Archive for the ‘Hitters’ Category

A central figure in a trade unpopular with many Cardinals loyalists, Al Dark responded with a hitting display that endeared him to St. Louis fans and gained him satisfaction against his former team.

al_darkThis post is dedicated to Alvin Ralph Dark, who died on Nov. 13, 2014, at 92.

A three-time all-star shortstop with the Giants and 1948 National League Rookie of the Year with the Braves, Dark played for 14 seasons in the major leagues. He hit a combined .323 in 16 World Series games for the Braves (1948) and Giants (1951 and 1954). Dark also managed four big-league clubs, winning a pennant with the 1962 Giants and a World Series championship with the 1974 Athletics.

Daring deal

On June 14, 1956, St. Louis general manager Frank Lane upset Cardinals fans when he traded popular second baseman Red Schoendienst, a nine-time all-star, to the Giants. The key player the Cardinals received in return was Dark.

The full trade was Schoendienst, outfielder Jackie Brandt, catcher Bill Sarni and pitchers Dick Littlefield and Gordon Jones to the Giants for Dark, outfielder Whitey Lockman, catcher Ray Katt and pitcher Don Liddle.

Lane made the trade because Don Blasingame, out of position at shortstop, was better suited for second base. To open a spot for Blasingame at second, Lane decided to deal Schoendienst and acquire a shortstop in return. Lane had been trying since the previous winter to convince the Giants to deal Dark to the Cardinals.

“The Giants wanted a second baseman, the Cardinals a shortstop and everybody was pleased except the Cardinals fans, who, understandably, loved Red. He was the finest second baseman in the game,” Dark said in his book “When in Doubt, Fire the Manager.”

Said Lane to The Sporting News: “We let Schoendienst go with great reluctance, naturally, but to get a star like Dark you’ve got to give a star.”

Cardinals fans swiftly expressed their displeasure. “The switchboard at Busch Stadium lighted up like a Christmas tree and stayed that way for more than two hours June 14,” wrote The Sporting News.

Let there be light

Fortunately for Lane and the Cardinals, Dark, 34, had a torrid start to his Cardinals career, hitting .366 in his first 28 games for St. Louis.

On July 12, the Giants visited St. Louis for the first time since the trade and opened a three-game series with the Cardinals.

Dark was spectacular. He had nine hits in 11 at-bats in the three games. He drove in seven runs in the series and sparked St. Louis to a sweep.

Schoendienst, in his first Giants appearance in St. Louis, had three hits in 11 at-bats and walked twice.

Despite their continued affection for Schoendienst, Cardinals fans responded warmly to Dark’s performance, wrote St. Louis journalist Bob Broeg. “Dark, since his acquisition by the Cardinals, has played inspirationally and spectacularly,” Broeg reported.

Super series

In the first game of the Giants-Cardinals series on July 12, Dark drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly off reliever Marv Grissom in the seventh, snapping a 3-3 tie in a game the Cardinals would win, 5-3. Dark was 2-for-3 and scored a run. Boxscore

Dark drove in the winning run again in Game 2 of the series on July 13. With the score tied at 5-5 in the eighth, Dark hit a two-run double off reliever Hoyt Wilhelm, lifting the Cardinals to a 7-5 victory. Dark was 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and three RBI. He got his four hits against four different pitchers. Boxscore

In the series finale on July 14, Dark was 3-for-3 with three RBI against starter Al Worthington in the Cardinals’ 5-2 triumph. Boxscore

Dark had seven hits in his last seven at-bats of the series.

“He’s a polished professional, a real leader who leads without being ostentatious,” Lane said of Dark.

Dark delivers

Dark hit .286 in 100 games for the 1956 Cardinals.

In 1957, his only full season with St. Louis, Dark batted .290 in 140 games, including 134 starts at shortstop. One of his best performances that season occurred on July 24 when he tripled twice _ first, off Sal Maglie, and then off Sandy Koufax _ and scored twice in a 3-0 Cardinals victory over the Dodgers. Boxscore

By 1958, Dark, 36, still could hit consistently but had lost fielding range. The Cardinals had a replacement, shortstop Eddie Kasko, on the roster. Dark hit .297 in 18 games for the 1958 Cardinals before he was traded to the Cubs on May 20 for pitcher Jim Brosnan.

Dark had 306 hits in 258 games over three seasons for the Cardinals and batted .289. He produced four hits in a game seven times for St. Louis.

Previously: Kolten Wong, Don Blasingame: Similar St. Louis 2nd sackers

Previously: Ken Boyer converted from infield to center field

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Five former Cardinals are among the 10 finalists on the Golden Era ballot under consideration for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

boyer_davisFormer Cardinals players Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Jim Kaat and Minnie Minoso and former Cardinals general manager Bob Howsam are being reviewed by a 16-person committee. The other five on the ballot are former players Gil Hodges, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant and Maury Wills.

A candidate must receive 75 percent of the votes (12 of 16) to earn election. Results of the voting will be announced Dec. 8, 2014. Induction ceremonies are scheduled for July 26, 2015, at Cooperstown, N.Y.

The Golden Era committee members are Hall of Famers Jim Bunning, Rod Carew, Pat Gillick, Ferguson Jenkins, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, Ozzie Smith and Don Sutton; baseball executives Jim Frey, David Glass, Roland Hemond and Bob Watson; and media members Steve Hirdt, Dick Kaegel, Phil Pepe and Tracy Ringolsby.

Tommy Davis, 75, and Jerry Reuss, 65, are two former long-time players qualified to offer first-hand insights into the Hall of Fame credentials of the Golden Era candidates. The Golden Era category considers performances from 1947-72.

Davis played 18 seasons in the big leagues (1959-76), primarily as an outfielder, and was the National League batting champion in both 1962 and 1963 with the Dodgers. No Dodgers player has led the league in hitting since. Overall, Davis hit .294 in his major-league career.

Reuss pitched 22 seasons in the big leagues (1969-90). His 220 wins rank 75th all-time and put Reuss ahead of several Hall of Famers, including Jesse Haines (210), Don Drysdale (209), Hal Newhouser (207) and Bob Lemon (207), and modern-day candidates such as Pedro Martinez (219), Curt Schilling (216) and John Smoltz (213).

During a visit on Nov. 11, 2014, to Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., I met Davis and Reuss and asked them to assess the players on the Golden Era ballot. Here is what they said about the four candidates who played for the Cardinals:

Dick Allen

Allen is on the Golden Era ballot for the first time.

Primarily a first baseman and third baseman, Allen was 1964 National League Rookie of the Year with the Phillies and 1972 American League Most Valuable Player with the White Sox. He led the American League in home runs in 1972 (37) and 1974 (32) and was a league leader in extra-base hits three times.

Dubbed “the bad boy of baseball,” Allen hit .292 with 1,848 hits, 351 home runs and 1,119 RBI in 15 major-league seasons (1963-77).

In 1970, his lone Cardinals season, Allen primarily played first base and hit .279 with 34 homers and 101 RBI in 122 games. Allen and Reuss were teammates that year.

_ Tommy Davis on Dick Allen: “Great hitter. He had a 40-ounce bat that he used. He couldn’t pull the ball, but he could go about 400 feet, 450, to right-center. Easily.”

_ Jerry Reuss on Dick Allen: “Tremendous power. Good teammate. Personally, I like him. Hall of Fame chances: No.”

Ken Boyer

Boyer received fewer than three votes when Golden Era candidates were first considered in 2011. The committee elected his counterpart, third baseman Ron Santo, even though Boyer was comparable to Santo in every way.

Boyer was the 1964 National League Most Valuable Player with the Cardinals and he won five Gold Gloves as a St. Louis third baseman. Boyer ranked in the top 10 in RBI in the NL seven times and in the top 10 in total bases six times.

In 15 major-league seasons (1955-69), Boyer batted .287 with 2,143 hits, 282 home runs and 1,141 RBI.

He played for the Cardinals for 11 years and hit .293 for them with 1,855 hits and 1,001 RBI in 1,667 games.

Boyer and Davis were teammates on the 1967 Mets and 1968 White Sox. Boyer coached the 1971 Cardinals team that included Reuss as a starting pitcher.

_ Tommy Davis on Ken Boyer: “He was consistent at third base. Good hitter. His defense was so good it was ridiculous.”

