Monday, June 1, 2015

June 1, 1943: Harry The Hat Ends a Wild One With a Walk Off

     On June 1, 1943, Harry Walker crushed a Rube Melton pitch in the bottom of the twelfth that sailed over his brother Dixie's head in right field at Sportsman's Park to give the Cardinals a dramatic 11-9 victory. The walk off was the lone walk off blast of Harry The Hat's big league career. As you can tell by the score it was a wild one at the ole ballpark, although, just 2,347 fans were in the seats, and who knows how many of them hung around until the bomb slammed the door on those Bums from Brooklyn.

     The two clubs bunched up 35 hits, with 20 of those belonging to the Cardinals. An article in the Schenectady Gazette called it a "titanic struggle" and there was no game up to that point in the season that could be compared to it. A pennant race was heating up and games like this one would help decide a victor as the teams sought to take hold of the National League flag.

     Nine different pitchers took to the mound in the contest. Howie Pollett got the nod for the Redbirds, while Ed Head got the call for the Dodgers. Head was given a two run cushion in the top of the second, but gave up five runs in the second and was yanked after an inning and a third. Pollett gave up two runs in the fourth, which led to him being yanked with the score 5-4 Cardinals. Neither bullpen appeared to be up the task on this day. On the Cardinals side of things Howie Krist surrendered a pair of runs in the sixth, then Murry Dickson gave up another in the seventh to give the Dodgers a 7-5 lead, but the Birds grabbed a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning with a two RBI single by Ray Sanders to make it 7-7.

     Stan The Man Musial did his best to put it the books with a two run home run off of Bobo Newsom to make it 9-7. However, the seesaw went right back the other way with a two out Brooklyn rally in the ninth. It started off with Red Munger walking former Cardinal Ducky Medwick, then he surrendered a triple to Dolp Camilli, before Billy Herman tied it right back up with a single. While a game like this can drive a person nuts on some days, just remember that everything that went into it set the stage for a finish to be remembered.

     Harry Brecheen took over on the mound in the tenth and was able to hold the Dodgers at bay, while Newsom stayed on the mound through the eleventh and did the same to the Redbirds. Rube Melton was called on after after Newsom was pinch hit for in the top of the twelfth. Melton retired Brecheen who was set to pitch another frame if need be, before giving up a single to Lou Klein. Then came Harry the Hat, who may have made his brother's hat nearly fall off as he watched the ball sail over his head onto the roof of the right field pavilion.  Harry was a walk off hero.

     The game brought the Cardinals within a half game of the National League lead. They would stay right within striking distance until early July then ran away from the entire pack through the month of July, as they went onto repeat as National League Champions. That pennant winning ballclub did fall four games to one in the Fall Classic against the Yankees, however, the 105 win season was a great year of baseball in St. Louis. Harry Walker and his teammates celebrated as Champions in 1944 and 1946. He was also a member of the '42 championship club. That core of players that formed those pennant winners had to be some fun to watch. They had a lot of fight in them just like the Redbirds we watch today.

Check out the box score here:

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