Archive for the ‘Opponents’ Category

Playing for a new manager, Vern Rapp, and with a core of young, highly regarded players, such as Keith Hernandez, Garry Templeton and John Denny, the Cardinals enjoyed a successful opening to the 1977 season.

keith_hernandez5On April 7, 1977, amid strong winds and a mix of rain and light snow, the Cardinals beat the Pirates, 12-6, at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.

That was the last of four season openers the Cardinals have played at Pittsburgh.

On April 3, 2016, the Cardinals are scheduled to start their season against the Pirates at Pittsburgh for the first time in 39 years.

The 2016 Cardinals will open the season at PNC Park as the defending National League Central Division champions. The 1977 Cardinals opened the season as a franchise looking to rebuild.

New approach

In 1976, the Cardinals finished 72-90. Red Schoendienst, who had managed the Cardinals since 1965, was fired after that 1976 debacle. He was replaced by Rapp, a St. Louis native who had played and managed in the Cardinals’ system but who never had reached the major leagues.

A disciplinarian, Rapp instructed Cardinals players during 1977 spring training to shave off their moustaches and beards and keep their hair trim.

In the opener at Pittsburgh, the Cardinals started Denny, 24, against Jerry Reuss, a St. Louis native who had began his career with his hometown team.

Along with established standouts such as left fielder Lou Brock and catcher Ted Simmons, the Cardinals’ lineup included Hernandez, 23, at first base and Garry Templeton, 21, at shortstop.

Denny and Templeton were making their first Opening Day starts in the big leagues.

Helped by three Pirates errors, the Cardinals scored four runs in the opening inning off Reuss. The Pirates’ sloppy start prompted “lusty boos from many of the 35,186 spectators,” the Associated Press reported.

The Cardinals never trailed. Denny held the Pirates to three runs in 5.2 innings and got the win. Templeton had two hits and scored three runs.

Hernandez, a left-handed batter, scored twice and had key hits against a pair of left-handed relievers. Hernandez hit a two-run double off Grant Jackson and a two-run home run (estimated at 425 feet) against Terry Forster. For Hernandez, it was his first four-RBI game in the big leagues.

Playing to win

“The thing about Vern Rapp is that he has us playing aggressive baseball, taking the extra base, playing at our maximum,” Hernandez said after the game. “We don’t have a lot of power, but we do have good hitting and exceptional speed and I think we’re going to make the most of it.”

Asked about playing without his signature moustache, Hernandez replied, “I’m here to play baseball. That’s what is important to me. I’ve got five months in the off-season to grow a moustache and long hair, but right now I want to help the Cardinals play winning baseball.” Boxscore

Behind stellars seasons by Hernandez (.291 batting average, 41 doubles, 91 RBI), Templeton (.322 batting average, 200 hits, 18 triples, 28 stolen bases), Simmons (.318 batting average, 21 home runs, 95 RBI) and pitcher Bob Forsch (20 wins), the 1977 Cardinals improved to 83-79.

Hernandez’s effective hitting against left-handers continued through the season. He batted .313 in 201 at-bats versus left-handers in 1977.

Here are the results of the other three Cardinals season openers played at Pittsburgh:

Cardinals comeback

With a three-run seventh inning off starter Bob Klinger, the Cardinals erased a 2-0 Pirates lead and won, 3-2, on April 18, 1939, at Forbes Field. Joe Medwick drove in two of the St. Louis runs and Johnny Mize knocked in the other.

Bob Weiland started for St. Louis and pitched six innings for the win. Clyde Shoun produced three shutout innings of relief for the save. Boxscore

Dickson delivers

On April 17, 1951, the Pirates beat the Cardinals, 5-4, at Forbes Field behind the pitching and hitting of Murry Dickson.

Acquired by the Pirates from the Cardinals, Dickson started and got the win, though he yielded seven walks and four hits in six innings.

In the fourth, Dickson broke a 3-3 tie with a solo home run off starter Tom Poholsky. It was Dickson’s first big-league home run and one of only three he would hit in 18 years in the majors.

Left fielder Wally Westlake added a solo home run in the sixth off Poholsky.

