Archive for the ‘Pitchers’ Category

Facing Bob Gibson often brought out the best in Ferguson Jenkins.

Fifty years ago, on April 6, 1971, Jenkins and Gibson pitched into the 10th inning on Opening Day at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Jenkins won when Billy Williams hit a walkoff home run against Gibson for a 2-1 Cubs victory over the Cardinals.

The game, completed in one hour and 58 minutes, was typical of most duels between Jenkins and Gibson: low-scoring, briskly played.

From 1967 to 1972, Jenkins and Gibson started against one another nine times. Jenkins won five, Gibson won three and one resulted in no decision for either.

Jenkins’ three losses to Gibson were by scores of 1-0, 2-1 and 1-0.

The Cardinals scored one run apiece in four of Gibson’s five losses to Jenkins.

In their starts against one another, Jenkins had a 1.78 ERA and Gibson’s was 2.43. The games were completed in an average of two hours and six minutes.

“I always try to get myself up against him,” Jenkins told the Chicago Tribune. “When you have Cy Young out there against you, you always try a little harder.”

Pair of aces

Jenkins and Gibson were right-handers destined for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“I had four pitches and I could control them all,” Jenkins told the Tribune. “I thought I threw relatively hard. I had a very easy motion. I used to get angry when I was compared to Gibson. I didn’t want to be compared to anybody. I pitched like Fergie Jenkins.”

They faced one another as starters for the first time on June 3, 1967, at St. Louis. Billy Williams hit a three-run home run in the fifth, knocking Gibson from the game, and Jenkins got the win. Boxscore

A year later, on April 20, 1968, at St. Louis, Williams drove in three runs against Gibson and Jenkins pitched a three-hitter for the win. Boxscore

“I didn’t really know him then,” Gibson said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1995. “Most of the guys I played against I didn’t like when we played.”

Jenkins recalled, “We were both competitors. We didn’t take each other out to dinner.”

Among the best

In 1970, Gibson had 23 wins and received his second National League Cy Young Award. The Cardinals rewarded him with a $150,000 salary for 1971.

Jenkins won 22 in 1970, becoming the only pitcher in the big leagues with 20 or more wins in each season from 1967-70. He wanted a $100,000 salary for 1971, but the Cubs balked and he signed for $90,000.

“The only difference between me and Bob Gibson is $60,000,” Jenkins told The Sporting News. “The front office doesn’t think I rank up with Gibson, Juan Marichal and Tom Seaver, but I’m going to prove I do.”

The 1971 season opener was a good place to start.

“I like facing the good ones,” Jenkins said to the Tribune. “I’ve always done well against Bob Gibson. I think I’ve had some of my best games against the top pitchers.”

Football weather

It was sunny in Chicago for Opening Day, but a 17 mph wind blew in and the temperature struggled to see 40, “the kind of day more appropriate for bears,” Tribune columnist Robert Markus noted.

Seven future Hall of Famers were in the starting lineups: Gibson, Lou Brock, Ted Simmons and Joe Torre for the Cardinals, and Jenkins, Ron Santo and Billy Williams for the Cubs. Another two were managers Leo Durocher of the Cubs and Red Schoendienst of the Cardinals.

Jenkins retired the first six batters until Simmons led off the third with a single. Gibson didn’t allow a hit the first three innings.

In the fourth, the Cubs reached Gibson for three hits and a run. With runners on first and second, one out, Gibson threw a pitch up and in to Johnny Callison, who blooped it over the head of first baseman Joe Hague. The ball landed barely inside the foul line in short right _ “a sick pigeon” is how author Roger Kahn described it _ for a double, scoring Santo from second.

“You couldn’t have placed the ball better than Callison did, about four inches from the line, if you threw the ball out there,” Cardinals coach George Kissell told the Post-Dispatch.

Gibson “in the opinion of several Cubs pitched better than they had seen him in two years,” the Tribune reported.

“He was just throwing darts,” Santo said.

Glenn Beckert told the Post-Dispatch, “It looked like he was throwing from 30 feet.”

Big plays

With two outs and none on in the seventh, Jenkins tried to get a fastball inside to Torre with the count 0-and-2. The pitch moved across the plate and Torre lined it onto the catwalk in left for a home run, tying the score at 1-1. Video

“The ball Torre hit was my mistake,” Jenkins told the Tribune. “I had been getting him out on curves and was just showing him the fastball, but I got it out over the plate and he went out and got it, just muscled it.”

