Friday, July 25, 2014

July 25, 1964: Boyer Helps The Birds Survive In Philly

     On July 25, 1964, up 10-2 headed into the bottom of the ninth at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia, the Cardinals survived a furious rally by the hometown Phillies on the way to a 10-9 victory. Ken Boyer's bat was responsible for five of the Cardinals runs, as The Captain got things going with a fifth inning grand slam. The grand salami opened up a 4-1 lead, and after Mike Shannon tripled, then scored in the sixth, Boyer struck again with a solo shot in the seventh. The big blast opened up a 6-2 lead, before the Birds scored two more in the eighth, and two more in the ninth, as they looked to have the game in the bag. However, that Philadelphia club most definitely made the men who called St. Louis home earn their paychecks, as they put together a rally that fell just short of victory.

     The Cardinals starter, Curt Simmons who had spent 13 seasons in a Philadelphia uniform looked to be on cruise control until the bottom of the ninth came around. Some say the 27th out is the hardest to get, well on this day Simmons could not get past the 25th out. He gave up a leadoff single, issued back-to-back walks, then surrendered back-to-back singles that shrank the lead from 10-2 to 10-4. Still plenty of breathing room, but not for long. Glenn Hobbie took over for Simmons with the bases still loaded and walked Tony Gonzalez, before falling behind 2-0 to Dick Allen, which led to a quick hook. Hobbie handed the ball to Ron Taylor, only to watch him complete the walk to Allen. The 10-2 lead was now 10-6, and there were still no outs. Taylor followed the walk up by surrendering a two run single to leftfielder Alex Johnson, and that once comfortable lead had shrunk to 10-8.

     The Cardinals skipper called on his fourth pitcher of the inning in Mike Cuellar just hoping to salvage the victory. Cuellar was able to get John Herrnstein to hit into a rally killing double play. While the at bat produced the ninth Phillies run of the day, it also brought them down to their last out which came in the form of a popfly by catcher Gus Triandos. Triandos was the man who started the rally with the lead off single   I would imagine the celebration in the clubhouse after a win like that was one of relief, as they had just escaped the grasps of defeat.  It was also a very important win when you consider the fact that the '64 club laid claim to the pennant with a slim one game margin.

     Boyer had 18 two home run games during his storied career. Other than the friendly confines of Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, Boyer hit more home runs in Philadelphia than in any other town he played in, as he blasted 25 past the fences at Connie Mack. He also enjoyed playing in Chicago, which ranks second on the list, as he put 23 past the ivy. The grand slam on that day in Philly was his second of the season, and it turned out to be the last one he hit during a regular season. However, later that same year he belted a grand slam in a pivotal Game 4 of the Fall Classic that led the Birds to a narrow 4-3 victory. Had it not been for the regular season heroics, the postseason heroics would have most likely never existed. Had it not been for Ken Boyer there is a good chance that the flag that flies at Busch with the number 1964 on it would be flying elsewhere.

Check out the box score here:

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