Archive for the ‘Records’ Category

With a chance to achieve an unprecedented feat, Garry Templeton did what was necessary to make it happen.

Forty years ago, on Sept. 28, 1979, Templeton became the first major-league player to get 100 hits from each side of the plate in one season.

The switch-hitting shortstop produced 211 hits _ 111 while batting from the left side and 100 while batting from the right side _ for the 1979 Cardinals.

Going all in

From Opening Day through Sept. 22, Templeton batted left-handed against right-handed pitching and right-handed versus left-handers.

With nine games left in the regular season, Templeton had 91 hits as a right-handed batter. He already had the 111 hits from the left side. To give himself the best shot at getting 100 from the right side, Templeton decided to bat exclusively right-handed the remainder of the season, regardless of whether he was facing a right-hander or a left-hander.

Some purists criticized the decision as selfish, saying Templeton would have a better chance of getting hits and helping his team by continuing to bat from the left side versus right-handers, but Templeton determined he likely would face more right-handers than left-handers and wanted to give himself a chance for the record.

“I wouldn’t be doing it if I wasn’t going for 100 hits,” Templeton said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Besides, Templeton was a natural right-hander and he hit for a higher average from that side of the plate. He became a switch-hitter at the Cardinals’ request when he was in the minors.

Of the nine hits Templeton produced after making the decision to bat exclusively right-handed, five came against right-handers and four versus left-handers.

“I thought I did all right,” Templeton said. “I hit a lot of breaking balls for hits.”

Making his move

After playing 18 innings in a doubleheader on Sept. 22, 1979, Templeton was kept out of the lineup by manager Ken Boyer in the next day’s game against the Mets at New York.

Templeton’s first game as an exclusively right-handed batter was Sept. 24, 1979, versus the Phillies at Philadelphia. He got a double and a single against left-handed starter Randy Lerch, giving him 93 hits for the season as a right-handed batter. Boxscore

The next night, Sept. 25, 1979, Templeton batted right-handed against a right-handed pitcher, starter Dan Larson, a former Cardinals prospect, and slugged a home run and a triple, moving his total to 95 hits as a right-handed batter. Boxscore

Templeton went 0-for-3 against the Phillies’ ace left-hander, Steve Carlton, in the series finale on Sept. 26, 1979.

The Cardinals went to Pittsburgh for their final road game on Sept. 27, 1979, and Templeton got a single off right-hander Don Robinson and a double against right-hander Kent Tekulve, bringing his total as a right-handed batter to 97. Boxscore

The Cardinals went from Pittsburgh to St. Louis to finish the season with four games against the Mets.

Getting it done

The Mets and Cardinals had a Friday night doubleheader on Sept. 28, 1979, at Busch Memorial Stadium.

In Game 1, Templeton singled against right-hander Juan Berenguer for his 98th hit as a right-handed batter. Boxscore

The Mets started left-hander Pete Falcone, Templeton’s former Cardinals teammate, in Game 2.

Templeton led off the first inning with a double to left, moving him within a hit of reaching his goal.

In his next at-bat, leading off the third, Templeton bunted down the third-base line and streaked to first for a single, his 100th hit of the season from the right side. His mission accomplished, Templeton was removed from the game for a pinch-runner, Mike Phillips. Boxscore

Asked about bunting for the record-setting hit, Templeton said, “I’d been wanting to bunt all the time.”

Templeton didn’t play the next day and he went 0-for-2 in the season finale on Sept. 30, 1979.

His 211 hits for the season led the National League and were one more than the 210 achieved by his teammate, left-handed batter Keith Hernandez. Templeton also led the league in triples (19) and his batting average was .314.

Elite group

Templeton, 23, joined Frankie Frisch and Pete Rose as switch-hitters who got 200 hits in a season two or more times. Templeton had 200 hits for the Cardinals in 1977. Rose did it 10 times (nine with the Reds and once with the Phillies) and Frisch did it three times (twice with the Giants and once with the Cardinals in 1927).

Templeton went on to play 16 years in the big leagues and produced 2,096 career hits, including 911 with the Cardinals.

In 1980, Willie Wilson of the Royals became the only other switch-hitter to get 100 hits from each side of the plate in one season. Wilson produced 230 total hits _ 130 from the left side and 100 from the right side _ for the 1980 Royals.

Read Full Post »

In a span of less than 24 hours, Lou Brock got the last stolen base of his career, established a major-league record and met with the president of the United States.

Forty years ago, on Sept. 23, 1979, Brock, 40, made his last steal in his final appearance in New York as a player. The swipe of second base came during a Cardinals game against the Mets at Shea Stadium.

The steal was the 938th for Brock as a big-leaguer and put him ahead of Billy Hamilton as the all-time leader. Hamilton played in the majors from 1888-1901, under different and easier scoring rules, and held the stolen base mark of 937.

Years after Brock set the record of 938, Hamilton’s total was revised. Some sources show it as 914 and others as 912.

Brock’s mark eventually was broken by Rickey Henderson.

The top six career leaders in stolen bases are Henderson (1,406), Brock (938), Hamilton (914 or 912), Ty Cobb (897 or 892), Tim Raines (808) and Vince Coleman (752).

Top thief

Brock had said 1979 would be his final season as a player and he made it a memorable one. He hit for average, got named to the National League all-star team and achieved his 3,000th career hit.

After breaking the stolen base mark which had been in place for nearly 80 years, Brock told The Sporting News, “That will be the final act of my career.”

Brock’s bravado theft occurred in the fifth inning. With one out and the bases empty, Brock drew a walk from Mets starter Juan Berenguer. On Berenguer’s first pitch to the next batter, Keith Hernandez, Brock broke for second and swiped the base.

The throw from catcher John Stearns was high and sailed into center field. Brock advanced to third on the error and continued to the plate, scoring easily, when center fielder Joel Youngblood bobbled the ball.

Brock was presented with the base he stole to set the record.

When he batted again in the seventh, the public-address announcer informed the crowd Brock was playing in New York for the last time and they responded with a standing ovation. Brock reached on an error by third baseman Richie Hebner, loading the bases, and was removed between innings by manager Ken Boyer. Boxscore

National treasure

Brock headed to Washington, D.C., where he had a personal meeting scheduled the next morning, Sept. 24, 1979, with President Jimmy Carter at the White House.

Carter invited Brock to the Oval Office in order to honor him for getting 3,000 hits. The stolen base record gave them more to celebrate.

“I think this is a unique achievement of his to be this kind of a baserunner and a clean sportsman at the same time,” Carter said.

Carter said Brock “represents the finest in American sports.”

Brock told Carter he was “deeply honored” and “very much impressed” by the visit. He presented Carter with an autographed bat and a pair of red cleats.

Fine finish

After meeting with Carter, Brock immediately headed to Philadelphia, where the Cardinals had a night game with the Phillies.

Boyer let him rest and didn’t play him in a game the Cardinals won, 7-2, but Brock was back in the lineup the next night, Sept. 25, 1979, for his final appearance in Philadelphia before closing out the season in St. Louis.

Brock finished the 1979 season with a .304 batting average, 21 stolen bases and 123 hits in 120 games played.

Read Full Post »

(Updated March 7, 2021)

After going two weeks without a win, the Cardinals broke their skid by scoring a week’s worth of runs in one game.

On July 6, 1929, the Cardinals set a franchise record for most runs in a game when they beat the Phillies, 28-6, in the second game of a doubleheader at Baker Bowl in Philadelphia.

The win was the Cardinals’ first since June 22, 1929, and snapped an 11-game losing streak.

10 in the 1st

The Cardinals-Phillies doubleheader was played on a steamy Saturday afternoon. “Swarms of Japanese beetles added to the discomfort of players and spectators,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

In the first game, Cardinals cleanup batter Jim Bottomley hit a pair of two-run home runs, but the Phillies won, 10-6. It was the 11th consecutive loss for the defending National League champions and it gave them a 36-36 record. Boxscore

The second game matched starting pitchers Fred Frankhouse of the Cardinals against Phillies ace Claude Willoughby.

A right-hander from the farm town of Buffalo, Kansas, Willoughby would finish with 15 wins for the 1929 Phillies, but he struggled against the Cardinals.

Willoughby faced six batters, yielding three singles and walking three, and was lifted without recording an out.

Elmer Miller, a rookie left-hander who later in the season was converted into a right fielder, relieved, faced two batters and walked both.

Phillies manager Burt Shotton, a former Cardinals outfielder and coach, pulled Miller and replaced him with Luther Roy, who started two days earlier against the Dodgers. Roy gave up singles to the first two Cardinals batters he faced.

Rookie second baseman Carey Selph made the first out of the inning, on a sacrifice bunt, after the first 10 Cardinals batters reached base.

The Cardinals scored 10 runs in the first inning on six singles and five walks.

Given a 10-0 lead, Frankhouse, pitching with a sore thumb, “didn’t have to bear down” and “merely lobbed the ball over the plate,” according to the Post-Dispatch.

The Cardinals scored a run in the second and two in the fourth, and led, 13-4.

Pour it on

In the fifth, the Cardinals produced their second 10-run inning of the game. Bottomley got the big hit, a grand slam against the Phillies’ fourth pitcher, June Greene. Bottomley’s home run cleared the right-field wall and carried into Broad Street, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The Cardinals led, 23-4, after five innings. They scored again in one more inning, getting five runs in the eighth. The big blow was Chick Hafey’s grand slam into the left-field seats against Greene.

The grand slams by Bottomley and Hafey were the only Cardinals home runs in the game.

The Cardinals generated 28 hits and also received nine walks and had one batter hit by a pitch.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Cardinals also hit two line drives off the shins of Greene, but the balls caromed to infielders, who made the outs.

Every Cardinals player who made a plate appearance got a hit.

Leadoff batter Taylor Douthit was 5-for-6 with two walks. He scored four runs and drove in two. Hafey was 5-for-7 with five RBI and four runs scored.

Bottomley was 4-for-5 with two walks. He scored four runs and drove in seven. For the doubleheader, Bottomley was 7-for-10 with 11 RBI and six runs scored. Bottomley hit a home run in every game of the five-game series. He had seven home runs and 21 RBI for the series. For the season, Bottomley had 39 RBI versus the Phillies. According to researcher Tom Orf, that’s the most RBI a Cardinals player has ever had against one team in a season.

Frankhouse was as effective a hitter as he was a pitcher. He was 4-for-7 with four RBI and, though he pitched a complete game and got a win, he yielded 17 hits and walked three.

Most of the damage was done against Roy (13 hits, nine runs in 4.1 innings) and Greene (12 hits, 11 runs in 4.2 innings). Boxscore

Willoughby, the losing pitcher, played seven seasons in the big leagues and continued to have trouble versus the Cardinals. His career record against the Cardinals: 2-12 with a 8.62 ERA.

After their record-setting performance, the Cardinals lost five of their next seven, falling to 39-41. Billy Southworth, in his first stint as Cardinals manager, was fired in late July and replaced by Bill McKechnie, who’d managed the Cardinals to the National League pennant in 1928.

Read Full Post »

In establishing a franchise home run record, George Harper helped the pennant chances of the Cardinals and hampered the hopes of the team that traded him to St. Louis.

On Sept. 20, 1928, Harper became the first Cardinals player to hit three home runs in a game, carrying them to an 8-5 victory over the Giants in the first game of a doubleheader at the Polo Grounds in New York.

Though the Giants won the second game, 7-4, the split enabled the first-place Cardinals (89-56) to maintain a two-game lead over the Giants (87-58) with nine to play.

Harper delighted in excelling against his former club and he displayed his feelings with a bit of showmanship.

Good wood

George Washington Harper was born in Kentucky and grew up on a tobacco farm. He began his professional baseball career with a minor-league team in Paris, Texas, when he was 21, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.

An outfielder who batted left-handed, Harper debuted in the major leagues with the Tigers in 1916 and played three seasons for them. When the Tigers sent him back to the minors, Harper quit baseball and bought a sawmill near Stephens, Ark.

While operating the sawmill, Harper learned about wood and he decided a persimmon baseball bat would be stronger and more durable than one made of ash. Using his persimmon bats, Harper launched a baseball comeback in the minor leagues in 1920 and returned to the majors in 1922 with the Reds.

A good hitter with a strong throwing arm, Harper played for the Reds (1922-24), Phillies (1924-26) and Giants (1927-28). Standing 5 feet 8 and weighing 167 pounds, he packed power in his frame, hitting 18 home runs for the 1925 Phillies.

In 1928, Giants manager John McGraw was looking to create an outfield spot for teenage slugger Mel Ott and Harper was the player the club decided to move. On May 10, 1928, a month before he turned 36, Harper was traded by the Giants to the Cardinals for catcher Bob O’Farrell, who won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1926 and was player-manager in 1927.

New York Daily News columnist Paul Gallico said McGraw sent Harper “down the river to St. Louis” and “if you have ever been to St. Louis in July or August, you can appreciate just how sore George would be at John.”

The Cardinals were keenly aware of Harper’s hitting ability because he batted .455 with five home runs and 18 RBI against them in 1927.

Harper became the primary right fielder for the 1928 Cardinals and joined an outfield of Chick Hafey in left and Taylor Douthit in center.

Playful mood

The Giants trailed the Cardinals by two games entering the Thursday afternoon doubleheader and were seeking a sweep to move into a first-place tie. Game 1 matched two aces, left-hander Bill Sherdel (18-9, 3.07 ERA) for the Cardinals and right-hander Larry Benton (24-7, 2.51) for the Giants, and 50,000 packed the Polo Grounds to see them.

In the second inning, Harper hit “a cheap homer into the lower right-field stands” for a 1-0 Cardinals lead, the Daily News reported.

Harper faced Benton with two on in the sixth and worked the count to 3-and-2. According to the Daily News, Benton, a St. Louis native, “grooved the next one” and Harper hit “a legitimate homer” into the upper deck in right, giving the Cardinals a 5-0 lead.

As Harper completed his trot around the bases, “he leaped onto home plate with both feet, looked over into the Giants’ dugout straight at John McGraw, pursed up his lips and blew,” Gallico reported.

McGraw, a tough, feisty character, didn’t react to Harper’s antics. “In his younger days,” Gallico wrote,” I am afraid John would have emerged from his hutch and punched George in the nose.”

Encore effort

The Giants battled back, scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth. The Cardinals added a run in the seventh and the Giants countered with two in their half of the inning, cutting the St. Louis lead to 6-5.

In the eighth, Hafey led off with a home run against reliever Jack Scott, stretching the Cardinals’ lead to 7-5. Harper came up next and hit his third home run of the game “just inside the line in the upper stands” in right, according to the Daily News.

As he completed his trip around the bases, “I blush to relate that George repeated the act as he dug his cleats once more into the (plate)” and blew toward McGraw, Gallico reported.

According to the St. Louis Star-Times, Harper gave McGraw “an ironical smile” as he crossed the plate.

“I like a guy like that,” Gallico wrote. “I’m not so hot on those repressed heroes who pretend they don’t enjoy putting it over on the other fellow. George may never have a moment like that again and I am not one to blame him for enjoying it to the fullest.”

Seeking a fourth

According to The Sporting News, Harper also “saved his team with two sensational running catches that prevented three New York runs.”

In the ninth, the Cardinals loaded the bases, bringing Harper to the plate against Dutch Henry with a chance for a fourth home run to tie the major-league record held by Bobby Lowe (1894 Boston) and Ed Delahanty (1896 Philadelphia).

The fans in the Polo Grounds “were cheering for him to do this,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, but Harper struck out looking.

The crowd jeered Cy Rigler’s “questionable third strike” call, the Post-Dispatch reported, and Harper argued so vigorously with the umpire that teammate Rabbit Maranville “had to drag him away from trouble and toward the bench,” according to the Associated Press. Boxscore

The Cardinals (95-59) went on to win the 1928 pennant, finishing with two more wins than the Giants (93-61). Harper played a big role, batting .388 with six home runs against the Giants and .305 with 17 home runs overall in 99 games for the Cardinals.

On Dec. 8, 1928, two months after the Yankees swept the Cardinals in the World Series, Harper’s contract was sold to the Braves and he finished his big-league career with them in 1929.

Read Full Post »

(Updated April 25, 2021)

Mark Whiten remains the only Cardinals player to hit four home runs in a game.

On Sept. 7, 1993, in the second game of a doubleheader at Cincinnati, Whiten hit a grand slam, a pair of three-run home runs and a two-run home run, leading the Cardinals to a 15-2 victory over the Reds. Boxscore

“This is the No. 1 achievement I’ve ever witnessed,” Cardinals manager Joe Torre said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Whiten’s 12 RBI tied the major-league single-game record established by Jim Bottomley of the Cardinals on Sept. 16, 1924, against the Dodgers at Brooklyn. In that game, Bottomley produced six hits _ three singles, a double and two home runs. The home runs were a grand slam and a two-run shot. Boxscore

Whiten was the 12th big-league player to hit four home runs in a game and the first since Bob Horner of the Braves did it on July 6, 1986, against the Expos at Atlanta. Boxscore

Six major-league players have hit four home runs in a game since Whiten did it, bringing the total number of those who have achieved the feat to 18.

Whiten, Gil Hodges and Josh Hamilton are the only major-league players to hit four home runs in a game and have at least one runner on base for each of the four.

Whiten, a switch-hitter, hit each of his four home runs while batting left-handed against Reds right-handers. Whiten said he hit a fastball on each home run.

“Even though they were fastballs down the middle, you still have to know what to do with them,” Cardinals third baseman Todd Zeile said. “You can’t even do what he did in batting practice.”

Here is a look at each of Whiten’s four home runs, including the calls by KMOX radio broadcasters Jack Buck and Mike Shannon as published by the Post-Dispatch:

Home run No. 1

In the first inning, Whiten hit a 2-and-0 pitch from rookie starter Larry Luebbers 408 feet to left-center for a grand slam.

Jack Buck on KMOX: “Swing and a long one to left-center. That one won’t be caught. At the wall and goodbye.”

Home run No. 2

In the sixth, Mike Anderson, making his major-league debut, relieved Luebbers and walked the first two batters he faced, Zeile and Gerald Perry. Whiten was the next batter and he drilled the first pitch from Anderson 397 feet to right-center for a three-run home run.

Mike Shannon on KMOX: “Swing and long one into right field. On the move the right fielder (Tim) Costo can’t get it. Over the wall and seven RBI in the second game for Whiten … Have a big evening and Whiten said, ‘I don’t mind if I do.’ ”

Home run No. 3

In the seventh, Whiten hit a 2-and-1 pitch from Anderson 388 feet to right for another three-run home run.

Jack Buck on KMOX: “Here’s another pitch and another home run by Whiten. He walks down to first base as it is over the fence for a three-run homer.”

Home run No. 4

When Whiten came up in the ninth to face the original Nasty Boy closer, Rob Dibble, the Cardinals had a 13-2 lead, a runner on first and one out.

“Do you think Dibble will come after him?” Jack Buck asked on the air, building the drama for his listeners. “Do you think Dibble will let him swing the bat?”

Dibble’s first two pitches to Whiten were outside the strike zone.

Said Whiten: “I felt he was going to try to pitch around me.”

“”I’m not going to walk him,” Dibble told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “That’s not my style. Put it in play, fine.”

With the count at 2-and-0, Whiten swung at Dibble’s next offering and crushed it 441 feet off the facing of the second-deck green seats in right-center for a two-run home run.

Jack Buck on KMOX: “Swing and a long one. Looks like he did it. Four home runs for Mark Whiten. He powdered one over the center field fence … Man, what a blast that was! What a blast this is! … Excuse me while I applaud.”

On Cardinals’ television, Jack’s son, Joe Buck, was doing the play-by-play and his call of Whiten’s fourth home run was: “Into center field. Did he? Yes!”

Said Whiten: “It’s like when Michael Jordan gets in the zone. He’s going to score 50 points. That’s kind of the way I felt.”

Here is a video of all four home runs: Video

Ten years later, Whiten told Gabriel Kiley of Cardinals Gameday Magazine, “I was more excited about the third one because I had never hit more than two in a game in my life. The fourth dinger was icing on the cake.”

Whiten didn’t use his bat model to hit any of the four home runs, Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch reported, and “word is he has been using Jose Oquendo’s bat.”

Oquendo hit no home runs for the 1993 Cardinals. “There are plenty of home runs left in that bat,” Torre said.

The next night, in his first at-bat of the game leading off the second against the Reds’ Bobby Ayala, Whiten singled.

“What a bum,” Jack Buck said to listeners in his most endearing wise guy tone. “That’s the best he can do?”

Read Full Post »

A closer for a rotation that often completed what it started, Joe Hoerner still served a valuable role for the 1968 National League champion Cardinals and supported the staff with a stellar season.

On June 1, 1968, Hoerner struck out six Mets in a row, tying the National League record for consecutive strikeouts by a reliever.

Hoerner went on to post an 8-2 record with 17 saves and a 1.47 ERA for the 1968 Cardinals. The left-hander ranked second in the National League in saves to the 25 by Phil Regan of the Cubs and his ERA was second on the club to the 1.12 achieved by Bob Gibson.

Led by Gibson’s 28, Cardinals starters pitched 63 complete games in 1968. Hoerner only was needed for 49 innings and he usually was effective, allowing no earned runs in 40 of his 47 appearances.

“Joe is almost as much of a machine out there as Bob Gibson,” Cardinals reliever Wayne Granger said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He just goes out there and does the job time after time.”

Overcoming adversity

Hoerner, son of an Iowa farmer, made his professional baseball debut in the White Sox minor-league system in 1957. A year later, Hoerner was diagnosed with muscle weakness near his heart. Because any strain on the muscle impaired Hoerner’s circulation, doctors advised him to change his pitching delivery from overhand to sidearm.

“I took four pills a day for a long time to strengthen the muscle, but I haven’t been bothered since then,” Hoerner told the Post-Dispatch in 1968.

Hoerner, 26, made his major-league debut in September 1963 with the Houston Colt .45s. The Cardinals acquired him in November 1965 and he pitched for them in 1966 (5-1 record, 13 saves,1.54 ERA) and 1967 (4-4, 14 saves, 2.59 ERA).

After the Cardinals won Game 7 of the 1967 World Series against the Red Sox, Hoerner was celebrating with his teammates in the locker room at Boston’s Fenway Park when a champagne bottle he was holding exploded, severing a tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand.

“If we win many more pennants, my fingers won’t stand it,” Hoerner said.

Tough to hit

Hoerner recovered from the injury and yielded no runs in his first nine appearances in 1968.

On June 1, the Cardinals played the Mets at Shea Stadium in New York. The Mets led, 4-1, before the Cardinals rallied for three runs in the seventh against Nolan Ryan, tying the score at 4-4.

Hoerner, the third Cardinals pitcher of the game, was brought in to pitch the seventh and retired the Mets in order. The Cardinals took the lead, 5-4, with a run in the eighth, but the Mets tied the score on Ed Charles’ pinch-hit home run in the bottom half of the inning.

In the ninth, Hoerner struck out Al Weis, Ron Swoboda and Don Bosch. After Mike Shannon hit a home run against Cal Koonce in the 10th, putting the Cardinals ahead, 6-5, Hoerner struck out Greg Goossen, Jerry Buchek and Jerry Grote, sealing the win. Boxscore

Hoerner’s six consecutive strikeouts came against right-handed batters.

Hoerner was effectively consistent during the 1968 season. He was 4-1 with a 1.05 ERA in home games and 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA in away games. Left-handed batters hit .189 against him and right-handed batters hit .194.

In the 1968 World Series against the Tigers, Hoerner earned a save in Game 3 with 3.2 scoreless innings in relief of Ray Washburn boxscore and was the losing pitcher in Game 5 when he faced four batters, retired none and was charged with two runs. Boxscore

Hoerner and Cardinals teammate Dal Maxvill owned a successful travel agency in St. Louis for several years.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »