Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June 30, 1985: The Birds Grab The Brooms and Sweep The Mets Out Of Town

      On June 30, 1985, with the help of an Ivan de Jesus ground rule double, and a walk off single by Vince Coleman the Cardinals swept the Mets out of town with an eleven inning 2-1 win in front of more than 47,000 fans at Busch Stadium.

     The game was a true duel, as the Mets sent Doc Gooden to the bump to face off against eventual 18 game winner Danny Cox. The two hurlers locked horns, and posted zeroes across the scoreboard until Gooden served up a big fly to Jack Clark in the seventh. The solo shot would have been all Cox needed for victory, but it just did not work out that way, as he was victimized by a two base error in the eighth that led to a game tying run for the Mets.

     While Cox did not get the win in this one, he put the boys around him in position to win it, and after being lifted for a pinch hitter in the tenth he would simply have to wait to celebrate the victory. The wait came to an end in eleventh after Jesse Orosco, who had been on the mound since the ninth, gave up the ground rule double to de Jesus. Then came Vince Coleman's single down the left field line, which was looked as a slumpbuster for the rookie speedster. A celebration ensued when de Jesus crossed the plate. Once again the Redbirds were winners.

     One of the things that stood out to me about this game was the fact that de Jesus was one of the heroes of the day. He was inserted into the game as a part of a double switch in the top of the eleventh, then made the most of his at bat, by coming up big with the double that led to him crossing the dish as a winner. The backup shortstop did not play much during that '85 season, which proved to be his lone season with the Cardinals, but he did contribute to a pennant winning ballclub, and on that day he helped the team win a very important ballgame. It was quite the race that season between the Cardinals and the Mets, as the Cards took the NL East by just three games.

      Ivan de Jesus can be looked as an example  of the importance that every man has on pennant winning roster. Today we see players overly criticized for not being a superstar on the diamond. Although, they do contribute to the team when called upon. One of the first player's that comes to my mind is Pete Kozma. When historians look back at the things he did they will do exactly that, not dwell on the things he did not do. We must not forget that even small contributions are big contributions if they lead to victory. The list of role players that could be pointed at as key contributors to pennant winning teams is a very long list. In most cases those men are unsung heroes. It is something to remember when you see one of those "light hitting" guys strolling to the dish. He may just come up big when it is needed the most. A pennant winner is giant puzzle and each of those men are pieces to that puzzle. You remove one piece and the puzzle is incomplete.

     In the case of Ivan de Jesus, he spent parts of 15 seasons on a big league diamond; 1985 was his only year with the Redbirds. He hit .254 during that time and picked up more than 1,100 hits. He was a part of two pennant winners, as de Jesus also slapped on the cleats as a member of the 1983 Phillies. When he hung'em up he began teaching the game to the next generations who had dreams of playing Major League Baseball. They would carry the torch into the future, however, he would be sure to remember his past.

Monday, June 29, 2015

June 29, 1955: 2,500 Hits For Stan The Man

     On June 29, 1955, Stan The Man Musial picked up the 2,500th hit of his career during a 9-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Sportsman's Park. The Man came into the game two hits shy of the mark, and he knew that 2,500 was going to be his on that fine night in St. Louis. Musial picked up hit number 2,499 with a single in the first, which led to him crossing the dish moments later when his buddy Red Schoendienst parked one in the seats. Then in the sixth Musial's 2,500th hit was also the 307th career home run of his career. It was a two-run shot that tied the game at 4-4. Both hits were served up by Reds starter Rudy Minarcin. Stan had reached a milestone. He had many more in store.

     The Reds took a 5-4 lead in the eighth, but it did not last long at all, as Wally Moon hit a moonshot in the bottom of that eighth inning, which not only tied the ballgame, it also sparked what turned out to be a five run frame. Musial scored in that inning, after being put on base with a free pass. Once the rally was complete Frank Smith set down the side in order in the ninth to secure the Redbird victory.

     Musial was just the 36th man to reach 2,500 hits. As he celebrated the milestone with a victory, he began to set his sights on the coveted mark of 3,000 hits. He thought it may be in the next three seasons if he could maintain the production he expected from himself. Musial knew what he was talking about; he reached that mark on May 13, 1958. Musial's career came to a close in 1963. He had picked up a grand total of 3,630 hits. 1,815 of those hits came on the road, while the other 1,815 came in front of the fans in St. Louis. It truly is one of  greatest stats that Stan Musial recorded. It speaks volumes about his consistency, and it says he was at home wherever he played. After all, fans everywhere loved watching him, and he loved playing in front of them.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN195506290.shtml

Sunday, June 28, 2015

June 28, 1947: Kurowski Plays The Hero Again

     On June 28, 1947, Whitey Kurowski was a walk off hero for a second consecutive night, as he capped off a three-run rally with a two run blast in the ninth that beat the Reds 8-7 before a crowd of more than 18,000 at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. What followed was a victorious roar in the stands, which Kurowski heard the likes of 24 hours before when he came up big with a single that pushed two runs across the plate in the eleventh inning, which led to a stunning 6-5 victory. I would imagine that Whitey had a grin on his face that extended from ear to ear after each of the victories. However, that walk off blast was something special. It was his lone walk off in his big league career, which included a grand total of 106 home runs.

     The first of the two victories had the Cardinals fighting back throughout the tilt, as Cincy jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the fifth. The Cardinals scored two of their own in the bottom of that inning, only to have to do the same thing in the eighth, which ended with the clubs knotted at 4-4. Things looked bleak in the eleventh for the Redbirds, as reliever Kent Burkhart surrendered a two out RBI single to pinch hitter Eddie Lukon that put the Reds in a position to win. Al Brazle replaced Burkhart, and picked up a win by recording one out to send it to the bottom of the eleventh. The inning began with Eddie Eraut being called upon to finish things off, but the reliever could not get it done. He walked Joe Gargiola, then surrendered a double to Dick Sisler, before the ball was handed over to Buddy Lively. Lively put Red Schoendienst on with a free pass, before recording a pair of outs. Then came Kurowski, who ripped a single into left that scored Joe Garagiola to tie it and Red Schoendienst win it.

     24 hours later the Birds found themselves on the ropes again, but every single man on that roster knew that you played until the final out, and they would not give up unless it was called. It was not the uphill battle they had faced the night before, but it was a battle nonetheless. The Reds bolted out of the gate, as their third baseman Grady Hatton tripled in the first, then scored to give his club a 1-0 lead. That lead did not last long, as the Cardinals put together a four run rally in the second that was capped off with an RBI double by Stan Musial.

     The Reds were not about to quit in this one either. They put two on the board in the top of the third, that came via a two run shot off of first baseman Babe Young's bat. The score held at 4-3 until the Reds tied it with a run in the sixth, then they scored three more in the seventh to take a 6-3 lead. Kurowski got one run back by coming up with a two out RBI double in the bottom of the seventh to make it 7-5 Redlegs.

     Cincinnati's starter Kent Peterson was still on the bump when the bottom of the ninth began. he was three outs away from a complete game victory, but would only get one of them, before serving up an infield single to Terry Moore that bounced off Hatton's chest. Stan The Man knocked him in with a triple, and suddenly it was the Reds who began to be pushed against the ropes. The big triple by number 6 sent Peterson packing, and his reliever Harry Gumbert had to face the man of the hour: Whitey Kurowski. Gumbert kept his pitch count down to one, as Kurowski took the first one thrown his way and sent it sailing over the wall in left to win it in dramatic fashion. If you are anything like me, you can almost hear that roar of the crowd when you close your eyes. Once again Whitey was a hero.

