Bill White and Curt Flood each approached his final at-bat of the 1963 season needing a hit to reach 200 for the year. Each delivered, enabling the Cardinals to have three players achieve 200 hits in a season for the only time in franchise history.
(Updated Sept. 29, 2013: Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter finished with 199 hits in 2013. The last Cardinals player to reach 200 hits in a season was Albert Pujols, with 212, in 2003.)
The Cardinals eight times have had two players achieve 200 hits apiece in a season. In chronological order, they are:
_ 1920: Rogers Hornsby (218 hits) and Milt Stock (204).
_ 1921: Hornsby (235) and Austin McHenry (201).
_ 1925: Jim Bottomley (227) and Hornsby (203).
_ 1937: Joe Medwick (237) and Johnny Mize (204).
_ 1963: Groat (201), White (200) and Flood (200).
_ 1970: Joe Torre (203) and Lou Brock (202).
_ 1971: Torre (230) and Brock (200).
_ 1979: Garry Templeton (211) and Keith Hernandez (210).
According to the book “The Curt Flood Story: The Man Behind the Myth” (2007, University of Missouri Press), Flood approached Groat in 1963 after Groat was acquired by the Cardinals from the Pirates and said to him, “I got to learn to hit to the opposite field. You show me.”
“Groat and I would go out to the ballpark for long periods of time and he would help me to learn how to hit to right field,” Flood said. “That Groat, he could hit .300 with a strand of barbed wire.”
On Sept. 28, 1963, Groat entered the next-to-last game of the season with 199 hits. He tripled against the Reds’ Joe Nuxhall in the first inning for hit No. 200 and got his final hit of the season, a double off Nuxhall, in the sixth. Groat became the first Cardinals player to achieve 200 hits in a season since Stan Musial (with 200) in 1953. Boxscore
White and Flood were hitless in that game. Each had 198 hits entering the season finale, Sept. 29, against the Reds at St. Louis. But the spotlight was focused on Musial, who had announced his retirement and was playing the final game of his illustrious career.
In the sixth, Flood doubled against Jim Maloney and scored on Musial’s single, the 3,630th and final hit of Stan’s career. White also singled in the inning. So Flood and White each had 199 hits.
When Flood grounded out in the seventh and White grounded out in the eighth, it appeared both would fall short of achieving 200. But the Reds scored twice in the ninth, tying the score, 2-2, and the game went to extra innings.
In the 13th, White singled against Joey Jay for hit No. 200. In the 14th, Flood singled off Jay, becoming the third Cardinal that year with 200 hits. The single moved base runner Ernie Broglio from first to second. Dal Maxvill followed Flood with a double, driving in Broglio with the game-winning run. Boxscore
The 1963 season was the only time Groat and White reached 200 hits in a season. Flood did it one more time, getting 211 hits for the 1964 Cardinals.