Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

Though knowing Gerry Staley was committed to a stint in the Army during World War II, the Cardinals went ahead and acquired him anyway. The investment paid a significant dividend when Staley emerged as the ace of the Cardinals’ staff in the early 1950s.

Seventy-five years ago, in 1942, Staley was in his second season as a pitcher for the Boise (Idaho) Pilots of the Class C Pioneer League. Boise wasn’t affiliated with any major-league organization.

In September 1942, Staley, 22, was inducted into the Army. Two months later, on Nov. 24, the Cardinals selected Staley in the minor-league draft and assigned him to their Columbus (Ga.) Red Birds farm club in the Class B South Atlantic League.

By then, Staley was deep into military service. He would spend three years in the Army. Most of that time, he was stationed in the South Pacific.

The Cardinals, though, didn’t forget him.

Military veteran

A native of Brush Prairie, Wash., Staley was working in an aluminum plant and playing sandlot baseball when he was signed by Boise in 1941, according to a biography by the Society for American Baseball Research.

A right-handed pitcher, Staley quickly developed into a standout for Boise. He was 22-8 with a 2.79 ERA in 1941 and 20-10 with a 2.73 ERA in 1942.

St. Louis had a farm club, the Pocatello (Idaho) Cardinals, in the Pioneer League. Pocatello and Boise were matched in the league championship series in 1942. Staley won Game 2 of the series just before reporting to the Army. He impressed the Cardinals with his ability.

When the minor-league draft was held, the Cardinals chose Staley and assigned him to Columbus for the 1943 season, The Sporting News reported.

Staley never got to pitch for Columbus. Still in the Army as a sergeant with an evacuation hospital on Bougainville Island of New Guinea, the Cardinals assigned him to their Class AAA Sacramento Solons farm club in the Pacific Coast League in 1944, according to The Sporting News.

Staley continued his active duty in the military in 1945. When the war ended and he was discharged, Staley, 25, reported to Sacramento for the 1946 season.

Impressive return

By then, Sacramento no longer was a Cardinals affiliate. Local owners had purchased the franchise from the Cardinals. Though independent of any big-league affiliation, Sacramento maintained a working agreement with the Cardinals.

Staley got off to a strong start in the 1946 season. On April 18, he pitched a three-hitter and singled in the winning run in Sacramento’s 2-1 triumph over Oakland.

His best performance occurred on May 28 at Portland, Ore., just across the Columbia River from his home in Vancouver, Wash. Staley pitched all 14 innings and limited Portland to four hits in Sacramento’s 1-0 victory.

Under terms of the working agreement, the Cardinals had the right to purchase the contract of one of Sacramento’s returning servicemen for $5,000.

On Aug. 22, 1946, the Cardinals selected Staley (13-12 with a 2.94 ERA) and invited him to their spring training camp in 1947.

Making the grade

The Cardinals went to spring training in 1947 as the defending World Series champions. Staley, 26, wasn’t intimidated. He earned a spot on the Opening Day roster and made his major-league debut on April 20, 1947, with two innings of scoreless relief against the Cubs. Boxscore

Used exclusively in relief, Staley slumped during the summer and had a 5.54 ERA when the Cardinals sent him to their Class AAA Columbus (Ohio) Red Birds club in the American Association in late July.

Staley was 6-1 for Columbus and was called back to the Cardinals in September.

On Sept. 25, 1947, in the second game of a doubleheader at Pittsburgh, Staley got his first major-league start. He pitched a complete game and earned the win in the Cardinals’ 3-1 victory over the Pirates. Boxscore

Staley finished his rookie season with a 1-0 record and 2.76 ERA in 18 appearances for St. Louis. He was on his way to becoming a prominent member of the Cardinals’ staff.

Big winner

Staley pitched eight seasons (1947-54) for the Cardinals and was 89-76 with a 4.03 ERA during that time. He twice was all-star with the Cardinals (1952 and 1953).

In 1949, Staley ranked second in the National League in ERA at 2.73. He led the Cardinals in wins in 1951 (19) and 1952 (17) and was second in 1953 (18).

After a 1954 season when his wins total fell to seven, the Cardinals traded Staley, 34, and third baseman Ray Jablonski to the Reds for pitcher Frank Smith.

