Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April 27, 1943: Cooper Spins a Gem


     On April 27, 1943, Mort Cooper tossed a gem in the home opener at Sportsman's Park, as he helped lead the way to a 7-0 victory over the Cubs. The Cubs starter, Paul Derringer was rocked, allowing four runs to cross the dish in the first, then was yanked for a reliever with two outs in the first. The Cardinals knocked in another run to make it 5-0, before Cooper even stepped on the bump. From there on out Coop was in control, allowing just five hits, while his teammates added two more runs to the totals, with a run, and a run in the sixth.

     The pitching staff in '43 started out on fire, allowing just three runs in their first five games. Mort Cooper led the National League with 21 wins, while Stan Musial led the league with a .357 average, 48 doubles, and 20 triples. Musial picked up one of those doubles in that big first inning on that day at Sportsman's Park. The club ended up winning 105 games, and the National League Flag by an astounding 18 games. They clinched on September 18th, then would go onto meet the Yankees for a rematch of the '42 Fall Classic.

     Unfortunately, the club that had dominated the National League would fall to the New Yorkers four games to one. With that said, what a year it was. The disappointment of losing that one would not take long to get past, as they took the cake in 1944, then again in 1946. Those teams from 1941 to 1946 were some of the greatest teams that the Cardinals ever put on the diamond and they will forever be remembered.

Check out the box score here;

Monday, April 25, 2016

April 25, 1956: Haddix Two-Hits The Cubbies at Busch

     On April 25, 1956, Harvey Haddix took care of business against the Cubs in St. Louis by allowing just two hits during a 6-0 win in front of 3,378 fans at Busch. The only hits by the Baby Bears were singles by Ernie Banks in the second, then another by Gene Baker in the sixth. Wally Moon and Rip Repulski helped the cause with a pair of 2 for 4 days, while Stan "The Man" Musial knocked in two with a double. Stan's double was the 540th of his career, which tied him with Joe Medwick on the all time doubles list. The Post Dispatch made note that the 540 doubles were "a considerable number below Honus Wagner's all time mark of 651. Stan finished his career with 725 two-baggers. Not only did Musial reach that milestone, the 35-year-old slugger also scored his 1,500th run of his career when Moon doubled in the second. Musial's final number in the runs scored department was 1,949.

     That game proved to be Haddix's last win in a Cardinals uniform, as he was dealt to Philadelphia in early May. He went 53-40 with the club over five seasons, with his best coming during his rookie season in 1953 when he won 20 games.

Check out the box score here:

Friday, April 22, 2016

April 22, 1926: Hafey's Tenth Inning Blast Sinks The Pirates Ship

     On April 22, 1926, Chick Hafey's tenth inning two run blast led the way to a 5-3 Cardinals win in Pittsburgh. It was a special day for the Pirates organization, as they hoisted the Championship Flag at Forbes Field with an estimated 35,000 fans witnessing the event. However, both clubs committed crucial errors, which led to extra innings, which set up Hafey's game winning home run in the tenth. Rogers Hornsby was aboard when Hafey came to the dish and the player/manager was more than happy when he watched the sphere sail over the wall to give the Cardinals the final lead of the day. Vic Keen, who started the ballgame for St. Louis, finished it has well. The hurler's stat line was not the prettiest, allowing ten hits, while striking out one. However, he kept his club in it, then finished off the defending champions, before celebrating the victory with his teammates.

     Chick Hafey hit .271 with four home runs during that '26 season. He played in just 78 games during the regular season. However, he did go onto play in each game of the World Series that followed. Of those four home runs he hit that season, it may be safe to say that the one he hit on that day in late April was the biggest blast for him during the campaign. The team won 89 games, which was good enough to secure a National League title by just two games, so that win like each and every win during that season was crucial.

     Despite battling poor eyesight and sinus problems, Hafey's best days were ahead of him. He had come up from Branch Rickey's farm system in 1924, and was still developing into a player that would find a place in Baseball's Hall of Fame. In the years to come, Hafey would find a true power stroke, hitting the double-digit mark in home runs from 1927 to 1931. When he wasn't hitting home runs, he was just flat out hitting, as he hit .329 or better six times during that same time frame. Hafey helped the Cardinals win three more National League pennants, as well as their second World Championship title in 1931. That '31 season was perhaps his greatest season, as he won the batting title with a .349 average. It was the closest batting title race in the history of the game, as Hafey took it in his last at bat of the season, beating out Jim Bottomley and Bill Terry.

