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In a 1954 series against the Cardinals, Hank Aaron hit his first and second big-league home runs, solidifying his status with the Braves and launching him on a path toward breaking Babe Ruth’s most storied record.

musial_aaronSixty years ago, Aaron, 20, was a Braves rookie outfielder. Six games into the 1954 season, Aaron was struggling, batting .217 with no home runs and no RBI.

As the Braves entered a three-game series against the Cardinals at St. Louis, media speculation was rampant that Aaron might be benched whenever outfielder Bill Bruton recovered from a viral infection and returned to the lineup.

Aaron ended that talk with a strong series at St. Louis, hitting .500 (8-for-16) with a pair of home runs and three RBI. That performance lifted Aaron’s overall batting average to .333 and propelled him on to a solid rookie season (.280 batting average, 131 hits in 122 games, 27 doubles, 13 home runs and 69 RBI.).

Victim No. 1

In the opener of the Braves-Cardinals series on April 23, 1954, Aaron, batting sixth and playing right field, was 3-for-7 with two runs scored and two RBI in Milwaukee’s 7-5 victory in 14 innings.

In the sixth, with the Cardinals ahead, 4-2, Aaron hit the first of his 755 big-league home runs, a solo shot off starter Vic Raschi. (Aaron would hit .615, 8-for-13, with two home runs and seven RBI in his career against Raschi.)

The Braves tied the score with a run in the ninth. Each team scored in the 13th.

In the 14th, with Cot Deal pitching for St. Louis, Andy Pafko singled with one out. Aaron singled, moving Pafko to second. Joe Presko relieved and the first batter he faced, Johnny Logan, reached on an error by shortstop Solly Hemus, loading the bases. Jim Pendleton, pinch-hitting for pitcher Dave Jolly, singled, scoring Pafko and Aaron. Boxscore

Two days later, on April 25, Aaron hit his second career home run, a solo blast in the fifth inning off starter Stu Miller, tying the score at 1-1. Aaron was 5-for-6 in a game won by the Cardinals, 7-6, in 12 innings. The Cardinals’ right fielder, Stan Musial, was 4-for-6 with a home run. Boxscore

Powerful wrists

In his book “Stan Musial: The Man’s Own Story” (1964, Doubleday), Musial wrote of Aaron, “One of the best hitters I ever saw … He has tremendous wrist action.”

In choosing his all-time National League outfield, Musial put Aaron in right, Willie Mays in center and Duke Snider in left. The one weakness Musial noticed in Aaron was “the slider bothered him enough to cause him to lose patience and often swing more wildly than he probably intended.”

Aaron hit 91 career home runs against the Cardinals. Only the Reds (97) and Dodgers (95) yielded more home runs to him.

The Cardinals pitcher who gave up the most home runs to Aaron was a fellow Hall of Famer, Bob Gibson. Aaron hit eight home runs off Gibson, but batted just .215 (35-for-163) against the Cardinals ace. Aaron had more strikeouts (32) than RBI (26) versus Gibson.

Aaron’s first home run off Gibson on July 3, 1962, was career No. 272 Boxscore and his last home run off Gibson on June 14, 1974, was career No. 724. Boxscore

In the book “Sixty Feet, Six Inches” (2009, Anchor), Gibson said of Aaron, “The man did not miss a fastball … The worst pitch in baseball is the changeup slider, but I’d throw Aaron that changeup slider and he’d be out on that front foot and hit rockets, two hops to the shortstop. All of our shortstops took balls in the chest off the bat of Aaron. They’d go, ‘Damn, Gibby.’ I’d say, ‘Hey, this is the way I get him out. He’s going to knock you over, so be ready for it.’ “

Previously: Hank Aaron and the home run that wasn’t vs. Cardinals

When 17-year-old Tim McCarver made his big-league debut with the Cardinals in September 1959, the everyday catcher he hoped to replace someday was an all-star with a powerful arm and a reputation for handling a pitching staff well.

hal_r_smithThough his Cardinals career wasn’t the caliber of successors such as McCarver, Ted Simmons and Yadier Molina, Hal Smith was regarded as one of the best catchers in the National League when he played for St. Louis.

“Hal Smith was a fair hitter and great defensive catcher,” McCarver said in the book “We Played The Game” (1994, Hyperion).

Smith, 82, died April 12, 2014, in his native Arkansas.

In the 1950s and 1960s, there were two players named Hal Smith in the major leagues and both were catchers.

