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Archive for the ‘Pitchers’ Category

Al Santorini was a pitcher who confounded the Cardinals with his up-and-down performances for them.

Fifty years ago, on June 11, 1971, the Cardinals acquired Santorini from the Padres for outfielder Leron Lee and pitcher Fred Norman.

A right-hander, Santorini’s three seasons with the Cardinals were highlighted by the three shutouts he pitched in 1972, but frustrations too often overshadowed the successes. Overall with the Cardinals, Santorini was 8-13.

Prized prospect

A son of a truck driver for Ballantine beer, Santorini was born in Irvington, N.J., and excelled at high school athletics in Union Township, N.J.

Santorini was a standout prep quarterback and bowler, but his best sport was baseball. As a pitcher, his high school record was 35-1. A high school teammate, Elliott Maddox, also went on to play in the majors.

Santorini, 18, was considered a prime prospect entering the June 1966 amateur baseball draft. The Cardinals, with the seventh selection in the first round, drafted Leron Lee. The Phillies had the ninth pick in the first round and their scout, Paul Owens, hoped they’d take Santorini.

“I scouted Santorini quite a bit,” Owens told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He had a great fastball and looked so good that I recommended we select him as No. 1.”

Instead, the Phillies used their first-round pick to draft Mike Biko, a pitcher who never reached the majors.

With the 11th pick in the first round, the Braves chose Santorini and assigned him to the minors. The next year, he underwent an operation on his right elbow.

After posting a 2.68 ERA for Class AA Shreveport in 1968, Santorini was called up by the Braves and made his major-league debut in a start against the Giants on Sept. 10 at Atlanta. The Braves’ starting catcher, Walt Hriniak, also was playing his first game in the majors. The regular catcher, Joe Torre, shifted to first base.

Santorini held the Braves scoreless for two innings, but gave up four runs in the third. The big blow was Willie McCovey’s decisive three-run home run. McCovey never got another hit versus Santorini, finishing 1-for-17 against him in his career. Boxscore

A month later, the Braves failed to protect Santorini in the National League expansion draft and he was picked by the Padres.

Fun and games

In three seasons with the Padres, Santorini was 9-24. He was 0-1 against the Cardinals but with a 2.86 ERA in 28.1 innings.

On May 26, 1971, Santorini started both games of a doubleheader for the Padres against the Astros at San Diego.

In Game 1, Padres manager Preston Gomez thought he would outmaneuver the Astros, who started a lineup of mostly left-handed batters. As Santorini warmed up in the Padres’ bullpen before the game, left-hander Dave Roberts secretly got loose in the San Diego Chargers’ football clubhouse.

“When they saw Santorini warming up, they had all those left-hand hitters ready to hit against him,” Gomez said to the Associated Press.

After Santorini retired leadoff batter Roger Metzger, Roberts relieved. He pitched the remainder of the game, but the Astros won, 2-1. Boxscore

In Game 2, Santorini started, went six innings and gave up four runs. His counterpart, Larry Dierker, pitched a one-hitter and the Astros prevailed, 8-0. Boxscore

Two weeks later, Santorini was dealt to the Cardinals.

Hard to win

Used as both starter and reliever, Santorini was 0-2 with two saves and a 3.81 ERA for the 1971 Cardinals. He had a 2.10 ERA in 14 relief appearances and a 5.62 ERA in five starts. In his first start for the Cardinals, Santorini lost, 1-0, to Don Gullett and the Reds. Boxscore

With the Cardinals, Santorini was reunited with Joe Torre, his former Braves teammate. Helped by weight loss, Torre won the National League Most Valuable Player Award with the Cardinals in 1971. He urged Santorini to lose weight, too.

Santorini went from 202 pounds to 190 after the 1971 season. He and Torre shared an apartment in north St. Louis County at the start of the 1972 season.

“Every time Joe caught me having a high-calorie soft drink or eating anything, he’d call me things like fatso or slob,” Santorini told the Post-Dispatch. “Joe is like a guy who gave up smoking finally and then can’t stand to see anyone else smoking.”

Santorini began the 1972 season as a reliever and spot starter. On April 17, 1972, with his parents in attendance at Philadelphia, Santorini got his first Cardinals win in a relief stint versus the Phillies. Boxscore

The win snapped a streak of 12 consecutive losses for Santorini, dating back to April 1970. “It was beginning to get to me,” Santorini told The Sporting News. “It has to make you wonder some.”