     A contract dispute led to Hafey's departure from St. Louis in the Spring of '32. He ended up being shipped to Cincinnati where he finished out his career. It was said that he exited the game in 1937 because he could see night baseball on the horizon and those vision problems coupled with the sinus problems would not bode well for him, so he hung ip the ole cleats. Before doing so the man they called Chick had made a name for himself, with some calling him the second best right-handed hitter of his day, with only Rogers Hornsby ahead of him. Forever a Cardinal, Chick Hafey found his spot in Cooperstown in 1971 after being selected for enshrinement by a Veteran's Committee. His days would forever be remembered. One of those days that would be remembered came in Pittsburgh in 1926, as Hafey strolled to the dish in the tenth, took a home run cut, then trotted around the bases, before meeting Hornsby at the plate.

Check out the box score here:

If you would like to know more about Chick Hafey you can read his SABR bio here:

Chick Hafey's stats:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

April 21, 1059: Stan Breaks Up a No-No In Chicago

     On April 21, 1959, Stan Musial broke up his second no-hitter in four days, with a seventh inning double off of  Cubs hurler Glenn Hobbie during a 1-0 loss in Chicago. On the 18th of April, Stan broke up Jack Sanford's bid for a no-no by coming in as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, then ripping a single. Unfortunately for the Redbirds, the only hits in both of these games were provided by Musial. However, those hits kept the club from suffering their first no-hit game since Cincinnati's Hod Eller had acheived the feat against the Cardinals in May of 1919. The days of Musial playing the game of baseball on a diamond were coming to close much sooner than later when he broke up those no-hitters. he was 40 years old at the time, and his best days were surely behind him. However, The Man could still put the fear in a pitcher when he stepped into the box, got into his famous corkscrew stance, before taking a swing on a ball that would find its way through a hole.

Check out the box score here:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April 20, 1884: The Maroons Open The Season With a Win In St. Louis

     On April 20, 1884, the Maroons of the Union Association beat the Chicago Browns 7-2 at the Uniton Base Ball Park in St. Louis. A crowd of more than 10,000 witnessed the rain-shortened ballgame, which was called after just six innings due to the conditions. One fan who sat in the stands at that day told the Post Dispatch that it was like watching men play ball while wearing ice skates.

     Chicago's hurler, Hugh Daily, who was also known as "one arm", due to an accident he suffered as a child, won the St. Louis crowd over with what was deemed an effective delivery. The Chicago Tribune (which is where the featured article appeared) said that Daily struck out no less than 10 men. While he had his moments, the one armed hurler got knocked around by the hard hitting veterans of the St. Louis club, and was haunted by errors. That same article capped things off by saying the Maroons were not a lock to win the Union Association pennant like most had expected before the season began, That article was wrong. In fact, the Maroons were so dominant, going 94-19 on the season, that they have been attributed to the collapse of the short lived league. Not one other team in the league could hold a candle to them.

      The Union Association folded after the 1884 season. The league had aspirations of taking players away from the American Association and the National League. However, it was looked at as an inferior product overall and just could not compete with the big boys. Most historians do not consider the Union Association a true major league. Although, there were decent players sprinkled throughout, and fraction of them would find their way to big league rosters after the league disappeared into the past.  The only team in the Union Association that may have been considered anything close to a major league ballclub were the Maroons, and the only man who was considered a true star was the Maroons, Fred Dunlap. Dunlap hit an eye-popping .412 during that 1884 season, and would go onto have a decent career at the major league level.

     The Maroons joined the National League after the Union Association folded. However, they could not compete with the St. Louis Browns (who would be known as the Cardinals in less than twenty years). The Browns were poised to go on a historic run that led to four straight American Association pennants beginning in 1885. The Browns dominance ended up pushing the Maroons out of town to Indianapolis where they become known as the Hoosiers. The club competed in the National League until the end of the 1887 campaign, never coming close to the days they had during that 1884 season in St. Louis. While the team would end up being a part of baseball's forgotten past, today they are remembered.

