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Archive for the ‘Pitchers’ Category

Five months after it appeared he might pitch his way out of the starting rotation, Ray Sadecki earned his 20th win and propelled the 1964 Cardinals into first place in the National League.

ray_sadecki4This post is a tribute to Sadecki, who died at age 73 on Nov. 17, 2014.

On Sept 29, 1964, Sadecki got the win, his career-best 20th of the season, in the Cardinals’ 4-2 triumph over the Phillies at St. Louis. The victory was the seventh in a row for the Cardinals and moved them into a tie for first place with the Phillies, who lost their ninth in a row after building a 6.5-game lead with 12 to play.

The Cardinals moved into sole possession of first place on Sept. 30 and went on to win the pennant five days later by a game over the Phillies and Reds.

Early troubles

Based on his subpar beginning, few could have predicted Sadecki would be such a stellar pitcher for the 1964 Cardinals.

Sadecki was 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in three April appearances for St. Louis.

Wrote The Sporting News: “Sadecki looked terrible in spring training, was beaten his first three times out during the season and was booed consistently by the normally restrained Cardinals fans.”

Sadecki recovered, earning four wins in each of the next five months, with the last being the 20th on Sept. 29.

In a matchup of left-handers, the Phillies started Dennis Bennett against Sadecki. The Cardinals led, 3-0, after two innings and knocked out Bennett, who was lifted after recording just four outs. Sadecki gave up a two-run single to pinch-hitter Gus Triandos in the fourth. Bill White hit a home run in the sixth off John Boozer, extending the St. Louis lead to 4-2.

In the seventh, the Phillies had the tying runs on first and second, with two outs, when Cardinals manager Johnny Keane replaced Sadecki with Barney Schultz, who got Richie Allen to pop out to first. Schultz pitched 2.1 hitless innings in relief of Sadecki and earned his 13th save. Boxscore

World Series winner

Sadecki became the first Cardinals left-hander since Harvey Haddix in 1953 to win 20 in a season. Sadecki was the only National League left-hander to win 20 in 1964. (Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers won 19; Bob Veale of the Pirates and Sadecki’s teammate, Curt Simmons, each won 18.) The 1964 season was the only time Sadecki won more than 14 during an 18-year major-league career.

A week after winning his 20th, Sadecki started Game 1 of the World Series on Oct. 7 against Whitey Ford and the Yankees. He gave up eight hits and five walks in six innings but earned the win in a 9-5 Cardinals victory at St. Louis. The highlight of Sadecki’s performance was when he struck out Roger Maris to end the second and struck out Mickey Mantle to open the third.

“I had a good curve and was putting it where I wanted, but I had all kinds of trouble with my fastball,” Sadecki said. Boxscore

Previously: How the 1964 Cardinals broke the heart of Gus Triandos

Previously: 1964 Cardinals were menace to Dennis Bennett

Previously: Battle of wills: Bob Gibson, Gene Maych play hardball

Previously: Five-game sweep of Pirates positioned Cardinals for pennant

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At 19, Ray Sadecki replaced Bob Gibson on the 1960 Cardinals staff. As if that wasn’t enough pressure, Sadecki also was given a spot in the starting rotation.

ray_sadecki3Initially, it appeared the Cardinals had made a mistake. Sadecki was 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA after his first five starts for the Cardinals.

So, what happened in his sixth start on June 15, 1960, at Cincinnati couldn’t have been predicted.

Sadecki pitched a three-hit shutout, earning his first big-league win in the Cardinals’ 6-0 victory over the Reds. It was the first shutout by a Cardinals pitcher in 1960.

All three Reds hits _ by Billy Martin, Gus Bell and Frank Robinson _ were doubles.

Sadecki walked eight and struck out nine. The Reds stranded 11 base runners. The eight walks were one shy of Vinegar Bend Mizell’s National League record for a nine-inning shutout win.

“I don’t know whether the pitching is that good, or our batters are that bad,” Reds general manager Gabe Paul said to The Sporting News.

This post is a tribute to Sadecki, who died Nov. 17, 2014, at age 73. Sadecki had a 68-64 record in eight seasons (1960-66 and 1975) with the Cardinals. He was 20-11 for the 1964 Cardinals and won Game 1 of the World Series that year versus Whitey Ford and the Yankees.

Bonus baby

Signed by Cardinals scout Runt Marr for $50,000 after graduating from high school in Kansas City, Kan., at age 17 in 1958, Sadecki opened the 1960 season at Class AAA Rochester. He was 2-1 with a 1.76 ERA in six games for Rochester when the Cardinals promoted him in May. Sadecki replaced Gibson, who was sent to Rochester after posting a 9.72 ERA in five appearances for the Cardinals.

Sadecki failed to go beyond six innings in any of his first five starts for St. Louis.

Still, manager Solly Hemus stuck with the teenager as part of a rebuilt rotation that also included Larry Jackson, Ernie Broglio and Curt Simmons.

Change and speed

Against the Reds on June 15 at Crosley Field, Sadecki displayed “a brilliant changeup to go with a hopping fastball,” The Sporting News reported.

The Reds had a runner on base in every inning except the seventh and ninth, but Sadecki consistently worked out of trouble. In the fourth, the Reds had the bases loaded and two outs when Sadecki got Martin on a fly out to left, ending Cincinnati’s biggest threat.

Sadecki got support from center fielder Curt Flood, who hit a pair of home runs off starter Joe Nuxhall. Flood, batting seventh, hit a three-run home run in the second and a solo shot in the fourth. It was the first time he hit two homers in a big-league game. Boxscore

Enjoying a midnight snack after his triumph, Sadecki said, “It was a big one, that first major-league victory.”

Sadecki stayed in the Cardinals’ rotation for the remainder of the 1960 season, finishing 9-9 with a 3.78 ERA in 26 starts.

Said Hemus: “Sadecki came along real good for us … His last few games were his strongest.”

Previously: Cardinals swept series in initial visit to Dodger Stadium

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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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Jerry Reuss Banner

Jerry Reuss, left-handed pitcher and St. Louis native, joined his hometown Cardinals at age 20 in 1969. He was a neophyte on a team of championship-tested veterans such as Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Tim McCarver, Lou Brock and Curt Flood.

On Nov. 11, 2014, I visited the Dodgers Adult Baseball Camp at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., to seek out Reuss for an interview about his time with the Cardinals. I found him as he climbed the stands at Holman Stadium after coaching a morning game between campers.

Dressed in a home white Dodgers uniform with the familiar No. 49, Reuss, 65, quickly and graciously accepted my request for an interview, inviting me to find a seat with him in the shade in the stands. We sat near the top row along the first-base line. Reuss answered every question and was patient, thoughtful, articulate and polite.

A graduate of Ritenour High School in St. Louis, Reuss was selected by the Cardinals in the second round of the 1967 amateur draft. (Their first-round pick was catcher Ted Simmons.) Reuss debuted with the Cardinals in September 1969 and pitched for them in 1970 and 1971. He had a 22-22 record with the Cardinals 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,” an anecdote-rich retrospective on his career. You can order an autographed copy at his Web site www.jerryreuss.com.

Here is Part 1 of 2 of my interview with Jerry Reuss:

jerry_reuss3Q.: Early in the 1969 season, you were a 19-year-old left-hander assigned by the Cardinals to Class AAA Tulsa. The manager there was Warren Spahn, perhaps the best left-handed pitcher all-time. What was it like for you to play for him?

Reuss: “Warren was a Hall of Fame player. We weren’t of the caliber he was. We didn’t have the experience he had. Some of the things he was doing, well, it was just new to us. And, at least for me, I had no experience whatsoever. So, whatever Warren said, I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ I didn’t even know enough to ask questions.”

Q.: In your major-league debut for the Cardinals on Sept. 27, 1969, at Montreal, you started, pitched seven scoreless innings, gave up just two hits, drove in a run with a single and got the win in a 2-1 Cardinals victory. The bullpen gave up a run in the eighth. Do you recall that your first big-league hit was the game winner in your first big-league win?

Reuss: “That hit turned out to be the difference in the ballgame. It’s the dream of everybody: get to the major leagues, win a ballgame and then have something really special to talk about. It had a little bit of drama.”

Q.:  Your batterymate in your big-league debut was Tim McCarver, who had been the Cardinals’ catcher in three World Series. What was it like pitching to McCarver?

Reuss: “In that particular game, all I know is I wondered whether he could hear my knees shaking. We talk a little bit about that now when I see him. He says, ‘I remember that.’ I think he’s being nice. Here’s a guy who caught some very important World Series games for the Cardinals. If he remembers my first game, that is a hell of a memory.”

Q.: Ted Simmons was your catcher at Tulsa and then with the Cardinals. He’s known for his hitting. Does he get the credit he deserves as a catcher?

Reuss: “Probably not because of contemporaries like Johnny Bench, Steve Yeager. As far as his game-calling ability, Cardinals pitchers later on told me, ‘This guy thinks it through.’ He had a game plan for everybody who came to the plate and then made the adjustments if the hitter made adjustments. He’d go out and let the pitcher know, ‘This is what I’m seeing here. They’re changing their feet or moving this way.’

“He became a student of the game. That may have made up for his lack of ability in other areas. He wasn’t the quickest down to second base and he wasn’t always able to hold on to some pitches, particularly early in his career. But he turned into a pretty good receiver.”

Q.: What was Bob Gibson like as a teammate?

Reuss: “He was tough. He demanded excellence of himself and everybody who played behind him. His feeling was, ‘If I’m going to come out here and work this hard and give what I give _ and he was hurting at this time physically; his elbow was killing him _ then I expect everybody to play like that. I expect that same intensity from anybody else.’ And he wasn’t afraid to let people know about it.

“You respect a guy like that _ You don’t like him because nobody likes to get called on the carpet _ but when you have an earned run average of 1.12 and 28 complete games in 1968 and have what many would consider the greatest season a pitcher could ever have, it’s hard to get right up to him and say no. He knew what he was talking about.”

Q,: What did you think of your fellow left-hander on the Cardinals, Steve Carlton?

Reuss: “With St. Louis, he showed just how good he could be. I don’t know that if he had stayed with St. Louis that he’d have had those same kinds of seasons he later had with the Phillies. When he went to Philadelphia, he changed his mental outlook.

“He didn’t like to run. So there was a Phillies strength and conditioning coach, Gus Hoefling, who said, ‘You don’t have to do that. Here’s what we’ll do. I’ll give you all the conditioning that you need.’ Steve bought into it. He believed it. If you believe something, then there’s a good chance it is going to work for you.

“He believed it would work. As a result, he won 27 games in 1972. He started doing things his way and developed into a Hall of Fame pitcher.”

Next: In Part 2 of the interview, Jerry Reuss offers his views on Joe Torre and Gussie Busch.

Previously: Cardinals home opener links Michael Wacha, Jerry Reuss

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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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