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The first home run hit by Roger Maris in St. Louis for the Cardinals was worth the wait.

On June 10, 1967, two months into his first Cardinals season, Maris hit a walkoff three-run home run in the 11th inning at Busch Stadium, giving St. Louis a 5-2 victory over the Dodgers.

The home run was Maris’ third for the Cardinals _ the first two occurred at New York and at Pittsburgh _ but was his first in his home ballpark since being acquired by St. Louis from the Yankees in December 1966.

Maris, who six years earlier had established a major-league single-season record with 61 home runs for the Yankees, no longer was a consistent power hitter, but he was a key member of a Cardinals club that would win the World Series championship 50 years ago.

His first Busch Stadium home run enabled the Cardinals to continue a hot streak that one week later would propel them into first place in the National League.

Stormy night

The Cardinals were 3.5 games behind the front-running Reds entering their Saturday night game against the defending NL champion Dodgers. Maris, batting .291, was held out of the starting lineup by manager Red Schoendienst. The Dodgers were starting a left-hander, Jim Brewer, and Maris did much better against right-handers.

Tornado warnings were issued in the St. Louis area that evening and a severe thunderstorm struck downtown St. Louis, delaying the start of the game 64 minutes and creating treacherous conditions in the outfield.

The Dodgers scored twice in the first inning off their nemesis, Larry Jaster, who had pitched five shutouts against them the previous year.

Brewer, primarily a reliever, held the Cardinals scoreless for six innings. “He told me he was tiring a little going into the seventh,” Dodgers manager Walt Alston said to the Pasadena Independent Star-News, “but you couldn’t take him out the way he was going.”

Curt Flood led off the Cardinals’ half of the seventh with a walk and Bobby Tolan, a Los Angeles native, lined a home run over the right-field wall, tying the score at 2-2.

Maris entered the game in the ninth as a pinch-hitter for Jaster and popped out to second baseman Ron Hunt. Maris stayed in the game, replacing Alex Johnson in right field, and Joe Hoerner relieved Jaster.

Extra innings

Phil Regan, who came in for Brewer in the eighth, held the Cardinals scoreless for three innings.

In the 11th, Alston brought in Bob Miller to pitch. Miller, a St. Louis native, had made his major-league debut in 1957 with the Cardinals and pitched for them in four seasons.

Tim McCarver led off the 11th against Miller with a double. Dal Maxvill attempted to advance McCarver with a bunt, but Miller fielded the ball and threw out McCarver at third.

With Maxvill at first and one out, Tolan singled.

That brought Maris to the plate against the right-hander.

Easy swing

Maris swung at a 2-and-2 pitch.

“I was just trying to avoid making an out,” Maris said. “I didn’t swing hard. I just wanted to meet the ball.”

Said Dodgers catcher John Roseboro: “That’s the way it looked when he swung. He just dropped his bat in front of the ball.”

Joe Hendrickson of the Pasadena newspaper wrote, “The ball sailed like a rocket over the fence and into the seats.”

Said Maris: “That was my most satisfying hit since coming to St. Louis.” Boxscore

The victory was part of a stretch in which the Cardinals won 15 of 17 and surged to the top of the NL standings.

“This Cardinals team reminds me of my Yankees days,” Maris told United Press International. “The Yankees at one time played for the big hit. The atmosphere is also something like we had in New York. In those days, we’d get some runs behind, but we knew we were going to win it.”

Previously: With last homer, Roger Maris helped Cards clinch title

Previously: Phil Regan talks Roger Maris, Lou Brock, Al Hrabosky

Seeking a left-handed reliever to help their pennant push, the Cardinals got Bob Kuzava, a proven producer under postseason pressure. The price, though, was steep: To open a roster spot for Kuzava, the Cardinals cut loose a future Hall of Fame pitcher.

With nine games left in the 1957 season, the second-place Cardinals, in pursuit of the Braves, were without a left-hander in their bullpen. On Sept. 19, general manager Frank Lane filled the need, acquiring the contract of Kuzava, 34, from the Pirates.