Read about the ole ballpark here:

Monday, April 18, 2016

April 18, 1950: The Birds Take Down the Bucs on Opening Night

     On April 18, 1950, more than 20,000 souls witnessed the first Opening Night game in the history of Major League Baseball at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, and watched the Cardinals knock off the Pirates by the score of 4-2. Red Schoendienst and Stan Musial delighted the crowd by hitting home runs in the contest, while the kid from The Hill, Joe Garagiola went 3 for 3 with an RBI.

     Red got things going early for the Redbirds by hitting a solo shot in the first, while Musial matched him with a solo shot to lead things off in the third. The Cardinals starter, Gerry Staley, ran into some trouble in the sixth after allowing a double and a walk, which led to Johnny Hopp knocking in both runners to tie the ballgame at 2-2. However, Staley stood tall through it all, and gave the Cardinals nine full innings of work, settling down the rest of the way. The hurler watched the Redbirds retake the lead in the sixth on the ribbie by Garagiola, than he watched Enos Slaughter and an insurance run with a two out single that brought Schoendienst trotting into score during the seventh. That would be the ballgame, as Staley held the Pirates at bay the rest of the night.

The artwork featured with today's fact appeared in The Post Dispatch  the following day.  It was done by Amadee Wohlschlaeger, who drew the Post's Weatherbird, along with many moments in sports around St. Louis as well. I always feel lucky to see his work, and will try to share it as often as possible. He was really something special. This piece was featured on in 2014 when he passed away at the age of 102:

Check out the box score here:

Friday, April 15, 2016

April 15,1892: The First National League Win In Club History

     On April 15, 1892, 2,600 fans witnessed the first National league win for the club that would be known as the Cardinal, as they defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-3 in St. Louis. The men of the hour were Ted Britenstein, who hurled six innings of no-hit ball, before giving up his only three hits of the day in the seventh, and outfielder Cliff Carroll, who fell a home run shy of the cycle, and recorded a sacrifice hit as well. Carroll, not only took care of business at the plate, he also was an asset in the filed, as he stopped what was deemed a sure triple by gunning  the ball into third to hold the man at second. In the grand scheme of things this win may be rather insignificant for a club that finished with a record of 56-94. However, it was the first win of many for the club that would become the cream of the crop in the National League.

The article featured with today's fact appeared in The St. Louis Post Dispatch the following day. For me, I look at it as a treasure. I see these articles as something that puts you back in the moment. I hope you enjoy and appreciate them as much as I do.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

April 13, 1932: The Birds Stun The Bucs In St. Louis

     On April 13, 1932, the Cardinals pulled off a stunner at Sportsman's Park by scoring five runs in the ninth to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-8. The historic comeback was capped off with a double by Frankie Frisch who knocked in the tying and winning runs.  It was a cold and blustery day at the ole ballpark, so the crowd was estimated to be a paltry 1,500 fans. Hard to say how many stayed until the end, as their Redbirds battled from behind throughout the contest. However, those who did witnessed an early season comeback that we can still celebrate today.
     The Pirates scored the first three runs of the contest in the second, and they would lead until the final at bat of the affair. The Birds scored two in the third, but watched the visiting Buc's take those run right back with a pair in the fifth. While things were not going well for the day's starter Wild Bill Hallahan, who had led the National League with 19 wins during the previous Championship season, the Cardinals refused to go away. The hurler watched his club inch closer on the scoreboard with a run in the sixth, then another in the seventh, before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter. The score was 5-4 when he was lifted, and the momentum seemed to be all  Cardinals. The wind was taken from the sails in the ninth, when  Jim Lindsey, Hallahan's replacement, allowed  three runs to cross the dish. With the score 8-4 it may have seemed that the coffin had been nailed shut on this one, however, it was far from over, and as you and I both know those last three outs are some tough outs to get. In fact, they were so tough that the visiting Pirates could not get them at all.