     Kurowski spent all nine years of his big league career with the Birds on the Bat across his chest, and during those nine years he had many great moments, which included five All Star appearances, and three World Championship celebrations. He had many great moments during the regular season as well, which included a couple days in late June of '47, which put the Reds to bed in front of a home crowd in St. Louis. He tucked them in tight.

You can read all about Kurowski here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/2c2e4e20

Check out both box scores

6/27/47: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN194706270.shtml
6/28/47:   http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN194706280.shtml

Saturday, June 27, 2015

June 27, 1975: 250 Wins For Gibby

     On June 27, 1975, Bob Gibson picked up the 250th win of his career, with a 6-4 win in the first game of a doubleheader against the Expos in Montreal. The Birds dropped the second game to the the squad who called Montreal home, but that was not the story of the day. The story of the day would be Bob Gibson, who reached a milestone that proved to be his last win as a starter. Gibson did add one more win to his totals one month later with a decision in relief. Gibson's 251 wins are far and wide the most wins in franchise history, with Jesse Haines' 210 wins coming in a distant second, while the next closest all time Redbird winner is Bob Forsch with 163.

     Gibson watched the first Redbird run cross the plate in the third when Lou Brock knocked in a run, then he helped his own effort by knocking in Mike Tyson with two outs in the fifth. Two batters later Gibson scored on a two run double by Ted Sizemore. Gibson sailed into the seventh up 4-0, then surrendered a leadoff single and a walk, which ended the day for the man who wore the 45 on his back. Gibson handed the ball over to Ron Bryant.

     The Expos scratched across three runs in that seventh inning. The first two were charged to Gibson. That 4-0 cushion had quickly become a a one run game. However, they got two of them back in the ninth, before Montreal came up with the final run of the game with an ill fated rally in the bottom of the inning that ended with a Mike Garman save.

     In many ways an era came to a close when Gibson handed that ball over in the seventh. While he did pick up one more win, the fact it was in relief was not a a typical Bob Gibson win. The mound warrior was 39 years old that season, and it would prove to be the final season of a storied career. That story included a lifetime 2.91 E.R.A., 3,117 strikeouts, 9 All Star appearances, 2 Cy Young Awards, 9 Gold Gloves, 2 World Series MVP Awards, an NL MVP, as well as being crowned a champion twice.

     The Gibson era was an era like no other. It was an era of dominance, an era of excellence, and an era of greatness. It was the greatest era for a pitcher in the history of the Cardinals franchise, and while it did have to come to a close the tale would be told time and time again, as the man is represented among the greatest players to ever step on a diamond at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MON/MON197506271.shtml

The complete list of Cardinals all times wins leaders and more can be found here: http://stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com/stats/sortable.jsp?c_id=stl#sortColumn=w&sectionType=sp&playerType=ALL&statType=pitching&season=2015&season_type=ALL&game_type='R'&elem=%5Bobject+Object%5D&tab_level=child&click_text=Sortable+Player+pitching&league_code='MLB'&page=1&ts=1435362996574

Friday, June 26, 2015

June 26, 1926: The Birds Rally In St. Louis; Sisler Steals Home In The Windy City

     On June 26, 1926, the Cardinals pulled one out of the fire in St. Louis, as they found themselves trailing the Cubs 6-2 headed into the bottom of the seventh, then exploded for six runs that was capped off by a two run blast off of Rogers Hornsby. The Cubbies scratched another run across in the eighth, but the two run clout proved to be the game winner, as the Birds prevailed 8-7. The win moved the club into second place. They would fight and claw all season long to take the top prize in the National League, which led to a celebration like no other.

     Rogers hit just 11 homers that season, which was a far cry from his league leading 39 he cranked out of the yard a year before.  As stated many times before, Hornsby's leadership as the skipper of the team, along with what was considered an off year for the man who hit .317, was instrumental in bringing the Cardinals their first title. His days with the Birds would end soon thereafter, however, Rogers Hornsby would forever be a Cardinal.

     Bonus fact: On that same day in Chicago, the St. Louis Browns won the first game 5-4 of a doubleheader against the White Sox, which came after a 33-year-old George Sisler stole home in the top of the ninth. The Browns came into the inning down 3-2 before turning the scoreboard with a three run rally that was capped off by Sisler's theft of home plate. The Pale Hose fought back in the bottom of the inning by scoring a run, but they could not plate another as Sisler and his boys celebrated a victory at Comiskey.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

June 25, 1960: Curt Simmons Returns To Philly and Dominates His Former Club

     On June 25, 1960, Curt Simmons made a triumphant return to Philadelphia and led the way to a 1-0 Cardinals victory over the Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium. Ken Boyer rewarded  Simmons' strong effort by going deep off of Jim Owens to lead off the ninth, which was all the Redbirds would need to secure a victory. It was the 19th big fly of the season for Boyer, and the first of many wins for Simmons as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.

     Simmons allowed just six hits in the contest. The last of those six hits was a ninth inning double off the bat of outfielder Lee Walls, who was promptly replaced with a pinch runner, as the Fightin Phils tried to fight their way back into this one. Simmons retired the next man, Ken Walters, but it took a spectacular diving play by Joe Cunningham in right that may have been a game saver. While Simmons had pitched a gem, the Cardinals skipper Solly Hemus called on Lindy McDaniel to put the Philllies to bed, and he tucked them in tight by getting Pancho Herrera to hit a fly ball to Curt Flood in center. Herrera owned three of the six hits surrendered by Simmons; he would not get a fourth. Simmons was victorious.

     Simmons had spent parts of 15 seasons in the City of Brotherly Love and won 115 games as a member of the  hometown Phillies, He topped double digits in wins six times during his tenure in Philly, however, the 1959 season was a disastrous for the southpaw, as injury kept him on the shelf throughout the campaign. While Simmons felt good at the beginning of the 1960 campaign, he had a shaky start to the season, and on May 11th he was released. Several teams bid for his services, and the Cardinals came up with the winning bid. Simmons spent parts of seven season with the Redbirds. During that time he posted a 69-58 regular season record, which included a career high 18 win season in 1964. His efforts helped the Cardinals win a title that season, which was in part made possible by an epic collapse by his former club, and for that he will forever be revered in Cardinal Nation.

If you would like to read more about the life and times of Curt Simmons read his SABR bio here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/e98dbe08

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PHI/PHI196006250.shtml

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

June 24, 1954: Brooks Lawrence Shines In His Major League Debut

     On June 24, 1954, Brooks Lawrence became the first African American to pitch for the Cardinals, and he helped lead them to a 5-1 victory with a complete game four-hit performance against the Pirates at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Lawrence was provided with plenty of offense, as the Redbirds rocked out 16 hits, with 12 of them coming off of the Pirates starter Vern Law.

     The run support came early, as Red Schoendienst capitalized on a leadoff triple by Wally Moon in the first, by knocking him in with a double. Stan The Man moved Red over to third, then the redhead came trotting into score the second run of the opening frame on a sac fly off the bat of Ray Jablonski. Law was able to limit the damage to just two runs, but in the end all Lawrence would need was two runs to secure the victory. Despite that fact, the Birds piled on a few more.