Throwing zeroes

On July 4, 1972, Cardinals starting pitcher Scipio Spinks injured a knee in a plate collision with Reds catcher Johnny Bench and was sidelined for the rest of the season. Santorini (4-6) replaced Spinks in the rotation.

Santorini pitched the first of his three Cardinals shutouts on Aug. 6, 1972, in a 6-0 victory against the Phillies. He told the Philadelphia Daily News his arm stiffened in the sixth inning, “but you don’t want to come out when you’re pitching a shutout.” Boxscore

On Sept. 16, Santorini shut out the Pirates in a 4-0 win. A key moment occurred in the seventh when, with two outs and runners on second and third, Santorini struck out Richie Zisk, a former New Jersey prep rival, on three pitches. “Those were the three hardest pitches I threw all day,” Santorini told the Post-Dispatch. Boxscore

Two weeks later, on Wednesday afternoon Sept. 27 in the Cardinals’ final home game of the season, 3,380 spectators, the smallest crowd to attend a Cardinals game since Busch Memorial Stadium opened in May 1966, watched Santorini spin a shutout in a 4-0 triumph over the Mets.

Santorini threw 149 pitches and struck out a career-high 12 batters, extending his scoreless innings streak to 20.

“My buddies back in New Jersey were probably watching the game on TV, just off the golf course and drunk,” Santorini said to the Post-Dispatch. “They don’t work.” Boxscore

Santorini finished 8-11 with a 4.11 ERA for the 1972 Cardinals.

The next year, he had a 5.50 ERA in six relief appearances when the Cardinals traded him to the Royals for pitcher Tom Murphy on May 8, 1973.

Santorini spent the rest of the 1973 season in the minors. In 1974, he was in the Phillies’ system, but was released in July.

Santorini called the Cardinals and they signed him to pitch for their Tulsa affiliate. “I was lucky to latch onto a club for the remainder of the season,” Santorini told The Sporting News. “I feel I still can do the job in the major leagues as a reliever.”

After posting a 5.57 ERA for manager Ken Boyer’s Tulsa team, Santorini was bypassed when the Cardinals called up players in September. At 26, his pitching career was finished.

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Only one of the 267 career home runs hit by George Hendrick in the big leagues stayed in the park, and it enabled the Cardinals to beat Fernando Valenzuela the first time they faced him.

Forty years ago, on June 11, 1981, Hendrick’s two-run inside-the-park home run against Valenzuela provided the margin of victory in the Cardinals’ 2-1 triumph over the Dodgers at St. Louis.

The next day, major-league players went on strike and play wouldn’t resume for two months.

Dodger in danger

A left-hander with an exceptional screwball, Valenzuela debuted in the majors with the Dodgers as a reliever in September 1980. He earned a spot in the Dodgers’ starting rotation in 1981 and gained national prominence when he won his first eight decisions.

Valenzuela, 20, was scheduled to make his first career appearance against the Cardinals on Thursday, June 11, in the finale of a three-game series at Busch Memorial Stadium.

His first visit to St. Louis was highly anticipated, but it took a dark turn on June 10 when Valenzuela received a death threat. He was taken that night from Busch Memorial Stadium by FBI agents and placed under round-the-clock protection, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Despite the threat, Valenzuela, 20, made his start versus the Cardinals the following night. A crowd of 39,250 turned out for the matchup of Valenzuela (9-3) against the Cardinals’ Silvio Martinez (1-4).

Extra security was provided for Valenzuela because St. Louis police chief Eugene Camp said the FBI had received information of a plot to kidnap the pitcher, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Camp said undercover St. Louis police officers were assigned to keep watch over Valenzuela.

Cardinals capitalize

Those in attendance wouldn’t have known from Valenzuela’s performance that he had been threatened. He pitched with poise and command against the Cardinals.

His only trouble on the field came in the first inning. With two outs and none on, Keith Hernandez coaxed a walk. George Hendrick followed and looped a liner to right field.

“It appeared to be an ordinary single,” the Post-Dispatch noted.

Right fielder Pedro Guerrero charged the ball, hoping for a catch, but it landed five feet in front of him, skipped past him and bounced to the wall. Hernandez and Hendrick circled the bases, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.

“I thought I had a chance,” Guerrero said to the Los Angeles Times. “I just couldn’t get it. No excuses.”

Valenzuela told the Post-Dispatch, “It was a very strange home run.”

