted a 13-8 record during the regular season. He had held the Cards in check until that fateful sixth, and Craig had done the same against the Yankees after their hot start. When the inning got underway Keane made a move by sending up Carl Warwick to pinch hit for the Cardinals hurler. Little did Craig know it, but that decision would lead to a W next to his name in the box score.

     The move by Keane paid off, as Warwick dropped a single into left. Curt Flood followed it up by singling to right, and the Birds were in business. Downing's goal: put them out of business. Not today. The Yankee hurler was able to get Lou Brock to fly out, and you can almost bet that he had a double play being turned in his head when Dick Groat stepped up to the dish. He nearly got the damn thing too, as Groat sent a scorcher toward second base and the sure hands of Bobby Richardson. Today they were not so sure. Curt Flood came flying into second trying to bust up the inning-ender, and as it unfolded the ball stuck in Richardson's glove. Not only was Groat safe at first. but Flood was safe as well, and Warwick was standing on third.

     The  stage was set; here comes The Captain. When he came strolling up to the plate, I think it would be safe to say he had one thing in mind: Get a hit. He had only one hit in his previous 13 trips to the plate. That was about to change, as the man who had led the team with 24 long balls during the regular season came around on a 1-0 pitch and slammed it down the left field line where it continued to sail until it was sitting in the stands in left. The Cardinals were up 4-3, and Boyer's slump had just been busted in grand slam fashion.

     Not to be lost in the heroics of Ken Boyer, Ron Taylor, a 26-year-old righty came into the game and tossed two hit ball the rest of the way. Craig had held them, Boyer had slammed them, and Ron Taylor shut the door on them. Game 4 was in the books, and the tide had turned. The Birds were flyin toward a title. Bring on Game 5.

Check out the box score here:


Friday, October 10, 2014

October 10, 1964: Mantle Wins Game Three With a Walk Off Blast

      On October 10, 1964, one Yankees legend surpassed another, as Mickey Mantle hit his 16th World Series home run to surpass Babe Ruth's longstanding record of 15 Fall Classic blasts. This was not your average home run. It was a walk off solo shot that sent the Cards to the locker room as 2-1 losers, and gave the Bronx Bombers a 2-1 lead in the series.

      This game was a classic. The Birds might not have been flying high when it was put in the books, but that does not take anything away from the fact that this one is one that will not be forgotten. The two 18 game winners that faced each other, Jim Bouton and Curt Simmons matched each other pitch for pitch. Simmons was tagged for a run in the second, when Ken Boyer's brother Clete came through with a clutch RBI double.

     The Cardinals took advantage of a fifth inning error by Mantle that haunted the Yankee slugger, as the Cardinals pitcher knocked in Tim McCarver with a two out single. With the score knotted at 1-1 the Cardinals had several opportunities to plate a run, but just could not come through with the run. What might be considered the greatest opportunity came in the ninth.  McCarver reached on an error, then was sacrificed over to second before Bouton walked Carl Warwick. The Birds were in business, or so it seemed. Desperate to score the go ahead run Johnny Keane pulled the plug on Simmons' day. He sent Bob Skinner to the dish to pinch hit for his hurler, but the move did not pay off. Skinner lifted a Bouton pitch that landed in the mitt of Roger Maris standing in center. It did move McCarver over to third. However, the Cardinals half of the inning would end with Curt Flood lining out to The Mick in left.

     Mantle was also going to be the first man up, and the last man to hit in this ballgame. Keane called on one of Game 1's heroes by handing the ball to Barney Schultz. It took Mantle just one swing, which came on the first pitch that Schultz threw his way. That one swing sent the ball more than 400 feet to deep right, where it bounced off the faced of the third deck. Ruth built the house, Mantle made it be known that he was a prominent resident as he rounded the bases as a walk off winner.

    As to be expected Schultz's spirit was crushed the moment Mantle crushed that pitch. The pitch he had thrown Mantle was described a knuckle ball that did not knuckle. Every single pitcher that has ever thrown a ball would love to have one of those balls back. A reset button so to speak. However, that is just not how it works. As said in a previous blog in this series: this was battle of heavyweights. Both teams would take their blows. Both teams would win some rounds. The bell had rang with the decision going to the Yankees in this round, but you and I both know the difference 24 hours can make in that great game that is played on a diamond. 24 hours later the momentum would shift.  

