Sunday, May 31, 2015

May 31, 1982: A 10 Run Fourth Highlights a St. Louis Win Over San Fran

     On May 31, 1982, the Cardinals were trailing 3-1 in heading into the bottom of the fourth, then exploded for 10 runs, which led to an 11-6 win over the San Francisco Giants at Busch. 15 men came to the plate in the big inning, scoring the 10 runs on nine hits and three walks. Eight of the nine hits were singles, while Ozzie Smith got the lone extra base hit of the inning with a double. The double knocked in two men and gave the Cardinals a 5-3 lead. A young rookie by the name of Willie McGee also helped out by picking up two hits in the frame, with a leadoff single to start things off, then as the team batted around he singled again, which brought in two more runs. Tito Landrum also knocked in two with a pair of singles in the inning. It truly was a one inning clinic at the ole ballpark.

     A quick glance at the heroes of the day makes me realize how great it is when it all comes together. Both Ozzie and Willie were spending their first seasons with the Cardinals, and would be integral part of the club that would bring St. Louis its first championship winning season since 1967. Those two players, along with a quite the cast of others would make the 1980's a very memorable decade in Cardinal Nation.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN198205310.shtml

Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 30, 1971: Lou Brock Hits In 26 Straight

     On May 30, 1971, Lou Brock extended a hitting streak to 26 games during an 8-3 Cardinals win over the Atlanta Braves in St. Louis. The game featured a complete game performance by Steve Carlton who won his ninth of the year and home runs by Joe Hague and Jose Cardenal, which provided a knockout punch to the visitors. The streak by Brock was a career high for the legend of the diamond, as it came to a close the next day. The franchise record is held by Rogers Hornsby who picked up a hit in 33 straight games during the 1922 campaign. Ducky Medwick hit in 28 straight in 1935, which is a number Red Schoendienst matched in 1954. Ken Boyer hit in 29 straight in 1959 and Stan Musial and Albert Pujols both hit in 30 straight games. The all time record for a St. Louis player came in 1925 when George Sisler picked up a hit in 34 straight as a member of the Browns. This list of men that includes the great Lou Brock is quite elite, as they each made their mark in the Mound City.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN197105300.shtml

If you would like to read more about consecutive hitting streaks in baseball history check this out: http://research.sabr.org/journals/consecutive-game-hitting-streaks

Friday, May 29, 2015

May 29, 1905: Dave Brain Hits Three Triples During a 6-3 Cardinals Victory In Pittsburgh

     On May 29, 1905, Cardinals shortstop Dave Brain tied a modern day major league record by tripling three times during a 6-3 victory over the Pirates at Exposition Park in Pittsburgh. Less than a month after this game was played a story appeared in the Pittsburgh Press that had Brain expressing his discontent with the Cardinals organization and rumors were running rampant about him being traded. The rumors became true on July 4th of that season, as he was dealt to those same Pirates he victimized on that day in late May. Brain made a bit of history with the Buccos by completing the three triple feat in a game on August 8th of that same season making him the only player to do it twice in one season. Since 1900 there have been 48 games in which a player tripled three times. It has only been achieved by one other Cardinals player, with that being "Sunny" Jim Bottomley who joined the club in 1923. Two men tripled four times in a contest before the modern era began, with those being George Streif of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1885 and Bill Joyce in 1897 as a member of the New York Giants.

The Society of American Baseball Research published a great piece about three triples in a game that you can read here: http://research.sabr.org/journals/three-triples

You can also read Dave Brain's SABR biography here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/8d0440ac

Thursday, May 28, 2015

May 28, 1942: One Fan Croaks, Another Attacks an Ump, And The Cards Win In Pittsburgh

     On May 28, 1942, one fan dropped dead, another was arrested for attacking an umpire, a player was ejected, and the Cardinals beat the Pirates 3-2 in 11 innings at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Sheesh.

     Mort Cooper started the contest for the Birds and gave them eight and a third, striking out six, while allowing nine hits. After the Corsairs got on the board with a run in the third with an RBI by Bob Elliott. However, Mort's brother Walker hit a two run clout in the fourth to make it 2-1 Cardinals in the top of the fourth, which stood until the bottom of the ninth. Mort failed to close the door though, as he walked Jim Waddell, then allowed a single to Babe Phelps that pushed Waddell over to third. One batter later Culley Rikard ripped a single into left that knotted the score up. Cooper's day ended after he loaded the bases by walking Johnny Barrett. Johnny Beazley took over in the high pressure situation and he induced the Pirates first baseman Elbie Fletcher into hitting into a double play that seen a man gunned down at home, as well as Barrett who was trying to take second base. Beazley set the next man down squashing whatever momentum the Pirates had built.

     The wheel officially fell off the Pirates bus with a little small ball in the eleventh as both Whitey Kurowski and Marty Marion got on with a pair of bunts. The latter of the two appeared to be a close play at first, and Elbie Fletcher thought he had gotten the tag on Marion, which led to an argument between him an Umpire Ziggy Sears, and after a few heated words were tossed Sears' way Fletcher got the ole heave-ho. Frustration got the best of him, and while he was making his way to the showers Creepy Crespi came up with a single that brought Kurowski to score what proved to be the game winning run. Harry Gumbert made it official with a 1-2-3 frame, which handed the Pirates their fifth straight defeat.

     The crazy storylines that went along with this game came before it, as a fan passed away at the stadium before the game began, and after it as another fan took issue with the play in which Marion was called safe. The irate fan had misguided anger as he went after umpire Tommy Dunn who was not even involved in the play that had him worked up. Police became involved quickly as the fan was rushed away from the ump who had to be stunned by the turn of events. It is only speculation on my part, but I would bet that fan may have indulged in a beverage or two that impaired his judgement a bit.

     These two clubs were headed in very different at the time, as the Cardinals were in already in midst of a heated pennant race. The Pirates won just 66 games, while the Cardinals won 106 and they needed every one of them to oust the Dodgers out of first place, which is a position they held from April 20th to September 11th. The Cardinals took over first place on September 13th and did not look back as they stormed toward a World Series title.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT194205280.shtml

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May 27, 1961: Musial and Javier Take Down The Pirates

     On May 27, 1961, a 7-5 Cardinals win over the Pirates in St. Louis was highlighted by a 5 for 5 day by Julian Javier and a big blast by Stan "The Man" Musial. The Cardinals had to overcome an early Pirates lead, as the great Roberto Clemente hit the 48th home run of his career in the top of the second. Javier came up with his first hit of the day in the bottom of the inning, which was an RBI single that brought Daryl Spencer scampering in. Then Musial, who was 2 for 4 on the day, knocked in two, in a three-run third. Up 4-1 at that point, the Cardinals would not trail again in this contest. Joe Cuningham padded the lead with an RBI in the fourth, before the Bucco's put together a three run rally in the fifth that narrowed the gap to 5-4. Musial squashed their momentum in the bottom of the inning with a solo shot of his own, which was the 433rd home run of his illustrious career. Three batters later starting pitcher Ernie Broglio came up with a big single that brought Javier into score, as the Redbird second baseman could not be kept off the basepaths. The Pirates scratched across another run in the eighth, but it would not be enough to take down the 1-2 punch that Musial and Javier provided on that fine day.