_ Jerry Reuss on Ken Boyer: “That’s a tough one. He had leadership capabilities. I don’t know how he stacked up against other third basemen. He’s a maybe, but more toward the no side.”

Jim Kaat

Kaat received 10 votes, just two shy of election, from the Golden Era committee in 2011.

A three-time 20-game winner, Kaat ranks 31st all-time in career wins (283). Only seven other left-handers have more. Kaat had 15 consecutive seasons (1962-76) with double-figure wins. He was the 1962 American League leader in shutouts (five) with the Twins and the 1966 AL leader in wins (25).

Kaat spent his last four big-league seasons (1980-83) with the Cardinals, winning 19, saving 10 and appearing in four of the seven games of the 1982 World Series.

_ Tommy Davis on Jim Kaat: “He was sneaky. He knew how to pitch. He knew how to set you up. He was a tough left-hander.”

_ Jerry Reuss on Jim Kaat: “Yes for the Hall of Fame. He won 16 Gold Gloves. Enough said.”

Minnie Minoso

Minoso received strong support (nine votes) from the Golden Era committee in 2011.

The outfielder won three Gold Gloves (1957, 1959, 1960) and finished in the top 10 in the American League in hitting eight times. Minoso three times led the AL in triples and three times led the AL in stolen bases.

Playing primarily for the White Sox and Indians from 1951-64 (he appeared in nine games in 1949, three in 1976 and two, at age 54, in 1980), Minoso batted .298 with 1,963 hits, 186 home runs, 1,023 RBI and 205 stolen bases.

In 1962, his lone National League season, Minoso was plagued by injuries and hit .196 in 39 games for the Cardinals.

I didn’t ask Reuss about Minoso because the Cuban Comet’s last full big-league season was 1964 when Reuss was just 15.

_ Tommy Davis on Minnie Minoso: “Good outfielder. He could fly. He was already good when he got to the major leagues. He helped baseball as a pioneer for Cuban ballplayers and later as an ambassador for Chicago.”

Previously: Carlos Beltran follows a path first set by Richie Allen

Previously: If Ron Santo goes into Hall, Ken Boyer should, too

Previously: Jim Kaat interview: 1982 Cardinals were most close-knit club

Previously: Minnie Minoso: Hall of Fame candidate, Cardinals flop

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Jerry Reuss Banner

On Nov. 11, 2014, I visited the Dodgers Adult Baseball Camp at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., to seek out Jerry Reuss for an interview about his time as a pitcher with the Cardinals.

Dressed in a home white Dodgers uniform, Reuss, 65, was patient, thoughtful, articulate and polite.

He debuted with the Cardinals in September 1969 and pitched for them in 1970 and 1971, posting an overall 22-22 record before he was traded to the Astros in April 1972.

In a 22-year major-league career, primarily with the Dodgers (nine years) and Pirates (six years), Reuss was 220-191 with a 3.64 ERA. In 2014, he published a book “Bring in the Right-hander,” a delightful retrospective on his career. You can order an autographed copy at his Web site www.jerryreuss.com.

jerry_reuss2Q.: Two months after the Cardinals traded Steve Carlton, they traded you. It was first reported that you were traded because you were in a contract dispute with owner Gussie Busch. Later it comes out it was about your mustache. True?

Reuss: “It was about growing a mustache. Bob Broeg (a writer) had said something to that effect and I thought, ‘No, they wouldn’t be that concerned about that.’ I lived with that for 20 or 25 years.

“It wasn’t until the mid-90s when I was in St. Louis and I went to a ballgame and I saw Bing Devine, who was working as a scout. He had been the general manager of the Cardinals when I was traded. I said, ‘Bing, you got a minute?’ He said, ‘Yeah. Why don’t you sit down and we’ll talk.’ So I asked him about the deal. I figured enough time had passed that I could do that.

“He was more than happy to tell me. He said Mr. Busch at times would act on an impulse. This was one of those times. He insisted on me being traded because I had the mustache. Bing thought if given a little time he (Busch) would come to his senses and make a wise baseball decision rather than a personal decision.

