Archive for the ‘Opponents’ Category

On the night he pitched an immaculate inning, Bob Gibson also was perfect at the plate.

An immaculate inning is defined as using the minimum number of pitches, nine, to strike out the minimum number of batters, three.

Fifty years ago, on May 12, 1969, Gibson faced three Dodgers batters in the seventh inning and struck out each on three pitches. He also produced three singles and a walk in four plate appearances, scored a run and stole a base in the Cardinals’ 6-2 victory at St. Louis.

“Gibson did everything but put in AstroTurf,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch marveled.

Gibson is one of two Cardinals to pitch an immaculate inning. The other is Jason Isringhausen, who struck out Daryle Ward, Jose Vizcaino and Julio Lugo in order on nine pitches in the ninth inning of a 2-1 Cardinals triumph over the Astros on April 13, 2002, at St. Louis. Boxscore

9 perfect pitches

Gibson, 33, achieved his feat versus the trio of Len Gabrielson, Paul Popovich and John Miller. Gabrielson, a left-handed batter, and Popovich, a switch-hitter batting left, both struck out swinging. Miller, a right-handed batter substituting for starting pitcher Claude Osteen, struck out looking.

“I was throwing hard. All of them were good pitches,” Gibson said to the Post-Dispatch. “Good and low, most of them. Right on the corners. I don’t do that. Not nine straight pitches.”

Cardinals catcher Joe Torre said, “I’d just like to know what that Miller kid was thinking when Gibson shook me off twice on an 0-and-2 pitch. He shook me off a slider and then he shook off a curve. Then I called for a fastball and that’s what Gibson wanted. The kid took it.”

Gibson pitched a seven-hitter, struck out six and “proved he is just as good as ever _ and that’s almost as good as a pitcher can be,” the Los Angeles Times declared.

He told the Post-Dispatch he ached after throwing 123 pitches and the pain “starts here _ at the tip of my fingers _ and works up the arm and then into the shoulder and around down my side and all the way down to here _ my toes.”

Hit and run

Gibson made the Dodgers hurt for intentionally walking Steve Huntz, batting .083, to load the bases with two outs in the fourth. Gibson followed by drilling a two-run single, extending the Cardinals’ lead to 3-0.

“You have to drive in the runs yourself sometimes,” Gibson said.

In the seventh, Gibson scored on Julian Javier’s two-run single against Alan Foster.

With the Cardinals ahead, 6-2, in the eighth, Gibson worked a one-out walk from former teammate Pete Mikkelsen and swiped second. It was his second stolen base of the season and one of five steals for Gibson in 1969. He had 13 stolen bases in his Cardinals career. Boxscore

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Dave Pallone was a minor-league umpire who caused a major ruckus when he ejected three prominent Cardinals for arguing one call.

Forty years ago, on May 9, 1979, Pallone, substituting for major-league umpires who were on strike, tossed manager Ken Boyer, first baseman Keith Hernandez and catcher Ted Simmons in the ninth inning of a game at Houston’s Astrodome.

Pallone also ordered all of the players on the Cardinals’ bench to go inside the clubhouse and stay there until needed.

Pallone’s antics were part of a wild game in which the Astros prevailed over the Cardinals, 5-4, in 16 innings.

Questionable call

When big-league umpires went on strike in March 1979, the American League and National League brought in retired and amateur umpires and also hired eight replacement umpires, including Pallone, from the minor leagues.

Pallone was the second-base umpire in the Cardinals-Astros game.

In the ninth inning, with the score tied at 4-4, the Astros had Jimmy Sexton on first base with none out and Terry Puhl at the plate against Will McEnaney, the former Reds reliever who was making his first appearance with the Cardinals.

Puhl, looking to advance Sexton to second, bunted. McEnaney fielded the ball and threw to shortstop Garry Templeton, who was covering second. McEnaney’s throw was wide of the bag and Templeton had to reach to catch it.

Templeton said he kept his foot on the bag long enough to record the out, but Pallone disagreed and ruled Sexton safe at second.

“Bad call,” Templeton said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I couldn’t stand there all day.”

