Saturday, October 11, 2014

October 11, 1964: Ken Boyer Slams The Birds To Victory In a Pivotal Game Four

     On October 11, 1964, Ken Boyer became just the ninth man in the history of Major League Baseball to hit a Grand Slam in the World Series. The historic shot off of Al Downing came in the sixth inning, and it proved to be all the Birds would need to prevail 4-3 in front of a crowd of more than 66,000 at Yankee Stadium in New York.

     The day did not start off the way anybody in the Redbird clubhouse had hoped for. Ray Sadecki got the call to start for the club, and while he had recorded a win in Game 1, and locked down 20 wins during the regular season this was not going be his day, as the Yankees bats teed off on him early. Shortstop Phil Linz led off the first with a double, then grabbed third on an error by Boyer at the hot corner. The Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson then came through with an RBI single, that was followed by a single by Roger Maris. Definitely a rough day at the office for Sadecki, and it was going to be an early day at the office as well. Mickey Mantle sent him to the showers by coming up with single that scored Richardson. Luckily for the Cardinals, Mantle ended up out when he tried to advance to second on the play, and when Johnny Keane called on Roger Craig to take over on the bump he had one less out to worry about.

     Craig had led the National League in losses in 1962 with 24, then again in 1963 with 22. If you took one glance at that one might think disaster was on the Redbird horizon. Far from it. When this one was put in the books he was one of the heroes of the game. However, the 34-year-old gave up a RBI single to Elston Howard before setting down the next two men. Eight men had come to the plate during the Yankees half of that first inning, and the momentum from Mantle's walk off in Game 3 seemed like it had carried over to Game 4.

     Downing was on the bump for the Yankees because Whitey Ford had come up injured after pitching Game 1, and Yogi Berra went to the 23-year-old who had posted a 13-8 record during the regular season. He had held the Cards in check until that fateful sixth, and Craig had done the same against the Yankees after their hot start. When the inning got underway Keane made a move by sending up Carl Warwick to pinch hit for the Cardinals hurler. Little did Craig know it, but that decision would lead to a W next to his name in the box score.

     The move by Keane paid off, as Warwick dropped a single into left. Curt Flood followed it up by singling to right, and the Birds were in business. Downing's goal: put them out of business. Not today. The Yankee hurler was able to get Lou Brock to fly out, and you can almost bet that he had a double play being turned in his head when Dick Groat stepped up to the dish. He nearly got the damn thing too, as Groat sent a scorcher toward second base and the sure hands of Bobby Richardson. Today they were not so sure. Curt Flood came flying into second trying to bust up the inning-ender, and as it unfolded the ball stuck in Richardson's glove. Not only was Groat safe at first. but Flood was safe as well, and Warwick was standing on third.

     The  stage was set; here comes The Captain. When he came strolling up to the plate, I think it would be safe to say he had one thing in mind: Get a hit. He had only one hit in his previous 13 trips to the plate. That was about to change, as the man who had led the team with 24 long balls during the regular season came around on a 1-0 pitch and slammed it down the left field line where it continued to sail until it was sitting in the stands in left. The Cardinals were up 4-3, and Boyer's slump had just been busted in grand slam fashion.

     Not to be lost in the heroics of Ken Boyer, Ron Taylor, a 26-year-old righty came into the game and tossed two hit ball the rest of the way. Craig had held them, Boyer had slammed them, and Ron Taylor shut the door on them. Game 4 was in the books, and the tide had turned. The Birds were flyin toward a title. Bring on Game 5.

Check out the box score here:


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