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Capping a Cardinals comeback, Roger Freed burned the team he cheered for as a boy.

Freed, a Los Angeles native reared in suburban Baldwin Park, Calif., hit a walkoff three-run home run 40 years ago, enabling the Cardinals to overcome a five-run deficit in the ninth inning and defeat the Dodgers.

Freed was batting for pitcher Al Hrabosky when he hit his game-winning home run against knuckleball specialist Charlie Hough.

At a time before cable television and the Internet, the game was showcased nationally as ABC’s “Monday Night Baseball” telecast.

“I knew my mother was watching (in Baldwin Park),” Freed said to the Los Angeles Times. “I kept telling myself I was going to hit one for Mom. She never gives up until the game is over. She’s been a baseball rooter ever since I was in Little League.”

No surrender

The Dodgers were comfortably in first place in the National League West, 9.5 games ahead of the Reds, entering their Aug. 22, 1977, game against the Cardinals at St. Louis.

Sparked by a Steve Yeager grand slam against John Denny, the Dodgers took a 6-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth versus the Cardinals.

Jerry Mumphrey opened the Cardinals’ ninth with a single and scored on Garry Templeton’s triple, cutting the Dodgers’ lead to 6-2. Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda lifted starter Burt Hooton and replaced him with a rookie, Lance Rautzhan.

Ted Simmons singled, scoring Templeton and getting the Cardinals within three at 6-3. Keith Hernandez ripped a double just inside the first-base line. When the throw from right fielder Reggie Smith eluded cutoff man Bill Russell, Simmons continued home, making the score 6-4, and Hernandez went to third.

Hough, the Dodgers’ closer, relieved Rautzhan.

Dodgers dandy

With Mike Anderson at the plate, Hough unleashed a knuckler that got past Yeager. Hernandez scored and the Cardinals were within a run, 6-5.

After Anderson struck out for the first out of the inning, Ken Reitz singled and Rick Bosetti ran for him. Mike Tyson singled _ the Cardinals’ sixth hit of the inning _ and Bosetti moved to second.

With Hrabosky due up next, Cardinals manager Vern Rapp called on Freed to bat for the pitcher. Freed, who had been acquired by the Cardinals from the Expos’ organization in the December minor-league draft, was batting .345 overall and .438 as a pinch hitter for St. Louis.

Hough went to work against him with his signature knuckler and got ahead on the count 1-and-2.

“The knuckler was dancing all over the place,” Freed said. “Hough has a dandy.”

Low liner

Hough threw Freed a knuckler that was at the bottom of the strike zone.

“It was what I consider a good knuckler,” Hough said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Said Bing Devine, the Cardinals’ general manager: “It was amazing to see on the TV replay where the ball was. It was low and away.”

Freed took a big swing and connected.

“I knew I hit it hard, but the pitch had been so low that I thought it might be right at the shortstop,” Freed said.

The line drive rose and carried over the left-field wall for a home run, giving the Cardinals an 8-6 victory. “I didn’t know it was gone until I looked up,” Freed said. Boxscore

Freed, a reserve first baseman and right fielder, finished the 1977 season with a .398 batting average (33-for-83). He hit .545 (6-for-11) with two outs and a runner in scoring position.

Freed batted .239 for the 1978 Cardinals and .258 for the 1979 Cardinals. He was released in April 1980.

Previously: Carl Taylor, Roger Freed experienced the ultimate

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In the last game the Cardinals played against the Giants at the Polo Grounds in New York, Stan Musial delivered a performance worthy of Broadway.

Sixty years ago, on Aug. 21, 1957, Musial bid a dramatic farewell to the Giants at one of his favorite ballparks, hitting a home run in the first inning against former teammate Stu Miller at the Polo Grounds.

In two subsequent plate appearances that Wednesday afternoon, Musial also produced an infield single and a sacrifice fly before being removed from the game by Cardinals manager Fred Hutchinson.

