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:

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