Archive for the ‘Hitters’ Category

If Jedd Gyorko hits as well for the Cardinals as he did against them, St. Louis will have added a productive batter to its lineup.

jedd_gyorkoAcquired by the Cardinals from the Padres in a trade for outfielder Jon Jay on Dec. 8, 2015, Gyorko entered the 2016 season as a versatile infielder who can perform at second base, shortstop and third base.

His career batting average versus the Cardinals is .342 (25-for-73), with five home runs and 16 RBI in 20 games.

Two of Gyorko’s best games came against the Cardinals in 2014.

Here is a look at those performances:

Sweet swing

Batting sixth and playing second base, Gyorko was 3-for-5 with four RBI and two runs scored against the Cardinals in a 12-1 Padres victory at San Diego on July 30, 2014.

He got a hit apiece off three pitchers.

Gyorko began his barrage with a solo home run in the fourth inning off starter Joe Kelly.

“Pitches were up that should have been down,” Kelly told the Associated Press.

In the sixth, Gyorko singled off Carlos Martinez. An inning later, with the bases loaded and one out, Gyorko hit a three-run double off Seth Maness, giving San Diego a 9-1 lead.

‘It was probably our ugliest loss of the year,” said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

Gyorko had been activated two days earlier after a 44-day stint on the disabled list because of foot problems.

“It obviously feels good to swing the bat the way I wanted to,” Gyorko said. “It feels a lot like how I was swinging it there at the end of the year last year. It’s something to build on, but I still have a long way to go.” Boxscore

Grand game

Two weeks later, on Aug. 16, 2014, at St. Louis, Gyorko hit a grand slam, lifting the Padres to a 9-5 victory over the Cardinals.

Batting fifth and playing second base, Gyorko was 2-for-3 with five RBI, two runs scored and two walks.

In the third, Gyorko’s two-out, RBI-single off Shelby Miller scored Abraham Almonte from third base, sparking a four-run Padres inning and tying the score at 4-4.

Said Miller: “Unacceptable. Obviously, it doesn’t sit well with me. I should have done a better job of making pitches.”

The Cardinals led, 5-4, entering the seventh. With one out and the bases loaded, Gyorko connected on a 94-mph fastball from reliever Kevin Siegrist, launching a grand slam over the left field wall and giving the Padres an 8-5 lead.

“It was a fastball down and in,” Gyorko said. “It probably wasn’t a bad pitch. I just put a good swing on it.”

The home run was the 31st of Gyorko’s big-league career, moving him past Mark Loretta as the Padres’ all-time home run leader as a second baseman.

“That’s a credit to the guys hitting in front of me,” Gyorko told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Really, they are doing a great job of getting on base. I just have to capitalize more like tonight.”

The grand slam was the third of Gyorko’s big-league career and the only one yielded by Siegrist with the Cardinals. Boxscore

Afterward, Siegrist was demoted to the minor leagues and Martinez was recalled from Class AAA Memphis to replace him.

Said Matheny of Siegrist: “He feels physically strong, but there’s just something that’s a click off.”

Previously: Cards steals leader Jon Jay plays similar to Wally Moon

Previously: Jon Jay matched Curt Flood as flawless in center

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When Walt “No Neck” Williams played in the Cardinals’ system, he was hailed as the best hitter in the minor leagues and was said to have the potential to be the next Minnie Minoso.

walt_williamsThough he impressed the Cardinals, he never played for them at the major-league level. At the time, the Cardinals were stocked with premier outfielders such as Lou Brock and Curt Flood, with prospects such as Bobby Tolan waiting in reserve.

When the Cardnals acquired Roger Maris from the Yankees in December 1966, Williams was deemed expendable.

Fifty years ago, on Dec. 14, 1966, the Cardinals traded Williams and reliever Don Dennis to the White Sox for catcher Johnny Romano and minor-league pitcher Leland White.

Williams, 72, died Jan. 23, 2016, in Abilene, Texas, near his hometown of Brownwood. The story of how he joined the Cardinals’ organization and solidified himself as a quality hitter is presented here in tribute.

Rushed to majors

At 19, Williams signed with the Houston Colt .45s and was assigned to Class A. He achieved immediate success, batting .341 (143 hits in 105 games combined) for Durham and Modesto in 1963.