Though Musial and the Cardinals never would play the Giants again at the Polo Grounds, they would return to the ballpark five years later, in 1962, when the Mets joined the National League as an expansion club.

Musial and the Cardinals would face the Mets at the Polo Grounds in 1962 and 1963. After the 1963 season, Musial retired, the Mets moved to Shea Stadium and the Polo Grounds was demolished.

In August 1957, however, there was no inkling that major-league baseball would be played at the Polo Grounds after that season.

Go west

In May 1957, National League club owners gave permission to the Giants to move from New York to San Francisco and for the Dodgers to transfer from Brooklyn to Los Angeles.

Three months later, on Aug. 19, the Giants’ board of directors, by an 8-to-1 vote, approved the proposal to relocate the franchise to San Francisco for the 1958 season. The Giants had been in New York for 74 years.

On Aug. 20, the day after the board made its decision, the Cardinals played a doubleheader against the Giants at the Polo Grounds. The Cardinals won both games before a crowd of 13,198.

The next day, Aug. 21, the Cardinals and Giants played for the final time at the Polo Grounds. The game drew 5,296 spectators to the ballpark along Eighth Avenue and West 159th Street between Coogan’s Bluff and the Harlem River in upper Manhattan.

NL’s best

The starting pitchers were Lindy McDaniel for St. Louis and Stu Miller, a former Cardinal, for the Giants.

Batting third in the orders were two of the all-time best _ Musial for the Cardinals and Willie Mays for the Giants.

The Polo Grounds had unusual dimensions. The distance from home plate to the deepest part of center field was about 480 feet. Down the lines, it was 258 feet from the plate to the right field foul pole and 279 feet from the plate to the left field foul pole.

In the first inning, Musial hit a home run into the upper deck in right.

In the Giants’ half of the first, Mays hit a home run over the left-field roof.

Facing 18-year-old rookie reliever Mike McCormick, Musial got an infield single in the third and a sacrifice fly in the fifth.

With the Giants ahead, 11-3, Hutchinson opted to give Musial a rest and removed him from the game in the sixth.

Musial, 36, was leading the National League in batting average (.342) and RBI (97) and had 29 home runs.

“As far as I’m concerned, he’s the most valuable player in the National League this year and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy,” Cardinals general manager Frank Lane said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Boxscore

Big Apple fan

In 11 games at the Polo Grounds in 1957, Musial batted .439 (18-for-41) with six home runs and 14 RBI.

Asked by New York writers whether he would miss the Polo Grounds, Musial replied, “Yes. The Polo Grounds makes a hero or a bum out of you. It can throw you into a terrible batting slump if you try to pull too much. It can give you the toughest out on the longest drives anywhere and the cheapest home runs. I’ve had my good years here and others not so good, but overall I’ve been fortunate. I’ll miss the park and the fans and the city’s legitimate theater, too.”

Musial and the Cardinals returned to the Polo Grounds to play the Mets on April 18, 1962. Musial had two hits and two RBI.

Three months later, on July 8, 1962, Musial, 41, hit three home runs against the Mets at the Polo Grounds. He’s the oldest player to hit three home runs in a big-league game.

Musial, 42, appeared at the Polo Grounds for the final time on Aug. 8, 1963, against the Mets. Pinch-hitting in the ninth, he drew a walk.

In 171 games at the Polo Grounds against the Giants and Mets, Musial batted .343 with 216 hits, including 49 home runs. He hit more home runs at the Polo Grounds than he did at any other ballpark outside St. Louis.

Previously: How Stan Musial made me a Cardinals fan

Previously: Stan Musial still oldest to belt 3 home runs in game

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Lee May, one of the National League’s most consistent sluggers in the late 1960s and early 1970s, hit for both average and power against the Cardinals.

May, a first baseman known as the “Big Bopper,” played for the Reds (1965-71) and Astros (1972-74) in the National League before going to the American League with the Orioles and Royals.

In 103 games versus the Cardinals, May had 128 hits, with 26 doubles, 16 home runs and 63 RBI. His career .327 batting average against the Cardinals is 60 points higher than his career major-league mark of .267.

May died July 29, 2017, at 74.

A standout high school athlete in Birmingham, Ala., May was offered a football scholarship to play fullback at the University of Nebraska, but he elected to sign a baseball contract with the Reds. He modeled his swing after his boyhood idol, American League slugger Harmon Killebrew.

“May was a husky bear of a man with the disposition of a newborn cub, a guy with a wondrous sense of humor, a guy loved by everybody who came into contact with him,” wrote Hal McCoy in the Dayton Daily News.

From 1969-74, May ranked among the top 10 in the NL in home runs each year. In 1970, when he hit 34 home runs for the pennant-winning Reds, May delivered one of his most memorable long balls _ a grand slam against the Cardinals.

Keep swinging

On July 20, 1970, the Reds and Cardinals had a Monday twi-night doubleheader at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

May was in a slump. He had batted .304 in May but .220 in June. Hitless in his three previous games, he entered the doubleheader with a .246 batting average.

“I’ve been pressing a little,” May said to the Associated Press. “It’s always natural for a guy in a slump to press. When you’re in a slump, you look at it like the other team has about 20 infielders and 20 outfielders. So it really doesn’t make any difference who is pitching.”

In the opener, May was 1-for-4. His two-out double in the eighth against Jerry Reuss drove in Tony Perez from second base. When left fielder Lou Brock bobbled the ball, Johnny Bench raced from first to home, tying the score at 3-3. A run-scoring single by Bobby Tolan in the ninth lifted the Reds to a 4-3 victory. Boxscore

Reds manager Sparky Anderson intended to rest May in the second game. “He’s been in a little slump,” Anderson said. “I was going to get him away from the field and give him a chance to relax. Then he said, ‘I don’t need mental help. I just need my swings.’ ”

Winning wallop

May started Game 2 and was in his usual fifth spot in the batting order.

The starting pitchers, Tony Cloninger of the Reds and Chuck Taylor of the Cardinals, engaged in a scoreless duel. Cloninger shut out the Cardinals for eight innings before being relieved by Wayne Granger. Taylor shut out the Reds through nine.

Taylor faced the minimum 27 batters before he was lifted for a pinch hitter. He yielded three singles, but two of the runners were erased on double play grounders and the other was caught by catcher Joe Torre attempting to steal second.

With the score at 0-0, a rookie, Bob Chlupsa, was chosen by Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst to pitch the 10th.

The Reds loaded the bases with one out on singles by Pete Rose and Bernie Carbo and a walk to Perez.

May stepped to plate and drove a pitch 400 feet over the wall in left-center for a grand slam.

“It was a fat pitch _ fastball, high _ and that’s what he gets paid to hit,” Chlupsa said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Said May: “I feel a little confidence coming back. I feel like I’m going to shake this thing.”

Granger retired the Cardinals in order in the bottom half of the 10th, giving the Reds a 4-0 victory and a sweep of the doubleheader. Boxscore

The Reds set a NL record in the game by playing 10 innings without leaving a runner on base.

Fast learner

Three months later, May hit .389 (7-for-18) with two doubles and two home runs against the Orioles in the 1970 World Series.

“He might get fooled on a pitch, but on that same pitch, the next time he sees it, he’ll knock it out of the park,” said Reds hitting coach Ted Kluszewski.

After the 1971 season, May was sent to the Astros in the trade that brought future Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan to the Reds.

May played 18 seasons in the big leagues and produced 354 home runs and 1,244 RBI.

His brother, Carlos May, played 10 seasons (1968-77) in the big leagues as an outfielder for the White Sox, Yankees and Angels.

Previously: Johnny Bench was nemesis of Steve Carlton

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With a wallop to the outfield depths of Sportsman’s Park, Enos Slaughter altered the course of a National League pennant race in favor of the Cardinals.