Catcher Ken Rudolph took the blame, telling the Post-Dispatch: “I called for a fastball and when Fergie shook me off I called for it again.”

After Torre’s home run, the Cardinals didn’t get another baserunner. Jenkins retired the next 10 in a row.

Jenkins “in the judgment of a number of players on both sides hurled the best game of his life,” the Tribune reported.

Cubs shortstop Don Kessinger said, “I’ve never seen him throw better.”

Jenkins was helped by a dazzling play by Kessinger in the ninth. With one out, Matty Alou bunted and pushed the ball past Santo at third. Kessinger, charging, scooped the ball with his bare hand and while stumbling and falling made a perfect peg to first baseman Joe Pepitone in time to nab Alou.

Pepitone told the Tribune it was “the best shortstop play I’ve seen in my life.” Durocher, a former Cardinals shortstop, said it was the “greatest play I’ve ever seen by a shortstop.”

Go crazy

In the 10th, shadows covered home plate, making it tough for the batters to see, but Williams was undeterred. When the count got to 1-and-1, Gibson threw a fastball and Williams hit into the bleachers in right. Video

In the book “The Head Game,” Roger Kahn wrote, “Standing on the mound, Gibson twice quietly repeated the same phrase, ‘Oh, fuck.’ Then he squared his shoulders and walked off the field.”

“Sometimes this game will drive a man crazy,” Gibson told the Tribune.

Williams, whose 10 career home runs versus Gibson were the most anyone hit against him, told the Post-Dispatch, “I don’t normally see him make a pitch like that to me, a fastball down the middle.”

Gibson responded: “It was not down the middle.”

The catcher, Simmons, confirmed the pitch “was on the outside corner down around the knees. He just golfed it.” Boxscore

Jenkins said of Williams: “My old fishing buddy took care of everything. He’s got the sweetest swing in baseball.”

For the season, Jenkins made 39 starts, won 24, completed 30 and issued a mere 37 walks in 325 innings. He earned the National League Cy Young Award, the first Cubs pitcher to receive the honor.

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Nine months after they got him from the Cardinals, the Phillies considered trading Steve Carlton, even though he was the dominant pitcher in the National League.

Multiple teams made offers for Carlton after the Phillies said they might deal him in exchange for five or six premium players.

The Dodgers came closest to making a trade, but the tempting offer fell through when the Phillies countered with a demand for Don Sutton.

Fitting with Phillies

Carlton was acquired by the Phillies from the Cardinals in February 1972 for pitcher Rick Wise. Cardinals owner Gussie Busch, angry because Carlton didn’t give in to contract terms, ordered general manager Bing Devine to trade him.

A left-hander who was 77-62 in seven seasons with St. Louis, Carlton pitched phenomenally for the Phillies in 1972. He led the league in wins (27), ERA (1.97), complete games (30), innings pitched (346.1) and strikeouts (310). He was a unanimous choice for the Cy Young Award.

After losing six of his first 11 decisions in 1972, Carlton won 15 in a row and finished with a 27-10 record for the last-place Phillies (59-97). Carlton accounted for 46 percent of the club’s wins. In four starts versus the Cardinals, Carlton was 4-0 with an 0.50 ERA. He allowed them two runs in 36 innings, making Busch pay a price greater than salary for his foolishness.

With the 1972 Phillies, Carlton started every fourth day, a schedule he said he liked.

With the Cardinals, Carlton started every fifth day. “That was because everything revolved around Bob Gibson,” Carlton told The Sporting News. “He was the ace of the staff and Gibby required four days rest between starts. So, to set up a rotation, the rest of the staff had to give way. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but that’s the way it was.

“Just working every fourth day was a big help. I was able to develop a high rate of consistency. I was able to keep my rhythm.”

Headline grabber

Soon after the 1972 season ended, Carlton and three other big-league players, Tim McCarver, Joe Hoerner and Pat Jarvis, were on a hunting trip to Montana when they were ordered off their commercial flight.

Frontier Airline officials said the four players refused a flight attendant’s request to turn off a tape recorder they were playing and stop drinking liquor they brought onboard, United Press International reported.

