Monday, August 11, 2014

August 11, 1970: Carl Taylor Walk Off Slam

     On August 11, 1970, Carl Taylor hit a walk off pinch hit grand slam in the bottom of the ninth at Busch to give the Cardinals an improbable 11-10 victory over the visiting Padres.

     Down 8-1 headed into the bottom of the seventh, I would imagine that some of the reported 16,734 fans were either making their way home, or were on their way to their favorite watering hole when the comeback began to mount. The Birds scored two in the seventh, three in the eighth to close the gap to 8-6, then watched the Friars score two in the top of the ninth that pushed the deficit back up 10-6. Things weren't looking good, but as you and I know, just like the players in the dugouts, the final out must be recorded for a game to be put in the books.

     While the high fives were flying in the visitors dugout, the Birds were getting ready to ruin their day. Joe Hague led the bottom of the inning off with a single off of Ron Willis. Hague was forced out at second on a fielder's choice by Dick Allen, before Joe Torre reached with his fourth hit of the day. Jose Cardenal took off an 0 for 3 collar by rapping a single that brought Allen trotting in, and in turn it sent Willis to the showers. With the score now 10-7, and just one out the Birds were in business.

     The Birds had started a fire, and the Padres skipper Preston Gomez called on Ron Herbel to put that fire out. The reliever was able to pick up the second out of the inning when he got Mike Shannon to hit into a fielder's choice, but then he walked shortstop Eddie Crosby. The bases were loaded, the pitcher was on deck, and Red Schoendienst made a move of his own by calling on the man who wore the 44 on his back to pinch hit.Taylor stepped to the dish, pounced on the second pitch and gave it a ride over the left field wall. Those fans that chose to stay were treated to an epic comeback that ended with the best home runs of them all. A grand slam walk off winner.

     Taylor spent just one season in St. Louis. In a lot of stories about him he was often referred to as "Boog Powell's stepbrother", which he was. Carl's mom married Boog's dad when Carl was just seven-years-old. Boog was nine at the time. The both grew up together, and even played on a team together that reached the little league World Series. While they both made it to the bigs, Powell's time in the big leagues is much more storied.The older brother was in Baltimore en route to an AL MVP award while the little brother was swinging the stick for the Birds during that 1970 season.

     That grand slam that Taylor hit at Busch Stadium was the first grand slam of his major league career, and an overjoyed Taylor later said it was more than that. In the postgame interviews he said "It's gotta be the biggest thrill I ever had, because this won the ball game." He went onto say "Heck, it's my first grand slam ever, even in little leagues."

     Taylor hit just 10 home runs during a big league career that spanned from 1968 to 1973, and only one of those was a walk off shot, and only one of those was a grand slam. While he did play a few more years that walk off grand slam proved to be his last major league home run. He had the distinction of hitting his first and last home run off the same pitcher, as Ron Herbel put them on the platter. Not sure how many players have done that, but I would bet it is a handful at best.

     Carl never did achieve the legendary status that his brother Boog did in Baltimore. If Carl would have hit 329  more home runs he would have tied his older brother he would have tied Boog. It just didn't work out that way. With that said, Carl did achieve what most men can only dream of. He stepped on the big league diamond as Major League Baseball player. He might not have achieved all of his hopes and dreams on that diamond, but I would bet ya that when that grand slam sailed over the wall in left there was one dream checked off the list.

Check out the box score here:

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