Check out the box score here:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

October 9, 1964: The Birds Fly To The Big Apple

     The boys were off to New York on October 9, 1964, and Yankee Stadium was on the horizon. On this off day I am going to provide several articles that were printed in newspapers all across the country. After the Yankees had taken Game 2 in decisive fashion there were many who believed they were well on the way to another title. However, they were up against a team that may have been counted out all season long, and at no point did that team lie down. They continued to fight and those Bronx Bombers would have a fight on their hands within the walls of the House that Ruth built.

     In large part the newspapers focused on the pitching matchups, which is to be expected. The matchup for Game 3 had a 35-year-old lefty in Curt Simmons going for the Cardinals, while the Yankees countered with a 25-year-old in Jim Bouton. While the hurlers were separated by a decade on their birth certificates they were both coming off of 18 win seasons, and they were both ready to go head to head in front of more than 67,000 fans in New York.

     One little blurb I ran across on that off day was the Sporting News named Ken Boyer player of the year.  A well deserved honor, Ken led the National League with 119 RBIs. He led the team with 10 triples, as well as 24 home runs, and without his production we would not be talking about this historic World Series run. His contributions also landed a National League MVP Award on his shelf.

     If you have not already done so check out the Facebook page by clicking on the link below. I consider the author Kevin McCann a friend. Although, we have never met in person. We simply share a common bond that involves two birds on a bat. His upcoming book about Boyer will give you an in depth look into The Captain's life and career.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

October 8, 1964: A Controversial Call Helps Swing Momentum In Game 2 Of The Fall Classic

     On October 8, 1964, a controversial call grabbed the headlines after the Yankees knocked off the Cardinals 8-3 in Game 2 of the Fall Classic in St. Louis.

     The incident came with one out in the sixth inning. The score was knotted at 1-1 when Bob Gibson sailed one in on the Joe Pepitone who looked like he was following through with his swing when the ball may or may not have nicked his thigh. The Yankees first baseman then turned to the home plate umpire Bill McKinley and said it had hit him. He had a what appeared to be a red mark on his leg to prove it. The ump said "no swing, take your base", which sent Tim McCarver and company into a frenzy.

     A fierce argument ensued, but the call stood and Pepitone was standing on first, and Mickey Mantle who had walked to leadoff the inning stood at second. The hit batsman immediately haunted the Birds.  One batter later Tom Tresh came through with a single that brought Mantle into score the go ahead run. While the call was controversial, it hardly decided the contest. Gibson was tagged for two more runs in the seventh, and the Birds bullpen had a four run implosion in the ninth that added to the Yankees side of the scoreboard. The sixth inning call was something that people simply latched onto, rather than focus on the entire game. There is no doubt it was a momentum shifter, but there were plenty of other things to look at as well.

     All too often we see a pivotal moment in the game take away from the splendid performance of the players on the other team, and there were several Yankees players that truly did deserve  a proverbial tip of the cap. One of those players was a young rookie by the name of Mel Stottlemyre. Many Cardinals fans of this generation almost surely recognize the name, as he is the Father of former Redbirds hurler Todd Stottlemyre. Mel's performance in Game 2 of that series was masterful. While he did surrender the three runs, he did go the distance, and held the Cards to just seven hits, and struck out four. On the offensive side of the ball everyone that was penciled into the starting lineup for the Bronx Bombers contributed.  Their shortstop Phil Linz  went 3 for 4 and sparked the big ninth inning with a leadoff home run, and  Mickey Mantle went 1 for 4, knocked in two with a sacrifice, and a double. This was a battle of heavyweights. Very similar to Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Some rounds went to the Yankees, the final round went to the Cardinals.