     Javier's career began in 1960, many years after Stan The Man first stood on a big league diamond. Despite the age gap, the two formed a bond that would lead to Julian naming one of his sons Stan. Like father, like son, Stan Javier went onto play in the big leagues. He spent 17 years on the diamond with eight different teams. In 1989, Stan Javier was a member of the World Champion San Francisco Giants, which is something his father did with the Cardinals in 1964 and 1967.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN196105270.shtml

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 26, 1920: Pat Duncan Has a Brain Cramp and Hornsby Makes the Most Of It

     On May 26, 1920, a bonheaded play by Reds outfielder Pat Duncan led to Rogers Hornsby tacking on an insurance run during the eighth inning of a 10-8 Cardinals win at Robison Field in St. Louis. The game was a seesaw battle that had the Cards up 8-5 heading into the top of the eighth. However, the lead disappeared with the Reds plating three runs to tie it up. Milt Stock picked up his fourth hit of the day with a triple in the bottom half of the inning, then Hornsby came up with a single to left to bring Stock into score the go ahead run. Duncan then began trotting off the field thinking that the it was ninth inning and Hornsby's single was a walk off winner. Hornsby wheeled around the bases and scored before Duncan could recover from the miscue. While some accounts credited Hornsby with an inside-the-park home run, that was not the case, as Duncan was charged with an error, while Rogers was given a single in the official box score. I would imagine that Duncan felt like a bit of an ass after this one.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN192005260.shtml

Monday, May 25, 2015

May 25, 1960: George Crowe Breaks a Record With a Pinch Hit Walk Off Blast

     On May 25, 1960, George Crowe lifted the Cardinals to a dramatic 5-3 victory with a pinch hit two run walk off shot in the ninth inning at Busch. The big blast was the 11th pinch hit home run of Crowe's career, which was a record at the time. The walk off overshadowed a two home run day for Ken Boyer that set the stage for the walk off heroics. The big blast was the only walk off home run of George Crowe's career. He hit 81 home runs total, with 14 of those being pinch hit home runs, which was a record at the time of his retirement. However, it has since been surpassed. While Crowe was a role player of sorts, he was a very influential member of the Cardinals. He brought a work ethic to the team that was contagious, once telling Stan Musial "The more time you spend on the bench the harder you've got to work to be ready when you're called." That attitude gained the respect of his peers and the admiration of fans as well.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN196005250.shtml

     Crowe's baseball tale came to an end the next year. At 40 years of age one would think he would have had a lot to offer to a big league club. However, he coached just briefly, then became a part of baseball's past. He held several jobs and lived as a mountain man who had no need for the luxuries that most people enjoy in life. His life was quite interesting.

You can read all about it here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/7226fd06


Sunday, May 24, 2015

May 24, 1946: Musial Drives The Cab

     On May 24, 1946, a railroad strike and a bit of high jinks made a trip to Cincinnati an interesting one to say the least, as the Cardinals were forced to take a flight from New York where they had just finished up a two game set against the Giants. The strike, which began before the final game was played in New York sent management into a scramble to make arrangements to get the players to Cincy.

     The Cardinals traveling secretary, Leo Ward was the man who had the responsibility on his shoulders, and he made the arrangements to take a TWA flight with haste. Although, once the arrangements were made the pilot of the plane had to deal with thunderstorms, which led to the team landing 50 miles outside of Cincinnati in Dayton, Ohio.  After an hour long delay the flight resumed to Lunken Field, which was just 15 minutes from Crosley Field.

     A fleet of cabs were called in to complete the journey with a police escort in tow. The high jinks of the day came when the cab that Stan Musial, Buster Adams, Terry Moore, and Enos Slaughter were traveling in had a hood latch break, which led the cab driver into climbing onto the hood to hold it down, while Stan The Man drove with his head hanging out the window as they made their way to the ballpark. Meanwhile, more than 20,000 fans sat in the stands at Crosley Field waiting for their Reds to take on the Cardinals. The game began over an hour late and those that waited did get to enjoy watching their hometown club beat the Cardinals 5-1. With that said, the journey to get to the ballpark was one to be remembered with it being highly unusual  to say the least.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

May 23, 1970: Dick Allen's Bat + Bob Gibson's Arm = Cardinals Win

     On May 23, 1970, Bob Gibson's arm and Dick Allen's bat led the Cardinals to a 3-1 victory over the Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia. Gibson was a strikeout machine in the contest, as he fanned sixteen men, while Allen belted two home runs, which accounted for all three of the Cardinals runs.

     Both of Allen's home runs came with two outs against him, and both of them came against a future Hall of Famer in Jim Bunning who was in the twilight of his career. Allen's first home run came in the third with a man on, then he gave Gibby a little insurance with his second of the day in the fifth. The Phillies made the most of an eighth inning lead off walk, as Ron Stone followed it up with a triple, which led to Philly's lone run in the contest. In the ninth, Gibson struck out the first man he faced for his 15th K of the ballgame. He then surrendered his fourth and final hit of the contest before retiring the next man on a fly ball. Byron Browne came into pinch hit as the Phillies last hope, however, all hope was dashed as Browne was caught looking, giving Gibson sixteen K's on the day.

     Gibson led the National League with 23 wins in 1970, which was also a career high for the hurler. His impeccable record along with a 3.12 earned run average and 274 strikeouts helped Gibby bring home his second  and final Cy Young Award of his career. Unfortunately, Bob Gibson was the only man on that club who posted a winning record and the team finished 10 games under .500.

     While the club's overall record in 1970 was a disappointment, Dick Allen was far from it. He belted a grand total of 34 home runs and knocked in 101 runs. Allen had come to the Cardinals in a now famous trade that was supposed to have Curt Flood going to Philly. While Flood refused to accept the deal, the Cardinals were able to come up with ample compensation to complete the deal, which led to a big year for Allen with the Birds on the Bat across his chest. With that said, it was the only year he wore those Birds on the Bat, as he was moved in the following offseason.

     Allen would go onto prove that he had a lot left in the tank in the years to come and that may have been one deal that the front office wish they had back. I know that I have studied the career of Dick Allen and as a fan of his I wish they had it back. However, that is not the way it went. Allen's overall career is worthy of being recognized at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Although, he fell just one vote shy of being inducted in 2014. Hopefully, Mr. Allen sees the day when he stand before a crowd and gives an acceptance speech. And while I know that his time in Cardinal Nation was brief, I hope he reflects on his days in St. Louis. Those that remember those days remember watching one of the greatest players of the era swing the stick in the Gateway City. You know if and when that day comes his former teammate Bob Gibson will be one of many men to welcome Allen into the elite fraternity. The two may reminisce about the day Gibby fanned 16 while the slugger known as The Wampum Walloper put two over the fence as they led the way to a Redbirds victory.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PHI/PHI197005230.shtml

Best known for his days in Philly, Allen also made his mark with the Dodgers, White Sox, and A's, as well as the Cardinals during his 15 years in the big leagues. His baseball tale is unique, as he battled through controversial times while putting together quite the resume. You can read all about the life and times of Dick Allen here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/92ed657e

The legendary Bob Gibson's tale is one that every Cardinals fan should know as well. A talented athlete, Gibson was a basketball star who stepped on the hardwood as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters before turning his attention to the game that is played on the diamond. The decision to play baseball was decision that formed a legacy as one of the most fierce competitors in the sport. You can read all about him here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/34500d95

Friday, May 22, 2015

May 22, 1920, The Cardinals Turn The Only 9-2-3 Triple Play In Baseball History

     On May 22, 1920, the only 9-2-3 triple play in the history of Major League Baseball highlighted a 3-2 Cardinals victory over the New York Giants at Robison Field in St. Louis. The New Yorkers nearly escaped with a victory of their own as they took a 2-0 lead into the ninth before it all disappeared, as the Cardinals plated two runs to send it to extras. That simply set the stage for a triple play that should not be forgotten.

     The tenth inning began with New York's George Burns hit one down the third baseline, where Milt Stock came up firing wildly toward first. Stock's wild throw ended up with an error on the scorecard and Burns standing on third base; 90 feet away from a lead. Ross Youngs followed Burns with a walk and just like that it looked like the Redbirds ninth inning rally may have been for nothing.

     No outs, a man on first and third, the Cardinals would need a bit of magic to get out of it. Then magic happened. Joe Schultz, who had come into pinch hit for the pitcher in the ninth, not only helped the Cardinals rally with an RBI, he then made the play of the day in right field, as he made what was described as a nearly impossible play by the Sporting News on an Art Fletcher line drive, then came up firing to the dish to gun down Burns who was trying to score from third. Youngs was off and running, thinking that there was no way Shultz would make the play, which led to him being gunned down at first by the Cardinals catcher Verne Clemons to complete the triple killing. With the electricity still flowing through the St. Louis air, the Birds generated a run for a walk off win.

