Thursday, April 30, 2015

April 30, 1887: Tip O'Neill Hits For The Cycle

     On April 30, 1887, the St. Louis Browns pounded the Cleveland Blues into submission with a 28-11 beatdown that was ended after eight due to the setting sun. The game featured a historic feat, as the Browns left fielder Tip O'Neill became just the second member of what would be known as the Cardinals organization to hit for the cycle. O'Neill's seven trips to the plate included two home runs for the day. Eight days later O'Neill did it again against the Louisville Colonels. Although, he did only put one over the wall in that contest that saw the Browns prevail by the score of 12-7. The articles in the picture were both featured in the Baltimore American the day after the ballgames.

     O'Neill was one of the great players of his day. He spent 10 years in the big leagues, with seven of those years being played in St. Louis. During that time the Browns wowed the crowds with pennant winning baseball by winning consecutive American Association titles in 1885, 1886, 1887, and 1888. The 1887 season was something special for O'Neill, as he earned triple crown honors with a .435 average, 123 RBI, and 14 home runs. He also led the league with hits doubles, and triples. He hit 52 doubles that season, which was the first time a major leaguer had recorded 50 or more in a season.

     The Triple Crown performance of 1887 was just the second time a player had achieved the feat. Most historians are quick to point out the game was played under a different set of rules and walks counted as hits, so he it did have inflated numbers, however, none of them would dare to say he was not a great player from his day, and after all O'Neill did not make the rules, he simply played by them. Just think, if that game on April 30, 1887 was not called due to darkness, he may have gotten one more at bat, and could have hit another home run. A cycle with two home runs is pretty crazy. A cycle with three home runs would be insane.

Check out Tip's career numbers here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/o/o%27neiti01.shtml

Here is the complete list of men who have hit for the cycle as a member of the National League club that call St. Louis home. *Note: the club joined the National League in 1892. To date, only Ken Boyer has equaled the feat twice as a member of the club. 
  • Fred Dunlap, 5/24/1886
  • Tip O'Neill, 4/30/1887
  • Tip O'Neill, 5/7/1887
  • Tommy Dowd, 8/16/1895
  • Cliff Heathcote, 6/13/1918
  • Jim Bottomley, 7/15/1927 
  • Chick Hafey, 8/21/1930
  • Pepper Martin, 5/5/1933
  • Ducky Medwick, 6/29/35
  • Johnny Mize, 7/13/1940
  • Stan Musial, 7/24/1949
  • Bill White, 8/14/1960
  • Ken Boyer, 9/14/1961
  • Ken Boyer, 6/16/1964
  • Joe Torre, 6/27/1973
  • Lou Brock, 5/27/1975
  • Willie McGee, 6/23/1984
  • Ray Lankford, 9/15/1991
  • John Mabry, 5/18/1996
  • Mark Grudzielanek, 4/27/2005 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April 29, 1936: Tarzan Beats King Carl In 17

     On April 29, 1936, the Cardinals beat the New York Giants 2-1 in 17 innings at Sportsman's Park. What makes this game absolutely remarkable is both starting pitchers stood on the bump from start to finish. The Cardinals had sent Leroy Parmalee to the bump,while the Giants countered with a future Hall of Famer by the name of Carl Hubbell. King Carl pitched like a Hall of Famer, and while Parmalee does not have a plaque in Cooperstown, he was magnificent throughout as well, allowing just six hits in the 17 innings, while striking out nine. Hubbell's line featured 11 hits given up, and six strikeouts. Hit number 11 was a double by the Cardinals catcher Spud Davis. Two errors later Parmalee and the Redbirds were winners, as the gaffes pushed Davis across the plate three hours and forty one minutes after the contest began.

     Parmalee had been dealt from the Giants to the Cardinals in December of 1935. He had spent seven seasons in the Big Apple. During that time he posted a 40-30 record. At the time of the deal he was coming off his best season in the big leagues, as he had just posted a 14-10 record. He ended up going 11-11 in 28 starts with the Birds, and carried a 4.56 earned run average. He had always struggled with control and was even nicknamed Tarzan, which seems to be why he may not have had better results throughout his career. When the '36 season came to an end Parmalee and Ripper Collins were shipped to the Cubs in exchange for Lon Warneke. It proved to be a great deal for the Redbirds, as Parmalee fell to a 7-8 record in Chicago, then fell off the map in '38 before attempting a comeback in '39. Meanwhile, Warneke gave the Cardinals five full seasons of double-digit wins, and he even sprinkled in a no-hitter.

 Some Called Him Tarzan by Eugene Murdock, Parmalee reminisced briefly of his days in St. Louis. He said Dizzy had come up with a new jingle: "Paul and me and Parmalee" proclaiming the trio would lead the Cardinals to winning the National League Pennant. It did not quite work out that way, but it was not because of a lack of effort, as the Cardinals just five games back at season's end. While Parmalee's time in Cardinal Nation was brief, it too is a time to be remembered. In

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN193604290.shtml

Here is a link to the piece by Eugene Murdock:
http://research.sabr.org/journals/some-called-him-tarzan

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 28, 1976: Clarey Goes Yard in The 16th

     On April 28, 1976, Doug Clarey put the Birds in the win column with a 16th inning two-run blast that propelled the Cardinals to a 4-2 victory over the Giants at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The big blast was the first and last home run of Clarey's short major league career that lasted just nine games. However, that home run has forever linked him to yet another great tale from baseball's past, as Clarey's moment in the sun came just 40 minutes from where he grew up.