     The Bucs starter, Glenn Spencer was still on the bump in the ninth when the game winning rally began. He would go the distance that day, coming within an out of adding a win to his stat line. It jsut was not happening though. Spencer surrendered back-to-back singles to Ripper Collins and Pepper Martin, then fumbled Jimmie Wilson's sacrifice bunt, which led to a bases loaded, no one out situation. It may have been a cold day at the ballpark, but the heat was on Spencer. Charlie Gelbert made him pay immediately by knocking a single into center that scored both Collins and Martin, and sent Wilson over to third. It was 8-6; the Redbirds were coming. Ray Blades ended up hitting into a force play to retire Gelbert. However, Wilson scored the seventh Cardinals run of the day. gabby Street sent Joel Hunt into run for Blades, then watched the pinch runner be retired trying to take third on a single by Sparky Adams. Spencer needed one out, one more out that he would not get. George Watkins came to the dish and set the table for Frisch by knocking a single past Tony Piet at second base. Frisch then capped things off by ripping a double into right center that brought Watkins and Adams into score the runs that counted most. After trailing throughout the contest the Cardinals had comeback and won it. They had not given up. Therefore, they prevailed.

Check out the box score here:

Monday, April 11, 2016

April 11, 1912: Harmon Blanks The Bucs On Opening Day In St. Louis

     On April 11, 1912, the Cardinals opened the season at Robison Field in St. Louis with a 7-0 win over the Pittsburg Pirates. An estimated crowd of 15,000 showed up to watch this one, and by a brass band, which played a song called rag-time violin at least six times according to the Pittsburgh Press. Once the game was underway, Bob Harmon spun a four-hit gem for the Cardinals, while his teammates hit the Pirates starter Howie Camnitz early and often. the biggest highlight of the day was a home run off the bat of Steve Evans, The sixth inning blast proved to be the only home run by a Cardinals player between 1901 and 1922.  The only two men to pick up a hit for the Bucs were Honus Wagner and Mike Donlin; they both had two apiece. Other than that, this game was all St. Louis all day long.

     Overall, the 1912 season was a disappointment. The team had high hopes after going 75-74 the year before. Some thought they would have done much better had they not been involved in a train accident during that previous season, so the hopes were high on that opening day in St. Louis. However, they could not get it going early, losing 16 of their first 21 en route to a 63-90 record, which proved to be enough to cost the skipper, Roger Bresnahan, his job. With all of that said, that season like every season that came before it and every season that has followed was a season to be remembered. There were good days as well as bad, but in the end there was baseball being played on a diamond in St. Louis.

Note: I chose to spell Pittsburgh without the H at the end because that is the way it was spelled at the time in which this baseball game was played.

P.S. Go Cards!!! It's going to be a great day folks.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

April 10, 1963: Washburn Shuts'em Down In The Big Apple

    On April 10, 1963, the Cardinals shut the Mets for the second consecutive time at the Polo Grounds in New York. Ray Washburn allowed just four hits in the contest, and from the second to the eighth inning he retired 17 men in a row.

     The day before Washburn's dominant performance, Ernie Broglio had set the bar high by allowing just two hits to the New Yorkers. However, the story of this day was Washburn, who also helped score the first run of the ballgame with a sacrifice fly in the fifth that brought Curt Flood into score. The sac fly came within a foot of going over the fence.

     Dick Groat ended up getting a hold of one that cleared the fence to start off the eighth to make it 2-0. By the end of that frame the Cardinals tacked on another run when Gene Oliver ripped a single to bring Ken Boyer into score. In the ninth, Bill White knocked in the fourth and final Redbird run of the day, before Washburn finished what he had started.

     The Cardinals hopped on a plane and headed for St. Louis after the contest was played. However, the plane that they had hopped on ended up having an issue with its heating system. The pilot told the club over a speaker that if they stayed in the air the temperature in the plane would drop to zero. This led to a three-hour delay in Washington D.C., which eventually led to the club having to board another plane (The illustration to the right appeared in the Post Dispatch one day later). The club did reach home safely shortly thereafter, then got ready for the home opener. Curt Simmons got the call for that contest, which was played on April 13th, and he matched the performances of Broglio and Washburn by going the distance and helping lead the way to the third consecutive shutout to start the season.