At spring training in 1964, Williams, 20, impressed the Colt .45s _ he nailed three runners at home with his outfield throws _ and he opened the 1964 big-league season with Houston.

Williams told The Sporting News it was during this time that someone in the Colt .45s front office gave him the nickname of “No Neck.”

At 5 feet 6 and 190 pounds, Williams was described by one writer as “built along the lines of a fireplug,” creating a perception that his head was touching his shoulders.

Overmatched, Williams was hitless in nine at-bats for the Colt .45s. He was placed on waivers in May 1964 and claimed by the Cardinals, who assigned him to Class A Winnipeg.

Coached by Cardinals

In the Cardinals’ system, Williams quickly re-established himself as a fierce hitter and elite prospect. He batted .318 (114 hits in 88 games) for manager Ron Plaza at Winnipeg.

After the season, the Cardinals sent Williams to the Florida Instructional League. His manager there was the respected instructor, George Kissell. Williams thrived, hitting .320 for the instructional league team.

In 1965, Williams was moved up a level to Class AA Tulsa. Playing for manager Vern Rapp, Williams hit safely in Tulsa’s first 18 games. He hit .418 (28-for-67) during that streak.

Williams finished the 1965 season with a .330 batting average (189 hits in 141 games), 36 stolen bases and 106 runs scored.

In 1966, Tulsa joined the Class AAA Pacific Coast League. Charlie Metro was manager. The Cardinals assigned Williams and two other top outfield prospects, Tolan and Ted Savage, to Tulsa.

Williams, batting leadoff and playing left field, had another stellar season with Tulsa. He led the league in batting average, hitting .330 (193 hits in 146 games) for the second consecutive season, and produced 54 doubles, 25 steals and 107 runs scored.

Change in plans

Cardinals general manager Bob Howsam and manager Red Schoendienst had considered promoting Williams to St. Louis during the 1966 season, The Sporting News reported. However, they opted to let him play at Tulsa, knowing he was unlikely to get many at-bats on a Cardinals club that featured starting outfielders Brock, Flood and Mike Shannon.

Based on his minor-league success, Williams was rated a top contender to win a spot with the 1967 Cardinals. That changed, however, on Dec. 8, 1966, when the Cardinals traded for Maris. The plan was to move Shannon to third base and start Maris in an outfield with Brock and Flood.

A week later, Williams was dealt to the White Sox.

“Williams should be a crowd pleaser (with Chicago),” Howsam said. “When you take a look at our outfield picture, you can see why we could afford to deal him.”

Hit man

The White Sox were ecstatic to acquire a prospect whom they expected would contend for the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 1967.

“We picked up the best hitter in the minor leagues,” said White Sox general manager Ed Short.

Comparisons were made to Minoso, an all-star outfielder who six times batted better than .300 for the White Sox.

“White Sox officials believe they may just have another Minnie Minoso in No Neck Williams,” The Sporting News gushed.

Les Moss, manager of the White Sox’s Class AAA Indianapolis team, had seen Williams play for Tulsa and said, “He’s the nearest thing to Minnie in his hustle, desire and aggressiveness that I’ve seen around anywhere. He’s no power hitter, but he can whack that ball. He’s an excellent leadoff man.”

Said Metro: “The White Sox got themselves a fine-looking prospect. He not only was the best hitter in the league, but he’s a pretty fair outfielder … He overcomes mistakes with his speed.”

No fooling around

Williams hit .358 in spring training for the 1967 White Sox, closing with 10 hits in his last 17 at-bats. He was named Opening Day starting left fielder by White Sox manager Eddie Stanky.

“He’s really an aggressive hitter,” Stanky said. “He doesn’t fool around up there at the plate. He attacks the ball. He’s one of the few players who can tie into a high pitch and whack it for a line drive.”

Williams, 23, hit .240 in 104 games as a White Sox rookie. He went on to play 10 years in the majors (with the Colt .45s, White Sox, Indians and Yankees), batting .270 overall. His best season was in 1969 when he hit .304 (143 hits in 135 games) for the White Sox and ranked third among AL right fielders in assists (with 10).

Neither of the players acquired by the Cardinals for Williams contributed much. Romano, a backup to catcher Tim McCarver, had slugged 15 home runs for the 1966 White Sox, but he hit .121 in 24 games for the 1967 Cardinals and was released after the season. White, a left-hander, never appeared in a big-league game for St. Louis.