     Being so close to The City by the Bay, Clarey was a fan of the Giants throughout his youth. He blossomed into a star baseball player in high school, then ended up with the Minnesota Twins organization after graduating. In 1974, the Cardinals were able to pick him up through the Rule 5 draft, then he toiled in the minors a bit. He never could get his bat going in the minors, and was in Class A ball when he got the call. Some strange coincidences ended up with Clarey being placed on the roster, which came in the form of an injury to second baseman Mike Tyson. The team was faced with dilemma after the injury, with both of their best options being out of options. That would mean they would have to clear waivers if they were called up then sent back down when Tyson was good to go. So the move for Clarey simply made sense from a business standpoint.

     Clarey understood his time in the bigs was going to be short from day one, because Tyson would be back much sooner than later. That hardly mattered. He was in the big leagues. For the most part he was relegated to a late inning defensive replacement role, until that marathon game in San Francisco. Then he got his chance, in the sixteenth with Don Kessinger standing on first. Mike Caldwell was on the mound for the Giants, and when the pitcher served him one up, Clarey took a swing that put him in the history books, as it sailed over the wall. Danny Frisella retired the side in the bottom of the inning, and Clarey was a hero. It was said when he walked into the clubhouse pandemonium ensued around him, and he called it the greatest experience of his life. He had lived a dream.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SFN/SFN197604280.shtml

     Clarey played professional baseball until 1978. After hanging up the cleats he moved back to California where he worked in realty, before opening a pizza place by the name of Cheech's in 1993. A great deal of this information came from a SABR bio that was done about Doug Clarey. Although, I condensed it down quite a bit. If you would like to read more about him you can find that here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/5ec7d4e5

Monday, April 27, 2015

April 27, 2005: Grudzielanek Hits For The Cycle On Carp's Birthday

     On April 27, 2005, Cardinals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek joined an exclusive list of men by hitting for the cycle as he led the way to a 6-3 victory over the Brewers. The history making performance came on Chris Carpenter's birthday, who also started the game, and struck out 12 men through seven and two thirds.

     Grudzielanek started things off with a leadoff home run, then singled and scored in the second, before knocking in a run with a double in the fourth. By the time the sixth rolled around Milwaukee's starter Victor Santos had been sent to the showers, and Jorge De La Rosa had taken over. Grudzielanek was cheered on by Albert Pujols in the dugout moments before he went to the dish, but hardly believed he would get the triple. Then came the pitch the pitch that turned into a scorching line drive into right. Grudzielanek flew out of the box, and rounded the bases until he was standing on third. History had been made. To date, he is the last Cardinals player to achieve the feat.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN200504270.shtml

Happy Birthday Chris Carpenter!!!

     Since 1918, the cycle has been accomplished 16 times by 15 different ballplayers who had the Birds on the Bat across their chests.  Outfielder Cliff Heathcote was the first man to do it, while Ken Boyer is the only man who accomplished the feat twice. It was accomplished four times pre 1900 by the club who would become known as the Cardinals when the club called themselves the Browns. In 1887, long before Boyer hit for his second cycle, Tip O'Neill picked up his second cycle, just eight days after he did it for the first time. 

Here is the complete list of men who have hit for the cycle as a member of the National League club that call St. Louis home. *Note: the club joined the National League in 1892, and before that they were a member of the American Association.

  • Fred Dunlap, 5/24/1886
  • Tip O'Neill, 4/30/1887
  • Tip O'Neill, 5/7/1887
  • Tommy Dowd, 8/16/1895
  • Cliff Heathcote, 6/13/1918
  • Jim Bottomley, 7/15/1927 
  • Chick Hafey, 8/21/1930
  • Pepper Martin, 5/5/1933
  • Ducky Medwick, 6/29/35
  • Johnny Mize, 7/13/1940
  • Stan Musial, 7/24/1949
  • Bill White, 8/14/1960
  • Ken Boyer, 9/14/1961
  • Ken Boyer, 6/16/1964
  • Joe Torre, 6/27/1973
  • Lou Brock, 5/27/1975
  • Willie McGee, 6/23/1984
  • Ray Lankford, 9/15/1991
  • John Mabry, 5/18/1996
  • Mark Grudzielanek, 4/27/2005 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

April 26, 1962: Gibby Tosses a Two-Hitter in Houston

     On April 26, 1962, a 26-year-old Bob Gibson flirted with a no-no in Houston, as he led the way to a 3-2 Cardinals victory over the Colt .45's.

     While Gibson dominated this game, the Colts did strike first, as they made the most of a second inning walk, which led to a run scoring on a wild pitch. That 1-0 deficit was erased in the top of the fourth when Julian Javier led off the inning with a solo shot. Julio Gotay put the Birds ahead with an RBI single in the seventh by knocking in Gene Oliver who had reached on a scoring error. Then the ageless Stan Musial stepped in the box in the eighth with two outs and came up big with a single and brought Curt Flood into score what proved to be the game winning run.

     Up to this point Gibby had not allowed a hit and only one other had reached, which came on a throwing error in the fifth. He was six outs away from the coveted feat, but on this day that was as close Gibson would get, as Houston's right fielder Roman Meijas turned on the first pitch of the inning and put it over the wall in left. The next man up singled, which was the second Houston hit, and the last Houston hit of the ballgame. In the ninth Gibson finished the day in fashion as he struck Jim Pendleton out looking. It was his fifth strikeout of the day.

     The night before this contest the two clubs had played to a 5-5 tie, which was called after five hours and thirteen minutes. Ken Boyer sent that one to extras in the ninth with a game tying single. A marathon began, however, at ten minutes to 1 a.m. it was called due to a curfew rule. The stadium that the Colt .45's played at was known as Colt Stadium. It housed the team that would be known as the Astros from 1962 to 1964, while the Astrodome was built. The ballpark was known for bloodthirsty mosquitoes, and was referred to as Cambodia by the players. Before the Colt .45's played a game at their new stadium sportswriters could not help but note how colorful it was, and that was not a compliment. Eventually the Astrodome opened its doors, and Colt Stadium went to the wayside. One of the most interesting facts about that stadium is it was eventually shipped to Mexico where fans would sit in its seats once again, as they listened to the crack of the bat. It may be safe to say that a great deal of those fans in Mexico never knew that the great Bob Gibson had stood before those same seats. Albeit in a different location.