     There were some bright spots in this game for the Cardinals. One of them came before the game, as backup Bob Uecker entertained the fans by playing a Tuba in the outfield. Another had the name Gibson and the number 45 on his back. While he was charged with the loss, he struck out nine, which included the four in a row after walking the first man he faced.  It did not work out the way he had hoped, but Gibson's contributions to this series were far from over. He had taken some lumps, but he would learn from them and move forward. That sixth inning call that went against the Cardinals would become a distant memory in the coming days, as the club focused on the road ahead, and marched toward a World Series title.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

October 7, 1964: The Birds Topple The Yankees In Game One of The Fall Classic

     On October 7, 1964, the Cardinals opened the World Series with a 9-5 victory over the Yankees. It was a matchup that featured 17 game winner Whitey Ford on the bump for the Yankees, while the Cardinals countered with a 20 game winner in Ray Sadecki. Neither of the hurlers had their best day on the bump, but Sadecki was able to keep the Birds in it, which was key to the victory. However, there would be unlikely heroes off the bench and the bullpen, as well as a moon shot by a rookie that was nicknamed "The Moon Man."

     The Birds flew into the lead early with an RBI sac fly by Ken Boyer in the first inning, but the lead would be short lived. The Yankees catcher Elston Howard got onboard with a single to lead off an inning, then came trotting in when leftfielder Tom Tresh  put one over the wall in left. The Yankees were on top, and were not done yet. Clete Boyer rapped an one out single, and stole second, then was rewarded for his efforts when the pitcher, Whitey Ford came up with a single that brought him into score. Definitely not going the way Sadecki had hoped for. He walked a man, then finally got out of the inning.

     There was a long way to go in this one, and the men on that Cardinals bench knew that. They would go right back to work, and Sadecki matched counterpart Ford by knocking in a run with a single that brought the Birds one step closer with the score now 3-2. From there the Redbird hurler settled in, and did not allow a run until the fifth. It looked like Sadecki might get out of that inning unscathed, but he gave up back-to-back singles, then Tresh struck again. This time it did not clear the fence, but it did turn into an RBI double, and the Cards were down 4-2.

     That is where the score stood until the tide turned in the sixth. Ken Boyer led off the frame with a single, and took second on a passed ball. Then came the game changer. He was a rookie. His name was Mike Shannon. He had his struggles like any rookie does during their first regular season. In fact, he spent 70 games with the triple A affiliate in Jacksonville, Illinois to help work his way through them. When he was called back up in early July he was ready to contribute to the club, as they made a historic run at the National League flag, and once they had grabbed it he was ready to contribute to winning a title. He proved it quickly in that sixth inning, as he connected on a pitch by Ford that some called the furthest ever hit at Busch. He carried, and carried some more, then bounced off the B on Budweiser sign that sat atop the scoreboard. The game was knotted at 4-4, as the kid they called "The Moon Man" had belted a moon shot.

     That home run might not have put the Birds ahead, but it it did swing the momentum, and the Cardinals took advantage of the shift. Ford gave up a double to Tim McCarver following the big blast, which led to a trip to the showers. Before making that trip he handed the ball over to Al Downing. The lefty got Charlie James to fly out for the second out of the inning, before Johnny Keane pulled the plug on Sadecki's day by sending Carl Warwick in to pinch hit. The move paid off, Warwick, who had hit just .259 during the regular season, came through big by singling in McCarver. It was his lone RBI of the series, and it was a pivotal one. The Birds were ahead, and they would not let that lead go. Keane made another move, by adding some sped to the basepaths by sending in Julian Javier in to pinch run for Warwick. It paid off as well. Curt Flood sent a ball over Tresh's head in left, and bounced off the wall. Javier scored, and Flood was standing on first. The Birds were flyin now.

     Following the big inning Keane handed the ball to 38 year-old Barney Schultz. The veteran knuckleballer would be on the rubber when the game was put in the books, as he held down the fort for three innings.He is unsung hero who played nearly 700 games of minor league ball. His baseball journey began when he was 19 years of age. He was 28 the first time he stepped on a major league diamond with the Cardinals. Over the next ten seasons he would be traded and shuffled around while playing most of his ball in the minors. He did spend time with the Tigers and the Cubs big league teams during that time, which led to the Cardinals reacquiring him in the Summer of '63. Like Shannon, Schultz had to work to be a part of the big league roster in '64. He appeared in 42 games in triple A before getting the call to the big club on August 1st. The club was about to turn a corner, and make a run, and he was about to be a part of it. All of the work he had put in had paid off as he proved to be a guy who could lock it down by saving 11 games while putting up a 1.64 earned run average. On this day he was standing on baseball's biggest stage, and he performed at the highest level.

     Schultz worked a scoreless seventh before a hiccup in the eighth. The hiccup was a two out RBI single that came off the bat of the Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson. Suddenly that two run lead was cut in half. With the score 6-5 the Yankees were on the heels of knotting this thing up, and they had a future Hall of Famer by the name of Mickey Mantle at the dish. One newspaper called it a matchup against Mantle and a "who is he." He was Barney Schultz and he was about to induce Mantle into a groundout to Javier at second. The huge out shifted the momentum back toward the Birds, and they made the most of it.

     Rollie Sheldon took over pitching duties for the Yankees. He was victimized by a Clete Boyer error that put Shannon on first. Shannon then took advantage of a passed ball, and dashed over to second. McCarver worked a walk out of Sheldon, before the hurler recorded an out. In fact, he recorded two outs, as Schultz lined one right back at the pitcher. The bang bang play caught McCarver off the bag at first, and he was one out away from keeping the score within one. With the light hitting Julian Javier up next Keane pulled another card from his sleeve by calling on Bob Skinner who was put on with an intentional walk before Sheldon hit the showers. Keane pulled another card from his sleeve by sending in Jerry Buchek to run for Skinner.

     The Cardinals skipper was determined to give Schultz some breathing room. On the other side of the diamond the Yankees skipper Yogi Berra then called on Pete Mikkelsen to face Curt Flood, and Flood made him pay by dropping an RBI single into left to bring Shannon into score the seventh Redbird run of the day. The move continued to haunt Berra and company when Lou Brock doubled in both Buchek and Flood. The score was now 9-5, and the crowd in St. Louis was ready to celebrate the first World Series win that the city had seen since October of '46. After Mikkelsen got out of the inning with no more damage done Schultz set the Yankees down 1-2-3. Game one was in the books. The Cards were victorious.

     After the game the clubhouse was not in full celebration mode. They knew there was a lot of work to do if they were going to win this series. There were players answering reporters questions sprawled about, and Johnny Keane sitting off to the side smoking  a cigar answering a few questions of his own. The biggest group mobbed Shannon who boasted he had hit a ball farther in the minor leagues. Keane had called his blast the biggest moment of the game. The skipper claimed he had not seen a ball hit any further at the stadium. There were reporters question Flood about his 157 pound  frame, and those who surrounded the veteran pitcher who had gave it his all to save the game for Sadecki by pitching the last three innings of the ball game.

      There were many heroes in this one. From Sadecki, to Flood, to Schultz and Shannon. They had come out and beat the favored Yankees in convincing fashion. However, each and every man knew that the Yankees would no go quietly. They were confident in their abilities, but they were not cocky. There was a great respect between both teams, and both teams were more than ready to continue this battle. There would be many more heroes in store.

Check out the box score here:

Monday, October 6, 2014

October 6, 1964: St. Louis Welcomes The Fall Classic Back To Town

     On October 6, 1964, St. Louis was buzzing, as the World Series would be making a triumphant return to the Mound City for the first time since 1946. The race had went down to the wire, with the Cardinals grabbing ahold of the National league Flag in the last week of the season. Even then, they had to fight to the finish, and capped off the the schedule with an 11-5 victory over the Mets on October 4th. If they would have lost that game the club would have been in a two way tie with the Phillies who had won that day as well, but it was not enough to make up for what is considered one of the biggest collapses in the history of Major League Baseball. They had held a seven and a half game lead in late August, but let it slowly slip away. In the last two weeks of the campaign it slipped away for good. Cincinnati worked their way into the mix, but there would only be one winner in the National League, and that winner wore two birds on a bat.

     The city was not prepared for the postseason after being deprived for so long. Hotel rooms were scarce, as the press and Yankees arrived, as well as the fans from all the reaches of the mighty signal of KMOX. The Fall Classic was on tap. Everywhere you looked the color red was prominent. Banners flew to show support for the club, and an electricity filled the air that might have been great enough to power the entire city. Many fans had braved a frigid night and long lines as they awaited their chance to be one of the many who would witness the home games live and in person. The temperature and the wait hardly mattered. The only thing that mattered was the ticket that would grant them passage through the gates at Busch.