With their roster at the limit, the Cardinals needed to remove a player to create a spot for Kuzava. They opted to send Hoyt Wilhelm to the Indians for the waiver price.

Wilhelm went on to pitch in 1,070 big-league games and became the first reliever to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Kuzava pitched in three games for the 1957 Cardinals, who lost six of their last nine and finished eight behind the pennant-winning Braves.

A World Series standout with the Yankees, Kuzava never got a chance to pitch in the postseason for the Cardinals. This post is a look at how Kuzava, who died on May 15, 2017, at 93, came to end his big-league career with the Cardinals.

Series star

Kuzava made his major-league debut with the 1946 Indians and also pitched for the White Sox and Senators before being dealt to the Yankees in June 1951.

In Game 6 of the 1951 World Series, the Yankees led the Giants, 4-1, entering the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. Johnny Sain, in his second inning in relief of starter Vic Raschi, yielded singles to the first three Giants batters. Yankees manager Casey Stengel called on Kuzava to end the threat.

Kuzava retired all three batters he faced, earning the save in the Yankees’ 4-3 championship clincher. Boxscore

A year later, Kuzava did it again. In Game 7 of the 1952 World Series at Brooklyn, the Yankees led, 4-2, but the Dodgers loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. Stengel brought in Kuzava to relieve Raschi. Kuzava got Duke Snider to pop out to third and Jackie Robinson to pop out to second. Kuzava held the Dodgers scoreless in the eighth and ninth, sealing the championship for the Yankees. Boxscore

Placed on waivers by the Yankees in August 1954, Kuzava went on to pitch for the Orioles and Phillies. He opened the 1957 season with the Pirates, but was sent to their Class AAA farm club, the Columbus (Ohio) Jets, in May.

Comeback in Columbus

Used primarily as a starter, Kuzava won his first six decisions with Columbus. The highlight occurred on July 20 when he pitched a one-hitter against Richmond. Kuzava retired the first 17 batters before yielding a ground single by pitcher Marty Kutyna in the sixth.

In August, Kuzava was sidelined because of elbow trouble. Still, he won two of his last three decisions and finished the minor-league season with an 8-1 record and 3.41 ERA in 20 appearances.

Cardinals manager Fred Hutchinson wanted a left-handed reliever. The staff’s lone left-hander was starter Vinegar Bend Mizell.

“We’ve been unable to jockey against tough left-handed hitters who don’t like southpaws,” Hutchinson said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Columbus general manager Harold Cooper, who had been trying to interest the Reds in Kuzava, was glad to make a deal with the Cardinals.

(A day after acquiring Kuzava, the Cardinals obtained another left-handed reliever, Morrie Martin, from the Class AAA Vancouver Mounties, an Orioles farm club, for outfielder Eddie Miksis.)

Too little, too late

The Cardinals had three games remaining with each of three foes: Reds, Braves and Cubs. Figuring the Cardinals needed to win nearly all nine to have a chance to overtake the Braves, Hutchinson wanted left-handers to use against sluggers such as Ted Kluszewski of the Reds and Eddie Mathews and Wes Covington of the Braves.

The Cardinals won two of three against the Reds at Cincinnati and went to Milwaukee five games behind the Braves with six to play. The Braves clinched the pennant by beating the Cardinals in the series opener, 4-2, on Hank Aaron’s two-run home run off Billy Muffett in the 11th inning.

Kuzava appeared in three games _ one against the Reds and two versus the Cubs _ for the Cardinals and posted a 3.86 ERA in 2.1 innings pitched. Left-handed batters were 0-for-3 with a walk against him. Right-handed batters were 4-for-8 with a walk.

After the season, the Cardinals assigned Kuzava to the minors, but promised he would be given a chance to make the St. Louis staff in spring training.

Kuzava got his chance, but pitched poorly for the Cardinals in spring training in 1958.

On March 11, he yielded four runs in three innings against the Athletics. On March 25, he gave up six runs to the Dodgers in the ninth inning. “It was dangerous all over the field the way they were bombarding Kuzava,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Kuzava, 35, spent the 1958 season with the Cardinals’ Class AAA Rochester Red Wings club on a staff that included 22-year-old Bob Gibson. Kuzava was 5-3 with a 3.31 ERA in 25 games.