Staley eventually transformed himself into a top relief pitcher. In 1959, he helped the White Sox to an American League pennant, with eight wins, 15 saves and a 2.24 ERA in a league-leading 67 appearances.

He earned a save in Game 1 of the 1959 World Series against the Dodgers, but was the losing pitcher in Game 4 when he gave up a game-winning home run to Gil Hodges in the eighth inning.

Staley pitched 15 seasons in the major leagues for six clubs _ Cardinals, Reds, Yankees, White Sox, Athletics and Tigers. He has a career record of 134-111 with 61 saves and a 3.70 ERA.

Read Full Post »

Besides being a principal player in a Cardinals classic, Roy Halladay also factored prominently in other games versus St. Louis.

Halladay, who died at age 40 in a plane crash on Nov. 7, 2017, will be best remembered by Cardinals fans as the Phillies pitcher who dueled St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter in the decisive Game 5 of the 2011 National League Division Series.

Carpenter and the Cardinals won that game, 1-0, on Oct. 7, 2011, extending a postseason run that led to a World Series championship.

Halladay, who shut out the Cardinals for seven innings after yielding a run in the first, was the hard-luck loser in that drama. He and Carpenter, both Cy Young Award winners, had been teammates on the Blue Jays from 1998-2002.

Usually, though, when Halladay pitched a gem against the Cardinals, he won.

Halladay made seven regular-season starts and two postseason starts against the Cardinals. His regular-season career record versus St. Louis is 4-2 with a 2.68 ERA. In the postseason, Halladay is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA against the Cardinals.

Here is a look at the games in which Halladay got decisions when facing St. Louis:

Swinging at sinkers

Halladay faced the Cardinals for the first time on June 13, 2005, at Toronto. He pitched a complete game in a 4-1 Blue Jays victory.

Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch described Halladay’s effort as “a dominant performance worthy of his resume.”

The Cardinals got five hits _ two apiece by David Eckstein and John Mabry, and one by designated hitter Scott Seabol. Mabry got the Cardinals’ lone extra-base hit _ a home run in the fourth inning.

“He’s out there throwing the ball 94 (mph) with a lot of sink,” Mabry said. “He’s using both sides of the plate, sinking and cutting it. His curveball is awesome. He makes it tough. You just try to stay on top of it.” Boxscore

Simply the best

Five years later, Halladay next faced the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. On May 6, 2010, Halladay pitched seven innings, yielding one earned run, and got the win in a 7-2 Phillies triumph at Philadelphia.

Skip Schumaker, who had two hits for the Cardinals, called Halladay “probably the best pitcher I’ve ever faced.” Boxscore

A breakthrough

On Sept. 19, 2011, Halladay lost to the Cardinals for the first time.

Playing at Philadelphia, Rafael Furcal hit Halladay’s first pitch for a double off the right-field wall. Furcal moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a groundout by Nick Punto. One out later, Lance Berkman followed with a home run, giving St. Louis a 2-0 lead.

The Cardinals won, 4-3, and advanced to within 2.5 games of the Braves for the wild-card spot in the playoffs. Halladay gave up eight hits and walked four in eight innings. Boxscore

Don’t get me mad

Two weeks later, on Oct. 1, 2011, the Cardinals and Phillies played Game 1 of the best-of-five NL Division Series at Philadelphia.

In the first inning, Furcal singled and Albert Pujols walked. With one out, Halladay threw Berkman a two-seam fastball intended to sink away from the left-handed batter. Instead, the pitch was “thigh-high and center cut. About as bad as you can put it,” Halladay told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Berkman connected for a three-run home run.

Halladay “got mad after he gave up the homer,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “That ticked him off and he got going.”

After Schumaker led off the second with a single, Halladay retired the next 21 batters in a row. In eight innings, he gave up three hits and three runs, getting the win in an 11-6 Phillies victory. Boxscore

Dog fight

In his column about Game 5 of the 2011 NL Division Series, Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch wrote, “Carpenter and Halladay, two alpha dogs, could have burned the hitters’ bats with the intensity of their glares.”

