The nine doubles hit by St. Louis on July 21, 2012, rates as a more impressive feat than the club-record 13 doubles the Cardinals collected in a game against the same opponent 81 years earlier.
Seven Cardinals accounted for the nine doubles in St. Louis’ 12-0 victory over the Cubs at Busch Stadium III. Pinch-hitter Allen Craig and third baseman David Freese each hit two. First baseman Lance Berkman, left fielder Matt Holliday, right fielder Carlos Beltran, second baseman Skip Schumaker and center fielder Jon Jay had one apiece. Boxscore
Those were the most doubles hit in a game by the Cardinals since they had 13 against the Cubs on July 12, 1931.
All of the doubles in this year’s game were legitimate, meaning none were aided by any unusual circumstances. That wasn’t the case in 1931.
On the morning of July 12, 1931, baseball fever was high in St. Louis. The Cardinals were in first place in the National League, five games ahead of the Giants. Their main rival, the Cubs, were in town for a Sunday doubleheader at Sportsman’s Park. An additional draw was Rogers Hornsby, the former Cardinals standout who had become player-manager of the Cubs.
Wrote The Sporting News in its July 18 edition:
The park, with fewer than 35,000 seats, was inadequate to accommodate all who wanted to see the struggle and shortly after daybreak the eager customers began to arrive at the park. The gates were opened at 9 o’clock and long before noon every unreserved seat in the park was occupied and the spectators were standing in the aisles.
With insufficient security to manage the growing wave of arrivals, ballpark and team officials lost control of the situation and spectators pressed toward the outfield gates in confusion.
The Sporting News reported:
When the gates in the bleacher and pavilion walls were opened, the customers avalanched out into the field like invading hordes. There were no police or guards to herd them into position and they spilled all over the field. An attempt was made to herd the fans back to the walls, but it was hopeless.
Reported the Associated Press: Umpires appealed to the crowd to move back. Finally, a police detail arrived and aided in the work.
The opener of the doubleheader began with thousands of people standing in the outfield. The overflow, according to The Sporting News, was deepest in right field “about 70 feet beyond first base and extending through center field, not more than 150 feet back of second base and across over (to) the left foul line, perhaps 100 feet beyond third base.”
Official attendance was 45,715. That exceeded by 7,419 the previous regular-season record crowd for a Cardinals home date (against the Giants on May 20, 1928).
The doubleheader was played, The Sporting News opined, “under unspeakable conditions.” Uncatchable balls hit into the outfield crowd were declared ground-rule doubles.
The Cubs won the opener, 7-5, overcoming a 3-2 Cardinals lead by scoring five runs in the seventh, three on left fielder Hack Wilson’s home run off Bill Hallahan. The Cubs hit five doubles; the Cardinals, four.
Wrote The Sporting News: Conditions for that first game were bad enough, but they were excellent compared to those that prevailed during the second contest.
The Cardinals and Cubs combined for 23 doubles in the second game. That remains the major-league record for most doubles hit by both teams in one game. The Cardinals won, 17-13.
All of the doubles were official, though most were tainted. Wrote The Sporting News:
Pop flies that good infielders could have caught dropped in the crowd for doubles and the two games were more like county fair exhibitions than major league contests. In the two games, there were 32 doubles and perhaps six of the two-baggers were legitimate.
Seven players accounted for the Cardinals’ 13 doubles in Game 2. First baseman Rip Collins and catcher Gus Mancuso hit three apiece. Left fielder Chick Hafey and second baseman Frankie Frisch each hit two. Right fielder George Watkins, third baseman Andy High and pinch-hitter Ernie Orsatti contributed one each.
The Cubs got doubles from shortstop Woody English and catcher Gabby Hartnett (each with theee), second baseman Footsie Blair (two) and third baseman Rogers Hornsby and pinch-hitter Les Bell (one apiece). Boxscore
The 1931 Cardinals would finish as the major-league leaders in doubles, with 353. The Cubs were second at 340.