Harold Wayne Smith, known as Hal, played for the Orioles, Athletics, Pirates, Colt .45s and Reds from 1955-64 and hit a three-run home run for Pittsburgh against the Yankees in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.

Harold Raymond Smith, also known as Hal, played for the Cardinals from 1956-61 and briefly for the Pirates in 1965.

“I liked when Hal Smith caught me,” said Tom Cheney, who pitched for the Cardinals in 1957 and 1959. “He was one of the best catchers in baseball. We were in synch … Vets like Smith really knew the hitters and you could depend on them.”

Taught by the best

After six seasons (1949-55) in the Cardinals’ minor-league system, including two at Omaha under manager George Kissell, Smith debuted with St. Louis in 1956. He established himself as an all-star in his second season, 1957, by hitting .279, ranking fourth in assists among National League catchers and committing just five errors in 795 innings. (Smith did lead the league in passed balls, primarily because the Cardinals had knuckleball specialist Hoyt Wilhelm.)

On May 8, 1957, Smith was 3-for-5 with 6 RBI, including a two-run home run, in the Cardinals’ 13-4 victory over the Giants at New York. Boxscore

According to The Sporting News, Smith fell into disfavor with Cardinals manager Fred Hutchinson early in 1958 for being overweight and having a sore arm.

When Solly Hemus replaced Huchinson for the 1959 season, he had Smith and Gene Green compete in spring training for the starting job. Smith won the role and earned the respect of his manager.

“You just can’t give enough credit to Hal Smith for the pitching improvement (of the Cardinals),” Hemus told The Sporting News in April 1959. “He takes charge out there and quickly gains the confidence of his pitchers.

“Defensively, I’ll rate Smitty right up with Del Crandall of Milwaukee. With that strong, accurate arm of his, Smitty isn’t going to let many runners steal on him this season. He can hit .220 or .230 and be my regular catcher.”

Smith hit .270 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI for the 1959 Cardinals and earned all-star status for his all-around play.

Slugging for Sharon

On May 9, 1959, Smith hit two home runs _ a three-run shot off Glen Hobbie and a two-run shot off Joe Schaffernoth _ in the Cardinals’ 11-1 victory over the Cubs at St. Louis. Boxscore

According to The Sporting News, Smith “wasn’t even ticketed to start the game because he and his wife earlier were forced to rush daughter Sharon to DePaul Hospital.”

It was feared Sharon had a kidney ailment that would require surgery. When it was discovered the girl had a minor kidney infection and no surgery was required, Smith told Hemus he was ready to play and Hemus inserted Smith into the lineup. Relieved to learn of his daughter’s improved health, Smith responded with the only two-homer game of his big-league career.

Smith led National League catchers in highest percentage of runners caught attempting to steal in both 1959 and 1960. He threw out 32 of 76 attempted base stealers (42 percent) in 1959 and 34 of 66 (52 percent) in 1960.

In 1962, Smith became a coach on the staff of Cardinals manager Johnny Keane. The next year, McCarver, 21, replaced Gene Oliver as the Cardinals’ everyday catcher and helped them to three pennants and two World Series championships.

Cardinals connections helped Smith continue his coaching career. He coached for the 1965-67 Pirates staff of manager Harry Walker, who was a Cardinals coach from 1959-62.

After coaching for the 1968-69 Reds under manager Dave Bristol (the Reds then were run by former Cardinals general manager Bob Howsam), Smith was a coach for the 1976-77 Brewers staff of manager Alex Grammas, his teammate with the 1956 and 1959-61 Cardinals. Smith then returned to the Cardinals and was a scout for them for several years.

Previously: George Kissell, Cardinals inspired Joe Torre to be a manager

In one of their worst deals, the Cardinals paid $75,000 and gave up a trio of players for a pitcher who netted them two outs.

memo_lunaIgnoring the Cardinals’ directive to stop pitching during the winter, left-hander Memo Luna, the ERA leader of the Pacific Coast League in 1953, injured his arm, appeared in one game for St. Louis, failed to complete an inning and never played in the big leagues again.

Sixty years ago, on April 20, 1954, Guillermo Romero “Memo” Luna made his big-league debut as the Cardinals’ starter against the Reds at St. Louis. In the first inning, Luna yielded two runs on two doubles, two walks and a sacrifice fly. He was lifted with two outs and dispatched to the Cardinals’ Class AAA Rochester club. Boxscore

Though he continued to pitch in the minor leagues until 1961, Memo Luna never returned to the majors.

His big-league career totals: 0-1 record, 27.00 ERA, 0.2 innings, 2 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 6 batters faced.

Super southpaw

Seven months earlier, on Sept. 23, 1953, the Cardinals acquired Luna from San Diego for $75,000 and players to be named. They eventually sent pitchers Cliff Chambers and John Romonosky and outfielder Harry Elliott to San Diego, completing the deal.

At the time, Luna, 23, seemed worth the price. He had a 17-12 record and a league-best 2.67 ERA with 16 complete games for San Diego in 1953. Jack Bliss, a catcher for the 1908-1912 Cardinals, had watched Luna at San Diego and told Cardinals manager Eddie Stanky, “He’s got exceptional control and a good curve.”

Cardinals scouts also checked him out and were impressed by Luna’s knuckleball and slider.

That fall, Luna pitched in the Cuban League for Almendares and manager Bobby Bragan. The Cardinals had granted permission with the understanding Luna would quit around Dec. 1, The Sporting News reported.

Luna posted a 4-1 record in his first five decisions for Almendares. The Sporting News wrote that Luna “has shown remarkable poise and control, plus a fine knuckler.”

After Luna lost his next two decisions as the Dec. 1 deadline loomed, the Cardinals suggested he leave the Cuban League and rest his arm before reporting to spring training in February. Luna obliged, went from Cuba to St. Louis, passed a physical examination and went home to his native Mexico.

Worn down

Instead of resting, though, Luna pitched in the Veracruz League in Mexico without the Cardinals’ knowledge. On Feb. 19, 1954, pitching for the Mexico City Reds against Aztecas, Luna struck out a batter in the third inning and grabbed his left elbow in pain.

According to The Sporting News, Luna stayed in the game until its completion, yielding five runs and nine hits, and “was throwing with only half speed after the injury.” He earned the win in an 8-5 Mexico City victory.

Luna reported to Cardinals spring training camp in Florida, complaining of a sore arm.

“We asked Luna to quit pitching Dec. 1, but we have no way of controlling what a man does back in his home country,” said Stanky.

In spring training, Luna failed to impress. He gave up three runs in two innings to the Phillies and surrendered a two-run, game-winning home run to the Reds’ Gus Bell.

Still, having paid a high price for him, the Cardinals put Luna on the Opening Day roster.

He got the start in the Cardinals’ sixth game of the season _ and never got another chance with them again.

Previously: Why Cardinals thought they had an ace in Vic Raschi

Two years after his professional baseball debut at the Class C level of the minor leagues, Tom Alston was the Opening Day first baseman for the Cardinals. Making that leap in such a short time would be a challenge for any prospect. Alston had the additional pressure of being the first black person to play for the Cardinals.

tom_alstonSixty years ago, on April 13, 1954, Thomas Edison Alston broke the Cardinals’ color barrier, batting sixth and playing first base against the Cubs at St. Louis.

Seven seasons after Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers, the Cardinals became the 10th of the 16 major-league teams to integrate.

Alston, 28, was the 14th black player in the Cardinals’ organization, but the only one on the big-league roster. (Among the other blacks in the Cardinals’ system in 1954 were pitchers Bill Greason, Brooks Lawrence and John Wyatt. All eventually would pitch in the big leagues.)

Rapid rise

Alston’s rise from baseball novice to Cardinals pioneer was fast and unexpected. After serving in the Navy from 1945-47, Alston enrolled at North Carolina A&T in his native Greensboro and earned a bachelor of science degree in physical education and social sciences. It was while in college that Alston, 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, first played organized baseball.

In 1952, he broke into professional baseball with Porterville, Calif., of the Class C Southwest International League, and hit .353 in 54 games. That caught the attention of the San Diego club of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League.

Alston joined San Diego midway through the 1952 season and hit .244 in 78 games.

In 1953, Alston put together a stellar season for San Diego. He had 207 hits in 180 games, with 101 runs scored, 23 home runs, 101 RBI and a .297 batting average. Cardinals scouts gave Alston rave reviews.

On Jan. 26, 1954, the Cardinals sent first baseman Dick Sisler, pitcher Eddie Erautt and $100,000 to San Diego for Alston. San Diego manager Lefty O’Doul called Alston “a great prospect who can field as good as any first baseman in the big leagues.”

“Alston looks like he’s going to be a great hitter, too,” O’Doul told The Sporting News.