The pilot landed the plane in Casper, Wyoming, and the four ballplayers were removed for refusing to observe federal regulations. According to United Press International, the group chartered a plane and continued on to Montana.

Carlton made more headlines when columnist Dick Young reported in The Sporting News that the Pirates were pursuing a trade with the Phillies. According to Young, the Pirates were ready to offer second baseman Dave Cash, outfielder Gene Clines, catcher Milt May and pitcher Luke Walker for Carlton. Another version had the Pirates offering May, pitcher Dock Ellis and second baseman Rennie Stennett, the Philadelphia Daily News reported.

Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente confirmed to the Associated Press that the Pirates were negotiating with the Phillies for Carlton.

Explaining what it would take for a team to get Carlton, Phillies general manager Paul Owens told the Philadelphia Daily News, “Just to start with, I’d have to have two pitchers capable of winning 25 games between them. From there, I think we’d have to wind up with five or six players we feel can help us.”

Owens’ comment seemed to scare off the Pirates, whose general manager Joe Brown said, “We’d be interested in Carlton … but we won’t tear apart our club to land him.”

Several other clubs, though, showed serious interest.

Ready to deal

During the baseball winter meetings at Honolulu in late November, a headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer declared: “Carlton figures to be ex-Phil before end of week.”

“Carlton represents the Phillies’ only real bargaining power if they decide to make the sweeping changes that would be necessary for them to become a contender,” the Inquirer explained.

Though Owens conceded trading Carlton would be unpopular with Phillies fans, he said, “If I thought I could make a trade for Steve that would help us become a pennant contender, and if I didn’t do it, then I might as well admit I’m in the wrong job. It’s going to take a certain amount of guts to trade Steve Carlton. I’m not necessarily saying I’m going to trade him, but I am saying I have the guts to do it.”

The Athletics, Dodgers, Giants, Padres and Red Sox made offers for Carlton at the winter meetings. According to the Inquirer, the Giants’ offer included outfielder Bobby Bonds and first baseman Willie McCovey, and the Athletics’ bid featured pitcher Ken Holtzman and first baseman Mike Epstein.

The only one that interested Owens came from the Dodgers.

Tempting offer

“You wouldn’t believe the deal the Phillies turned down for Steve Carlton,” Dick Young wrote in The Sporting News.

The Dodgers offered pitchers Claude Osteen and Bill Singer, outfielders Willie Crawford and Bobby Valentine, and second baseman Lee Lacy. “A hell of a package,” the Philadelphia Daily News declared.

Owens countered by asking for Don Sutton to be one of the pitchers the Dodgers dealt. “The deal would have been made if Sutton’s name had replaced Singer or Osteen,” the Philadelphia Daily News reported.

“We made a valid, honest offer, but trading Sutton was out of the question,” Dodgers general manager Al Campanis said. “He’s our ace, with youth and a great future ahead of him. We wanted Carlton to form a one-two punch like Drysdale and Koufax.

“I can’t criticize Owens for failing to make the deal. It’s going to take a lot of courage for him to make any deal for Carlton, but I think what we offered snapped some eyebrows to attention. We made them sit down and do a lot of soul-searching.”

A few hours after the Phillies rejected the Campanis offer, the Dodgers acquired pitcher Andy Messersmith and third baseman Ken McMullen for Singer, Valentine, outfielder Frank Robinson, infielder Billy Grabarkewitz and pitcher Mike Strahler.

Carlton stayed with the Phillies and helped them win two pennants and a World Series championship. He and Sutton both got elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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Cardinals pitcher Larry Jackson and Dodgers outfielder Duke Snider found out the hard way that bats and balls, like sticks and stones, may break bones.

Sixty years ago, on March 27, 1961, Jackson suffered a fractured jaw when Snider’s bat splintered and struck Jackson in the face during a spring training game.

Three weeks later, on April 17, 1961, Snider suffered a fractured right elbow when the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson hit him with a pitch during an at-bat in the regular season.

Gibson’s plunking of Snider had more to do with the home run Snider hit in his previous at-bat against Gibson than it did with the accident involving Jackson.

Jackson and Snider recovered from their injuries, and each went on to have a productive season.

Painful outing

Jackson was pitching in his last scheduled inning when Snider came to bat in the exhibition game between the Cardinals and Dodgers at Vero Beach, Fla.

