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:

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