     The third Redbird run came after Tom Alston, the first African American to play for the club, tripled to leadoff the fourth. Catcher Bill Sarni made the most of that one by dropping a single into left-center, and the Redbirds were up 3-0. Alston then extended the lead to 4-0 with a ribbie in the fifth. The Pirates looked like they had something going against the 29-year-old rookie hurler in the bottom of the fifth inning, as they picked up three of their four hits in the frame, and scored their lone run of the contest. Lawrence put that fire out by inducing a double play ball, then retiring the next man with a lineout to center. Bill Sarni got that run back by knocking in Tom Alston for a second time of the day in the eighth. From there Lawrence turned the lights out on the Corsairs, as he sailed to a historic victory.

     Brooks Lawrence posted a 15-6 record during that 1954 season, and by doing so he showed great promise. However, in 1955, he ended up fighting ulcers that put him in the hospital, and after overcoming the medical issues he was sent to the minors to regain his form. He did make it back to the big league club that season, but went 3-8 down the stretch, then was ushered out of town, as the Frank "Trader" Lane era was ushered into the Redbirds front office. Before the '56 campaign began Lane sent Lawrence to Cincinnati for a bag of balls named Jackie Collum who went 6-2 in what proved to be his only season with the Birds. Meanwhile, Brooks Lawrence enjoyed an All Star campaign that season and won a career high 19 games. He followed it up with a 16 win campaign, but could not sustain the success. He failed to post a winning record in 1958 and 1959, and by the Spring of 1960 his career on a major league diamond came to a close.

     Some might say Brooks Lawrence came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. I would say he had to have a heart of a lion to be one of the many men who helped baseball integrate. Imagining what all of those men went through is not something that I can do because one has to wear the shoes to know how the shoes feel. I have no doubt that he faced many obstacles to simply make it to the major leagues, and he overcame every single one of them. He helped the Cardinals turn a page in history that should have been turned long before he went the distance in Pittsburgh. All of Cardinal Nation should tip their caps to Lawrence for being a man that helped open doors.

If you would like to learn more about the life and times of Brooks Lawrence check out his SABR bio here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/cc9055d6

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT195406240.shtml

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

June 23, 1911: Bill Klem Decks Roger Bresnahan

     On June 23, 1911, things got a bit rowdy in Cincy, as Umpire Bill Klem decked the Cardinals manager Roger Bresnahan following an 8-7 loss against the Reds. The incident began as the Cards made a furious charge at tying the ballgame by scoring four runs that brought the club within one run of tying the ballgame. They were down to their final out, but had the Redlegs on the ropes, with Bobby Keefe doing everything he could to hold onto to the lead. The Cincinnati hurler had a runner sitting on third, and Cardinals third baseman Mike Mowery at the dish. Keefe fired two called strikes passed the batter. Bresnahan thought the pitcher balked on the second of the two, so he went into a tirade that ended with a haste, as the ump closed his right fist and let him have it. Before he knew what happened, the Cardinals skipper was being separated from Klem before he could return a retaliatory blow.

     By all accounts, Bresnahan did not so much as use foul language toward Klem, or raise a hand to him. The skipper immediately said he would be wiring the National League President Tom Lynch, and hoped that Klem would be dismissed as an umpire in the league. That was not going to happen. Bill Klem was known as one of the best in the business when it came to calling balls and strikes, and this one incident would not lead to any sort of banishment. It did lead to a $50 fine, which may not sound like a lot, but that $50 would equate to more than $1,200 today. Bresnahan was not disciplined, however, Lynch made it be known that charging an umpire after a game would not be tolerated, and the next skipper to do so would be made an example of.

   At the end of that season Bresnahan and Klem seemed to bury the proverbial hatchet, as the Cardinals skipper made it be known that he would be happy to have him work a Fall series between the Birds and the Browns in St. Louis. That never came to be, as Klem went onto work the World Series. While they did seem to put that one to bed the two had other run ins in the years to come. When Bresnahan was with the Cubs in 1915, he expressed anger with Klem, saying he did not know what he had against him. It does seem they let things go, as they stood side-by-side in 1944 with Bresnahan's arm around Klem, while helping raise $56 million in bond sales to contribute to the war effort.

   This one incident hardly altered the legacy of Bill Klem.  In fact, he is a legend of the game who is represented in Cooperstown, New York. He held a post on the diamond from 1905 to 1941. He could be a hard-nosed no nonsense type of guy, however, he was also known as a fair umpire who helped the game develop through making calls using hand signals, as well as helping other umpires know where to stand in order to be able to make the right calls during a game. Like Klem, Bresnahan was also destined to be represented in the hallowed halls of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and like Klem he helped revolutionize the game by becoming the first catcher to wear shin guards and other protective gear that would evolve into the gear the men wear today. They each made their mark. It just seems that Klem really made a mark on Bresnahan on that day in June of 1911.

"Baseball is more than a game to me. It's a religion." ~Bill Klem

Both Klem and Bresnahan have SABR bios which you can check out by clicking on the links below.

Klem: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/31461b94

Bresnahan: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/90202b76

Monday, June 22, 2015

June 22, 1934: Paul Dean Strikes Out 10; Collins and Frisch Steal The Show

     On June 22, 1934, the Gashouse Gang ganged up on the on the Dodgers in St. Louis, beating them 7-2 to the delight of the home crowd. It was a combo platter of teamwork that led to this victory, as Paul Dean struck out 10 men en route to his ninth victory of the campaign, while Ripper Collins and player/manager Frankie Frisch were the offensive stars of the tilt. Frisch went 5 for 5 with two doubles, and two runs scored, while Collins knocked him across the plate with his sixteenth big blast of the season in the fourth. Dizzy's little rookie brother Paul was making a name for himself quickly, as he sat just one win behind his sibling, but ole Dizzy made widened that gap to two the next day by winning his eleventh. The Dean brothers accounted for 49 wins during that 1934 season, which is more than half of the club's 95 wins, which captured a pennant. That is something I have always believed to be absolutely amazing.

     The picture that accompanies the AP article was done by Art Krenz. It appeared in the Southeast Missourian on June 23, 1934. I thought it was great. However, while Frisch's Cardinals were able to take the National League by storm, Hornsby's Browns stumbled to a sixth place finish. It can be looked at as a testament to a manager is only as good as the players that he is surrounded by. That is said with all due respect to those members of the Browns who represented the City of St. Louis. The way I see it is they may have had a disappointing season, but they were each in the major leagues, and that is something that most can only dream of.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN193406220.shtml

Sunday, June 21, 2015

June 21, 1893: Brodie Slams Louisville

     On June 21, 1893, just 855 souls watched Browns center fielder Steve Brodie hit a third inning grand slam, which proved to be the difference maker in a 9-6 win over the Louisville Colonels at Robison Field in St. Louis. The Chicago Tribune called it a "hot and sultry afternoon" in St. Louis, which may have been one reason for such a small crowd. The mercury was cooking, and so was Brodie who hit a team high 2 home runs during that 1893 season. Although, he only played in 107 games that season for the club, as he was sold to Baltimore in a cash deal in late August. Brodie's SABR biography proclaimed that is where he made his name as a member of the "swashbuckling Orioles."  He also set the 19th century record for most consecutive games played with 727. If you would like to know more about the life and times of Steve Brodie you can read that bio here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/cffef117 


Saturday, June 20, 2015

June 20, 1985: Danny Cox Shuts Down The Phillies

     On June 20, 1985, Danny Cox led the Cardinals to a 5-0 victory over the Phillies at Busch with a complete game performance.  Cox was provided with all of the run support he needed in the first, as Willie McGee knocked in Vince Coleman who had walked, then moved all the way to third on an attempted pickoff that went flying past Mike Schmidt at first. McGee crossed the dish on an Andy Van Slyke double moments later to put the Birds up 2-0.  A pair of Tom's got in on the offensive action, as third baseman Tom Lawless knocked in a run in the third, then catcher Tom Nieto did the same in the fifth. The cherry on top came in the eighth when Tommy Herr came up with a double to push McGee in for the second time of the day.

