On June 28, 1916, down 6-5 in the top of the ninth in Cincinnati, the Cardinals put together a four-run rally that was capped off with an RBI triple by Rogers Hornsby to give them a 9-6 edge. An eighth inning rally that gave the Reds a short lived lead was all that Cincy squad had in them, as Redbird hurler Charley Hall pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth to secure the victory. Hornsby had quite the day at the plate going 5 for 5, with two singles, two triples and a home run.
The Hornsby led Cardinals were up 5-2 headed into the eighth, but surrendered four runs to the hometowners to give them the slim 6-5 lead. The Reds player/manager Buck Herzog called on Al Schulz to finish things off in the top of the ninth, and it looked like he might get it done, as he had two outs under his belt before the winning rally began. Bruno Betzel and Bob Bescher picked up back-to-back singles, before Tom Long was called into pinch hit. He hit a scorcher to Herzog at short that could not be handled. The bases were loaded for Dots Miller, and Miller cleared'em all with a triple. Hornsby followed him with his second triple of the day, which brought Miller trotting in.
While this was a great day for Hornsby and the boys, the 1916 season was quite rough. The battle between the Reds and Cardinals was a battle of cellar dwellers. The two teams couldn't decide who was the worst between them so they finished with an identical 60-93 record, as they helped maintain the basement in the National League.
With that said, as someone who likes to look for silver linings, Hornsby was the silver lining. The 1916 season was his rookie campaign. He finished the season with a .313 average, which made him the only Cardinals batter on the roster to top the .300 mark that season. He would become a fixture in the Cardinals lineup through 1926, and had many more great days at the plate in store. He only fell under the .300 mark once during that 10-year-span, with that being in 1918 when he hit .281. Between 1920 and 1925 Hornsby dominated the National League with a .397 average. He topped the .400 mark three times during the span, and it was nearly four times, but he fell three points short of the mark in 1921. The three seasons that he topped .400 came in '22 (.401), '24 (.424), and '25 (.403). Twice he took home the triple crown, with the first coming in 1922 and the second coming in 1925. No matter if the team was winning or losing, the fans in St. Louis knew if they came to the ballpark for a Cardinals game that kid was gonna hit.
While he saw his numbers decline in 1926, Hornsby led the Cardinals to their first title in the modern era. He had spent a 10 year rollercoaster ride with the team before he was rewarded with a World Series title. He was the toast of the town following that run, and while his days with the club ended a little more than two months the city and the team celebrated the title, he had forever cemented himself into the rich history of the franchise. The run to legendary status was just beginning on that day in Cincinnati.
Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CIN/CIN191606280.shtml
Stats of a legend: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/hornsro01.shtml