In 1940, the Cardinals administered a pounding so relentless and unusual that no big-league starter had the misfortune of experiencing the same until 71 years later.
On May 7, 1940, the Cardinals raked Dodgers starter Hugh Casey for 15 hits, 13 runs and five home runs in seven innings during an 18-2 victory at St. Louis.
On May 28, 2011, Sean O’Sullivan of the Royals became the first big-league starter since Casey to yield 15 hits, 10 runs and five homers in a game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. O’Sullivan lasted 5.2 innings in the Royals’ 10-1 loss to the Rangers at Texas. Boxscore
The Cardinals’ outburst against Casey came against the hottest team in the National League.
The 1940 Dodgers, managed by Leo Durocher, won their first nine games of the season and entered the Tuesday game at Sportsman’s Park with an 11-1 record. The Cardinals, who had lost the first two games of the three-game series with Brooklyn, were 5-10.
Brooklyn featured a lineup that included hitting stars Dolph Camilli and Dixie Walker, and rookie shortstop Pee Wee Reese.
Casey, 26, was one of their top pitchers. A 6-foot-1, 210-pound right-hander, he had recorded 15 wins and a 2.93 ERA for the 1939 Dodgers.
He earned complete-game wins against the Giants and Phillies in his first two starts of the 1940 season, then stumbled against the Reds, yielding eight runs in four innings in Brooklyn’s only loss of the season.
In the series opener against the Cardinals on Sunday, May 5, Casey entered in relief, pitched a scoreless ninth and earned the save in Brooklyn’s 9-6 victory. Boxscore
Two days later, he was the starting pitcher, bringing a 2-1 record and 3.52 ERA against a St. Louis lineup that included three future Hall of Fame players: Joe Medwick, Johnny Mize and Enos Slaughter. All-star shortstop Marty Marion was unavailable because of a knee injury.
After a scoreless first inning, the Cardinals went to work against Casey. Don Padgett, Stu Martin and Eddie Lake hit solo homers, and Medwick and Mize each launched a two-run shot. (The homer by Lake was the first of the rookie second baseman’s big-league career).
Max Macon, a former Cardinal, relieved Casey in the eighth and yielded five runs, including another homer apiece by Mize and Lake. Boxscore
The Cardinals collected 49 total bases, topping the NL mark of 47 established by the Giants in 1931. Their seven total homers tied a NL record shared by five others.
The Associated Press reported Durocher kept Casey in the game for seven innings “to save wear and tear on his other pitchers.”
A Page 1 story in The Sporting News told a slightly different version:
It was at his own request that Hugh Casey, Dodger pitcher, remained on the hill through seven innings while absorbing a 13-run thumping from the Cardinals May 7, manager Leo Durocher asserted after the game. “He asked to stay in there,” said Durocher. “He hadn’t had much work, and as long as the game was gone, I let him continue.”
Casey’s performance got the headlines, but the game featured another significant development.
In the ninth inning, the Cardinals sent in Bill DeLancey to replace Don Padgett at catcher, drawing a big cheer from the few remaining in the announced crowd of 2,298. It was DeLancey’s first big-league appearance since 1935. He was attempting a comeback after more than four years spent in Arizona to overcome a lung ailment, The Sporting News reported.
(DeLancey would appear in 15 games for the Cardinals in 1940, his last big-league season. He died on his 35th birthday, Nov. 28, 1946).
After their sizzling start, the 1940 Dodgers finished in second place at 88-65, 12 games behind the champion Reds and four games ahead of the third-place Cardinals (84-69).
Casey recovered from his rough outing in St. Louis. He was moved to the bullpen in early June and finished the 1940 season with an 11-8 record and 3.62 ERA.
Casey befriended the writer, Ernest Hemingway, pitched for Dodgers pennant winners in 1941 and 1947, earned two wins and a save in the 1947 World Series against the Yankees, and finished a nine-year big-league career with a 75-42 record, 55 saves and a 3.45 ERA.
He died at 37 from a self-inflicted shotgun blast to the neck. The suicide occurred seconds after he had assured his wife in a telephone call that he was innocent of a charge that he fathered a son out of wedlock, according to the Associated Press.