     The true story of the day was Danny Cox. It was his third complete game in a row, and his second consecutive shutout. The big righty gave up nine hits in the contest, but he worked his way around them. The biggest out of the ballgame came with the bases full in the seventh, and Cox needing one out to get out of the jam. He got that out with a ground ball, then wiped the sweat from his brow, and went out and finished the job by allowing just one more hit in the contest. Cox won a career high 18 games in 1985, then helped the Cardinals reach the World Series. That was something Cox would do twice with the Redbirds, as he was a member of the 1987 National League Pennant winning club as well. While Cox was not able to win a championship with the Cardinals, he did celebrate as a champion in 1993 with the Toronto Blue Jays. With that said, Danny Cox will forever be a Cardinal. as he was a part of some of the greatest teams that stepped on the diamond throughout the eighties.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN198506200.shtml

Friday, June 19, 2015

June 19, 1967: Maris Comes Up Big With His Bat; Flood Caps Things Off With an Unassisted Double Play

     On June 19, 1967, Roger Maris came up big with his bat in the top of the eleventh, and Curt Flood ended a battle in Houston with an unassisted double play to secure a 5-4 eleven inning win over the Astros.

     Bob Gibson took to the mound for the Birds, but it would not be a classic Gibby type of day, considering he struck out just three men and gave up three runs. With that said, Gibson kept the boys in it, and turned in seven innings before handing the ball over to the bullpen. He had been stung by an RBI triple by Julio Gotay in the third, then watched Orlando Cepeda put the Cardinals in front by knocking in two with a double in the sixth. That lead disappeared in the blink of an eye when Rusty Staub took him deep in the bottom of that same frame. Houston held onto that 3-2 lead until the eighth, then Lou Brock and Curt Flood came up with a pair of RBI's off of starter Mike Cuellar to give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead. The seesaw shifted back to the Houston side in the bottom of the ninth when Gotay picked up his fifth hit of the day, which was an RBI single that sent it to extras.

     Neslon Briles had inherited a runner in the ninth, and while he gave up the hit that ended up tying the ballgame, the run was charged to Joe Hoerner, who gave up a leadoff double to Bob Aspramonte. Briles picked up one more out during that inning, but it was a productive one that moved Aspramonte over to third with a sac bunt, which was the end of the line for Hoerner and the beginning of what was going to be a tough battle for Briles to win. He struck out the first man he faced before giving up the game tying hit to Gotay, who ended up a home run shy of the cycle. This set the table for Briles to win his third game of the campaign, as he held Astros in check until that fateful eleventh, when Roger Maris came up big with a one out RBI double that scored Tim McCarver, with what proved to be the game winning run.

     What kept that run from being preserved as the game winner was the spectacular play by the perennial Gold Glover who roamed center field like no other: Curt Flood. That web gem from '67 came after Briles surrendered a leadoff single to Jim Landis. Houston's skipper Grady Hatton went right back to the small ball that led to the game tying run in the ninth, as Landis was moved over to second with a sacrifice bunt. Landis thought he was going to tie it moments later, as Bob Lillis hit a looper to center that looked like a sure hit, only to have Flood take it away with a shoestring catch. Landis was off and running, and the alert Curt Flood was as well, as he darted to second base in a flash to record the game ending unassisted double play.

      One of the greatest to ever roam an outfield, Flood will forever be known for his challenge of the reserve clause. That challenge led to free agency in the ranks of Major League Baseball, and today every single player who puts ink on a contract owes that man a bit of gratitude. It is undoubtedly something that has defined his legacy, but it should never be forgotten that the man could play some ball. In my humble opinion what he did on the field should be enough to put him among the legends of the game in Cooperstown, New York. The challenge of the reserve clause simply adds something that revolutionized the game to what I consider a Hall of Fame resume. While I do understand the on the cusp on numbers alone argument, I do believe that the historical impact of what he did by sacrificing his career for the greater good of the men that followed him pushes him well over the top. It seems that most that understand baseball history realize what he meant to the game, and for this one fan I do believe it is a travesty he has been shunned from the institution that is built around preserving the history of the great game that is played on a diamond. Maybe one day they will get it right; maybe one day Curt Flood will be represented with a plaque in Cooperstown.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/HOU/HOU196706190.shtml

I am very passionate about the belief that Curt Flood belongs in the Hall of Fame. I have written several papers in college about it, and did a speech about it as well. If and when that day comes I will do everything in my power to make a trip to watch an induction ceremony for the first time in my life. While he will not be there to celebrate the day, I do believe that he will be looking down on his family who have waited long enough for Major League Baseball to bestow the well deserved honor on the man that they knew and loved.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

June 18, 1915: Doak Wins a 12 Inning Duel; The RedBirds Outfield Does Not Record a Putout

     On June 18, 1915, a pitching duel for the ages happened in St. Louis, as Boston Braves starter Pat Ragan and Cardinals starter Bill Doak went into the twelfth inning deadlocked 1-1, before Doak finally wavered in the tenth by giving up a run. The Birds bounced back in the bottom of the frame with a run, that meant more free baseball for the fans at Robison Field. Doak held the visitors in check before the wheels came off of Ragan's bus in the bottom of the twelfth. He started things off by walking left fielder Bob Bescher, followed that up by beaning second baseman Dots Miller, then he walked right fielder Cozy Dolan.  First baseman Ham Hyatt then rewarded Doak with a win by ripping a single that brought Bescher into score. When the Cardinals outfielders ran to the locker room that day they had accomplished a rare feat by doing a lot of nothing in the outfield. What I mean by that is the trio had not recorded one putout during the 12 inning affair. A rare feat to say the least. The only outfielder to even figure into the defensive efforts was Cozy Dolan who recorded an assist.

     Doak won 144 games for the Cardinals over  the course of 13 seasons. Those 144 wins rank fifth in franchise history. He also recorded 30 shutouts as a member of the club, which is the second most in franchise history; Bob Gibson recorded 56 shutouts. One of the last legal spitballers to take to a mound in the major leagues, Doak made a name for himself on the bump and off, as he also helped revolutionize the pitcher's mitt in 1919.

     I literally stumbled across the fact that the outfielders did not record a put out, while I was looking for a more detailed description of the contest. While I could find a few instances of it happening, I could not find a definitive number of times that it has occurred. With that said, I am going to try to find out, and if I do I will pass it on to you. Doak struck out six men in that contest, and besides the ball that got to Dolan every other ball that a Braves batter put wood on was snagged by one of the Cardinals infielders. Doak was dealin'. What a day at the ole ballgame.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN191506180.shtml

You can read Doak's SABR bio here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/1359e4e2

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

June 17, 1970: Gibby Flirts With a No-No In San Diego

     On June 17, 1970, Bob Gibson came oh so close to pitching a no-hitter against the Padres on San Diego, only to have it come to an end with just four outs to go in the contest, as the Friars left fielder Ivan Murrell ripped a two out single in the eighth. The offensive heroes of the day were Jose Cardenal and Dick Allen. Cardenal picked up three doubles and stole a base, and Allen knocked him in twice, which included the first run of the ballgame in the first. It was the only run Gibby needed, as he mowed down the San Diego lineup in quick succession. At the end of the day, the man who donned the 45 on his back had struck out 13 men, faced just 29 batters, and recorded his tenth victory in a row with the one-hit performance. Murrell spared San Diego of being no-hit twice in a week, as Dock Ellis had done the deed while high on LSD on June 12th (all kinds of crazy). Back to the star of this day, Gibson had come close to tossing a coveted no-hitter several times before, and at this point in his career he was an aging veteran who was 34-years-old. He began to doubt it was going to ever going to happen. Then came August 14, 1971, and Gibby finally added a no-no to his long list of accomplishments.

