Archive for the ‘Records’ Category

With his combination of aggressiveness and power potential, rookie Wally Moon reminded the 1954 Cardinals of Enos Slaughter, the dynamo who would earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

wally_moon2Sixty years later, rookie Kolten Wong of the 2014 Cardinals is displaying similar skills.

Moon was the first Cardinals rookie to reach double figures in home runs (12) and stolen bases (18) in a season. Since then, two other Cardinals rookies _ Ken Boyer (18 home runs, 22 stolen bases in 1955) and J.D. Drew (13 home runs, 19 stolen bases in 1999) _ have achieved the feat.

Wong likely will join them. The second baseman has 17 stolen bases and nine home runs for the 2014 Cardinals.

Like Slaughter and Moon, Wong bats left-handed.

Slaughter set standard

As a rookie for the 1938 Cardinals, Slaughter couldn’t achieve what Moon, Boyer and Drew did. Slaughter produced eight home runs and one stolen base in his rookie season. But he soon established himself as an aggressive force who hustled on the base paths and consistently produced runs.

In 13 seasons (1938-42 and 1946-53) with the Cardinals (he missed three prime years while serving in the military), Slaughter had a .305 batting average, with 2,064 hits in 1,820 games, and an on-base percentage of .384.

The Cardinals, confident in Moon’s talent, traded Slaughter to the Yankees two days before the start of the 1954 season.

In a YouTube video interview, Moon recalled that the trade of Slaughter “really shocked the whole team; it shocked the city of St. Louis.”

On the eve of the 1954 season, The Sporting News wrote of Moon, “The 24-year-old Texas A&M graduate can run, throw, field and _ presumably _ hit with the kind of balanced ability and hungry attitude the Cardinals used to have, the kind of combination of skills that gave rise to an old expression: a Cardinals-type ballplayer.”

Moon had an excellent rookie season. He hit .304 and had an on-base percentage of .371. His totals of 193 hits, 106 runs, 29 doubles and 18 steals would be his single-season highs in a 12-year major-league career. Moon ranked fifth in the National League that season in hits, two behind both Stan Musial and Willie Mays. He was named the NL Rookie of the Year Award winner, receiving 17 of 24 votes and outdistancing Ernie Banks (4 votes), Gene Conley (2) and Hank Aaron (1).

Moon’s 1954 home run and stolen base totals were highlighted by a pair of noteworthy single-game performances.

Moon shot

In his first major-league at-bat, in the first inning of the Cardinals’ opener against the Cubs at St. Louis on April 13, 1954, Moon got a rude welcome.

“I’m coming to bat in the bottom half of the first,” Moon recalled in the You Tube video, “and they announce my name and the crowd starts chanting, ‘We want Eno. We want Eno.’ They were unhappy and I certainly could hear that.”

The first two pitches to Moon from Paul Minner were balls. The next pitch from the left-hander was a fastball “down the heart of the plate,” Moon said.

“I hit it and I hit it hard and I hit it high and I hit it long,” Moon said. “I hit it out of the ballpark, over the pavilion roof and onto Grand Avenue. I think somewhere I got a shot of adrenaline, a great surge of power. It’s probably one of the longest home runs I ever hit.

“About the time I got to second base with my home run trot _ it was more than a trot; I was running those bases _ those boos and chants had changed to a great roar of applause. It lifted a burden off my shoulders. I thank the Lord for giving me the strength on that particular day. It was exhilarating.” Boxscore

Moon became the second Cardinals player to hit a home run in his first time at-bat in the big leagues. The other was Eddie Morgan in 1936.

Running wild

About a month later, on May 25, again against the Cubs at St. Louis, Moon had four steals, one short of the NL single-game record established by Dan McGann of the 1904 Giants.

All four stolen bases came against catcher Walker Cooper, 39, the former Cardinal.

Wrote The Sporting News: “Moon gave Walker Cooper one of the most miserable days of the veteran catcher’s 15 seasons in the majors.”

Moon swiped second base in the first inning with Johnny Klippstein pitching and he stole second again in the fourth with Jim Brosnan pitching.

In the fifth, after Moon singled off Brosnan, the Cubs brought in Jim Willis to pitch to Alex Grammas.

Moon stole second.

Then he stole third.

Rattled, Willis threw a wild pitch and Moon scored.

Angry, Willis plunked Grammas with his next delivery.

A Cardinals publicist sent word to manager Eddie Stanky that Moon needed one more steal to tie the record. Moon, though, flied out to left in his last at-bat.

“I would have given Moon every chance to get that fifth steal,” Stanky said. “He’s a nervy youngster.” Boxscore

Moon said he’d “take another crack one of these days” at the stolen base record. Said Stanky: “When he says he’ll have another go at it, I’m sure he will.”

But Moon never again challenged the record. He had two steals in a game in July 1954 and never had more than one in a game the remainder of his career.

Previously: Oscar Taveras, Eddie Morgan: Flashy starts to Cardinals careers

Previously: Trade caused Enos Slaughter, Stan Musial to burst into tears

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

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In the season that produced his highest hits total, Cardinals center fielder Curt Flood had his best day as a hitter.

curt_flood6Fifty years ago, on Aug. 16, 1964, Flood got hits in eight consecutive at-bats in a doubleheader against the Dodgers at Los Angeles. Four of those hits came against Sandy Koufax.

Flood had a chance to tie the big-league record for consecutive hits in a doubleheader, but he made his only out of the day in his final at-bat.

“I’m mighty happy to have gotten eight hits, even though I couldn’t get that last one,” Flood said to United Press International.

Flood became the first National League player with eight hits in a doubleheader since Pirates shortstop Stan Rojek did it against the Dodgers at Pittsburgh in 1948.

Joe Kelley, a left fielder for the Orioles, established the record of nine consecutive hits in a doubleheader on Sept. 3, 1894, against Cleveland.

Entering the day with a .291 batting average, Flood was at .302 after his 8-for-9 performance. He would finish the season with a .311 batting average and a career-best 211 hits, tying him with Roberto Clemente of the Pirates as the 1964 National League hits leader.

With his wife, four children and parents in attendance, Flood batted leadoff in each game of the doubleheader.

Dandy vs. Sandy

In the opener, the Dodgers started Koufax, who that season would lead the National League in ERA (1.74) and winning percentage (.792 with a 19-5 record).

Koufax was dominant against everyone except Flood that day. The left-hander struck out 13 and shut out the Cardinals on seven hits. Flood, though, went 4-for-4 against him. Flood, a right-handed batter, hit .296 (32-for-108) in his career against Koufax.

Here’s what Flood did in Game 1:

_ First inning. Flood led off the game with a double down the left-field line. He was stranded at second when Koufax struck out Lou Brock, then got Dick Groat on a fly out and Ken Boyer on a pop out.

_ Third inning. With two outs and none on, Flood doubled to left, a shot just inside the third-base line. Koufax then struck out Brock.

_ Fifth inning. Flood looped a single to right with two outs and none on.

_ Seventh inning. With Julian Javier on first and two outs, Flood lined a single to center, sending Javier to third. Koufax then struck out Brock for the third time, ending the threat.

The Dodgers won, 3-0. Boxscore

Igniting the offense

In Game 2, Flood sparked the Cardinals against Larry Miller, a rookie left-hander. Here’s what Flood did in that game:

_ First inning. Flood laced a triple into the right-field corner and scored on Groat’s sacrifice fly.

_ Third inning. With one out and none on, Flood lined a single to center.

_ Fourth inning. With two outs, the bases loaded and Flood at the plate, Dodgers manager Walter Alston replaced Larry Miller with Bob Miller, a former Cardinals right-hander. Flood singled to right, driving in two runs and giving the Cardinals a 4-0 lead.

_ Sixth inning. Flood stroked his eighth consecutive hit, a two-out single to left off right-hander Phil Ortega.

_ Ninth inning. With the Dodger Stadium crowd cheering for him, Flood faced left-hander Ron Perranoski with one out and none on. Flood hit .286 (10-for-35) against Perranoski in his career. This time, though, he struck out.

“Perranoski threw me some sinkers and I missed them,” Flood said to The Sporting News.

Still, the Cardinals won, 4-0, behind the 4-for-5 effort by Flood and the pitching of Curt Simmons. Boxscore

When reporters gathered around Flood’s locker after the game, catcher Tim McCarver, Flood’s friend and teammate, put on an ape mask, grabbed a pencil and pad and joined the throng.

McCarver: “How do you explain how you make monkeys out of the Dodgers pitchers?”

Flood laughed, then replied: “I am sore and tired. I should have saved that triple in the first inning of the second game. That ruined me.”

Previously: Sandy Koufax: ‘I still don’t know how to pitch to Curt Flood’

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(Updated Aug. 19, 2014)

In 2000, Edgar Renteria established the Cardinals single-season record for most home runs hit by a shortstop. In 2014, Jhonny Peralta topped that mark.

edgar_renteria5Peralta, in his first season as the Cardinals’ shortstop, has 17 home runs.

Renteria, in his second season as the Cardinals’ shortstop, hit 16 homers in 2000. Those were the most home runs hit by a Cardinals shortstop in a season since Solly Hemus slugged a career-best 15 in 1952.

(Daryl Spencer hit 16 home runs for the 1960 Cardinals, 13 as a shortstop and 3 as a second baseman.)

During spring training in 2000, Renteria told Marlins manager John Boles he intended to hit 20 home runs for the Cardinals. Tony La Russa, the Cardinals’ manager, flinched when he heard Renteria’s remark, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. La Russa wanted Renteria focused on hitting for average, not power.

Renteria did both. He led the 2000 Cardinals in hits (156), doubles (32) and stolen bases (21). He batted .278 and was second on the club in RBI (76), behind only Jim Edmonds (108). Renteria was named to the National League Silver Slugger team, the first Cardinals shortstop to have done so since Ozzie Smith in 1987.

Record rocket

On Aug. 29, 2000, Renteria hit a solo home run off Marlins rookie Chuck Smith. It broke Hemus’ club record and was Renteria’s last home run of the season.

“I think that was the only mistake (Smith) made the whole game,” Renetria told the Post-Dispatch.

Said La Russa: “He’s been the complete shortstop. You can’t ask for any more than he’s done.” Boxscore

Many of Renteria’s home runs in 2000 came in bunches.

He hit a home run in each of three consecutive games from April 9-11. Those blasts came off Valerio de los Santos of the Brewers and the Astros’ Jose Lima and Doug Henry.

Renteria also hit home runs in back-to-back games against the Giants’ Russ Ortiz and Kirk Rueter on May 9-10.

Hungry hitters

Renteria, a right-handed batter, contributed to a homer-happy 2000 Cardinals team that ranked second in the National League in home runs at 235, trailing only the Astros (249). Nine Cardinals in 2000 hit 12 homers or more, led by Edmonds (42) and Mark McGwire (32).

“All these guys are coming to home plate hungry,” Cardinals hitting coach Mike Easler said to the Post-Dispatch. “That’s what I like about it. They’re never satisfied with the at-bat before. The next at-bat is always like their last one. Their intensity at home plate is much higher than last year.”

Renteria, who turned 24 in 2000, hit 12 of his 16 home runs on the road. Eleven of the 16 were struck versus right-handed pitchers. Ten were solo shots.

The 16 home runs in 2000 were Renteria’s single-season high in 16 major-league seasons. He hit 140 homers in the big leagues, 71 in six seasons (1999-2004) with the Cardinals.

Previously: Edgar Renteria had epic season at shortstop for 2003 Cardinals

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For Bob Gibson, a win was more important than a record.

bob_gibson17Forty years ago, Gibson became the first National League pitcher to achieve 3,000 career strikeouts. On July 17, 1974, the Cardinals right-hander struck out the Reds’ Cesar Geronimo to become the second big-league pitcher to strike out 3,000 batters.

Walter Johnson of the Senators struck out 3,509 from 1907-1927.

Gibson, 38, achieved his milestone by getting Geronimo to strike out on a high fastball to end the second inning. The crowd of 28,743 at Busch Stadium II in St. Louis gave Gibson a lengthy standing ovation. As he neared the Cardinals dugout, he doffed his cap to the appreciative fans.

With Tim McCarver catching on that Wednesday night, Gibson recorded three more strikeouts, including Johnny Bench and Geronimo again, before being lifted for pinch-hitter Luis Melendez in the seventh with the score tied at 4-4. The Reds won, 6-4, in 12 innings.

Pensive occasion

Afterward, reporters discovered Gibson had departed quickly and wasn’t available to talk about his achievement.

In his book “Stranger to the Game” (1994, Viking), Gibson wrote, “It wasn’t a grand occasion. I was taken out in the (seventh) for a pinch-hitter and we lost the game.”

Gibson yielded 4 runs and 10 hits, walking 2.

“I thought he was getting a little tired,” Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst said to the Associated Press in explaining why he removed Gibson. “He was also leading off the (seventh) inning and I thought we might get a run.” Boxscore

Adding to a pensive atmosphere, despite the milestone strikeout, was the news that Dizzy Dean, 64, had died that day. The Hall of Fame pitcher had held the Cardinals’ record for career strikeouts (1,095) until Gibson surpassed the mark. Gibson finished his Cardinals career with 3,117 strikeouts and remains the franchise’s leader in that category.

Geronimo struck out nine times in 21 career at-bats versus Gibson.

Big-name victims

The players who struck out the most against Gibson:

_ Willie Stargell, 41 strikeouts

_ Donn Clendenon, 37 strikeouts

_ Ron Santo, 35 strikeouts

_ Hank Aaron, 32 strikeouts

_ Roberto Clemente, 32 strikeouts

_ Tony Taylor, 32 strikeouts

The first big-league batter Gibson struck out was Willie “Puddin’ Head” Jones of the Reds on July 30, 1959. Boxscore

Jim Pagliaroni of the Pirates was the 1,000th batter to strike out against Gibson and Clemente was the 2,000th batter to do so.

In 2014, Gibson ranks 14th on the all-time strikeout list, one ahead of Curt Schilling (3,116) and 37 behind the pitcher just ahead of him, Pedro Martinez (3,154).

Join the club

Ever since Bob Gibson joined Walter Johnson as the only pitchers to have 3,000 strikeouts, 14 others have achieved the feat. Here is the list of pitchers with 3,000 strikeouts:

_ Nolan Ryan, 5,714

_ Randy Johnson, 4,875

_ Roger Clemens, 4,672

_ Steve Carlton, 4,136

_ Bert Blyleven, 3,701

_ Tom Seaver, 3,640

_ Don Sutton, 3,574

_ Gaylord Perry, 3,534

_ Walter Johnson, 3,509

_ Greg Maddux, 3,371

_ Phil Niekro, 3,342

_ Ferguson Jenkins, 3,192

_ Pedro Martinez, 3,154

_ Bob Gibson, 3,117

_ Curt Schilling, 3,116

_ John Smoltz, 3,084

Previously: Slider was key to 15 wins in row for Bob Gibson in 1968

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Ozzie Smith and Matt Adams, opposites in size, shared at least one common trait: Both were able to drive in key runs for the Cardinals over a stretch of games.

ozzie_smith8Adams in 2014 became the first Cardinals player to deliver game-winning RBI in four consecutive games since Smith did so in 1988, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

A 6-foot-3, 260-pound first baseman, Adams primarily utilized power to produce his game winners in a stretch from June 13-16, 2014.

In three consecutive Cardinals wins over the Nationals at St. Louis from June 13-15, Adams hit a home run for the winning RBI in each game. The home runs were hit off Jordan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg and Doug Fister. The Cardinals won, 1-0, on June 13 Boxscore; 4-1 on June 14 Boxscore; and 5-2 on June 15. Boxscore

Adams snapped a 1-1 tie with a RBI-single off Jacob deGrom for the game-winning hit on June 16 in a 6-2 Cardinals victory over the Mets at St. Louis. Boxscore

Twenty-six years earlier, Smith used a very different combination of productive at-bats for his four consecutive game-winning RBI. A 5-foot-11, 150-pound shortstop, Smith had a bunt, but no home runs, among his game winners in a stretch from Sept. 8-11, 1988. Here’s what he did:

Cardinals 1, Phillies 0, at St. Louis, Sept. 8, 1988

The Cardinals had the bases loaded with two outs in the fifth inning when Smith came to bat against Phillies starter Kevin Gross. With the count at 3-and-2, Smith checked his swing and walked, forcing in Tony Pena from third base with the run. The Phillies appealed, saying Smith had swung and missed at strike three, but third-base umpire Steve Rippley upheld the call of home-plate umpire Fred Brocklander.

Phillies manager Lee Elia said Rippley blew the call.

Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog conceded to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “A lot of guys would have punched (Smith) out.” Boxscore

Cardinals 6, Cubs 2, at St. Louis, Sept. 9, 1988

With the Cubs ahead, 1-0, the Cardinals loaded the bases with one out in the sixth. Facing starter Calvin Schiraldi, Smith said he was trying for a sacrifice fly. Instead, he doubled off the right-field wall, driving in Jose Oquendo and Greg Mathews and giving the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.

Deflecting attention away from himself, Smith credited Pedro Guerrero, whom the Cardinals acquired from the Dodgers on Aug. 16, with boosting the offense. Guerrero had three RBI in the game.

“We’re a different team now,” Smith said. “We’re doing a lot more things with our pitching and a lot more with our offense. The addition of one person (Guerrero) has stabilized our offense.” Boxscore

Cardinals 9, Cubs 3, at St. Louis, Sept. 10, 1988

With the score tied at 2-2, Tom Pagnozzi at second and two outs, Smith doubled to center off starter Rick Sutcliffe, giving the Cardinals a 3-2 lead.

“What you’re seeing now is something that didn’t happen in spring training,” Smith said. “We never jelled offensively. We’re settling in now.” Boxscore

Cardinals 3, Cubs 2, at St. Louis, Sept. 11, 1988

In the seventh inning, with the score tied at 2-2, Curt Ford was on third with one out. With Smith at the plate, Herzog called for the squeeze play. Smith executed, dropping a bunt to the right side of the infield. Ford dashed home with the go-ahead run. The only play for pitcher Mike Harkey, who fielded the ball, was to toss to second baseman Ryne Sandberg, covering first, to retire Smith.

“You just hope you get a decent pitch and you can put it in play,” Smith said of the bunt.

Asked about the four consecutive game-winning RBI, Smith told the Post-Dispatch, “It’s good to be in a position to say you got the record game-winning RBI, but the important thing is we won the game.” Boxscore

Smith finished the 1988 season with 51 RBI and was tied with Pena for third on the team, behind Tom Brunansky (79) and Terry Pendleton (53). The Cardinals ranked 11th in the 12-team National League in both RBI (536) and runs (578).

Previously: Intimidation: Ozzie Smith, Will Clark and the Battle at Busch

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(Updated July 2, 2014)

Solly Hemus had a knack for getting on base atop a Cardinals lineup stacked with Hall of Fame hitters. In 1953, Hemus was so adept at reaching base he established a record that was pursued in 2014 by Matt Holliday.

solly_hemusHolliday reached base safely in each of the first 30 Cardinals home games in 2014. He fell 3 games short of tying the franchise record held by Hemus, who reached base safely in the first 33 Cardinals home games in 1953.

Physically, Hemus was nothing like Holliday. A left-handed batter, Hemus was listed at 5 feet 9, 165 pounds in 1953. A right-handed batter, Holliday is listed at 6 feet 4, 250 pounds in 2014.

Yet, these Cardinals of different generations had this in common: Both wore uniform No. 7 for St. Louis and both could get on base often. In 11 big-league seasons, Hemus had an on-base percentage of .390. Holliday, in his 11th big-league season in 2014, has a career on-base percentage of .386.

Mighty Mouse

Eddie Stanky, manager of the 1953 Cardnals, described Hemus to The Sporting News as a batter who “worried pitchers” and “annoyed catchers.” Bob Broeg, longtime St. Louis baseball writer, tabbed Hemus as “Mighty Mouse.”

Usually batting first or second in a 1953 Cardinals lineup that included eventual Hall of Fame inductees Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst and Enos Slaughter, Hemus, a shortstop, ranked sixth in the National League that year in most times on base (261). The 1953 league leader in that category was Musial at 305.

Unlike Musial, Hemus didn’t bat for a high average. (Hemus hit .279 in 1953; Musial hit .337.) So Hemus depended on working walks and getting hit by pitches to boost his on-base percentage.

In his first 55 games overall in 1953, Hemus reached base 108 times _ 62 hits, 43 walks and 3 hit by pitches, including one that knocked him cold, The Sporting News reported.

Hemus led the National League in most times hit by pitches (12) in 1953, one of three times he led the league in that category.

Explaining why Hemus often was struck by pitches, Oscar Ruhl of The Sporting News wrote, “Hemus stands with his feet almost even with the plate and leans his arms far over it.”

Shortcomings at short

After reaching base safely _ by base hit, walk or hit by pitch _ in the first 33 Cardinals home games of 1953, Hemus had the streak snapped in the second game of a doubleheader versus the Phillies on June 27 at St. Louis. Hemus was 0-for-4 against Phillies pitchers Bob Miller and Andy Hansen. Though Hemus reached on an error by first baseman Earl Torgeson, that didn’t count toward the streak because it occurred as a result of a miscue. Boxscore

Hemus finished the 1953 season with 163 hits in 154 games and 86 walks. He scored 110 runs and achieved double figures in doubles (32), triples (11) and home runs (14).

Though a favorite of Stanky (who was 5 feet 8, 170 pounds and, in 11 big-league seasons as an infielder, produced a .410 on-base percentage), Hemus’ assets on offense couldn’t overcome his liabilities on defense.

“Hemus is handicapped by limited range and, though he has adhesive hands, his throwing arm isn’t top-grade either,” wrote Bob Broeg in The Sporting News.

Though better suited for second base than shortstop, Hemus couldn’t supplant Schoendienst at second. Instead, Hemus was replaced by Alex Grammas as the starting shortstop in 1954 and converted into a utility player for the Cardinals.

Previously: Why Bing Devine was forced to fire Fred Hutchinson

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