After scoring in the first, the Cardinals were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position against Halladay. Fortunately for the Cardinals, Carpenter was better than Halladay, holding the Phillies scoreless for nine innings.

“You hate to lose in a one-run game,” Halladay said, “but you have to hand it to him (Carpenter). He was unbelievable.”

Furcal led off the game with a triple to center.

“He tried to come inside with a cutter,” Furcal said. “I got a good swing on it and the ball jumped off my bat.” Video

Said Halladay: “The ball was up.”

Schumaker followed with a run-scoring double to right on a curve after fouling off six pitches, including five with two strikes. Video

“I don’t think it was a terrible curveball,” Halladay said. “It was a very good at-bat.” Boxscore

It hurts

The next time Halladay faced the Cardinals was May 27, 2012, at St. Louis. Yadier Molina hit a grand slam in the first and Halladay departed after the second because of a sore shoulder. The Cardinals won, 8-3. Boxscore

Asked about Halladay’s ailment, Manuel said, “Worried? Yeah, definitely I’m concerned.”

Wily veteran

Soon after, Halladay went on the disabled list. When he returned, he made the adjustments needed to be effective again.

On Aug. 10, 2012, Halladay held the Cardinals to two hits in eight innings and got the win in a 3-1 Phillies victory at Philadelphia. A home run by Carlos Beltran accounted for the St. Louis run. Boxscore

“I don’t try to do what I used to do,” Halladay said. “I try to do what I need to do to be successful.”

Science of pitching

Halladay beat the Cardinals for the final time on April 19, 2013, at Philadelphia. He limited them to two hits _ home runs by Beltran and Matt Holliday _ over seven innings in an 8-2 Phillies victory. Boxscore

Halladay retired 14 batters in a row. “When I stay within myself and execute the mechanics the way it should be done, I feel good,” he said.

Read Full Post »

Needing an effective performance to show he belonged in the major leagues, Phillies rookie Mike Maddux broke through with an impressive effort against the 1986 Cardinals.

Maddux, 25, limited the Cardinals to one earned run in 6.1 innings and got the win in a 4-3 Phillies victory on Sept. 18, 1986, at Philadelphia.

That performance helped Maddux establish himself as a big-leaguer. He went on to pitch for 15 seasons (1986-2000) in the majors. After his playing days, he built a second career as a big-league pitching coach.

On Oct. 26, 2017, the Cardinals hired Maddux to be their pitching coach, replacing Derek Lilliquist.

Throwing darts

Chosen by the Phillies in the fifth round of the 1982 amateur draft, Maddux rose through the farm system until he was promoted to the big-league club in June 1986.

Placed in the Phillies’ starting rotation, Maddux struggled. After 13 starts, his record was 2-6 with a 6.05 ERA.

To some, he seemed to be regressing. On Sept. 8, Maddux yielded five runs in three innings against the Cubs. Five days later, he gave up three runs in the first and was lifted before recording an out against the Mets.

Maddux was trying to be perfect with his pitches and was aiming the ball. “He wasn’t a pitcher; he was a dart-thrower,” wrote Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News.

Maddux’s ERA for the first inning of his 13 starts was 15.00.

“Something had to be done,” Maddux said to Jayson Stark of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Maddux sought the advice of Phillies manager John Felske and pitching coach Claude Osteen. “I absorbed everything they said like a sponge,” Maddux said.

(Osteen had been Cardinals pitching coach from 1977-80.)

Wrote Stark: “They told him to think more about winning than about surviving the first inning.”

Different guy

In his next start, Maddux was matched against Greg Mathews of the Cardinals.

From the first pitch, when he made Vince Coleman skip away from a low delivery, Maddux was in command.

In the second inning, his confidence grew when he lined a RBI-single to right against Mathews. It was the first hit and first RBI in the big leagues for Maddux.

Maddux held the Cardinals to one hit _ a Terry Pendleton single _ over six innings.

Maddux struck out seven before he was relieved with one out in the seventh. Boxscore

“He went out tonight totally prepared to pitch,” Felske said. “He was a different guy out there. He was confident. He was determined to do well. He really threw some outstanding breaking balls.”

Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “I can see why they’re putting him out there.”

Herzog compared Maddux to the Cardinals’ Tim Conroy, “who has struggled but is considered to have a major-league arm,” wrote Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch.

