On a day when they would be expected to receive presents, five Cardinals delivered gifts to their team and to their fans.
Julian Javier, Ted Simmons, Todd Zeile, Colby Rasmus and Randal Grichuk are Cardinals who hit grand slams on their birthdays. Each led to a Cardinals triumph.
The youngest was Rasmus at 24. The oldest was Zeile at 28. The other three each achieved the feat on his 25th birthday.
Four of the five grand slams occurred on birthdays between Aug. 9 and Aug. 13. The other was in September.
Here is a look at each:
On Aug. 9, 1961, at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Javier, who turned 25 that day, broke a scoreless tie with an eighth-inning grand slam off Pirates starter Joe Gibbon. The Cardinals won, 4-0, for their seventh consecutive victory.
Javier, who had been traded by the Pirates to the Cardinals a year earlier, swung at an 0-and-1 pitch from Gibbon and hit it the opposite way down the right-field line. It landed in the seats near the foul pole.
“I see fastball and I swing,” Javier said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
It was the first of two major-league grand slams for Javier and one of just two home runs he would hit in 445 at-bats that season.
“Best birthday present I ever had,” Javier said.
In the ninth, facing Bobby Shantz, Javier again batted with the bases loaded. This time, he flied out to center field. Boxscore
On Aug. 9, 1974, at Busch Stadium II in St. Louis, Simmons, who turned 25 that day, erased a 1-0 Dodgers lead by hitting a slider from starter Geoff Zahn for a grand slam in the sixth inning. The Cardinals won, 5-3.
It was the third of nine grand slams for Simmons in his big-league career.
Said Simmons: “It certainly was a nice way to celebrate.” Boxscore
On Sept. 9, 1993, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Zeile, who turned 28 that day, stretched the Cardinals’ lead from 5-2 to 9-2 with a grand slam off 6-foot-9 reliever Terry Bross in the sixth inning. The Cardinals won, 9-4.
Zeile hit a 2-and-1 pitch from Bross over the left-field wall for the second of his nine career big-league grand slams.
“It hurts a lot,” Bross said to the San Jose Mercury News. “I could have helped the team and didn’t get the job done.” Boxscore
On Aug. 11, 2010, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Rasmus, who turned 24 that day, snapped a scoreless tie with a grand slam off starter Bronson Arroyo in the fifth inning. The Cardinals won, 6-1, a day after a brawl during which Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto kicked two Cardinals, pitcher Chris Carpenter and catcher Jason LaRue.
Rasmus drove an 82 mph pitch 418 feet over the center field wall for the first of five career grand slams in the big leagues.
Bernie Miklasz, Post-Dispatch columnist, wrote, “It was one of the best at-bats of the Cardinals’ season, with Rasmus falling behind in the count 0-and-2, fouling off two pitches and working the duel back to 3-and-2 before launching a deep broadside toward the fake tugboat the Reds keep in center field.”
As the ball carried over the fence, Rasmus raised his fist in the air.
“After I hit that ball, it probably was about as jacked as I’ve been in a while,” Rasmus said. Boxscore
On Aug. 13, 2016, at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Grichuk, who turned 25 that day, hit an eighth-inning grand slam off reliever Joe Smith, extending the Cardinals’ lead over the Cubs from 4-2 to 8-2. The Cardinals won, 8-4, and broke the Cubs’ 11-game winning streak.
Grichuk had been recalled by the Cardinals from Class AAA Memphis two days earlier. “I’m definitely thankful for being up here right now and getting the opportunities and I’m definitely trying to take advantage of it,” Grichuk said to the Associated Press. Boxscore
Previously: Tim McCarver, Terry Pendleton share grand feat