Fulfilling expectations

The Dodgers got a run in the sixth when Ken Landreaux scored from first on Dusty Baker’s two-out double, but Silvio Martinez allowed nothing more. Bruce Sutter relieved with one out in the eighth and shut down the Dodgers the rest of the way, preserving the win, the last for Martinez in the big leagues.

Valenzuela went seven innings, yielding three hits, walking three and striking out nine, before he was relieved. Hendrick’s fluke home run and singles by Gene Tenace and Tito Landrum accounted for the Cardinals’ hits. Boxscore

“Fernando is everything they said he was,” Tenace told the Post-Dispatch. “Besides having tremendous poise, he has four pitches and he’s not afraid to throw any of them in any situation. He has two great screwballs, a hard one and a slow one. He has an excellent curve, plus a good fastball.”

Landrum said, “By having two speeds on his screwball, he really keeps you off balance. One is a kind of fadeaway. The other breaks hard.”

Keith Hernandez added, “He’s got the best screwball I’ve ever seen. The Lord blesses a select few and he was definitely blessed.”

After the game, six men, all of them either police officers or FBI agents, escorted Valenzuela from the ballpark through a private exit, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Silly seasons

The victory moved the Cardinals (30-20) to within 1.5 games of the first-place Phillies (34-21) in the National League East. The players went on strike the next day.

Before play resumed on Aug. 10, baseball declared the games completed before the strike would count as one season, and the games completed after the strike would count as a second season. Those teams with the best division records in each season would advance to the playoffs.

The Phillies were declared champions of the National League East Division in the first season.

Baseball made the decision even though, because of scheduling inconsistencies, all teams were not playing the same amount of games. 

After the strike, the Expos (60-48) finished atop the National League East in the second season and the Cardinals (29-23) placed second.

The Phillies and Expos were the National League East teams that went to the playoffs, even though overall in 1981 the top three records in the division belonged, in order, to the Cardinals (59-43), Expos (60-48) and Phillies (59-48).

The Dodgers, who finished atop the National League West in the first season of 1981, became National League and World Series championships.

Pedro Guerrero overcame his gaffe against the Cardinals and hit .300 for the Dodgers. He was named World Series most valuable player, hitting .333 with two home runs versus the Yankees.

Valenzuela finished 13-7 with eight shutouts in 1981 and won both the National League Cy Young Award and Rookie of the Year Award. He was 1-0 in the World Series, pitching a complete game.

Guerrero and Valenzuela both eventually played for the Cardinals.

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Though it wasn’t unusual for Darryl Kile to hit a batter with a pitch, the number he plunked in a game against the Cardinals was extraordinary, even for him.

Twenty-five years ago, on June 2, 1996, while with the Astros, Kile hit four Cardinals batters with pitches in a game at St. Louis. Three of the four who were struck figured in the scoring, leading to a Cardinals victory.

Kile was the first National League pitcher to pelt four batters with pitches in one game since the Cubs’ Moe Drabowsky did it exactly 29 years earlier, on June 2, 1957, against the Reds. Boxscore

Breaking bad

The Sunday afternoon game between the Astros and Cardinals at Busch Memorial Stadium matched a pair of right-handers, Kile vs. Todd Stottlemyre.

In the second inning, Kile plunked the leadoff batter, Ray Lankford. He moved to second on Gary Gaetti’s single and scored on John Mabry’s hit.

Gaetti was hit by a pitch in the sixth, but the Cardinals didn’t score.

It was a different story in the eighth. With two outs, none on and the Cardinals clinging to a 1-0 lead, Gaetti and Mabry each singled. The next batter, Danny Sheaffer, hitless in his last 10 at-bats, was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. It was the first time in three years Sheaffer got plunked in a major-league game.

Up next was Luis Alicea, the Cardinals’ hot hitter. Alicea had hit a home run in each of his three previous games. With the bases loaded, he dug in, expecting Kile to throw a strike.

“I wanted to get a good rip at it,” Alicea told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I was disappointed because I didn’t even have a chance.”

Kile hit Alicea with a pitch, scoring Gaetti from third and giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.

“I was just trying to make too good a pitch,” Kile told the Associated Press.

Kile said he hit three batters with curveballs. Regarding the two he plunked in the eighth, Kile said, “You just can’t do stuff like that.”

