Thursday, September 18, 2014

September 18, 1969: Simba Delivers In The Ninth

     On September 18, 1969, just four games into his major league career Ted Simmons provided the Cardinals with a two run walk off single that gave them an 8-7 victory over the Pirates in St. Louis. The late inning heroics came after the Cardinals blew a 3-0 lead in the seventh that saw them come out of the inning trailing 7-3. They got three of those runs back in the bottom of the inning, on a two out RBI single by Curt Flood, and a home run that came off the bat of Vada Pinson. That big fly was a milestone for the Cardinals rightfielder, as it became hit #2000 the moment it sailed past the fence.

      Pinson's 2000th hit also set the table for the fair haired boy who was just brought up for the farm to win it in the bottom of the ninth. Reliever Sal Campisi did his job by working his way through the eighth, and the top of the ninth without allowing another Pirate to score, then Red Schoendienst lifted the hurler for Phil Gagliano in the bottom of the ninth who rapped out a single to leadoff the inning off of Joe Gibbon, who had come on in relief for the Bucs in the seventh, and even though he had a bit of a rough inning the game was his to win or lose in the ninth.

      Luckily for Cardinals fans it was his to lose. Red made another move as soon as Gagliano reached first by calling on Vic Davalillo to run. Gibbon then struck out Lou Brock, before allowing a single to Curt Flood. The heat was on, but he came close to putting it out with a strikeout that denied Pinson of hit number 2,001. Gibbon needed one more out, but as you and I both know that 27th out of the ballgame is the hardest out to get, and on this day Gibbon would not lock it down. Joe Torre reached on an error that scored Davalillo, and the Cards were within one. Then came the kid with the number 23 on his back and his name last name Simmons above it. The kid laced one into right that brought Flood wheeling around to score, and within  moments the kid was being mobbed by his teammates. He was the hero of the day.

     There would be many more great moments for the kid who became known as "Simba", as he spent parts of 13 seasons with the club. He played in 1,564 games with the Cardinals, and during that time he hit .298, with 1,604 hits, which included 172 home runs, 929 RBIs. He ranks in many of the top offensive categories in franchise history, and it is my opinion that he deserves a spot in Cooperstown.

     Pinson's time in the Gateway City was not long. In fact, it was just one season. He amassed 2,757 hits in his career, and was a 4 time All Star, as well as a Gold Glove winner for the Reds in 1961. While he called St. Louis home for just one season it was a season he would remember, and the day he got his 2,000th hit would be one to remember as well, as he along with the rest of the boys celebrated around the new kid in the ninth.

Check out the box score here:

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