Thursday, June 9, 2016

June 9, 1980: Herzog's First Win As The Redbird's Skipper

     On June 9, 1980, Whitey Herzog secured his first win as the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals thanks to a tenth inning three run blast by George Hendrick in Atlanta.

     The Cardinals had led 5-0 in the contest, but the Braves scored a run in the sixth, three more in the seventh, then tied the ballgame in the ninth. It all just set the table for Hendrick's heroics, which came with Keith Hernandez and Ted Simmons aboard in that fateful tenth. Gene Garber had just taken over on the mound for the Braves, and Hendricks was the first batter he faced. Hendrick's got a hold of a changeup that ended up a souvenir as it sailed over the wall at Fulton County Stadium.

     In the bottom of the tenth Herzog called on lefty Kim Seaman to get left handed hitting first baseman Chris Chambliss out, but the move did not work as Chambliss got on with a single. The White Rat then called on George Frazier to get the job done, and after allowing a walk Frazier did exactly that. He induced Bob Horner into a double play, then struck Jeff Burroughs out looking to end it. It was the first of 822 wins for Herzog, while sitting at the end of the Cardinals bench. Only Tony LaRussa (1,408 and Red Schoendienst 1,021) have more.

     While Whitey had immediate success that day, the club was still in a transitional period. Ken Boyer had started the season as the manager. He was fired the day before that contest in between a doubleheader in Montreal. Jack Krol managed the second of the two games before it was announced that Herzog would be the skipper.  It is safe to say that many of the players were not happy with the change right when it happened. Under Boyer they had posted and 18-33 record, which led to the decision to make the move.

     Herzog went 38-35 as skipper before handing the reins to Red Schoendienst on August 29th. He had taken over as General Manager and realized that he needed to focus on that role. After briefly considering hiring another field manager, Herzog made the decision that he would do both  jobs after the season ended. He did one helluva job too, building the club that won the World Series in 1982, as well as the club's that won the National League Pennant in 1985 and 1987. His accomplishments will always be held in high regard in St. Louis, and he will forever be known by baseball fans everywhere as one of the immortal bunch who has a plaque in Cooperstown, New York. That honor was bestowed upon him in 2010.

Check out the box score here:

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