Bill Werle pitched three shutout innings in relief of Dickson. The Cardinals stranded 10 base runners. Boxscore

Shaky relief

The Cardinals led, 5-2, after seven innings behind starter Bob Gibson, but the Pirates rallied for five runs in the eighth and won, 7-5, on April 6, 1973, at Three Rivers Stadium.

After the Pirates loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, Schoendienst lifted Gibson and called on Diego Segui to preserve the three-run lead.

Segui struck out Bob Robertson for the second out of the inning. Then, Richie Hebner hit a two-run double, cutting the St. Louis lead to 5-4, and Gene Clines followed with a two-run triple, giving the Pirates a 6-5 lead. An error by rookie shortstop Ray Busse allowed another run to score for Pittsburgh.

Right fielder Bernie Carbo had two hits, a RBI and a run scored for St. Louis. Boxscore

Previously: Cardinals debut was dream come true for Keith Hernandez

Previously: Pete Vuckovich was fearless in great escape for Cardinals

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Like Yogi Berra, Hank Bauer, Elston Howard and Whitey Herzog, Norm Siebern was a St. Louis-area athlete who was bypassed by the Cardinals and began his professional baseball career in the Yankees organization. Toward the end of his big-league career, Siebern faced the Cardinals in the World Series and got three at-bats _  all against Bob Gibson.

norm_siebernBorn in St. Louis and raised in the nearby town of Wellston, Mo., Siebern was an outfielder and first baseman for 12 years in the big leagues with the Yankees, Athletics, Orioles, Angels, Giants and Red Sox. He three times was named to the American League all-star team: 1962 and ’63 with the Athletics and 1964 with the Orioles.

His connections to St. Louis and the Cardinals are recalled here in tribute. Siebern, 82, died Oct. 30, 2015, in Naples, Fla.

Two-sport standout

Siebern was a basketball and baseball standout at Wellston High School in St. Louis County. He caught the attention of Lou Maguolo, a Yankees scout who had signed Herzog out of New Athens, Ill.

Maguolo signed Siebern for the Yankees after Siebern graduated from high school in 1951. During the baseball off-seasons, Siebern pursued a journalism degree from Missouri State (then known as Southwest Missouri) in Springfield. While there, he and Jerry Lumpe (who would become a teammate of Siebern with the Yankees and Athletics) played on the 1952 and 1953 basketball teams that won NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) championships.

In 1957, Siebern had a breakout season with the Yankees’ Class AAA affiliate at Denver. He batted .349 with 45 doubles, 15 triples, 24 home runs, 118 RBI and 97 walks.

Boston bound

Ten years later, Siebern, 34, primarily was a pinch-hitter and role player. He began the 1967 season with the Giants and was dealt to the Red Sox in July.

The Red Sox were seeking a left-handed pinch-hitter and backup first baseman. Manager Dick Williams recommended they pursue Siebern. Williams, a St. Louis native, had been a teammate of Siebern and Herzog with the 1960 Athletics.

Siebern hit .205 in 33 games for the 1967 Red Sox, but Williams kept him on the World Series roster.

Siebern vs. Gibson

In Game 1 at Boston, with Bob Gibson protecting a 2-1 Cardinals lead in the seventh inning, Reggie Smith was on first base with two outs when Williams sent Siebern to pinch-hit for catcher Russ Gibson.

As Bob Gibson delivered a pitch, Smith attempted to swipe second and was thrown out on Tim McCarver’s peg to shortstop Dal Maxvill, ending the inning.

“He went on his own,” Williams said of Smith to The Sporting News. “I didn’t want him to go at that time.”

Because Siebern was at-bat, Williams was faced with either lifting him and wasting a plate appearance, or keeping him in the game. Williams opted for the latter, sending Siebern to play right field in place of Ken Harrelson.

Siebern led off the eighth with a single off Gibson. Siebern was bunted to second by Elston Howard, but was stranded there. Gibson completed a six-hitter and got the win in a 2-1 Cardinals victory. Boxscore

In Game 4 at St. Louis, Siebern led off the eighth, pinch-hitting for pitcher Dave Morehead, and flied out to center fielder Curt Flood against Gibson. The Cardinals won, 6-0, behind Gibson’s five-hit shutout. Boxscore

Final showdown

The decisive Game 7 in Boston was a matchup of aces: Gibson for the Cardinals and Jim Lonborg for the Red Sox.