     For many of us the joy that was felt from the fanbase would be reminiscent to 2004 or 2006. It had been so long, and the fans were overjoyed to finally be back in the postseason. I personally believe the run in '64 could be closely compared to the run in 2011. The stars had to align for the Cardinals to be there, much like the stars aligned in 2011. They did align, as everything fell into place, and the Cardinals were set to make World Series history. Over the course of the next week or two we will relive all for the highs and all of the lows of the '64 World Series, and in the end we will celebrate that title 50 years after it was celebrated for the first time.

Throughout the day today I plan on posting several pictures and stories that were featured in the newspapers the day before a pitch was thrown in this series.

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

October 5, 1926: A Grand Celebration In St. Louis Takes Place Before Haines Leads The Way In Game 3 Of The Fall Classic

     On October 5, 1926, 37,708 souls witnessed the first World Series contest to be held in St. Louis during the modern era. The Birds had split the first two games in New York, by snagging a win in the second game by the score of 6-2. The club returned home to a heroes welcome the day before, then with Cardinals starting pitcher Jesse Haines starring in the third game with a five hit complete game shutout in a 4-0 Redbird winner the club moved ahead two games to one in the classic battle that would reach seven games before the Cardinals claimed their first title since 1888.

     The day before that battle an estimated crowd of 100,000 stood at Union Station awaiting the National League Champion Cardinals. The Birds had flown home at a record pace, as the train in which they rode made the dash from New York in just 23 and 1/2 hours. That was 15 minutes faster than that trip had been made before. The mayor of city Victor Miller had ordered all departments close at 3 p.m., and many businesses did the same, so everyone could be there when that train rolled in. A celebration was about to take place that had never been seen in the city just west of the Mississippi, and it was a grand celebration.

     The Yankees arrived five minutes before the Cardinals. Some fans cheered, others jeered, as they made their way to their awaiting cars. When the Cardinals train rolled in the roar of the crowd was so deafening the whistle of the train was drowned out. 20 cars decorated in Cardinals colors, a group of mounted police, and some fireman flying the American flag led a parade into the business section where the Cardinals players were showered in confetti and ticker tape. By his own request Hornsby was in the rear, as he had let his men receive the cheers before him. A brief ceremony took place that had all of the Cardinals players receiving a wide variety of gifts that ranged from a new pair of shoes to a gold watch. Rogers Hornsby was presented with finest gift when he was given a brand new car. He was recognized as the he man who captained this ship into port.

     Long after the players made their way home to  the celebration continued. An article that was printed in the  Southeast Missourian the following day proclaimed that automobiles sped through the streets dragging wash tubs and buckets, They called it a noise making device second to none. Although, the fans were making noise with anything they could find. Bells, whistles, as well as occasional gunshots and bombs could be heard going off around the city. Justy think this was the day before the third game of the World Series. It had been 38 years in the making, and the fans were more alive than they had ever been.

     Some of those fans did not attend the festivities. Those fans camped out for the chance to get a ticket to the game. Some of them for more than 24 hours. It had been a rainy week in St. Louis, and the rain did not stop that night either. At some points it poured, but those fans were not leaving. They yearned to be one of those 37,708 souls who stood within the walls at Sportsman's Park. Not another person could be held. The number of fans in attendance would be nearly 20,000 less than the number of fans in attendance in New York. However, the the cheers could be rivaled by no other. Those who were lucky enough to get a ticket would witness a gem.

     More than 5,000 packed the bleachers three hours before the game began. There were brief periods of rain, but they did not care, The World Series would be played in the coming hours. Once the game time finally arrived the fans would not be disappointed. The fans enthusiasm would not dim, for this day was theirs. It would also be a day that Jesse Haines would remember, as he led the Birds to victory in historic fashion.

     Haines was set to face a lefty in Dutch Ruether. The Yankees hurler struggled a bit early, but was bailed out by the defense behind him. Meanwhile, Haines held the New Yorkers hitless through the first two, before allowing a hit to lead off the third. He followed it up with two quick outs, then walked a man before ending the threat. Then the skies opened up in the fourth.

     The Yankees looked like they might find their spark in the fourth. Babe Ruth led off the inning with a single, then moved over to second on a groundout.Then the skies opened up. 32 minutes later play resumed on a muddy field, and the Cards grabbed two quick outs, and went to work quickly in the bottom of the inning.