     The triple play turned on that day in 1920 was the 10th in franchise history. To date, the club has turned 38 triple plays, which is a testament to how rare such a play is when one considers that the club has played in more than 20,000 games since they first stepped on the diamond in 1882. That 9-2-3 triple play in 1920 had to be a true beauty.

I would like to extend thanks to the people at the Society of American Baseball Research for putting together an absolutely great database of all the triple plays in major league history. It was very big help when it came to the research into this game and more. I am a member of SABR and would urge anyone interested in baseball history to look into the benefits of joining http://sabr.org/member-benefits

Here is a link to the triple play database as well:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1mfjUVrIhBv6HeltZXYZNPFs_VKopDF_unaZ883QPQr0/edit#gid=1613289983

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com:8080/boxes/SLN/SLN192005220.shtmlv

Thursday, May 21, 2015

May 21, 1977: Hrabosky Suspended By Rapp

     On May 21, 1977, a longstanding feud between Cardinals skipper Vern Rapp and embattled pitcher Al Hrabosky came to a head, as the man known as "The Mad Hungarian" was handed an indefinite suspension for "insubordination."  The insubordinate action that led to this suspensions was Hrabosky refused to meet with Rapp when called upon. Just two days later Hrabosky was reinstated, however, this incident may have just been the beginning of the end for both men being members of the Cardinals.

     Rapp and Hrabosky clearly had disdain for one another, as the first year skipper attempted to lay down the law in the Cardinals clubhouse by making a rule in Spring Training that would force all players to be clean shaven. Hrabosky's fu man chu  was in the crosshairs of Rapp's scope right out the gate and the 27-year-old was not happy with it at all. He made it be known, but did give in and shaved it off. There were others on the club that side with Hrabosky, and decided to test the limits with Rapp by growing sideburns and more. While the suspension in May was not directly related to the facial hair incident, it was the beginning of a feud that would only be resolved through a trade that sent Hrabosky flyin down I-70 to the Kansas City Royals in the upcoming offseason.

     Long before the trade happened the relationship between Rapp and Hrabosky had become so volatile that the hurler would only speak to pitching coach Claude Osteen to convey any messages to his skipper, so the day that Hrabosky was called into his office he simply passed. The facial hair incident was just one of many between the two, as Hrabosky had also taken issue with the skipper removing the ball from his mitt, rather than letting him hand it over to his replacement. They had continually butted heads and with Gussie Busch on his side it may have appeared that Rapp won the battle between the two. He may have won the battle, but he did not win the war.

     When it comes down to it nobody truly won that war. Hrabosky was traded to K.C. as mentioned before, and Rapp lost the respect of the clubhouse before he even gained it. He was hired to replace Red Schoendienst who had more of a laid back approach to dealing with ballplayers, and came in with an authoritarian approach that led to near mutiny among the men who donned the Birds on the Bat. While Hrabosky was starting a new journey in K.C., Rapp's journey with the Redbirds ended in late April of 1978, as he was replaced by Ken Boyer. Rapp spent time as a coach, then managed the Reds briefly in 1984 before Pete Rose was hired to manage the Reds.

     When it comes to Rapp's time with the Cardinals he may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is something that we will never know. He did have great success in the minor league ranks as a skipper and had two pennant winning seasons in the American Association. While his brief tenure as manager of the Cardinals was a bit stormy, it surely does not define him as a man. In 2011, Tom Owens at Baseball by the Letters spoke with Rapp and he simply looked back on the incident as history. Rapp had made many more memories since those turbulent days that were very good memories. He was on the verge of celebrating 60 years of marriage and was very proud of his children and grandchildren. In life there are times that we meet those who we do not mesh with and usually we simply move on. It seems that is exactly what Rapp did and Hrabosky did as well. In 1985 The Mad Hungarian was reunited with the Cardinals organization as broadcaster and has been entertaining fans ever since. In the end I hope both Rapp and Hrabosky were able to bury the hatchet because life is simply too short to hold onto animosity.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May 20, 1942: The Walker Brothers Get The Job Done In Brooklyn

     On May 20, 1942, batterymates Mort and Walker Cooper played a pair of sibling heroes during a 1-0 victory over the Dodgers in Brooklyn. Mort outdueled Brooklyn's Whit Wyatt by allowing just two hits, while Wyatt allowed only four. One of those four hits was a triple off the bat of the Cardinals backstop Walker Cooper in the fifth. Moments later second baseman Creepy Crespi drove Walker in with a sac fly. The pitching duel was truly one for the ages, as Wyatt led the National League with 22 wins for the pennant winning Dodgers in 1941. Wyatt was on his way to a 19 win season in 1942, but that was not enough to lead the league in back-to-back years, as Mort Cooper took that title with 22 wins in an MVP performance, which helped snatch the flag out Brooklyn's grasp and bring World Series glory back to St. Louis.

     The win snapped an eight game winning streak for the Dodgers, and helped set the table for a pennant race that will never be forgotten. The Cardinals went onto win 106 games that season, which was just two better the boys from Flatbush.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BRO/BRO194205200.shtml


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May 19, 1948: The Man Goes 5 For 5 In Brooklyn

     On May 19, 1948, Stan Musial went 5 for 5 in a 14-7 romp of the Dodgers in Brooklyn. The Man's day included a triple, a double, three singles, five runs scored, and two runs batted in. While Musial was adding to his totals, the rest of the club was pounding out hits around him, as the club ended up with 18 total on the day. Other stars of the game included Nippy Jones who knocked in four, as well as Whitey Kurowski and Ralph LaPointe who both knocked in three. LaPointe was thrust into duty after a first inning injury to Marty Marion led to his name being called. Marion played the next day. While the Cardinals did surrender seven runs, Ted Wilks turned in a solid seven inning performance in relief to grab a win. He was just the third and final Redbird pitcher of the day, while the Dodgers trotted six men out to the mound for the Cardinals to tee off on.

     The 1948 campaign was a special one for Stan The Man, as he took home his third and final MVP award. He led the National League with a .376 average, 131 RBI's, 135 runs scored,46 doubles, and 18 triples. His 39 home runs during the campaign ranked second in the National League to New York's Johnny Mize and Pittsburgh's Ralph Kiner. One more dinger he would have won the triple crown, however, a rainout stole a home run from the record books, so that never came to be. With that said, that '48 season was one of Stan's greatest on the diamond. It is a chapter in one of the greatest baseball history books to ever be written.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BRO/BRO194805190.shtml

Monday, May 18, 2015

May 18, 1898: Chicago's Walter Thorton Drills Three St. Louis Batters In A Row

     On May 18, 1898, Chicago Orphans pitcher Walter Thorton tied a major league record by hitting three consecutive batters during the fourth inning of a 11-4 St. Louis Browns win in Chicago.  The third hit batsman forced a run in what turned out to be a six run inning for the St. Louis club. The record for hit batsman has been tied by eight other men, but it has yet to be broken, which I am sure no pitcher in the game want to have the dubious distinction of being that guy.

     St. Louis' first baseman George Decker led the Browns charge with four hits in four trips, which included two clutch hits with the bases full. One of those hits was a double that cleared'em all. Decker spent just one year in St. Louis. He had been loaned to the Browns after a fire among other things left the team owner in financial peril. The agreement made would have Decker returned to the Chicago club at season's end, but an unscrupulous practice by Browns owner Chris Von der Ahe twisted that fate, as he granted the first baseman a release in July of that 1898 season without notifying anyone in Chicago.

     There are just nine men in the club, three batsman hit in succession club. Pink Hawley was the first man to set the record as a member of the Browns in 1894. Walter Thorton was the second man to join the club with his wheels off the bus performance in 1898. Earl Hamilton of the American League's St. Louis Browns joined the club in 1912, then it would be more than 61 years before Dock Ellis of the Pirates became a member in 1974. Knuckleballer Wilbur Wood of the White Sox joined him in 1977. After Wood's joined the club there would be another long hiatus before C.J. Nitkowski hit three in a row as a member of the Houston Astros in 1998. One year later Steve Sparks of the Angels in 1999. To round things off Javier Vasquez drilled three in a row in 2010 as a member of the New York Yankees. While the club is not exactly one that any pitcher would want to be in, the club is still historic nonetheless.

