Archive for the ‘Opponents’ Category

A pitcher with a losing record and a batter with a bad back provided a winning combination for the St. Louis Browns in their World Series debut.

Seventy-five years ago, on Oct. 4, 1944, Denny Galehouse outdueled Cardinals ace Mort Cooper, and George McQuinn hit a two-run home run, lifting the Browns to a 2-1 victory in Game 1 of the World Series at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis.

The American League champion Browns, appearing in their only World Series, defied convention all season and did so again against the three-time defending National League champion Cardinals.

Browns manager Luke Sewell bypassed his ace, Nelson Potter, and started Galehouse (9-10) against Cooper (22-7). Galehouse was the first pitcher with a losing season record to start Game 1 of a World Series, The Sporting News reported.

McQuinn, the Browns’ first baseman, was another unexpected standout. He suffered from sciatica and needed to be rested for a stretch of games in early September when his chronic back pain became severe, according to United Press.

McQuinn “rarely gets a good night’s rest,” The Sporting News reported. “He has difficulty in sleeping because if he lies for several hours in one position the back becomes pinched and exceedingly painful.”

Given opportunities on baseball’s biggest stage, though, Galehouse and McQuinn delivered grand performances.

Duty calls

Galehouse, a right-hander, pitched for the Indians and Red Sox before being sent to the Browns in December 1940. Like his Browns teammate, outfielder Chet Laabs, Galehouse was too old for military service in World War II but the Army sent him to work in a plant in 1944 when he was 32.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Galehouse was working fulltime at a rubber factory in the Akron-Youngstown region of northeast Ohio in 1944. In May, the Browns arranged for Galehouse to travel by train from Ohio for Sunday games.

Galehouse pitched in three Sunday games in May and three Sunday games in June, losing three decisions, before he got an indefinite leave of absence from the war plant. He became a fulltime member of the Browns’ starting rotation on July 24.

After the Browns clinched the pennant on the last day of the regular season, most expected Sewell to select Potter (19-7) to be the Game 1 World Series starter. Instead, Sewell opted for Galehouse, who in September had a 1.92 ERA in 56.1 innings pitched. Galehouse allowed one earned run in his last three regular-season starts, covering 23 innings.

Sewell hoped his hot starter would win Game 1 and Potter would follow suit in Game 2.

The strategy almost worked.

Great escape

Galehouse got out of an early jam in Game 1 with the help of a questionable decision by Cardinals manager Billy Southworth, who took the bat out of Stan Musial’s hands.

With the game scoreless, Johnny Hopp led off the bottom of the third inning with a single for the Cardinals. Ray Sanders followed with a sinking liner. Right fielder Gene Moore, trying to make a backhand grab, got his glove on the ball, but couldn’t hold it. Hopp, waiting to see whether Moore would catch the ball, advanced only to second on Sanders’ single.

Musial, who batted .347 with 94 RBI during the regular season, stepped to the plate with runners on first and second, none out. After fouling off a pitch from Galehouse, Musial was given the bunt sign. He sacrificed successfully, moving Hopp to third and Sanders to second, but Southworth deprived the Cardinals’ best hitter of a chance to deliver a big blow.

The next batter, Walker Cooper, was walked intentionally, loading the bases with one out for Whitey Kurowski.

After getting two strikes on Kurowski, Galehouse noticed the Cardinals’ batter “was protecting the far side of the plate,” the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported. Galehouse threw a slider inside and Kurowski swung at it and missed for the second out. Next, Danny Litwhiler hit into a force play at third, enabling Galehouse and the Browns to escape the inning unscathed.

Grantland Rice, writing for the North American Newspaper Alliance, said Galehouse possessed a “stout right arm, cool head and scrappy heart.”

“Galehouse looked cooler than a slice of cucumber on ice,” wrote Rice.

Mighty McQuinn

With two outs in the fourth, Cooper gave up his first hit, a single by Moore.

Up next was McQuinn, a left-handed batter.

McQuinn, 34, hit 11 home runs during the season, but only one after Aug. 13.

