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In the first week of his first season as Cardinals manager, Tony La Russa was facing a pitching problem. After just five games, his bullpen already was overworked because of extra-inning and high-scoring contests. Entering the finale of a season-opening six-game road trip, La Russa needed his No. 5 starter, rookie Mike Busby, to pitch as long as possible in his big-league debut against the Braves in Atlanta.

mike_busbyOn April 7, 1996, Busby absorbed a beating by the Braves, who scored 13 runs in four innings before Busby was relieved. The Braves scored twice in the first inning, five times in the second, four times in the third and twice in the fourth.

La Russa left Busby in longer than the manager normally would because he and pitching coach Dave Duncan had hoped the starter could pitch at least five innings.

Twenty years later, another pitcher, Mike Mayers, had a shorter _ though otherwise similar _ rough outing in his big-league debut for the Cardinals. On July 24, 2016, Mayers yielded nine runs in 1.1 innings versus the Dodgers at St. Louis. Boxscore

The nine runs allowed by Mayers were the most by a Cardinals starter in his debut since Busby gave up 13 against the Braves.

Climbing the ladder

Busby had been selected by the Cardinals in the 14th round of the 1991 amateur draft. His best performance in their minor-league system was in 1993 when Busby was 12-2 with a 2.44 ERA in 23 games for Class A Savannah.

In 1996, Busby opened the season in the big leagues for the first time as the No. 5 starter for the Cardinals behind Andy Benes, Todd Stottlemyre, Alan Benes and Tom Urbani.

After splitting the first two games of the season with the Mets, the Cardinals gave up 10 runs in a Game 3 loss to New York and then won a pair against the Braves in 12 innings and in 10 innings. The Cardinals used a lot of relievers in those latter three games.

Long balls

La Russa and Duncan hoped to avoid using the bullpen much in the finale of the series in Atlanta.

The Braves, though, hammered Busby for nine hits, including seven for extra bases. Busby yielded four home runs _ a grand slam by Marquis Grissom, two-run shots by Chipper Jones and Eddie Perez, and a solo home run by Ryan Klesko. Busby also issued four walks and hit a batter.

Duncan told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Busby likely was tipping his pitches because of how he held his glove.

“The way they were swinging the bats, nothing was surprising them,” Duncan observed.

Said Busby: “You can’t make mistakes to those big hitters. Down in the minor leagues, you can get away with those mistakes. Here, they jump all over them.”

Guts, no glory

The Braves won, 13-3. Tony Fossas and Cory Bailey each pitched two innings of scoreless relief for St. Louis.

La Russa held a closed-door clubhouse meeting after the game.

“I made it a point to commend Mike in front of everybody,” La Russa said. “He was in a tough situation, but he never once embarrassed himself or embarrassed the team. He’s got special insides. He’ll be fine.”

Said Busby: “I don’t want any sympathy.” Boxscore

Mixed results

The next day, the Cardinals sent Busby to Class AAA Louisville and called up pitcher Brian Barber to replace him. Busby spent the remainder of the season in the minors. He was 2-5 with a 6.38 ERA for Louisville.

Busby appeared again with the Cardinals in each of the next three seasons. He was 0-2 with an 8.79 ERA in three games for St. Louis in 1997, 5-2 (4.50 ERA) in 26 games in 1998 and 0-1 (7.13 ERA) in 1999.

Granted free agency after the 199 season, Busby signed with the Brewers but never pitched in the big leagues again. His career totals with the Cardinals: 5-6, 6.48 ERA in 45 games.

Previously: The story of Bob Gibson and his worst start

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Three years after the Blue Jays removed Chris Carpenter from their big-league roster and told him he’d have to go to the minors if he wanted to remain with the organization, the pitcher returned to Toronto as a member of the Cardinals and showed why giving up on him was a mistake.

chris_carpenter11On June 14, 2005, Carpenter faced the Blue Jays for the first time since leaving them. In one of his most dominating performances, Carpenter pitched a one-hit shutout for a 7-0 Cardinals victory that was as much personal as it was professional.

The masterpiece at Toronto helped establish Carpenter as a pitcher who got big wins in the big games for St. Louis. Carpenter posted a 95-44 regular-season record and 10-4 postseason mark (including 3-0 in the World Series) as a Cardinals starter from 2004-2012.

On Aug. 27, 2016, Carpenter will join players Joe Torre and Terry Moore and executive Sam Breadon in being inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame. Carpenter and Torre were elected in balloting by fans.

Oh, Canada

Carpenter began his professional career with the Blue Jays. He was selected by them with the 15th pick in the first round of the 1993 amateur draft, just ahead of pitcher Alan Benes, who was chosen by the Cardinals with the 16th selection.

Four years later, Carpenter made his big-league debut. He had a 49-50 record for Toronto from 1997-2002.

In October 2002, the Blue Jays removed Carpenter, who had undergone shoulder surgery, from their big-league roster and offered him a spot at Class AAA Syracuse. Instead, Carpenter chose to become a free agent and signed with the Cardinals.

He joined the big-league club in 2004 after spending 2003 working his shoulder into shape.

Good stuff

After posting a 15-5 record in 28 starts for the 2004 Cardinals, Carpenter established himself as the staff ace in 2005. He took an 8-4 record into the start at Toronto.

Carpenter’s return to Toronto drew a Tuesday night crowd of 37,536, including actor Bruce Willis. One fan held up a sign that read: “Thanks for four years of frustrating mediocrity, Carpenter.”

Carpenter responded to the wise guy with a tip of his cap.

Mostly, he let his pitching do the talking.

Effectively mixing a four-seam fastball, curve and changeup, Carpenter baffled the Blue Jays. “My stuff was good and I thought I kept them off balance pretty good,” Carpenter said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa: “He had movement all over, mostly down.”

Gregg Zaun, drawing a leadoff walk in the third, was the first Blue Jays batter to reach base. The next batter, Orlando Hudson, grounded into a double play.

The Blue Jays were hitless until, with two outs in the sixth, rookie Russ Adams pulled a ball that landed barely inside the right-field foul line for a double.

Carpenter then retired the last 10 batters in a row.

“In a game of inches, he came within a couple of inches of throwing a no-hitter,” Larry Walker, the Cardinals’ designated hitter, said of Carpenter.

Toronto tormentor

The one-hitter was the first of Carpenter’s big-league career. It also was the 19th one-hitter by a Cardinals pitcher and the first since Vicente Palacios achieved the feat for St. Louis against the Astros in 1994.

“He wanted to come back (to Toronto) and make an impression,” La Russa said of Carpenter. “He did.”

John Gibbons, Blue Jays manager, told the Associated Press, “He throws downhill at you. He throws 94 mph with that big old hook that he can control. It’s tough to hit that.”

Carpenter was supported by four Cardinals home runs: Walker hit a pair of two-run home runs, Reggie Sanders hit a solo shot and Albert Pujols also had a two-run home run. Boxscore

Carpenter pitched one more one-hitter. It occurred on Sept. 7, 2009, in a 3-0 Cardinals victory over the Brewers at Milwaukee. The lone hit off Carpenter was a fifth-inning double by Jody Gerut.

On June 23, 2010, at Toronto, Carpenter faced the Blue Jays for the second and last time in his career. He pitched eight scoreless innings and got the win in a 1-0 Cardinals victory.

Matt Holliday broke a scoreless tie with a two-out, RBI-single in the top of the ninth off Kevin Gregg, who had relieved starter Ricky Romero.

Ryan Franklin earned the save, yielding a single and a walk _ but no run _ in the bottom of the ninth.

Previously: Mike Matheny helped Chris Carpenter join Cards

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As a rookie starting center fielder for the 1935 Cardinals, Terry Moore struggled initially to live up to lofty expectations. What sealed his status as a premier big-league player was a flawless hitting performance that went unmatched by any Cardinals batter for the next 70 years.

terry_mooreOn Sept. 5, 1935, Moore had six hits _ a double and five singles _ in six at-bats for the Cardinals against the Braves at St. Louis. No other Cardinals player got six hits in a game until Skip Schumaker achieved the feat on July 26, 2008, with six singles in seven at-bats in 14 innings against the Mets at New York.

Moore’s six-hit game secured his role as an everyday player for the Cardinals. He played his entire 11-year big-league career with St. Louis, batting .280 with 1,318 hits in 1,298 games. A four-time all-star, Moore served in the military between two stints with the Cardinals (1935-42 and 1946-48). He four times led National League center fielders in assists and twice led in putouts.

On Aug. 27, 2016, Moore will join players Chris Carpenter and Joe Torre and executive Sam Breadon in being inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame.

Slow start

Moore was training for a career as a printer when he was discovered by a Cardinals scout in 1932.