      Third baseman Les Bell  got things started with a single, and was sacrificed over to second with a bunt by Chick Hafey. The Cardinals catcher Bob O'Farrell worked a walk out of Reuther. A game changer followed, as shortstop Tommy Thevenow looked like he had hit into an inning ending double play, only to have shortstop Mark Koenig overthrow Lou Gehrig at first. It led to the first Redbird run, and set the stage for the hero of this one: Jesse Haines. The Cards hurler stepped to the dish and launched a towering two run shot into the right field stands. It was a hefty blow that gave him some breathing room in a contest that he would dominate. Hornsby scored on a groundout in the next frame, and from there it was all Haines. Only two Yankees batters would reach second base as he cruised to victory. The club still had quite the battle in front of them. However, it was a battle they were prepared to fight. It was a battle they were prepared to win. Five days later they did exactly that in New York. The party that was held in St. Louis would exceed the party that came before it, as the Cardinals returned home champions.

Check out the box score here:

The second photograph with the 1926 pennant pin was provided to me by The Real BSmile. Check out his Facebook page for all kind of great vintage photos from baseball's past:

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

October 4, 1891: Ted Breitenstein Tosses The First No-Hitter In The History Of The Cardinals Organization

     On October 4, 1891, Ted Breitenstein recorded the first no-hitter in the history of the organization that would become known as the St. Louis Cardinals. Breitenstein's historic gem came in the first game of a doubleheader against the Louisville Colonels on the final day of the season in St. Louis, and it lifted the club to an 8-0 victory. The runs on the scoreboard were not the story of this day, as the number in the Louisville hit column resembled a goose egg.

     The 22-year-old was the first pitcher to accomplish the feat in his first major league start. That has only been accomplished twice since, as Charley Jones tossed a no-no in his first major league start for the Reds, and Bobo Holloman accomplished the feat in his first major league start as a member of the St. Louis Brown in 1953. The Holloman no-no came in St. Louis, and could be easily regarded as the last great moment for that organization in St. Louis.

     The no-no by Breitenstein was witnessed by just 500 fans. Those 500 fans witnessed more than just the first no-no in the history of the franchise, they also witnessed the first time a pitcher would achieve the feat in his first major league start. The 22-year-old hurler faced the minimum 27 batters, and struck out eight of them. The only Louisville batter to reach was first baseman Harry Taylor who was erased by a double play.

     At the time it was called one of the finest games ever pitched, and that it was. It proved to be the last no-hitter in the history of the American Association, as the league disbanded, and the Browns joined the ranks of the National League the following year. It took 33 years for another pitcher to accomplish the feat for the club that became known as the Cardinals. To date, 10 men have recorded a no-hitter with the club. The legendary list of men begins with one name: Ted Breitenstein.

Friday, October 3, 2014

October 3, 1946: The Cardinals Take The Flag In Brooklyn

     On October 3, 1946, the Cardinals win the National League Pennant by beating the Dodgers 8-4 in what was the first ever tie breaking playoff series in the history of Major League Baseball. Just two days earlier Howie Pollet, and Joe Garagiola had played the heroes, and two days later just about everyone got in on the action. In fact the entire starting lineup had recorded a hit, which included three triples, and one of those triples was legged out by Murry Dickson who had also toed the Redbird rubber on that fine October day. Dickson looked like he would nail down a complete game victory as he sailed into the ninth up 8-1. However that was not to be, as he looked to tire in the inning, and before he knew it two runs had scored to make it 8-3, and he was getting the hook. Harry "The Cat" Brecheen took over for Dickson, and gave up an RBI single, then he walked a man to load the bases. Brecheen put that fire out by striking out Eddie Stanky and Howie Schultz back-to-back. The Cardinals were the Champions of the National League.

Check out the box score here:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

October 2, 1968: Gibby Strikes Out 17 in Game One of The Fall Classic

     On October 2, 1968, Bob Gibson did what no man had done before, and no man has done since, by striking out 17 men in one World Series contest. The performance came in Game 1 of the Fall Classic against the Tigers, and helped lead the Cardinals to a 4-0 victory.

