Tuesday, May 3, 2022

May 3, 1941: Gornicki Debuts With A Gem

     On May 3, 1941, 30-year-old rookie Hank Gornicki led the Cardinals to a 6-0 victory over the Phillies with a one hit effort at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. While the hurler turned in a performance to remember, it would be his only start as a member of the Cardinals and, less than a month later, he would be back in the minor leagues. 

    Gornicki had no run support until the fourth, when Don Padgett hit a solo shot to put the Birds up 1-0. The Cardinals rookie carried a no-hitter into the sixth before Stan Benjamin broke it up with a two out single for the Phillies, but Gornicki sat the next man down with a fly ball that landed in Terry Moore's glove.  

     Still 1-0, Gornicki had to hold his opponents in check and he was up to the task, allowing only one man to reach second base and striking out five batters.  While he did walk five men, his defense was working nicely behind him at the same time he was getting the job done in front of them. 

    The Cardinals gave their pitcher some breathing room with a four run seventh inning, capped off with an RBI-scoring double from Terry Moore that brought Creepy Crespi home for the fifth Redbird run of the day.  Crespi later scored the sixth run with a homer in the ninth. 

    While Hank Gornicki never did start another game for the Cardinals, his days in Major League Baseball were not over. In the fall of 1941, he was sent to the Cubs in a deal that brought cash back to St. Louis.  However, after appearing in just four games for the Cubbies, the deal was voided by the commissioner of baseball forcing  Gornicki back to the Cardinals organization where  hereturned to the minor league affiliate. The Cardinals had a wealth of pitching at the time and there was no place for him on the big league roster. 

    In December of 1941, the Pirates selected Gornicki off of waivers, when he went on to pitch a total of 259 innings in 1942 and 1943. In 1943 he had the distinction of being the winning pitcher on both ends of a doubleheader. He served his country in 1944 and 1945 before returning to the Pirates in 1946. He pitched a little more than a dozen innings for the Pirates that season before being optioned to the minors. His days on a big league diamond may have been over, but there were many memories made on that diamond that he would carry with him throughout the rest of his life. Those memories included the day he stepped on the mound and spun a one hit gem as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals against the Phillies at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. 

Check out the box score here: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PHI/PHI194105030.shtml