Cardinals outfielder Andy Van Slyke, however, compared Maddux with Aaron Herr, 4-year-old son of St. Louis second baseman Tommy Herr.

Noting that the Cardinals weren’t swinging the bats well, Van Slyke said, “They could have put Aaron Herr out there and he could have held us to one hit for five innings.”

Lengthy career

Maddux, whose younger brother, Greg, became a Hall of Fame pitcher, played for nine clubs: Phillies, Dodgers, Padres, Mets, Pirates, Red Sox, Mariners, Expos and Astros.

Converted to a relief pitcher after he left the Phillies, Maddux has a career record of 39-37 with 20 saves and a 4.05 ERA in the big leagues.

His career record versus the Cardinals is 3-3 with a 5.24 ERA in 25 appearances. (On Aug. 11, 1988, Maddux started and pitched eight scoreless innings against the Cardinals, but got no decision. The Phillies won, 1-0, with a run in the ninth.)

Maddux was pitching coach for the Brewers (2003-08), Rangers (2009-15) and Nationals (2016-17) before joining the Cardinals.

He was the Rangers’ pitching coach in 2011 when Texas played the Cardinals in the World Series.

Previously: Cardinals tried making Greg Maddux a teammate

Read Full Post »

During a season in which the Cardinals won a National League pennant and World Series championship, Don Lock found the key to success against their formidable pitching.

In 1967, Lock, in his first NL season as a center fielder for the Phillies, batted .382 (13-for-34) with 12 RBI in 11 games against the Cardinals.

A right-handed batter, Lock was especially effective against Cardinals left-handers. He hit four home runs against them in 1967.

Lock, a Kansas native who as an amateur had attracted the attention of the Cardinals, died Oct. 8, 2017, at 81.

Hit or miss

As a teen, Lock was a standout athlete in multiple sports. “The Cardinals were interested in signing Lock when he was playing American Legion baseball back home in Kingman, Kan.,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Instead, Lock attended Wichita State on a basketball scholarship and played for coach Ralph Miller, who would be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Lock earned varsity letters in baseball, basketball and track.

By then, other big-league organizations, including the Yankees, Red Sox, Athletics and Dodgers, had joined the Cardinals in pursuit of Lock. According to his obituary, Lock accepted a $22,500 bonus to sign with the Yankees in 1958.

The Yankees’ deal “was $2,500 more than the next best, the one Boston offered. So I took it,” Lock told the Post-Dispatch. “I was just a kid out of college who had a wife and a kid and car payments to meet. I needed money.”

Lock played in the Yankees’ minor league system from 1958-62. He had 35 home runs in 1960 for the Class A Binghamton (N.Y.) Triplets and 29 home runs in 1961 for the Class AAA Richmond Virginians. Though he had established himself as a power prospect, Lock couldn’t find a spot on a Yankees roster that included sluggers such as Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Bill Skowron.

In July 1962, the Yankees traded Lock to the Senators. He became one of the American League’s premier power hitters, ranking among the top 10 in home runs in 1963 (27) and 1964 (28), but he also had more strikeouts than hits each year he played for Washington. He was second in the league in strikeouts in both 1963 (151) and 1964 (137).

Second chance

After the 1966 season, the Senators dealt Lock to the Phillies for pitcher Darold Knowles and cash. “Lock came to the Phillies with a reputation as one of baseball’s most inconsistent hitters,” wrote Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News. “His pattern was a short rash of homers followed by a long rash of strikeouts.”

Phillies manager Gene Mauch decided to utilize Lock and Johnny Briggs in a center field platoon in 1967.

On May 26 at Philadelphia, Lock hit a home run that beat the Cardinals.

In the eighth inning, with the score tied at 4-4, the Phillies had runners on second and third, two outs, with Lock at the plate against left-handed reliever Joe Hoerner. Cookie Rojas was on deck.

“The strategy with the score tied and the winning run on base would normally be to intentionally walk Lock and pitch to Rojas,” Conlin wrote.

Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst thought otherwise. He remembered that 10 days earlier, at St. Louis, Rojas had hit a home run against the Cardinals and Hoerner had struck out Lock.