Kuzava finished his playing career in the White Sox farm system in 1959 and 1960.

Previously: How Hoyt Wilhelm got traded to Cardinals

As might be expected of two Hall of Fame pitchers, Jim Bunning and Bob Gibson engaged in a couple of classics when facing one another.

Bunning and Gibson were matched against each other as starters six times.

In those encounters, Bunning got 1 win, 2 losses and 3 no-decisions. Gibson got 2 wins, 2 losses and 2 no-decisions.

In the two most memorable Bunning vs. Gibson duels, Roberto Clemente and Richie Allen played key roles.

This post is a tribute to Bunning, who died at 85 on May 26, 2017.

Seeking support

Bunning pitched in the major leagues for the Tigers (1955-63), Phillies (1964-67 and 1970-71), Pirates (1968-69) and Dodgers (1969). The right-hander had a 224-184 record, with 118 wins in the American League and 106 in the National League.

His record against the Cardinals was 5-11, but his teams were shut out in five of those losses and were held to one run in each of two others.

Bunning and Gibson faced one another on June 26, 1964, and Sept. 10, 1965, without either getting a decision.

On May 18, 1966, the Phillies beat the Cardinals, 4-3, at Philadelphia. Gibson, who allowed four runs in 6.1 innings, was the losing pitcher. Ray Culp, who pitched four scoreless innings in relief of Bunning, got the win. Bunning gave up three runs in five innings. Boxscore

Three weeks later, on June 11, 1966, Gibson pitched a shutout against the Phillies in a 2-0 Cardinals victory at Philadelphia. Bunning yielded two runs in seven innings and took the loss. Boxscore

Heated rivalry

The final two career matchups of Bunning vs. Gibson were the best.

The Pirates were in St. Louis to play the Cardinals in a doubleheader on a sweltering Sunday afternoon, July 13, 1969. Bunning, in his second season with the Pirates after being traded by the Phillies, was pitted against Gibson in Game 1.

Larry Shepard, the Pirates’ manager, pitched 10 minutes of batting practice in the 95-degree heat. In the second inning, Shepard, 50, experienced chest pains and was rushed to a hospital. Coach Bill Virdon took over as acting manager.

Several fans were overcome by heat and given treatment, The Pittsburgh Press reported.

Bunning, 37, and Gibson, 33, dueled impressively in the oppressive conditions.

In the sixth inning, Gibson got his 2,000th career strikeout. It came against Roberto Clemente, the fellow future Hall of Famer, who two years earlier had hit a smash that struck Gibson and broke his leg.

Neither Bunning nor Gibson yielded a run through seven innings.

In the eighth, Matty Alou, who had reached on a bunt single, was on first with two outs. Next up was slugger Willie Stargell, who had struck out three times on outside pitches from Gibson.

“So I decided that I couldn’t do any worse looking for a fastball away,” Stargell said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Stargell slapped a single to left, advancing Alou to second.

The next batter, Clemente, slashed a Gibson delivery over the right-field wall for a three-run home run.

“Gibby gave Roberto a high pitch to hit after getting him out with low-and-away pitches,” said Pirates pitching coach Vern Law. “Gibby was bound to get tired in that heat. When a pitcher gets tired, he gets his pitches high.”

A wilting Bunning pitched a scoreless bottom half of the eighth. In the ninth, Virdon replaced him with Bob Moose, who preserved the 3-0 victory for Bunning and the Pirates. Boxscore

“I had good off-speed stuff, especially my change of pace,” Bunning said. “Everybody knows that control is the name of the game.”

Power game

The final career matchup of Bunning vs. Gibson occurred on May 23, 1970, a rainy Saturday night in Philadelphia.

Bunning had been reacquired by the Phillies in October 1969, but Richie Allen, not the pitcher, had the attention of fans and media.