Snider had hit a two-run home run in the first and a two-run double in the third against Jackson. In the sixth, with baserunner Tommy Davis on second, Snider was looking to drive in another run.

Jackson threw a pitch near Snider’s fists. Snider connected, shattering the bat and sending pieces of it flying. The ball hit Jackson on the hip and fell to the ground. As Jackson turned to retrieve it, the heavy end of the bat, whirling rapidly through the air, struck him in the lower left jaw.

“Bleeding from cuts inside his mouth, Jackson fell in a heap in front of the mound, but did not lose consciousness,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

In his book “The Duke of Flatbush,” Snider said, “I felt awful about it, but that’s one of the occupational hazards of pitching.”

Jackson was taken by ambulance to a Vero Beach hospital and given emergency treatment. X-rays showed he had two fractures in the jaw.

Jackson was permitted to return on a chartered flight to St. Petersburg, Fla., where the Cardinals trained. His jaw was wired that night by a surgeon at a St. Petersburg hospital.

Released from the hospital on March 31, Jackson pitched batting practice a few days later. The Cardinals targeted the end of April for his return in a game.

Purpose pitch

After the Cardinals opened the season with wins in three of their first five games, they started Gibson against the Dodgers at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

In the third, Gibson threw a pitch on the outside corner to Snider, a left-handed batter. In the book “From Ghetto to Glory,” Gibson said, “I pitched away to Snider because he was a good pull hitter.”

Snider poked the ball over the screen in left for a two-run home run and a 3-1 Dodgers lead.

The next time Snider came up, in the fifth, “I was still going to pitch him outside,” Gibson said.

Gibson changed his mind when he noticed Snider lean in. “So I threw the next pitch tight to brush him back away from the plate,” Gibson said.

Snider barely saw the fastball. “It came right at me,” Snider said. “It was headed for my ribs and I brought up my right arm instinctively to protect my body. The pitch hit my elbow and the ball dropped straight to the ground. It was no glancing blow. It hit me flush.”

Snider advanced to first and was thrown out attempting to steal second.

When he tried to bat again in the seventh, Snider “felt a sharp pain in that right elbow, like someone jabbing a needle in there” and was lifted for a pinch-hitter.

An examination revealed the elbow was fractured.

“I saw Duke after the game,” Gibson said. “I didn’t apologize to him. He knew I was sorry. He knew I wasn’t throwing at him. I was just trying to move him away from the plate, trying to get him to think and not take things for granted up there.”

In the book “We Would have Played For Nothing,” Snider told former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent, “I know that Bob Gibson has told people he never threw at a player on purpose. Bob Gibson is a nice guy, but he stretches the truth a little bit once in a while.” Boxscore

We meet again

Jackson’s absence from the starting rotation the first few weeks of the 1961 season was a significant setback for the Cardinals. The year before, he won 18 and led the National League in innings pitched (282).

A right-hander, Jackson made his first appearance of the 1961 season on April 26, a month after his injury, in a start against the Braves.

He lost his first three decisions, prompting The Sporting News to note, “After subsisting on liquids and soft foods for a month, Jackson showed he needed a few steaks to beef up his pitching.”

Meanwhile, after sitting out a month, Snider returned on May 19 as a pinch-hitter and was back in the Dodgers’ starting lineup on May 22.

Two days later, the Dodgers opened a series at St. Louis. Jackson started Game 1 and faced Snider for the first time since the spring training accident. Snider walked three times, but didn’t get a hit, and Jackson got his first win of the season. Boxscore

The next night, Gibson started and faced Snider for the first time since he suffered the fractured elbow. Snider got a single in four at-bats. Sandy Koufax pitched a three-hitter and Tommy Davis hit a home run in a 1-0 Dodgers triumph. Boxscore

Keep going

On June 26, Jackson lost to the Braves, sinking his record for the season to 3-8. Manager Solly Hemus dropped him from the starting rotation.

Two weeks later, Hemus was fired and Johnny Keane replaced him. Jackson returned to the rotation and won 11 of his next 12 decisions.

“There’s no pitcher in the league right now who’s better than Larry Jackson,” Keane said to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

Jackson finished the season at 14-11 with three shutouts and 211 innings pitched. He made six starts against the Dodgers and was 1-3. Snider hit .294 versus Jackson in 1961 and .219 for his career.

Snider finished the season with 16 home runs and a .296 batting mark. Against Gibson, Snider hit .300 in 1961 and .212 for his career.


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The Cardinals and Dan Duquette played a prominent role in shaping the baseball career of Rheal Cormier.

Soon after Cormier debuted in the majors with the Cardinals in 1991, Duquette, the Montreal Expos’ general manager, tried to acquire the French-Canadian.

The Cardinals wouldn’t deal Cormier then, but four years later, when Duquette was general manager of the Red Sox, he did obtain Cormier from the Cardinals. The next year, Duquette sent him to the Expos.

A left-hander, Cormier pitched in the big leagues for 16 years, including the first four with the Cardinals. He died March 8, 2021, at 53.

Northern exposure

Cormier was born in the province of New Brunswick on the east coast of Canada. His father, Ronald, was a truck driver. According to the Boston Globe, Cormier’s mother, Jeannette, was 13 when she had the first of her five children with Ronald.

“My father used to say that my mother could get pregnant from eye contact,” Cormier told reporter Gordon Edes.

When Jeannette was 19, and the mother of five, she worked as a packager for a Canadian lobster company.

The Cormier family made their home in the village of Saint-Andre, a potato farming area of New Brunswick. Their house “was little more than a shack,” the Philadelphia Daily News reported. “There was no insulation in the cracked walls. When it snowed, it wasn’t unusual to wake up in the morning to find small white drifts between the beds.”

The family eventually moved into a three-bedroom trailer.

Rheal loved to play baseball. His mother would give him flour to draw bases and foul lines on the pavement, he told the Boston Globe.

“We used to play baseball in the snow banks, sometimes when it was minus-10,” Cormier recalled.

Cormier developed his talent playing in youth leagues. The Expos wanted to sign him when he graduated high school, Cormier told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “but the money wasn’t right: $5,000.”

Cormier, whose first language was French, attended a community college in Rhode Island. He got chosen by the Cardinals in the sixth round of the 1988 amateur draft and signed for $35,000.

A few years later, when he started making major-league money, he bought his parents a new house and car.

Starting out

Cormier played for Team Canada in the 1988 Summer Olympics and entered the Cardinals’ farm system in 1989. According to the Cardinals’ media guide, he spent off-seasons working as a lumberjack.

In August 1991, the Cardinals called up Cormier, 24, from the minors. He made his debut on Aug. 15 in a start against the Mets at St. Louis and got the win. Boxscore

“After I got through the first inning, I told myself, ‘I can pitch here,’ ” Cormier said to the Post-Dispatch.

Cardinals manager Joe Torre said, “I really liked his poise.”

With the win, Cormier became:

_ The first Cardinals starting pitcher to win his debut since Joe Magrane in April 1985.

_ The first Cardinals left-handed starter to win since Magrane in September 1990.

_ The first French-Canadian to win in the National League since Claude Raymond for the Expos in April 1971.

_ The first French-Canadian to win for the Cardinals since Ron Piche in August 1966.

Oh, Canada

Cormier was 4-5 for the 1991 Cardinals but impressed with his command, striking out 38 and issuing a mere eight walks. He appealed to Duquette, the newly appointed Expos general manager, whose mandate was “to create excitement about a team with meager prospects,” Michael Farber of the Montreal Gazette noted.

The Cardinals were in the market for Expos first baseman Andres Galarraga and Duquette, attempting his first trade, was willing to deal Galarraga for Cormier, whose heritage, Farber wrote, “made him more appealing than his stats.”

Cormier “could be a huge asset to the Expos, at least to get people in Montreal talking about the team,” The Sporting News observed.

The Expos’ interest in Cormier was big news in New Brunswick. “It was the talk of the town, let me tell you,” Cormier said to the Post-Dispatch. “People were talking about it all around.”

For the Cardinals, who had a shortage of left-handed starters, Cormier was “the one guy I didn’t want to trade,” manager Joe Torre said.

Cardinals general manager Dal Maxvill said, “I know Joe thinks the world of him. He’s a little bulldog out there.”

The Expos took pitcher Ken Hill from the Cardinals in exchange for Galarraga.

“We talked long and hard about Cormier,” Duquette said. “They told me they would not give up Cormier.”

Cormier said, “I definitely didn’t want to get traded. First of all, I like St. Louis. Second of all, playing in Montreal would be a lot of pressure. There is pressure now, but just imagine how much more there would be if I was pitching in Montreal.”

Highs and lows

In January 1992, Cormier got married. Three months later, he pitched in Canada for the first time as a major-leaguer, starting for the Cardinals at Montreal in the Expos’ home opener. Cormier’s mother, two brothers and a sister were among the 40,907 in attendance.

An error by shortstop Ozzie Smith led to two unearned runs and the Expos won, 3-2. Boxscore

In four seasons (1991-94), Cormier was 24-23 for the Cardinals, but teammate Todd Zeile told the Post-Dispatch, “Ask any of the catchers and they’ll tell you he had the best stuff on the staff.”

On April 9, 1995, the Cardinals traded Cormier and outfielder Mark Whiten to the Red Sox for third baseman Scott Cooper and pitcher Cory Bailey. The Cardinals tried to convince the Red Sox to take pitcher Tom Urbani instead of Cormier, but Duquette said no deal would be made without Cormier. “They were pretty adamant about it,” Torre said.

Duquette traded Cormier to the Expos in January 1996. He pitched a three-hit shutout against the Cardinals in April. Boxscore

After making one start in 1997, Cormier hurt his left elbow and had reconstructive surgery. He sat out the 1998 season, returned to the Red Sox and became a durable reliever. He was with the Phillies from 2001-2006. His best season was 2003 when he was 8-0 with a 1.70 ERA.

In July 2006, “the Phillies had a trade for Cormier worked out with the Cardinals, but that fell apart,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Instead, Cormier was dealt to the Reds and finished his playing career with them.

In 16 seasons in the majors, Cormier was 71-64, including 2-0 against the Cardinals.

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The Cardinals tried to beat two teams in one day. Adding to the challenge, they tried to do it against a pair of aces, Sal Maglie and Warren Spahn.

On Sept. 13, 1951, at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, the Cardinals played an afternoon game against the Giants and a night game versus the Braves.

According to The Sporting News, it was the first time since 1899 that a big-league club faced two opponents in the same day.

The Cardinals split the unusual doubleheader, beating the Giants and losing to the Braves.

Stormy weather

Thursday, Sept. 13, was supposed to be a day off for the Cardinals, but rainouts changed the schedule.

When the Braves and Cardinals were rained out of a game on June 23, it was rescheduled for the night of Sept. 13.

The Giants got involved when their Sept. 12 game with the Cardinals was rained out. Because the Giants had a day off Sept. 13 and weren’t scheduled to come back to St. Louis, it was proposed that the game be played then.

National League president Ford Frick approved the plan to have the Cardinals take on the Giants and Braves on the same day, but denied a request by Cardinals owner Fred Saigh to have both games played in the evening, the New York Daily News reported.

The start of the game against the Giants was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and the game versus the Braves was given an 8:30 p.m. start.

“To think, this was to have been an open date, a chance to loaf or go fishing,” Cardinals manager Marty Marion said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

St. Louis spoilers

The Giants, 5.5 games behind the first-place Dodgers, were trying to tighten the pennant race. According to the Daily News, they arrived at Sportsman’s Park on Sept. 13 “full of hope” because Sal Maglie was starting for them. Maglie was 20-5 and had won his last five decisions. Cardinals starter Tom Poholsky was 5-12.

To the Giants’ dismay, when the game got under way Maglie “didn’t have control and didn’t have a thing on the ball when he did get it over,” the Daily News noted.

The Cardinals scored six runs in the second inning against Maglie and reliever Monty Kennedy, but the uprising came with a price. Poholsky, whose RBI-single knocked Maglie out of the game, was spiked near the right knee by catcher Wes Westrum when he slid home on Red Schoendienst’s hit and had to leave.

Rookie Dick Bokelmann replaced Poholsky to start the third and was tasked with protecting the 6-0 lead.

An unusual play occurred in the bottom half of the inning. Kennedy threw a pitch behind Vern Benson’s back. In trying to duck the pitch, Benson tilted his bat back. The ball struck the bat and caromed toward the mound.

“For a few seconds, everybody stood still, figuring it had to be a foul ball,” the Daily News reported.

Instead, it was ruled to be in play. Kennedy finally picked up the ball and tossed to first baseman Whitey Lockman for the out. According to the Daily News, “Benson just stood at the plate in bewilderment.”

The Giants scored twice against Bokelmann in the sixth and got two more in the eighth before Gerry Staley relieved and saved the 6-4 victory for the Cardinals. Boxscore

The loss dropped the Giants six games behind the Dodgers and gave Brooklyn a magic number of 10. Any combination of Dodgers wins or Giants losses totaling 10 would clinch the pennant for Brooklyn. “That just about does it for the Giants,” the Daily News declared.

Sensational Spahn

Between games, the Cardinals ate dinner and skipped batting practice. Braves starter Warren Spahn took advantage. He pitched a one-hitter in the night game, a 2-0 Braves victory.

“It was the best game I ever pitched,” Spahn told the Boston Globe.

The only Cardinals to reach base were Chuck Diering on a leadoff walk in the third and pitcher Al Brazle on a bloop single with one out in the sixth. Brazle’s floater fell just beyond the reach of second baseman Roy Hartsfield.

“It was a changeup,” Spahn said. “It was a good pitch, outside, just where I wanted it. He was lucky. I’d throw the same pitch to Brazle nine times in a row under the same circumstances.”

The win was Spahn’s 20th of the season and his fifth against the Cardinals in six decisions. His catcher for the game was the former Cardinal, Walker Cooper.

Spahn survived a scare in the third when he stopped a hard grounder by Del Rice with his hands. The glove and the ring finger of his pitching hand took the brunt of the shock, the Boston Globe reported. Boxscore

What a finish

The Giants recovered from their Sept. 13 loss to the Cardinals and won 12 of their final 13 regular-season games.

They finished in a first-place tie with the Dodgers, who lost nine of their last 17 regular-season games.

In a best-of-three playoff to determine the National League champion, the Giants prevailed, winning Game 3 on Bobby Thomson’s walkoff home run.

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(Updated March 19, 2021)

From the first game he pitched in the National League to the last, Stan Williams had a significant connection to the Cardinals.

A right-hander with a reputation for intimidating batters, Williams played in the majors for 14 seasons. He died on Feb. 20, 2021, at 84.

Williams was 21 when he made his big-league debut for the Dodgers against the Cardinals at St. Louis in July 1958. He was 35 when he pitched his final National League game as a Cardinals reliever in September 1971.

Williams’ time with the Cardinals was brief, but successful. He made 10 relief appearances for them and was 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA.

Big and fast

Born in New Hampshire, Williams was a toddler when his family moved to Denver. He played organized baseball for the first time in high school and attracted scouts because of his fastball. “I was a Stan Musial fan and kept track of his hits every day,” Williams said in the book “We Played the Game.”

Williams was 17 when the Dodgers signed him in 1954 and sent him to the minors.

It was at Newport News in 1955, he said, that he got the reputation for being mean. The Dodgers taught pitchers “that when you got ahead of a hitter you kept him off the outside corner by pitching him in and knocking him back or down,” Williams told author Danny Peary.

“I just started rearing back and throwing it as hard as I could at their chins and let them get out of the way.”

Williams, who grew to 6 feet 5 and 230 pounds, was imposing and erratic. In 242 innings for Newport News, he struck out 301, walked 158 and hit 16 batters.

After a teammate, catcher Bob Schmidt, taught him to throw a slider during winter ball in the Dominican Republic, Williams progressed. He was in his fifth season in the minors when he got called up to the Dodgers in 1958.

Joltin’ Joe

Williams made his debut in the majors on May 17, 1958, at St. Louis. Entering in the fifth, he worked two scoreless innings before giving up three runs in the seventh. Joe Cunningham hit a two-run home run against him. Boxscore

A left-handed hitter, Cunningham battered Williams throughout his career. In 36 plate appearances versus Williams, Cunningham had 13 hits, eight walks and twice was hit by pitches _ an on-base percentage of .639. His career batting average against Williams was .500.

That’s entertainment

Two months after his debut versus the Cardinals, Williams had a noteworthy encounter with them. 

On Aug. 15, 1958, at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Williams, 21, was matched against the Cardinals’ Sal Maglie, 41, a former Dodger nicknamed “The Barber” for the close shaves he gave batters with pitches.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals were “highly irritated” by the amount of time Williams was taking to deliver pitches. When Williams came to bat in the fourth, Maglie “took off his shoe, emptied it of dirt and slowly put it on again, tying his laces with much care.”

As the crowd roared, Williams backed out of the box and “kicked some imaginary mud from his cleats,” the Los Angeles Times noted.

Then Williams stepped back in and hit Maglie’s first pitch over the high screen in left for a home run, his first in the majors. Boxscore

Teddy bear

“Nobody in the league has a better fastball than Stan Williams,” Cardinals slugger Ken Boyer told the Los Angeles Times in 1960.

As part of a Dodgers rotation that featured Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, Williams’ signature pitch was the knockdown.

“In all the years I played, he was the only guy who ever scared me _ and he was on my team,” Ron Fairly, a first baseman for the Dodgers and Cardinals, told the San Francisco Examiner. “The thing about Stan, he was so big and strong, and he threw as hard as Koufax. The difference was Sandy was not mean. Stan was very mean.”

Roger Craig, a former Dodgers and Cardinals pitcher, said, “He was the meanest pitcher I ever saw. Everyone thought Drysdale was so mean, but Stan was far worse.”

One year, Williams had a clause in his contract calling for a $500 bonus if he kept his season walk total to less than 75. According to the San Francisco Examiner, as he neared the mark, he plunked a batter when the count got to ball three rather than risk a walk.

“It was a game of intimidation in those days,” Williams said. “I was never a headhunter. I never pitched with the idea of hurting anyone. I don’t think I’ve ever been mean. What I had was a very competitive streak. That helped give me an edge. So I took advantage of it.”

Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson could relate. In his book “Stranger to the Game,” Gibson said, “Guys like Don Drysdale, Stan Williams and Sandy Koufax raised the level of competition by claiming their territory and daring you to take it from them.

“The fact is,” said Gibson, “knockdowns were commonplace in my day, and guys like Drysdale and Stan Williams employed them more liberally than I did.”

Big hurt

In August 1960, Williams was matched against Lew Burdette of the Braves. “Burdette used to dig a hole in front of the mound” with his foot, Williams told The Sporting News. “To avoid it, I pitched from the side of the rubber. On a pitch to Lee Maye, I slipped and my back went one way and my arm the other. I felt something snap.”

Williams said he thinks he tore a muscle in his right arm or shoulder, but he kept pitching. He had win totals for the Dodgers of 14 in 1960, 15 in 1961 and 14 in 1962, but he said the pain got progressively worse.

“I pitched with tears running down my cheeks many a time after I hurt my arm in 1960,” Williams told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune

The Dodgers traded Williams to the Yankees after the 1962 season, but “there were times when I couldn’t raise my arm, so I started throwing from the hip,” he said. 

The Yankees shipped Williams to the Indians in March 1965. He spent most of that season and all of 1966 in the minors.

Williams was with Class AAA Portland in 1967 “when the adhesions popped again and I regained my strong arm.”

Called up to the Indians in July 1967, Williams posted six wins and a 2.62 ERA. The next year, he won 13 and had a 2.50 ERA.

The Twins acquired Williams after the 1969 season and made him a reliever. He was 10-1 with 15 saves and a 1.99 ERA in 1970, helping them win a division title.

Perfect record

On Sept. 1, 1971, the Twins traded Williams to the Cardinals for outfielder Fred Rico and pitcher Danny Ford.

Cardinals scout Joe Monahan, who recommended Williams, told the Post-Dispatch, “He’s not going to be overwhelmed by a pennant race.”

On Sept. 7, 1971, Williams got a win against the Phillies in the completion of a game suspended from Aug. 1. Boxscore

He also got relief wins against the Cubs and Mets. Boxscore and Boxscore

The Cardinals released Williams in April 1972. He surfaced in the American League with the Red Sox and pitched his final three games in the majors.

Coach and dad

Williams was a coach for pennant-winning Red Sox (1975) and Yankees (1981) clubs, and the 1990 World Series champion Reds. 

When Williams was the Reds’ pitching coach, they developed a trio of intimidating relievers called the “Nasty Boys.”

In 1976, Williams’ son, Stan Jr., a high school pitcher and outfielder, was chosen by the Cardinals in the 11th round of the amateur baseball draft. Stan Jr. opted to attend the University of Southern California. He signed with the Yankees after they drafted him in the 38th round in 1981 and pitched for two seasons in their farm system.

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