Thursday, April 17, 2014

April 17, 1934: Dizzy and The Gang Take Down The Pirates on Opening Day

     On April 17, 1934, with 7,500 fans in the stands at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis the Cardinals opened the season with a 7-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The game was marked by a dominating performance by Dizzy Dean who locked down his first of 30 wins for the club who would go onto win the World Series later that same year.

     The Bucs called on Heine Meine to start the Opening Day contest. Meine, a native St. Louisan was roughed up early and often. In the second inning the Birds rocked out three hits, which included a double by Pepper Martin on the way to scoring two runs.

     The Bucs threatened in the third, but Dizzy was able to work around a two-out bases loaded jam by getting future Hall of Famer Pie Traynor to ground out to second. With the threat eliminated the Cardinals bats went back to work in the bottom of third. Martin picked up his second double of the day in the frame, and two batters later Ducky Medwick parked one in the seats to extend the lead to 4-0. Medwick finished the day 3 for 4 with the bomb and two singles.

      The Pirates only run came in the top of the fourth after Arky Vaughan led the inning off with a double. After being moved over to third on an out by Gus Suhr, Cookie Lavagetto hit a sacrifice fly that brought Vaughan trotting in. It was all they were going to get out of Dean. In the bottom of the inning Waite Hoyt took over pitching duties for the Bucs and he didn't have a lot of luck either as the Cardinals bats were alive and well. Hoyt worked one scoreless inning, before being tagged for three runs in the fifth to extend the Redbirds lead to 7-1. Hoyt worked a scoreless sixth before handing the ball over to Ralph Birkofer who was able to keep the Birds off the board. However, the damage had been done, and behind the complete game effort of Dean the Cardinals walked away victorious.

     That 1934 campaign was a legendary season for Dizzy Dean. He posted a 30-7 record along with a 2.66 earned run average. He tossed 311 2/3 innings over 50 games. Most of them were starts, however, Dean also picked up seven saves in 16 relief appearances. He led the majors with 195 strikeouts, 24 complete games, and took home the National League MVP award. The only pitcher to record 30 or more wins since Dean's 1934 season was Denny McLain who went 31-6 in 1968. Dean's '34 season is one that will never be forgotten. He did more than win 30 games. He became a Champion, and he was a guiding force on a team that affectionately became known as the Gashouse Gang.

Check out the box score here:

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