Check out the box score here: www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/HOU/HOU196204260.shtml


Saturday, April 25, 2015

April 25, 1925, Prohibition Meets Baseball In St. Louis

     On April 25, 1925, a group of Reds fans known as the "Royal Rooters", along with the President of the Reds organization Garry Herrmann were formally charged for illegally transporting alcohol to the Statler Hotel in St. Louis. The day before they had been raided, and while no arrests were made charges had been filed. The Prohibition Era tale was an interesting one that happened to take place in the midst of Cardinal Nation

     The Prohibition Era lasted from 1920 to 1933, but as we all know that did not stop America from drinking at all. In fact, it simply made it so that people had to find unorthodox ways of obtaining and shipping their liquor. The group of fans that traveled with the Reds was said to be at least 100 members strong. They went town to town, watched their club play ball, then lived it up in the hotels thereafter. They made no secret of having a Pullman car reserved on the team's train for all of their "supplies" that may have included "real beer." Although, nobody would admit they knew anything about any real beer, even though they had empty barrels next to them. It was rather hilarious.

     The Reds were in town for a four game set, and it seem that the group that tagged along had more than enough food, as they were seen unloading 25 barrels labeled "sauerkraut." 13 of those 25 were said to have "real beer" in them, which was a violation of the law. At the time anything over .5% was illegal, and this group of fans had beer with them that was 4.5%. That would be close to a standard Bud Light today.  Five days after the article in the first picture was published The Sporting News reported that seven had been charged, which included the Reds President. Six months to the date of the raid in St. Louis, Herrmann and company were cleared of all charges. This came after Federal agents admitted they did not have search warrants for the seizure. Herrmann and the Royal Rooters got the last laugh, and they probably toasted to the triumph with a glass of real beer.

     Prohibition ended in 1933. The St. Louis institution known as Budweiser survived a number of ways. They produced 25 different non-alcohol related products. From soft drinks to ice cream. Anything to survive. I recently have been working on a project that revolves around vintage ads, which led me to finding the Budweiser ad in a newspaper from 1922, which proclaims it was the process not the alcohol content that made people enjoy their beer. The company was doing what it had to do to survive during the time, and that they did. The Prohibition Era was a very interesting time in America. I would imagine corruption ran rampant  throughout America and those with money could easily get what they wanted, then pay whatever fines they incurred. It is only speculation on my part, but there is a good chance that Herrmann shook the right hand, and had a stack of money slip into it.

Some interesting facts about the Statler Hotel: It sits at 822 Washington Avenue, and today it is known as the Renaissance Grand Hotel. It opened its doors in 1917 and was the nation's first air conditioned hotel. At the time it was one of the finest hotels in the land. It is likely that a lot of visiting athletes enjoyed a night in those air conditioned rooms, as well as all kinds of other people who were passing through what was then referred to as the Mound City. The hotel changed hands and names through the years before being closed for renovation in 1987. It took more than a decade for that renovation to begin in 1999. The Renaissance Grand reopened their doors in 2002. If you ever pass the place just think of the day that a prohibition era raid interrupted a handful of Reds fans day.

You can read about the hotel and view pictures of it through the years here: http://www.builtstlouis.net/statler01.html

In full disclosure: I originally wrote this blog under the assumption that the raid happened on April 25th. As I researched it I realized that it happened on the 24th due to the date on the article that was published in The Evening Independent out of St. Petersburg, Florida on April 25, 1925. It did happen in the evening, so there is a chance that it happened after the clock struck 12. I found the story to be so interesting I decided to publish it. I do assume that the charges were formally filed on the 25th, but that is purely an assumption because I did not see an article Stating that with my own eyes, but since I do know that the group was formally cleared of the charges I do believe that is a safe assumption.

Friday, April 24, 2015

April 24, 1915: Slim Sallee Two Hits The Cubbies

     On April 24, 1915, Cardinals lefty Slim Sallee allowed just two hits during a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs in St. Louis. He was given a lead in the second when Miller Huggins come up with an RBI single, and that is all Sallee needed, as he stood tall on the mound until the final out was recorded.

    The first hit Sallee gave up was a one out single to Wildfire Schulte, but it amounted to nothing, as Dots Miller made a spectacular play at first robbing Heinie Zimmerman of a hit, then doubling off the runner. The wildfire was out before it had a chance to light, and by the time the Cubs second baseman Art Phelan doubled in the ninth the Cardinals had scored two more runs, and this it Sallee finished them off moments later. It truly was a duel between Cubs hurler Zip Zabel and Slim Sallee, as Zabel only surrendered five hits of his own, but as in all duels one man walks away victorious. That man was Slim Sallee.

     Slim Sallee spent 9 of his 14 year big league career in St. Louis. He first stepped on the mound in in 1908, then stuck around until he was dealt in 1916. He went 106-107 during that time, which at first glance may make a person think, well that is one game under .500. I believe one stat that overrules the one game under .500 is his E.R.A. during that time sat at 2.67. He was an above average pitcher, and unfortunately for him the Cardinals were a ways off when it came to putting a true contender on the field. Today, Sallee's 106 wins ranks 12th on the franchise's all time wins list, and that 2.67 E.R.A. is only second to John Tudor's 2.52, and Sallee had 125 more games on Tudor's overall record of 62-26.

If you would like to learn more about Slim Sallee check out his SABR biography here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/f5ef8e5d. It is a very good read.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN191504240.shtml

Thursday, April 23, 2015

April 23, 1968: Brock Walks It Off Against McCool

     On April 23, 1968, the Cardinals found themselves trailing the Reds 2-0 in the ninth, when they struck for two runs to tie the ballgame and send into extras where Lou Brock finished things off with a walk off two run blast in the tenth that gave the club a come from behind 4-2 victory.

