Monday, July 14, 2014

July 14, 1961: Carl Sawalkoffski Day At The Ballpark

     On July 14, 1961, catcher Carl Sawatski hit the only walk off home run of his 11 year career, which propelled the Birds to a 2-1 victory over the visiting Milwaukee Braves.

     The game was a pitching duel from beginning to end, as Larry Jackson toed the rubber for the Birds, and surrendered just two hits. While Bob Buhl was on the bump for the Braves. Buhl was dealin. His only hiccup before the ninth inning big blast came in the second when he served up a leadoff double to Stan Musial, who was knocked in by Sawatski on a groundout two batters later. If not for the effort by the 40-year-old Musial, Sawatski would have never had the chance for the late inning heroics.

     Unfortunately for Jackson one of those two hits he gave up came in the form of a game tying home run that was off of the bat of Milwaukee's first baseman Joe Adcock in the fourth. While Buhl went the distance Johnny Keane called on Red Schoendienst in the seventh to pinch hit for Jackson. Sawatksi had picked up a one out single in the inning, and was moved over to second on a groundout. While Keane had hopes of Schoendienst knocking in the go ahead run, the Milwaukee manager Chuck Dressen had another idea which was an intentional walk, so they could get to a light hitting second baseman by the name of Bob Lillis. The strategy worked out, as Lillis flied out to center, and the 1-1 deadlock remained intact.

     Lindy McDaniel took over pitching duties for the Birds in the eighth, and he did a masterful job by working around a two out jam in that inning, then setting the side down in order in the ninth. The table was set for Sawatski who watched Charlie James pop one up to first before he ended it with the walk off bomb.

     Sawatski spent the last four years of his big league career with the Cardinals. He arrived on the scene in 1960, and played through the '63 season. He hit just 58 home runs during his career, with 35 of those coming with the Birds on the Bat across his chest. While his name might be one that is rarely remembered when it comes to the history of the club, I can guarantee you this, those fans in St. Louis most definitely enjoyed watching him park the walk off shot over the right field wall on that July day in 1961.

Check out the box score here:

Sawatski's career numbers:

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