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:

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

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