     Couple of side notes: The Orphans became known as the Cubs in 1903. And in the actual notes of the game (pictured with the box score to the right) there was talk of a mutiny with the Browns players. The players had not received a paycheck in some time, which was in large part due to the fire that strained the owner's bank account. According to John Snyder's Cardinals Journal the players did receive a paycheck the day after this game was played, so the crisis was averted. There is also the mention of a foul ball strike being called, which at the time was a rare occurrence. This goes to show that the great game of baseball has always been in a constant state of evolution. While rules may change in time, the core of what makes baseball a great game has remained the same.


   

Sunday, May 17, 2015

May 17, 1987: Pags' Grand Slam Leads The Way

     On May 17 , 1987, Cardinals catcher Tom Pagnozzi hit the first grand slam of his career during the fifth inning of a 10-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds in St. Louis. The big blast was the headline grabber, however, every single man in the starting lineup, including pitcher Lee Tunnell  picked up a hit, as the Birds picked up a total of 15 hits on the day. Vince Coleman fell a home run shy of the cycle, while Willie McGee picked up three hits. While Ozzie Smith and Tommy Herr picked up two apiece. Tunnell struck out six, walked one, and surrendered two solo shots.

     Tunnell started nine games for the pennant winning club, then took on a role in the bullpen. The 24-year-old backstop was just getting his career started. Not known for his power, Pagnozzi would become a fixture around the ballpark through the 1998 season. He hit just 44 home runs in his career, and only one more of them would be of  the grand slam variety. Best known for his ability behind the dish, Pagnozzi took home three Gold Glove awards during his career.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN198705170.shtml

Saturday, May 16, 2015

May 16, 1999: Lankford Walks It Off

     On May 16, 1999, Ray Lankford led the Cardinals to victory with a walk off home run that beat the Dodgers 5-4 in St. Louis. It was his second big blast of the day. The Redbirds found themselves in a 4-1 hole after two, before newcomer Edgar Renteria put one in the seats in the third, which was the first long ball he would hit with the Birds on the Bat across his chest. Lankford's first blast was a solo shot in the sixth that made the score 4-3 Dodgers, which set the stage for some ninth inning heroics. The table was set for those heroics with a one out walk to Mark McGwire, which brought Ray to the dish representing the winning run. With one swing of the bat he was exactly that, as he parked a Jeff Shaw pitch over the wall in right-center. Lankford hit 238 home runs in a career that spanned over 15 seasons. 228 of those came as a member of the Cardinals. The walk off blast in '99 was his third and final walk off blast of his career, with the first two coming in 1994. Lankford's 228 home runs rank fifth in franchise history. He also ranks in the top ten in many other categories, such as games played, runs scored, doubles and RBI's. Lankford will forever be a Cardinal and I know at least one fan that would love to see him honored in the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum in downtown St. Louis.

Check out the box score here: www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN199905160.shtml

You can also view the numbers of  the all time franchise leaders here:
http://stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com/stats/

Friday, May 15, 2015

May 15, 1893: Farmer Vaughn Attacks Steve Brodie With a Bat

     On May 15, 1893, a 10-6 Browns win over the Cincinnati Reds in St. Louis featured a brawl that ended with a police escort. The melee occurred during the fifth inning with the Browns rallying from a 6-1 deficit, as St. Louis' center fielder Steve Brodie came into a score a run with a collision at home plate. Cincinnati's catcher Farmer Vaughn was enraged, so he picked up a bat and threw it at Brodie, then attempted to go get another bat as Brodie attempted to go after him. In the blink of an eye every man on both teams was on the field as tempers flared. According to the article that I located in the Baltimore American, the Browns first baseman Perry Werden followed Vaughn's lead by picking up a bat and throwing it at the embattled Reds catcher. In the end Vaughn attempted to get the hell out of Dodge, but was stopped, then held for police officers, who escorted him from the premises, then issued him a hefty $25 fine. After the melee the fans in the stands sat back and watch their Browns dismantle the Reds with a comeback win.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

May 14, 1915: The Birds Stun The Braves In Beantown

     On May 14, 1915, the Cardinals found themselves trailing the Braves 4-0 at Fenway Park in Boston, before scoring five runs in the top of the ninth, which led to a 5-4 comeback win. The Cardinals were dominated for eight innings by hurler Tom Hughes who struck out  seven men and allowed just two hits, before a trio of errors and five singles led to his demise. The error that seem to cost the defending champs the most was made my Rabbit Maranville, who looked like he was going to end the game by turning a double play, but it ate him up, and the Redbird surge continued. Left fielder Ted Cather committed the other two errors in the disastrous inning that ended up handing the Cardinals an unlikely win.

I searched and searched and was not able to find an account of this ballgame that had the details of the five men who singled in the ninth. However, I enjoy a good comeback and I am sure you do as well, so while I am not sure how it came together I am glad it did as I sit here 100 years later. The beauty of a box score does tell me that first baseman Dots Miller figured into the rally. Miller led the team with two hits, and a pinch hitter by the name of Jack Roche knocked in two runs in the inning. Miller had a solid 12-year-career in the bigs, while Roche played in just 59 games between 1914 and 1917. However, Roche did hang around as a player in the minors until 1928.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BSN/BSN191505140.shtml

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May 13, 1940: The Big Cat Hits Three Home Runs During an 8-8 Tie In Cincy

      On May 13, 1940, Johnny Mize hit three home runs in at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. It was the third time in his career he went yard three times in a ballgame. However, it was not enough to win the ballgame, as the two clubs played to an 8-8 tie  that was called after the 14th due to the setting sun. It was a rather odd game that started nearly 30 minutes late because there were no umpires on hand when the first pitch was supposed to be thrown.

     The reason behind the lack of umpires was the two teams had made arrangements to makeup a game that had been flooded out on April 23rd, but forgot to inform the league office of the arrangement. Therefore, the league office did not assign any umpires to officiate the contest. Luckily, an umpire by the name of Larry Goetz was enjoying a day off at his home in Cincinnati, which led to a phone call that had him rushing to the park to call the ballgame. Since Goetz could only handle the duties behind the dish each team had to lend a member to officiate the bags at first and third. The Reds sent coach Jimmie Wilson over to first base, while Cardinals hurler Lon Warneke handled the duties at third. They would all witness a historic contest, as Mize put three in the seats on the way to a tie.

     The game was a true seesaw battle. After six innings the two clubs were knotted at seven, as the pitchers were battered and abused. Mize started off his home run barrage in the second with a solo shot. He followed it up with a two run shot in the third. Then put the cherry on top with a solo shot in the thirteenth that gave the Redbirds a very temporary 8-7 lead, as pair of Bill's tied it right back up for Cincinnati in the bottom of the inning. Billy Werber started off the rally with a single, before pinch hitter Billy Hershberger doubled him in with a single. Werber had himself a day at the plate with five hits in six trips, which included four doubles and that made him the first man to accomplish that feat in both the American League and the National League. He had accomplished the feat as a member of the Yankees in 1935. Unfortunately, the umpire who had spent his day off calling balls and strikes, had to call it as the sun set in the Queen City, so neither Mize nor Werber could celebrate a victory. That would have to be saved for another day.

     Johnny Mize owns the record for three home run ballgames with six. Sammy Sosa equaled the feat with his sixth three home run contest in 2002, however, the record has not been surpassed. The last three home run contest for Mize came in 1950 when he was a member of the New York Yankees. Coincidentally, the club that Mize was playing for only won a single game of the six, which came in July of 1938 as he led the way to a 7-1 victory. His record of 1-4-1 when hitting three home run is rather astounding, but it does go to show that it takes a team to win a ballgame. I am sure that was something Johnny Mize knew all too well.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CIN/CIN194005130.shtml

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

May 12, 1966: The House That Gussie Built Opens Up With a Winner

     On May 12, 1966, 46,048 walked through the turnstiles at Busch Stadium in St. Louis to witness the first game to be played at the new ballpark. The crowd would not leave disappointed, as Lou Brock came up with a game winning RBI single in the bottom of the 12th, which led to a 4-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

     The game was full of firsts. The first starting pitchers were Ray Washburn who stood on the mound for the Cardinals. Washburn surrendered the first hit at the new ballpark to Atlanta's Gary Geiger. Washburn also recorded the first strikeout when he fanned Eddie Mathews in the second. The first triple and run scored came in a two-run third inning, when Mike Shannon picked up the first RBI at the new digs with a three-bagger that scored Jerry Buchek.