     The wheels began to fall off the Reds bus with George Culver walking Curt Flood. Culver had been handcuffing the Cardinals lineup up to that point. It was just his second walk issued, he had struck out five, and allowed just four hits. However, it was his fifth hit surrendered that would end his day, as Roger Maris dropped a single into right.  The Reds skipper Dave Bristol called on Ted Abernathy to take over for Culver. Abernathy may have thought he had done his job when the first batter he faced, Orlando Cepeda, shot one to Tony Perez at third. In an attempt to start a game ending double play Perez threw the ball into right center. Dick Simpson, who had ran for Maris scored on the miscue, and the bases were loaded. One batter later Tim McCarver pushed in the game tying run with a groundout. It was a whole new ballgame with the score knotted up at two. 

     Steve Carlton started this one for the Birds. He ended up going five and a third, struck out four, gave up seven hits, and allowed the two runs, before handing the ball over to his bullpen. Ron Willis and Dick Hughes bridged the gap that ended with Joe Hoener pitching a scoreless ninth and tenth. The pitching staff collectively did their job, and Lou Brock was about to reward them and the rest of the team for it. The Reds sent Billy McCool out to pitch the tenth. McCool had finished second in saves in 1965 and 1966. He had gotten the best of the Redbirds during those two seasons, however, the tables had turned in the years that followed. 

     McCool was able to get Dal Maxvill to fly out, but then he walked Ed Spiezio, which brought Lou Brock to the plate. Brock was no stranger to McCool, saying that the young hurler had been as tough on him as anybody in baseball. He could only recall one hit off of McCool, which was a bloop single in '64. On top of that Brock had struck out three times in four trips to the plate on this night, and was searching for a hit. He found the hit and it was a big one as he pounced on a McCool pitch that sailed over the wall to win the ballgame. The walk off was just the second of Brock's career. He ended up hitting one more in 1969. It makes me wonder which of the three would he would consider the most memorable. I would imagine they all were all a thrill that goes beyond measure.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April 22, 1931: The Cardinals Take Down The Reds 3-2 In The Home Opener

     On April 22, 1931, the Cardinals opened their home schedule with a 3-2 win over the Reds at Sportsman's Park. Before the contest began the Governor Harry S. Caufield joined Mayor Victor J. Miller in pregame ceremonies that included raising the National League Flag. The Governor went onto throw out the first pitch before settling in to watch the Redbirds pound out a victory.

     Once the game got started it was quite the contest. The Birds got things going in the first, when George Watkins knocked in Ernie Orsatti with a two out single to give them a 1-0 lead that stood until Sylvester Johnson surrendered a solo shot to Wally Roettger in the fifth. The Reds took a 2-1 lead in the sixth, which was keyed by a two out double by their pitcher Ray Kolp who had settled down after the rocky first inning.  However, he became unsettled in the seventh when Andy High drove in Sparky Adams with a sacrifice fly to tie it up.

     Kolp was able to limit the damage to just the one run, but that only lasted until the eighth when he gave up back-to-back one out singles to Jim Bottomley and George Watkins. It spelled the end for Kolp, and his reliever Benny Frey could not clean up the mess he inherited, as he gave up a double that scored Bottomley and put the Birds up 3-2. While Johnson had turned in a solid performance with seven strong innings for the Birds, it was Jim Lindsey who got the win. Lindsey took over on the bump in the eighth, and gave up just one hit in that inning, before tossing a flawless ninth.

     The Reds had not beaten the Cardinals since June 23, 1929. They would finally take one from the Cardinals with a win on May 24, 1931. That came in the first game of a doubleheader, and the Cardinals got their revenge in the second game with a 13-6 victory. The Cardinals ended up going 20-2 against the Reds that season, which helped them reach the 100 win plateau for the first time in franchise history. The Cardinals ended that season with 101 wins and went onto win the World Series for the second time in franchise history.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN193104220.shtml

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April 21, 1961: The Cardinals Visit The Rock


   On April 21, 1961, a group of Cardinals visited Alcatraz on their off day in San Francisco. The group included players Stan Musial and Red Schoendienst, along with coaches Howie Pollet, Harry Walker, and Johnny Keane. As the article from the  Sporting News points out the trip brightened the day of many lives that more than likely lacked a lot of bright moments.

     Walker reflected on the trip in Larry Powell's book Bottom of the Ninth: An Oral History on the life of Harry "The Cat" Walker, by saying the group ate with the Warden, then toured the prison, which included visiting the cell that housed the Birdman of Alcatraz. After the tour they were taken to visit with the prisoners, and Walker's description of it was something else. He said that they were taken into a cell block, all the doors were opened, and the prisoners gathered around. "Murderers and all." Some of the prisoners ribbed the players saying that they needed to win, so they could stop losing their cigarettes after betting on the Redbirds, while others offered paintings to the players. For a brief moment in their lives these prisoners may have forgotten where they were as they chatted with the Redbird greats.

     Alcatraz housed more than 1,500 men over a 29 year span. I would imagine that the number of horror stories from the prison far outweigh the number of "feel good" stories such as this one. With that said, these men committed crimes that led to their incarceration and they had to pay a price. I am no one to judge, and I am glad to know that Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, Howie Pollett, Harry Walker, and Johnny Keane felt the same way. They looked past their past, and brought those prisoners a ray of sunshine on that day in 1961.

Monday, April 20, 2015

April 20, 1910: Bases Loaded; All Aboard!!!

