Archive for the ‘Pitchers’ Category

In his last appearance of the 1970 season, Steve Carlton survived a beanball battle and avoided becoming the first Cardinals pitcher in 50 years to lose 20 games.

Fifty years ago, on Sept. 26, 1970, Carlton pitched a three-hitter and got the win in a 7-2 Cardinals triumph versus the Expos at Montreal. A left-hander and future Hall of Famer, Carlton finished 10-19 in 1970.

The last Cardinals pitcher with 20 losses in a season was another future Hall of Famer, Jesse Haines, who was 13-20 in 1920.

No Cardinals left-hander has had a 20-loss season.

The most losses by a Cardinals pitcher in one season is 25. Stoney McGlynn was 14-25 for the 1907 Cardinals and Bugs Raymond was 15-25 for the 1908 Cardinals.

Head games

Carlton reported late to spring training in 1970 because of a contract dispute and struggled throughout most of the regular season. He was 1-2 in April and 1-4 May. Carlton didn’t have a winning record in any of the first five months of the season and entered September at 7-18.

After winning two of three decisions in September, Carlton went into his last start looking to end on a positive note against the Expos, who had beaten him twice during the season.

He was matched against Expos starter Bill Stoneman, who had angered the Cardinals by throwing at them.

On Aug. 9, Stoneman threw a pitch close to the head of the Cardinals’ Richie Allen. Cardinals pitcher Jerry Reuss retaliated by plunking Stoneman with a pitch on the peak of his batting helmet. Boxscore

A month later, on Sept. 5, Stoneman hit the Cardinals’ Joe Torre with a pitch. Boxscore

Stoneman hit 14 batters with pitches, the most in the major leagues in 1970. Expos manager Gene Mauch claimed the reason Stoneman hit so many was because the batters leaned in toward the plate in anticipation of his breaking pitches, The Sporting News reported.

Law and order

Trouble started early in the late September showdown between Carlton and Stoneman.

In the second inning, Stoneman hit Jose Cruz with a pitch.

Carlton retaliated by brushing back Stoneman with a pitch in the third. “You can’t let a pitcher go after your hitters,” Carlton told The Sporting News. “I’ve got to protect my guys.”

Hoping to defuse the tension, umpires issued an warning to both teams. Mauch stormed onto the field, objecting to the warning, and was ejected.

In the fourth, a defiant Stoneman hit Torre with a pitch and was ejected.

“That guy throws at six or seven guys every game,” Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst told the Montreal Gazette. “That’s his best pitch.”

Expos catcher John Bateman, miffed about the ejections of Mauch and Stoneman, expressed his frustrations to the umpires in the fifth inning and was tossed, too.

Win some, lose some

The Cardinals broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the eighth. Torre hit a two-run triple against Dan McGinn and Ted Simmons drove in Torre with a single versus Claude Raymond.

In the ninth, Carlton was hit in the rump by a pitch from Mike Wegener. “I don’t understand him hitting me,” Carlton said. “I thought everything was settled by that time.”

Players from both teams swarmed onto the field, but “nobody swung. They just jabbered and looked tough,” the Montreal Gazette reported.

After the Cardinals scored three times in the top of the ninth, the Expos added a run in the bottom half of the inning on a leadoff home run by Gary Sutherland before Carlton retired the next three batters, completing the win. Boxscore

Though he avoided a 20-loss season for the Cardinals, Carlton wasn’t so fortunate three years later with the Phillies. In 1973, Carlton lost six of his last eight decisions and finished with a record of 13-20. The 20th loss came against the Cardinals at St. Louis. Boxscore

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Flint Rhem was a Cardinals pitcher with an addiction to alcohol and a fiction writer’s imagination.

Ninety years ago, during the National League pennant race in September 1930, Rhem went missing for about 24 hours before his scheduled start for the Cardinals against the Dodgers at Brooklyn.

When he eventually showed up at the team hotel in Manhattan, Rhem told Cardinals manager Gabby Street he’d been kidnapped by two men who didn’t want him to face the Dodgers, held at gunpoint and forced to drink to excess.

Rhem had gone on a binge, all right, but neither the Cardinals nor the newspapers bought his tall tale of a kidnap.