He had a spectacular season in 1934, batting .326 with 213 hits in 154 minor-league games in the Cardinals’ system.

Frankie Frisch, St. Louis manager, declared Moore the everyday center fielder for the 1935 Cardinals, replacing veteran Ernie Orsatti.

Initially, Moore was a bust. He batted .132 (5-for-38) in April.

“He made mistakes in fielding the ball,” wrote W.J. McGoogan in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He threw to the wrong base and seemingly he couldn’t hit big-league pitching.”

The Sporting News opined, “Much was expected of him _ more perhaps than any other lad of recent transition from the minors to the big line. Moore’s trail was marked with such superlatives and so many high hopes that the youngster didn’t quite live up to the blueprints during the early part of the season.”

Frisch has faith

Still, Frisch struck with the rookie. “He (Frisch) was impressed with his courage, his speed and style in the field,” The Sporting News observed.

Said Frisch to the Post-Dispatch: “What I like about him is that he’s always trying and he’s no alibi artist. When he makes a mistake, he knows it, but he doesn’t make the same mistake twice.”

Moore, who turned 23 in May 1935, entered August with a .251 batting average. Then, he got hot. Moore hit .419 (26-for-62) in August.

His strong hitting carried into September as the Cardinals battled the Cubs for the pennant.

Battered Braves

On Sept. 5, a Thursday afternoon, Moore batted leadoff for the Cardinals against the last-place Braves before 2,700 spectators at Sportsman’s Park. The 1935 Braves were a dismal team. They would finish the season at 38-115 and their pitching staff would post a NL-worst 4.93 ERA.

Facing a former Cardinals pitcher, Braves starter Fred Frankhouse, Moore singled in the first inning and added a RBI-single in the second.

After Frankhouse yielded seven runs in two innings, Huck Betts, 38, relieved. Moore reached him for a RBI-double in the third and singles in the sixth, seventh and eighth.

Moore’s final line: 6-for-6 with two RBI and two runs scored.

Betts gave up eight runs in six innings. The Braves committed five errors, three by center fielder Wally Berger. The Cardinals collected 19 hits and four walks in a 15-3 victory. Boxscore

Good to great

Moore batted .329 (26-for-79) in September and finished his rookie season with a .287 batting average, totaling 131 hits in 119 games.

Said Frisch: “Moore is one of the greatest young ballplayers I have ever seen … I think you’ll see one of the greatest center fielders in the game within two more years.”

Frisch proved prophetic.

In his book, “Stan Musial: The Man’s Own Story,” Musial said, “Terry Moore was a great team leader as well as a great competitor and center fielder … Terry was a timely hitter who’ll be best remembered for his defensive plays, his ham-sized hands, accurate arm and ability to scoop up ground balls like an infielder. I’d like to have seen a defensive outfield of (Willie) Mays, Moore and (Joe) DiMaggio.”

Previously: Cardinals classic: Skip Schumaker bests Roy Halladay

Previously: Great outfield: Stan Musial, Terry Moore, Enos Slaughter

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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.

joe_torre8On 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.

Redbirds rally

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.”

Previously: Cards fans cheered when 1954 game forfeited to Phillies

Previously: Why Cardinals traded popular, productive Joe Torre

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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.

joe_torre7Torre 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

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Mercifully, an experiment by the Cardinals to play Ted Simmons at third base lasted just two games. Still, plenty of damage was done. Simmons made three errors that contributed to two defeats, got booed by Cardinals fans and then lashed out at them, saying they lacked perspective and that St. Louis didn’t deserve its reputation for being a good sports town.

ted_simmons18Fortunately for Simmons, the controversy quickly faded. Simmons continued to be one of St. Louis’ best and most respected athletes, culminating his achievements with his 2015 election by the fans to the Cardinals Hall of Fame.

Forty years ago, in July 1976, the prospects for such a happy ending, though, appeared rocky.

Power shortage

The 1976 Cardinals were a deeply flawed team. In June, they traded one of their top players, outfielder Reggie Smith, to the Dodgers for a catcher, Joe Ferguson, even though the Cardinals had a standout at that position in Simmons.

One of the many problem spots for the 1976 Cardinals was third base. Their 1975 third baseman, Ken Reitz, had earned a Gold Glove Award for his fielding. The Cardinals traded Reitz to the Giants in December 1975 because St. Louis had a prospect, Hector Cruz, who had impressed as a slugger in the minor leagues.

As an everyday third baseman with the 1976 Cardinals, Cruz was a flop. His batting average by July 20 of that season was .194.

Without Smith and with Cruz struggling, Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst sought a run producer to join Simmons in the batting order. Ferguson was his choice. Schoendienst shifted Simmons to third base and put Ferguson at catcher.

Hot corner

On July 21, 1976, a Wednesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Simmons appeared at third base in a major-league game for the first time.

“Simmons had played a little third base in the minors, a little in spring training and the Florida Instructional League, too,” wrote Neal Russo of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “But never in the majors.”

In the 10th, with the score tied at 6-6 and reliever Al Hrabosky in his third inning of work, Bill Russell hit a routine grounder to Simmons at third. Simmons fielded the ball cleanly but threw it over the head of first baseman Keith Hernandez, enabling Russell to reach second.

“The last thing I was worried about was throwing the ball away,” Simmons said. “I’ve never had any trouble throwing the ball and I’m not worried about ground balls.”

Ted Sizemore, the former Cardinals infielder, singled to center, scoring Russell and giving the Dodgers a 7-6 victory. Boxscore

“I imagine Simmons will make another error before it’s all over,” Schoendienst said. “At least he didn’t miss the ball. He just made the throw too strong.”

Cockroach game

The next night, July 22, 1976, Simmons was back at third base as the Cardinals faced the Cubs at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

The Cardinals committed five errors _ two by Simmons, two by second baseman Vic Harris and one by Ferguson. The Cubs prevailed, 8-4. Five of their runs were unearned.

Simmons miscues again led to runs for the opposition.

In the seventh, with two outs and Joe Wallis on third, former Cardinals infielder Mick Kelleher grounded to third. Simmons booted the ball and Wallis scored.

An inning later, with Manny Trillo on third, Larry Biittner on second and two outs, Wallis grounded to deep third. Trillo scored on the infield single. When Simmons threw wildly to first in a futile bid to get Wallis, Biittner scored on the misplay. Boxscore

“The Cardinals have had many low points … but last night’s game was right down there among the cockroaches,” wrote Rick Hummel in the Post-Dispatch.

Said Schoendienst: “It was bad, I’ll say that.”

Restless natives

Fans reacted with boos. Most were directed at Harris and Simmons.

A combative Simmons offered Hummel an exclusive response. His remarks were published in an article in the July 25, 1976, Sunday edition of the Post-Dispatch.

“I think the natives have been like this all along,” Simmons said. “I’ve been here seven years and they haven’t shown me anything in their reactions …

“They’ve got a right to boo. But there are things they have to take into account. They don’t understand what’s happening out there. What they have to understand is … we had a reserve at second base and we had a catcher playing third. If they can’t see past that, then they’re not showing much perspective.

“I don’t want to hear about this being a good sports town … I expect more than what I’ve seen in seven years. I’ve felt this way for a long time.”

Simmons said he didn’t want to leave the Cardinals _ “The ballclub has treated me super.” _ but felt underappreciated by fans.

“I hear people say, ‘Where are they going to hide Simmons? He can hit but he can’t field.’ So I made two errors. Maybe I’m the goat. But I didn’t ask to play third base. They asked me.”

Knowing the consequences of his comments, Simmons concluded, “I suspect I’ll get it when this comes out. I’ve never been quite what the doctor ordered for this town.”

Storm passes

On the day the article appeared, Simmons was held out of the lineup for the Cardinals’ game that afternoon at Busch Stadium.

The next night, a Monday, July 26, 1976, the Cardinals played at home against the Pirates. With a left-hander, former teammate Jerry Reuss, starting for the Pirates, Schoendienst benched Hernandez and started Simmons at first base.

When Simmons came to bat for the first time, “the cheers almost drowned out the boos,” Dick Kaegel of the Post-Dispatch reported.

“Not nearly as bad as I thought it might be,” Simmons said. “I was really surprised. I was really happy. I expected the worst and was prepared for the worst.”

The game was called off in the fourth inning because of rain.

In 1976, Simmons went on to make 108 starts at catcher, 26 starts at first base, seven starts in left field and two starts at third base.

Simmons never appeared at third base again for the Cardinals, though he would play 16 games at third for the Brewers and 11 games there for the Braves after he was traded by the Cardinals in December 1980.

Previously: Why Cardinals dealt Ken Reitz after Gold Glove season

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