On September 7, 1949, Stan "The Man" Musial night was held at Sportsman's Park. Stan was given $6,000 in savings bonds, as well as a station wagon before the contest against the Cubs, and nine innings later he stood alongside his teammates and celebrated a wild win in front of the crowd of 19,454. Musial went 1 for 3 in the tilt, with his lone hit coming in a scoreless first inning. While he was not able to help put runs on the board. He did do his job in the outfield, and his teammates, along with a bit of luck led to the big a big victory during a heated pennant race.
The Baby Bears jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the fifth, when Hank Sauer came up with a two out RBI single. While there had been some damage done, the Cardinals starter Howie Pollet struck the next man out, and left two men on in the process. The 1-0 deficit became a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the inning, as the Cardinals rookie first baseman Rocky Nelson took Doyle Lade deep. The big fly by Nelson was a blemish on an otherwise spectacular outing by Lade, as it was just one of four hits he had given up until the ninth rolled around. Before the ninth rolled around Lade looked to help his own cause by knocking in the go ahead run with a fielder's choice to give the Cubs a slim 2-1 lead.
The joy of taking that lead would disappear in the bottom of the ninth, as Nelson led the inning off with a single off of Lade who was hoping for a complete game victory. However it would be Pollett who would be celebrating a complete game with a little help from circumstance. Lade retired a man, before Solly Hemus came through with a single. The Hemus single was followed up by the improbable, as Nippy Jones stepped to the dish as a pinch hitter, and bounced one down the third base line that looked like it was going to turn into a game ending double play. However, the ball hit the bag, and bounced over Bob Ramazzotti's head, which brought Nelson into score the game tying run, while Jones stood at first base relieved that he had not ended it. Lade loaded the bases by putting Red Schoendienst on with an intentional walk to get to Marty Marion who hit a hot shot past third to bring Hemus into the game winning run.
The 3-2 victory helped the Cardinals maintain a lead in the National League standings that they had held since the mid August. However, the lead was a slim one. The widest margin the team held was just 2.5 games over the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Cardinals maintained the slim edge over Brooklyn until the last week of the season. Then with just four games to go it slipped away. The team hit a four game skid that ended up causing them to finish just one game back of the team from Flatbush. It was a heartbreaking way for the season to end. However, 1949 was a great year in Cardinal Nation. I always like to look at the win totals, and think that each and every victory is a reason to celebrate. I know without a doubt that Stan Musial Night at the ballpark, that featured one wild ending was one of 96 reasons to celebrate that season, and there would be many more wins in the years to come.
Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN194909070.shtml