     It had instant classic stamped on it before a pitch was thrown. The Tigers countered the National League MVP who had posted a regular season E.R.A. of 1.12 with Denny McLain who had won 31 games during the regular season. However, the Cardinals did not get the same McLain that had led the way to 31 wins. He surrendered three runs in the fourth, and was a victim of his wildness, which helped put the Birds on the board.

      McLain did look like he was cruising as well until that fourth inning, which began with a four pitch walk to Roger Maris. Orlando Cepeda popped out, then McLain issued his second four pitch free pass of the inning to Tim McCarver. He was in trouble. The Cards had him on the ropes, and they were not about to let up. Mike Shannon ripped one into left, that Willie Horton could not handle, which led to Maris scoring the first run of the ballgame, and McCarver made the most of it by moving over to third, while Shannon stood on second. One batter later Julian Javier padded the lead by knocking in both runners with a single to right. The Cardinals would not need any more runs on this day. Although, Lou Brock did add to the total by crushing a homer deep to center in the seventh. Brock had stolen a base earlier in the contest as well. With all of that said the story of the day was a strikeout machine who wore the number 45.

      Gibby struck seven men out in the first three innings. He would later say that he did not have his best stuff, but he had great control. He only allowed five hits in the contest, and the only true threat that he faced came in the sixth when Dick Mcauliffe picked up a one out single, then Al Kaline came through with a two out double. Gibson put that fire out by striking out Norm Cash. All the while he was not even focused on the Ks, he was focused on the task at hand, which was the next man he would have to face.

      When the ninth rolled around Gibson was just one strikeout away from the tying Sandy Koufax's World Series strikeout record of 15 strikeouts that had been set in 1963. He would equal the mark quickly, but it did not come before allowing a leadoff single to Mickey Stanley. Ultimately, that did not matter, as he sat down Kaline with a K to equal the mark. He followed it up by fanning Norm Cash once again, and that was when he realized he made history. He was so locked in that he did not even know McCarver was running out to the mound, as the cheers of the St. Louis faithful rained upon him. McCarver told him to look at the scoreboard, and when he did he saw the words "NEW WORLD SERIES RECORD 16 Ks!!!" What did Gibson do? He went back to work. There was one more batter that would become his 17th strikeout victim of the day. That batter was Willie Horton, who worked the count to two and two, before Gibson fired his 144th pitch over the plate and struck him out. The pitcher had painted a World Series masterpiece.

Check out the box score here:

You can watch the record setting performance here:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October 1, 1946: The Birds Push The Bums Against The Wall

     On October 1, 1946, the Cardinals won the first game of a three game playoff series against the Brooklyn Dodgers by the score of 4-2 at Sportsman's Park. The series was a truly historic one because it was the first ever tiebreaker in the history of Major League Baseball. The Cardinals and Dodgers both had sprinted to the finish line and had tied each other in the standings with identical 96-58 records. They each had the chance to take the National League Pennant on the last day of the season, but they both lost which forced the historic series.

     The first game of that series looked like the odds might be stacked against the Birds from the start. Their starting pitcher Howie Pollet had a muscle strain, and was game time decision. The journey to get that point had been a long hard journey, and Pollet went out there and turned in a complete game. It was not the prettiest game of his days on the diamond. In fact, he allowed eight hits, and surrendered a home run, walked three men, and had just two strikeouts under his belt when the last pitch crossed the plate. When that last pitch hit the mitt of Joe Garagiola it was his second strikeout of the day. Pollet had worked around jam after jam until he celebrated a win.

     Garagiola was the offensive star of the game . He put the first run on the board in the first, and came through big with a two out single in the third that kept a rally alive with score at 2-1. One batter later the Cards were on top 3-1. Brooklyn plated a run in the top of the seventh, but Garagiola grabbed it right back with a two out RBI single that brought Stan Musial into score. Musial had tripled to lead off the inning, and before the 20-year-old kid from St. Louis came to the dish it looked like he might be stranded there. Instead he came through, and gave Pollet some breathing room,  and the Cardinals would take one more step toward claiming the National League Pennant.  The series would head to Flatbush, and it would resume in two days. Two days from now, I will tell you the tale of how the Cardinals claimed that flag.

Check out the box score here: