Friday, April 22, 2016

April 22, 1926: Hafey's Tenth Inning Blast Sinks The Pirates Ship

     On April 22, 1926, Chick Hafey's tenth inning two run blast led the way to a 5-3 Cardinals win in Pittsburgh. It was a special day for the Pirates organization, as they hoisted the Championship Flag at Forbes Field with an estimated 35,000 fans witnessing the event. However, both clubs committed crucial errors, which led to extra innings, which set up Hafey's game winning home run in the tenth. Rogers Hornsby was aboard when Hafey came to the dish and the player/manager was more than happy when he watched the sphere sail over the wall to give the Cardinals the final lead of the day. Vic Keen, who started the ballgame for St. Louis, finished it has well. The hurler's stat line was not the prettiest, allowing ten hits, while striking out one. However, he kept his club in it, then finished off the defending champions, before celebrating the victory with his teammates.

     Chick Hafey hit .271 with four home runs during that '26 season. He played in just 78 games during the regular season. However, he did go onto play in each game of the World Series that followed. Of those four home runs he hit that season, it may be safe to say that the one he hit on that day in late April was the biggest blast for him during the campaign. The team won 89 games, which was good enough to secure a National League title by just two games, so that win like each and every win during that season was crucial.

     Despite battling poor eyesight and sinus problems, Hafey's best days were ahead of him. He had come up from Branch Rickey's farm system in 1924, and was still developing into a player that would find a place in Baseball's Hall of Fame. In the years to come, Hafey would find a true power stroke, hitting the double-digit mark in home runs from 1927 to 1931. When he wasn't hitting home runs, he was just flat out hitting, as he hit .329 or better six times during that same time frame. Hafey helped the Cardinals win three more National League pennants, as well as their second World Championship title in 1931. That '31 season was perhaps his greatest season, as he won the batting title with a .349 average. It was the closest batting title race in the history of the game, as Hafey took it in his last at bat of the season, beating out Jim Bottomley and Bill Terry.

     A contract dispute led to Hafey's departure from St. Louis in the Spring of '32. He ended up being shipped to Cincinnati where he finished out his career. It was said that he exited the game in 1937 because he could see night baseball on the horizon and those vision problems coupled with the sinus problems would not bode well for him, so he hung ip the ole cleats. Before doing so the man they called Chick had made a name for himself, with some calling him the second best right-handed hitter of his day, with only Rogers Hornsby ahead of him. Forever a Cardinal, Chick Hafey found his spot in Cooperstown in 1971 after being selected for enshrinement by a Veteran's Committee. His days would forever be remembered. One of those days that would be remembered came in Pittsburgh in 1926, as Hafey strolled to the dish in the tenth, took a home run cut, then trotted around the bases, before meeting Hornsby at the plate.

Check out the box score here:

If you would like to know more about Chick Hafey you can read his SABR bio here:

Chick Hafey's stats:

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