Read about it here: www.onthisdayincardinalnation.com/2014/08/august-14-1971-bob-gibson-no-hits-buccos.html

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SDN/SDN197006170.shtml

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

June 16, 1887: Curt Welch Nearly Causes a Riot in Baltimore

     On June 16, 1887, just one week after punching Athletics pitcher Gus Weyhing in Philadelphia, the saga of Curt Welch continued, as the embattled center fielder caused a near riot in Baltimore during the ninth inning of what turned out to be an 8-8 tie. The play that caused the pandemonium came when Welch took out the Orioles second baseman Bill Greenwood in an aggressive attempt to steal second base in the ninth. A group of Orioles players became enraged, and the fans became enraged as well. An arrest would follow, and the next day Welch stood before a judge hoping to clear his name.

     The Baltimore American  proclaimed that Welch had ran at least five feet outside of the baseline to take out Greenwood, then once he did the damage he was looking to do Welch tagged up, as Greenwood rolled around on the ground in pain. The crowd of an estimated 9,000 became enraged by the actions of Welch, who not only took out their player, but was also awarded the base by umpire Jack McQuaid. The crowd was already incensed by calls that they considered favorable to the Browns from earlier in the contest, and because of that a lead was stolen from their club. They were also angry over the way Welch had taken at bats in the contest, as it was said he had tried to be purposefully hit by a pitch by diving over home plate as one crossed the dish, so once he barreled into Greenwood the proverbial pot came to a boil.

     The Baltimore nine gathered around the umpire and argued that Welch should be called out on the play. The aforementioned Baltimore American said the players made the most "frantic of gestures" toward McQuaid, yet he would not overturn the call. The crowd began to shout "kill him!" and "hit him in the head" before trying to make their way onto the field. Luckily, there were plenty of police officers on hand to quell the stirring violence. After gaining control over the crowd, the police had to turn their attention to the players who were "likewise becoming pugilistic." Charlie Comiskey and Oyster Burns were forcibly separated by officers as they were set to go toe-to-toe in battle.

     As the dust settled the Mayor of Baltimore's secretary ordered that Welch be arrested for assault, which led officers to grabbing him up and escorting across the field amidst a rain of jeers from the crowd. The tense situation was not helped by Welch's apparent resistance to being placed under arrest. Immediately thereafter it was determined by all parties involved that the game should be called, however, this thing was far from over.

     The Browns gathered their equipment, then were escorted to waiting carriages to take them to their hotels. They had a problem though: a large crowd gathered around the carriages. It soon became apparent that Welch, Comiskey and the the umpire Jack McQuaid could not safely be escorted from the premises. The only St. Louis player treated well was Dave Foutz, who was a native of the Baltimore area. Foutz returned to the clubhouse where he made it be known that the situation was volatile to say the least, therefore, those in charge began to come up with a Plan B on how to get the players out of there. The problem with that was there was only so many exits to the park, so the fans made their way to those exits in anticipation of the men trying to vacate.

     Meanwhile, several fans, which included one Colonel Wm. H. Love gathered around the police insisting that they would go swear in court that they saw Welch clearly assault Greenwood. Welch was worried about his own safety while being asked about the play. He denied that he meant to take out the second baseman, as he was just playing the game of base ball. On the other hand, Greenwood, who was struck by a severe headache while being questioned, did insist he thought it was on purpose, but he too thought it was a base ball play, and Welch did not strike him illegally. All of the baseball men involved tried desperately to keep Welch being arrested. However, they could not stop the officers from doing what was seen as their duty.

     Once Welch was finally whisked away in a carriage, he along with Comiskey, Greenwood were taken to a courthouse in Waverly. Some 50 young boys followed the carriage on a dead run to the courthouse, where they were met by an estimated 200 people who were ready to jeer Welch as he made his way to face a judge. The initial hearing ended with Welch being released on $200 bail, then he and Comiskey were taken to their hotel by police officers. All along the way they passed angry fans who irately let them know exactly what they thought.

     The owner of the Browns,  Chris Von der Ahe blamed the Orioles squad and their fans who lacked a knowledge of the game of base ball, saying "Out of ten thousand people to go to a ball game, there is not 500 who understand its rules." He also blamed McQuaid for losing control of the situation. The play in question was a play that "happened every day in a good game of ball" according to Von der Ahe. Earlier in that same contest Baltimore's first baseman Tommy Tucker scored a run, taking out St. Louis' catcher Doc Bushong in the process. Von der Ahe looked at that play just like he looked at the ninth inning play that was blown well out of proportion. One of the reasons it may have been blown out of proportion was the incident in Philly, which came one week before. Welch already had a reputation as a rough and aggressive player and that news in Philadelphia was read about by every fan in Baltimore with St. Louis due to make a visit.

     Welch's reputation had preceded him. With that said, the courts were not concerned with what had happened in Philadelphia. Their concern was about this one incident. The hearing was held at 2 p.m. the next day. Colonel Love was a featured witness. The Colonel insisted he had witnessed an assault. Other witnesses included the Mayor's secretary, and a man named John Boyce. Welch was joined by Von der Ahe, and Harry R. Von der Horst who had assumed responsibility for the posted bail money from the day before.The prosecuting attorney, Frank X. Ward had come prepared to have Welch punished for assault. However, once the witnesses began to testify Von der Ahe asked them pointed questions about the rules that they did not know the answers to. Then when Greenwood was called on he said in a straightforward fashion that plays of that nature happen in base ball, and he did not believe he had been assaulted. Despite the efforts of prosecutor Ward to implicate Welch for taking out the second baseman on purpose Greenwood stood by what he said, which led the judge to reducing the charge to disorderly conduct before handing down a $1 fine, that had an additional $3.50 tacked on for court costs. Von der Ahe paid the fine, then looked to put the fiasco behind him, as his championship squad had to get back to the business at hand: defending the American Association's Title.

     If you had a chance to read about the game in Philadelphia that had Curt Welch running in from center to punch Gus Weyhing, who was on the way to second base with a double, you will remembered that Welch was considered one of the greats of his time. He had scored the game winning run in Game 6 of the 1886 World Series with a steal of home that brought the franchise its first true title. The play was coined the "$15,000 slide", as each member of the St. Louis squad was awarded a healthy bonus for winning the series.

     The club won the American Association. pennant for four consecutive seasons beginning in 1885. Welch was a part of the first three pennant winning squads. The Browns parted ways with Welch after the club took the American Association pennant during that 1887 season. They had failed to win the World Series that season, in fact out of the four pennants, 1886 ended up being the only World Series title, while one of the four ended up being a disputed tie. With that said the early version of the team that was destined to become the Cardinals was a powerhouse franchise during that moment in time and despite Von der Ahe's decision to sell off some of his stars after the 1887 season they were dominant in 1888, which ended with them winning their last pennant in the 19th century.

     When he played in St. Louis, it was said that Welch kept beer behind the scoreboard at the ballpark, so he could toss one back while manning his post in the outfield. With that said, his defense was stellar. It was said he could cover so much ground that he could catch a ball that was hit within two city blocks from where he was stationed. His hearing was so fine tuned that some said he could hear grass grow, so he knew right where the ball was going as soon as he heard the crack of the bat. Welch himself claimed he could hear a fish breathe. His play made him a legend among fans and peers alike. He spent three seasons in the City of Brotherly Love after being sold to the Philadelphia Athletics following that 1887 season.

     Welch spent time with the Orioles, Reds, and the Louisville Colonels before his career came to an abrupt end in the Spring of 1893. It seems that his battle with the bottle was won by the bottle, and less than ten years after he caused a near riot in Baltimore, Curt Welch passed away from what was deemed as "consumption." He was just 34 years of age at the time. Had he been able to tame that personal demon his tale may be far greater than it is, however, that never came to be. With that said, the man was a pioneer in the sport and he thrilled the fans on many days while that that game of base ball was quickly becoming  the national pastime.


Monday, June 15, 2015

June 15, 1927: Rajah Returns To St. Louis

     On June 15, 1927, Rogers Hornsby returned to St. Louis for the first time since being traded to the New York Giants in December of 1926. It was said Hornsby was given the town before the contest, took place, then was ceremoniously introduced before being given a gold watch that was presented by the Mayor of St. Louis, Victor Miller.  After the pregame  festivities came to a close, his former teammate Jessie Haines proceeded to two-hit Rajah's new club, which led to a 5-0 Cardinals victory over the New Yorkers.

     Burleigh Grimes got the nod for the Giants, and was rocked for three runs quickly, with Billy Southworth put one in the seats with two men on in the first. Grimes was tossed in the second inning for arguing balls and strikes after walking in a run with two outs. His successor, Don Songer inherited a bases loaded jam and walked in another run before he could get out of it. From there Songer settled down enough to keep the Cardinals off the board, but that hardly mattered, as Haines spun a gem. The only hits he surrendered were a second inning single to Edd Roush and a fifth inning single to Travis Jackson. The dominating performance earned Haines his 10th win of the season. He would go onto win 24 by the time that 1927 came to a close.

     When the trade for Hornsby went down there was bit of shock and outrage. However, Frankie Frisch, who Hornsby was traded for had already begun endearing himself to the St. Louis fans by the time Rogers made his way back to the park in which he had celebrated as a champion the previous October. While Hornsby was cheered before the game, Frisch was cheered during it. He played spectacular defense, reached on an error, stole a base, scored a run, and picked up a double as well. "Hornsby Day" in St. Louis turned out to be a big hit. It was big hit for Rajah before the contest began,  then it was a big hit for those boys who wore those Birds on the Bat thereafter. As history would have it, both Hornsby and Frisch would forever be celebrated members of the St. Louis Cardinals. Their tales would be told time and time again, as they both helped bring Championships to the Mound City.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN192706150.shtml

Sunday, June 14, 2015

June 14, 1934: Durocher Hits An Inside The Park Slam To Bury The Braves In St. Louis

     On June 14, 1934, Leo Durocher's fifth inning inside-the-park grand slam broke up a 6-6 tie, and propelled the Cardinals to a 12-9 over the Boston Braves at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. The contest was a hit festival, with the Gashouse Gang piling up 16 hits, which included three home runs, five doubles, and a triple.

     The group from Boston piled up 18 hits of their own, with 14 of those coming against Redbird starter Tex Carleton, who was charged with six runs, while seven men crossed the dish while he was on the bump. The inside-the-parker by Durocher came against Boston's Leo Mangum. He had come on in relief after starter Ben Cantwell did not pitch so well. Cantwell was yanked after two and a third after he giving up six runs on seven hits.

     Mangum went the rest of the way and took one on the chin when Durocher put good wood on the ball, then wheeled around the bases. The other big flies came off of Frankie Frisch's bat and catcher Bill Delancey's bat as well. Dizzy Dean cleaned up an inherited mess in the seventh, then picked up a three inning save. It was a wild contest that had a little bit of everything. It was a great day to be a hitter, a rough day to be a pitcher, and a great day to be a fan who got to witness an inside-the-park grand slam at the ole ballpark.

Side notes: The picture featured with today's fact is Durocher in 1937. He was no power hitter. However, he did have a solid 17-year career. Over the course of that time he hit 24 home runs total. Two of those were of the inside-the-park variety, with the one that came on this day being the first of those two. His second came the next season. Durocher wore the Birds on the Bat for five years. He did not lead the way in offensive categories, but he like every other man on that roster was important when it came to winning a championship. His career spanned well past his playing days, as he became a manager that won more than 2,000 games. If you would like to know more about the man they called Leo "The Lip" check out his SABR biography here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/35d925c7

You can also take a glance at his career numbers here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/d/durocle01.shtml

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN193406140.shtml

Saturday, June 13, 2015

June 13, 1968: Schofield Comes Through In The 12th

     On June 13, 1968, Dick Schofield led the twelfth inning off with a solo shot off of knuckleballer Phil Niekro to spark the Cardinals to a 3-1 victory over the Braves in Atlanta. Niekro then walked Phil Gagliano, before Lou Brock knocked in an insurance marker. Steve Carlton put the Redbirds in position to win this one with a strong eight inning performance that included eight strikeouts and just four hits. Carlton not only helped them to the victory with his arm, he also hit the first of 13 career big league home runs with a solo shot in the third.

     The 23-year-old hurler shut the Braves down until they scratched a run across with an RBI off the bat of Joe Torre in the sixth. Carlton did not get a decision, however, he gave the Birds eight strong, before the bullpen took over and held the Braves in check until that extra inning rally put them in a position to win it.

     Schofield, a bench player, was only in the game after Roger Maris pinch hit for Dal Maxvill in the top of the ninth. After Maris failed to produce, the seasoned veteran took over at short. It was a fateful move that would lead to victory, as he walked to the dish and pounced on the Niekro pitch that sailed into the stands.

     Schofield began his career with the Cardinals in 1953. Other than the Cardinals, the man nicknamed "Ducky" played for the Pirates, Giants, Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox and the Brewers. The '68 season was his second go around with the Cardinals and that home run was his lone homer of that season. He was a role throughout his career, only playing more than 100 games during four times during his 19 year big league career. With that said, he is an example of how important a role player can be for a team. He won a Championship with the Pirates in 1960, then helped the Cardinals get to the Fall Classic during that '68 campaign. While that season did not end with the top prize being awarded to the Cardinals, it was a thrilling season nonetheless, as the club repeated as Champions of the National League.

You can read all about the life of Dick Schofield here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/072cd739

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/ATL/ATL196806130.shtml

Friday, June 12, 2015

June 12, 1922: The Cards String Together 10 Consecutive Hits In Philly

     On June 12, 1922, the Cardinals tied a major league record by picking up 10 consecutive hits during a seven run sixth inning against the Phillies at the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia. The Birds came into the frame down 6-3, before the hit festival began that ended with them up 10-6. The ten-hit inning was a part of a 23 hit day for the Redbirds, which included a 4 for 4 day by Rogers Hornsby who hit two doubles, stole two bases, scored two runs, walked twice, and hit a home run. Hornsby was also caught stealing three times. I guess he was human. Other offensive stars included shortstop Doc Lavan who went 5 for 5 with a double, a ribbie, and two runs scored, as well as center fielder Jack Smith who went 4 for 6, falling just a home run short of the cycle. If you're a fan that loves offense this would have been the contest for you.