     On April 20, 1910, due to both teams having to catch a train, the Cardinals lost 5-4 to the Chicago Cubs in front of a home crowd in St. Louis. Both teams had agreed to end the game at 5 o'clock before the game began knowing that the trains had to maintain a tight schedule. This actually happened quite often in the age before air travel, but this game was quite different because it was called in the bottom of the eighth, with one out, and the bases full of Cardinals. The umpire, Hank O'Day, made the call to end it at the time which had been agreed on, which essentially saved the day for the Cubs. It was time to hit the rails.

 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

April 19, 1900: Cy Young Leads The Cardinals To Victory

     On April 19, 1900, Cy Young struck out nine men and allowed just five hit on the way to an Opening Day 3-0 victory over the Pittsburg Pirates at Robison Field in St. Louis. The crowd of 15,000 was one of the largest attendance figure in baseball for the day, and they would leave the ballpark happy just one hour and fifty minutes after the contest began.

     For the most part this game was a true duel. Although, the Pirates suffered misfortune in having their starter Sam Leever knocked out by a scorcher that split the hurler's hand in the second. The injury led player/manager Fred Clarke into calling on Rube Wadell to take over. Wadell did not pitch bad; he just had a bad inning. It came in the fourth when Patsy Donovan, Dan McGann, and Jack O'Connor singled, before shortstop Bobby Wallace brought all three men into score with a triple. After that inning came to a close only one Cardinals batter scratched out a hit off of Wadell.

     Young's pitching line may seem dominant, but he had to work to win this game. With the offense failing to provide more of a cushion twice the Pirates found hope late in the ballgame. The first time came in the eighth, when Honus Wagner dropped in what appeared to be a single to center. However, Wagner was thrown out by the catcher Jack O'Connor after he was caught napping at first. The Buccaneers scratched out another hit off of Young in the inning, but no damage was done.

     The game looked to be over in the ninth, as Young set the first two men down in succession. He then gave up a double to Ginger Beaumont, and that was followed by what was described as an awkward bounder by Fred Clarke toward Lave Cross at third. Cross misplayed it and Beaumont wheeled over to third, while Clarke stood on first. In the words of the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette here is how it came to a close "With Williams up and Wagner to follow things looked stormy. However, Williams was too anxious and went after Young's high ones three times in succession, ending the ballgame with his third strikeout." Young also struck out Bones Ely three times. It was a good way to start a new century of baseball in St. Louis.

   Cy Young spent just two seasons in St. Louis. In those two seasons he posted a 45-35 record with a 2.78 E.R.A. The majority of Young's 511 wins came as a member of the Cleveland Spiders (241 wins), and the Boston Red Sox (192 wins). His time in St. Louis may have been short, but it was surely something that should be remembered. It was appointment baseball. Drop what you're doing The Cyclone is on the hill.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

April 18, 1987; Herr Celebrates Seat Cushion Night With a Slam

     On April 18, 1987, Tommy Herr's 10th inning grand slam off of Mets hurler Jesse Orosco led the Cardinals to a wild 12-8 win in front of more than 40,000 at Busch. The epic shot into the history books came on "seat cushion night" Busch, and once the ball cleared the wall the cushions flew as Herr was mobbed by his teammates.

     The Redbirds found themselves down 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth when they came storming back with five runs of their own. Herr batted twice in that fourth inning, as 10 men came to the plate. He led things off with a single, ended up scoring, then drew a bases loaded walk to tie it. Herr then put the Birds up 6-5 with an RBI double in the sixth, which is where they stood going into the top of the ninth.

     This one was far from over, as Todd Worrell surrendered back-to-back walks to start off the inning. Worrell had worked out of an inherited jam in the eighth, but Whitey Herzog decided he would not be working his way out of this one, as he called on Bill Dawley who surrendered back-to-back two out singles that led to the Mets taking a 7-6 lead. If twitter would have existed people would have been falling off the proverbial ledge. #FireHerzog would have been trending.

     The momentum shifted in the bottom of the ninth when Ozzie Smith scored while trying to steal third. Gary Carter threw it away trying to nail him, and just like that it was 7-7. Free baseball was on the way. The rollercoaster in the tenth when Dave LaPoint threw wild pitch that brought in Al Pedrique to score the go ahead run.

     While some fans were surely making their ways to their cars, the good majority were still in the house throughout the finish. They would not regret staying, as Orosco gave up back-to-back one out singles before Herzog called on Tom Pagnozzi to pinch hit for Curt Ford. This was second time that Pags appeared in a big league contest, and he came through with his first major league hit to tie the ballgame at 8. At this point the electricity was flowing through Busch. The crowd  watched Orosco retire Vince Coleman who moved both runners over, then came The Wizard of Oz who drew a walk to load the bases. Herr walked up to the dish and took a cut at the first pitch that came his way. The letter high fastball was gone seconds later as it flew over the left field wall. In a frenzy, Herr rounded first base with his arms extended, as seat cushions flew through the air, with the fans celebrating the grand slam walk off winner.

     The home run was just the second walk off of Herr's career, and his lone grand slam. He hit just 28 home runs during his 13 year career. While he was not known for the big stick, he had a solid bat, and formed a deadly double play combination with Ozzie Smith on three pennant winning ballclubs, which included the Championship club in 1982. The night the seat cushions flew had to be one of the most memorable nights in his career. I know when I watch it the goosebumps run down the arms. I also know there is a lesson to be learned with a game like this one; Let it ride. Wait for something great to happen. Never give up until the final out has been recorded. In my eyes that is what sports, and in many ways what life is all about.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN198704180.shtml

Note: the AP article in the picture had an error. Herr actually knocked in six runs during the contest.

Friday, April 17, 2015

April 17, 1956: Stan The Man Goes Yard On Opening Day

     On April 17, 1956, Stan Musial led the way to a 4-2 Opening Day victory with a ninth inning two-run blast at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. It was a blustery day in The Queen City, but that did not stop more than 30,000 fans from walking through the gate. They witnessed a pretty tight contest until Musial sent the ball sailing over the wall in the ninth.