With Brock, Flood and Maris in the outfield and Shannon at third base, the 1967 Cardinals won the National League pennant and World Series championship.

Previously: 2nd career as Cardinal was long, fruitful for Ted Savage

Previously: How Oscar Taveras connects to Bobby Tolan as Cardinals

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Deemed too expensive to be a reserve and not enough of a power hitter to remain the everyday left fielder, Bernard Gilkey no longer fit into the Cardinals’ plans.

bernard_gilkey3Looking to restock their farm system, the Cardinals were offered packages of prospects by the Mets, White Sox and Royals for Gilkey.

Twenty years ago, on Jan. 22, 1996, the Cardinals traded Gilkey, 29, to the Mets for three minor-league players: right-handed pitchers Eric Ludwick and Erik Hiljus and outfielder Yudith Ozorio.

In the short term, the deal had little impact on the Cardinals, even though Gilkey had a career year with the 1996 Mets. The Cardinals won the 1996 National League Central Division championship and qualified for the postseason for the first time since 1987.

In the long term, the trade hurt the Cardinals because they didn’t get the pitching help they needed. Neither Ludwick nor Hiljus could help a staff whose team ERA increased each year from 1997 through 1999, contributing to the Cardinals missing the playoffs in those seasons.

Hometown regular

Gilkey, a St. Louis native, debuted with the Cardinals in 1990, replaced Vince Coleman as the starting left fielder in 1991 and held the position through 1995.

For those six years, he batted .282 with 602 hits in 593 games, with an on-base percentage of .354. In 1993, his best Cardinals season, Gilkey batted .305 with 170 hits in 137 games, including 40 doubles, 16 home runs, 15 stolen bases and a .370 on-base percentage.

However, Gilkey never hit more than 17 home runs or produced more than 70 RBI in a season with St. Louis.

In December 1995, the Cardinals signed free-agent Ron Gant, 30, to a contract for five years and $25 million. Gant had three times hit 32 or more home runs with the Braves and twice had topped 100 RBI. He had driven in at least 80 in five consecutive seasons.

Money ball

Gilkey was paid $1.6 million in 1995, when he led NL left fielders in fielding percentage (.986) and batted .298 with 17 home runs, 69 RBI and a .358 on-base percentage.

Eligible for salary arbitration, Gilkey was seeking $3 million in 1996. The Cardinals offered $2.5 million. A settlement likely could be reached for $2.8 million, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Still, the Cardinals were looking to acquire a closer, either Dennis Eckersley of the Athletics or free-agent Gregg Olson. Trading Gilkey would help free up the money to make such a deal.

“The only reason we’d have to move Gilkey is because of money,” Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty said to Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch.

It’s business

Projecting a 1996 outfield of Gant in left, Ray Lankford in center and Brian Jordan in right, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa discussed the possibility of moving Gilkey to first base. “We were saying that, but I didn’t see that as an alternative,” Jocketty said. “That probably would have hurt us defensively.”

On the day he was traded, Gilkey said, “I’m not bitter. I understand business.”

He was, however, hurt by the rejection.

“Once they signed Ron Gant, I knew the opportunity for me playing in St. Louis was slim,” Gilkey said. “It’s kind of shocking to know that you’ve played with the St. Louis Cardinals through all the down times and you did whatever you could to help. All of a sudden, they turn into contenders and they send me on my way.”

Of the players acquired by the Cardinals, Ludwick, 24, projected to be the most promising. He had a 13-6 record and 3.31 ERA in 27 games for Mets farm teams in 1995. “We have excellent reports on him,” Jocketty said.

Hiljus, 23, was 10-8 with a 3.94 ERA in the minors in 1995. Ozorio, 21, batted .217 with 40 stolen bases in Class A.

The aftermath

Joining a revamped Mets outfield that included another former Cardinal, Lance Johnson, in center, Gilkey had a sensational 1996 season. He batted .317 with 181 hits in 153 games, including 44 doubles, 30 home runs, 117 RBI, 17 stolen bases and a .393 on-base percentage.