Note: from what I could find, the record for ten consecutive hits was first achieved in 1901 by the Boston Red Sox. It was tied by a handful of teams, which included another Cardinals squad in 2007, until it was finally broken by the Colorado Rockies who strung together 11 in a row in 2011.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PHI/PHI192206120.shtml

Retrosheet actually provides a rundown of the entire inning here: http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1922/B06120PHI1922.htm

Thursday, June 11, 2015

June 11, 1917: Gonzalez Steals Home!!!

     On June 11, 1917, first baseman Mike Gonzalez ended a three hour affair in the fifteenth inning at Sportsman's Park, by stealing home to give the Cardinals a dramatic 5-4  win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Bill Doak started for the Birds, and looked rough in the first, as the Phillies picked up four runs to start things off. Doak put that inning behind him quickly, and went the rest of the distance, striking out 10 men in the process. The Cardinals put a run on the board in the fourth, then three more in the sixth. None other than Rogers Hornsby led the offensive charge, as he went 4 for 6 and scored twice. Like Doak, Philly's starter Joe Oeschger settled down after his rough innings, and sailed into extra innings matching his counterpart pitch by pitch until Gonzalez made his break to win the ballgame.

     That game winning play was setup when Oechger surrendered a leadoff double to Gonzalez, who ended up on third when Dots Miller was retired on a groundout. The most feared batsman of the day, Rogers Hornsby was then walked, before Gozalez made his game-winning dash for home while Oeschger was in his windup. A reported 3,000 fans strolled through the gates that day. It is probably safe to say that a few fans may have made their way home or elsewhere by the time that Gonzalez scored the run that counted the most. Those that stayed witnessed a rare treat, which has been long considered the most exciting play in baseball. The only thing better than stealing home, is stealing home in walkoff fashion. In essence it is stealing a win.

     The Cuban born, Gonzalez spent parts of 17 years in the big leagues as a player, which began in 1912. After hanging up the cleats in 1932, he became a valuable and respected coach for the Championship winning Gashouse Gang in 1934. In 1938, Gonzalez became the first Cuban born manager in the history of major league baseball. Albeit on a temporary basis. He had another short stint as manager in 1940. To date there have been seven Cuban born men to manage at the major league level. Mark Tomasik over at Retrosimba.com  wrote a great piece about Gonzalez's managerial days. You could check that out here: http://retrosimba.com/2014/12/19/how-mike-gonzalez-became-1st-cuban-manager-in-majors/ It is well worth the read.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN191706110.shtml

Have a great day Cardinal Nation.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

June 10, 1952: Presko Pitches 10 To Get The Win

     On June 10, 1952, Joe Presko led the way to a 10-inning  complete game 1-0 victory over the Dodgers, with a complete game victory, that was capped off with a walk off RBI triple by Red Schoendienst. The triple brought Solly Hemus into score the game winner, which sent the crowd of more than 18,000 into a wild frenzy at Sportsman's Park.

     "Little Joe" as Presko was called, scattered five hits in the contest, with only one of them going for extra bases, as Bobby Morgan was able to reach second against him in the fourth. When that fateful bottom of tenth rolled around, Presko was promptly lifted for a pinch hitter in player/manager Eddie Stanky to lead off the inning. The move failed to bring a result, as Stanky grounded out, so it may have looked like his effort would be wasted. The Dodgers starter Chris Van Cuyk had pitched a gem himself, allowing just six hits total in the contest. The wheels truly began to fall of his bus when he beaned Solly Hemus following the quick ground out by Stanky. Shoendienst followed by scorching one into left-center, then was off to the races. As the Ole Redhead touched third, Hemus touched the plate, and the crowd came alive, as the Cardinals had just snapped an eight game winning streak by the Brooklynites.

     Presko's time in the majors was brief. He appeared in 114 games for the Cardinals between 1951 and 1954. He posted a 24-36 record over the course of that time, which may make some fans glance away, then shrug him off as a player that never really shined. He did shine. Exceptionally bright on that day he went ten strong and blanked the team that was destined to win the National League pennant. They called him "Little Joe" because he stood just 5' 9" and weighed in at a buck sixty.  He posted double-digit wins for various minor league affiliates from 1948 to 1950, then got the call that every minor-leaguer wants to get. He was headed to the big leagues, where he would wear the Birds on the Bat.

     After spending 1955 and 1956 in the minors Presko's days ended with the Cardinals. The Detroit Tigers selected him in the Rule 5 draft. He appeared in 14 games for the club the calls The Motor City home, before spending the rest of his career in the minors. Presko hung up the cleats as a professional in 1959. Alive and well today, Presko calls Kansas City home. He is 86 and has surely made many memories in the years since. I bet if Mr. Presko had his memory jogged about this game he would crack a smile as he reflected on the day that he shut down the Dodgers at Sportsman's Park. It is a day to be remembered.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN195206100.shtml

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

June 9, 1887: Curt Welch Decks Weyhing In Philly

     On June 9, 1887, the Browns knocked off the the Philadelphia Athletics by the score of 7-5 at Jefferson Street Grounds in Philadelphia. The locals looked like they might just take one from the defending American Association Champs, as they scored two runs in the first, before allowing a run in the third and another in the fifth, which tied things up. That fifth inning was an interesting one to say the least, as St. Louis' center fielder Curt Welch ran all the way in from his the outfield when the A's pitcher Gus Weyhing looked like he had a sure double, only to have Welch stop him dead in his tracks by dropping him with a closed fist. Needless to say, the incident was shocking to the crowd and it may have shocked Weyhing as well, as he failed to hold onto a lead.

     It appears that Welch stayed in the game despite the fact he decked another player. He even grabbed a hit in the contest. The A's did retake the lead with a run in the sixth, but St. Louis' bats woke up in the latter innings, as the club plated two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh to take a 6-3 lead. Philly came back with two runs in the eighth to make it 6-5, before St. Louis grabbed another run in the bottom of the inning. An 18-year-old Nat Hudson who had started the game for the Browns, finished it as well with a scoreless frame in the ninth.

     Hudson had won 16 games at the age of 17 for the club, and while he only started 9 games during that 1887 campaign he rebounded with a 25 win season in 1888. When it came to Curt Welch, he was quite the ballplayer. He is often referred to as the best center fielder of his time. With that said, he played the game in an aggressive manor, and in more than one instance that would cause him a bit of trouble. This was one of those days.

Monday, June 8, 2015

June 8, 1987: Coleman Runs Wild Against Philly

     On June 8, 1987, Vince Coleman got on base four times with two singles, a triple and a walk. The speedster made the most of it by stealing four bags and scoring three runs, as he helped lift the Cardinals to a 12-8 win over the Phillies at Veteran's Stadium in Philadelphia.

     The Birds got to work quickly scoring seven runs in the first three innings off of Philly's starter Don Carman who walked nine men and gave up a long ball to Jack Clark in the third, which put the Redbirds up 5-0. The Phillies plated a couple of runs in the bottom of the third, but that was followed by a four run fourth for the Cardinals. Coleman tripled to lead that inning off, then Carman walked Ozzie Smith. Then Carman walked to the showers before he even could get an out in the inning. That was followed by an implosion of sorts for Philadelphia reliever Tom Hume who walked three men, with the last one coming with the bases loaded before he made use of the showers. The Cardinals scored another run in the inning that ended with them up 9-2.