Though he did miss his start against the Dodgers, Rhem recovered to win his next two starts and help the Cardinals clinch the pennant.

Back in business

After splitting a doubleheader with the Braves at Boston on Sept. 14, the 1930 Cardinals were in second place in the National League heading into a three-game series with the first-place Dodgers at Brooklyn.

Rhem was the Cardinals’ choice to start Game 2 of the series. A right-hander, Rhem, 29, had won his last six decisions and was 10-8 for the season.

Rhem’s status as a valued starter represented quite a comeback. A year earlier, Rhem’s career was headed in the wrong direction. Though he was a 20-game winner for the 1926 World Series champion Cardinals and an 11-game winner when the club won another pennant in 1928, Rhem got in trouble with management because of his drinking, the St. Louis Star-Times reported, and was banished to the minors in 1929.

When Gabby Street replaced Bill McKechnie as manager for 1930, Rhem pledged to stay sober and was given a chance for redemption. He appeared to be succeeding until the setback in September.

Flush with cash

Before the Cardinals left Boston and headed to Brooklyn, Rhem won $200 on a horse race, Cardinals players told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The windfall might have had something to do with what happened next.

The Cardinals had a day off in New York on Monday, Sept. 15, before opening the series against the Dodgers on Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Rhem failed to show in the Cardinals’ clubhouse at Ebbets Field for the Sept. 16 game, the Star-Times reported. When his room at the Alamac Hotel on Broadway and 71st Street in Manhattan was checked, it was discovered it hadn’t been occupied. No one knew where he went.

The Cardinals won the series opener, 1-0 in 10 innings, behind the shutout pitching of Bill Hallahan and moved into a first-place tie with the Dodgers. Boxscore

That night, Rhem, who was supposed to start the next day, arrived at the hotel “in a condition unbecoming a major-league player,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

“He came wandering back, babbling a weird tale of how he had been kidnapped,” the Star-Times reported.

Spinning a yarn

Rhem said he was standing outside the hotel on Sept. 15 when two men approached, thrust revolvers into his ribs and motioned for him to get into a waiting taxi, the Daily Eagle reported.

Rhem said the men told him, “Get in there. We are going to get you drunk so you won’t be able to pitch against our (Dodgers).”

According to the Daily Eagle, Rhem said he was driven to a “log cabin” in the Bronx. The version Rhem told the St. Louis Globe-Democrat was he was taken to a roadhouse.

Rhem said the men forced him to drink straight alcohol all night on Sept. 15 and all day on Sept. 16, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Rhem said the men drove him back to within a few blocks of the hotel when they were satisfied he was too inebriated to pitch the next day.

Asked by the Daily Eagle for his reaction to Rhem’s story, Cardinals executive Branch Rickey replied, “Bunk.”

Forgive us our trespasses

According to the Globe-Democrat, Rhem told manager Gabby Street, “What could I do? They just made me go along with them.”

According to the Star-Times, Street responded, “It isn’t so much that you let me down and let the St. Louis ballclub down, but you let 24 of your pals down. That’s what’s rotten … For heaven’s sake, Flint, straighten up and be a man.”

Admonished, Rhem was sent to bed and the Cardinals instructed the hotel to prohibit telephone calls to and from his room, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Street decided no disciplinary action would be taken because Rhem had stayed out of trouble since Street became manager. “He has been hewing to the line all summer,” Street told the Globe-Democrat.

Red Smith of the Star-Times was less forgiving. He described Rhem as being “coddled and pampered” and concluded, “Rhem, who apparently cares more for the bright lights than he does for the Cardinals’ chances of entering the World Series, will, for the time being, go unpunished for quitting cold on his manager and comrades just when they needed him most.”

Rhem’s antics brought to mind his former Cardinals teammate, Grover Cleveland Alexander, another pitcher whose drinking got him into trouble.

Making amends

With Rhem unavailable, Syl Johnson got the start in the second game of the series on Sept. 17, limited the Dodgers to three runs in seven innings, and enabled the Cardinals to come back for a 5-3 victory. Boxscore

According to the Daily Eagle, Rhem sat glumly in the corner of the locker room and “kept his head down while he dressed.”

