On September 13, 1953, Harvey Haddix locked down his 18th win of the season with a 17-3 win over the Phillies at Busch Stadium. Obviously ole Harvey had a bit of help in this one, as the Birds rapped out 19 hits in the contest. Steve Bilko led the offensive onslaught with 4 hits in 6 trips to the plate that included two doubles, a homer, and three ribbies. Enos Slaughter knocked in four with three hits, while Stan Musial knocked in two with a 3 for 3 day, which included a stolen base. It wasn't your average stolen base, as it was part of a double steal in the first that had Musial stealing home for the second run of the ballgame. From there the runs kept coming, and Haddix kept dealin. At the end of the day Haddix had allowed just five hits, with the biggest blow coming off of Del Ennis' bat in the ninth. It was a two out, two run homer, that Haddix had to shake off before finishing off the Fightin Phils who hardly put up a fight at all.
Haddix enjoyed the best season of his big league career in '53, as he finished with a record of 20-9. The hurler might best be known for a carrying a perfect game into the 13th inning, before having it busted up, as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1959. Haddix won 53 games with the Birds over five seasons. While the hard luck of '59 would not be forgotten. The next year he celebrated as a World Champion with the Pirates. He started and won Game 5 of the Fall Classic, then was called on in relief in Game 7. He had inherited runners after Bob Friend had put two men on with no outs in the ninth. The Pirates were clinging to a 9-7 lead at that point, and Haddix could not work his way around the jam. He gave up a single to RBI single to Mickey Mantle, and one batter later Yogi Berra tied it up 9-9 with a groundout. If he had not blown the save Bill Mazeroski would have never hit the only Game 7 walk off home run in baseball history, and Haddix got the decision.
Steve Bilko was an absolute great player in the minor leagues, however his minor league success did not carry over to the big leagues. With that said, he spent parts of 10 years on the big league diamond, and that is 10 more years than me. He played in more games during the '53 season than any other, as he took to the field in all 154 contests, and hit .251 with 21 homers. After that he shuttled between majors and the minors in the years that followed. In 1956 and '57 he had back-to-back season of 50+ plus home run seasons with the PCL's Los Angeles Angels. It was in Los Angeles that Bilko would have career resurgence with 20 home runs in '61 with the newly christened Major League Baseball version of the Angels. The next season was his last in the bigs. One more interesting note about Bilko is it was said that his name inspired the character Sergeant Bilko.
Funny thing about this fact is I told you quite a bit about Haddix and Bilko when my favorite part is Stan stole home. It was the fourth time in his career that he had stolen the base that mattered the most, and the second time that season. It was also the last time he snatched it. Mark over at http://retrosimba.com put together a great piece about all four of those steals. Check it out here: http://retrosimba.com/2012/11/21/the-story-of-how-stan-musial-stole-home-_-4-times/
Have a great day Cardinal Nation. Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN195309130.shtml