     The Braves got one back in the fourth, then Felipe Alou put them on top by becoming the first man to hit a home run at the stadium with a solo shot in the sixth. Alou would then become the first man in the history of the stadium to hit two home runs in the stadium when he launched his second of the day in the eighth, which gave the Braves a 3-2 advantage. Then came the first blown save by Billy O'Dell, as Jerry Buchek dropped in a looping single that scored the game tying run in the ninth. It simply set the table for Brock and the boys to walk away victorious. The first person to record a loss at the stadium was Hall of Famer, Phil Niekro, who pitched a scoreless 11th, before a hit batsman, an error, and an intentional walk put Brock in position to win it in the 12th. Last not but not least, Don Dennis was the winning pitcher that day. He retired one man in the top of the final inning. That one man was Felipe Alou, so it was a pretty big out in the historic contest.

     That was first of 3,227 games played at the stadium that had 96 arches adorning the roof. The doors would stay open until 2005. The memories made within its walls were memories that should and will be cherished for years to come. I often refer to it as where I grew up. I can remember being there as a kid and listening to the fans chant Daryl time and time again hoping to disrupt Daryl Strawberry's day. I can remember watching Jack Clark parking one in the seats and thinking "Wow, he's awesome." One of  my all-time favorite memories from Busch Stadium II came when Larry Walker made his debut with the club in 2004. I had seats on the third base line, and remember vividly standing with the crowd when Walker came into pinch hit in the seventh. He ended up striking out, however, the crowd let him know he was a part of Cardinal Nation in grand fashion by giving him a standing ovation. To top it off, Walker got another standing ovation in the ninth, before being intentionally walked to get to a young rookie catcher by the name of Yadier Molina. The rookie dropped in a bloop single to win it. It was such a great game and it is one of many memories I cherish from the old ballpark. I truly did love the place.

I would love to hear your favorite memory from Busch Stadium II. You can find me on twitter @CardinalHistory or look up On This Day In Cardinal Nation on Facebook.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN196605120.shtml

Monday, May 11, 2015

May 11, 1928: Jimmie Wilson Joins The Birds

     On May 11, 1928, the Cardinals acquired catcher Jimmie Wilson from the Philadelphia Phillies. The unusual circumstance of this trade is it happened during the second inning of a contest against the Phillies in St. Louis and once the deal was complete Wilson, who was catching for the Philllies, changed uniforms and dugouts. He did not play in the ballgame, however, he did sit back and enjoy a win, as Grover Cleveland Alexander led the way to a 3-2 victory with a nine strikeout performance.

     The deal was made necessary because one day earlier they had sent Bob O'Farrell to the Giants for an outfielder by the name of George Harper. The trade for Harper was a bit of a shock, as O'Farrell was was a key contributor to the 1926 championship winning team and was the MVP of the National League that year as well. He would be revered in St. Louis for throwing out Babe Ruth in that series to record the final out of the of Game 7. Following that run to glory, O'Farrell took over as a player/manager after the club traded Rogers Hornsby. His playing time was limited due to injury, however, he did lead the club to 92 wins, which was good for second place in the National League standings. Therefore, when the trigger was pulled on the deal to send him to New York many writers were stunned. It seemed that trading O'Farrell seemed to be addition by subtraction; filled one hole and created another, which led to the deal for Wilson.

     The deal for Wilson proved to be a good one. He went from a team without a chance to a team that had a chance to win it all. Unfortunately the 1928 club did not win it all, however, they did win the National League pennant, only to be beaten by the New York Yankees in the Fall Classic. The club would win a second National League title in 1930, but would be disappointed by Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics. The two clubs would meet again one year later in a World Series rematch that saw the Cardinals celebrate their second championship title as they knocked off the A's in six.

     Coincidentally, Wilson was traded to the Phillies after the 1933 season and the Cardinals got Spud Davis in return. The two players had come full circle, but this time it would be Davis helping the Cardinals win a title by playing in 107 games for the '34 club. Davis' second stay in St. Louis lasted three years. Wilson went onto manage the Phillies for several years before joining the Cincinnati Reds in 1939. He enjoyed one more pennant winning season in the Queen City the next year before focusing on the coaching side of the game. He spent three full seasons as the manager of the Cubs from 1941 to '43, then was fired early in '44. His days on the diamond may have been over, but the old backstop had two decades of baseball tales in his book of life. One of those tales included swapping uniforms in the second inning of a ballgame against the Cardinals. He had become a member of Cardinal Nation.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/STL/1928-schedule-scores.shtml



Sunday, May 10, 2015

May 10, 1955: Virdon Walks It Off With a Big Blast In The 10th

     On May 10, 1955, rookie center fielder Bill Virdon hit a tenth inning walk off blast that propelled the Cardinals to a 5-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in St. Louis. It was Virdon's second walk off home run of the campaign. Virdon shared the spotlight with another rookie by the name of Luis Arroyo who pitched all 10 innings for the Cardinals, scattering five hits, while striking out nine.

     Four home runs sailed over the wall that day in St. Louis, with three of them coming off the bats of Cardinals players. Del Ennis got the home run barrage started with a solo shot in the fourth that tied the game 1-1. Stan Musial's put the Cards back on top with a solo shot in the sixth to make it 2-1. It was the 297th of Musial's career. Catcher Bill Sarni got in on the action, after the Phillies tied it up on a Willie Jones single in the top of the seventh by launching a solo shot of his own. Jones came up big again in the ninth for the Fightin Phils with another game tying single that sent it into extras and set the table for Virdon's walk off heroics.

     The 24-year-old had come to the Cardinals in a package deal that sent Enos Slaughter to the Yankees. It looked like the Cardinals got great value in Virdon, after he took home rookie of the year honors at the and of the '55 seasons. However, his time in Cardinal Nation was short. Despite the strong campaign the club finished 68-86, which was the worst record since 1924. That led Gussie Busch to hiring Frank "Trader" Lane as General Manager going onto 1956.

     Lane's nickname had been earned with the Chicago White Sox, as he made 241 trades, which involved more than 300 players over seven years with the club. The deals he made in Chicago helped the club become a contender, and Gussie took notice. Lane began to put his imprint on the team with early seasons trades that included a deal that sent Solly Hemus to Philadelphia. The next man that Lane dealt was Virdon, who was sent to the Pittsburgh in exchange for Dick Littlefield and Bobby Del Greco.

     The trade proved to be a terrible deal for the Cardinals, as Virdon spent the next decade roaming the outfield for the Pirates. His career .267 average may make a casual fan shrug. However, he was known as one of the finest center fielders of his time. He was a part of the 1960 World Championship Pirates and would become revered in the Steel City.

     Like Virdon,  Luis Arroyo was dealt in 1956 by Lane. That deal was also a bust. With that said, Arroyo had very limited success in the majors. However, he rose to the occasion in 1961 by saving 29 games for the Yankees and posting an eye popping 15-5 record out of the pen. Lane's trades did seem to improve the club, but not enough to keep him around. He ended up dealing Red Schoendienst in June of 1956 and even talked about dealing Stan The Man, which turned the tide against him. He had caused great dissension within the organization and at the end of 1957 Frank Lane packed his own bags and headed for Cleveland.  His time in Cardinal Nation was very short, but it was very noteworthy as well. It is hard to say how Virdon would have fared in the Gateway City, however, without him being traded away in 1956 there is a distinct possibility that Curt Flood may not have gotten an opportunity in center field just a few years later.

That's the way baseball go.

Check out the box score here: https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=8211124979997484546#editor/target=post;postID=921300874651085385

You can learn more about Virdon and Arroyo by reading their SABR biographies in the links provided below.