Gant hit .246 with 103 hits in 122 games, including 14 doubles, 30 home runs, 82 RBI, 13 stolen bases and a .359 on-base percentage for the 1996 Cardinals.

Though Gilkey outperformed Gant in 1996, the Cardinals finished 88-74 and reached the NL Championship Series. The Mets finished 71-91.

Neither Hiljus nor Ozorio would ever play for St. Louis. Both were out of the Cardinals’ organization after the 1997 season.

Ludwick, older brother of outfielder Ryan Ludwick, pitched well at Class AAA Louisville _ 2.83 ERA in 11 starts in 1996 and 2.92 ERA in 24 games in 1997 _ but flopped in two stints with the Cardinals. He was 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in six games for the 1996 Cardinals and 0-1 with a 9.45 ERA in five appearances for the 1997 Cardinals.

On July 31, 1997, the Cardinals traded Ludwick and pitchers T.J. Mathews and Blake Stein to the Athletics for first baseman Mark McGwire.

Previously: How Bernard Gilkey foiled an opponent’s masterpiece

Previously: How Bernard Gilkey spoiled Frank Castillo’s big moment

Previously: How Cardinals struck it rich with 1995 free-agent haul

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Fed up with contract hassles and uneasy with the prospect of playing for manager Eddie Dyer, Walker Cooper, the best catcher in the National League, wanted out of St. Louis. Seeing a surplus of suitors causing Cooper’s market value to skyrocket, Cardinals owner Sam Breadon was willing to accommodate him.

walker_cooper2Seventy years ago, on Jan. 5, 1946, the Cardinals sent Cooper to the Giants for $175,000.

The cash amount was the third-largest paid by a club to acquire a player, according to media reports at that time.

(In 1934, the Red Sox sent $250,000 and shortstop Lyn Lary to the Senators for shortstop Joe Cronin. In 1938, the Cubs gave $185,000, plus pitchers Curt Davis and Clyde Shoun and outfielder Tuck Stainback, to the Cardinals for pitcher Dizzy Dean.)

“I decided Cooper wasn’t satisfied here and would do better elsewhere,” Breadon said. “But get me right: Walker was a great player here and I consider him the greatest catcher in the majors since Bill Dickey of the Yankees was a young man.”

In the short term, the trade didn’t hurt the Cardinals. Without Cooper, they won the 1946 World Series championship.

In the long run, losing Cooper was a factor in the erosion of the Cardinals, who went 18 years before winning another World Series crown.

3-time all-star

Along with his brother Mort, a starting pitcher, Walker Cooper was a key player on Cardinals clubs that won three consecutive NL pennants and two World Series titles from 1942-44.

He was named an all-star catcher in each of those three seasons. His numbers:

_ 1942: Batted .281 with 32 doubles and 65 RBI. Ranked second among NL catchers in assists (62) and runners caught attempting to steal (58 percent). Batted .286 in the World Series.

_ 1943: Batted .318 with 30 doubles and 81 RBI. Caught 48 percent of runners attempting to steal. Batted .294 in the World Series.

_ 1944: Batted .317 with 25 doubles and 72 RBI. Caught 43 percent of runners attempting to steal. Batted .318 in the World Series.

Cooper also was touted for game-calling skills. “He’s the best fellow handling young pitchers I have ever seen,” said Coaker Triplett, a Cardinals outfielder from 1941-43.

Feuding with front office

The relationship between Cooper and the Cardinals soured, though, in 1945.

In spring training, Mort Cooper demanded a $15,000 contract. Breadon refused. In protest, Mort Cooper and Walker Cooper left camp and threatened to boycott the Cardinals’ opening series against the Cubs.

The brothers gave in and were with the club on Opening Day. Soon after, Walker Cooper was inducted into the Navy after playing four April games for the 1945 Cardinals. A month later, Mort Cooper was traded to the Braves.

While serving his Navy stint in 1945, Walker Cooper remained miffed at Cardinals management for the contract dispute and for dealing his brother.

Trade me

In October 1945, Walker Cooper called Breadon and requested a trade, the Cardinals owner told The Sporting News.

Cooper confirmed to the Associated Press that he had asked to be traded.

A month later, Cardinals manager Billy Southworth resigned and joined the Braves. Breadon replaced Southworth with Dyer. Cooper again contacted the Cardinals and “said he would rather not play under Dyer,” Breadon said.

Cooper’s problem with Dyer occurred when both were with the Cardinals’ Houston farm club during spring training in 1939. Cooper apparently clashed with Dyer, who had replaced Ira Smith as manager. Cooper was shipped to the Cardinals’ Asheville, N.C., affiliate.

“(Dyer) said there had been differences with Cooper in Houston, but he believed they could be ironed out,” Breadon said. “He felt a player didn’t have to like him personally if he played good ball for his team.”

Said Dyer: “I have always been able to get along with any ballplayer and I could have gotten along with Cooper, whom I consider the best catcher in baseball.”

In his book “Stan Musial: The Man’s Own Story,” Musial said, “Breadon said Coop didn’t want to play for Dyer, but the boss gave the persuasive manager no chance to talk to the catcher. The truth is, Mr. Breadon was annoyed at the Cooper boys for squabbling over salaries.”

Money talks

At the baseball winter meetings in December 1945, at least five clubs inquired about Cooper, with the Giants, Braves and Phillies making the most lucrative offers.

The Cardinals asked the Giants for $150,000 and three players. A few weeks later, the trade came together when the Giants offered to increase the cash amount to $175,000 if the Cardinals would drop their demand for players.

The transaction was announced three days before Cooper turned 31. It “kicked up more commotion among Polo Grounds customers than any deal since Frank Frisch was traded for Rogers Hornsby in 1926,” wrote The Sporting News.

Cooper was released from the Navy on April 2, 1946, and debuted with the Giants about two weeks later.

Looking back

His first season with New York was a dud. Cooper hit .268 with 46 RBI for a 1946 Giants team that finished in last place in the NL at 61-93. The 1946 Cardinals, using a platoon of Joe Garagiola and Del Rice at catcher, finished in first place at 98-58.

Cooper had an outstanding season for the 1947 Giants, hitting .305 with 35 home runs and 122 RBI. However, after he left the Cardinals, he never again played in a World Series.

After stints with the Reds, Braves, Pirates and Cubs, Cooper finished his career as a backup catcher for the 1956-57 Cardinals.

Meanwhile, neither Garagiola nor Rice performed at the level Cooper had for St. Louis.

In his book “Musial: From Stash to Stan the Man,” author James N. Giglio wrote, “Both Musial and (Enos) Slaughter rightly contended that the loss of Cooper cost the Redbirds several pennants.”

In choosing his all-time NL all-star team, Musial picked Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella “in a photo finish with Walker Cooper.”

Comparing the Cooper deal with the 1941 trade of St. Louis slugger Johnny Mize to the Giants, Musial said, “Big Coop’s sale by the Cardinals probably was even worse than the loss of Johnny Mize.”

Previously: Why Cardinals traded pitching ace Mort Cooper

Previously: Why Cardinals dealt ace Dizzy Dean to Cubs

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As a longtime player, coach and manager in the Cardinals’ system, perhaps the most important contribution Bobby Dews made was helping Bob Forsch take a successful step in transforming from a third baseman into a pitcher.

bobby_dewsDews was manager of the Cardinals’ 1971 Class A club at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Forsch, a 26th-round draft choice who had flopped as a third-base prospect, was in his first full season as a starting pitcher. At 21, his playing career was at a crossroads.

With Dews as his manager, Forsch had a successful year, posting an 11-7 record and 3.13 ERA in 23 starts for Cedar Rapids. He ranked second on the team in both innings pitched (158) and strikeouts (134). That performance convinced the Cardinals Forsch had potential as a pitcher.

Three years later, Forsch debuted with the Cardinals and went on to a productive career with them. He ranks third all-time among Cardinals pitchers in wins (163) and innings pitched (2,658.2). In 2015, Forsch was inducted into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame.

Bobby Dews helped him get there.

Dews was in the Cardinals’ organization from 1960 to 1974 before joining the Braves as a minor-league manager. He remained with the Braves in various roles, including big-league coach, until he retired in 2012.

When Dews died at age 76 on Dec. 26, 2015, his obituaries naturally focused on his 37 years of service to the Braves. Often overlooked was his Cardinals connection.

Shortstop prospect

Dews was a varsity baseball and basketball player at Georgia Tech. He launched his professional baseball career when signed by the Cardinals in 1960.

Shortstop was Dews’ primary position, though he also played at second base and in the outfield.

His best season as a player in the Cardinals’ system was with Class AA Tulsa in 1964. Dews batted .277 that year and established single-season career highs in games played (134), hits (138), RBI (40) and stolen bases (30). He had 14 hits in 28 at-bats in a stretch from July 20-25.

Dews was promoted to Class AAA Jacksonville in 1965. His progress was slowed, however, when he underwent surgery for a ruptured spleen on May 18, 1965.

For Dews, who had little power, the highlight of his 1965 season occurred when he hit home runs on consecutive nights (July 22-23) against Rochester.

The first of those home runs was hit off Darold Knowles, a future Cardinals reliever. “That was strictly a shot in the dark,” Dews told The Sporting News. “I didn’t know what he threw or where it was.”

The next night, Dews hit a home run off Bill Short, who had pitched for the 1960 American League champion Yankees. Said Dews: “Bill threw me a fastball and I think he thought I was going to take it. Instead, I hit it. Isn’t that real crazy?”

In 1966 with Class AA Arkansas, Dews played all nine positions in the Sept. 5 regular-season finale against Austin. Vern Rapp, Arkansas manager, pitched two hitless innings in the game and Hub Kittle, Austin manager, pitched a scoreless inning.

Dews was a player-coach in the Cardinals’ system in 1967 and 1968.

Learning to manage

At 30, Dews was named manager of the Cardinals’ 1969 Class A club in Lewiston, Idaho. One his players was Forsch, who, at 19, was in his second professional season as a third baseman. Forsch hit .203 in 26 games for Lewiston.

Dews was a coach for Tulsa manager Warren Spahn in 1970. After that, Dews was assigned to manage Cardinals farm clubs in each of the next four seasons: Cedar Rapids in 1971, Sarasota in 1972, Modesto in 1973 and Sarasota again in 1974.

Besides Forsch, two of the future big-leaguers Dews managed in the Cardinals’ system were outfielders Hector Cruz (23 home runs in 111 games for Cedar Rapids) and Mike Vail (31 doubles, 80 RBI in 134 games for Modesto).

Life after Cardinals

In 1975, Dews was named manager of the Braves’ Class A Greenwood team in the Western Carolinas League.

His most prominent roles with the Braves were as a big-league coach under manager Bobby Cox from 1979-81 and from 1997-2006.

In an interview with MLB.com, Cox said of Dews: “He was a special guy. He helped so much in getting this organization going.”

Dews also wrote books, the best-known of which was “Legends, Demons and Dreams,” a collection of short stories.

“My grandfather wanted me to be a lawyer and a writer,” Dews told Jim Wallace of WALB.com. “Of course, everybody else in town wanted me to be a baseball player. So I guess I tried to blend the two.”

Previously: The story of how Bob Forsch converted to pitching

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(Updated Jan. 6, 2016)

Born in the same town and on the same day in November as Stan Musial, Ken Griffey Jr. entered this world with a powerful Cardinals connection. He strengthened that special bond by joining Musial as an outfielder in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

ken_griffey_jrGriffey, on the ballot for the first time, was elected to the Cooperstown, N.Y., shrine on Jan. 6, 2016. Griffey received 99.3 percent of the votes from members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Like Musial, Griffey was born in Donora, Pa., on Nov. 21. Musial’s birth year was 1920 and Griffey’s was 1969 _ the same year Musial was elected to the Hall of Fame with 93.2 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility.

Musial and Griffey each batted left-handed and each played 22 years in the big leagues. Musial spent his entire career with the Cardinals from 1941 through 1963, with a year off in 1945 for military service. Griffey played for the Mariners, Reds and White Sox from 1989-2010.

Key career statistics for each:

Musial: 3,630 hits, 475 home runs, 1,951 RBI, 725 doubles, 6,134 total bases, .331 batting average and .417 on-base percentage.

Griffey: 2,781 hits, 630 home runs, 1,836 RBI, 524 doubles, 5,271 total bases, .284 batting average and .370 on-base percentage.

In 74 career games versus the Cardinals, all with the Reds, Griffey produced 74 hits, 22 home runs and 51 RBI.

He batted .289 with a .382 on-base percentage against St. Louis.

In chronological order, here are four of Griffey’s most memorable performances versus the Cardinals:

What a walkoff

On Aug. 20, 2001, Griffey hit an 11th-inning walkoff inside-the-park home run against reliever Andy Benes, breaking a 4-4 tie and carrying the Reds to a 5-4 victory at Cincinnati. The Cardinals had an 11-game winning streak snapped and the Reds ended an eight-game losing skid.

With one out and no one on in the 11th, Griffey hit a drive to left-center field. Jim Edmonds, the center fielder, and left fielder Kerry Robinson raced toward the ball.

Edmonds leaped against the wall, but the ball eluded him, caromed off his foot and rolled along the warning track toward the left-field corner. Robinson gave chase.

Griffey circled the bases and scored. “It probably was one of the most bizarre games I’ve ever been in,” Griffey said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Boxscore and Video

Four-hit game

Three nights later, Griffey came close to hitting for the cycle against the Cardinals on Aug. 23, 2001, at Cincinnati.

Griffey was 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored in a 12-2 Reds victory. He had two doubles and a single off starter Bud Smith and another home run against Benes.

In the fourth inning, Griffey nearly turned his second double into a triple.

According to The Cincinnati Post, Griffey’s drive “hit off the base of the wall in center and Griffey, gimpy hamstring and all, never hesitated coming around second.”

Edmonds threw to the relay man, second baseman Fernando Vina, who fired the ball to third baseman Albert Pujols.

“The relay throw to third got him by no more than a few inches, keeping Griffey from his cycle,” The Post reported.

In his postgame remarks to the Post-Dispatch, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of Griffey, “We sure didn’t pitch him very tough.” Boxscore

Milestone home run

After a visit from Musial, Griffey hit his 500th career home run on June 20, 2004, Father’s Day, in St. Louis.

Musial, who played on the same high school baseball team in Donora with Buddy Griffey, grandfather of Ken Griffey Jr., met with the Reds outfielder near the clubhouse before the game.

Musial then went home to watch the game on television. Attending the game at the stadium were Griffey’s mother, Birdie, and father, Ken Griffey Sr., who was the right fielder for the Reds’ World Series championship clubs in 1975 and 1976.

Birdie had told her son that this would be the day he would hit his milestone home run.

Leading off the sixth inning, Griffey launched a 2-and-2 pitch from starter Matt Morris over the right field wall, becoming the 20th player to achieve 500 home runs.

“I started smiling when I rounded second base,” Griffey told the Dayton Daily News. “I saw my dad sitting behind third base … He’s the person I wanted to be. He was my hero and he taught me everything.”

Recalling his mother’s prediction, Griffey said, “When I hit it, the first reaction was, ‘My mom is always right.’ ”

A delighted Musial told the Post-Dispatch, “I was rooting for him. It was great. The Griffeys are a nice family.” Boxscore and Video

The ball was caught by Mark Crummley, 19, a student at Southern Illinois University. Wearing a Pujols jersey, Crummley offered to give the ball to Griffey without compensation. He was taken to the Reds clubhouse, met Griffey and was given souvenirs, including the jersey Griffey wore at the end of the game.

Griffey was the second player to hit his 500th home run at Busch Stadium since the ballpark opened in 1966. The other was the Cardinals’ Mark McGwire off Andy Ashby of the Padres on Aug. 5, 1999.

New park, familiar result

On June 5, 2006, in his first game at the new Busch Stadium, Griffey lifted the Reds to an 8-7 comeback victory over the Cardinals.

Griffey was 3-for-5 with four RBI and two runs scored. He had a solo home run and a double off starter Jeff Suppan. The most damaging hit, though, came against closer Jason Isringhausen in the ninth.

With one out and the Cardinals ahead, 7-5, the Reds had runners on second and third. Though first base was open, Isringhausen worked to Griffey, with Adam Dunn on deck.

“It was a pretty good position to hit, knowing that I couldn’t hit into a double play,” Griffey said.

With the count full, Isringhausen grooved a fastball that Griffey hit for a three-run home run.

“I just settled down and got a pitch not in the zone he wanted,” Griffey said.

Said Isringhausen: “Bad night, bad location … I’ve never had this bad of command in my career.” Boxscore

Previously: No one hit more triples, as many HRs as Stan Musial

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