     Vinegar Bend Mizell, who had not pitched for the club in two years due to being called into service was the winning pitcher, but it was not easy, as he and the Reds pitcher Joe Nuxall both surrendered 12 hits apiece. The two teams were tied up 2-2 after four innings, as they each worked around major damage. However, Nuxhall could not work his way around  Red Schoendienst and Stan The Man in the ninth. Schoendienst set the table with a two out single, and Musial cleaned the plate with the big blast into right.

     After Nuxhall got Hank Sauer to flyout Mizell came out to pitch the ninth. There was still work to do. Nuxhall was lifted for a pinch hitter in George Crowe who led things off by grounding out. Then shortstop Johnny Temple worked a walk out of him before Smokey Burgess singled into right. With two men on, one out, and the big bat of Ted Kluszewki coming up Mizell had to have broke a sweat  even with it being a chilly day. Big Klu had parked 47 in the seats the season before, however, he would have to wait for his first home run of 1956 because Mizell was able to retire him with a fly ball to center. One out to go, and another big bat on the way in Wally Post, the Cardinals skipper made a trip to the mound, and took the ball from Mizell. He had turned in an admirable performance after his extended hiatus from baseball. The ball was handed to a 41-year-old Ellis Kinder who struck Post out to get the save. It was an Opening Day to remember for Musial and the boys.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CIN/CIN195604170.shtml

Thursday, April 16, 2015

April 16, 1919: Five Cardinals Pitchers Involved a Car Accident

     On April 16, 1919, five pitchers from the St. Louis Cardinals were traveling in an automobile in St. Louis, when one of the hurlers, Lee Meadows, lost control of the vehicle and hit a street car. According to Cardinals Journal  by John Snyder, the accident happened on a rainy day, and when the collision happened the car flipped over. Meadows was said to have been thrown through the windshield upon impact, however, he and Bill Doak, Oscar Hortsmann, and Bill Sherdel walked away with bumps and bruises. Red Ames was the fifth pitcher in the car, and would be out until May 29th. Luckily, this tale did not end tragically.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April 15, 1899: The Perfectos Pummel The Spiders On Opening Day

     On April 15, 1899, Cy Young and the St. Louis Perfectos opened the season with a 10-1 victory over the Spiders in Cleveland. Young, along with the rest of the St. Louis starting lineup had all played in Cleveland the previous year, and posted an 81-68 record.  Meanwhile, the 1898 Browns posted an abysmal 39-111 record. The flip flop of rosters came after Frank and Stanley Robison purchased the Browns, and chose to send their best players to the Mound City. The Perfectos posted an 84-67 record with the revamped roster. The Spiders club went onto post the worst record in the history of Major League Baseball, winning only 20 games while losing 134. The fans in Cleveland turned their backs to the club, which led to the Robison's having the club playing 112 of their 154 games on the road. The Spiders disbanded following that season, while the Perfectos took on a new moniker in 1900. They would be known as the Cardinals.




Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 14, 1967: The Dodgers Finally Score on Jaster

 
    On April 14, 1967, Larry Jaster surrendered a run to the Dodgers for the first time in more than a year and a half, but still picked up a win as the Cardinals knocked off the Los Angeles club by the score of 8-4 in front of a crowd of 24,757 at Busch. Jaster had tied a 50 year-old record the season before by blanking the Dodgers in five consecutive ballgames. While Jaster's shutout streak came to an end the record has not been matched since.

     The first man to shutout one team five times in one season came in 1905 when Washington Senators hurler Tom Hughes accomplished the feat against the Cleveland Naps, then in 1916, while pitching for the Phillies, Grover Cleveland Alexander blanked the Reds five times. The big difference between Jaster and the other two men is Jaster's five shutouts came consecutively, and he was facing a club that had taken the National League flag in four of the last eight seasons. Jaster had their number though, and time after time he shut them out.

     Then came that third game of the '67 season. The Cardinals were off to a hot start with two quick wins, and with the Dodger killer on the bump the third was well on the way. He was given a comfortable lead early to the delight of the home crowd, as they scored their eight runs through the first five. Orlando Cepeda and Roger Maris led the charge. Maris went 3 for 4 on the day, scored three runs, and legged out a first inning RBI triple that got things going, while Cepeda knocked in three runs with two doubles. 
     
     Meanwhile, Jaster was sailing through the Dodgers lineup much like he did in 1966. However, the shutout streak came to an end in the seventh when Jeff Toborg dropped a sacrifice fly into right that brought Jim Lefebvre into score from third. Relieved that the scoreless streak was over Jaster went back to work, and worked his way into the ninth before being lifted for Dick Hughes in what proved to be a three run inning for the Dodgers. Before the seventh inning Dodgers run the 23-year-old Jaster had went 52 and two-thirds of an inning without allowing a Dodger runner  to cross the dish. The Dodgers players had been so perplexed by how he had shut them down that they were just happy to be talking about scoring against him, which overshadowed their defeat. The '67 season was off to a fine start. The club would rattle off six consecutive wins. At season's end the Cardinals had won 101 games, and were headed toward a title. Jaster was the deciding pitcher in nine of those contests.

     The young pitcher shuffled in and out of the rotation until June of that season when Bob Gibson went down with an injury. He helped plug the hole down the stretch until the Cardinals ace returned before being sent to the bullpen. He appeared in just one game during the World Series, however, his contributions to the club would not be forgotten. Especially the phenomenal stretch of baseball dominance against the Dodgers. 

If you would like to read more about the life and career of Larry Jaster you can read his SABR bio here:http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/5de1bd44



Monday, April 13, 2015

April 13, 1926: The Cardinals Start Things Off With a Big Win

     On April 13, 1926, the Cardinals opened the season with a 7-6 victory over the defending champion Pittsburgh Pirates. The game was highlighted by a 3 for 3 day for Rogers Hornsby and a fifth inning three run shot by Jim Bottomley that put the Cardinals ahead 6-0. As you can tell by the final score, this was one to remember, as the Pirates came storming back in the contest. There were a variety of heroes in this one, as the Birds put their first of 89 wins in the books, which would propel them to Champions of the National League, as well as the first World Series title in the history of the franchise.

     Flint Rhem was on the bump for the Cardinals, and looked to be in fine form until he hit the sixth when the Pirates made a charge by scoring two runs in the frame. They put another on the board in the seventh, before outfielder Carson Bigbee hit a solo shot off of Rhem in the eighth. With the score now 6-4 the Cardinals looked to shift the momentum by scoring a run in the bottom of the eighth, which proved to be an important one, as the Pirates scratched another one across in the ninth.

     This was a different era in baseball. The bullpen was not utilized the way it is today and the player manager Rogers Hornbsy was riding his horse from start to finish. He made it interesting, but Rhem crossed that line in first. It was not easy getting there though. He had to face a two out bases loaded situation before he felt the thrill of victory, and he had a formidable foe in Glen Wright who was coming to the dish. Wright had hit .308 with 18 home runs the year before and he was ready to be a hero, while Rhem was trying to survive. The hurler did survive, but it took a spectacular play by center fielder Heinie Mueller who charged in to right to make a play on a ball that looked like it was going to fall in. As the crowd of 17,000 cheered, the boys trotted the field. Little did they know they were set to make a run at a title.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN192604130.shtml   
   

Sunday, April 12, 2015

April 12, 1916: Hornsby Shines On His First Opening Day

     On April 12, 1916, with one out in the ninth, at Robison Field in St. Louis a 20-year-old Rogers Hornsby stepped to the dish, with a man on third, and laid down what may have been considered a lucky bunt to squeeze in the winning run during a 2-1 victory over the Pirates on Opening Day.

      Both clubs faced tough pitching with Erv Kantlehner going for the Buccos, while Bill Doak stood on the mound for the Birds. They were locked into a scoreless battle until the seventh, when the Pirates put one on the board. The run scored started with rightfielder Bill Hinchman singling up the middle. Honus Wagner followed him with an infield hit, then after the two runners were sacrificed over to second and third, the Pirates shortstop Jimmy Smith ripped one toward the Cardinals first baseman Dots Miller who could not handle the ball. Hinchman scored, then Doak was able to retire the next man, before Wagner was thrown out trying to steal home.

     The momentum shifted in the bottom of the seventh, as the Cardinals took advantage of a Pirates error that tied the ballgame. The run came with one out and Cardinals second baseman Bruno Betzel shooting one straight to Jimmy Smith. The shortstop came up firing to first, and threw the ball into the grandstands, as Betzel made his way all the way to third before the ball could be wrangled. Hornsby then stepped in and made the most of it by knocking a game tying single into right. Kantlehner limited the damage to the lone run, but he would be haunted by another error in the ninth that led to Hornsby's walk off squeeze play.

     The game winner came together with Betzel singling with one out in the inning. He snatched
second, then took third after the Pirates catcher Art Wilson overthrew trying to gun him down. Strategy started to come into play, with Hornsby coming up the Pirates skipper Jimmy Callahan decided he was going to load the bases to get to the pitcher. Callahan knew the Hornsby was going to try and squeeze in the winner, so the strategy seemed like a sound one. Callahan wanted to hide the intentional walk, so he instructed Kantlehner to pitch him wide. However, one of those pitches sailed straight in on Hornsby who was falling away when he put his bat on the ball. The sphere fell to the ground within the baselines, and Betzel broke for home, as Hornsby broke for first. Before Kantlehner could make a play Betzel had score. Hornsby was a walk off hero.

     This was the first Opening Day that Rogers Hornsby experienced as a Major League Baseball player. He had played 18 games with the club during the latter part of the 1915 season, hitting just .246. When that season ended he looked like a kid who needed to put more work in if he was going to be able to make it at the major league level. Hornsby did exactly that. He spent the offseason on his Father's farm working and added 25 pounds of muscle. That work paid off, as he hit .313 on the season, which was good for the highest average in the National League. Things were just getting started for the kid who was destined to become a legend.

If you would like to educate yourself more about the life of Rogers Hornsby check out this biography here: http://www.rogershornsby.com/bio.htm

Check out the box score of Horsnby's first Opening Day here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN191604120.shtml

Both articles appeared in the Pittsburgh Press the following day.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

April 11, 1962: Stan The Man Ties Mel Ott's Runs Scored Record

     On April 11, 1962, Stan Musial tied New York Giants legend Mel Ott's all time runs scored record by scoring his 1,859th in an 11-4 win over the Mets on Opening Day in St. Louis. The game was the first regular season game in the history of the Mets organization, but it would be remembered far more for what the 41-year-old future Hall of Famer did at the dish with a 3 for 3 performance that included, a couple of ribbies and a run scored as well. Musial shared the spotlight with Julian Javier who recorded four hits in four trips, Bill White who knocked in three, and Larry Jackson who went the distance in the Redbird victory. However, it was Musial's name that grabbed the headlines, as he proved he still had gas left in the tank by tying Ott's record that had been set in 1947.

     Musial had stuck yet another feather in his cap by tying the mark, which meant he owned or shared 38 different National League records. He then set his sights on Honus Wagner's National League hit record of 3,340. Just 27 away from that mark, The Man said with a smile "Let's get that one real quick. Two hits at a time. You never know when fate might step in." That '62 season was something special for Musial. His numbers had been in declining for several seasons, however, he ripped out a .330 average, knocked in 82, and blasted 19 homers. One season later he hung up the spikes and called it a career. At the time of his retirement he held or shared 29 National League records, 17 Major League records, and 9 All Star game records.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN196204110.shtml

   

Friday, April 10, 2015

April 10, 2002: Eduardo Wins It In The Eleventh

     On April 10, 2002, Eduardo Perez ended a three hour and thirty-one minute affair with a walk off blast that beat the Brewers 6-5 in eleven innings at Busch Stadium. The Brew Crew looked like they came to play, as they hammered Andy Benes through the first three innings and jumped out to a 5-0 lead. However, the Birds started pecking away in the bottom of the third by plating three runs. They scored another in the fourth, then tied it in the ninth to set the stage for the eleventh inning heroics.

     Perez hit 79 home runs in his career. 25 of those came with the Birds on the Bat across his chest. The walk off  in 2002 was the second game ending home run of his career. The first came in 1993 as a member of the California Angels. He hit one more in 2005 as a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN200204100.shtml

Thursday, April 9, 2015

April 9, 1979: Lou Brock Announces His Retirement

     On April 9, 1979, the end of an era was announced as Lou Brock told the media his playing days would be coming to close at season's end. The famed base burglar was in his 19th season at the time and just 100 hits shy of the coveted 3,000 hit mark. The '78 season had been a disappointment for Brock, as he recorded a .221 average and picked up just 66 hits, which led him to telling the press that he would be retiring no matter if he hit the mark or not.  Brock quickly put the '78 season behind him as he flew out the gate putting the bat on the ball. By the end of May he had 45 hits in 118 at bats, and by mid August he recorded that 3,000th hit. On September 30, 1979, Brock's journey as a player on a big league diamond came to a close. After taking off his uniform one last time Brock knew no other player in the Cardinals organization would wear the number 20 on his back.

Stats of a legend: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/brocklo01.shtml

Read Brock's SABR Bio here: sabr.org/bioproj/person/cb8af7aa

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April 8, 1997: Walk It Off Willie!!!

     On April 8, 1997, Willie McGee hit the first walk off home run of his career, with a ninth inning, two out, pinch hit blast, that propelled the Cardinals to a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Expos at Busch Stadium. The 38-year-old veteran of the game was not known for his power. He had spent 16 seasons on a big league diamond up to that point, and until he put that one over the wall he had 73 home runs to his credit. The 74th of his career was one that he would surely remember, as it even surpised him, while his skipper Tony LaRussa called it something right out of The Natural. Willie hit another walk off blast on July 2nd of that same year. He finished his career with 79 home runs. Coincidentally the last three, in 1998, came against a trio of future Cardinals in Julian Tavarez, Darryl Kile, and Dave Veres.

   
     1997 was a rough year for the Cardinals. They lost 89 games. The walk off winner by McGee was the first win of that season, and it was the seventh game of the year. It amounted to the worst start in the franchise's history This came after winning the Central division the previous season, and after an overconfident Tony LaRussa guaranteed the club would take the title again. While the season was an overall disappointment there were bright moments as well. One of them came with two outs, in the bottom of the ninth, and Willie McGee swinging the stick.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN199704080.shtml

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April 7, 1971: The Cards Steamroll The Baby Bears at Wrigley

     On April 7, 1971, the Cardinals exploded for 12 runs through the first four innings of a 14-3 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley. Jose Cardenal and Joe Hague led the way in the 13-hit-attack with four RBI's apiece. However, nine of the Cardinals 14 runs were unearned, as the Cubs defense melted down behind their pitcher. They committed five errors before it was put in the books. While the Cardinals starter, Steve Carlton was touched for a couple of late homers it was a great start for the hurler who put the ghost of 1970 to bed by going the distance in the tilt. The '70 season was tough one for the big lefty, as he led the league with 19 losses, and only recorded 10 wins. He turned it around big time in '71, as he posted a 20-9 record, with the first of those 20 wins coming on that day in  Chicago.

      An article that was featured in the  Southeast Missourian had Carlton attributing the strong performance to him shelving his slider. He had realized he had been hanging it, which led to the poor performance that had come the previous season. Carlton regained control of his slider as time marched on, however, he truly mastered the pitch in the City of Brotherly Love the following season after being dealt to the Phillies for Rick Wise in February of '72.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN197104070.shtml

Monday, April 6, 2015

April 6, 1982: The Cardinals Roll Over The Astros On Opening Day

   
     On April 6, 1982, the Cardinals opened the season with a 14-3 romping of the Astros at the Astrodome in Houston. The game was highlighted by first inning three run home run by Darrell Porter, which was delivered to him by future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. The three runs were the first of five runs in that first inning, as the Cardinals came out of the gate flying. The Ryan Express pitched just three innings, and gave up six runs, before being lifted for a pinch hitter, while Bob Forsch gave the Cardinals eight innings as they sailed to victory. Other offensive stars of the game included Keith Hernandez who legged out two doubles and a single. Hernandez also scored three times, and knocked in three runs as well. The game was also the regular season debut for Ozzie Smith in a Cardinals uniform. The Wizard went 2 for 5 and knocked in two.

Sidenote: the article was featured in The Southeast Missourian the day after the game was played. While reading the account I caught an error, which was they referred to Dane Iorg as Garth, who was Dane's brother. Garth played for the Toronto Blue Jays for parts of nine seasons.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

April 5, 2005: Jimmy Ballgame Helps Lead The Way On Opening Day

     On April 5, 2005, the defending N.L. Champion Cardinals opened up the season with a 7-3 win over the Astros in Houston. The NLCS rematch was highlighted by a three-run home run by Jim Edmonds in the first inning. In the end all three Cardinals outfielders put one in the seats, as Reggie Sanders and Larry Walker both joined Jimmy Ballgame in the home run department. The win was the first of 100 wins for the Cardinals, and it snapped an 18 game home winning streak for the Astros.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/HOU/HOU200504050.shtml