Allen, the slugger acquired by the Cardinals from the Phillies after the 1969 season, was playing his first games in Philadelphia since the trade. A controversial player with the Phillies, Allen had drawn a mix of boos and cheers in the first two games of the series.

Two weeks earlier, on May 11, 1970, Allen had hit a three-run home run off Bunning in the ninth inning at St. Louis, breaking a scoreless tie and giving pitcher Steve Carlton and the Cardinals a 3-0 victory. Boxscore

During a rain delay before Bunning and Gibson squared off in Philadelphia, Cardinals player Leron Lee put on Allen’s jersey and glasses, wrapped a towel over his head and ran across the field to the Phillies’ dugout to shake hands with infielder Tony Taylor.

“Don’t blame me if you get shot,” Allen told Lee.

The fans, thinking Allen was making a friendly gesture to a former teammate, cheered. Frank Lucchesi, Phillies manager, playfully pushed Lee out of the dugout, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

In the third inning, with Lee on second base, Allen batted against Bunning. On a 2-and-2 count, Allen got a fastball and crushed it well beyond the 410-foot sign in center for a home run and a 2-0 Cardinals lead.

Two innings later, Allen ripped a Bunning curve onto the roof in left for a solo home run, extending the Cardinals’ lead to 3-0. “He hit that second one one-handed,” Bunning said admiringly.

Said Cardinals third baseman Mike Shannon: “Watching Richie hit is like watching a stick of dynamite go off.”

Gibson, meanwhile, was dominating the Phillies. “That’s the hardest I’ve thrown since 1968,” Gibson said.

Allen Lewis of the Inquirer wrote, “It was difficult to tell which balls were traveling faster _ the ones Rich Allen hit or the ones Bob Gibson threw.”

Gibson struck out 16 and got the win in a 3-1 Cardinals triumph. Boxscore

Gibson had struck out 17 in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series against the Tigers. His 16 strikeouts against the 1970 Phillies are the most he achieved in a regular-season game.

“I get keyed up with Richie playing here,” Gibson said. “Tonight, I had something extra and I got just about every pitch where I wanted.”

Previously: Steve Carlton, Richie Allen and a fiery night in Philly

Harry Glenn was 28 and deep into a professional baseball career that included a stint with the Cardinals when he enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces during World War I. Soon after being assigned to the Aviation Mechanic Training School in St. Paul, Minn., Glenn contracted pneumonia and died, a month before the war ended.

On this Memorial Day weekend, Glenn is remembered as one of eight players who appeared in the major leagues and died while serving in the United States armed forces in World War I.

He is the only one of the eight who played for the Cardinals.

According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the others, in alphabetical order, are Tom Burr, Harry Chapman, Larry Chappell, Eddie Grant, Newt Halliday, Ralph Sharman and Bun Troy.

Three Negro League players died while serving in the United States armed forces in World War I. In alphabetical order, they are Ted Kimbro, Norman Triplett and Pearl Franklyn Webster.

Career path

A native of Shelburn, Ind., near Terre Haute, Harry Glenn was 19 when he began his professional baseball career with the Vincennes (Ind.) Alices in 1910.

A left-handed batter and catcher, Glenn was 6-foot-1, 200 pounds. In 1913, the minor-league Akron Giants sold Glenn’s contract to the Cardinals, but he broke a leg soon after and sat out the season, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

The Cardinals sent Glenn to the St. Paul (Minn.) Apostles of the American Association in 1914 and he batted .267 in 104 games.

In 1915, Glenn made the Opening Day roster of the Cardinals as a backup to starting catcher Frank Snyder.

The 1915 Cardinals had intended to start the season with Snyder and Mike Gonzalez as their catchers. On April 8, 1915, the Cardinals had dealt catcher Ivey Wingo to the Reds for Gonzalez, but the deal hit a snag and the players were in limbo while details were sorted out. That gave Glenn the opportunity to be the Cardinals’ reserve catcher.