     The Cardinals went 93-69 during that 1963 campaign. They had stormed down the stretch , going 19-1 from August 30th to September 15th. They were just one game back on that mid-September day. It seemed they were poised to make a run, and hopes were high it would happen with it being the last season that Stan Musial would lace up the cleats. Unfortunately, it did not work out that way. The club stumbled losing eight of their last ten, which led to a second place finish, six games behind the league leading Dodgers. While the club did not make the run they and everyone else had hoped for, the season was memorable, and it began in historic fashion, as the pitching staff tossed up zeroes in three consecutive ballgames.

Check out the box score here:

Friday, April 8, 2016

April 8, 1970: Gibby and Allen Lift The Birds On Opening Day

     On April 8, 1970, the Redbirds opened up the season with a comeback win over the Expos in Montreal. The heroes of the day were Bob Gibson, who struck out nine through eight, and Dick Allen, who in his regular season debut with the club went 3 for 5, with a home run and two doubles.

     It was a cold and blustery day north of the border, as an early morning snow threatened to blanket the field at Jarry Park. By 7:30 a.m. the snow had turned to rain, and shortly thereafter the skies cleared, as a crowd of more than 20,000 prepared for a day at the ole ballgame. That crowd in Montreal knew their team would have their hands full with Gibby standing on the mound for the Redbirds. However, they had hope that Bill Stoneman would be able to get the job done, and Stoneman delivered with a nine pitch first inning to start things off. Gibson stumbled early, falling behind 2-0 in the bottom of the first, despite striking out the side. The first man he faced, Marv Staehle, reached on a single, then he walked Rusty Staub, before watching Ron Fairly knock in the first run of the day with a single. Gibson then picked up his first strikeout, before Coco LaBoy singled to bring Staub around to score. Down 2-0, Gibson struck out the next two men in succession, which was a sign of things to come for the home team.

    Gibson and company watched the tide turn in the fourth, as Dick Allen ripped a double to open the inning. Allen would come around to score on a two out single by Joe Hague, and just like that the score sat at 2-1. Stoneman proved to be a formidable foe, as he pitched his way into the eighth before serving one up to Allen that landed 420 feet from where it started. The score was 2-2, as the Redbirds began to march toward victory.

      The Expos were trying to salvage the contest with Stoneman still on the bump in the ninth, It just was not happening on that day. He gave up a single to Leron Lee to start things off, Hague moved him over with a bunt, before Julian Javier punched a single into left that brought in the go ahead run. Moments later the phone rang in the Montreal bullpen and Stoneman handed the ball off to Carroll Sembera. That is when the floodgates opened. Sembera gave up a double to every other batter he faced, starting with Dal Maxvill, followed by Lou Brock, then capped off by none other than Dick Allen. Quite the Cardinals debut for Allen. By the time Senbera handed the ball to Dan McGinn the score was 7-2. McGinn picked up the final out of that fateful ninth, before watching St. Louis' Chuck Taylor pitch a scoreless ninth. The Redbirds were victorious.

      Allen would spend just one season with the Birds, hitting .279 with 34 home runs. As a huge fan of the man, I wish his time in the Lou was much longer. Gibson was poised for another great season right out of the gate that season, and he ended up with 23 wins, which was not only a career high, he also led the league in wins. Unfortunately, no other pitcher on that staff in 1970 got the job done like Gibby did. In fact, only one other hurler cracked double digits in wins, which was Steve Carlton who posted a 10-19 record. Another aspect that hurt that club in 1970 was a shaky lineup,full of question mark, which the famous artist Amadee poked a little bit of fun at with the illustration to the right. In the end the club went 76-86. With that said, the year did have its great moments, and that opening day had quite a few great moments as well. It was one to remember.

Check out the box score here:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

April 5, 1989: DeLeon and McGee Lead the Way To Victory In New york

     On April 5, 1989, Jose DeLeon hurled the Redbirds to a 3-1 win over the Mets at Shea Stadium in New York with the help of a two RBI day from Willie McGee. The win was a much needed one for that Cardinals club, as they had not won a game at Shea in their last 11 appearances at the stadium. On top of that, DeLeon had not won a game there in his last nine appearances. However it all changed that day, as the hurler gave the club a strong eight, while McGee parked a long ball in the seats in the fourth to tie the game 1-1. Pedro Guerrero brought Willie into score on a groundout in the sixth, then McGee came through again with an RBI in the seventh to give the team a little insurance. Meanwhile, DeLeon got the job done, as he sailed though the eighth inning. He was lifted for a pinch hitter in the ninth, then watched Ken Dayley and Todd Worrell close the contest out.

