Joe Torre, who will be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame on Aug. 27, 2016, played in 2,209 regular-season games in an 18-year career in the major leagues. Only once did he achieve five hits in a game. It occurred for the Cardinals in a game that began on Aug. 1, 1971, at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia and ended five weeks later on Sept. 7.
On Aug. 1, with the score tied at 3-3, the Cardinals scored three runs in the 12th and had runners on second and third with one out when the game was halted by rain for the second time in the inning.
When the rain stopped, a Zamboni machine began clearing the artificial turf of water. Then, the Zamboni broke down.
“Maybe somebody put sugar in the carburetor of the Zamboni,” wrote Neal Russo in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The Phillies informed the Cardinals that the Zamboni had quit working because “it was clogged with paper cups that had been thrown onto the field.”
The umpires declared the field unplayable because of the water, reverting the score to 3-3 through 11 innings and ruling the outcome a tie.
“I was told that the Zamboni had broken down and I have no way of disproving that,” said umpire and crew chief Shag Crawford. “I finally called the game because the field was unplayable.”
Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst protested, saying the game should be resumed at the point it was halted because mechanical failure, not the weather, prevented a continuation of play.
Said Cardinals coach Ken Boyer: “I finished a lot of games on fields in worse shape than this one was.”
Chub Feeney, National League president, upheld the protest and ruled it a suspended game. He said it would be resumed at the point of interruption, with St. Louis ahead 6-3, when the Cardinals visited Philadelphia again in September.
Explaining his decision, Feeney told the Post-Dispatch the umpires agreed the game could have been completed on Aug. 1 if the Zamboni had been functional.
The game forever would be referred to as the Zamboni game.
Even without the controversy involving the Zamboni, the game that began on Aug. 1 was a wild affair.
The Phillies led, 3-2, after eight innings. The Cardinals tied the score at 3-3 in the ninth on a RBI-single by pinch-hitter Ted Simmons.
Torre, batting cleanup and playing third base, flied out and struck out in his first two at-bats. In his next five at-bats, he produced five singles.
Torre had singles off starter Woodie Fryman in the sixth and eighth innings. He got his third single of the game off former Cardinals teammate Joe Hoerner in the 10th.
In the 12th, the Cardinals struck for three runs off Bill Wilson. Torre contributed to the uprising with his fourth single of the game before play was halted.
Hard on heart
When the Cardinals returned to Philadelphia in September, they split a Labor Day doubleheader with the Phillies on Sept. 6.
On Sept. 7, the Cardinals and Phillies resumed the suspended game from Aug. 1 before playing a regularly scheduled game.
The Cardinals completed the top of the 12th, stranding the runners on second and third.
In the bottom of the 12th, the Phillies scored three runs, tying the score at 6-6.
In the 13th, Torre got his fifth single of the game, a run-scoring hit off Chris Short, as part of a three-run Cardinals rally. The Phillies got two hits off Stan Williams in the bottom of the 13th but didn’t score, and St. Louis prevailed, 9-6. Boxscore
The five-hit game was the first for Torre at any level of play.
“It took me five weeks to do it, though,” Torre said.
In the regularly scheduled game that followed _ the Cardinals rallied from a two-run deficit, scoring two in the ninth and two in the 10th to win 7-5 _ Torre had three hits, giving him a total of eight in the two games that were completed that night.
“Everything was fine except that my heart is pounding too much after those two games,” Torre said.
Said Phillies manager Frank Lucchesi of pitching to Torre: “You just throw the ball and pray.”