Said Cardinals owner August Busch Jr.: “When we purchased the Cardinals, I promised there would be no racial discrimination. However, Alston was not purchased because of his race. Our scouts and manager Eddie Stanky believe he is a great prospect. While he may need more experience, we didn’t want him to slip away from us.”

Bill Starr, president of the San Diego club, offered to cut the cash portion of the deal to $75,000 if the Cardinals would wait until 1955 to take Alston, according to the Los Angeles Daily Mirror. But the Cardinals wanted Alston for 1954. The incumbent at first base was Steve Bilko, who hit 21 home runs for the 1953 Cardinals but also led the National League in striking out (125 times). The Cardinals used spring training in 1954 as a competition between Alston and Bilko for the first base job.

“I think we have a real ballplayer in this colored boy,” Stanky said to The Sporting News in March 1954.

Said Alston: “They treat me here just the same as any other ballplayer and that’s how I want to be treated.”

Major leaguer

Stanky declared he’d platoon Alston (a left-handed batter) and Bilko (a right-handed batter). But Alston got the Opening Day start against Cubs left-hander Paul Minner.

“I guess I’ve come a long way in a short time,” Alston said to The Sporting News. “I guess I came up like a real rocket.”

Alston went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and committed an error in his debut game. Boxscore

In his next game, April 17, 1954, at Chicago, Alston went hitless in his first four at-bats. In the eighth, he led off with a home run, his first big-league hit, against Cubs reliever Jim Brosnan. Boxscore

The next day, April 18, Alston got his second hit, a pinch-hit, three-run homer off left-hander Jim Davis that lifted the Cardinals to a 6-4 triumph. Boxscore

On April 30, the Cardinals sent Bilko to the Cubs. Alston was the everyday first baseman.

In a doubleheader against the Giants on May 2, Alston was 5-for-6 with 5 RBI, an inside-the-park home run and 3 walks. His performance was overshadowed that day, however, by teammate Stan Musial, who hit 5 home runs with 9 RBI. Game 1 boxscore Game 2 boxscore

In The Sporting News, Bob Broeg wrote of Alston’s inside-the-park home run: “His speed enabled him to circle the bases easily after Willie Mays misjudged his long wind-blown drive to left-center.”

Slowed by slump

Alston hit .301 (37-for-123) in May and was at .285 overall on May 30, but he slumped in June, enduring a 2-for-27 stretch and batting .181 (15-for-83) for the month. He had just 7 RBI in his last 42 games.

On June 30, the Cardinals sent Alston to Class AAA Rochester and called up another rookie, Joe Cunningham, to replace him at first base.

Alston hit .210 in Cardinals home games; .280 on the road. He batted .268 against right-handers; .197 versus left-handers. His overall numbers for the 1954 Cardinals: 60 hits in 66 games, 14 doubles, 4 home runs, 34 RBI and a .246 batting average. He made 62 starts at first base.

Said Cardinals general manager Dick Meyer: “Alston wasn’t ready … Eddie (Stanky) and I still have a very high regard for Alston as a prospect.”

After replacing Alston, Cunningham hit .284 with 11 home runs in 85 games for the 1954 Cardinals. The next season, the Cardinals moved Musial from the outfield to first base.

Alston made brief appearances with the Cardinals in 1955, 1956 and 1957. In 91 big-league games, all with St. Louis, Alston had 66 hits and a .244 batting average.

Ten years after Alston’s big-league debut, the Cardinals would become World Series champions, building a reputation as a franchise that embraced diversity with players such as Bob Gibson, Bill White, Curt Flood, Lou Brock and Julian Javier.

Underappreciated, Tom Alston took the first steps toward making that possible.

Previously: The debut of Bill Greason, first black Cardinals pitcher

Greensboro newspaper: Illness curtailed Tom Alston’s career with Cardinals

St. Louis newspaper: In remembering Jackie Robinson, remember Tom Alston, too

Uncertain whether outfielder Enos Slaughter could adjust to being a role player for them after 13 seasons as a standout, the Cardinals decided it was better to trade him.

enos_slaughter3In hindsight, the deal benefitted both Slaughter and the Cardinals. At the time, though, the trade was considered stunning and controversial. Caught off-guard, Slaughter and teammate Stan Musial broke into tears.

Sixty years ago, on April 11, 1954, the Cardinals sent Slaughter to the Yankees for three prospects who hadn’t played in the major leagues: outfielders Bill Virdon and Emil Tellinger and pitcher Mel Wright.

The trade occurred two weeks before Slaughter turned 38. He was the Cardinals team captain, a 10-time all-star who, at the time, held the team record for games played (1,820) and RBI (1,148). Slaughter had joined the Cardinals in 1938 and helped them to a World Series championship in 1942. After three years in the service, he returned to the Cardinals in 1946 and led them to another World Series title.

In 13 seasons with the Cardinals, Slaughter batted .305 with 2,064 hits and an on-base percentage of .384. Known for his all-out hustle, he twice led the National League in triples (17 in 1942 and 13 in 1949). In 1942, he was the league leader in hits (188) and total bases (292). He also had led the league in RBI (130 in 1946) and doubles (52 in 1939).

At 37, he still was a force. In 143 games for the 1953 Cardinals, Slaughter produced 143 hits, 34 doubles, 89 RBI, a .291 batting average and .395 on-base percentage as the everyday right fielder.

Youth movement

Slaughter went to spring training camp in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1954 expecting to be a regular again in an outfield with Musial and Rip Repulski. Late in spring training, though, Cardinals manager Eddie Stanky told The Sporting News, “I’ll be satisfied if we can get 75 to 90 games out of the captain.”

Reports surfaced that Slaughter was grousing about the possibility of becoming a role player. Whether that was the normal grumbling of a proud veteran who didn’t want to concede playing time, or whether it was a tone of dark dissent that threatened to divide the team isn’t certain.

The Cardinals, though, weren’t taking any chances that Slaughter’s part-time playing status could create rifts. They wanted rookie Wally Moon to be the starting center fielder, moving Musial from left to right and Repulski from center to left.

After an exhibition game, general manager Dick Meyer and Stanky informed Slaughter of the trade. Slaughter stunned Meyer and Stanky when he began to sob.

“It’s the greatest shock I ever had in my life,” Slaughter told The Sporting News of the trade.

Crying game

In his book “Stan Musial: The Man’s Own Story” (1964, Doubleday), Musial wrote, “In the clubhouse, when the rest of us got the word, we were stunned. Dressing even more slowly than usual, I was the last one out. At the lot where I parked my car … I found Slaughter, still wiping his eyes. We looked at each other _ and both burst into tears.”

In justifying the trade, Stanky said to The Sporting News: “A player like Slaughter just can’t stand sitting on a bench.”

According to newspaper reports, the trade was the most unpopular with Cardinals fans since St. Louis traded Rogers Hornsby to the Giants after winning the 1926 World Series championship.

St. Louis writers reflected the mood of their readers. Among the tributes to Slaughter:

_ Bob Broeg in The Sporting News: “There never was a more determined competitor or hustler than the last of the old Gashouse Gang _ a hard runner, brilliant outfielder, clutch hitter.”

_ Bob Burnes in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat: “Slaughter was more than a ballplayer, as any Cardinals fan could tell you. He was an institution _ not only among the fans but among the players as well.”

_ J. Roy Stockton in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Enos was the best competitor the club had. He still was a standout for batting skill and hustle.”

Desperate move?

The Yankees, who had an outfield of Gene Woodling in left, Mickey Mantle in center and Hank Bauer in right in 1954, were delighted with the deal for Slaughter. “We gave up practically nothing for him, so why not take him?” Yankees co-owner Del Webb told The Sporting News.

But other baseball executives saw Slaughter as a fading talent. The Sporting News polled the seven National League general managers besides Meyer and each said he wasn’t interested in pursuing a deal with the Cardinals for Slaughter.

Buzzy Bavasi of the Dodgers, who were planning to break in rookie Sandy Amoros into an outfield with Duke Snider and Carl Furillo, said, “Personally, I wouldn’t take Slaughter over Amoros, would you?”

In response to the Yankees, Frank Lane, general manager of the American League White Sox, scoffed, “You can’t pack Old Man Time on your back and still be a great ballplayer … It was a desperate move by them.”

Actually, it was a good move for the Cardinals and Yankees.

Moon hit a home run in his first at-bat for the Cardinals on Opening Day and went on to win the 1954 National League Rookie of the Year Award. Primarily the Cardinals’ starting center fielder that year, he had 193 hits in 151 games, with 106 runs scored, 18 steals, a .304 batting average and a .371 on-base percentage.

The next year, Virdon came up to the Cardinals and won the 1955 National League Rookie of the Year Award.

Slaughter, meanwhile, adjusted well to being a role player with the Yankees. He hit .355 (11-for-31) with 12 walks as a pinch-hitter for the 1954 Yankees. He played in the major leagues until 1959 and appeared in three World Series (1956, 1957 and 1958) for the Yankees, earning election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Previously: Cardinals rookie Enos Slaughter set torrid extra-hit pace

Embarrassed by their inability to stop the Dodgers from stealing bases and convinced they needed to find a solution in order to win a pennant, the 1964 Cardinals turned to an unlikely source for help: Bob Uecker.

bob_uecker2The second-string catcher couldn’t slow Dodgers speedsters, but he did provide a defensive upgrade to a 1964 Cardinals club that won its first pennant and World Series championship in 18 years.

On April 9, 1964, the Cardinals traded outfielder Gary Kolb and catcher Jim Coker to the Braves for Uecker.

Even then, 50 years ago, at age 29, well before he became known as a broadcaster and for his comedy roles on television and in the movies, Uecker had a reputation throughout baseball as a funnyman.

Wrote The Sporting News of the deal: “Those who know him regard new Cardinals catcher Bob Uecker as a good-humor man.”

“Yes, I guess you can call me a stand-up type of comic,” Uecker said to St. Louis reporter Jack Herman.

The Cardinals, though, were serious about finding a way to overtake the Dodgers.

Armed for defense

In 1963, the Cardinals finished in second place at 93-69, six games behind the National League champion Dodgers. The Cardinals were 6-12 against the 1963 Dodgers. Stolen bases were a significant reason for that.

The Dodgers were successful on 27 of 33 stolen base attempts (82 percent) against the 1963 Cardinals.

“Our games with them have been so close that, if we have a catcher who can throw well, they might think twice about running,” Cardinals manager Johnny Keane said.

Tim McCarver became the starting catcher for the 1963 Cardinals after Gene Oliver was traded to the Braves in June that year. The primary backup was Carl Sawatski.

McCarver nailed 38 percent of runners (28 of 73) attempting to steal in 1963. Oliver threw out 32 percent (9 of 28) for St. Louis and Sawatski nabbed 30 percent (7 of 23).

When Sawatski retired after the 1963 season, the Cardinals went looking for a backup for McCarver, 22.

Uecker spent seven seasons in the Braves’ minor-league system. The Braves had groomed Joe Torre to replace veteran Del Crandall as their everyday catcher.

In stints with the 1962 and ’63 Braves, Uecker impressed with his arm. He caught 5 of 7 runners attempting to steal in 1962 and 1 of 2 in 1963.

“We got Uecker to help Timmy and make our catching solid,” Keane said. “We’re certainly not vulnerable behind the plate anymore.”

Tough test

The 1964 Cardinals didn’t have long to test their catching against the Dodgers. They opened the season at Los Angeles on April 14. With left-hander Sandy Koufax starting for the Dodgers, Keane put Uecker, a right-handed batter, in the Opening Day lineup rather than McCarver, a left-handed batter. (Uecker, the prankster, posed in a left-handed batting stance for his 1965 Topps baseball card that is pictured here.)

Uecker went 0-for-2 at the plate and 0-for-3 in attempting to prevent stolen bases that night. Willie Davis, Maury Wills and Jim Gilliam swiped bases against Uecker and starting pitcher Ernie Broglio.

Wrote The Sporting News: “Uecker’s arm was not at fault. The Dodgers speedsters just got too much of a jump on Ernie Broglio and the catcher’s strong throws were a little too late.” Boxscore

The 1964 Cardinals were unsuccessful in preventing the Dodgers from stealing bases. The Dodgers had 11 steals in 14 attempts (78 percent) against the 1964 Cardinals.

Overall, Uecker threw out 38 percent (8 of 21) of all attempted base stealers in 1964. He was 0-for-5 against Dodgers attempting to steal; 8-for-16 (50 percent) against the rest of the National League. He hit just .198 (21 hits, 1 home run, 6 RBI), but his defense and his clubhouse popularity enabled him to stick with the Cardinals throughout the season.

The Phillies and Reds, not the Dodgers, turned out to be the Cardinals’ main competition for the crown. Each finished a game behind St. Louis. The Dodgers were 80-82, in sixth place, 13 games behind the Cardinals.

Previously: How Bob Uecker helped the Cardinals win 1964 title

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