Virdon: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/0a3985c3

Arroyo: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/6a29b50a

Saturday, May 9, 2015

May 9, 1949: War Hero Eddie Kazak Slams The Dodgers

     On May 9, 1949, a pair of rookies led the way to a 14-5 victory, as the Cardinals steamrolled the Dodgers at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Eight different players picked up hits for the Redbirds. However, it was a pair of rookies that led the charge: third baseman Tommy Glaviano picked up three hits, which included a single, a double, and a three-run homer in the third that put the Birds up 6-1, while Kazak knocked in five men, which included an eighth inning grand slam that buried Dem Bums from Brooklyn. The grand slam artist was also a war hero that knew he was lucky to be standing on that diamond as he was about to embark on an All Star campaign.

     Kazak finished that day with five ribbies and three runs scored. He was top hitter in the National League with a .389 average, and it would balloon to .397 before it gradually began to come down. He caught the attention of the fans and would get the nod to start the game. He picked up two hits in the contest as he stood next to some of the greatest to ever player the game  Less than two weeks later disaster struck when he tried to take second base in another game against the Dodgers and broke his ankle.

     However, his career ended up being derailed by a broken ankle that came just 11 days after that All Star game was played. Kazak hit .304 during the injury-shortened year 1949,  he then returned to the club in 1950 and saw his average dip to .256, which led to him becoming a bench player. He played in just 16 more games for the Birds, before being sold to the Reds in May of 1952, where he played in 13 more before being sold to the Detroit Tigers in early July. Eddie Kazak's days in the majors were over. He received an invite to Spring Training in '53, but broke his hand before the end of camp. He spent seven seasons in the minors before hanging up the cleats.

     While Kazak's moment in the sun was brief, his story is truly remarkable. He grew up in Muse, Pennsylvania, which is just 30 miles away from where Stan The Man grew up in Donora. His last name had been Tkaczuk, but he had changed it because people had a hard time pronouncing it. His father was a coal miner and after graduating high school Eddie would end up in the mines as well. He nearly lost his life in 1940, when a mine car carrying some crew members came around a bend too fast, flew off the track, and pinned him against a wall. Lucky to walk away from the incident, Kazak found a ticket out of there by playing ball on team that was organized by the other miners. During that time he was approached by a scout that offered him $75 a week to play the game. He had been making $25 a week up to that point, so one could imagine he was an excited young man who had more money in his pocket and a major league dream in his head.

     He spent one year with an independent club by the name of the Valdosta Trojans of  the Georgia-Florida League and hit an impressive .292. In 1941, Kazak's contract was purchased by the Cardinals. He did not disappoint, as he hit .378 for the Albany affiliate who also called the Georgia-Florida League home. Kazak began to climb the ladder in 1942, then duty called. Eddie Kazak was off to war and he would be lucky to return, as he was nearly killed by an enemy soldier who stabbed him with a bayonet. I would imagine the other soldier did not live to tell the tale. Lucky to survive that attack, Eddie had his elbow crushed while under mortar fire in Brest, France. He spent the next 18 months in hospitals as doctors tried to repair the elbow by inserting a plastic piece to replace lost, as well as, trying to restore movement to fingers that had been paralyzed on his hand  It looked like he would never be helping any team win a ballgame ever again. His doctors even told him to put his days on the diamond behind him.

      Eddie Kazak was not hearing it. He refused to let the dream go. Despite pain and discomfort, Kazak worked his way back to the diamond. He joined the Cardinals Class A affiliate in 1946, then jumped to Triple A in 1947, before getting the call late in 1948. He found an opportunity at third base as Whitey Kurowski's career was coming to an abrupt end, due to arm issues of his own. When he was inserted in the lineup during the fifth game of the '49 campaign Kazak made the most of it, hitting safely in 11 straight games. As he found his name splashed across the  headlines. He looked to be a star in the making.

     While his star shined briefly, Eddie Kazak lived a long fulfilling life, had a family, and eventually retired from a job with the postal service in 1984. In his brief time in the majors he hit .273 with 11 home runs. One of those dingers was a grand slam that put the Dodgers to bed. It would be the lone grand slam of his career.  It had to be a thrill as he made the round trip. He was living the dream.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BRO/BRO194905090.shtml
   
Eddie Kazak passed away in 1999. He was much more than a ballplayer; he was a war hero. Thank you to all of our veterans. Past, present, and future.

   

Friday, May 8, 2015

May 8, 1939: The Wild Horse Runs Free; Pepper Martin Steals Home

     On May 8, 1939, the Wild Horse ran free in Brooklyn as Pepper Martin executed what many consider the most exciting play in baseball by stealing home in the sixth inning. The run was the lone run of the contest, with Bob Weiland going the distance in the contest to secure a complete game victory. The story of the day was Martin, who at 35 years of age singled to start the sixth, took second and third on infield outs, then broke for home as rookie hurler Red Evans began a long windup. According to Associated Press writer Sid Feder, Evans was "open-mouthed, too surprised to make a throw until it was too late." The savvy veteran was the hero of the day.

     The stolen base was one of one of 146 stolen bases Martin swiped as a Cardinal, with his first coming in 1928. His best days were behind him at that point, but that did not stop him from giving the club everything he had every time he stepped on the diamond.Martin played just 39 games in '28 and just six more in '30, making 1931 his rookie year. He helped the Cardinals win the pennant with a .300 season that included 16 stolen bases. His contributions in the World Series made him stand out like no other, as he swiped five bags, as he helped lead the way to the Cardinals second title.

     After a sub par performance in 1932, Pepper came back in '33 and led the league with 122 runs scored and 26 stolen bases. With 1933 included, Martin stole 20 bases or more for four consecutive years, leading the league in three of them. When he stole home in 1939, the days of the Gashouse Gang were becoming a memory. With that said, ole Pepper proved he had some gas left in his tank. Martin carried a .306 average that season and stole six bases. He may have tamed just a bit from his days where he earned the nickname Wild Horse of Osage.

     After hitting .316 in 80 games in 1940 Martin stepped off the major league diamond and managed a minor league affiliate before returning to the Cardinals in 1944. He hit .279 in 40 games for the eventual pennant winners, then stepped off the field. He not only swiped five bags in the 1931 World Series, he also hit .500, carrying the team to the championship. With a .355 in the 1934 Fall Classic, Martin's average of .418 in the World Series is a record that has yet to be broken.

    Martin never did really leave baseball. He owned a ranch and was an avid hunter, but that game on the diamond always lured him back. He managed and or coached with multiple minor league teams. The Miami News featured an article by John Crittenden in 1976 had a former player by the name of Knobby Rosa remember the days Pepper managed him with the Miami Sun Sox between 1949 and 1952. Knobby remembered the days when Pepper was close to 50 years old and would substitute himself into a ballgame as a pinch runner on second base. Moments later the Wild Horse slid into score another run, as he tried to help his club win a ballgame.

     It seems that Martin was a Wild Horse that could never be truly tamed Considered by some to be the spirit of the team that was known as the Gashouse Gang. It did not matter if he was a 27-year-old rookie, a 35-year-old man breaking for home, or 50-year-old coach the horse wanted to run. When he passed away at the age of 61 in  March of 1965, Martin had plans on coaching with the Tulsa Oilers in the upcoming season. Survived by a wife and three daughters, tears were surely shed when Martin passed away. With that said, his life was also celebrated, as many tales were told from the days when the Wild Horse ran free. One of those tales told may just have been about the time he stole home in 1939. It was just one of many his friends, family, and fans could share for the man they called Pepper.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BRO/BRO193905080.shtml

Thursday, May 7, 2015

May 7, 1940: The Birds Obliterate the Dodgers With a Record Setting Performance

     On May 7, 1940, the Cardinals set franchise records by hitting seven home runs and recording 49 total bases in an 18-2 beatdown of the Brooklyn Dodgers in St. Louis. The "Big Cat" Johnny Mize and rookie second baseman Eddie Lake both hit two homers, while Don Padgett, Ducky Medwick, and Stu Martin all went yard once.

