Because he didn’t produce a lot triples, Joe Torre wasn’t a prime candidate to hit for the cycle in a game. On the night he achieved the feat for the only time in his big-league career, Torre increased the degree of difficulty by nearly removing himself from the game while still in need of a single.
Torre will be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame on Aug. 27, 2016, in recognition of his achievements as a player for St. Louis from 1969-74. One of his top accomplishments occurred on June 27, 1973, when Torre hit for the cycle _ a single, double, triple and home run _ against the Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.
Jim Rooker, in his first season with the Pirates after pitching for the Tigers and Royals, got his first National League start that Wednesday night versus the Cardinals.
Torre hit a RBI-double off the wall against Rooker in the first inning and a solo home run over the right-field fence in the third.
In the fourth, facing Bob Johnson, Torre hit a triple to left. It was Torre’s second and last triple of the season.
“I didn’t think I’d ever hit for the cycle because I’m not a triples hitter,” Torre told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Needing a single to complete the cycle, Torre grounded into a double play against Johnson in the fifth inning and a drew a walk from Steve Blass in the eighth.
With the Cardinals ahead, 11-4, and figuring he likely wouldn’t get another at-bat, Torre asked manager Red Schoendienst to remove him from the game. Schoendienst, unwilling to concede the possibility of another at-bat for Torre, declined the request.
“You have to give Red an assist _ I’m glad he ignored me this time,” Torre said.
Still, Torre needed help from his teammates.
He was scheduled to bat fifth in the ninth inning, meaning at least two Cardinals would need to reach base to give Torre a chance at the single.
When the first two batters, Mike Tyson and Reggie Cleveland, both grounded out, the odds of Torre getting an at-bat seemed stacked against him. However, Bernie Carbo and Ted Sizemore each worked a walk against Blass, who entered the game with a 9.44 ERA.
That brought Torre to the plate.
“I was pressing like crazy for the single,” he said.
Torre grounded a pitch that bounced past the mound and into center field for a RBI-single.
Torre became the first Cardinals batter to hit for the cycle since Ken Boyer in 1964. The only Cardinals to do so since: Lou Brock (1975), Willie McGee (1984), Ray Lankford (1991), John Mabry (1996) and Mark Grudzielanek (2005).
In producing the cycle and scoring four runs with three RBI, Torre overshadowed the performance of teammate Ted Simmons, who had his first five-RBI game in the big leagues.
“If I could run, I might be a triples hitter like Joe,” Simmons said to the Associated Press. Boxscore
Previously: Joe Torre, Nolan Ryan and the April streak