Thursday, August 21, 2014

August 21, 1964: Dark Makes a Move That Pays Off Big For The Birds

     On August 21, 1964, the Cardinals came into the ninth inning trailing the Giants 5-3 at Candlestick Park, before staging a rally that included one too many chess moves by San Francisco's skipper Alvin Dark which led to three Cardinal runs, and a 6-5 victory in the City by the Bay.

     The Birds had grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first after Ken Boyer knocked in Curt Flood and Dick Groat, but the Giants took that lead out from under them with three runs in the bottom of the inning which was highlighted by a two run bomb off the bat Jim Hart. San Fran added a run in the third, another in the fourth, and looked to be in cruise control until that wild ninth came rolling along.

     The inning began with a single by Lou Brock. It was followed with two quick groundouts by Groat and Boyer. One out to go... this thing was in the bag... or not. The next man up was Bill White who had the potential to tie it with one swing of the stick. Dark made the fateful decision to intentionally walk the slugger, and it you looked like a good move on paper, when you consider Dal Maxvill hit behind him. Maxvill was one of those guys who might have been thought of as an easy out. He had made his coin by flashing the leather, not swinging the stick.

     However, there were days he put the bat on the ball, and the ball found a hole. This day was one of those days, as he shot a single into left that brought Brock around to score. The wheels weren't off the Giants bus but ole Dal Maxvill made them rattle with the score now sitting at 5-4. Mike Shannon followed the big hit up with a big hit of his own. The hit by the "Moon Man" was a single into center that brought White wheeling around third, and as he was headed home San Fran's second baseman Hal Lanier threw wildly to the dish in an effort to keep White from tying it up, and as the ball sailed passed Tom Haller, Maxvill rounded third, and scored the game winner.  The shellshocked Giants were retired in order in the bottom of the inning, as they had truly let one get away.

     While this was a game that got away from the Giants, it was a huge win for the Cardinals. The perfect storm was coming together as the Birds began to win, while the Phillies began to Phold. Each and every win and loss were crucial in the run that ended with a World Series celebration in St. Louis, as the Cardinals took the flag by just one game. It is hard to say if the story of the '64 season would have been the same had Dark pitched to White, but I know I am glad he chose not to. By doing so he proved that every man on the roster is valuable. Unfortunately for him, he proved it for the wrong roster. On behalf of Cardinal Nation, thanks Al.

Check out the box score here:

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