The next day, Sept. 18, Rhem pitched batting practice before the series finale, the New York Daily News reported. Behind the pitching of Burleigh Grimes, the Cardinals completed a series sweep with a 4-3 victory and moved two games ahead of the Dodgers with nine to play.

Rhem delivered in the stretch, making two starts against the Phillies and winning both. The wins gave him eight in a row and a record of 12-8.

The Cardinals won seven of their last nine and clinched the pennant. In the World Series against the Athletics, Rhem started Game 2 versus the Athletics and lost.

Rhem pitched in 10 seasons for the Cardinals and was 81-63.

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(Updated Nov. 18, 2020)

Bob Gibson of the Cardinals and Tom Seaver of the Mets opposed one another 11 times in regular-season games and the results paralleled the paths of their careers.

Seaver was the winning pitcher in six of the matchups, Gibson was the winning pitcher three times, and twice their duels ended in no decisions.

The first win for Seaver vs. Gibson came in 1969, a year when he paced the Mets to an improbable World Series title, and the other five occurred in the 1970s, when Seaver was in his prime.

Gibson’s wins versus Seaver came in a three-year stretch, 1968-70, when he twice won the National League Cy Young Award.

From 1971, the year Gibson turned 36, to 1975, Seaver won five consecutive decisions against Gibson.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Seaver is the only pitcher to beat Gibson three times in one season. Seaver did it in 1971.

In Gibson’s three wins versus Seaver, the Mets scored a total of four runs.

In Seaver’s six wins versus Gibson, the Cardinals scored a total of seven runs.

Gibson told the Post-Dispatch in 1975, “I could beat him, but that was when I was giving up only one or two runs a game. Later, when I started giving up more runs, he was a tough guy to beat because he wasn’t giving up that many.”

The first matchup of Gibson versus Seaver may have been the best.

Pair of aces

In 1967, Seaver’s rookie season, he faced the Cardinals once, a start versus Al Jackson.

Seaver’s second career start against the Cardinals came on May 6, 1968, a Monday night in St. Louis, versus Gibson.

Seaver, 23, was making his sixth start of the season and was 1-1 with a 1.71 ERA. He went eight innings in his previous start May 1, a no-decision versus the Phillies.

Gibson, 32, was making his sixth start of the season and was 2-1 with a 1.43 ERA. He went 12 innings in his previous start May 1, a win versus the Astros. “I made 179 pitches in that game, and after 179 pitches, your arm doesn’t feel too good for a while,” Gibson told the Post-Dispatch.

Before his start against Seaver and the Mets, Gibson said, “I had my arm under a heat lamp for 20 minutes, trying to get it loosened up.”

Costly mistake

The Cardinals went ahead, 1-0, with an unearned run against Seaver in the second inning. After Tim McCarver led off with a single, Mike Shannon grounded to first baseman Ed Kranepool, who fielded the ball and turned to throw to second base for what seemed like a certain forceout.

Kranepool cocked his arm but stopped, unsure whether shortstop Bud Harrelson would get to the bag in time to take the throw. When he finally made the throw, Kranepool was off balance. The ball skipped along the ground and bounced off Harrelson’s chest for an error. Julian Javier followed with a single to right, scoring McCarver from second.

The Mets got three hits in the game against Gibson and all came in the fourth inning.

Harrelson led off with a single and advanced to third on Ken Boswell’s single. Art Shamsky lined a hit to left, driving in Harrelson and tying the score at 1-1. With Ron Swoboda at the plate, an inside pitch got away from McCarver, the catcher, for a passed ball, allowing Boswell to move to third and Shamsky to second with none out.

Wrong route

Swoboda hit a fly ball to center. Curt Flood ran forward and made the catch, but as Boswell tagged at third, Flood hesitated before making a throw. “Boswell looked like a cinch to score,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

“I didn’t think we had a chance to get Boswell,” McCarver said.

Flood’s throw tailed toward the third-base line, and McCarver went up the line to retrieve the ball. Boswell beat the throw “by plenty,” the New York Daily News reported, but McCarver was “blocking the line without the ball.”