In the lineup

On Opening Day, April 14, 1915, against the Cubs at Chicago, Snyder was hit on the right hand by a foul tip off the bat of Heinie Zimmerman and had to leave the game. Replacing Snyder, Glenn made his big-league debut and got his first hit, a single off starter Hippo Vaughn. The Cubs won, 7-2. Boxscore

With Snyder sidelined and Gonzalez still not cleared to join the Cardinals, Glenn started each of the next four games at catcher.

In his first start, April 15 against the Cubs, Glenn had a single, two walks and scored a run, helping the Cardinals to a 4-2 victory. The Cubs stole a base in their only attempt. Boxscore

The next day, April 16, the Cubs were successful in three stolen base attempts against Glenn and Cardinals pitcher Dan Griner. “The fault was evidently not wholly Glenn’s for (manager Miller) Huggins gave Griner … a calling for allowing the men too big a lead,” the St. Louis Star-Times reported. Glenn got his first RBI, but the Cubs won, 4-2. Boxscore

On April 17, the Cardinals won the finale of the four-game series, 7-4, and Glenn contributed two singles. Boxscore

The Cardinals then headed to Cincinnati to play the Reds.

Reds run wild

Glenn got the start against the Reds on April 18.

It was a disaster.

The Reds won, 6-2, and had seven stolen bases against Glenn and Cardinals ace Bill Doak. Boxscore

“After watching the woeful exhibition of Harry Glenn … the Cardinals are more anxious than ever to obtain (Gonzalez),” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch declared.

The Star-Times asked: “Was it the great base running of (the Reds) or was it the poor catching of Glenn?”

While acknowledging that the Reds’ rampage “looks especially bad for Glenn,” the Star-Times added, “The big fellow seems to possess all the qualifications for a good receiver and perhaps the finishing touches will come with a little more experience. His arm is as good as any, but he has not mastered the trick of getting rid of the ball with any great rapidity.”

Brief stay

Snyder returned to the Cardinals’ lineup the next day, April 19, and Glenn was relegated to the bench. The deal for Gonzalez was resolved and he made his Cardinals debut on May 6. Glenn got a pinch-hit appearance on May 12 and then was demoted to St. Paul.

Glenn batted .313 (5-for-16) with three walks in six games for the 1915 Cardinals, but base runners were successful on all 11 stolen base attempts against him.

With St. Paul in 1915, Glenn batted .296 in 63 games. He also spent the next three seasons, 1916-18, with St. Paul.

Glenn could have continued playing baseball, but with World War I raging, he enlisted in the mechanical branch of aviation late in the summer of 1918, according to The Indianapolis News.

Deadly disease

In October 1918, Glenn became ill and was admitted to a hospital. A victim of an influenza pandemic, Glenn developed pneumonia.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the majority of deaths during the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 were caused by bacterial pneumonia following influenza virus infection. The pneumonia developed when bacteria invaded the lungs on a pathway created when the virus destroyed cells that line the bronchial tubes and lungs.

Glenn was in the hospital for a week. His father, Thomas, left Indiana on a Thursday to be at his son’s bedside in Minnesota.

“A telegram was received Friday saying he was better and Saturday morning a telegram was received saying he was dead,” The Indianapolis News reported.

According to Stanford University, the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed between 20 million and 40 million people worldwide. More people died of influenza in a single year than in four years of the Black Death Bubonic Plague of 1347-1351.

Glenn was survived by his parents, two sisters and a brother.

On Nov. 11, 1918, almost a month to the day Glenn died, Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies, ending the fighting.

Previously: Mike Gonzalez became 1st Cuban manager in majors

Among the most proficient teammate combinations in professional sports in St. Louis in the 1960s were Tim McCarver catching Bob Gibson with the baseball Cardinals, Lenny Wilkens passing to Bob Pettit with the NBA Hawks and Charley Johnson throwing to Sonny Randle with the NFL Cardinals.

Randle, who died May 24, 2017, at 81, was one of the NFL’s best receivers when he played for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1960-66 after entering the league with the 1959 Chicago Cardinals.

On Nov. 4, 1962, Randle had what the St Louis Post-Dispatch aptly described as “one of the most exceptional pass-catching days” in NFL lore.

Randle had 16 catches for 256 yards and a touchdown that day for the Cardinals against the New York Giants at Yankee Stadium.

At that time, the only NFL player to have more catches in a game was Tom Fears of the Los Angeles Rams with 18 against the Green Bay Packers in 1950.

(In 2017, the NFL record is held by Brandon Marshall, who had 21 catches for the Denver Broncos against the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 13, 2009.)

The 16 catches and 256 receiving yards by Randle remain the Cardinals’ single-game franchise records in 2017.

Johnson, in his fourth NFL start, completed 26 of 41 passes for 365 yards that day. He broke the franchise single-game record of 320 passing yards achieved by Paul Christman of the 1947 Chicago Cardinals against the Detroit Lions. (In 2017, the franchise mark is held by Boomer Esiason, who threw for 522 yards for the Arizona Cardinals against the Washington Redskins on Nov. 10, 1996.)

Position shift

Randle usually lined up at split end on the left side, but against the Giants that day Cardinals head coach Wally Lemm had him set up mostly from a flanker position on the right side, according to the Post-Dispatch. Randle was matched against Giants defensive back Dick Lynch, who the season before had led the NFL in interceptions (with nine).

In the book “Giants in Their Own Words,” Lynch recalled how Randle tormented him that game: “He didn’t catch all 16 off me, but it was a rough day _ what I like to call an astigmatism day.”

Randle credited Johnson, who in that season’s fifth game had succeeded Sam Etcheverry as St. Louis’ starting quarterback, for getting the ball to him. The Post-Dispatch called Johnson a “slingshot thrower.”

“He has the poise of a five- or six-year veteran,” Randle said. “He’s going to be a great one. If he didn’t panic against New York in this game, what team can get to him?”

Falling short

The record performances by Randle and Johnson couldn’t lift the Cardinals to victory, though. The Giants won, 31-28, taking advantage of five turnovers by the Cardinals.

With St. Louis ahead 14-10, the lead changed five times in the fourth quarter when the Giants outscored the Cardinals 21-14.

Giants quarterback Y.A. Tittle, who completed just eight of 31 passes in the game, had touchdown throws of 33 yards to Frank Gifford and 20 yards to Alex Webster in that last quarter and Webster also ran three yards for a touchdown.

The Cardinals scored two touchdowns in the second quarter (an eight-yard pass from Johnson to tight end Taz Anderson and a four-yard run by John David Crow) and two more in the fourth quarter (a 55-yard peg from Johnson to Randle and a one-yard plunge by Johnson).

On their final drive, the Cardinals were nearing field goal range but Lynch intercepted a pass intended for Randle at the Giants 27-yard line.

In 97 games over eight seasons with the Chicago and St. Louis Cardinals, Randle had 60 touchdown catches among his 328 receptions. In 2017, he ranks third all-time in touchdown receptions among Cardinals. Only Larry Fitzgerald (104) and Roy Green (66) have more.

Randle in 2017 also remains the Cardinals franchise leader in touchdown catches in a season (with 15 in 1960).

Previously: How Sonny Randle helped Cardinals base runners

Dan Driessen began the 1987 baseball season as a player without a team. By the end of that season, Driessen was playing for the Cardinals in the World Series.

Signed as an insurance policy, Driessen, like a good neighbor, was there for the Cardinals when they needed a first baseman to replace injured slugger Jack Clark in September 1987.

Thirty years ago, in June 1987, the Cardinals signed Driessen, 35, to a minor-league contract and assigned him to their Class AAA affiliate at Louisville.

“It’s nice to have him there in case we get a couple of guys hurt,” Lee Thomas, Cardinals director of player development, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He can still hit and play in the big leagues.”

Three months later, the Cardinals and manager Whitey Herzog were grateful to have Driessen available to help them down the stretch in their quest to hold off the Mets for the division title.

Member of Machine

Driessen, a left-handed batter, debuted in the big leagues with the 1973 Reds. He played for the Reds until 1984 and had his best seasons with them.