“But he kept hammering about the mustache and would say, ‘Did you get rid of him yet? Why not?’ And the ultimatum was put like this: ‘If you don’t get rid of him, I’ll get rid of you and get somebody who will get rid of him.’ So when you’re faced with a situation like that, you do what has to be done.”

Q.: You still have a mustache and it has become something of a signature look for you…

Reuss: “Yeah. But when you look back about how that was the thinking in baseball in the early 70s and then just two or three years later baseball began to change with the times. Guys were coming in with long hair and beards. And you just wonder: What was the stink all about?

“So on the matter of just a little bit of facial hair _ you could barely see it _ people would ask, “Why didn’t you shave it?’ And I’d say, ‘There wasn’t a rule that the Cardinals had to be clean-shaven and be like a military situation. If it doesn’t bother anybody, if it’s not a rule, then what are we talking about here?’ “

Q.: Your last year with the Cardinals, 1971, was the year your teammate, Joe Torre, led the National League in hitting and RBI and won the MVP Award. Could you see then the leadership qualities that later would make him a Hall of Fame manager with the Yankees?

Reuss: “Oh, sure. Lights out. At that early age, I just wondered whether there were guys like that on every team.

“He was managing the club on the field. Red (manager Schoendienst) just stepped back and said, ‘Joe, you have a grasp of it. You take care of it. When you’re on the field, you see things that I don’t.’ And Joe, being wise enough and knowing his boundaries, would go to Red and say, ‘Would you consider this or would you consider that?’

“Sometimes there was a lineup that was put out and Joe would go to Red and say, ‘This player won’t say it to you but he’ll say it to me. You might want to give him a day off.’ And Red would say, ‘All right. Let’s do that.’ He’d make the lineup change. Joe was able to get those things from players and he did it only because it helped the club. It wasn’t anything personal with the player.

“You could see the leadership. I’ve never come across another player who was like him. There were a couple that had some of those qualities _ I understand Cincinnati had a few. (Johnny) Bench was one of those guys _ that when he spoke, everybody just said, ‘Let’s reconsider this.’ Joe was that way all the time. Joe was more far-reaching. You knew he would to be a manager.”

Q,: After leaving the Cardinals, you played for seven big-league teams. As a St. Louis native who began his career with the hometown team, did you ever hope to return to the Cardinals?

Reuss: “I never gave it a whole lot of thought. Once I got to Los Angeles (in 1979), I said, ‘This is home. This is where I want to be.’ It’s where I always wanted to play.

“Back in those days, it was one of the few grass fields. Lots of artificial turf then. My knees were feeling it. And then I became a ground ball pitcher and the infield I had behind me was particularly adept at playing at Dodger Stadium on the lawn.

“As a result, I had a good defensive ball club become a great defensive ball club. They got a lot of ground balls. That’s where my success was and that’s where I wanted to stay. When I was ready to change teams, I was past my prime. Rather than a lot of teams coming to me, I was going to them and just hoping for a chance.”

Q.: The player who had the most at-bats against you was

Reuss: “Pete Rose. Did you see what he hit against me?”

Q.: .244 in the regular season. (29-for-119).

Reuss: “I couldn’t believe that.”

Q.: What was your secret?

Reuss: “There was no secret. Pete hit me the same way he hit everybody else. It’s just that, when he hit the ball against me, more often it was right at somebody. Did you see the number of times he struck out against me? (9) He was making contact. He came up there swinging.”

Part 1: Jerry Reuss on Bob Gibson as a teammate: He was tough

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Bing Devine thought he had added the final piece to a championship contender when he acquired Gold Glove shortstop Ed Brinkman for the Cardinals. What the general manager didn’t know was that he had dealt for a shortstop who did better playing on grass and dirt rather than on artificial turf.

ed_brinkmanFor the Cardinals, who played their home games on artificial turf at Busch Stadium, the deal was a dud.

Forty years ago, on Nov. 18, 1974, the Cardinals, Tigers and Padres made a blockbuster trade. The Tigers sent Brinkman, outfielder Dick Sharon and pitcher Bob Strampe to the Padres for first baseman Nate Colbert. The Padres then swapped Brinkman and catcher Danny Breeden to the Cardinals for pitchers Sonny Siebert, Alan Foster and Rich Folkers.

