Tuesday, October 7, 2014

October 7, 1964: The Birds Topple The Yankees In Game One of The Fall Classic

     On October 7, 1964, the Cardinals opened the World Series with a 9-5 victory over the Yankees. It was a matchup that featured 17 game winner Whitey Ford on the bump for the Yankees, while the Cardinals countered with a 20 game winner in Ray Sadecki. Neither of the hurlers had their best day on the bump, but Sadecki was able to keep the Birds in it, which was key to the victory. However, there would be unlikely heroes off the bench and the bullpen, as well as a moon shot by a rookie that was nicknamed "The Moon Man."

     The Birds flew into the lead early with an RBI sac fly by Ken Boyer in the first inning, but the lead would be short lived. The Yankees catcher Elston Howard got onboard with a single to lead off an inning, then came trotting in when leftfielder Tom Tresh  put one over the wall in left. The Yankees were on top, and were not done yet. Clete Boyer rapped an one out single, and stole second, then was rewarded for his efforts when the pitcher, Whitey Ford came up with a single that brought him into score. Definitely not going the way Sadecki had hoped for. He walked a man, then finally got out of the inning.

     There was a long way to go in this one, and the men on that Cardinals bench knew that. They would go right back to work, and Sadecki matched counterpart Ford by knocking in a run with a single that brought the Birds one step closer with the score now 3-2. From there the Redbird hurler settled in, and did not allow a run until the fifth. It looked like Sadecki might get out of that inning unscathed, but he gave up back-to-back singles, then Tresh struck again. This time it did not clear the fence, but it did turn into an RBI double, and the Cards were down 4-2.

     That is where the score stood until the tide turned in the sixth. Ken Boyer led off the frame with a single, and took second on a passed ball. Then came the game changer. He was a rookie. His name was Mike Shannon. He had his struggles like any rookie does during their first regular season. In fact, he spent 70 games with the triple A affiliate in Jacksonville, Illinois to help work his way through them. When he was called back up in early July he was ready to contribute to the club, as they made a historic run at the National League flag, and once they had grabbed it he was ready to contribute to winning a title. He proved it quickly in that sixth inning, as he connected on a pitch by Ford that some called the furthest ever hit at Busch. He carried, and carried some more, then bounced off the B on Budweiser sign that sat atop the scoreboard. The game was knotted at 4-4, as the kid they called "The Moon Man" had belted a moon shot.

     That home run might not have put the Birds ahead, but it it did swing the momentum, and the Cardinals took advantage of the shift. Ford gave up a double to Tim McCarver following the big blast, which led to a trip to the showers. Before making that trip he handed the ball over to Al Downing. The lefty got Charlie James to fly out for the second out of the inning, before Johnny Keane pulled the plug on Sadecki's day by sending Carl Warwick in to pinch hit. The move paid off, Warwick, who had hit just .259 during the regular season, came through big by singling in McCarver. It was his lone RBI of the series, and it was a pivotal one. The Birds were ahead, and they would not let that lead go. Keane made another move, by adding some sped to the basepaths by sending in Julian Javier in to pinch run for Warwick. It paid off as well. Curt Flood sent a ball over Tresh's head in left, and bounced off the wall. Javier scored, and Flood was standing on first. The Birds were flyin now.

     Following the big inning Keane handed the ball to 38 year-old Barney Schultz. The veteran knuckleballer would be on the rubber when the game was put in the books, as he held down the fort for three innings.He is unsung hero who played nearly 700 games of minor league ball. His baseball journey began when he was 19 years of age. He was 28 the first time he stepped on a major league diamond with the Cardinals. Over the next ten seasons he would be traded and shuffled around while playing most of his ball in the minors. He did spend time with the Tigers and the Cubs big league teams during that time, which led to the Cardinals reacquiring him in the Summer of '63. Like Shannon, Schultz had to work to be a part of the big league roster in '64. He appeared in 42 games in triple A before getting the call to the big club on August 1st. The club was about to turn a corner, and make a run, and he was about to be a part of it. All of the work he had put in had paid off as he proved to be a guy who could lock it down by saving 11 games while putting up a 1.64 earned run average. On this day he was standing on baseball's biggest stage, and he performed at the highest level.

     Schultz worked a scoreless seventh before a hiccup in the eighth. The hiccup was a two out RBI single that came off the bat of the Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson. Suddenly that two run lead was cut in half. With the score 6-5 the Yankees were on the heels of knotting this thing up, and they had a future Hall of Famer by the name of Mickey Mantle at the dish. One newspaper called it a matchup against Mantle and a "who is he." He was Barney Schultz and he was about to induce Mantle into a groundout to Javier at second. The huge out shifted the momentum back toward the Birds, and they made the most of it.

     Rollie Sheldon took over pitching duties for the Yankees. He was victimized by a Clete Boyer error that put Shannon on first. Shannon then took advantage of a passed ball, and dashed over to second. McCarver worked a walk out of Sheldon, before the hurler recorded an out. In fact, he recorded two outs, as Schultz lined one right back at the pitcher. The bang bang play caught McCarver off the bag at first, and he was one out away from keeping the score within one. With the light hitting Julian Javier up next Keane pulled another card from his sleeve by calling on Bob Skinner who was put on with an intentional walk before Sheldon hit the showers. Keane pulled another card from his sleeve by sending in Jerry Buchek to run for Skinner.

     The Cardinals skipper was determined to give Schultz some breathing room. On the other side of the diamond the Yankees skipper Yogi Berra then called on Pete Mikkelsen to face Curt Flood, and Flood made him pay by dropping an RBI single into left to bring Shannon into score the seventh Redbird run of the day. The move continued to haunt Berra and company when Lou Brock doubled in both Buchek and Flood. The score was now 9-5, and the crowd in St. Louis was ready to celebrate the first World Series win that the city had seen since October of '46. After Mikkelsen got out of the inning with no more damage done Schultz set the Yankees down 1-2-3. Game one was in the books. The Cards were victorious.

     After the game the clubhouse was not in full celebration mode. They knew there was a lot of work to do if they were going to win this series. There were players answering reporters questions sprawled about, and Johnny Keane sitting off to the side smoking  a cigar answering a few questions of his own. The biggest group mobbed Shannon who boasted he had hit a ball farther in the minor leagues. Keane had called his blast the biggest moment of the game. The skipper claimed he had not seen a ball hit any further at the stadium. There were reporters question Flood about his 157 pound  frame, and those who surrounded the veteran pitcher who had gave it his all to save the game for Sadecki by pitching the last three innings of the ball game.

      There were many heroes in this one. From Sadecki, to Flood, to Schultz and Shannon. They had come out and beat the favored Yankees in convincing fashion. However, each and every man knew that the Yankees would no go quietly. They were confident in their abilities, but they were not cocky. There was a great respect between both teams, and both teams were more than ready to continue this battle. There would be many more heroes in store.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN196410070.shtml

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