     That '89 season ended with the Cardinals third in the National League East. They finished with an 89-76 record. DeLeon claimed 16 of those wins. Only Joe Magrane had more with 18 wins. With that said, the tide was turning against the club as the end of the Herzog era was on the horizon. However, the 1980's as a whole were something else. I grew up during that time, and those teams that Whitey managed got me hooked to that great sport that is played on a diamond. Those teams like many of the other great Cardinals teams that took to the field in St. Louis will be revered as long as the sun rises and sets over ballparks across this great land.

Check out the box score here:

Monday, April 4, 2016

April 4, 1998, Big Mac Makes History Right Out Of The Gate

     On April 4, 1998, Mark McGwire became just the second player in the history of Major League Baseball to homer in the first four games of the season. The sixth inning three-run blast was a difference maker in the contest, as it led the way to an 8-6 victory over the Padres at Busch. The man they called Big Mac joined elite company on that April day, by matching the feat that Willie Mays had accomplished in 1971. He was setting the pace early for what would be a historic season that ended with McGwire as the king of swing, as he belted a record 70 home runs by season's end. While the records that were broken and the home runs that were hit by McGwire have been questioned because of the use of performance enhancers, I do believe that season was something to be remembered. St. Louis and the entire nation alike were electrified, as we sat and watched Mark McGwire chase history. I personally remember those days fondly, and always will.

Check out the box score here:

Sunday, April 3, 2016

April 3, 2006: The Cardinals Thrash The Phillies In Philly

     On April 3, 2006, the road to a championship began with a 13-5 Cardinals season opening win over the Phillies in Philadelphia. The game featured Chris Carpenter on the bump from the start, as well as two home runs by Albert Pujols. Jim Edmonds drove in the first run of the contest with an RBI double in the first, then sat and watched Albert lift his first long ball into the seats with a big blast in the third. The Birds then exploded with eight runs in the fourth, which began with an Aaron Miles triple, and ended with a grand slam off the bat of Scott Rolen to make the score 10-0.  Miles was making his regular season debut with the club, and he along with the rest of the Birds were flyin' towards victory. And little did they know, they were also flyin' towards a Championship.

     The Fightin' Phils finally got to Carpenter in the bottom of the fourth with a solo shot by Pat Burrell, however, the Redbirds were in the driver's seat in this one. David Eckstein got the run back with a sac fly in the fifth, before Albert connected with his second big fly of the day. The three run shot made the score 13-1, and the Cardinals were well on their way to victory. With that said, the Phillies would not just lay down. Chase Utley drove in a run in the bottom of the fifth, then Ryan Howard did his best Pujols imitation by taking on deep to lead off the sixth. Carp walked the next man, then handed the ball off to Randy Flores who watched another run cross the plate before the sixth was in the books.

     Flores handed the ball off to Josh Hancock after allowing a one out single in the seventh, before Burrell knocked in the fourth and final Phillies run of the day with a double. Hancock settled quickly, picked up the next two outs, then watched Adam Wainwright toss the eighth, before Brad Thompson finished things off in the ninth. Win number one of what would turn out to be an 83 win team was in the books.

     This club like each club on opening day had questions that would be answered, as well as adversity that would be faced. They would go through valleys and peaks. The peaks seems to have come early in that '06 season, as they were on fire from the start, then seemed to be drowning near the end. They had to overcome injuries, as well as players that did not perform up to expectations. In the end they took advantage of what was a weak Central Division and took first by 1 1/2 games over the Astros. With just 83 wins most probably did not believe in the team. However, the men in the locker room believed in themselves, and once the playoffs began the regular season was a thing of the past. It was time to make a run, and make a run they did. For the first time since 1982, the St. Louis Cardinals would be World Champions.

Check out the box score here: