The Cardinals played in Dodger Stadium for the first time the weekend of May 18-20, 1962. They felt right at home. The Cardinals swept the three-game series, receiving complete-game wins from each of their starting pitchers, and Stan Musial stroked a historic single, surpassing Honus Wagner to become the National League all-time hits leader.
Moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles after the 1957 season, the Dodgers played four years at the Coliseum while Dodger Stadium was being built. On April 10, 1962, in the first regular-season game at Dodger Stadium, the Reds defeated the Dodgers, 6-3. Boxscore
As the Cardinals-Dodgers series opened May 18, the Dodgers were in second place in the NL, three games behind the Giants, at 23-12. Los Angeles had won four in a row and eight of its last nine. The Cardinals were in third place, six behind the Giants, at 18-13. St. Louis had lost five of its last seven.
The opener matched Johnny Podres against Larry Jackson. In the first inning, third baseman Ken Boyer smashed a drive that struck Podres in the left forearm. Podres threw three pitches out of the strike zone to the next batter, catcher Gene Oliver, and walked off the field, unable to pitch as his left arm ached. (X-rays revealed a severe bruise, no fracture.)
First baseman Bill White drove in three runs, right fielder Charlie James scored three runs and knocked in two, and Jackson went the distance, walking none, as the Cardinals won, 8-3, before 38,951. Boxscore
The story the next night, May 19, normally would have been the pitching of Cardinals left-hander Ray Sadecki. The Dodgers had defeated six consecutive left-handers and Sadecki was 0-3 in his career against them. This time, though, Sadecki pitched his first complete game of the season and got the win in the Cardinals’ 8-1 triumph before 44,559. Boxscore
But the headlines went to Musial, the 41-year-old left fielder. His single to right field in the ninth inning off a curve from Ron Perranoski gave Musial his 3,431st hit and moved him ahead of Wagner for No. 1 on the NL career list, breaking a mark that had been held for 45 years. Dodgers first baseman Wally Moon, a former Cardinals teammate, fielded the throw from right fielder Frank Howard and handed the ball to Musial, who received a standing ovation.
“Stan hit a good curveball,” Perranoski told The Sporting News.
Said Musial: “I never worked so hard for two hits.”
(Musial had hit the record-tying single off Juan Marichal in San Francisco on May 16, ending a string of 15 hitless at-bats. He went hitless in nine more after that until he connected on the 0-and-1 pitch from Perranoski.)
“At least I got it in a beautiful new park and against the Dodgers, who have been good to me over the years,” Musial said.
Only Ty Cobb (4,191) and Tris Speaker (3,515) had more career hits than Musial at that time.
After the game, Musial and teammates Boyer and Red Schoendienst went to the Stadium Club at the ballpark. Musial enjoyed a steak sandwich and French fries. As Neal Russo reported in The Sporting News, few tables had a trio with more hits _ a total surpassing 7,000.
Exhausted by the strain to break the record, “I just about wilted when I got to first base with the record hit,” Musial said.
Musial sat out the series finale on Sunday afternoon, May 20. But Schoendienst, 39, started at second base for the fifth consecutive game. He was filling in for Julian Javier, who was sidelined because of a torn fingernail on his right index finger.
Curt Simmons yielded three runs, none earned, and got the complete-game win in the Cardinals’ 4-3 victory before 38,474. Boxscore
The Cardinals had swept a series in Los Angeles for the first time since the Dodgers left Brooklyn. They moved into a second-place tie with the Dodgers and got within 4.5 games of the Giants.