With the count 1-and-0, Cooper threw him a fastball. “One of his low, fast ones _ almost too low for me,” McQuinn said to the St. Louis Star-Times.

McQuinn swung and “caught it just right,” he told United Press.

“The noise that followed sounded like the shot from a big gun,” Grantland Rice observed.

McQuinn’s rising line drive headed toward a right-field screen that extended from the wall to the pavilion roof.

“I was a bit worried at first (the ball) wasn’t quite high enough,” McQuinn said to the Globe-Democrat.

According to the Star-Times, “the ball cleared the pavilion roof by no more than a foot or so” for a home run and a 2-0 Browns lead.

St. Louis showdown

Cooper went seven innings, allowing only the two hits, and Blix Donnelly held the Browns hitless over the last two innings.

In the bottom of the ninth, Marty Marion led off with a drive to left-center for the Cardinals. Center fielder Mike Kreevich tried to make a shoestring catch, but barely missed, and Marion had a double.

Galehouse got Augie Bergamo to ground out to second, advancing Marion to third.

Ken O’Dea, batting for Donnelly, battled Galehouse, fouling off six pitches, before he flied out to deep center. Marion scored on the sacrifice fly, moving the Cardinals to within a run at 2-1, but the bases were empty with two outs.

The drama ended when Hopp flied out to right-center. Boxscore

“We were lucky,” Sewell said to the Post-Dispatch. “We had the breaks and I freely admit it. You have to be lucky to win when a pitcher holds you to two hits.”

Said Southworth: “We had everything that usually wins ballgames for you. You couldn’t have asked for better pitching than we got.”

The Browns’ mojo nearly held up in Game 2. Potter limited the Cardinals to two unearned runs, but Donnelly pitched four scoreless innings in relief of Max Lanier and the Cardinals won, 3-2, in 11 innings.

After the clubs split Games 3 and 4, Cooper got his revenge, striking out 12 and beating Galehouse with a 2-0 shutout in Game 5.

Needing one more win for the crown, the Cardinals got it, beating the Browns, 3-1, in Game 6.

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Tom Phoebus won a start versus Bob Gibson and got traded for Tony La Russa.

Phoebus died Sept. 5, 2019, at 77. A 5-foot-8 right-hander, he pitched for seven seasons in the major leagues, primarily with the Orioles.

Phoebus hurled a no-hitter against the Red Sox, won a World Series game and had double-digit win totals for the Orioles in three consecutive years _ 14 in 1967, 15 in 1968 and 14 in 1969.

His career record in the majors was 56-52 with a 3.33 ERA.

Phoebus spent his last two big-league seasons in the National League, with the Padres and Cubs. In six appearances versus the Cardinals, he was 2-2 with two saves and a 3.44 ERA.

Hometown heroics

Born and raised in Baltimore, Phoebus was 18 when he signed with the Orioles as an amateur free agent in June 1960.

In 1961, his second season as a pro, Phoebus struggled to a 1-12 record and 5.53 ERA for Leesburg of the Florida State League. The Orioles stuck with him, though, and he worked his way through their system.

Pitching in 1966 for a Rochester club managed by Earl Weaver, Phoebus was 13-9 with five shutouts and a 3.02 ERA.

The 1966 Orioles, on their way to an American League pennant, rewarded him with a promotion to the big leagues. The Orioles’ pitching coach was the former Cardinal, Harry Brecheen.

Phoebus, 24, made his major-league debut on Sept. 15, 1966, with a start against the Angels and pitched a four-hit shutout. Boxscore. In his next appearance, Sept. 20, 1966, Phoebus shut out the Athletics on a five-hitter, beating Catfish Hunter. Boxscore

Phoebus became the seventh major-league pitcher to craft a shutout in each of his first two starts, and the first to do so since Karl Spooner of the 1954 Dodgers.

“He’s a good boy with good stuff,” Brecheen told the Baltimore Sun. “All he has to do is get it over the plate.”

A year later, after he led the 1967 Orioles in wins (14), innings pitched (208) and strikeouts (179), Phoebus was named the top rookie pitcher in the American League in player balloting by The Sporting News.

“Ask hitters around the American League and they’re quick to admit Phoebus is one of the toughest pitchers to hit,” The Sporting News reported. “He’s got a good fastball, his slider breaks nearly as much as anyone else’s curve and his curve is ridiculous.”

On April 27, 1968, Phoebus pitched a no-hitter against the defending American League champion Red Sox. He walked two batters in the first inning and another in the sixth before retiring the last 12 in a row. Boxscore

In his final Orioles appearance, Phoebus was the winning pitcher in Game 2 of the 1970 World Series versus the Reds, pitching in relief of Mike Cuellar. Boxscore

Two months later, on Dec. 1, 1970, the Orioles traded Phoebus, pitchers Al Severinsen and Fred Beene, and shortstop Enzo Hernandez to the Padres for pitchers Pat Dobson and Tom Dukes.

Facing the best

The Padres projected Phoebus to join a starting rotation led by former Cardinals farmhand Clay Kirby. “Never in my 30 years of scouting have I seen a pitcher who can get two strikes on a hitter as quick as Tom Phoebus can,” Padres scout Leon Hamilton said.

Phoebus made two starts versus the Cardinals. The first was at San Diego on April 17, 1971, and it began badly for him. Matty Alou hit the first pitch of the game for a single and Joe Hague hit the next for a home run. Phoebus regrouped and pitched seven innings, allowing three total runs, but Steve Carlton tossed a four-hit shutout and the Cardinals won, 4-0. Boxscore

A month later, on May 24, 1971, at St. Louis, Phoebus was matched against Gibson. The Padres scored seven runs against the Cardinals’ ace and won, 12-3. The Sporting News noted Phoebus “celebrated the birth of his second son” by getting the win. Boxscore

It was the last win Phoebus would get for the Padres.

After beating Gibson, Phoebus lost his next seven decisions and was moved to the bullpen. He finished 3-11 for the 1971 Padres; Dobson was 20-8 for the 1971 Orioles.

Cubs helper

At spring training in 1972, Padres pitching coach Roger Craig said, “Phoebus is throwing better than he did all last year and he’s keeping the ball down.”

After making one regular-season start for the Padres, Phoebus was dealt to the Cubs for cash on April 20, 1972.

The Cubs made Phoebus a reliever and he earned his first two saves for them against the Cardinals at St. Louis on May 18, 1972, Boxscore and on May 21, 1972. Boxscore

In the latter game, Phoebus entered in the ninth with one out, Cardinals runners on second and third, and the Cubs ahead, 3-1. He got Ted Sizemore out on a deep sacrifice fly, making the score 3-2.

The next batter, Jerry McNertney, worked the count to 3-and-1. Phoebus saw Joe Torre in the on-deck circle and, according to the Chicago Tribune, “admitted he came in with a fastball over the middle of the plate, preferring a swing of any kind from McNertney than a confrontation with Torre.”

McNertney grounded out to short, ending the game.

New career

Phoebus was 3-3 with six saves and a 3.78 ERA for the 1972 Cubs. He told The Sporting News he had become a better craftsman.

“When you first get up here, you think the most important thing is to try to impress everybody with great velocity and a good curveball,” Phoebus said. “After you’ve been around, you realize what’s really important is throwing strikes and working on the hitter, keeping him off balance. I’m not strikeout happy like I used to be. Today I’d rather throw one pitch and hope for a double play than strike out two batters.”

The Braves were impressed by him and talked to the Cubs about a deal. On Oct. 20, 1972, Phoebus was traded to the Braves for La Russa.

“When I saw Phoebus last season, he looked like a workhorse,” said Braves manager Eddie Mathews. “He showed me a good arm and he wanted to pitch.”

The Cubs liked La Russa, 28, and projected him as a utility infielder. La Russa had spent the 1972 season with the Braves’ Richmond farm club and was named the International League all-star second baseman, batting .308 with 15 stolen bases. “Our scouting reports on him indicate he can make it,” said Cubs vice president John Holland. “We’re going to give him a chance.”

The deal, however, didn’t work out the way anyone envisioned.

La Russa appeared in one game for the 1973 Cubs as a pinch-runner for Ron Santo. It was La Russa’s last game as a big-league player. He spent the rest of the 1973 season with the Cubs’ Wichita farm club and batted .314 with a team-leading 75 RBI, six more than runner-up Pete LaCock. La Russa played four more seasons in the minors before embarking on a Hall of Fame career as a manager.

The Braves assigned Phoebus to Richmond, where he pitched on a staff with former Cardinal Larry Jaster. Phoebus was 7-11 with a 3.38 ERA for Richmond, but no big-league club showed interest.

Phoebus, 31, decided to quit baseball. He worked as a liquor salesman before enrolling at the University of South Florida, where he earned a degree in education when he was 43.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Phoebus “spent nearly two decades as a physical education instructor at a Port St. Lucie (Fla.) grade school before retiring” in Palm City, Fla.

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Facing the Cardinals in the last week of the season during the heat of a pennant race, the Dodgers started Sandy Koufax, used a record number of pinch-hitters and rallied for three runs in the ninth on Frank Howard’s home run, but still lost.

Sixty years ago, on Sept. 22, 1959, the Cardinals knocked the Dodgers out of first place in the National League with an 11-10 victory at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

The game was wild and unusual for multiple reasons, including:

_ Neither starting pitcher, Koufax nor the Cardinals’ Larry Jackson, lasted an inning.

_ Dodgers manager Walter Alston used nine pinch-hitters, setting a major league record.

_ Cardinals catcher Hal Smith hit a grand slam, his only one in seven big-league seasons, against Koufax.

_ Cardinals manager Solly Hemus got ejected before the Dodgers made an out.

Explosive start

The Dodgers went into the Tuesday night game tied with the Braves for first place. Both were 83-66 and both had five games remaining in the regular season. The Cardinals were 68-81 and in seventh place in the eight-team league.

The matchup of Koufax and Jackson figured to be a pitcher’s duel.

Koufax struck out 18 batters against the Giants three weeks earlier, tying the major-league record set by Bob Feller of the Indians in 1938 and breaking the National League mark of 17 established by the Cardinals’ Dizzy Dean in 1933.

Jackson was 8-1 versus the Dodgers at Busch Stadium in his career and 12-5 against them overall.

From the start, though, the game defied expectations.

The first three Dodgers batters, Jim Gilliam, Charlie Neal and Wally Moon, each singled, loading the bases. After Duke Snider walked, scoring Gilliam, Hemus was ejected by plate umpire Al Barlick for arguing balls and strikes. Hemus created more commotion when he failed to leave the dugout immediately after the ejection. Coach Johnny Keane took over as Cardinals manager.

When play resumed, Norm Larker singled, driving in Neal and Moon and giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. Marshall Bridges relieved Jackson, threw one pitch to Gil Hodges and got him to hit into a double play, with Snider advancing to third. Maury Wills was walked intentionally and John Roseboro made an out at second, ending the inning.

“Bridges’ brilliant rescue act in the first inning cut short what promised to be an atomic blast,” the Los Angeles Times noted.

The line for Jackson: five batters faced, four hits, one walk, three runs.

Wild thing

Given a 3-0 lead, Koufax couldn’t protect it.

In the bottom half of the first, Don Blasingame walked and Joe Cunningham grounded to Koufax, who threw to second for the force. Gino Cimoli grounded out, moving Cunningham to second. After Ken Boyer walked, Gene Oliver got an infield single, loading the bases. Smith, known more for his defense than his slugging, came up next. He worked the count to 3-and-2 before belting a Koufax fastball for the grand slam and a 4-3 Cardinals lead.

Koufax yielded six grand slams in his Hall of Fame career with the Dodgers, including one to another Cardinal, Charlie James, in 1962.

After the next batter, Curt Flood, reached on an error by Gilliam at third, Chuck Churn relieved. Koufax faced seven batters and gave up two hits, two walks and four runs.

“He was just wild,” Alston said to the Los Angeles Times. “He’s the same man who struck out 18 batters the other day.”

Fastball hitter

In the ninth, Cardinals closer Lindy McDaniel, making his club-record 61st appearance of the season, was looking to protect an 11-7 lead. McDaniel hadn’t allowed a home run since May 30 when Hodges connected off him in Los Angeles.

McDaniel got the first batter, Carl Furillo, to ground out to third. Hodges singled and, after Wills lined out to second, the former Cardinal, Rip Repulski, singled.

The next batter was the 6-foot-7 rookie, Frank Howard. Smith gave McDaniel the sign for a fastball and Howard hit it into the bleachers in left-center for a three-run home run, getting the Dodgers within a run.

Howard’s homer was the second of 382 he would hit in the majors.

“Now I’m convinced he can hit a fastball,” Smith said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

McDaniel recovered by getting Gilliam to ground out to second, ending the game. Boxscore

Mix and match

When the Dodgers fell behind early, Alston went to pinch-hitters to try to get favorable matchups against Bridges, a left-hander, and McDaniel, a right-hander.

“Alston pushed every button and called on just about every available athlete to save the game,” the St. Louis Globe-Democrat observed.

The nine pinch-hitters used by the Dodgers:

_ Tommy Davis, making his major-league debut, struck out in the fourth.

_ Don Demeter flied out in the fifth and stayed in the game.

_ Carl Furillo flied out in the fifth and stayed in the game.

_ Joe Pignatano walked in the sixth and stayed in the game.

_ Chuck Essegian, a former Cardinal, hit a RBI-double in the sixth.

_ Ron Fairly grounded out in the eighth.

_ Sandy Amoros grounded out in the eighth.

_ Rip Repulski singled in the ninth.

_ Frank Howard hit a three-run home run in the ninth.

According to Baseball Almanac, two other teams tied the 1959 Dodgers’ record by using nine pinch-hitters in a nine-inning game. Those teams were the Expos on Sept. 5, 1975, versus the Pirates, and the Braves on Sept. 21, 1993, against the Expos. In addition, the Cardinals and manager Tony La Russa used nine pinch-hitters in a 14-inning game on Sept. 25, 1997, versus the Reds.

The loss to the Cardinals dropped the Dodgers a game behind the Braves with four remaining. The Dodgers won three of their last four and the Braves won two, putting the clubs in a first-place tie at the end of the regular season.

The Dodgers clinched the pennant in a best-of-three playoff against the Braves, winning the first two games, and advanced to the World Series, earning the championship by winning four of six against the White Sox.

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On a night when Steve Carlton pitched great, he wasn’t good enough to win.

Fifty years ago, on Sept. 15, 1969, Carlton became the first major-league pitcher to strike out 19 batters in nine innings, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the mojo of the Amazin’ Mets.

Ron Swoboda hit a pair of two-run home runs against Carlton, giving the Mets a 4-3 victory over the Cardinals at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis.

In addition to striking out 19 times, the Mets committed four errors, but they were a charmed club destined to become 1969 World Series champions.

In the lead to his game story for the New York Daily News, Dick Young wrote, “The Mets were absolutely no match” for Carlton, but their win “goes to prove how utterly amazin’ they really are.”

Said Mets manager Gil Hodges: “It’s great to win when you play badly.”

Getting better

Carlton, 24, wasn’t feeling well before the Monday night game with the Mets.

“I had a fever all day and I felt so bad that I slept an extra hour and didn’t get to the ballpark until 7 o’clock, an hour before the game was to start,” Carlton told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

He said he took aspirins and got a rubdown from the team trainer.

The start of the game was delayed 26 minutes by rain and there was a 54-minute rain delay in the first inning.

Despite his aches and the damp conditions, Carlton struck out the sides in the first and second innings.

“I had a great fastball that kept rising and my curve was falling right off the table,” Carlton said to the Post-Dispatch.

Making mistakes

With the Cardinals ahead, 1-0, Donn Clendenon drew a walk, leading off the fourth for the Mets, and Swoboda batted next.

Carlton got ahead in the count 0-and-2 and “tried to burn another over without a waste pitch,” the New York Daily News reported.

The fastball was “right in his wheelhouse,” Carlton said, and Swoboda hit it deep into the left-field seats for a home run and a 2-1 Mets lead.

Carlton struck out the side in the fourth and the Cardinals scored twice in the fifth against Mets starter Gary Gentry, regaining the lead at 3-2.

In the middle innings, Carlton told the Post-Dispatch, “I became dizzy, tired and nauseated,” but he recovered and remained in the game.

In the eighth, Tommie Agee led off for the Mets with a single, Clendenon struck out and Swoboda came to the plate.

With the count 2-and-2, Carlton hung a slider _ “I didn’t get it inside enough,” he said _ and Swoboda lined it over the wall for a home run and a 4-3 Mets lead.

Swoboda also struck out twice and said Carlton “was fantastic.”

The two home runs gave Swoboda nine for the season. For his career, Swoboda batted .130 (6-for-46) versus Carlton with the two home runs.

“He’s primarily an inside fastball hitter,” Carlton said. “He has a tendency to swing through outside pitches and sometimes doesn’t reach them. If you go inside with him, you have to go way inside.”

Magic number

Carlton went into the ninth inning with 16 strikeouts and said he made up his mind to go for the record. Three pitchers had struck out 18 batters in nine innings. They were the Indians’ Bob Feller, the Dodgers Sandy Koufax (twice) and the Astros’ Don Wilson.

Carlton struck out pitcher Tug McGraw for No. 17 and Bud Harrelson for No. 18, tying the major-league mark. The 18 strikeouts also established a Cardinals club record, topping the previous high of 17 by Dizzy Dean versus the Cubs in a 1933 regular-season game and Bob Gibson versus the Tigers in a 1968 World Series game.

The next Mets batter, rookie Amos Otis, already had struck out three times in the game.

“I was tense,” Carlton said, “but I knew Otis was tense, too, because nobody likes to go into the record book that way, as the No. 19 strikeout.”

For Otis to avoid becoming the 19th strikeout victim, Carlton said, “I thought he might bunt.”

When asked whether he considered bunting, Otis said, “If I’m going in the books, I’m going in right. I wasn’t doing any bunting.”

With the count 2-and-2, Otis swung and missed at a slider in the dirt. The ball eluded catcher Tim McCarver, who retrieved it and threw to first base in time to complete strikeout No. 19 for Carlton.

“I’m very elated to have done something no other pitcher had ever done,” Carlton said. Boxscore

Big numbers

According to the Post-Dispatch, Carlton threw 152 pitches, including 106 for strikes. He got 12 strikeouts on fastballs, five on sliders and two on curves.

Since then, four pitchers have struck out 20 batters in nine innings. They are Roger Clemens of the Red Sox (twice), the Cubs’ Kerry Wood, the Diamondbacks’ Randy Johnson and the Nationals’ Max Scherzer.

Carlton is one of four pitchers who have topped 4,000 career strikeouts. The four are Nolan Ryan (5,714), Randy Johnson (4,875), Clemens (4,672) and Carlton (4,136).

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For many, it no longer paid to watch the Cardinals try to remain in the 1989 division title chase.

Thirty years ago, on Sept. 14, 1989, the paid attendance to see the Pirates play the Cardinals in a Thursday afternoon game at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis was 1,519.

It was the lowest paid attendance total for a Cardinals game since the stadium opened in May 1966.

The Cardinals’ previous lowest paid attendance figure at Busch Memorial Stadium was 3,380 on Sept. 27, 1972, for a game against the Mets. The Wednesday afternoon game was the regular-season home finale for the Cardinals, who began the day 23 games out of first place at 71-79. Boxscore

In 1989, the Cardinals were supposed to have an off-day on Sept. 14, but a game hastily was scheduled to make up for the previous night when rain halted a scoreless standoff with the Pirates in the sixth inning.

Change of plans

The three-game series with the Pirates should have been a chance for the Cardinals to secure their position in the National League East Division race, but instead it turned out to be a continuation of a slide out of contention.

The Cardinals’ woes began a few days earlier at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Cardinals (76-63) were 1.5 games behind the Cubs (78-62) entering the three-game weekend series. The Cubs won two of three and the Cardinals returned home to face the Pirates (63-79).

Held to a total of three runs, the Cardinals lost the first two games to the Pirates and went into the Sept. 13 series finale 4.5 games behind the Cubs.

The Wednesday night game matched starting pitchers Doug Drabek of the Pirates and Jose DeLeon of the Cardinals. They waged a scoreless duel before the game was called off because of rain with one out in the top of the sixth. Boxscore

The game, to be replayed entirely, was rescheduled for 12:35 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14. With little notice of an unscheduled game for a day when many were at work or school, few bought tickets.

In addition to the 1,519 paid attendees, the Cardinals allowed those with ticket stubs from the previous night’s rain-halted game to get in free. The Cardinals said 2,015 people used the free vouchers, bringing the total number of spectators to 3,534.

Stranger things

The few fans were confined to the lower deck of the stadium. The sight of such a small gathering for a Cardinals home game was unsettling to both teams.

“It was almost like a 10 o’clock in the morning game in spring training,” Pirates manager Jim Leyland said to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Pirates outfielder Andy Van Slyke, a former Cardinal, told the Pittsburgh Press: “I’d have given you my paycheck if you told me I’d have played before 3,500 in Busch Stadium in September with the Cardinals four games out.”

Said Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog: “We’d have done better (in ticket sales) if we’d played the game in Pittsburgh.”

Adding to the weird vibe was the smoke wafting into the stadium from a fire at a burning warehouse nearby. Herzog told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the scene looked to him “like a graveyard with lights.”

Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz noted, “The Cardinals’ season is burning and you could smell it at Busch Stadium.”

Hitting the skids

The game matched pitchers Jeff Robinson, a converted reliever, for the Pirates versus Bob Tewksbury, making his first start as a Cardinal.

The Cardinals led, 2-1, before the Pirates scored three runs in the seventh against relievers Dan Quisenberry and Ken Dayley.

In the ninth, trailing 4-2, the Cardinals scored a run on consecutive doubles by Tim Jones and Ozzie Smith. With Smith on second and one out, Vince Coleman laced a liner, but it was snared by shortstop Jay Bell, who caught Smith venturing too far off second base and turned a game-ending double play. Boxscore

The sweep by the Pirates gave the Cardinals five losses in a row and pushed them 5.5 games behind the Cubs. The Cardinals scored a total of nine runs in those five defeats.

“It’s hard to say when the nail is in the coffin,” Dayley said, “but there isn’t much daylight getting in right now.”

Said Jones: “Luckily, with the way we played, there weren’t 30,000 people in the stands.”

The Cubs (93-69) went on to win the division crown. The Mets (87-75) finished second and the Cardinals (86-76) were third.

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Enos Slaughter and the Cardinals tried to intimidate Danny Murtaugh and the Pirates, but the tactic backfired.

Seventy years ago, on Sept. 5, 1949, at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, Slaughter slashed Murtaugh in the chest with his spikes while sliding into second base in an unsuccessful effort to break up a double play.

Murtaugh, a former Cardinals prospect, considered the rough contact unnecessary because he had thrown the ball to the first baseman before Slaughter arrived at second base.

Slaughter’s spikes-high slide shook the Pirates from a slumber. Murtaugh sparked a game-winning rally in the 10th inning and the Pirates later played a key role in preventing the Cardinals from winning the 1949 National League pennant.

Head hunters

On April 27, 1949, during a 7-1 Pirates victory at St. Louis, Cardinals pitchers twice hit leadoff batter Stan Rojek with pitches. The second one, by reliever Ken Johnson, beaned Rojek in the head and he was carried from the field on a stretcher. The Pirates “thought it was deliberate,” according to the Pittsburgh Press. Boxscore

Rojek was sidelined for a week and the Pirates lost eight of their next nine.

Five months later, when they went to St. Louis for a Labor Day doubleheader, the Pirates (57-71) were 23.5 games behind the first-place Cardinals (81-48).

In the first game of the doubleheader, Slaughter produced a triple, home run and five RBI, carrying the Cardinals to a 9-1 triumph and handing the Pirates their eighth consecutive loss. Boxscore

Rough stuff

Seeking a sweep, the Cardinals appeared poised to strike in the second inning of the second game. Nippy Jones led off with a single. Slaughter hit a grounder to Murtaugh, who fielded it cleanly but bobbled the ball as he started to throw. The error allowed Slaughter to reach first and moved Jones to third with none out.

Marty Marion batted next and hit a groundball to third baseman Eddie Bockman. As Jones held third, Bockman fired a throw to Murtaugh at second.

Murtaugh caught the ball on the bag for the forceout of Slaughter at second, pivoted and threw to first baseman Jack Phillips in time to complete the double play. Murtaugh’s throw “barely missed Enos’ head,” according to the St. Louis Star-Times.

Slaughter, who had gone into his slide, raised his feet high and crashed hard into Murtaugh, who was cut “across the right side of his chest,” drawing blood, the Pittsburgh Press reported.

Slaughter got up, dusted himself off, said nothing to Murtaugh and trotted into the Cardinals’ dugout along the third-base line.

Murtaugh “didn’t realize he was bleeding until he put his hands inside his shirt,” the Pittsburgh Press observed.

Sticks and stones

Incensed, Murtaugh shouted at Slaughter in words “too hot to handle or to take without retort,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Slaughter motioned for Murtaugh to come over to the dugout and fight. Murtaugh tossed his glove aside and moved rapidly toward Slaughter, who emerged onto the field.

Jones alertly left the third-base bag and clamped his arms around Murtaugh to keep him from pursuing Slaughter. Members of the Cardinals stopped Slaughter from proceeding.

No one was ejected because “nothing more harmful than expressive nouns and adjectives” were exchanged, the St. Louis Star-Times noted.

Murtaugh was given first aid in the Pirates’ dugout and insisted on staying in the game. Inspired, the Pirates “displayed more fight, more needling ability and more zest for winning than they’ve shown in a long time,” according to the Pittsburgh Press.

The Pirates built a 4-0 lead before the Cardinals fought back, tied the score and forced extra innings.

Sweet revenge

With one out and none on in the top of the 10th, Murtaugh, who had singled twice in the game, came to the plate to face reliever Red Munger and “grinned mockingly as the stands booed him again,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Murtaugh responded by stroking a double into right-center field. Ed Fitz Gerald ran for him and scored when Rojek doubled with two outs, giving the Pirates a 5-4 lead.

In the bottom of the 10th, Slaughter led off, singled and moved to second on Marion’s sacrifice bunt, but Vic Lombardi got the next two batters to ground out, sealing the win. Boxscore

Asked about being spiked, Murtaugh noted Slaughter was an outfielder “and we can’t retaliate.”

“If he were an infielder, he’d never try that,” Murtaugh said.

Three weeks later, the first-place Cardinals held a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers when they went to Pittsburgh for a two-game series with the Pirates.

Still steaming from the beaning of Rojek and the spiking of Murtaugh, the Pirates played like a contender and won both games, 6-4 on Sept. 27 and 7-2 on Sept. 29, knocking the Cardinals from first place.

The stunned Cardinals went on to Chicago for a season-ending series with the Cubs, lost two of three and finished in second, a game behind the champion Dodgers.

Murtaugh began his professional career in the Cardinals’ organization, but never played for their big-league club. He spent five seasons (1937-41) in the Cardinals’ farm system and batted .299 with 186 hits for their Houston club in 1940.

After hitting .317 in 69 games for Houston in 1941, the Cardinals sold Murtaugh’s contract to the Phillies on June 28. The Phillies put him in their lineup and the rookie led the National League in stolen bases (18) in 1941.

On May 2, 1946, the Cardinals reacquired Murtaugh from the Phillies for cash, but sent him to their farm club at Rochester, where he batted .322 with 174 hits. After the season, the Braves selected Murtaugh in the Rule 5 draft.

Murtaugh finished his big-league playing career with the Pirates. He hit .290 for them in 1948 and .294 in 1950.

In 1957, Murtaugh became the Pirates’ manager. He managed them for 15 seasons and led them to World Series championships in 1960 and 1971.

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