Instead of barreling into McCarver in a straight path to the plate, Boswell slid wide around the catcher and reached for the plate with his hand.

Boswell touched nothing but dirt. As the ball reached McCarver, he wheeled around and tagged out Boswell to complete a double play. Instead of a 2-1 lead for the Mets, the score remained tied.

Dick Young of the New York Daily News described Boswell’s play at the plate as a “chicken slide.”

“He should have scored easily with the lead run,” Young wrote. “He should have bowled over McCarver.”

Mets manager Gil Hodges told the Post-Dispatch, “In that situation, you can’t go around the catcher. You have to hit him.”

In control

From then on, Gibson and Seaver settled into a groove.

Gibson allowed one base runner after the fourth inning. After Swoboda walked with one out in the seventh, Gibson retired 14 batters in a row.

Seaver held the Cardinals hitless from the third through ninth innings. After Shannon walked in the fourth, Seaver retired 17 in a row until Shannon got an infield hit in the 10th.

As the game entered the 11th, Gibson and Seaver were approaching their limits.

Joe Hoerner was ready in the Cardinals’ bullpen and would have come into the game if it went to a 12th inning. “I can’t let (Gibson) throw his arm out,” manager Red Schoendienst said.

Seaver told the Post-Dispatch the 11th inning would have been his last, too.

Cream of the crop

It took a couple of future Hall of Famers, Lou Brock and Orlando Cepeda, to settle the duel between future Hall of Famers Gibson and Seaver.

Brock led off the bottom of the 11th with a drive to the wall in left-center for a triple. Seaver gave intentional walks to Flood and Roger Maris, loading the bases in hope of a forceout or double play.

Cepeda foiled the strategy, lining Seaver’s first pitch to right for a single to drive in Brock and give the Cardinals and Gibson a 2-1 victory. Boxscore

The win improved Gibson’s career mark against the Mets to 18-3.

“My arm doesn’t hurt half as much as it will tomorrow,” Gibson said, “but that’s the price you have to pay if you want to be a pitcher.”

The 11-inning game was played in a snappy 2:10.

“They don’t fritter around,” Dick Young wrote of Gibson and Seaver. “They get the ball and fire.”

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Cardinals manager Eddie Dyer preferred to put Pirates slugger Ralph Kiner on base, representing the potential winning run, rather than give him a chance to hit a walkoff home run.

Seventy years ago, on Sept. 3, 1950, with the score tied in the bottom of the 10th inning of a game between the Cardinals and Pirates at Pittsburgh, Dyer ordered pitcher Harry Brecheen to give an intentional walk to Kiner with the bases empty and two outs.

The unorthodox strategy backfired when the next batter, rookie Gus Bell, hit a double, scoring Kiner and giving the Pirates a 12-11 victory.

Home run king

The Cardinals carried a four-game losing streak into the Sunday afternoon series finale against the last-place Pirates at Forbes Field.

Kiner hit two home runs. The first was a solo shot against Red Munger in the opening inning. The second home run, a two-run clout versus Cloyd Boyer in the eighth, gave the Pirates a 9-8 lead.

In his first four seasons (1946-49) in the majors, Kiner led the National League in home runs in 1946 (23) and 1949 (54), and tied with Johnny Mize of the Giants for the top spot in 1947 (51) and 1948 (40). Kiner was on his way to winning the league’s home run crown again in 1950.

Comeback Cardinals

Bill Howerton of the Cardinals led off the top of the ninth with a home run into the upper deck in right against Junior Walsh, tying the score at 9-9.

Brecheen, usually a starter, relieved for the Cardinals in the bottom of the ninth and retired the Pirates in order.

In the top of the 10th, the Cardinals scored twice versus Bill Werle. With one out and none on, Red Schoendienst doubled, Stan Musial drove him in with a single and Enos Slaughter tripled, scoring Musial and extending the Cardinals’ lead to 11-9.

Dare to differ

Brecheen retired the first batter, Clyde McCullough, in the bottom of the 10th, but the next two, Pete Castiglione and Bob Dillinger, each hit a home run, tying the score at 11-11. For Castiglione, the home run was his third of the season and for Dillinger it was his first since the Pirates acquired him from the Athletics in July.

