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Babe Dahlgren, known best as the player who replaced Lou Gehrig in the Yankees’ lineup, pioneered the use of film to instruct Cardinals batters.

In 1965, the Cardinals hired Dahlgren, 52, to be director of filming. He took 16-millimeter movie film of the Cardinals at spring training and during regular-season games and then worked with manager Red Schoendienst and coaches to analyze swings of the batters.

At the time, everyday use of film to study and instruct players was considered innovative in baseball.

Journeyman career

Ellsworth Dahlgren was born in San Francisco and got the nickname Babe from his stepfather, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.

Dahlgren debuted in the majors as the Opening Day first baseman for the Red Sox in 1935. In February 1937, he was dealt to the Yankees, but with Lou Gehrig at first base, Dahlgren appeared destined for a backup role.

Dahlgren’s fate changed on May 2, 1939, when Gehrig’s streak of 2,130 consecutive games ended and Dahlgren replaced him. Boxscore

A right-handed batter, Dahlgren produced 89 RBI for the 1939 Yankees and hit a home run versus the Reds’ Bucky Walters in Game 2 of the World Series. Boxscore

Traded to the Braves after the 1940 season, Dahlgren also went on to play for the Cubs, Browns, Dodgers, Phillies and Pirates.

In 1943, when he was a National League all-star with the Phillies, Dahlgren had five hits in a game against the Cardinals at St. Louis. Boxscore

The next year, Dahlgren hit .289 with 101 RBI for the 1944 Pirates.

His last season in the majors was 1946 and he finished with 1,056 hits.

Dahlgren said the person who helped him most with hitting was Jimmie Wilson, the former Cardinals catcher who was his manager with the Cubs. “Jim taught me more about hitting in 10 minutes at Chicago in 1941 than I had learned the 10 previous years as a player,” Dahlgren told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Baseball filmmaker

After leaving baseball, Dahlgren sold insurance, but his passion was filming batters. He invested in film equipment and taught himself how to use it.

“I bought my first camera in 1959,” Dahlgren told The Sporting News. “I shelled out $6,000. It was money I saved as a player.”

Dahlgren eventually spent much more on film equipment, including a slow-motion device.

“Babe spent four years perfecting his techniques, all without pay,” The Sporting News reported. “He even worked in a West Coast TV station for two years, minus salary, just so he could learn more about cameras and angles and the art of interviewing.”

Dahlgren went to spring training camps, shot film of batters and interviewed players such as Willie Mays and Ted Williams on camera about their approaches to hitting, according to The Sporting News.

He produced a film on hitting and titled it “Half a Second,” because “that’s how long it takes for a weak hitter to become a good one, that last half-second as the pitch comes to him,” Dahlgren said.

Dahlgren contacted owners of big-league clubs and tried to get them interested in his project. “Some listened and said no,” The Sporting News reported. “Most didn’t even listen.”

Sales job

After the 1963 season, Athletics owner Charlie Finley expressed interest in changing the dimensions of Municipal Stadium in Kansas City. Finley wanted to shorten the foul lines to help pull hitters slug home runs.

In a letter to Finley, Dahlgren wrote, “It is amazing that, in your short tenure in baseball, you have discovered the secret of the game _ hitting down the line.

“When a player hits straightaway, he has the pitcher, shortstop, second baseman and three bunched outfielders in line with a batted ball. When a player hits down the line, he has only the third baseman on the left field line and the first baseman on the right field line. If you design your park for pull hitting, you must have the batters with the know-how to take advantage of the short fences.”

About a month later, at the 1963 baseball winter meetings at Los Angeles, Dahlgren approached Finley, who was scheduled to leave for the airport in 40 minutes.

“We started talking and looking at my film,” Dahlgren said. “He called the airport and canceled his reservation. We spent almost six hours together.”

One and done

Finley hired Dahlgren to be the Athletics’ hitting coach and use film to analyze the swings of batters. According to The Sporting News, Dahlgren and the Athletics became the first in the majors to use film instruction on a full-time basis.

“This is what I’m interested in,” Dahlgren said. “It’s what I like to do. I feel this is my life’s work. I think I can help any hitter who is willing to work.”

Among the players on the Athletics’ 1964 big-league roster at spring training were Tony La Russa, Dave Duncan and Charlie Lau, who later became a hitting coach who relied on the use of video.

In his role with the 1964 Athletics, Dahlgren “started taking pictures in spring training and shot almost every game played during the regular season,” The Sporting News reported. “He had special showings every day for players who wanted to check their batting and pitching forms. Dahlgren also had a large backlog of film he used to demonstrate his theories on hitting.”

Dahlgren’s efforts were exemplary but the results were not. The 1964 Athletics finished in last place in the 10-team American League. They hit .239 and were eighth in the league in runs (621) and hits (1,321).

After the season, Dahlgren wasn’t retained and scout Whitey Herzog was added to the coaching staff.

Cardinals come calling

Dahlgren’s techniques with film intrigued Cardinals general manager Bob Howsam. On March 15, 1965, he hired Dahlgren and named him director of filming.

“I believe I helped some of the boys at Kansas City last year,” Dahlgren said to the Post-Dispatch, “but the expense, they felt, was too great.”

Howsam said, “I wanted Babe because I felt he could help established players to improve and young ones to learn.”

Dahlgren was hired to film Cardinals players and opponents and share the information with manager Red Schoendienst, hitting coach Mickey Vernon and pitching coach Joe Becker.

“One reason they may have been persuaded that this is a useful procedure is that Bill White was in a slump for many weeks last summer,” The Sporting News noted. “No one had a solution to his problems until White found his own answer with the help of home movies in his own basement.”

Unlike the cellar-dwelling Athletics, the Cardinals went to spring training in 1965 as the reigning World Series champions.

“I do believe if use of films of our players and of the opposition will help us win three or four games in a season,” Howsam told the Post-Dispatch, “the expenditure of $20,000 or so will be worthwhile.

“Use of films, on a limited basis, is not new,” Howsam said, “but not until last year has any ballclub made a day to day study of its hitters and pitchers.”

Howsam, who was involved with pro football’s Denver Broncos before joining the Cardinals, said, “Baseball, I’m convinced, has been far behind football in making realistic use of game and individual movies.”

Dahlgren lasted one season with the Cardinals. After hitting .272 in the 1964 championship season, the Cardinals hit .254 in 1965 and didn’t contend. First in the National League in hits (1,531) in 1964, the Cardinals ranked fourth (1,415) in 1965.

Howsam said the Cardinals did not get as much use out of the films as they had hoped.

After leaving the Cardinals, Dahlgren continued to help amateur players. Unfortunately, his films were destroyed in a house fire in 1980.

A game-winning home run against the Cardinals provided an early indication that the 1957 season would be special for catcher Del Crandall and the Braves.

On April 24, 1957, Crandall clouted a walkoff home run in the ninth inning, giving the Braves an 8-7 victory over the Cardinals at Milwaukee.

The win was the Braves’ sixth in their first seven games of the season. Propelled by the fast start, they went on to win the 1957 National League pennant, finishing eight games ahead of the runner-up Cardinals, and dethroned the Yankees for the World Series championship.

Crandall was a major contributor to the Braves’ success. A gifted catcher and strong thrower, he was liked and respected by a Braves pitching staff featuring Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette.

A big-league catcher for 16 seasons, Crandall died May 5, 2021, at 91. He was the last surviving member of the Boston Braves.

Taking charge

Crandall was 19 when he was called up to the Braves from the minors in June 1949. Based in Boston, the 1949 Braves were the defending National League champions and were managed by Billy Southworth, the former Cardinals manager.

The teen’s first big-league hit came against Dutch Leonard, the Cubs’ 40-year-old knuckleball artist who had been pitching in the majors since Crandall was 3. Boxscore

The Braves had another 19-year-old, pitcher Johnny Antonelli, and he and Crandall formed a teenage battery in nine games in 1949.

In the book “We Played the Game,” Antonelli said he and Crandall were roommates in Boston.

“Del became my best friend on the team,” Antonelli said. “We were called the Milkshake Twins.

“Del was a leader as a rookie. He liked to hear chatter around the diamond when he was catching, and one day he gunned the ball down to third, saying, ‘Come on, Elliott, wake up.’ Bob Elliott was a seasoned player and warned, ‘Don’t do that again, kid,’ but he would. That’s the way Del would be his entire career.”

After two years (1951-52) in the Army, Crandall rejoined the Braves, who had relocated to Milwaukee, and developed into one of the game’s best catchers.

Among Crandall’s accomplishments:

_ An eight-time National League all-star.

_ Four-time Gold Glove Award winner.

_ Five times led the National League in number of runners caught stealing.

_ Four times led National League catchers in fielding percentage.

“Del had a good head on his shoulders,” pitcher Bob Buhl told author Danny Peary. “We called him Jack Armstrong, the all-American boy. He would never do anything wrong. For instance, he didn’t drink. Yet he wasn’t resentful of those who did, which was fortunate, because we were a drinking team.”

Mistake pitch

Playing in a lineup with Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews, Crandall usually batted near the bottom of the order. He hit 26 home runs in 1955, including a walkoff grand slam against the Phillies.

His next walkoff home run came two years later versus the Cardinals.

The score was tied at 7-7, with one out and none on in the bottom of the ninth, when Crandall batted against Cardinals reliever Willard Schmidt.

Crandall got behind in the count 0-and-2. “I had good stuff,” Schmidt told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I was getting the ball right where I wanted it.”

He had no excuse, Schmidt said, for the pitch he threw next.

“In that situation, and to a man like him, you never put the ball anywhere but out of the strike zone, maybe even call it a little brushback,” Schmidt said.

Instead, “I was stupid,” Schmidt said. His pitch was over the plate and Crandall hit it over the fence in left, giving the Braves a walkoff win. Boxscore

Crandall hit 15 home runs for the 1957 Braves. He hit another in Game 7 of the World Series against Yankees reliever Tommy Byrne, helping the Braves clinch the championship. Boxscore and video at 38:12 mark

The next year, Crandall hit another Game 7 World Series home run, against reliever Bob Turley, but the Yankees prevailed. Boxscore

Run producer

In 1960, Crandall had his best season as a hitter. He batted .294 with 19 home runs, 77 RBI and a league-leading 12 sacrifice flies. In a stretch from July 16 to Aug. 25, Crandall hit five home runs: two each against Sandy Koufax and Robin Roberts and one versus Bob Gibson. He also hit a home run against Bill Monbouquette in the All-Star Game. Boxscore

The next year, Crandall sat out for most of the season because of an arm ailment and Joe Torre, 20, took over the catching.

In 1962, Torre was the Opening Day catcher but Crandall came back strong and ended up starting the majority of games. 

On June 1, 1962, Crandall broke an 0-for-17 skid with two singles, a triple and five RBI in the Braves’ 7-0 triumph over the Cardinals at Milwaukee. It was the second and last time Crandall produced five RBI in a big-league game. Boxscore

Braves manager Birdie Tebbetts said Crandall took extra batting practice before the game and worked on hitting the ball through the middle of the diamond, the Associated Press reported.

Bob Shaw, who pitched the shutout against the Cardinals, said, “Pitching to a guy like Del makes it a lot easier. He knows the hitters.”

Multiple skills

In 1963, Bobby Bragan became Braves manager and he preferred Torre to be the starting catcher. Crandall shared backup duties with Bob Uecker.

In his book “Chasing the Dream,” Torre said, “I’ll always be grateful to Crandall for being a true professional and being so quick to help me during my first few years in the big leagues.”

After the season, Crandall was traded to the Giants. 

On May 31, 1964, in the opener of a doubleheader against the Mets at New York, Crandall caught nine innings in Juan Marichal’s complete-game win. Boxscore

In the second game, Crandall batted for pitcher Gaylord Perry in the 23rd inning and delivered a RBI-double against Galen Cisco, breaking a 3-3 tie and sparking the Giants to a 5-3 marathon victory. Boxscore

Crandall finished his playing career with the Pirates (1965) and Indians (1966). He hit .254 overall and .219 versus the Cardinals.

Crandall remained in baseball into the 1990s. He managed the Brewers (1972-75) and Mariners (1983-84). With the Brewers, he was the first big-league manager of Darrell Porter and mentored the future Cardinals catcher.

Also, Crandall was an Angels coach (1977), a minor-league manager in the farm systems of the Dodgers, Brewers and Angels, and broadcaster for the White Sox (1985-88) and Brewers (1992-94).

For a guy who lacked speed, Joe Torre hit a surprisingly high number of triples during his prime years with the Cardinals.

Torre led the Cardinals in triples in 1970 and 1971, and ranked second on the club in 1969 and 1972.

Fifty years ago, on May 29, 1971, Torre hit a walkoff three-run triple against his former team, the Braves, erasing a 7-5 deficit in the ninth inning and giving the Cardinals an 8-7 triumph.

It was one of a team-high eight triples Torre produced in 1971, a year when he led the National League in hitting, total bases and RBI.

Three bases

Torre was 20 when he hit his first big-league triple on June 22, 1961, for the Braves against the Giants’ Billy Loes at Milwaukee. Boxscore

In nine seasons with the Braves, the most triples Torre hit in a year were five in 1964. Two of those triples came on Sept. 24 in a game against the Phillies, who were in a skid that enabled the Cardinals to rise up and win the pennant. Boxscore

Traded to the Cardinals for Orlando Cepeda in March 1969, Torre embarked on a four-year stretch of impressive triples production.