Schoendienst wanted Hoerner to pitch to Lock rather than to Rojas.

If not for a misplay, it would have been the right decision.

Hoerner got Lock to hit a pop fly into foul territory, just beyond first base. Second baseman Phil Gagliano, who had the best angle for a catch, called off first baseman Orlando Cepeda, but misjudged the ball and it fell to the ground.

Given another chance, Lock swung at a low fastball and sent a laser over the left-field wall. “The ball was still rising when it ticked the front slope of the roof and bounced off a sign,” Conlin wrote.

Said Lock: “That’s as good as I can hit a ball, I guess.”

The three-run home run was the difference in a 7-4 Phillies victory. Boxscore

Special day

A month later, on June 25, the Phillies were in St. Louis for a doubleheader against the Cardinals.

Lock had what he called his best day in the major leagues. He produced six hits in eight at-bats and drove in six runs, leading the Phillies to a sweep.

Lock was 4-for-5 with three RBI in the first game and 2-for-3 with three RBI in the second game.

In the opener, Lock had a two-run home run and two singles in three at-bats against the Cardinals’ starter, left-hander Larry Jaster, helping the Phillies to a 6-4 victory. Boxscore

(A month earlier, Lock also was 3-for-3 _ two doubles and a single _ against Jaster. So, in two games against Jaster, Lock was 6-for-6.)

In the doubleheader nightcap, Lock hit a two-run home run against left-hander Al Jackson, propelling the Phillies to a 10-4 triumph. Boxscore

“I’ve shortened my stroke a little,” Lock said. “I’m not taking the bat back as far and I’m choking up about an inch-and-a-half.”

Lock also hit two home runs _ one in 1967 and the other in 1968 _ against Cardinals left-hander Steve Carlton.

Lock finished the 1967 season with 14 home runs in 112 games.

He was with the Phillies again in 1968 and ended his big-league career playing for both the Phillies and Red Sox in 1969.

Lock’s overall batting mark in eight major-league seasons is .238. His career batting average versus the Cardinals is .359 (23-for-64) with five home runs and 17 RBI in 22 games.

Previously: Epic showdowns: Jim Bunning vs. Bob Gibson

Read Full Post »

A month into his first season as Cardinals manager, Solly Hemus behaved in a way that damaged his reputation and diminished his stature among some players.

Desperate and disgusted when the Cardinals lost 15 of their first 20 games in 1959, Hemus resorted to insults and intimidation in an effort to rattle the opposition and motivate his team.

Using racist remarks, Hemus lost respect and created resentment.

Two years later, he was fired during the 1961 season and never managed in the major leagues again.

A successful oil businessman in Houston, Hemus, 94, died Oct. 3, 2017. In his obituary, he was remembered as a caring man and a philanthropist.

Managing up

Hemus, an infielder, played for the Cardinals from 1949 until he was traded to the Phillies in May 1956. Skilled at reaching base, Hemus scored 105 runs in 1952 and 110 in 1953.

After he was traded, Hemus, a prolific letter writer, wrote to Cardinals owner Gussie Busch, expressing gratitude for his playing career in St. Louis and indicating a desire to return to the organization.

Busch and Hemus continued to correspond. When the Cardinals fired Fred Hutchinson in September 1958, Hemus was Busch’s choice _ not general manager Bing Devine’s _ to become player-manager.

The 1959 Cardinals started sluggishly under Hemus. After losing the first game of a doubleheader to the Pirates on May 3 at Pittsburgh, the Cardinals’ record was 5-15. The Pirates won in the 10th when a fly ball by Bill Mazeroski was misjudged by right fielder Gino Cimoli and sailed over his head for a RBI-single.

An instigator

Furious and determined to shake the Cardinals from their slumber, Hemus put himself into the starting lineup at second base for Game 2.

In the first inning, Hemus faced Bennie Daniels, making his first start of the season for the Pirates.

A pitch from Daniels to Hemus “nicked him on the right pants leg,” according to The Pittsburgh Press.

“Hemus just stuck his leg out to be hit on purpose as usual,” Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Daniels’ pitch “wasn’t a brushback pitch, but Hemus tried to make a federal case out of it,” said Pittsburgh writer Les Biederman.

As Hemus went to first base, he “tossed a few choice phrases in Daniels’ direction,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

In his book “The Long Season,” Cardinals reliever Jim Brosnan said, “(Hemus) yelled at Daniels, ‘You black bastard.’ ”

Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson, in his book “Stranger to the Game,” said, “I can understand that Hemus wanted to light a fire under us, but that was no excuse for calling Daniels a black bastard.”

As Daniels and Hemus exchanged words, Pirates first baseman Dick Stuart “blocked Solly’s path in case he might be thinking of pursuing Daniels,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Players poured onto the field, but there was no fighting.

In his book, “Uppity,” Cardinals first baseman Bill White said, “After that, Daniels always called Hemus ‘Little Faubus,’ a reference to Arkansas governor Orval Faubus, who tried to block school desegregation in Little Rock in 1957.”

Tempers flare

In the third inning, Hemus blooped a run-scoring double to left against Daniels, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.

When Hemus batted again in the sixth, Daniels’ first pitch “just missed” Hemus’ chin, according to the Post-Dispatch.

“I didn’t think that pitch was too close,” Daniels told the Post-Gazette. “I guess Hemus did.”

On the next delivery, Hemus moved up in the batter’s box and “threw his bat toward Daniels before the pitch reached the plate,” The Pittsburgh Press said.

“What was I supposed to do, turn the other cheek?” Hemus told the Post-Dispatch. “The bat slipped out of my hand just like the ball slipped out of Daniels’ hand.”

The bat landed several feet from Daniels. Again, players rushed onto the field. This time, there were scuffles.

Murtaugh “got a short punch at Hemus during the fighting and drew a little blood,” according to The Pittsburgh Press.

Hemus, who told The Sporting News he “was clipped a few times,” grappled with Pirates coach Len Levy.

“I told Solly it was silly to be throwing a bat because somebody could be killed,” Levy said. “Hemus challenged me, so I had to protect myself.”

Fans booed and threw beer cans onto the field.

After order was restored, play resumed with no ejections. “They didn’t have anything to throw me out for,” Hemus said.

Daniels retired Hemus on a groundout to short. After the Cardinals completed their half of the inning, Hemus removed himself from the game.

(Because of a curfew, the game was suspended in the seventh and resumed on the Cardinals’ next trip to Pittsburgh in June. The Cardinals won, 3-1.) Boxscore

Bad example

Noting that Hemus claimed he had tried to put a spark into the Cardinals, Brosnan said, “If that truly was his intention, he did it as awkwardly as he could. All he proved to me was that little men _ or boys _ shouldn’t play with sparks, as well as with matches.”

Wrote the Post-Gazette: “Hemus’ behavior seemed something less than expected from a major league manager.”

The Pittsburgh Press concluded Hemus “went to great lengths to set what turned out to be a bad example.”

After the second game was suspended, Hemus held a closed-door meeting with his team.

During the session, Gibson said, “Hemus referred to Daniels as a nigger … It was hard to believe our manager could be so thickheaded and it was even harder to play for a guy who unapologetically regarded black players as niggers.”

In his book “The Way It Is,” Cardinals outfielder Curt Flood said Hemus told the team, “I want you to be the first to know what I said to Daniels. I called him a black son of a bitch.”

Flood said he and teammates “sat with our jaws open, eyeing each other” as Hemus spoke.

“We had been wondering how the manager really felt about us,” Flood said. “Now we knew. Black sons of bitches.”

Said Gibson: “Hemus’ treatment of black players was the result of one of the following: Either he disliked us deeply or he genuinely believed that the way to motivate us was with insults.”

White said of Hemus, “I never had a problem with him, but some of the other players, especially Curt Flood and Bob Gibson, absolutely despised him, partly because he didn’t play them as much as they would have liked but also because they thought he was a racist.”

In 1992, Gibson recalled, Hemus approached him at a Cardinals reunion and said he wasn’t a racist. Gibson reminded Hemus of the incident with Daniels. According to Gibson, Hemus defended himself as “a master motivator doing what he could to fire up the ball club.”

Said Gibson: “My response was ‘Bullshit.’ ”

In his book “October 1964,” author David Halberstam said Hemus “was saddened that years later Gibson and Flood still thought of him as a racist. He accepted the blame for what had happened. The world had been changing, but he had not, he later decided.”

Read Full Post »

By any definition, Jose Oquendo was a giant killer.

In his first four years in the major leagues, Oquendo hit three home runs. All came against the Giants. The first two occurred in the regular season. The third happened 30 years ago, on Oct. 14, 1987, and carried the Cardinals to a National League pennant.

In the decisive Game 7 of the 1987 NL Championship Series at St. Louis, Oquendo hit a three-run home run in the second inning, giving the Cardinals a 4-0 lead. The blast stunned the Giants and inspired the Cardinals, who went on to a 6-0 victory and a berth in the World Series against the Twins.

“You’ve heard of a home run giving somebody a lift,” Cardinals slugger Jack Clark said to the San Francisco Chronicle. “This one lifted us right out of the stadium.”

Asking for trouble

Oquendo was 20 years old and a rookie with the Mets when he hit his first big-league home run. It occurred on Aug. 21, 1983, against Giants left-hander Gary Lavelle at San Francisco.

In 1987, Oquendo was a Cardinals utility player. He produced 71 hits _ 61 for singles. On July 25 that season, Oquendo hit his second big-league home run. It came against Giants left-hander Craig Lefferts at San Francisco.

With another Giants left-hander, Atlee Hammaker, starting Game 7 of the NL Championship Series, Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog sought to stack his lineup with players who batted from the right side. Needing a first baseman to replace Clark, who was injured, Herzog moved right fielder Jim Lindeman to first and chose Oquendo, a switch hitter, to start in right.

In the second inning, the Cardinals led, 1-0, and had Willie McGee on second, Tony Pena on third and one out. Oquendo, the eighth-place batter, was at the plate and pitcher Danny Cox was on deck.

With first base open, Giants manager Roger Craig had the option of walking Oquendo intentionally, setting up a potential force out at every base with Cox at the plate.

Instead, the Giants decided to take their chances with Oquendo.

“I didn’t think Roger Craig would want to pitch to me,” Oquendo said.

Countered Craig: “Hammaker has got out a lot better hitters than Oquendo. With one out, I wouldn’t put Oquendo on … You can second-guess me. I don’t care.”

It’s a gift

With the count even at 2-and-2, Hammaker threw Oquendo a slider that barely missed the strike zone. “Real close,” Oquendo admitted.

The full-count payoff pitch was a cut fastball over the plate. “It hung about as high as the bird on Oquendo’s uniform,” wrote San Francisco columnist Ray Ratto.

“Hung it big as day,” said Giants third baseman Kevin Mitchell.

“I thought they’d try to throw me breaking balls outside,” Oquendo said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I was surprised he came in.”

“Even then,” said Hammaker to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Oquendo needs luck.”

Taking a confident cut, Oquendo connected with the pitch and drove the ball over the left-field wall at Busch Stadium. Video

“If you’re talking improbable, implausible and almost impossible, how about Jose Oquendo hitting a home run?” wrote Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch.

“Was I stunned?” asked Cardinals third baseman Terry Pendleton. “Weren’t you?”

Said Herzog: “It was a goddamn Christmas present.” Boxscore

Hard work pays

Oquendo’s home run occurred on the birthday of his daughter, 3-year-old Adianez. “I feel proud,” Oquendo said.

During the series with the Giants, Doug DiCences, an infielder acquired by the Cardinals from the Angels, had suggested to Oquendo that he watch an instructional hitting video by future Hall of Famer Rod Carew. Oquendo, who admired Carew, studied the video before Game 7, according to the Post-Dispatch.

“He’s probably the hardest worker we have on the ball club,” Cardinals hitting coach Johnny Lewis said of Oquendo. “He was out here today (before Game 7) at 2:30 taking batting practice … He was ready.”

Oquendo would finish his 12-year career in the major leagues with 15 home runs _ 14 in the regular season and one in the postseason.

Only one was hit against a right-hander, Doug Bair of the Pirates.

Previously: How Ozzie Smith motivated Cards to get Jose Oquendo

Previously: Tom Lawless and his role in Cardinals World Series lore

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »