On June 11, 1917, first baseman Mike Gonzalez ended a three hour affair in the fifteenth inning at Sportsman's Park, by stealing home to give the Cardinals a dramatic 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Bill Doak started for the Birds, and looked rough in the first, as the Phillies picked up four runs to start things off. Doak put that inning behind him quickly, and went the rest of the distance, striking out 10 men in the process. The Cardinals put a run on the board in the fourth, then three more in the sixth. None other than Rogers Hornsby led the offensive charge, as he went 4 for 6 and scored twice. Like Doak, Philly's starter Joe Oeschger settled down after his rough innings, and sailed into extra innings matching his counterpart pitch by pitch until Gonzalez made his break to win the ballgame.
That game winning play was setup when Oechger surrendered a leadoff double to Gonzalez, who ended up on third when Dots Miller was retired on a groundout. The most feared batsman of the day, Rogers Hornsby was then walked, before Gozalez made his game-winning dash for home while Oeschger was in his windup. A reported 3,000 fans strolled through the gates that day. It is probably safe to say that a few fans may have made their way home or elsewhere by the time that Gonzalez scored the run that counted the most. Those that stayed witnessed a rare treat, which has been long considered the most exciting play in baseball. The only thing better than stealing home, is stealing home in walkoff fashion. In essence it is stealing a win.
The Cuban born, Gonzalez spent parts of 17 years in the big leagues as a player, which began in 1912. After hanging up the cleats in 1932, he became a valuable and respected coach for the Championship winning Gashouse Gang in 1934. In 1938, Gonzalez became the first Cuban born manager in the history of major league baseball. Albeit on a temporary basis. He had another short stint as manager in 1940. To date there have been seven Cuban born men to manage at the major league level. Mark Tomasik over at Retrosimba.com wrote a great piece about Gonzalez's managerial days. You could check that out here: http://retrosimba.com/2014/12/19/how-mike-gonzalez-became-1st-cuban-manager-in-majors/ It is well worth the read.
Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN191706110.shtml
Have a great day Cardinal Nation.