Capable of playing three positions _ first base, outfield and third base _ Driessen was a valuable role player for the 1975-76 World Series championship clubs known as the Big Red Machine. As the first National League designated hitter, Driessen batted .357 (5-for-14) in the Reds’ 1976 World Series sweep of the Yankees.

“Those were great teams,” Driessen said. “Guys like Tony (Perez), Davey (Concepcion) and Pete (Rose) loved to play the game. We had a good time when we came to the park.”

To make room for Driessen in their everyday lineup, the Reds traded Perez, their future Hall of Famer, to the Expos and named Driessen their first baseman for 1977. Driessen responded with a sensational season _ .300 batting average, 31 doubles, 91 RBI and 31 stolen bases _ for the 1977 Reds.

(In 1987, the Braves’ Gerald Perry, Driessen’s nephew, became the first 1st baseman to have 30 steals in a season since his uncle achieved the feat for the 1977 Reds.)

Seven years later, the Reds did to Driessen what they’d done to Perez: traded him to the Expos. Driessen played for the Expos (1984-85), Giants (1985-86) and Astros (1986) after leaving the Reds.

Comeback bid

In April 1987, the Astros released Driessen and it appeared his playing career was finished. He returned home to Cincinnati and worked out in local batting cages. The Reds showed interest, but made no offer. Then the Cardinals came through with their minor-league deal in June.

Driessen, with a wife and three daughters, opted to continue residing at home in Cincinnati. He would commute from Cincinnati to Louisville and back for home games. “It’s about 100 miles (one way),” Driessen told a Society for American Baseball Research biographer. “I’d make it in close to an hour and a half.”

In an interview with Dan O’Neill of the Post-Dispatch, Driessen said of his return to the minor leagues, “It’s tough, but that was the only way back. The only reason I did it was that I thought I had a little baseball left in me.”

Driessen batted .244 with 35 RBI in 58 games for Louisville _ unexceptional numbers _ but the Cardinals purchased his contract on Aug. 31, 1987, because by being on the St. Louis roster before Sept. 1 he was eligible to play in the postseason.

Fitting in

Initially, Driessen was slotted for a pinch-hitting role. The Cardinals entered September 5.5 games ahead of the second-place Mets.

On Sept. 9, Clark, the Cardinals’ top run producer, injured his right ankle when he tried to avoid a tag by Expos first baseman Andres Galarraga. Clark’s spikes got stuck in the artificial turf at Montreal and his ankle rolled over.

“Jack has a history of not healing too quickly,” Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog said.

With Clark unable to play, Herzog’s options at first base were Driessen, Mike Laga and Jim Lindeman. Driessen had the most experience.

In his first 19-at bats for the Cardinals, Driessen had two hits, then five hits in the next two games.

Cardinals players accepted Driessen and helped him acclimate to a new team and new role. Catcher Tony Pena referred to him as “Papa.”

Cardinals second baseman Tommy Herr said, “He’s played well at first base. He’s real loose. When you’re in tough games, you like to have a guy who is composed.”

Said Driessen: “These guys are alive in this clubhouse.”

On Sept. 26, with the Cardinals 2.5 games ahead of the Mets, Driessen drilled a two-run home run off Rick Sutcliffe and sparked St. Louis to a key 5-3 victory over the Cubs. Boxscore

Five days later, Driessen had three RBI in the Cardinals’ division title clincher against the Expos. Boxscore

“Danny is a very good person and a good guy to have on the ballclub,” Herzog said. “I think he can still play, especially in a platoon situation (against right-handers).”

Big stage

Driessen batted .233 with 11 RBI in 24 games for the 1987 Cardinals.

With Clark still sidelined, Driessen was assured of getting prominent playing time in the postseason.

In the seven-game National League Championship Series against the Giants, Driessen batted .250 (3-for-12) with two doubles and a RBI.

He batted .231 (3-for-13) _ again, with two doubles and a RBI _ in the World Series versus the Twins.

Afterward, the Cardinals released Driessen. He sat out the 1988 season and played one more year, 1989, with Yucatan of the Mexican League.

Previously: Why Jack Clark got chance to put Cards in World Series