A right-handed batter, Torre had 29 triples for the Cardinals from 1969-72.

In 1969, when Lou Brock led the Cardinals in triples with 10, Torre and Vada Pinson tied for second with six apiece.

Torre topped the Cardinals in triples in 1970 (9) and 1971 (8).

Brock was the team triples leader in 1972 with eight, and Torre and Ted Simmons each had six, tying for second.

Though Torre’s line-drive stroke was ideal for Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, he had more triples on the road than he did at home in three of the four seasons between 1969 and 1972.

In his final two Cardinals seasons, Torre had two triples in 1973 and one in 1974.

In 18 years in the majors, Torre hit 59 triples, including 32 for the Cardinals.

Zoned in

Weight loss was a contributing factor in Torre’s high number of triples with the Cardinals.

In his book “Chasing the Dream,” Torre said he went on a diet during spring training in 1970 and his weight dropped from 228 pounds to 208. During the season, he slimmed down to 195 pounds.

Splitting his time between catching and playing third base in 1970, Torre batted .325 with 203 hits and 100 RBI.

He followed that with a career year in 1971. Batting cleanup in every game, Torre led the National League in batting average (.363), hits (230), total bases (352) and RBI (137), and won the Most Valuable Player Award.

“I was locked in all year,” Torre said in his book. “I used to go home and know what pitches I was going to hit off the pitcher the next day. It was weird. I had such a feeling of concentration, of being able to block everything out. The more hits you get, the more confident you are. The key is your confidence level.”

Torre was hot from the start of the season and never cooled off. He hit safely in the first 22 games of the season. For the month of April, Torre batted .366 and had 34 hits in 24 games.

Finding the gap

In May 1971, Torre batted .355. He capped the month with his game-winning triple against the Braves on the Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend at St. Louis.

After the Braves broke a 5-5 tie with two runs in the top of the ninth, they brought in Cecil Upshaw to pitch the bottom half.

The first two batters, Lou Brock and Matty Alou, each singled. With the runners on first and second, none out, Ted Simmons bunted. Upshaw reached for the ball and bobbled it, enabling Simmons to safely reach first and loading the bases for Torre.

Upshaw and Torre were Braves teammates from 1966-68. As a Cardinal, Torre had faced Upshaw three times and was hitless against the right-hander who threw nearly underhanded with a sweeping delivery from below the waist.

Getting a pitch to his liking, Torre lined it into right-center, clearing the bases and ending the game with his triple. Boxscore

Torre went on to hit .382 with runners in scoring position in 1971.

He was remarkably consistent overall, hitting .324 or better in every month of the season. He hit .356 versus right-handers and .376 against left-handers in 1971.

“I had a ton of hits to right field that year, even more than I usually did,” Torre said in his book. “My philosophy on hitting was pretty simple: Dare them to jam you. I think there are a lot more hits on the handle than on the end of the bat.”

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.

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

An arduous journey from New York to Cincinnati for a group of Cardinals ended in a madcap taxi ride with Stan Musial behind the wheel and the cab driver on the hood of the speeding vehicle.

Seventy-five years ago, on May 24, 1946, a national railroad strike caused the Cardinals to alter their travel plans and find a way to get to Cincinnati for a game that night against the Reds.

The Cardinals got it done, but it wasn’t easy.

Rough road

In New York on Thursday afternoon, May 23, the Cardinals played the Giants at the Polo Grounds. Afterward, they planned to depart by train at 7:30 p.m. for Cincinnati, but while the game was under way, railroad workers went on strike.

The strike wasn’t the only jolt the Cardinals got that day. They also learned that three of their players, pitchers Max Lanier and Fred Martin and infielder Lou Klein, left the club, accepting offers to play in Mexico.

Cardinals traveling secretary Leo Ward arranged for the team to spend the night in New York and take a 9 a.m. flight the following day from New York to Dayton, The Sporting News reported. From Dayton, the Cardinals planned to take a bus to Cincinnati for an 8:30 p.m. game against the Reds at Crosley Field.

To the Cardinals’ dismay, the plan unraveled when the federal Office of Defense Transportation, in need of alternatives because of the railroad strike, appropriated the plane the team was going to use, the St. Louis Star-Times reported.

The Cardinals had to scramble to find another way to get to Ohio.

Reds derailed

Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ scheduled opponent was having its own travel woes.

The Reds played a night game against the Braves at Boston on Wednesday, May 22, and planned to travel to Ohio by train on May 23. They got as far as Buffalo when the railroad strike hit.

Reds officials rented taxicabs to take the team from Buffalo to Cleveland, The Sporting News reported. The Reds arrived in Cleveland at 1:30 a.m. on May 24 and slept on cots in a hotel banquet room. After daybreak, they chartered a bus and set out for Cincinnati.

Baseball odyssey

Back in New York, the Cardinals located a plane to take them to Cincinnati. The TWA plane had room for 21 Cardinals. The others would have to take a bus.

Leaving New York in the afternoon, the flight carried manager Eddie Dyer, coach Mike Gonzalez, catchers Ken O’Dea and Del Rice, infielders Jeff Cross, Whitey Kurowski, Red Schoendienst and Dick Sisler, outfielders Buster Adams, Erv Dusak, Terry Moore, Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter and Harry Walker, and pitchers Red Barrett, Al Brazle, Harry Brecheen, Ken Burkhart, Blix Donnelly, Howie Krist and Ted Wilks.

Boarding a Greyhound bus in New York were 11 Cardinals: coach Buzzy Wares, pitchers Johnny Beazley, Murry Dickson, Johnny Grodzicki, Howie Pollet and Willard Schmidt, catchers Joe Garagiola and Clyde Kluttz, and outfielders Bill Endicott, Danny Litwhiler and Walter Sessi. The bus was headed to Washington, D.C. From there, the Cardinals chartered another bus to complete the trek to Cincinnati, expecting to arrive on Saturday, May 25.

Cardinals shortstop Marty Marion refused to travel by plane, and team officials didn’t think his aching back could handle the long bus rides, so he remained in New York, waiting for the railroad strike to end.

Waiting game

The Cardinals’ charter flight was scheduled to arrive in Cincinnati at 5:30 p.m., the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, but storms grounded the plane in Columbus.

Meanwhile, the bus carrying the Reds from Cleveland got to Cincinnati at 3:10 p.m., according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

By the time the Cardinals left Columbus, it was clear they wouldn’t arrive in time for the scheduled start of the game. With a Friday night crowd of 26,190 arriving at Crosley Field, the Reds decided to wait. The fans were given a fireworks show to help them stay patient.

It was about 9 p.m. when the Cardinals arrived at Cincinnati’s Lunken Airport. Located on the east side of town near the Ohio River, the airport was about nine miles from Crosley Field.

A fleet of taxicabs and a police escort awaited the Cardinals when they got off the plane. Outfielders Musial, Moore, Slaughter and Adams climbed into one of the cabs and the convoy roared off toward the ballpark.

On the way, the hood of the cab carrying Musial and his group sprang up and wouldn’t stay down.

In the driver’s seat

In his book, “Stan Musial: The Man’s Own Story,” Musial recalled, “The cabbie, desperate, finally suggested that one of us players ride on the hood to keep it in place.”

“Oh, no you don’t,” Musial responded. “You ride the hood, cabbie, and I’ll drive.”

Musial took the wheel and the cabbie got atop the hood. 

“Man, that was something,” Musial said. “With my head out the side window so I could see around the cabbie, I drove at high speed and we managed to keep up with the caravan. When we wheeled into the Crosley Field parking lot, I was laughing, but some of the guys with me were a little white.”

Show must go on

According to The Sporting News, the Cardinals got from the airport to the ballpark in 14 minutes.

The game started at 9:42 p.m. one hour and 12 minutes later than scheduled, but less than 45 minutes after the Cardinals landed at the airport, the Dayton Daily News reported.

The Cardinals’ starting lineup was Red Schoendienst, Terry Moore, Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, Whitey Kurowski, Dick Sisler, Ken O’Dea, Jeff Cross and Harry Brecheen.

Reds pitcher Ewell Blackwell took advantage of the weary Cardinals, pitching a four-hitter in a 5-1 win. Boxscore

Getting it done

The Cardinals and Reds had a scheduled off day on Saturday, May 25. The bus carrying the remaining Cardinals got to Cincinnati at 7:15 that night, according to The Sporting News.

On Sunday, May 26, the Cardinals and Reds split a doubleheader. Afterward, with the railroad strike ended, the Cardinals boarded a train to Chicago to open a series the next afternoon with the Cubs. They were joined there by Marty Marion, who took a train from New York to Chicago.

Undeterred by their trying travels, the Cardinals went on to win the 1946 National League pennant and World Series championship.