Gibson again dominated.

In the eighth inning, the Red Sox, trailing, 7-1, mounted their final threat. Rico Petrocelli doubled and advanced to third on Gibson’s wild pitch. Dalton Jones followed with a walk, putting runners on first and third with none out and “stirring the Boston crowd into shouts of encouragement,” The Sporting News reported.

Williams sent Siebern to pinch-hit for pitcher Jose Santiago. Siebern hit a groundball to second baseman Julian Javier, who tossed to Maxvill to get the forceout of Jones at second. Petrocelli scored and Siebern got a RBI, but Gibson had defused the threat.

Gibson completed a three-hitter (he also hit a solo home run) in a 7-2 Cardinals victory, earning his third win of the World Series and carrying St. Louis to its second championship in four years. Boxscore

Siebern had this consolation: a World Series batting average of .333 (with a RBI) against the great Gibson.

The World Series duels versus Gibson were a last hurrah for Siebern. In 1968, his final big-league season, Siebern batted .067 in 27 games for the Red Sox before he was released in August.

Previously: Dick Williams couldn’t intimidate 1967 Cardinals

Previously: George Scott: Bob Gibson ‘won’t survive 5’ in Game 7

Previously: Do Cardinals still win if Dick Groat gets dealt for Roger Maris?

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In September 1963, John Tsitouris helped end the National League pennant chances of the Cardinals. A year later, Tsitouris helped the Cardinals become champions.

john_tsitourisTsitouris, a Reds pitcher, forever will be linked with the Cardinals because of his role in the 1963 and 1964 pennant races. His story is recalled here as a tribute. Tsitouris, 79, died Oct. 22, 2015, in his hometown of Monroe, N.C.

In 11 seasons with the Tigers, Athletics and Reds, Tsitouris had a 34-38 record and 4.13 ERA. He was at his best against the Cardinals.

Tsitouris had a career record of 8-4 with a 2.36 ERA versus the Cardinals in 15 games, including 11 starts. The right-hander yielded 71 hits in 91.1 career innings against the Cardinals and had six complete games. Tsitouris had more wins versus the Cardinals than he had against any other club in his career.

September shutouts

John Tsitouris, son of a Greek immigrant father, was acquired by the Reds in a January 1961 trade that sent pitcher Joe Nuxhall to the Athletics.

In 1963, Tsitouris had his best big-league season, posting a 12-8 record that included a pair of September shutouts against the Cardinals.

The 1963 Cardinals had moved within a game of the first-place Dodgers entering a three-game series against them Sept. 16-18 at St. Louis. The Dodgers swept, moving four ahead of the Cardinals.

In desperate need of a win to keep alive their pennant hopes, the Cardinals opened a series against the Reds at Cincinnati on Sept. 20. Tsitouris started for the Reds against Ray Sadecki.

The Reds scored a run in the fourth _ on a two-out single by Ken Walters, a .200 hitter _ and that’s all Tsitouris needed. He shut out the Cardinals, holding them to three singles (including one by their 42-year-old left fielder, Stan Musial) and the Reds won, 1-0. Boxscore

The Cardinals’ loss, paired with a Dodgers victory that night over the Pirates, dropped St. Louis five games out of first with six to play.

“I realize the odds against us are monstrous,” Cardinals manager Johnny Keane said to the Associated Press, “but we must keep fighting as long as there is the slightest chance.”

(Regarding Musial, who had announced he would retire after the season, Keane observed, “Musial has astounded me these last 30 days … I kept playing him every day, although I knew he was bone tired, but I also knew if I took him out of the lineup I’d be hurting the club.”)

The Dodgers clinched the 1963 pennant on Sept. 24

Three days later, on Sept. 27, Tsitouris, matched again against Sadecki, pitched a two-hit shutout against the Cardinals at St. Louis.

The Reds broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the top of the ninth. In the bottom of the inning, with two outs, Dick Groat singled and Bill White walked before Tsitouris retired Ken Boyer on a groundout, sealing the Reds’ 3-0 victory. Boxscore

Wrote the Associated Press: “John Tsitouris has become even harder for the St. Louis Cardinals to hit than his name is to spell.”

Fateful Phillies

In 1964, Tsitouris continued to dominate the Cardinals. He was 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA against St. Louis in five starts, including a win on July 3 when he struck out 10 Cardinals. Boxscore

His success against the Cardinals might have kept them from winning the 1964 pennant if not for two September performances _ a win and a loss _ by Tsitouris versus the Phillies.

After play on Sept. 20, 1964, the Phillies were solidly in first place in the NL, holding a 6.5-game lead over the second-place Cardinals and Reds with 12 to play.

The next night, Sept. 21, the Reds opened a series against the Phillies at Philadelphia. Tsitouris was matched against Art Mahaffey in the opener.

In the sixth inning, with the game scoreless, Chico Ruiz was on third base, two outs and Reds cleanup batter Frank Robinson at the plate.

On an 0-and-1 count, Ruiz streaked down the third-base line as Mahaffey delivered a pitch. The throw was wide and wild, skipping past catcher Clay Dalrymple, and Ruiz stole home. Tsitouris did the rest, shutting out the Phillies on a six-hitter in a 1-0 Reds victory. Boxscore

“He surprised me,” Reds manager Dick Sisler said to The Sporting News of Ruiz’s daring dash. “I would never have called for the move.”

Said Ruiz: “I was hoping I’d be safe because I didn’t want to hear what the manager would say if I was out.”

The play did more than provide a win for the Reds. It triggered a momentum change that left the Phillies reeling. The Phillies lost 10 in a row, allowing the Cardinals and Reds to surpass them.

On the morning of Oct. 4, the final day of the regular season, the Cardinals and Reds were tied for first, a game ahead of the Phillies. The Cardinals closed with the Mets at St. Louis and the Reds were at home against the Phillies.

The Phillies started their ace, Jim Bunning. The Reds chose Tsitouris. Jim Maloney was the Reds’ ace, He had pitched 11 innings on Sept. 30 and Sisler thought starting him on three days rest was too risky.

The Phillies broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the third off Tsitouris, who was lifted after 2.1 innings. The Phillies cruised to a 10-0 victory. Boxscore

When the Cardinals beat the Mets, 11-5, St. Louis was the NL champion for the first time in 18 seasons. Boxscore

“I can’t agree with anyone who says I should have pitched Maloney,” Sisler said. “Percentages favored Tsitouris in this game.”

Previously: 20th win for Ray Sadecki put 1964 Cardinals into 1st place

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Phil Regan was the premier relief pitcher in the National League with the Dodgers and Cubs in the late 1960s. He twice led the league in saves, with 21 in 1966 and 25 in 1968.

phil_reganRegan’s best season was 1966, his first in the NL after the Dodgers acquired him from the Tigers. Closing games in support of a starting rotation that featured Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Don Sutton and Claude Osteen, Regan posted a 14-1 record and 1.62 ERA, helping the Dodgers win the pennant.

After his 13-year career as a big-league pitcher ended in 1972 with the White Sox, Regan built a commendable reputation as an instructor. He has been a pitching coach with the Mariners, Indians and Cubs. In 1995, he managed the Orioles.

In 2015, Regan, 78, completed his seventh season as pitching coach of the Class A minor-league St. Lucie Mets. He mentored most of the pitchers on the staff of the 2015 NL champion New York Mets.

On Oct. 28, 2015, I interviewed Regan near the Mets’ training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Richard Stone, who organizes a sports card show in Sebastian, Fla., helped arrange the interview.

After Regan shared details about his career and his role instructing Mets pitchers, I asked him if he’d answer questions about his recollections of Cardinals. Regan generously agreed and thoughtfully provided his insights.

Here is a segment of that interview:

Q.: From 1963 through 1968, the Dodgers and Cardinals were the only clubs to win NL pennants. The Dodgers won in 1963, 1965 and 1966. The Cardinals won in 1964, 1967 and 1968. What was that rivalry like from your perspective with the Dodgers?

Regan: “It was like two organizations that were almost the same. Both of them were speed, pitching, good defense and playing the fundamentals very well.”

Q.: How did the Dodgers try to beat the Cardinals?

Regan: “We always felt that if we could get to Bob Gibson early _ get him in the first inning, because we didn’t get any runs off him after that _ we could hold on and win with our pitching.”

Q.: The 1967 and ’68 champion Cardinals had Lou Brock. Was he the batter in that lineup that pitchers needed to focus on?

Regan: “He was one of them … When I was with the Cubs, he would bunt on (first baseman) Ernie Banks. Ernie wasn’t very fast. Ernie couldn’t field the bunts. Brock would beat it out every time.”

Q.: Who else in that Cardinals lineup?

Regan: “Another guy who helped them was Roger Maris.”

Q.: Maris batted .077 (2-for-26) with no home runs against you in his career. How did you do it?

Regan: “I’ll tell you why. When I was with Detroit, I roomed with (pitcher) Frank Lary. And Lary would tell me, ‘Maris has his swing grooved. Anything inside, he’ll hit.’

“So, I threw him nothing but sinkers down and away and let him try to pull the ball. And I got him out.

“I threw him one slider inside in Detroit and he hit it foul, a bullet, and I said I’m going to stay with sinkers away. He was geared to pull everything. He geared his swing to hit home runs, but it took away the outer part of the plate, which is where I pitched him.”

Q.: What else do you recall about those 1967 and ’68 Cardinals?

Regan: “I came in to pitch at St. Louis (on Aug. 9, 1967) and loaded the bases with no outs. Wes Parker was playing first base and Jimmy Campanis was catching.

“I’m thinking, ‘How can I get out of this situation?’ The next hitter (Eddie Bressoud) pops up to first base, to Wes Parker, a great fielder, near the bag.

“(Mike Shannon) is on third base and he fakes like he’s going home after the catch. Wes Parker takes the ball and lobs it toward home plate. I’m backing up the play, near the fence.

“The ball hits in front of Campanis and scoots under his leg and goes halfway between the catcher and me _ and (Shannon) scores the winning run.”

(Here is the boxscore from that game. Shannon told the Associated Press, “I hesitated when I saw the ball roll away. I couldn’t tell how far it was going … but it just kept rolling, so I went.”)

Q.: As a successful instructor, you’re like the Mets’ version of the Cardinals’ George Kissell. Did you have any interaction with Kissell?

Regan: “I got a lot of his notes. He’s got a little book out, a handbook for managers on all phases of the game. Throughout it are his sayings.

“He told pitchers they should try to strike out 13 hitters a game. Now, that’s a lot. He’d say, ‘You strike out the first hitter of every inning _ that’s nine times _ and the pitcher four times.’

“Really, what he was saying was that the most important man in the inning to get out is that first hitter. Be ready to pitch to him. If you get him out, it stops everything.

“I use it all the time. If you get the first hitter out, you can load the bases and get out of the inning with one pitch. If you don’t get the first hitter out, he’ll score 80 percent of the time. I follow a lot of his stuff.”

Q.: A George Kissell disciple who came up through the Cardinals system was Jim Riggleman. In 1997 and ’98, Riggleman managed the Cubs and you were their pitching coach. How was that?

Regan: “I love Jim Riggleman. He was one of the best young managers. In 1997, we weren’t a very good club (68-94 and last place in the NL Central). In 1998, the general manager called us in and said, ‘I’m going to have to hold you guys responsible if you don’t turn it around.’ We went on to win a one-game playoff with the Giants and got into the postseason (with a 90-73 record).”

Q.: In 1994, when you were pitching coach for the Indians, one of the pitchers on your staff was Derek Lilliquist. Today, he’s the Cardinals’ pitching coach. Did you see then his potential to become an instructor?

Regan: “I didn’t know he would become the pitching coach that he is today. He loved the game. He was quite a jokester. A lot of times, I’d back up the pitcher when we were taking batting practice. One day, in Toronto, we noticed none of the balls were coming in from the outfield. He was the ringleader of this. I said, ‘Where are the balls?’ All of a sudden, they threw about 100 balls at me at the same time.

“He had fun playing the game. That’s one of the things that makes you a good coach. You can laugh and have a good time and yet they know when you’re serious, too.”

Q.: Any other Cardinals recollection to share?

Regan: “(In 1982), I got a call from an agent (Jack Childers) in Chicago, who said, ‘Phil, I remember when you played here with the Cubs. You had a good sinker. I have a player who has lost his fastball. I represent him. I need him to learn a sinker. Would you be willing to work with him?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I will. Who is it?’ He said, ‘Al Hrabosky, the Mad Hungarian.’ (Hrabosky had been released by the Braves.)

“I said, ‘We’re in our fall program at Grand Valley State (where Regan was head baseball coach). If he wants to come up here, I’ll work with him.’ So he came up and spent four days with us and worked on a sinker. He had lost his fastball. When he left, he said, ‘I’m going to Venezuela (winter league) to work on this sinker. Would you mind calling some people (in the big leagues) and telling them where I am and what I’m working on?’

“I called Jim Campbell with the Tigers and Roland Hemond with the White Sox. Then I read an article that said Seattle was looking for a left-handed reliever. I didn’t know anybody there. So, I called and got hold of the general manager, Dan O’Brien.”

After talking with Regan, O’Brien gave him a job as Mariners advance scout, returning him to the big leagues for the first time since his pitching career ended. Hemond invited Hrabosky to spring training for a tryout with White Sox manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan.

Previously: Denny McLain on Dizzy Dean, Bob Gibson, ’68 Cards

Previously: Al Hrabosky’s last stand tested Dave Duncan, Tony La Russa

Previously: Phil Regan: Pitching professor for Mets

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In a painfully fitting ending to the most miserable inning experienced by the Cardinals, a player who helped them win a World Series title delivered a hit that prevented them from earning another championship.

dane_iorg4Thirty years ago, on Oct. 26, 1985, in Game 6 of the World Series at Kansas City, Dane Iorg looped a two-run single off Todd Worrell in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Royals from a one-run deficit to a 2-1 victory that evened the best-of-seven series at 3-3. The Royals won Game 7 the next day, clinching their first World Series crown.

Three years earlier, Iorg had served as a designated hitter for the Cardinals in the 1982 World Series. He batted .529 (9-for-17) with four doubles, a triple and four runs scored, helping the Cardinals defeat the Brewers in seven games.

In eight seasons (1977-84) with St. Louis, Iorg batted .294, including .303 in 105 games in 1980 and .294 in 102 games in 1982. The Cardinals sold his contract to the Royals in May 1984.

Damn Denkinger

Iorg was in a position to beat the Cardinals in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series because of an infamous ninth-inning blown call by first-base umpire Don Denkinger, who ruled leadoff batter Jorge Orta safe at first base, even though Worrell, fielding a throw from first baseman Jack Clark, clearly had tagged the bag with his foot before Orta did.

The Cardinals contributed to the gaffe when Clark failed to catch a pop-up by Steve Balboni in foul territory _ Balboni, given a reprieve, singled _ and when Darrell Porter let a slider elude him for a passed ball, allowing runners on first and second to advance to second and third.

The Cardinals still were clinging to a 1-0 lead when Royals manager Dick Howser chose Iorg to pinch-hit for reliever Dan Quisenberry with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth.

Mix and match

Iorg, a left-handed batter, had faced the right-hander Worrell as a pinch-hitter in the World Series opener and had flied out to right, ending a game the Cardinals won, 3-1. Boxscore

Iorg, 35, had hit .148 (4-for-27) as a pinch-hitter during the 1985 regular season and .223 overall.

Still, Clark had a bad feeling.

“When Dane came up there, the Royals had the matchup they wanted,” Clark told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Iorg has always been tough in those situations because he puts the ball in play.’

Though a left-hander, Ricky Horton, was loosening in the Cardinals bullpen, manager Whitey Herzog chose to stick with his rookie closer.

The 1985 Cardinals hadn’t lost a lead in the ninth inning all year.

“If I thought about everything that was going on around me, I would have never made it to the plate,” Iorg told the Sacramento Bee. “I would have had a heart attack before I got there.”

The showdown

Worrell’s first pitch to Iorg was taken for a ball.

“I wasn’t looking for a pitch in a specific location,” Iorg said to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “I was just looking for something I could get my bat on.”

The next pitch was belt high.

“He jammed me with a fastball,” Iorg told the Columbus Dispatch.

Said Worrell to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “I got it in on his hands.”

Iorg swung and lifted a soft liner into right field.

“It broke my bat, but I had a good enough stroke to get it to the outfield,” Iorg said. “I knew it was a hit. I was just hoping it would score two runs.”

Said Clark: “A nice piece of hitting.”

The throw

Right fielder Andy Van Slyke had been shaded toward right-center. He ran toward his left and retrieved the ball.

“That ball just died on the (artificial) grass when it should have taken a good bounce up to me,” Van Slyke said.

He unleashed a low, accurate throw toward the plate.

Pinch-runner Onix Concepcion scored easily from third with the tying run. Catcher Jim Sundberg, who had been on second base, was steaming toward the plate, representing the winning run.

“I couldn’t get the throw off I wanted to make,” said Van Slyke. “And the ball, it hung there in slow motion.”

Said Worrell: “If he (Iorg) hit it harder, we might have had a chance to get (Sundberg).”

Van Slyke’s peg was caught on the fly in front of the plate by Porter, who turned to try a sweep tag on Sundberg, diving head-first safely across the plate. Video

Special feeling

“Those are the kinds of situations that you dream about as a child when you’re in Little League or playing Babe Ruth ball,” Iorg said to the Akron Beacon-Journal. “To fulfill such a dream is very special.” Boxscore

Asked whether he had mixed emotions about beating his former team (Herzog had called Iorg “one of my favorite people.”), Iorg replied, “I didn’t think about that at all. That was a new pitcher (Worrell) that I basically never played with and a new team. The situation was important enough without thinking about the past and who it was against.”

(In the 2002 book “Whitey’s Boys,” Iorg admitted, “I had better friends on the Cardinals than on the Royals.”)

Regarding the historical impact of the hit, Iorg told the Sacramento Bee, “When I’m fishing with my brother for steelhead on the Mad River in northern California, it’ll probably hit me then. Right now, I’d like to think I did this for my father (in the lumber business). He sacrificed a lot for me to play baseball. This, in some way, is paying him back.”

Hero and villain

In his column for the Post-Dispatch, Kevin Horrigan best summarized the feelings of Cardinals fans.

“Dane Iorg got to be a hero,” Horrigan wrote. “That was the only good thing about the inning from an eastern Missouri point of view. Dane Iorg, a former Cardinal and one of the nicest men ever to wear the birds on the bat, got to be a hero by driving in the two runs with a single to right.

“In 1982, he was a World Series hero for the Cardinals. In 1985, he killed them. This was his job. Don Denkinger also killed them. This was not his job.”

Horrigan concluded, “Jesse James used to rob trains for a living. He’d ride up with his gang, pull a gun and heist the loot. Don Denkinger ought to be able to relate to that. He robbed the Cardinals blind last night.”

Previously: Dane Iorg excelled as World Series DH for Cardinals

Previously: Dane Iorg sets clutch-hitting standard for Cardinals

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From a public relations perspective, the trade of Ken Boyer from the Cardinals to the Mets was a disaster. From a baseball perspective, it was a marquee deal that produced mixed results.

ken_boyer11Fifty years ago, on Oct. 20, 1965, the Cardinals traded Boyer, their third baseman and cleanup batter, to the Mets for pitcher Al Jackson and third baseman Charlie Smith.

Bob Howsam, Cardinals general manager, made the trade because he believed Boyer, 34, was in decline and the club needed pitching and speed to adapt to their spacious new downtown stadium in 1966.

Howsam believed Jackson, 29, bolstered the rotation and gave the Cardinals a needed left-hander in case Ray Sadecki was unable to rebound from a poor 1965 season. Howsam saw Smith, 28, as a more agile third baseman than Boyer with more power potential.

Bing Devine, the former Cardinals general manager who was special assistant to Mets president George Weiss, advocated for New York to acquire Boyer as much for his leadership and professionalism as for his ability to produce runs and stabilize the third base position.

In their first four seasons after entering the National League as an expansion team in 1962, the Mets had developed a reputation as a clownish club. Devine envisioned Boyer as a player who could help change that perception.

Ham-handed Howsam

The trade, though, largely was unpopular with Cardinals fans. Boyer was Cardinals royalty. In handling the trade callously, Howsam appeared to treat Boyer disrespectfully.

Boyer, who had signed with the Cardinals as an amateur free agent in 1949, played 11 seasons for St. Louis (1955-65) and was named an all-star seven times.

He also won the Gold Glove Award five times and earned the NL Most Valuable Player Award in 1964, when he produced 24 home runs, 119 RBI and 100 runs in leading the Cardinals to a pennant and World Series title. Overall, Boyer had 1,855 hits in 1,667 career games with the Cardinals, including 255 home runs and 1,001 RBI.

Yet, Howsam didn’t do Boyer the courtesy of informing him of the trade. Boyer learned of the deal in a phone call with reporter Jack Herman of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

“You’re kidding,” Boyer said when told of the trade. “That’s really something.

“Seventeen years is a long time (with one organization). I don’t know what to think right now. I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t say I was sorry to be leaving.”

The Sporting News reported that “various Cardinals officials tried to contact” Boyer to tell him about the trade. Cardinals fans concluded that management, especially Howsam, didn’t try hard enough.

“As soon as the Boyer deal became public property, Cardinals fans touched off a storm,” The Sporting News wrote. “They swamped all the news media and even tried to get through to Cardinals general manager Bob Howsam to register protests and threats to cancel tickets.”

The furor was comparable to the uproar that ensued when the Cardinals had traded popular standouts such as Rogers Hornsby, Enos Slaughter and Red Schoendienst.

Support from Stan

Schoendienst, who had completed his first season as Cardinals manager in 1965, endorsed the trade of Boyer.

“We’re sorry to see Kenny go, but good left-handed pitchers are few and far between,” Schoendienst told the Associated Press, referring to Jackson. “Smith can drive in the runs and is an improved fielder.”

The most venerable Cardinals icon, Stan Musial, a team vice president in 1965, told United Press International that the trade was a “good deal” for St. Louis.

Musial was impressed especially by Jackson. “Al is a good competitor,” Musial said. “That guy can beat the tough clubs.”

Said Howsam: “We hate to see a player of Ken’s caliber go, but we had a chance to get a man in Smith who is a power hitter and good fielder, and a fine starting pitcher in Jackson. We felt we couldn’t pass it up.”

Developing a deal

Initially, the Cardinals had talked with the Astros about a deal that would have featured Boyer for third baseman Bob Aspromonte. The Mets had been discussing with the Angels a trade of Jackson and Smith for outfielder Jose Cardenal.

When those talks stalled, The Sporting News reported, the Cardinals and Mets struck their deal.

Jackson had earned a franchise-leading 40 wins in his four seasons with the Mets. In 1965, Jackson was 8-20 with a 4.34 ERA.

Smith, who had played for the Dodgers, Phillies and White Sox before joining the Mets, hit .244 in 1965. His power numbers that season (20 doubles, 16 home runs, .393 slugging percentage) were better than those produced in 1965 by Boyer (18 doubles, 13 home runs, .374 slugging percentage).

“I think I’ll be able to help the Mets,” Boyer told United Press International. “The sentiment is gone for the Cardinals … It will strictly be on a business basis now.”

Boyer led the 1966 Mets in RBI (61) and doubles (28) and was second on the club in home runs (14). In July 1967, the Mets traded Boyer to the White Sox.

Jackson was second to Bob Gibson in wins (13), complete games (11) and innings pitched (232.2) for the 1966 Cardinals. He also had nine wins for the 1967 World Series champion Cardinals. After that season, he was dealt back to the Mets.

Smith had 104 hits and struck out 81 times in 116 games for the 1966 Cardinals. He produced 10 home runs and 43 RBI. After the season, Smith was traded to the Yankees for Roger Maris and was replaced at third base by Mike Shannon.

Previously: Cards initially sought Bob Aspromonte for Ken Boyer

Previously: An interview with former Cards pitcher Al Jackson

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