Thursday, October 10, 2013

October 10, 1926: The Cardinals Win Their First Title

On October 10, 1926, the Cardinals won their first title in the modern era with a 3-2 victory in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium in New York. Jesse Haines took the mound for the Birds while the Yankees sent Waite Hoyt to the hill.  Babe Ruth parked a solo shot in the right field bleachers in the third to put the Cardinals down 1-0, only to have shoddy defense lead to a 3 run fourth inning for the Cardinals. The Cardinals rally started with a one out single off the bat of Jim Bottomley, then Les Bell hit a hot shot to short that was booted by the Yankees shortstop Mark Koenig and moved Bottomley over to second while Bell was standing on first with an error charged to Koenig. The next man up Chick Hafey fell behind 0 and 2 before he looped a single into left to load'em up, then came the Cardinals catcher Bob O'Farrell. The backstop lofted a long fly ball into left that looked like it would simply be a sacrifice, then the left fielder Bob Meusal dropped the ball as Bottomley came into score while O'Farrell was standing at first with an error charged to Meusal.The Cardinals shortstop Tommy Thevenow followed O'Farrell with a single into right that brought both Hafey and O'Farrell into score the second and third runs of the inning. It proved to be all the runs the Birds would need. Although the victory was far from easy, Haines ran into trouble in the sixth, he gave up a two out single to third baseman Joe Dugan, then Hank Severeid knocked Dugan in with a double. Haines got out of the inning after pinch hitter Ben Paschal grounded out. In the seventh, Herb Pencock relieved Hoyt. Pencock had been the winning pitcher in games 1 and 5  and he proved he was up tot he task as he allowed just three hits tot he Cardinals the rest of the way. Haines got in a bit of trouble in the seventh, he gave up a lead off single to Earle Combs, then a one out intentional walk to Ruth , before issuing a two out walk to Lou Gehrig, After walking Gehrig, Haines was pulled from the game after developing a blister on his hand. The Cardinals skipper Rogers Horsby called on 39 year old Grover Alexander  to take over on the hill. Legend has it that Alexander was severely hungover, he had pitched a complete game the day before and celebrated the victory well into the night. It was reported the Alexander was sleeping in the bullpen when he his name was called. When he woke up he came in and got out of the bases loaded jam with a strike out of second baseman Tony Lazzeri. With the count 1-1 Lazzeri came within inches of a grand slam, he gave the third pitch of the at bat a ride deep down the left field line, fortunately for Alexander and the Cardinals the ball sailed foul then Alexander punched him out on the next pitch. It was a golden opportunity for the Yankees that Alexander quickly squashed. After a 1-2-3 eighth, Alexander came into shut down the Yankees in the ninth, he got two quick outs, then walked Babe Ruth. With Bob Meusal coming into face Alexander all of the fans knew all it would take was one swing of the bat to possibly bring Ruth into tie it up. Meusal had hit .315 during the regular season, had knocked in 81 runs, and picked up a double and a triple off of Alexander in Game 6. While it looked like the table was set for the Yankees, Ruth made a decision that might have just cost his Yankees a title. The slugger took off for second base on the first pitch to Meusal and O'Farrell gunned the ball to Hornsby at second who applied the tag on Ruth. To date, it's the only time a World Series has ended on a stolen base attempt. It was a thrilling finish for the Cardinals who could return home World Champions. The team hadn't won it all since 1886 when they were a part of the American Association and were known as the Browns. The city erupted in celebration following the victory, many of the residents sat around loudspeakers in the city and listened to the broadcast while every other Cardinals fan sat next to a radio in hopes of a Championship winner. As soon as the last out was recorded the streets of downtown St. Louis filled with thousands of people as they celebrated the Series win. On most Sundays in St. Louis the city was virtually deserted, not on this day, confetti poured from the roof of the Railway Exchange, whistles, cowbells, and car horns rang out while people beat on dish pans and everything else they could find to add to the uproar. People of every age literally danced in the streets as they celebrated the victory, cars were decorated with banners that said things like "The Cardinal is our National Bird" and "Alexander for President." It was quite the scene in St. Louis and one day later the team would return to a heroes welcome. They were more than heroes, they were World Champions!!!
Check out the box score:

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