Slaughter hit a walkoff inside-the-park home run that lifted the Cardinals to an extra-inning victory over the Dodgers and completed a doubleheader sweep of the NL leaders 75 years ago on July 19, 1942.

The Dodgers’ top player, center fielder and NL batting leader Pete Reiser, suffered a concussion when he crashed into a concrete outfield wall while pursuing Slaughter’s smash.

The sweep moved the second-place Cardinals to within six games of the Dodgers.

Reiser, who rushed back to the lineup too soon, struggled to hit over the last two months of the season. That was a factor in enabling the rejuvenated Cardinals to overtake the Dodgers at the end of the season and win the pennant.

Musial gets mad

The Dodgers entered the July 19 doubleheader at St. Louis with an eight-game lead over the Cardinals. A Dodgers sweep threatened to demoralize the Cardinals.

In Game 1, the Cardinals led 7-0 in the fourth inning when Stan Musial stepped to the plate against rookie reliever Les Webber. A month earlier, Musial had hit a home run off Webber.

Webber threw an inside pitch that moved Musial off the plate. Musial yelled out to Webber. The next pitch “came dangerously close to Stan’s head,” according to the St. Louis Star-Times.

Angered, Musial uncharacteristically moved toward Webber with his bat in hand. Webber started toward Musial. Players from both dugouts poured onto the field, but umpires stepped between Musial and Webber. No punches were thrown and the showdown quickly dissolved. Musial continued his at-bat and grounded out.

Two innings later, Webber batted and was hit by a pitch from starter Mort Cooper. Led by four RBI from Johnny Hopp, the Cardinals went on to an 8-5 victory. Boxscore

Going all-out

In Game 2, the Cardinals led, 6-2, after three, but the Dodgers scored four in the fifth, tying the score at 6-6. The game went into extra innings.

It was 7:37 p.m. and dusk was arriving when Slaughter led off the bottom of the 11th against reliever Johnny Allen.

With the count at 0-and-2, Slaughter swung and launched the ball deep into center field.

Reiser raced back _ “He was traveling like a bullet,” Dodgers left fielder Joe Medwick told The Brooklyn Daily Eagle _ turned and caught the ball. A split second later, Reiser crashed into the wall, his head banging against the concrete. The ball squirted out of his glove and bounced toward the flagpole.

As Slaughter sped around the bases, Reiser got to his feet, “staggered dizzily after the ball” and threw to the cutoff man, shortstop Pee Wee Reese, according to accounts in both the Star-Times and Daily Eagle.

In a rare double relay, Reese flipped the ball to second baseman Billy Herman, who was better positioned to make a strong peg to catcher Mickey Owen.

As Slaughter rounded second, he looked up and saw Cardinals manager Billy Southworth, coaching at third, “waving his arms like mad,” Slaughter said.

“I really gave that sprint around the base paths everything I had,” Slaughter told the Star-Times.

Slaughter “slid under the throw in a cloud of dust” for a home run that gave the Cardinals a 7-6 triumph. Boxscore

Eager to return

Dodgers players rushed to Reiser, who was leaning against the outfield wall. Reiser, a St. Louis native, walked off the field, went to the clubhouse, showered and dressed, according to the Star-Times.

Still wobbly, Reiser was taken to a hospital. Dr. Robert Hyland said X-rays revealed Reiser had a concussion, but no fractures.

The next day, July 20, Reiser, against the advice of doctors, left the hospital and went to his parents’ home in St. Louis. After spending the night there, Reiser boarded a noon train on July 21 and went to rejoin his teammates in Brooklyn.

Four days later, on July 25, Reiser was back in the Dodgers’ lineup.

Reiser, who was batting .350 at the time of his injury, was a diminished player afterward. He hit .206 in August and .233 in September.

The Cardinals surged to records of 25-8 in August and 21-4 in September and finished in first place at 106-48, two games ahead of the Dodgers.

Previously: Ralph Branca produced pair of gems against Cardinals

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In their many duels from 1959-72, Bob Gibson would throw brushback pitches to Roberto Clemente to keep him from taking ownership of the plate. The tactic was rooted in a machismo kind of respect, not dislike, and Gibson never hit Clemente with a pitch.

One time, though, Clemente hit Gibson.

The incident became a prominent part of Cardinals lore.

Fifty years ago, on July 15, 1967, Clemente hit a low liner that struck Gibson and fractured a bone in his right leg.

Unaware of the severity of the injury, Gibson remained in the game and pitched to three more batters before collapsing.

Many predicted the injury, which would sideline Gibson for almost two months, would ruin the Cardinals’ championship hopes.

Instead, inspired by the example set by their ace to persevere in the face of adversity, the Cardinals pulled together and went on to win the 1967 National League pennant and World Series title.

Back off

Clemente, a career .317 hitter, batted .208 (26-for-125) with 32 strikeouts against Gibson.

In his book “Stranger to the Game,” Gibson said of Clemente, “I always threw at him. He swung way too hard against me, flinging himself at the ball and spinning around in the batter’s box like he was on the playground or something. I had to demonstrate to him that I was no playground pitcher. To that end, I made a point of throwing at least one fastball in his direction nearly every time he came to the plate.”

Gibson, who like Clemente would earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, said he liked the Pirates outfielder and learned to laugh at his antics.

“It was virtually impossible to ignore him because he was always talking,” Gibson said. “Usually, it was to complain about how much his back or his shoulder or some other thing was hurting him. Then he would step in the batter’s box and swing so hard that the flagsticks on top of the stadium would bend.”

Just tape it

The Pirates had been held hitless by Gibson for the first three innings on that St. Louis summer Saturday night in 1967.

Clemente, leading off the fourth, hit a ball that rocketed straight toward Gibson and struck him on the shin.

“All my weight is on my right foot on my follow through,” Gibson said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “That’s why I couldn’t get out of the way of the ball. I couldn’t even lift my foot because the weight was on it.”

The force of the blow knocked down Gibson. Trainer Bob Bauman rushed from the Cardinals’ dugout to the mound. Bauman sprayed ethyl chloride on Gibson’s leg.

“He advised me to take a look,” Gibson said. “I saw what he saw _ a dent in the skin the shape of a baseball.”

Clemente’s smash had cracked the fibula, a bone in the lower part of the leg.

Gibson, though, didn’t feel much pain.

“In this type of injury, there is shock immediately and no pain,” said Cardinals team physician Dr. I.C. Middelman.

Said Gibson: “It was odd that I couldn’t feel where I had been struck, but because I couldn’t feel it I wasn’t particularly worried. I told Doc (Bauman) to put a little tape on it and let me get back to work.”

Now it’s broke

Gibson threw some practice pitches and declared himself fit to continue.

“While it was true that I didn’t surrender easily to pain or injury, at the time I didn’t fully realize what I was doing,” Gibson said. “I assumed that I had picked up a hell of a contusion.”

When play resumed, Gibson walked Willie Stargell and got Bill Mazeroski to fly out to center.

The next batter, Donn Clendenon, worked the count to 3-and-2.

“I tried to put a little extra on the payoff pitch,” Gibson said.

As the pitch sailed outside the strike zone for ball four, Gibson collapsed.

“Initially, the bone had been fractured, but not separated,” Gibson said. “It was only when I came down on it so hard (on the last pitch) _ my motion concentrated a lot of weight and spinning momentum on my right leg _ that it broke cleanly in two. If that hadn’t happened, I believe I might have continued the season uninterrupted.”

Said Middleman: “He has a high threshold for pain. You or I would have been writhing from the pain.”

Setting an example

Gibson was taken to a hospital and his leg placed in a cast.

“At the hospital, he didn’t even want a shot,” Middleman told The Sporting News. “All we gave him was a little codeine.”

The Pirates won the game, 6-4, cutting the Cardinals’ lead over the second-place Cubs and Reds to four. Boxscore

After witnessing Gibson’s will and determination, Cardinals pitchers who might have complained about minor ailments or tiredness felt inspired to push forward.

The Cardinals were 36-19 during the time Gibson was sidelined. Nelson Briles and Dick Hughes each won seven of nine decisions during Gibson’s absence; Steve Carlton won five of seven.

When Gibson returned to action on Sept. 7, the Cardinals were at 87-53, 11.5 games ahead of the second-place Cubs and Giants.

“I felt a little awkward with all the gushy rhetoric that accompanied the incident,” Gibson said, “but if it provided a constructive example for the ballclub, so be it.”

Gibson, who was 10-6 when injured, won three of four decisions after his return and finished 13-7. The Cardinals completed the season at 101-60, 10.5 ahead of the runner-up Giants.

In the ensuing World Series against the Red Sox, Gibson made three starts and earned wins in all.

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In the home of the Big Red Machine, it was a Cardinal, Ray Lankford, who put on an unprecedented display of jaw-dropping power.

Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium was the venue for Reds teams that won four National League pennants and two World Series championships from 1970 to 1976. Those teams had sluggers such as Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and George Foster.

Yet, it was Lankford who became the first to hit two home runs in one game into the upper-level red seats in the fourth deck of the Cincinnati stadium.

Lankford achieved the feat 20 years ago, on July 15, 1997. By then, the stadium had been renamed Cinergy Field.

Sonic boom

Lankford was in the cleanup spot in the St. Louis batting order against Reds starter Brett Tomko, a rookie right-hander.

In the first inning, with Danny Sheaffer on base, Lankford got a fastball on a 2-and-1 count and drove it 448 feet into the empty red seats in right field, becoming the first Cardinals batter to reach the upper deck since the stadium opened in 1970.

“When you hit a ball like that, it’s just a different feel and a different sound,” Lankford said to The Cincinnati Post. “The ball just jumps, like you’re hitting a golf ball with a bat.”

Reds catcher Joe Oliver told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “The crack of the bat was deafening.”

When Lankford came up again in the third inning, three fans scurried into the red seats in right. Batting with the bases empty, Lankford again got a fastball on a 2-and-1 count and propelled it 439 feet into the upper deck.

“Fastballs. Both belt-high. Right down the middle,” Tomko said to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa: “You’ve got a pitcher with good stuff and a hitter with full extension. That makes for some serious distance.”

Exclusive group

Until Lankford, only one player, Foster, had hit two upper-deck home runs at the stadium in one year, but no one, not even the Cardinals’ Mark Whiten, had hit two in one game. Whiten hit four home runs in a game at Riverfront Stadium on Sept. 7, 1993, but none reached the red seats.

Foster hit the most career upper-deck home runs (six) at the stadium.

Lankford became the sixth visiting player to hit a home run into the red seats. The others: the Expos’ Bob Bailey, the Pirates’ Dave Parker, the Phillies’ Greg Luzinski, the Mets’ Darryl Strawberry and the Rockies’ Dante Bichette.

“I don’t know how to pitch to Lankford,” Reds manager Ray Knight said. “I know one thing, you don’t pitch him anywhere he can get the fat part of the bat on it.”

When Lankford came to bat for the third time, in the fifth inning, Oliver turned to him and said, “I knew you were strong, but this is ridiculous.”

About 30 fans went into the red seats in right, hoping Lankford would launch another up there, but reliever Felix Rodriguez issued an intentional walk to him.

In his last two plate appearances that night, Lankford struck out and walked. Boxscore

At the time of Lankford’s feat, bopper Mark McGwire still was with the Athletics. (McGwire would be traded to the Cardinals two weeks later, on July 31, 1997.)

Asked by the Post-Dispatch whether Lankford’s clouts reminded him of McGwire, whom he had managed in Oakland, La Russa replied, “He reminds me of Ray Lankford.”

Previously: Mark Whiten, Josh Hamilton: Same feat, different path

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