     The Cardinals catcher Don Padgett started things off with solo shot in the third. Lake and Mize both launched two run home runs in a five run third. Martin and Medick both hit solo shots, with Martin's coming in the fourth, while Medwick's came in the sixth, then Lake and Mize topped things with another couple of blasts in the eighth. Lake's second homer was another two-run shot, while Mize joined the solo shot club. Lake finished the day with five RBI's, as he knocked another runner in with a double.

     This may have been the best game of Eddie Lake's career. He was not a home run hitter by any means. In fact, he hit just 39 over the course of a decade. The two big flies that came on that day in early May were the only two he hit in a Cardinals uniform, as he spent just 79 games with the Birds on the Bat across his chest. He was a master of the game defensively, however, his bat was not up to par, which led to repeated trips to the minors.

     After spending all of 1942 with the Sacramento Solons, the Cardinals PCL affiliate, he was sold to the Boston Red Sox. He spent three years in Boston, and another five in Detroit. Nicknamed "Sparky", Lake was a role player, whos defense and speed made up for his bat, that had produced a .231 career average by the time he hung them up. While Lake's name is not one you will see on a plaque in Cooperstown, he too was a member of Cardinal Nation that made a little bit of history along the way.

     Just 2,298 fans witnessed that historic game that saw Mize, Lake, Padgett, Medwick, and Martin go deep a total of seven time. They saw the bases filled, and they saw the bases emptied as runners crossed the plate time and time again.  However, the club was not off to a great start and fans were unhappy with the decisions of Ray Blades. Just two days after this game an article in the Sporting  News  expressed exactly that and one month later the skipper was released. Mike Gonzlez would take over for short time before Billy Southworth took the reigns. That may have led to the small crowd, or it may have just been a cold and rainy day in the city. Either way it goes I am sure there were many fans that wished they had went through the gate that day. The 2,298 that did had to enjoy every second of it.

Check out the box score of the 20-hit attack here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN194005070.shtml

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May 6, 1959: 399 Home Runs For The Man

     On May 6, 1959, Stan Musial hit the 399th home run of his career to spark an eighth inning rally that led the Cardinals to an 8-7 win over the Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia. The Cardinals came into the inning down 6-4 before Stan launched his solo shot that chased Philadelphia's starter Ray Semproch to the showers. The wheels fell off the Philadelphia bus from there, as Semproch's replacement, Jack Meyer loaded the bases before Joe Cunningham came up with a two-run pinch hit double that put the Birds on top 7-6. The Birds put one more on the board two batters later, which would prove crucial, as the Phillies plated a run with a Gene Freese sac fly off of Jim Brosnan in the ninth. Brosnan had pitched a scoreless eighth, then allowed a leadoff triple in the ninth, which led to Freese's opportunity. Brosnan allowed another hit before putting the Phillies to bed.

     Before the big inning the two clubs had been in a seesaw battle. With Stan's 399th long ball included, five flew over the wall that day. The Phillies right fielder Wally Post parked one in the seats in the fourth, his teammate Granny Hamner matched the feat in the fifth, then Ken Boyer hit a two run blast for the Cards in the sixth before Post hit his second of the day in the seventh. It was the fifth home run of the day that grabbed the headlines though, as the great Stan Musial was now just one big fly away from another milestone in his illustrious career. That big fly came the next day. Read about number 400 here: http://www.onthisdayincardinalnation.com/2014/05/may-7-1959-400-homers-for-stan-man.html

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PHI/PHI195905060.shtml

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

May 5, 1935: Dizzy Homers Then Strikes Out The Babe In Boston

     On May 5, 1935, Dizzy Dean and the Cardinals faced Babe Ruth's Braves in Boston, and beat them 7-0. It was the first time during a regular season the two legends of the game would face off, which led to a crowd of more than 30,000 packing into the stands of Braves Field.  Dean walked Ruth in the first, then in the second he launched a home run into the left field stands that flew right over Ruth's head. By the time the top of the second was over the Cardinals had Braves hurler Ed Brandt to the showers and were up 6-0. The next time The Babe came to the plate was in the fourth inning, and ole Dizzy struck him out. The day after this ballgame, Bill King, a writer for the Associated Press  wrote "with a wide grin on his face, Dizzy Dean waved his outfielders back to the fence and grooved a fast third strike on Babe Ruth today." Ruth followed the strikeout with a ground out in the sixth, before being pulled in the seventh. Dizzy had won the battle.

     The meeting between Dean and Ruth had a great buildup, as Dizzy had made a few comments the day that Ruth jumped over to the Boston Braves after spending the last 15 seasons in the Bronx. Dean said he resented the move, and that Ruth should have stayed in New York, rather than jump at a possible managerial job with the Braves. Dizzy also said that Ruth would be "just another out" for him and his brother, which stirred the proverbial pot. When sportswriters told Ruth what Dizzy said he refused to believe it. One day later, Dean retracted the statement saying he wished Ruth the best unless he was facing the Cardinals. Dean was more upset over the possibility that Bill Mckechnie would be replaced as manager of the Braves in favor of Ruth. After hearing his former skipper would be working as the club's General Manager he became more favorable of the move, and noted it would help draw more fans to National League ballparks.
   
     Ruth inked a deal with the Braves  the same day the Yankees released him. Part of the deal with the Braves was a front office position and what the famed slugger believed was going to be a shot at managing the club. However, that never came to fruition.It became apparent that Ruth would not end up manager which led to an early retirement. Ruth never did get to revenge the loss to Dean, however, he did go out in a blaze of glory with a three home run day against the Pittsburgh Pirates on the 25th of May. Eight days later the era of The Great Bambino came to a close.

     When this game took place Babe Ruth was 40 years old. His days had come and gone. Still yet, they were some of the greatest days the game of baseball has ever seen. Dizzy Dean was 25 years old, and was being deemed by sports writers the new face of baseball. He was coming off a 30 win campaign that ended with a World Series title. Dizzy locked down 28 more wins in '35, and another 24 in '36 before his career took a turn with injuries. He broke his toe in the All Star game in 1937, which would prove to be the beginning of the end for Dizzy's career on a major league diamond.

    While they never met on the diamond again, The Babe did get a little bit of revenge in January of  '36 by beating Dizzy on the golf course. I would imagine the conversations that they had were priceless. In the years that followed Father Time knocked on Dizzy's door just like he had Ruth's. When Ruth called it quits he dreamed of managing. That never came to be. Dean on the other hand found a broadcast booth where he entertained fans for many years. Dizzy called games for the Cardinals, Browns, Yankees, Braves, as well as a variety of National Telecasts. Dean called his last game in 1968. He spent 27 years in the booth. There is a good chance that during those 27 years he told the story on air about the day he struck out The Great Bambino.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BSN/BSN193505050.shtml

I really enjoyed the piece about Babe Ruth's bittersweet bow out in 1935: http://www.thisgreatgame.com/1935-baseball-history.html

It does not paint the prettiest picture, however, we must look at a much larger picture when it comes to Babe Ruth. 1935 was simply a chapter in one of the greatest baseball tales that has ever been told.
Check out Ruth's SABR bio here:http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/9dcdd01c

A special thanks goes out to Bruce over at Baseball by BSmile for the photo that was featured with the article above. He is just one of many friends I have made that share a love for the game and its rich history. Check out his Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/BaseballByBSmile?fref=ts or  find him on twitter at: https://twitter.com/BSmile Thanks again Bruce, and as you always say to me, Cheers!

Monday, May 4, 2015

May 4, 1901: The Ballpark Goes Up In Flames

     On May 4, 1901, disaster struck in St. Louis, as a discarded cigar lit the grandstands on fire at League Park. The fire broke out in the bottom of the ninth with the Cardinals looking to break up a 4-4 tie with the visiting Cincinnati Reds, however, this game would come to a sudden and dramatic end that had fans jumping over the wall, rather than the ball flying over it. Luckily, there were no major injuries. However, the ballpark was a shell of its former self, as it was assessed $30,000 in damage had been caused. Today that $30,000 would equate to nearly $850,000.