After the back-to-back home runs, Brecheen knocked down the next batter, Danny O’Connell, with his first pitch to him. O’Connell grounded out for the second out of the inning.

The next batter was Kiner. The only way he could beat the Cardinals was to hit a home run, but Dyer thought the risk was so high it was worth issuing an intentional walk.

Among the factors influencing Dyer’s thinking:

_ Kiner batted right-handed and Brecheen was a left-hander.

_ Brecheen already had given up two home runs in the inning and thus was vulnerable against Kiner.

“The fact it violated tried and true baseball strategy doesn’t bother us a bit,” columnist Bob Burnes wrote in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. “We’ve always felt too many managers called too many plays in routine fashion purely because that’s the way the pattern said it should be.”

What did bother Burnes is the slumping Cardinals appeared to have lost confidence. “It was a desperation play, one dictated by something almost akin to panic,” Burnes said.

Take that!

As Kiner watched Brecheen lob four pitches wide of the plate, the fans booed.

With Kiner on first, cleanup hittter Gus Bell batted next. Bell had tripled twice and singled. Though a left-handed batter, Bell hit .320 versus left-handers in 1950.

Bell belted a pitch from Brecheen high and deep to right. The ball “appeared headed into the stands for a home run,” the Pittsburgh Press reported, but it hit high on the screen.

Right fielder Enos Slaughter gave chase and fell. The ball caromed about 35 yards from the screen, the Globe-Democrat reported, giving Kiner time to hustle from first base to home. Bell stopped at second with a double as Kiner crossed the plate with the winning run. Boxscore

The teams combined for 30 hits, including 20 for extra bases.

Each team hit three triples. The Pirates had five home runs and the Cardinals had three.

The Cardinals wasted a big performance from Stan Musial, who had four hits and two walks. Playing near his hometown of Donora, Pa., Musial had a two-run home run and scored four times.

Kiner went on to hit 47 home runs in 1950. Only eight came against left-handers.

Brecheen finished the 1950 season with a 3.55 ERA in 23 starts for the Cardinals and a 10.50 ERA in four relief appearances.

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Joaquin Andujar, a big winner for the Cardinals when they became World Series champions in 1982 and again when they won another National League pennant in 1985, might never have pitched for them if the Astros and Pirates had closed a deal involving him.

Forty years ago, in 1980, the Astros agreed to trade Andujar to the defending World Series champion Pirates for first baseman and outfielder Bill Robinson. The deal was to be completed just before the start of 1980 spring training, but it fell through when the Astros refused to renegotiate Robinson’s contract.

A few months later, the Astros planned to trade Andujar to the Phillies as part of a three-way deal with the Giants, but it didn’t happen because the player the Astros wanted in return went on the disabled list.

Andujar finished the 1980 season with the Astros and was traded to the Cardinals in 1981.

Wrong role

The Astros began the 1979 season with Andujar in the bullpen. He moved into the rotation in late May. In six June starts, Andujar was 5-1 with a 1.59 ERA, but he was ineffective late in the season and manager Bill Virdon put him back into a relief role.

“I’m the only guy that has to win every time and, if I don’t, I’m in the bullpen,” Andujar complained to The Sporting News. “If I don’t win there, I’m in the doghouse. They forget me. They ought to trade me or give me my release.”

Andujar completed the 1979 season with a 12-12 record, four saves and a 3.43 ERA. He made 23 starts and 23 relief appearances.

After the season, the Astros signed free agent Nolan Ryan, who joined a rotation of Joe Niekro, J.R. Richard and Ken Forsch.

The Astros put Andujar on the trade market. They were seeking a first baseman who could hit with power from the right side to replace Cesar Cedeno, who wanted to return to the outfield.

The Braves showed interest, but they also were in discussions with the Cardinals about a swap of outfielder Gary Matthews for pitcher John Denny and catcher Terry Kennedy, The Sporting News reported.

Near deal

At the baseball winter meetings in December 1979, the Pirates became the prime suitor for Andujar. The Pirates wanted a starting pitcher because one of their starters, Bruce Kison, became a free agent and signed with the Angels, and two others, Don Robinson and Rick Rhoden, had undergone shoulder surgeries.