Law and order

Pallone’s call prompted multiple Cardinals to rush toward him to protest.

Hernandez arrived first. “When I ran up to him,” Hernandez said, “I couldn’t slow down. I bumped him inadvertently.”

Pallone said to Hernandez, “Don’t you bump me,” and ejected him.

When Simmons and Boyer joined the argument, Simmons called Pallone a scab for working in place of the strikers.

“That’s what he is, isn’t he?” Simmons said.

Pallone objected and ejected Simmons.

After Boyer voiced his views in language he admitted “you couldn’t print,” he was tossed, too.

When angry Cardinals flung towels, a baseball and a jacket from the dugout onto the field, Pallone ordered all the players on the bench to go into the clubhouse, though he didn’t eject them.

“Any time you throw equipment onto the field, you can’t let them sit on the bench,” Pallone told the Post-Dispatch.

Said Boyer: “I doubt very seriously if that guy knew what he was doing.”

Missed opportunities

After order was restored, the Astros had Sexton on second, Puhl on first and none out, but McEnaney worked out of the jam. Craig Reynolds grounded into a force, and after Jeffrey Leonard walked, loading the bases, ex-Cardinal Jose Cruz bounced into a double play.

Entering extra innings, Cardinals coach Red Schoendienst instructed the bench players to return to the dugout and Pallone made no attempt to send them back.

“You just can’t stop the game every time and ask them to leave,” Pallone said.

Joaquin Andujar, the future Cardinals ace, worked two innings in relief for the Astros and escaped a tight spot in the 11th. With one out and George Hendrick on third, Ken Reitz grounded to Reynolds at short and Hendrick was thrown out at home. “You’ve got to take a chance with one out,” third-base coach Jack Krol said.

The Cardinals, though, weren’t done. Lou Brock singled and Bernie Carbo walked, loading the bases, before Andujar struck out Templeton.

In the 14th, the Astros loaded the bases with none out, but Tom Bruno kept them from scoring. After Bob Watson flied out to shallow left, Julio Gonzalez was supposed to try a suicide squeeze, but he missed the sign, took the pitch and Leonard, running from third to home, was tagged out. The inning ended on Gonzalez’s fly out to right.

Bruno’s luck ran out in the 16th when Watson looped a soft liner just beyond second baseman Ken Oberkfell, scoring Leonard from third with the winning run. Boxscore

Controversial career

A few days later, after the big-league umpires ended their strike, the American League and National League formally hired the eight replacement umpires and allowed them to stay.

Pallone was treated as an outcast by the union umpires, but he remained in the National League from 1979 to 1988, and worked the 1987 League Championship Series in which the Cardinals beat the Giants despite four home runs by Leonard.

On April 30, 1988, Pallone and Reds manager Pete Rose got into an argument during a game in Cincinnati. Rose thought Pallone poked him and he shoved the umpire in retaliation. Rose was ejected and Pallone was removed from the game for his protection when fans pelted the field with debris. Video.

Rose was suspended for 30 days and fined for his actions.

Five months later, Pallone was forced to resign for what was termed unprofessional behavior. He briefly was linked to a police investigation of a male sex ring in upstate New York, but charges never were filed against him.

Pallone wrote a book, “Behind the Mask: My Double Life in Baseball,” about his umpire career and his life as a gay man, and said he had sexual relationships with players.

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Much like being forced to ride in the back of a bus, African-American customers attending a National League Cardinals game or an American League Browns game at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis were restricted to seats behind the outfield walls.

Seventy-five years ago, on May 4, 1944, the Cardinals and Browns became the last big-league teams to end segregated seating.

Until then, African-Americans, or anyone defined as Negroes, could purchase tickets only in the outfield bleachers or in the outfield pavilion at Sportsman’s Park. The pavilion was a roofed section behind the right-field wall. A 25-foot screen, extending from right to right-center, was built atop the wall.

Blacks weren’t allowed to sit in Sportsman’s Park’s double-decked grandstand, meaning any seats behind home plate and along the lines, or, in other words, the seats with the best views.

African-American baseball fans in St. Louis were unable to buy tickets to seats of their choice to watch Cardinals clubs featuring Rogers Hornsby in the late 1920s, or the Gashouse Gang of the 1930s, or the Stan Musial teams of the early 1940s.

Three years after the racist restriction was lifted, Jackie Robinson of the Dodgers integrated the big leagues in 1947. Dodgers executive Branch Rickey, credited with bringing Robinson to the majors, was head of Cardinals baseball operations during the time Sportsman’s Park had segregated seating.

Bowing to racism

Located at the corner of North Grand and Dodier, Sportsman’s Park was home to both St. Louis teams from 1920-53. The Browns moved to Baltimore after the 1953 season and Sportsman’s Park was renamed Busch Stadium. The Cardinals played there until they moved into a downtown stadium in 1966.

Sportsman’s Park was owned by the Browns, but both they and the Cardinals agreed to segregated seating.

In his book, “Branch Rickey: A Biography,” author Murray Polner said Rickey approached Cardinals owner Sam Breadon in the 1930s about the possibility of ending the discriminatory seating policy.

Rickey said his proposal received “effective opposition on the part of ownership and on the part of the public, press, everybody.”

According to the book, Breadon told Rickey he personally didn’t care about segregated seating but believed removing the restrictions would be bad for business.

Rickey said the city of St. Louis had no ordinance segregating blacks from whites at Sportsman’s Park and the decision was made by the clubs. Rickey suggested Breadon end the Cardinals’ policy without making a formal announcement, but there was no interest.

Unable to generate support, Rickey “backed away, unwilling to offend Breadon or white customers.”

Right stuff

Satchel Paige had the courage to do what the Cardinals and Browns would not.

On July 4, 1941, the Kansas City Monarchs and Chicago American Giants were scheduled to play a special holiday Negro League game at Sportsman’s Park. The St. Louis Stars, a Negro National League team, had played their home games at Stars Park at the corner of Laclede and Compton before disbanding after the 1931 season.

Paige, the ace pitcher and showman, was the gate attraction for the game at Sportsman’s Park and he refused to play unless seating that day was unrestricted for all customers, according to Timothy M. Gay, author of the book “Satch, Dizzy & Rapid Robert: The Wild Saga of Interracial Baseball Before Jackie Robinson.”

Unwilling to risk playing without Paige, officials gave in to his demand.

In a March 2010 guest column for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Gay wrote, “Thanks to Satchel Paige’s gutsy stand, blacks could sit wherever their pocketbooks would allow.”

An interracial crowd of 19,178 came to see Paige and the Monarchs win, 11-2. “It was almost unheard of in the St. Louis of that era for the races to commingle at a public venue,” Gay wrote, “but they did that day.”

In its game report, the Post-Dispatch declared the crowd was “the largest ever to witness a Negro baseball game in St. Louis.”

Paige pitched four entertaining innings. In the third, he “waved in his outfielders and gave the next batter his old trouble ball,” the Post-Dispatch reported. “His trouble ball is a hard fast one, usually thrown at the handle of the bat, because Satchel says no living human can hit such a ball with the handle.”

Paige struck out the batter.

“The record crowd enjoyed every minute that the master showman worked,” the St. Louis Star-Times reported.

Keep it quiet

Following Rickey’s advice from years earlier, the 1944 decision to end the segregated seating practice of the Cardinals and Browns was done without fanfare and received brief mention in publications. There were no press conferences nor any statements made to media.

“Restrictions confining Negroes to the right field pavilion have been lifted by both the Cardinals and the Browns, with the colored fans now being allowed to purchase grandstand seats,” The Sporting News reported. “St. Louis had been the only major-league city with this discriminatory rule.”

The Associated Press reported the St. Louis teams “have discontinued their old policy of restricting Negroes to the bleachers and pavilion at Sportsman’s Park.”

Breadon couldn’t be reached for comment, the Star-Times noted, and Browns general manager Bill DeWitt Sr. declined to comment.

Pioneer players

On May 21, 1947, Robinson became the first African-American to play a big-league game at Sportsman’s Park. The largest weekday crowd of the season, 16,249, came to see Robinson and the Dodgers play the Cardinals. “About 6,000 were Negroes,” according to the Post-Dispatch.

“Robinson was cheered each time he went to bat and the Dodgers as a team received more vocal encouragement than they usually get at Sportsman’s Park,” the Post-Dispatch reported. Boxscore

Two months later, the Browns followed the Dodgers and Indians, becoming the third big-league club with African-American players.

On July 17, 1947, second baseman Hank Thompson made his major-league debut for the Browns versus the Athletics before 3,648 at Sportsman’s Park. Boxscore Another black player, outfielder Willard Brown, debuted with the Browns two days later against the Red Sox before 2,434 at Sportsman’s Park.

Paige would play three seasons (1951-53) for the Browns.

The Cardinals waited until 1954 before first baseman Tom Alston integrated the team.

As late as 1961, the Cardinals had segregated housing for their players at spring training in Florida until first baseman Bill White, with the help of civil rights activist Dr. Ralph Wimbish, led an effort to have integrated accommodations.

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Larry Wilson caused NFL quarterbacks to lay awake at night with worry and Bill Nelsen was no exception.

Nelsen, who died April 11, 2019, at 78, had a prominent role in the play that defined the Pro Football Hall of Fame career of Wilson, the St. Louis Cardinals safety who was as tough as any player in the NFL.

On Nov. 7, 1965, in a game between the Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Wilson intercepted a pass from Nelsen while wearing casts on both fractured hands.

Wilson’s performance remains an enduring testament to his willpower and illustrates why he was so widely respected.

Mind game

Wilson, who played his entire professional career (1960-72) with the Cardinals, fractured his hands in a game against the New York Giants on Oct. 31, 1965, at New York.

Cardinals head coach Wally Lemm said Wilson would play the following Sunday versus the Steelers at St. Louis. Wilson “may be handicapped in making interceptions,” Lemm said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “but he’ll play if at all possible. He’s too valuable a man in all ways to do without.”

Nelsen, in his third NFL season and his first as the Steelers’ starting quarterback, said he had a premonition Wilson would pick off one of his passes.

“I just knew Larry Wilson was going to get an interception,” Nelsen told the Post-Dispatch. “Lying awake the night before the game, I was thinking there was no way he could catch one with his hands wrapped up to protect his fractures, but I knew he was going to get one.”

Finding a way

Wilson’s interception set up a Cardinals touchdown in the final 75 seconds of the first half.

The Steelers led, 3-0, and had possession at their 20-yard line when Nelsen threw a pass toward the middle of the field. Wilson caught the ball against his chest at the Steelers’ 37 and returned it to the 3.

“It nestled into my arms nicely,” Wilson said to the Associated Press. Video

Noting Wilson made the only interception of the game, Post-Dispatch sports editor Bob Broeg wrote, “Wilson did what teammates with healthy and unencumbered fingers couldn’t do.”

Asked by Sports Illustrated in a 1995 interview whether it was painful to have Nelson’s pass hit his damaged hands, Wilson replied, “The only painful thing about it was I should have scored.”

Steelers offensive line coach Ernie Hefferle called the wiry Wilson “one of the gutsiest players in football.”

“I believe he wants to make every tackle,” Hefferle sad to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Getting open

On the first play after Wilson’s interception, halfback Bill Triplett ran three yards for a touchdown and the Cardinals led 7-3 at halftime.

The Cardinals held a 14-3 lead entering the fourth quarter, but the Steelers rallied and went ahead, 17-14, with 1:12 to play.

Taking possession at their 20, the Cardinals noticed the Steelers moved into a prevent defense. Completing a couple of short passes across the middle, quarterback Charley Johnson advanced the Cardinals to their 41 with 46 seconds to go.

“In their prevent defense, the Steelers had put three backs on one side to cover the receivers coming out of our double-wing formation,” Johnson told the Post-Dispatch.

Johnson asked Billy Gambrell, a slight speedster, if he could beat the safety. Gambrell said he could and Johnson called the play.

With split end Sonny Randle running a route down the left side, Gambrell cut across the middle. Gambrell caught Johnson’s pass at the Steelers’ 20 and sped into the end zone for a 59-yard touchdown reception.

Said Steelers head coach Mike Nixon, “We had two men covering Gambrell … One of the two should have been with him, but the little guy got away from both of them.”

The Cardinals won, 21-17. Boxscore

Making the plays

Wilson played again the next week against the Chicago Bears, but re-injured his right hand and sat out four games.

He returned for the season finale on Dec. 19 against the Cleveland Browns at St. Louis and intercepted three Frank Ryan passes, returning the first one more than 90 yards for a touchdown. Video

Wilson made a total of 52 career interceptions for the Cardinals.

In May 1968, three years after Wilson picked off his pass in St. Louis, Nelsen was traded by the Steelers to the Browns, and his career took off. Nelsen played five seasons (1968-72) with the Browns and started in five playoff games for them.

Nelsen had his best season in 1969 when he threw for 2,743 yards and 23 touchdowns in leading the Browns to a 10-3-1 record. He tied Fran Tarkenton of the Giants for second in the NFL in touchdown passes in 1969, trailing only the Los Angeles Rams’ Roman Gabriel, who had 24.

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A change in the batting order helped the 1969 Cardinals wake up from their slumber.

Fifty years ago, on April 26, 1969, the Cardinals scored six runs on six consecutive hits in the ninth inning and beat the Phillies, 10-4, at Philadelphia.

Lou Brock and Tim McCarver, batting outside their normal spots in the order, provided the big hits in the big ninth. Brock hit a solo home run, giving him three extra-base hits in the game. He also doubled and tripled. McCarver hit a grand slam.

The last-inning outburst was a welcome change for an anemic Cardinals offense. In their previous 16 games of 1969, the Cardinals were held to three runs or less 12 times.

Good moves

With left-hander Woodie Fryman starting for the Phillies, Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst shifted his two left-handed batters, Brock and McCarver. Brock moved from leadoff to No. 2 in the order and McCarver dropped from sixth to seventh. Julian Javier batted leadoff and Vada Pinson batted sixth.

Brock, who entered the game with a .147 batting average, went 3-for-5 with a RBI and scored two runs. McCarver, batting .233 with no home runs, was 2-for-5 with four RBI and a run scored.

With the Phillies ahead, 3-1, in the eighth, the Cardinals’ Mike Shannon hit a three-run home run onto the roof at Connie Mack Stadium against rookie right-hander Randy Lersch. The Phillies tied the score at 4-4 in the bottom half of the inning on Richie Allen’s solo home run against Ron Willis.

Fright night

Lersch retired the first two Cardinals batters in the ninth.

“What happened after that makes good reading only for Phillies fans who like horror stories,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Brock homored, giving the Cardinals a 5-4 lead. “I think it was a fastball,” Brock said. “It was up and away from me. Actually, I was looking for something inside, but they say if you look for the inside pitch you can still handle the one away.”

After singles from Curt Flood and Bill White, right-hander Gary Wagner relieved Lersch.

The relief pitching, the Inquirer reported, “was bad, poor, terrible and horrendous _ all wrapped together.”

Shannon smashed a shot that caromed off Wagner’s glove for a single and scored Flood from third. Pinson followed and rolled a grounder to first. When Wagner was slow covering the bag, Pinson was safe with an infield single, loading the bases.

McCarver came up and hit a 1-and-0 pitch from Wagner over the right-field fence for his fourth career grand slam. He also hit two against left-hander Billy O’Dell and another, an inside-the-park variety, versus Larry Bearnarth of the Mets. Boxscore

Six months later, McCarver was traded to the Phillies. He hit two more grand slams _ in 1973 against Fred Gladding of the Astros and in 1977 against Rick Baldwin of the Mets _ for a career total of six in the big leagues.

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Scott Sanderson enhanced his status as a starter by pitching a 10-inning gem against the Cardinals before the largest crowd to attend a baseball game in Montreal.

Sanderson died April 11, 2019, at 62. He was 23 and in his second major-league season with the Expos when he earned the complete-game win versus the Cardinals in the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 16, 1979, before 59,282 spectators at Olympic Stadium.

After yielding seven hits in 4.1 innings, Sanderson retired the next 17 Cardinals batters in a row. Sanderson earned the win, but his effort was overshadowed by second baseman Dave Cash, whose improbable grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the 10th lifted the Expos to a 5-1 victory.

Big chance

Banished to the bullpen in late July by Expos manager Dick Williams after a stretch of ineffective starts, Sanderson’s stint against the Cardinals was a turning point in his big-league career.

The Cardinals and Expos played consecutive doubleheaders Sept 15-16. In the opener of the Sept. 16 doubleheader, Expos starter Ross Grimsley was lifted after two innings and the club used three relievers in a 4-3 loss to the Cardinals.

Looking to salvage a split of the doubleheader before the big crowd, the Expos needed a strong performance from Sanderson, who was making his second start since July 27 and seeking his first win since Aug. 1.

“I was hoping somewhere along the way I could be used as a starter and help this team out when it needed it,” Sanderson said to the Montreal Gazette.

The Expos scored a run in the first against Cardinals starter John Denny on Cash’s RBI-double and the Cardinals tied the score in the second on Ken Oberkfell’s sacrifice fly, scoring Jerry Mumphrey from third.

Denny went seven innings, but Sanderson kept going. “I wanted to go as long as I could,” Sanderson said.

Unbelievable error

After the first two Expos batters made outs in the bottom of the 10th, “the game looked as though it would go on forever,” the Gazette reported.

Gary Carter sparked the rally when he looped a liner to left and hustled to second for a double, beating the throw from Lou Brock. Jerry White was walked intentionally, bringing left-handed batter Warren Cromartie to the plate to face left-hander Darold Knowles.

Cromartie hit a routine grounder “ever so softly” to Oberkfell at second base, the Gazette reported, for what appeared to be an inning-ending out.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Oberkfell fielded the ball cleanly enough, then inexplicably, as he prepared to throw to first, dropped it. Desperately, he reached for the ball on the ground but fumbled it again.”

Cromartie was safe at first and the bases were loaded.

“Obie wouldn’t boot that play away again if he tried for 100 years,” said Cardinals manager Ken Boyer.

Cromartie theorized Oberkfell made the error “because he was watching me bust my ass down to first.”

Said Oberkfell: “It was the easiest ball hit to me all day. I don’t know how I did it.”

Cashing in

Boyer brought in right-hander George Frazier to face Cash, who’d spent most of the season as a utility player before replacing Rodney Scott at second base in late August.

Cash hit Frazier’s third pitch over the left-field wall for his first home run of the season and the only grand slam of his 12-year career in the major leagues.

“I knew if I could hang in there long enough I’d get a chance,” Cash said to the Post-Dispatch.

In a baseball version of the red carpet treatment, Williams and Expos outfielder Ellis Valentine stretched out towels from the entrance of the clubhouse to Cash’s locker cubicle as the hitting hero arrived from the field.

“Almost overlooked in the euphoria,” the Gazette reported, was the effort of Sanderson, who showed the Expos he had the right stuff to stay a starter. Boxscore

Consistent winner

Sanderson finished the 1979 season with a 9-8 record and 3.43 ERA for the second-place Expos.

In 19 seasons (1978-96) in the major leagues, Sanderson, a right-hander, was 163-143 with a 3.84 ERA. His career record versus the Cardinals was 10-11 with a 3.63 ERA.

Sanderson pitched for the Expos (1978-83), Cubs (1984-89), Athletics (1990), Yankees (1991-92), Angels (1993), Giants (1993, White Sox (1994) and Angels again (1995-96).

Playing for manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan, Sanderson was 17-11 with a 3.88 ERA in 34 starts for the 1990 Athletics, who won the American League pennant. The 17 wins were his single-season career high.

In six seasons with the Expos, Sanderson was 56-47 with a 3.33 ERA. In six seasons with the Cubs, he was 42-42 with a 3.81 ERA.

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