Brinkman, who turned 33 three weeks after the deal, had won a Gold Glove Award two years earlier when he led American League shortstops in fielding percentage (.990), making just seven errors in 156 games for the 1972 Tigers. Brinkman played 72 consecutive games without an error that season. He was named an American League all-star in 1973.

The Cardinals had finished just 1.5 games behind the first-place Pirates in the National League East in 1974 with a starting shortstop, Mike Tyson, who made 30 errors in 143 games. Tyson also struggled to stay trim. The Sporting News described him as being “built more like a catcher than a shortstop. Barrel-chested and with a belly to match.”

Moving Tyson to a utility role and adding Brinkman to a starting infield of Keith Hernandez at first, Ted Sizemore at second and Ken Reitz at third appeared to strengthen the Cardinals’ defense and give them the piece they needed to catch the Pirates in 1975.

Positive vibes

In a story headlined “Bing Beams Over Brinkman,” Devine told The Sporting News, “We now have eight solid men in our starting lineup.”

The Sporting News agreed, calling Brinkman “the experienced shortstop the Cardinals long had been seeking.”

Said Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson: “We’re stronger at shortstop with Eddie Brinkman.”

Steady Eddie

Brinkman was a Cincinnati Western Hills High School teammate of Pete Rose. At 19, Brinkman debuted in the major leagues with the 1961 Senators. He joined the Tigers in October 1970 in the trade that sent pitcher Denny McLain to the Senators. With his steady defense, Brinkman helped Detroit win a division title in 1972.

Tigers general manager Jim Campbell called Brinkman “one of the finest professional players I’ve ever been around in my life.”

Detroit correspondent Jim Hawkins described Brinkman as “one of the best shortstops ever to wear a Detroit uniform.”

Good start

The early reviews about Brinkman with the Cardinals were encouraging. He asked for and was issued uniform No. 5 because he said it was the number closest to the No. 6 worn by two of his favorites, Stan Musial of the Cardinals and Al Kaline of the Tigers.

Brinkman hit .355 in spring training exhibition games for St. Louis. He produced RBI in five of six regular-season games from April 11 through April 18.

After 17 April games for the Cardinals, Brinkman was batting .283.

Plastic grass

Rather than solidify the shortstop position, though, Brinkman weakened it. Getting to balls on the lightning-quick artificial turf was far different than fielding on grass and dirt.

“The Cardinals quickly became disenchanted with Brinkman, who was accustomed to the real grass in the American League,” wrote The Sporting News.

Brinkman started 24 games at shortstop for the 1975 Cardinals and committed six errors, five on artificial turf.

Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst reinstated Tyson as the starting shortstop on May 5. Later that month, Mario Guerrero, acquired in April from the Red Sox, became the starter. Brinkman, who made three errors in seven May games, was relegated to the bench.

Devine, admitting he had erred but noting that there had been a robust market for the shortstop, said, “A lot of other people were fooled about Brinkman.”

Sent packing

On June 4, 1975, the Cardinals traded Brinkman and pitcher Tommy Moore to the Rangers for outfielder Willie Davis. Brinkman played one game for the Rangers, then was dealt to the Yankees for cash. (The Rangers needed the money to swing a deal with the Indians for pitcher Gaylord Perry.)

The 1975 Cardinals would finish tied for third in the National League East, 10.5 games behind the champion Pirates.

During spring training in 1976, the Yankees released Brinkman, ending his playing career.

Seven years later, in 1983, Brinkman became a coach under White Sox manager Tony La Russa, joining a staff that included Dave Duncan and Jim Leyland. Brinkman remained with the White Sox after Jim Fregosi replaced La Russa in June 1986. He coached until 1988 and then became a scout, working for the White Sox until he retired in 2000.

Previously: Think Pete Kozma was weak? Check out Mike Tyson

Previously: Cardinals betting Pete Kozma isn’t another Ray Busse

Previously: How Bee Bee Richard became Cardinals’ starting shortstop

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Paul Molitor is linked with Willie McGee and Darrell Porter as central figures in two of the most prominent plays in the 1982 World Series between the Brewers and Cardinals.

paul_molitorThirty-two years after he batted leadoff and played third base for the American League champion Brewers, Molitor was named manager of the Twins on Nov. 4, 2014.

Selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004 after a 21-year big-league career as a player for the Brewers, Blue Jays and Twins, Molitor had 3,319 hits, ranking 10th all-time.

In 1982, Molitor, along with Robin Yount, Cecil Cooper and Ted Simmons, played a prominent role in the Brewers winning their lone league championship.

Molitor then had a World Series versus the 1982 Cardinals that was both sensational and strange.

Here’s a look:

Hits record

Molitor became the first player to get five hits in a World Series game. After grounding out in the first inning, Molitor had five singles in his next five at-bats in Game 1 at St. Louis.

Only one other player, the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series, has had five hits in a World Series game. Boxscore

Molitor got his five hits in Game 1 off three pitchers: Bob Forsch (singles in the second, fourth and sixth), Dave LaPoint (single in the eighth) and Jeff Lahti (single in the ninth). Boxscore

“He’s a heck of a ballplayer,” Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog said to The Sporting News about Molitor. “But he had only one line drive. He had three infield singles and a broken-bat bloop. Nothing you can do to stop things like that.”

In the book “Where Have You Gone ’82 Brewers?,” Molitor said, “Five singles. Ozzie (Smith) dove and knocked down three of them at short and almost threw me out on two of them. It was a heck of a way to have your first World Series game unfold.”

Molitor and Yount (four hits in Game 1) were the first teammates to get four hits apiece in a World Series game since the Cardinals’ Joe Garagiola, Whitey Kurowski and Enos Slaughter each had four hits against the Red Sox in Game 4 of the 1946 World Series. Boxscore

Bashing at Busch

Molitor batted .355 (11-for-31) in the seven-game World Series in 1982.

Surprisingly, though, he hit .526 (10-for-19) in the four games at Busch Stadium in St. Louis and .083 (1-for-12) in the three games at County Stadium in Milwaukee.

After his 5-for-6 performance in Game 1, Molitor hit .240 (6-for-25) for the remainder of the World Series. When he grounded out to lead off Game 2, he missed a chance to tie Goose Goslin (1924 Senators) and Thurman Munson (1976) for the World Series record of hits in six consecutive at-bats.

Molitor was devastating when batting with runners in scoring position, hitting .714 (5-for-7) against the Cardinals.

Porter power

After the Brewers won Game 1, 10-0, at St. Louis, the Cardinals felt pressure to win Game 2 before heading to Milwaukee. In the eighth, the Cardinals scored a run, breaking a 4-4 tie.

Molitor led off the ninth against closer Bruce Sutter. In a matchup of future Hall of Famers, Molitor bunted for a single, increasing the pressure on Sutter and his catcher, Porter.

The next batter was another future Hall of Famer, Yount.

“I told Bruce to be sure to hold him (Molitor) close to the base because I figured they might either try a bunt or a steal,” Porter said to The Sporting News.

Brewers manager Harvey Kuenn called for a hit-and-run.

Said Porter: “I never thought they would try to hit and run.”

Sutter threw his signature pitch, the split-finger fastball. When thrown effectively, the ball dipped sharply into the dirt.

This time, Sutter made a mistake. The pitch stayed up, at shoulder level.

Yount, trying to hit the ball the opposite way to right field, swung and missed.

Porter fired a strike to second base and nailed Molitor on the botched hit-and-run attempt.

Sutter retired the next two batters and the Cardinals had their first World Series win since Game 4 of 1968. Boxscore

Robbed by McGee

In Game 3 at Milwaukee, Molitor led off the bottom of the first by smashing a Joaquin Andujar fastball into the teeth of a 16 mph wind in center field. McGee, the rookie center fielder, raced to the wall, 402 feet from home plate, climbed the canvas and made the catch.

Inspired, McGee went on to have one of the all-time best games in World Series lore, hitting two home runs, driving in four runs and making another leaping grab in the ninth to deprive Gorman Thomas of a two-run home run. Boxscore

Previously: George Hendrick influenced hitting style of John Mabry

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Performing an escape act on the sport’s grandest stage, the Cardinals were the first team to emerge victorious in a World Series that ended with the tying run on third base.

red_schoendienst9In Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, the Royals had the tying run (Alex Gordon) on third base with two outs in the ninth when Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner got Salvador Perez to pop out to third, clinching the title for San Francisco.