The Pirates offered Bill Robinson to the Astros. In 1979, he hit 24 home runs. He also batted .311 versus left-handers.

“Bill Robinson would help us very much,” Virdon told the Pittsburgh Press.

The deal “came close” to being made, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, until the Astros asked for a minor-league player to be included.

According to The Sporting News, the Pirates also discovered Robinson had the right to veto a trade because he had played 10 seasons in the majors, including five in a row with them. Pirates general manager Harding Peterson hadn’t discussed the deal with Robinson, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The teams decided to halt negotiations.

Called off

Two months later, in February 1980, the Astros and Pirates resumed talks and agreed to a straight swap of Andujar for Robinson. The Pirates planned for Andujar, who turned 27 in 1980, to join a rotation with Bert Blyleven, John Candelaria and Jim Bibby.

The deal hinged on one last step: It needed Robinson’s approval.

Initially, Robinson told The Sporting News, “If Houston still wants me, I want to play for them. I want to play every day and help bring them a pennant.”

He told the Pittsburgh Press, “I’ve tentatively agreed to the trade.”

The clubs gave Robinson a deadline of 5 p.m. on Feb. 20, 1980, to make a firm decision.

Robinson, who turned 37 in 1980, had a contract for the 1980 season and wanted the Astros to extend it through 1981.

Astros general manager Tal Smith refused to renegotiate, so Robinson blocked the trade.

“I vetoed the deal with the Astros because, they not only didn’t offer me an additional penny, they wouldn’t give me a 1981 contract,” Robinson said.

Phillies fuel interest

When Andujar arrived at Astros training camp in Cocoa, Fla., he discovered pranksters had placed a picture of Bill Robinson at his locker.

Andujar wasn’t laughing when he began the regular season in the bullpen. His first start of the 1980 season came on May 24 as a showcase versus the Phillies, who were looking to make a trade to bolster their rotation.

The Phillies were considering a trade of first baseman Keith Moreland, outfielder Lonnie Smith and two minor-leaguers to the Giants for first baseman Mike Ivie and pitchers Ed Halicki and Gary Lavelle, the Philadelphia Daily News reported. The Phillies would send Ivie to the Astros for Andujar.

The deal dissolved when Ivie went on the disabled list for mental fatigue. “He was the whole key, the only player Houston really wanted for Andujar,” wrote Bill Conlin in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Andujar finished the season with a 3-8 record for the 1980 Astros, who won a division title.

The Pirates were glad they didn’t trade Bill Robinson. He hit .287 for them in 1980, including .323 versus left-handers.

In 1981, Andujar was 2-3 with a 4.94 ERA when the Astros traded him to the Cardinals on June 7 for outfielder Tony Scott.

Andujar earned 15 regular-season wins for the 1982 Cardinals and also was the winning pitcher in Games 3 and 7 of the World Series versus the Brewers.

Andujar won 20 for the Cardinals in 1984 and 21 in 1985. After a temper tantrum led to his ejection from Game 7 of the 1985 World Series against the Royals, Andujar was traded by the Cardinals to the Athletics.

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Dazzling defense by first baseman Jim Bottomley and ironman relief by Syl Johnson carried the Cardinals to an epic victory over the Cubs and helped change the momentum of the 1930 National League pennant race.

The Cardinals beat the Cubs, 8-7, in 20 innings on Aug. 28, 1930, at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

The triumph was the Cardinals’ ninth in a row and moved them 5.5 games behind the first-place Cubs. The Cardinals went on to win 21 of 25 games in September while the Cubs were 13-13 for the month. The sizzling surge enabled the Cardinals (92-62) to finish in first place, two games ahead of the Cubs (90-64).

The results might have been different if the Cardinals hadn’t won the 20-inning marathon.

Matchup of aces

The starting pitchers for the Thursday afternoon game were spitball specialist Burleigh Grimes for the Cardinals and Pat Malone for the Cubs. Grimes, acquired from the Braves two months earlier, had won six of his last seven decisions for the Cardinals. Malone had won seven in a row and was 16-6 for the Cubs. The matchup attracted about 20,000 spectators.

With the Cardinals ahead, 5-3, in the eighth, Jim Lindsey, working his first inning in relief of Grimes, gave up a two-run double to Footsie Blair, enabling the Cubs to tie the score.

Syl Johnson, who had a 4.83 ERA, replaced Lindsey in the ninth and was in command.

Sherrif Blake, who pitched a complete game two days earlier, became the fourth Cubs pitcher of the day in the ninth and also was sharp. After Blake held the Cardinals scoreless on one hit for three innings, Bob Osborn, who had a 4.84 ERA, took over for the Cubs in the 12th.

Diamond dandy

The Cardinals broke through against Osborn in the 15th. With two outs and none on, Jimmie Wilson singled and scored on Charlie Gelbert’s double. Syl Johnson drove in Gelbert with a single, giving the Cardinals a 7-5 lead.

Pitching in the bottom half of the inning, Johnson got into immediate trouble. Danny Taylor led off and doubled. After High Pockets Kelly flied out, Gabby Hartnett doubled, driving in Taylor, and Les Bell, a former Cardinal, singled, scoring Hartnett with the tying run.

After Osborn bunted Bell to second, Johnson issued an intentional walk to Footsie Blair. A right-handed batter, Woody English, was up next. He swung late at a pitch and slashed the ball hard on the ground along the first-base line.

“It looked like a sure base hit,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

As the ball skipped over the bag, Bottomley lunged, extended his glove hand and barely reached the ball, knocking it down.

Bottomley grabbed the ball, rolled over and looked for Johnson to be covering first base, but Johnson wasn’t there. Thinking the ball was headed into the outfield as a game-winning hit, Johnson stayed, transfixed, on the mound.

Reacting quickly, Bottomley, still on the ground, flipped the ball toward home plate. “It wasn’t much of a throw,” the Post-Dispatch noted.

The runner on second, Les Bell, never imagined Bottomley would get to the ball hit by English, and slowed on his way to the plate after rounding third base.

Catcher Jimmie Wilson gathered in Bottomley’s off-target throw and tagged out Bell “an inch from the plate,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

Red Smith covering the game for the St. Louis Star-Times, called Bottomley’s stop of English’s smash “the grandest bit of defensive play” he’d ever seen.

The St. Louis Globe-Democrat described the play as “one of the most spectacular ever seen on a major-league diamond.”

Down to the wire

As the game progressed into the 20th inning, it was about 7 p.m. and darkness was gathering. With no lights at Wrigley Field, the 20th “probably would have been the last inning, regardless of the happenings therein,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

“The plate was in deep shadow and darkness was settling down,” the St. Louis Globe-Democrat confirmed.

With one out and none on, the Cardinals’ Taylor Douthit singled and moved to second when Sparky Adams grounded out to first. Andy High singled, scoring Douthit and giving the Cardinals an 8-7 lead.

In the Cubs’ half of the 20th, Hartnett led off with a single. After Bell flied out on a long drive to center, Hartnett moved to second on Wilson’s passed ball. Zack Taylor, who years later would manage the St. Louis Browns, ran for Hartnett.

The Cubs had two chances to drive in the tying run from second, but Johnson got Cliff Heathcote and Footsie Blair to fly out, ending the game. Boxscore

Fun facts

The game was played in 4 hours, 10 minutes.

Winning pitcher Syl Johnson went 12 innings, gave up nine hits and a walk, and struck out nine.

In addition to his defensive gem, Bottomley hit the game’s lone home run, a solo shot in the second.

All eight Cardinals position players played the entire game and each had at least one hit.

All eight Cubs position players played every inning, too. Hartnett was the only player in the game to get four hits. He also drew a walk.

Cubs cleanup hitter Hack Wilson, who hit .356 with 56 home runs and 191 RBI for the 1930 Cubs, was 0-for-7 with two walks and was the only Cubs batter to strike out three times.

“Any 20-inning game is something for a baseball bug to gurgle about, but this one will go down among the great games of National League history,” the Chicago Tribune concluded.

Cardinals manager Gabby Street told the St. Louis Star-Times, “I tell you, a club that can win a game like (that) can beat anybody.”

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