     Those three runs the Phillies scored were scored against starter Tim Conroy, who only lasted three and a third before handing the ball over to reliever Ricky Horton after a two out triple narrowed the lead to 9-3. The Cardinals got that run back in the fifth, which started with Coleman singling, stealing second and third, before Tommy Herr knocked him in with a sac fly to left. It was 10-3 and it looked like this one was all Cardinals.

     The Phillies got something going in the seventh, after Von Hayes led things off with a single. He moved over to third on an error, then scored  on a sac fly by Lance Parrish. If those Phillies were going down, they were going down with a fight. The problem for them was the Cardinals kept fighting as well. A pair of eighth inning RBI singles by Terry Pendleton and Jose Oquendo looked to be the one that nailed this thing shut. The lead was 12-4 at that point. However, the Phillies kept swinging the stick, as they tried to battle back.

     Horton got into trouble in the bottom of the eighth, surrendering back-to-back singles, a triple, and a walk, which led to two of the three runs he was charged with. Horton was able to come up with a double play following the triple, with the runner being retired at home in the process. That was big because the next batter, Chris James parked one in the seats to make it 12-7. Whitey left Ricky on the bump long enough to watch him walk Von Hayes, then Horton got to test out the showers at The Vet. Pat Perry took over for him, got the last out of the frame, then made the ninth interesting by giving up a one out walk to Glenn Wilson. Perry then threw two wild pitches that led to Wilson moving all the way to third. Moments later he scored on a groundout. Perry needed one more out to put this one to bed and he got it when Rick Shu flied out to Oquendo in right, which sent the rest of the Cardinals toward the lockeroom with smiles on their face.

     The team was on fire. They were off to their best start in 20 years after the contest, as they sat at 34-20. The skipper was surprised to learn that was the case because he felt like they were having to score too many runs to win all those ballgames. He was concerned with Conroy's performance, and as it turned out Conroy's day on a major league diamond ended eight days later. He had a surgery the year before and never seemed to recover from it. With that said, the team was built to win and win they did. They held first place from from May 22nd until the final day of the season. On July 10th the club had a 10 game lead in the standing, but they would have to fight to win that pennant, as they lead shrank to as little as one game before they took the N.L. East by three games over the Mets.

     Coleman was instrumental in helping them win that title, as he stole 109 bags. The base burglar was making a name for himself, topping the 100 stolen base mark three years in a row. That season would be the last season he topped 100 stolen bases, but he did lead the National League in stolen bases over the next three seasons. Coleman spent his first six seasons with the Redbirds. He stole 217 of his 346 stolen bases over the course of that time. A part of two pennant winners, Coleman suffered a freak injury in '85 that eliminated him from the playoffs, then when the club returned to the Fall Class during that '87 campaign he stole six bags, but struck out 10 times, and hit just .143 as Minnesota celebrated as champions. Coleman was granted free agency at the end of the 1990 season, then spent time with the Mets, Royals, Reds, and Tigers. While he wore different uniform, ole Vince will always be a Cardinal. Those three seasons that began a career that spanned 13 seasons were something else, as he flew from bag to bag bewildering his opponent, while making the fans in St. Louis jump out of their seats.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PHI/PHI198706080.shtml

Sunday, June 7, 2015

June 7, 1921, Hornsby and The Birds Pound The Dodgers

     On June 7, 1921, the Cardinals pounded the defending N.L. champion Brooklyn Dodgers to the tune of 14-5 in front of a sparse crowd at Sportsman's Park. Things did not start well for the Cardinals starting pitcher Marv Goodwin, as he surrendered two runs in the first inning before being yanked with two outs. His successor Lou North cleaned up the mess, then watched the Cardinals put seven runs on the board in the bottom of the first. The Dodgers starter Leon Cadore did not even record an out, giving up five runs before he got the hook. The big star of the day was Rogers Hornsby, who hit a pair of home runs and a triple. The Cardinals plated their other runs with a tally in the third, then six more in the fifth. North held the Dodgers at bay until the eighth when they put two runs on the board. They scored on him again in the ninth, but it was too little too late, as Hornsby and his comrades celebrated a huge victory.

      The 1921 club won 87 games, which was the best record for the team since the 1889 campaign. They showed flashes of greatness that season, and no one man shined brighter than the 25-year-old Rogers Hornsby. He was monster who tore the cover off the ball with a .397 average, which was good for the league lead. He also led the league with 126 RBI's, 18 triples 44 doubles, 235 hits, and 131 runs scored. His 21 home runs ranked second in the National League. The 87 wins ended up placing the Birds in third, seven games out of first place, which was owned by the New York Giants. While that 1921 club did not win the flag, they did excite the fans regularly and could compete with the best of them. The first five years of the 1920's were crucial seasons for the team that would win it all in 1926, as the foundation was laid for the team that would become no stranger to the top spot in the National League.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN192106070.shtml

     The ad/bat featured with today's article was found in an issue of The Sporting News that appeared on the newsstands within a week of this game being played. The Louisville Mascot Bat was a pretty neat item to own. Several players endorsed the bat that had a decal with a picture of them on the end. Unfortunately, most of these bats were used like they were bats. The decals ended up being worn off, so there are not a lot to be found that are in very good condition. The bat in the photo sold for a little more than $400 in 2011. Definitely a cool collectible to say the least. I would imagine a bat like this one in perfect condition may be able to fetch as much as a $1,000. While there may not be a perfect one out there, this could be a neat project for an aspiring sports artist to pursue by painting vintage bats with a decal of a famous player from yesteryear. As a collector myself I would love to own one that's for sure.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

June 6, 1928: The Birds Rally In The Seventh To Put The Giants Away In New York

     On June 6, 1928, the Cardinals were down 5-1 before exploding for six runs in the seventh inning on the way to a 11-6 victory over the Giants at the Polo Grounds in New York. The G Men scored those five runs in the first two innings, as Grover Cleveland Alexander got hit hard, which led to an early hook. He handed the ball over to spitballer Clarence Mitchell, and Mitchell was up to the task. The well-traveled veteran had just been released from Philly six days earlier and here he was about to win one with a team that was destined to win the National League pennant later that year.

     After taking over  for Ol' Pete, Mitchell went the rest of the distance. He enjoyed the seventh inning outburst, which was highlighted by a two run triple by Wattie Holm. Vic Aldridge had started the tilt for the Giants and looked like he was going to grab a win until the rally ignited. He was yanked for eventual loser Jim Faulkner, who surrendered the last three runs of the big inning. Mitchell gave a run back in the bottom of the seventh, then turned the lights on any hopes of a New York rally.

      The scribes of the day acted as if Alexander's spot in the rotation was in peril. They were wrong to assume such a thing. Rough starts are a part of the game and simply put Ol' Pete had a rough start. He gave the club more than 240 innings that season, going 16-9 at the age of 41. The hero of '26 even started and won a couple of games that were just two days apart later that month. On the other hand, Mitchell was a valuable piece to the pennant winning Cardinals as a fifth starter. His record was just 8-9 that season, but it was not because of a lack of effort that brought high praise by skipper Bill McKechnie. Both Alexander and Mitchell, as well as every other man on that roster helped the team reach the World Series. They may not have won the thing, however, they did wear the National League Crown with pride and all of Cardinal Nation was proud of them for it.

If you would like to read more about Clarence Mitchell check out his SABR bio here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/923ff3e8