That was the fourth time a World Series had ended with the tying run on third base, according to Jacob Pomrenke of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).

The first time it happened was in Game 7 of the 1946 World Series between the Red Sox and Cardinals.

(The 1962 and 1992 World Series also ended with the tying run on third. In Game 7 in 1962, Willie McCovey of the Giants lined out to second with two outs in the ninth, stranding Matty Alou on third with the tying run against the Yankees. In the decisive Game 6 in 1992, Otis Nixon of the Braves bunted into a ground out to pitcher Mike Timlin with two outs in the 11th, stranding John Smoltz on third with the tying run against the Blue Jays.)

Nervous ninth

Game 7 of the 1946 World Series is best remembered for the daring dash by Enos Slaughter from first to home on a hit by Harry Walker that scored the decisive run in the eighth inning, earning the Cardinals their third World Series championship in five years. What often is overlooked is that the Red Sox nearly tied the score in the ninth.

Like fellow left-hander Bumgarner in 2014, the Cardinals’ Harry Brecheen was pitching in relief in Game 7 in 1946 after having achieved wins in two starts in the World Series.

Rudy York led off the Red Sox ninth with a single and Bobby Doerr followed with another single, advancing York to second. Red Sox manager Joe Cronin replaced York with pinch-runner Paul Campbell.

That brought to the plate Pinky Higgins, 37, a 14-year big-league veteran. In what would be his last major-league at-bat, Higgins grounded to third baseman Whitey Kurowski, who threw to shortstop Marty Marion to get the force out on Doerr at second base.

Campbell advanced to third on the play.

With one out, Roy Partee batted next. A backup catcher, Partee had hit .315 in 1946.

Brecheen got him to pop out to first baseman Stan Musial for the second out.

Brecheen vs. McBride

Cronin then sent Tom McBride, a right-handed batter, to pinch-hit for pitcher Earl Johnson.

McBride had hit .301 in 1946, including .333 against left-handers.

In the press box, some expected Cronin to use Don Gutteridge as a pinch-runner for Higgins at first base. Cronin, though, didn’t make the move.

Brecheen threw McBride “a good screwball.” McBride rapped it on the ground. Red Schoendienst, the second baseman, got to the ball and gloved it, but the ball rolled up his arm.

In his book “Red: A Baseball Life,” Schoendienst wrote, “Just as I went to field the ball, it took a crazy hop and I blocked the ball with my left shoulder. Luckily, I was able to trap it.”

Schoendienst kept his cool and flipped a low, underhand toss to Marion, who caught it just in time to nip Higgins at second base for the final out.

In his book “Stan Musial: The Man’s Own Story,” Musial told writer Bob Broeg, “Our hearts stood still” as the ball rolled up Schoendienst’s arm. “Red looked like a magician pulling a rabbit out of his sleeve when he finally flipped the ball to Marion,” said Musial.

$40,000 assist

In the St. Louis Star-Times, Sid Keener reported that Schoendienst’s toss beat Higgins to the bag “by no more than a step.”

Wrote Keener: “Cronin’s critics insist Gutteridge would have beaten the play at second,” enabling Campbell to score from third with the tying run.

McBride told biographer Jim Sargent of SABR, “The ball I hit was a low liner right by Brecheen’s left knee, and when it went by Harry, I thought I had a hit … But the second baseman, Schoendienst, made a good play on the ball. He didn’t catch it clean. The ball bounced up and looked as if it balanced on the web of his glove. He picked it off and threw to second base for a force out.”

Said Schoendienst: “People began to refer to that play as the $40,000 assist because the $40,000 was the approximate difference between the total shares for the winning team and the losing side.”  Boxscore

The play had another benefit to Schoendienst. He wanted to marry his girlfriend, Mary, but her grandfather, Patrick O’Reilly, said he wasn’t keen about a “German” joining the family.

Said Mary: “He was still not sure about Red until he made that play. After the ball hit him in the chest, then rolled up his arm, and he still made the play and we won the game, then my grandfather said, ‘You can marry him now.’ “

Previously: Think Buster Posey is good? How about Joe Garagiola?

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