     The ballpark that sat at Vandeventer and Natural Bridge was the home of the team from 1893 to 1920. It was a largely wooden structure, as were many ballparks of the day, so they were susceptible to fire. The fire on that day in 1901 was the second time the park had burned. The first time came on April 16, 1898 when Chris Von der Ahe owned the club. The 1898 fire was far more disastrous, as panic struck, which led to at least 100 injuries and 1 death.

     As mentioned before all of those in attendance escaped the 1901 blaze without injury. Although, the owner of the Reds, John T. Brush was nearly trapped in Stanley Robison's private box. Brush suffered from rheumatism, which left him without the use of his legs. While the fans were jumping over the wall onto the field, Mr. Brush had to make his way up the stairs as the structure burned around him. Considering the magnitude of this blaze it was a miracle that no one was injured.

     As the fans, players, and owners made their way to safety the fire department arrived and battled the flames. They had a battle on their hands with it being a windy day in St. Louis. Before the firefighters could get control of the blaze flames had spread across the street to a racetrack known as the Jockey Club. Meanwhile, a row of streetcars had gathered outside of the park in anticipation of the game's end. As the ballpark burned it was said the cars were forced to drive through a wall of flames, scorching the operators of the cars. The Jockey Club was saved, however, the ballpark was almost completely destroyed by the time the firemen could douse the flames.

     When the blaze of 1898 happened Chris Von der Ahe did not have insurance, which led him to
scrambling to rebuild the park on the same day that the fire happened. All of the Cardinals players pitched in on that effort, so they could play a game the next day. On the other hand, Stanley Robison did carry insurance, which would help get the park rebuilt at a rapid rate.

     The Cardinals played one game at Sportsman's Park on May 5th, which had housed the Cardinals from 1882 to 1892. The park had been converted into a fairgrounds that featured a track, and was a year away from being converted back to a ballpark to house the American League Browns. This led to a diamond being laid out quickly inside of the track, which was hardly big enough for a baseball diamond. This led to a special set of ground rules, as a great deal of the crowd of more than 6,000 were put behind ropes in the outfield. One of the ground rules was that any ball hit into the crowd would be ruled a double, so what would normally a routine fly ball ended up in the crowd ended up a double. The Sporting News said the general opinion of that game being played under those conditions was a mistake. However the show must go on, so by the time it was in the books the Reds won 7-5, before the Cardinals embarked on a road trip that lasted nearly a month.

    The road trip gave Robison ample time to rebuild a structure that could at least be used for games. The team returned to St. Louis on June 3, 1901 to play in the park that had looked like it may have been completely lost just a few weeks before. There was still a ways to go until the park was complete, however, it was usable. The building commissioner in the city would only grant permits to rebuild if the club used fire retardant materials, and put a distance between the three new structures that were built in order to avoid the spreading of flames if another fire struck the park.  An article in the Sporting News said that those in charge of the club in 1898 ordered lumbered while the fire was still burning, so they wanted to make sure to not repeat the mistakes that had been made after the first rebuild.

     The days of wooden ballparks went to the wayside as time marched on, as steel and concrete became the material of choice for modern ballparks. Sportsman's Park was rebuilt an opened in 1902  for the American League's Browns. Stanley Robison eventually did invest in steel and concrete for the grandstands, before he passed away in 1911. His niece Helene Britton took over the club, and ran it until it was sold in 1917 to a group of investors that included Sam Breadon. Just three years later, with the ballpark in need of major renovations, Breadon and company made arrangements with the Browns to share the site at Grand and Dodier.

     The park that was known as League Park became nothing more than a memory as time marched on. However, there had been 27 years of baseball played there and it would be a memory that is still preserved in the tales that came within its confines. Including the tales of the fires that became a part of the history of the club that has proven time and time again they can be knocked down, but they will get back up.

The site where League Park stood is now the home of Beaumont High School. If you would like to read more about the park check this out: http://sabr.org/bioproj/park/88929e79  The park was also known as The New Sportsman's Park, Robison Field, and Cardinal Field.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

May 3, 1931: The Birds Win With an Extra-Inning Squeeze Play

      On May 3, 1931, Cardinals shortstop Charlie Gelbert squeezed in the winning run with a bunt in the bottom of 11th in a 5-4 win over the Cubs at Sportsman's Park. The winning run was the first Redbird run since they had scored four in the first and ran the Cubs starting pitcher Donie Busch before he even recorded an out. Jakie May took over for the Baby Bears and did an admirable job by going six innings while allowing just two hits, before lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh. Sheriff Blake took over for May and did not skip a beat, as he only allowed one hit until what the Chicago Tribune called "a fatal rally in the eleventh." Before that fatal rally took place Gabby Hartnett took the Cardinals starter Flint Rhem deep in the fifth with a two-run shot, then in the seventh the Cubs capitalized on an error and a key hit to plate two more and tie the ballgame. That only set the stage for the fatal rally. The rally began with Frankie Frisch singling to open the 11th. Frisch moved over to third on a Jim Bottomley single, and moments later Gelbert executed the bunt perfectly to win it. The 35,892 on hand had broke an attendance record as they witnessed the red hot Cards sweep the Cubs right out of town.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN193105030.shtml

Saturday, May 2, 2015

May 2, 1882: The Organization Starts Things Off With a Winner

     On May 2, 1882, the first game in the history of the Cardinals organization was played. The club was then known as the St. Louis Brown Stockings, and those Brown Stockings started things off right with a 9-7 victory over the Louisville Eclipse in front of a home crowd. While an actual game account is hard to come by, I did locate a blurb in The Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette that had an inning-by-inning box score, which at the very least painted a picture of that game. The Brown Stocking surged out the gate, scoring six runs in the first four innings, and found themselves with a comfortable 9-2 lead before the Louisville club began a comeback by scoring a run in the seventh, then two more in the eighth, and two more in the ninth, before the Brown Stockings held onto to victory #1.

     The 1882 club went 37-43.  Here is what the first lineup looked like: Jack Gleason 3B, Bill Gleason SS, Oscar Walker CF, Charlie Comiskey 1B, Bill Smiley 2B, Sleeper Sullivan C, Ned Cuthbert LF, Jumbo McGinnis P, George Seward RF. McGinnis was the club's first 20 game winner, as he posted a 25-18 record on the season. The man they called Jumbo started 45 of the Brown Stockings and completed 43 of them. Bill Gleason led the team with a .288 average, as well as 11 doubles, and 6 triples. The club's first home run hitter was Oscar Walker who hit 7 in that inaugural season.

     Regardless of personal stats, every man on that roster was a part of something special. They laid the foundation. It was the foundation for the team we know and love, and it was the foundation for a nation: Cardinal Nation. I'm glad I'm a member.

The game was played by a far different set of rules in 1882. I have looked into 19th century baseball and it is interesting to say the least. This is an absolutely great website that can give you insight into the game and how it all began: http://www.19cbaseball.com/

Take a look at the first club's stats:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/STL/1882.shtml

Friday, May 1, 2015

May 1, 1934: Ripper Comes Through In The Clutch

     On May 1, 1934, Ripper Collins powered the Cardinals past the Reds with two late inning blasts that led the club to a 3-2 victory in St. Louis. If anyone ever tells you there is no such thing as clutch tell them to take a look at this game. The Birds had their backs against the wall down 1-0 in the ninth when Collins finally got to and parked one in the seats to tie it up and send it to extras. The wind was taken out of the Cardinals sails in the top of the 11th, as the Reds pushed a run in. Once again their backs were against the wall, and once again Collins would come through with a long ball to tie it up. He was followed by a double by Bill Delancey, then Burgess Whitehead knocked him in with a game winning single.

     Collins hit 35 home runs for the Cardinals in that Championship season, which led the National League. He provided a punch to a lineup that would forever be immortalized as the Gashouse Gang. Collins spent six years in the Mound City, and was a part of two World Championship winners with his first coming in his rookie year in 1931. At the end of his six seasons in St. Louis, Collins had carried a .297 average, hit 106 home runs, and knocked in 516 runs. Following the '36 season he was dealt to Chicago in a package deal that brought the club Lon Warneke.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN193405010.shtml