The Astros got a runner to second base with two outs in the ninth, but Stottlemyre got Craig Biggio to pop out to shortstop Royce Clayton, completing the shutout win. Boxscore

Batters beware

Kile hit a league-high 16 batters with pitches in 1996. It was the second time he led the league in most batters hit by pitches. The other was when he plunked 15 in 1993.

After being acquired by the Cardinals in November 1999, Kile twice led the club in most batters hits by pitches (13 in 2000 and eight in 2002) and placed second in 2001 (11).

In 12 years in the majors, Kile hit 117 batters with pitches. By comparison, Bob Gibson, who had a reputation as an intimidator, hit 102 batters with pitches in 17 years. Gibson is the Cardinals franchise leader in that category.

The major-league record for most batters hit by pitches is 277 by Gus Weyhing, who pitched from 1887-1901, including part of the 1900 season with the Cardinals.

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Warren Spahn and Ferguson Jenkins, both destined for the Baseball Hall of Fame, had prominent links to Cardinals pitcher Chris Zachary.

Spahn managed Zachary in the minors and recommended him to the Cardinals.

Jenkins was the foe Zachary outdueled when he pitched the best game of his major-league career.

Fifty years ago, on May 27, 1971, Zachary pitched a two-hit shutout for the Cardinals against the Cubs. The gem was the highlight for Zachary during the season he spent as a member of the Cardinals’ starting rotation.

Welcome to The Show

Born and raised in Knoxville, Tenn., Zachary signed with the Houston Colt .45s after he graduated from high school in June 1962.

A right-hander, Zachary was 19 when he made his major-league debut on Thursday night April 11, 1963, against the Giants at Houston. Entering in the ninth, with the Giants ahead 4-1, the first batter Zachary faced was Willie Mays.

Colt Stadium had poor lighting and created dark spots on the field. Hoping to make Mays uncomfortable, catcher Jim Campbell said to him, “This kid is the wildest son of a gun I’ve ever caught,” The Sporting News reported.

As he settled into the batter’s box, Mays replied, “Man, are you putting me on?”

“No, that’s the truth,” Campbell said.

Mays stepped in front of the plate and yelled to Zachary, “Hey, kid, can you see me all right?”

Zachary had no trouble with his vision, but may not have believed what he was seeing: The first three batters he faced in the majors all were headed to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

After Mays drew a walk, Willie McCovey singled and Orlando Cepeda followed with a three-run home run. Boxscore

Trials and tribulations

From 1963-68, Zachary shuttled back and forth between Houston and the minors. He lost 16 of 22 decisions with Houston.

In 11 appearances, including four starts, for Houston against the Cardinals, Zachary was 1-2 with a 3.24 ERA. He held the Cardinals to a run in 5.1 innings and got the win on Sept. 6, 1966. Boxscore

The Astros were shut out in Zachary’s two losses to the Cardinals. Ray Sadecki and Hal Woodeshick combined for a shutout in 1965. Boxscore. Al Jackson pitched a one-hitter in 1967. Boxscore

Zachary was acquired by the Royals in October 1968. He spent most of the 1969 season in the minors and was back there again in 1970.

On July 1, 1970, the Cardinals traded reliever Ted Abernathy for Zachary and assigned him to their Tulsa affiliate. “I didn’t think it was a break because all I was doing was switching triple-A clubs,” Zachary said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Chance to shine

In April 1971, the Cardinals became disenchanted with starting pitcher Mike Torrez and sought a replacement. Tulsa manager Warren Spahn suggested Zachary, who was 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA in three starts for the farm club in 1971.

“Spahn said Zachary was as good as a lot of pitchers in the big leagues right now, and better than a lot of them,” Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst told the Post-Dispatch.

Zachary, 27, got his first win for the Cardinals on May 22, 1971, in a start against the Padres at St. Louis. Boxscore

It was his first win in the majors since 1967 when he beat the Mets as an Astro.

A week after the win over the Padres, the Chicago Tribune described Zachary as “sensational” in his shutout of the Cubs. He retired the first eight batters before Ferguson Jenkins doubled. The only other Cubs hit was a single by ex-Cardinal Chris Cannizzaro in the sixth. Zachary retired the last 12 batters “to finish a humiliating evening” for the Cubs, the Tribune reported. Boxscore

“I feel I finally know how to pitch after nine years,” Zachary told the Post-Dispatch. “I was just a thrower when I was with Houston. I’m just glad I got a second and third chance. Some guys don’t get those extra chances.”

The good vibes didn’t last long. Zachary was 0-4 with a 9.37 ERA for the month of June. His last win for the Cardinals came in relief against the Expos on July 23 at Montreal. Boxscore

Zachary finished 3-10 with a 5.32 ERA for the 1971 Cardinals. He was 2-8 with a 5.98 ERA in 12 starts and 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA in 11 relief appearances.

Time to go

After the season, Cardinals general manager Bing Devine informed Zachary the club intended to remove him from the big-league roster to make room for younger prospects. According to the Detroit Free Press, Zachary said he would prefer to be traded and Devine promised to try to make a deal.

In December 1971, the Cardinals traded Zachary to the Tigers for pitcher Bill Denehy. Zachary opened the 1972 season in the minors, but got called up to the Tigers in May and helped them win a division title. In 24 relief appearances, Zachary was 1-0 with a 0.81 ERA and one save. He also made a start and lost.

Zachary made one more stop in the majors, with the 1973 Pirates. After his playing career, he owned a miniature horse farm in Tennessee.

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During the Memorial Day weekend in 1991, the Cardinals faced Cy Young Award winners in consecutive games. The results were strikingly different.

In the first game, on Sunday, May 26, 1991, against the Mets’ Dwight Gooden, the Cardinals totaled 23 hits and won 14-1.

In the second game, on Monday, May 27, against the Pirates’ Doug Drabek, the Cardinals totaled one hit and lost 8-0.

Except for the pitcher, the Cardinals used the same starting lineup in each game _ Bernard Gilkey, Ozzie Smith, Ray Lankford, Pedro Guerrero, Felix Jose, Todd Zeile, Tom Pagnozzi and Jose Oquendo.

The contrasting outcomes illustrated baseball’s unpredictability.

Hitting at will

The pitching matchup of Dwight Gooden versus Omar Olivares at New York’s Shea Stadium looked to be lopsided in favor of the Mets. Recalled from the minors, Olivares was making his first major-league start of the season. Gooden was 5-3 with a 2.97 ERA. He was 11-5 versus the Cardinals since entering the majors.

On cue, the Mets took a 4-1 lead into the sixth, but then the Cardinals flipped the script, rallying for 13 runs in the final four innings against Gooden and relievers Alejandro Pena and Pete Schourek.

Gooden gave up five runs in six innings, or half as many as he did in 47 innings against the Cardinals throughout 1985, when he received the National League Cy Young Award.

Eleven of the Cardinals’ hits came against Gooden. Pena gave up five hits and Schourek allowed seven. Seventeen of the 23 hits were singles and the Cardinals hit no home runs.

Gooden literally was knocked out of the game when he was struck near the left wrist by Ozzie Smith’s liner. X-rays revealed a bruise, but no fracture.

Smith had four hits, a walk and scored three runs.

Catcher Tom Pagnozzi also had four hits, including his first triple in the big leagues, and contributed a career-high six RBI.

“The Mets turned Tom Pagnozzi into Yogi Berra,” the New York Daily News proclaimed.

First baseman Pedro Guerrero also had a triple, his first since June 1990. “When Guerrero and I get a triple in the same game, it’s a strange game,” Pagnozzi told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Boxscore

Adding to the strangeness was the sight of former Cardinals second baseman Tommy Herr playing the outfield for the only time in the majors. Herr replaced Mets center fielder Keith Miller, who twisted an ankle.

In another twist, Pagnozzi’s six RBI were the most in a game by a Cardinal since Herr had six against the Mets in 1987. Boxscore

Hitting his spots

The next day, the Cardinals opened a series against the Pirates on Memorial Day afternoon at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis.

Doug Drabek, the 1990 National League Cy Young Award winner, was matched against Bob Tewksbury. Five days earlier, on May 22 at Pittsburgh, Drabek lost to the Cardinals, giving up nine hits and four runs in seven innings and dropping his season record to 2-7.

At St. Louis, the temperature was 94 degrees and the heat helped Drabek to focus. “Hot as it is you better throw strikes, make them hit it,” Drabek said to the Pittsburgh Press. “You don’t want to spend a lot of time out here.”

Mixing fastballs, sliders and curves with pinpoint control, Drabek held the Cardinals hitless until Bernard Gilkey lined a single to center with two outs in the sixth. The ball fell about 10 feet in front of center fielder Andy Van Slyke.

“I told myself that with two outs I should be four or five steps closer, but I didn’t listen to my instincts,” said Van Slyke, the former Cardinal.

Drabek threw a total of 91 pitches. He got 14 outs on ground balls and struck out two.

Hitting better than the entire Cardinals team, Drabek also produced three singles and scored a run. Boxscore

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(Updated May 8, 2021)

As managers, Red Schoendienst and Dallas Green led teams to World Series championships. As players, they faced one another with the outcome of a game on the line.

Sixty years ago, on April 28, 1961, Schoendienst came up as a pinch-hitter in the 11th inning and stroked a two-run double against Green, lifting the Cardinals to a 10-9 walkoff victory versus the Phillies at St. Louis.

Schoendienst, 38, was in his first season back with the Cardinals after being traded by them in June 1956. Green, 26, was in his second season in the majors and trying to overcome persistent shoulder and arm ailments.

After their playing careers, Schoendienst managed the Cardinals to a World Series title in 1967 and Green did the same for the Phillies in 1980.

Heading home

A second baseman of Hall of Fame caliber with the Cardinals, Giants and Braves, Schoendienst was at a career crossroads in 1961. He sat out most of the 1959 season while recovering from tuberculosis and was released by the Braves in October 1960.

Angels general manager Fred Haney, who managed the Braves to a World Series championship in 1957 when Schoendienst was the second baseman, offered him a contract to play for the American League expansion team in 1961. Schoendienst almost accepted, but opted instead for an invitation to spring training with the Cardinals.

Schoendienst was issued uniform No. 16 because the No. 2 he wore for most of his first stint with the Cardinals belonged to catcher Hal Smith. Smith voluntarily gave No. 2 back to Schoendienst.

“When Red was with the Cardinals the first time, he wore No. 2 and had two children,” Smith told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “When he was with the Braves, he wore No. 4 and had four children. When he came back to the Cardinals, he was given No. 16, so ….”

Schoendienst made the Opening Day roster, accepting a role as pinch-hitter and backup to second baseman Julian Javier.

“Don’t write me off,” Schoendienst said to The Sporting News. “This is too much fun. I’m not ready to throw in the towel.”

Clutch hit

A switch-hitter, Schoendienst had a sizzling start to the 1961 season, hitting .348 in April.

Dallas Green also did well early for the Phillies. A right-hander, he earned a spot in the starting rotation and pitched a shutout against the Giants in his first appearance of the season.

“For the first time in several years, I can throw without pain,” Green told The Sporting News. “You just can’t imagine what a feeling it is to be able to let go again.”

When the Phillies and Cardinals played on April 28, a raw, chilly Friday night at Busch Stadium, the starting pitchers were Robin Roberts and Ernie Broglio. The Cardinals led 6-1 after four innings, but the Phillies rallied. The game went to extra innings and the Phillies went ahead, 9-8, in the 11th.

Green, the Phillies’ seventh pitcher of the game, was working his third inning when the Cardinals loaded the bases with one out in the 11th.

Sent to bat for pitcher Al Cicotte, Schoendienst lined a double into the right-field corner, scoring Carl Sawatski and Alex Grammas.

“A good pitch, a slider, I think,” Schoendienst said to the Post-Dispatch. Boxscore

Getting it done

Three months later, on July 6, when the Cardinals fired manager Solly Hemus and replaced him with coach Johnny Keane, Schoendienst was added to the staff as player-coach.

Schoendienst led by example, becoming “one of the best pinch-hitters in the business,” the Post-Dispatch noted.

For the season, Schoendienst hit .347 as a pinch-hitter and .300 overall. In 54 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter, his on-base percentage was .407.

In 133 plate appearances overall in 1961, Schoendienst had six strikeouts, or one out of 22 times. No other Cardinal whiffed so infrequently in 1961, The Sporting News reported. Only once did he hit into a double play during the season. 

Schoendienst continued as a player-coach for Keane in 1962, hitting .306 as a pinch-hitter and .301 overall.

He began the 1963 season in the same role, but after going hitless in six plate appearances, the Cardinals opted to remove Schoendienst from the player roster. According to Cardinals Gameday Magazine, general manager Bing Devine informed Schoendienst he could remain with the Cardinals as a coach or make his own deal to sign with another club as a player.

“I’ve talked to five clubs,” Devine told Schoendienst. “They all said they want you.”

Schoendienst chose to stay as a coach, ending his playing days. 

For his big-league career, Schoendienst had better numbers as a pinch-hitter (.305 batting average and .371 on-base percentage) than he did overall (.289 batting average and .337 on-base percentage).

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