August 19, 2009: Cardinals sign John Smoltz in their push for postseason glory

With a seven-game lead in the National League Central and six weeks remaining in the 2009 season, the Cardinals couldn’t pass the opportunity to add a future Hall of Famer to their rotation.

“It was too inviting not to take a chance on,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said.[1]

On August 19, 2009, the Cardinals signed John Smoltz with an eye toward the postseason. Just two days earlier, the Red Sox released the 42-year-old Smoltz after he went 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA in eight starts. Smoltz admitted that he had rushed back from shoulder surgery in an effort to help Boston reach the postseason.

With a comfortable division lead, the Cardinals planned to ease him into the starting rotation.

“If I had to come to a team and be perfect the very first or second time, then it wasn’t going to be a good fit,” Smoltz said. “If the luxury was there to show some patience and get some innings, I’m sure the benefits were going to pay, the upside was going to be worth it. If I went to a team right at the edge, having to win every single game, or pitch relief, then I’m sure I was going to be in a tough spot. Not that I couldn’t handle it, but the team was going to be in a tough spot.”[2]

Smoltz brought 212 career wins and 154 career saves with him to St. Louis, and his 15 postseason wins were more than any other pitcher in baseball history. In 1996, he won the National League Cy Young Award after going 24-8 with a 2.94 ERA. His 24 wins, 253 2/3 innings, and 276 strikeouts all led the majors.

After Tommy John surgery forced Smoltz to miss the 2000 season, he reinvented himself as one of the game’s elite closers. After saving 10 games in 2001, Smoltz led the majors with 55 saves in 2002 to earn his first all-star appearance since 1996 and place third in the Cy Young voting. In 2003 and 2004, he saved 45 and 44 games, respectively.

In 2005, Smoltz returned to the rotation. Over the course of three seasons, he won 44 games, but required shoulder surgery in 2008 and made just five starts.

In St. Louis, Smoltz joined a rotation that already included Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Joel Pineiro, and Kyle Lohse. With Smoltz’s experience as both a starter and reliever, the Cardinals planned to use Smoltz in the rotation, then move him to the bullpen for the playoffs.

“We’re not so concerned with trying to gear up for the next week,” Mozeliak said. “We’re trying to gear up for the stretch run. Allowing him to get more work as a starter made more sense at this time.”[3]

“If you look and see which need is more critical, it would be the reliever thing,” La Russa said.[4]

After Smoltz was released in Boston, Mark DeRosa, who played alongside Smoltz in Atlanta from 1998 until 2004, approached Mozeliak and La Russa and expressed how well Smoltz would fit in the Cardinals’ clubhouse. At the same time, he told Smoltz that the Cardinals would remind him of the environment he enjoyed in Atlanta.[5]

“He only knew Atlanta before going to Boston this year,” DeRosa said. “I just told him it’s a very comfortable situation to walk into here.”[6]

Carpenter, who had famously recovered from shoulder surgery of his own, also liked the move.

“Never mind his obvious ability, look at the kind of experience he brings here,” he said. “It’s a no-brainer.”[7]

Even as questions remained regarding Smoltz’s shoulder, there was no doubting his competitive fire.

“I think you’re going to get a nasty guy on the mound,” Smoltz said. “In whatever capacity, one hitter or 27 hitters, I still believe in everything I’m doing to get myself prepared for that battle.”[8]

Smoltz made seven regular-season starts for the Cardinals the rest of the way, going 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA over 38 innings. In the National League Division Series against the Dodgers, Smoltz pitched two innings of relief, striking out five consecutive hitters. He allowed one run on four hits.

“In my gut and my mind, I want to do it. I want to pitch again next year, but I have to make sure I’m in position to do it again,” Smoltz said. “It’s going to be an interesting offseason for me, one in which I’ll take a long, hard look and see if I still have the desire to work out. That’s what it’s going to come down to.”[9]

In March, Smoltz took a job as a TV analyst with Turner Broadcasting and the MLB Network.[10] Though he indicated that his new job didn’t mean his pitching career was over, his stint with the Cardinals marked his final professional innings.

Smoltz retired with a 213-155 record and a 3.33 ERA. Over his 21-year career, Smoltz made eight all-star appearances, a Cy Young, a Silver Slugger, and an NLCS MVP Award. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015.


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[1] Joe Strauss, “Smoltz, Cardinals set to wing it,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 20, 2009.

[2] Joe Strauss, “Smoltz: ‘I still want it,’” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 21, 2009.

[3] Joe Strauss, “Smoltz, Cardinals set to wing it,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 20, 2009.

[4] Joe Strauss, “Smoltz, Cardinals set to wing it,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 20, 2009.

[5] Joe Strauss, “Smoltz, Cardinals set to wing it,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 20, 2009.

[6] Joe Strauss, “Smoltz, Cardinals set to wing it,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 20, 2009.

[7] Joe Strauss, “Smoltz, Cardinals set to wing it,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 20, 2009.

[8] Joe Strauss, “Smoltz: ‘I still want it,’” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 21, 2009.

[9] Dan O’Neill, “DeRosa makes a pitch to stay with Cardinals,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 21, 2009.

[10] “Smoltz gets job as a TV analyst,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 17, 2010.

August 21, 1990: Ray Lankford provides spark in his big-league debut

It didn’t take long for Ray Lankford to demonstrate the blend of speed and power that made him a cornerstone of the Cardinals’ lineup throughout the 1990s.

Batting sixth in his major league debut, Lankford doubled, stole a base, and scored a run in a 7-2 loss to the Braves on August 21, 1990.

Lankford’s big-league opportunity came after first baseman Pedro Guerrero was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained lower back. Though the Cardinals already had Willie McGee, Vince Coleman, and Milt Thompson on the big-league roster, manager Joe Torre didn’t want the team’s top outfield prospect withering on the bench. Instead, he inserted Lankford in center field, moved the three-time Gold Glove Award winner McGee to right, and made Thompson the fourth outfielder.

“I want to give Lankford an opportunity to do well, and center is where he has played,” Torre said. “You want him to be comfortable.”[1]

Before he stepped onto the field for his first game, Lankford met with Torre, director of player development Ted Simmons, and field supervisor for player development George Kissell.

“When the manager talks to you and tells you what he expects, that takes some of the pressure off,” Lankford said. “They said basically to go out and have fun. That helps a lot right there.”[2]

After his meeting in the manager’s office, Cardinals hitting coach Steve Braun visited Lankford’s new locker.

“The good news is you’re in the big leagues,” Braun said. “The bad news is we’re in last place.”[3]

Thompson told Lankford it was good to see him, then asked, “What took you so long to get here?”[4]

Lankford’s debut came against future Hall of Famer John Smoltz, who had earned his first all-star appearance the previous year. Smoltz struggled early in the season, winning just one of his first five decisions, and entered the game against the Cardinals with a 9-9 record and a 3.98 ERA.

 The Cardinals had every reason to see what Lankford could do. At 57-65, the Cardinals were 15 ½ games behind the first-place Pirates and on their way to a last-place finish in the National League East. Whitey Herzog had resigned 80 games into the season, and after Red Schoendienst served 24 games as interim manager, the team had named Torre its new manager.

Torre was already making his mark on the team. In addition to inserting Lankford into the lineup, Torre moved Todd Zeile to first base in place of Guerrero and made Tom Pagnozzi the starting catcher.

“I never ask anybody to agree with what I do, just understand that it was my decision to make,” Torre said. “It’s my decision as manager to try to find things out.”[5]

By the time Lankford took his first at-bat, the Cardinals already trailed 3-0. David Justice hit a first-inning RBI single off Joe Magrane and the Braves added two more runs in the second on an RBI single by Mark Lemke and an RBI groundout by Smoltz.

Terry Pendleton flied out to center to lead off the Cardinals’ half of the second, but Lankford followed with his first major league hit, a line-drive single into center field. After Rex Hudler popped out, Lankford picked up his first stolen base, swiping second off Braves catcher Greg Olson. Pagnozzi flied out to center for the final out of the inning.

Home runs by Ron Gant and Andres Thomas helped the Braves extend their lead to 6-0 before Lankford played a key role in the Cardinals’ lone rally in the eighth inning. Following a Zeile double, Lankford hit a two-out double of his own down the right-field line to score the first Cardinal run. Hudler followed with a single up the middle that scored Lankford to cut the Cardinals’ deficit to 6-2.

Zeile and Lankford’s doubles proved the Cardinals’ only extra-base hits of the day. Lemke drove home a run in the top of the ninth to make it 7-2 and Braves reliever Kent Mercker worked around a Craig Wilson single to seal the game in the ninth.

Smoltz improved to 10-9 with the win, holding the Cardinals to two runs despite 10 hits in eight innings.

“For me, this is probably the toughest team to pitch against because they can score runs without getting hits,” Smoltz said.[6]

Magrane took the loss for the Cardinals, allowing four earned runs over seven innings.

Lankford joined Ozzie Smith, Hudler, and Pagnozzi with two apiece.

“Lankford is the future,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz wrote. “He may struggle this season, and probably the next. But that’s part of the growing process. The Cardinals need to turn Lankford loose, let him flail away at big-league pitching.”[7]

In 39 games, Lankford hit .286/.353/.452 with three homers, 12 RBIs, and eight stolen bases. In his first full season in 1991, he led the majors with 15 triples to go along with nine homers, 69 RBIs, and 44 stolen bases. He finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting behind Houston’s Jeff Bagwell and Pittsburgh’s Orlando Merced.

Lankford’s blend of power and speed was a trademark throughout his career. He hit at least 20 homers and stole 20 bases in five different seasons. When he retired following the 2004 season, Lankford ranked third in franchise history in home runs, fourth in walks, fifth in stolen bases, and eighth in RBIs and runs scored.

A key player for the Cardinals throughout the 1990s, Lankford played 13 seasons in St. Louis. In 2001, the Cardinals traded him to San Diego for Woody Williams, but Lankford returned in 2004. He finished with a .272/.364/.477 career batting line to go with 238 homers, 874 RBIs, and 258 stolen bases.

Lankford was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2018.


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[1] Dan O’Neill, “Thompson Knows He’s ‘Odd Man Out,’” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 22, 1990.

[2] Dan O’Neill, “No ‘War’ Here,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 22, 1990.

[3] Dan O’Neill, “No ‘War’ Here,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 22, 1990.

[4] Dan O’Neill, “No ‘War’ Here,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 22, 1990.

[5] Rick Hummel, “Torre Plays With Cardinals’ Lineup,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 22, 1990.

[6] Joe Strauss, “Braves turn tables on Cardinals 7-2,” Atlanta Constitution, August 22, 1990.

[7] Bernie Miklasz, “For Long Haul: Sign Coleman, Forget McGee,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 22, 1990.

August 16, 1988: Cardinals trade John Tudor for Pedro Guerrero

On August 16, 1988, the Cardinals’ quest for Jack Clark’s replacement led them to deal John Tudor, the left-handed pitcher who won 21 games in 1985, to the Dodgers in exchange for four-time all-star first baseman Pedro Guerrero.

Clark had anchored the Cardinals’ lineups from 1985 through 1987, but in January 1988, he signed a two-year contract with the New York Yankees for a guaranteed $3 million. In response, the Cardinals signed Bob Horner, the former Braves slugger who hit 215 home runs in nine major league seasons before spending the 1987 season with the Yakult Swallows in the Japanese League.

It didn’t take long for the Cardinals to realize that Horner wasn’t the answer. Signed to a one-year, $950,000 contract, shoulder surgery limited Horner to just 60 games in what proved to be his final major-league season. Concerned that the free-agent market may not offer an affordable alternative, the Cardinals made their move for the veteran Guerrero, who had hit .309 with 171 homers and 585 RBIs in 11 years in Los Angeles. At age 32, however, the Dodgers believed the 1981 World Series MVP’s best years were behind him.

Earlier that season, Guerrero was sidelined with a pinched nerve in his neck, and Dodgers team physician Dr. Frank Jobe told Guerrero that the condition couldn’t be improved or made worse, so he would have to learn to play through the pain. Perhaps more important was the tendinitis in both Guerrero’s knees, which required ice treatments after every game. He also battled a lingering injury to his left wrist. [1]

“Not that Guerrero was a cancer on the team. That’s pretty harsh terminology. But at this stage of his career, let’s just say Pedro was at least an inflamed appendix,” wrote Scott Ostler in the Los Angeles Times. “On defense, Guerrero was OK unless someone hit or threw the ball to him.”[2]

The Cardinals, meanwhile, were focused on Guerrero’s bat and the damage he could do in the middle of their lineup. Despite his injuries, in his last full season with the Dodgers in 1987, Guerrero hit .338 with 27 homers, 89 RBIs, and nine stolen bases, earning MVP votes and an all-star appearance. At the time of the trade, he was batting .298 with five homers and 35 RBIs in 215 at-bats.

“He’s got power in any yard, and not only does he hit for power, but he hits for average,” Cardinals pitcher Danny Cox said. “He’s capable of hitting the ball in the gap and driving in some runs. A single here and a single there isn’t going to score many runs, but a single here and a ball in the gap will. If you make a mistake, he’s going to make you pay for it. He’s clutch.”[3]

“He’s a dead lowball hitter,” said left-hander Greg Mathews, noting that Guerrero once hit a monstrous home run against him in Los Angeles. “He could fill the power deficit that we have. I think he can hit just as many homers as Jack (Clark) did.”[4]

Whitey Herzog, however, emphasized that he wasn’t looking for Guerrero to fill Clark’s shoes.

“I don’t think he’ll hit 35 home runs like Jack and I don’t expect him to, but I think he’ll hit 20 to 25 homers,” Herzog said.

Maxvill agreed with Herzog’s prediction while comparing Guerrero to Andre Dawson, Dale Murphy, and George Bell.

“All those guys seem to hit 25 to 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs,” he said. “In Guerrero’s case, I look at him for 20 to 25 home runs and, depending if the rabbits get on in front of him, he’s got a threat to drive in 90 runs.”[5]

Before the trade could be completed, the Cardinals and Guerrero agreed to a three-year, $6 million contract. The term was one year longer than the Cardinals were willing to offer Clark, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that it was unlikely Guerrero would have accepted two years.[6]

“Times have changed in the last four or five months,” Cardinals general manager Dal Maxvill said. “Several clubs have signed guys to three-year contracts. Several teams have signed guys to contracts of this magnitude. It’s a different set of circumstances.”[7]

That set of circumstances may well have been the simple realization that they needed a middle-of-the-order bat.

“Pedro’s needed here. We need Pedro,” Herzog said. “I said, ‘Pedro, I’m the happiest guy in the world.’ He said, ‘Whitey, I want to play for you.’ I thought it was Joaquin (Andujar) on the phone.”[8]

To get that middle-of-the-order bat, however, the Cardinals had to give up a pitcher who had proven key to their National League championships in 1985 and 1987. Obtained in the December 1984 trade that sent George Hendrick to the Pirates, Tudor enjoyed the best season of his career in 1985.

After winning just one of his first eight decisions, Tudor’s former high school catcher mentioned that Tudor’s mechanics had developed a hitch that wasn’t there during his high school days. Tudor made an adjustment and won 20 of his final 21 decisions on his way to a 21-8 record. He finished second to Dwight Gooden in that year’s Cy Young Award voting and his 10 shutouts led the majors. In the postseason, he won two of his three World Series starts against the Royals, though he suffered the loss in a forgettable Game 7 performance.

“With the possible exception of Brian Sutter of the Blues, I’ve never seen an athlete who wanted to win more than John Tudor does,” wrote Post-Dispatch columnist Kevin Horrigan. “He was magnificent, a surgeon in double-knit rompers, even when pitching in pain.”[9]

In 1986, Tudor went 13-7 with a 2.92 ERA. The following year, Mets catcher Barry Lyons broke Tudor’s leg when he spilled into the Cardinals’ dugout while attempting to catch a foul ball. In just 96 innings, Tudor went 10-2 with a 3.84 ERA. In the postseason, he won Game 1 of the NLCS against the Giants and Game 3 of the World Series against the Twins, though he suffered the loss in Game 6 of the World Series.

At the time of the trade, Tudor was 6-5 and his 2.29 ERA was the lowest in the National League.

“He’s been a great pitcher and a great competitor for the Cardinals,” said St. Louis hitting coach Johnny Lewis. “I’m happy that he’s going to a club that can win. You look at our stats, and we’re definitely in dire need of a hitter. Tudor went out there and pitched a heck of a lot better than his record.”[10]

Magrane said Tudor was the only person he went to when he wanted to discuss opposing hitters.

“I learned a lot from him about how to approach a hitter’s weaknesses,” Magrane said. “If you solicited information, he was happy to provide it. Every time he threw, it was a constant reaffirmation about what a quality pitcher was. His stuff was not superlative, but day in and day out, through almost every start, he was constantly in control.”[11]

The Dodgers prized that consistency as they looked to hold off the Giants and Astros in the National League West.

“We need this to compete with teams in the league,” said Dodgers infielder Dave Anderson, noting that Fernando Valenzuela’s injury had left the Dodgers without a left-hander in the rotation.[12]

The Dodgers did more than just compete with the rest of the league. With Tudor going 4-3 with a 2.41 ERA in nine starts, the Dodgers won the NL West with a 94-67-1 record. He allowed four earned runs in five innings during the Dodgers’ Game 4 win over the Mets in the NLCS, then threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings before leaving with an elbow injury in Game 3 of the World Series.

Though Tudor earned the only World Series championship ring of his career that season, the elbow injury limited him to just 14 1/3 innings for the Dodgers in 1989. After the season, he re-signed with St. Louis and enjoyed a resurgent final season, going 12-4 with a 2.40 ERA in 146 1/3 innings.

Tudor retired after the 1990 campaign with 117 career wins and a 3.12 ERA over 12 seasons.

Though Guerrero missed out on the Dodgers’ 1988 World Series run, in 1989 he enjoyed his fifth and final all-star season, batting .311 with 17 homers, 117 RBIs, and a league-leading 42 doubles. He finished third in the NL MVP voting behind the Giants’ Kevin Mitchell and Will Clark.

Guerrero remained productive in 1990, batting .281 with 13 homers and 80 RBIs, but his power declined in 1991 as he slugged just .361 while hitting eight homers and driving in 70 runs. In 1992, injuries limited Guerrero to just 43 games. He hit .219 with one home run and 16 RBIs in his final major league season, then spent the next three years in the Mexican League, independent baseball, and a brief stay with the Angels’ Double-A.

Over 15 major league seasons, Guerrero finished with a .300 career batting average, 215 homers, and 898 RBIs.   


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[1] Jeff Gordon, “Guerrero Medical Report: Long History of Injuries,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 17, 1988.

[2] Scott Ostler, “It’s Hard Not to Get Excited About Trade,” Los Angeles Times, August 17, 1988.

[3] Tom Wheatley,” “Cardinals Welcome Guerrero,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 17, 1988.

[4] Tom Wheatley,” “Cardinals Welcome Guerrero,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 17, 1988.

[5] Rick Hummel, “Fear Sparked Guerrero Deal,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 17, 1988.

[6] Rick Hummel, “Fear Sparked Guerrero Deal,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 17, 1988.

[7] Rick Hummel, “Fear Sparked Guerrero Deal,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 17, 1988.

[8] Rick Hummel, “Fear Sparked Guerrero Deal,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 17, 1988.

[9] Kevin Horrigan, “Sullen Tudor One Of Best Ever For Birds,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 17, 1988.

[10] Tom Wheatley, “Cards Roll Out Welcome Mat For Guerrero,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 17, 1988.

[11] Tom Wheatley, “Cards Roll Out Welcome Mat For Guerrero,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 17, 1988.

[12] Sam McManis, “Dodgers Give Up Guerrero to Get Insurance,” Los Angeles Times, August 17, 1988.

August 13, 1979: Lou Brock collects his 3,000th career hit in resurgent final season

Technically, Lou Brock’s pursuit of 3,000 career hits began September 10, 1962, when he singled in his major league debut with the Chicago Cubs. However, the Cardinals legend didn’t give serious thought to the milestone until speaking to Detroit Tigers outfielder Al Kaline in 1974.

That season, the 40-year-old Kaline had reached the milestone in the final campaign of his career, the same year that Brock set a major league record with 118 stolen bases.

“I’d met Al on the banquet circuit that winter and congratulated him,” Brock said. “He told me, ‘I think you can do it too,’ and I looked it up. Pete Rose was doing a lot of talking – early – about getting to 3,000, averaging 195 hits a year, as I recall, and I looked up my own figures and saw where I’d had 191 for an average.”[1]

On August 13, 1979, Brock, now 40 years old himself, was just two hits shy of 3,000 entering that night’s game against his former team, the Cubs. Just one year earlier, Brock slumped early in the season and lost his starting job in left field. His batting average fell to a career-low .221 as he appeared in just 92 games.

In April, Brock announced that 1979 would be his final season, but instead of quietly fading away in the year that followed, Brock returned to form. After a teammate pointed out late in 1978 that he was hitting off his back foot,[2] Brock made an adjustment and not only regained his starting job in 1979 but even earned a trip to the all-star game. He was batting .321 and already had 10 hits in the Cardinals’ eight games that month.

“What he’s going through is a lesson to all of us,” rookie Cardinals pitcher John Fulgham said. “Not many guys can go through something the magnitude of this. Think of all the great athletes and what they did. Hank Aaron only went through it once. Willie Mays only went through it once, but Lou’s gone through it three times (counting his career and single-season stolen base records) and the guy hasn’t changed a bit. He’s something. I’m glad to be a part of this scene.”[3]

So were the 44,457 fans at Busch Stadium that night, including approximately 20,000 who purchased their tickets that day to see Brock pursue history.[4] The game was delayed 15 minutes to accommodate the late rush for tickets.[5]

“That’s an amazing thing about Lou, there’s no difference in him,” first baseman Keith Hernandez said. “Absolutely no difference. He’s so even-keel you’d never know what was at stake.”[6]

Brock got hit number 2,999 against Cubs starter Dennis Lamp in the first inning. Garry Templeton led off the bottom of the first with a single before Brock hit a line drive into left field. With runners on first and third, Hernandez grounded into a double play that scored Templeton and gave the Cardinals an early lead.

The score was still 1-0 when Brock led off the fourth. Lamp got ahead in the count 0-2, missed with a pitch off the plate, then came high and inside with a brushback pitch that knocked Brock to the dirt.

“It kind of jarred me back to reality,” Brock said of the pitch. “After that, it made me realize that I wasn’t concentrating as much as I had to.”[7]

On a 2-2 count, Brock lined Lamp’s pitch – a low curveball – back up the middle. It appeared destined for center field until the 6-foot-4 Lamp reached out with his pitching hand and deflected the ball, sending it toward third base for an infield single.

With his second hit of the day, Brock became just the 14th player in major league history to reach 3,000.

“I waited 19 years for this moment,” he said. “It couldn’t have come at a better time because both hits were instrumental in a team victory. I’d hoped it would happen this way.”[8]

With the milestone, Brock joined Ty Cobb, Aaron, Stan Musial, Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner, Eddie Collins, Rose, Mays, Nap Lajoie, Paul Waner, Cap Anson, Kaline, and Roberto Clemente. As the injured Lamp was led away, Brock teammates and photographers surrounded Brock to celebrate the milestone. Musial, who also had collected his 3,000th career hit against the Cubs in 1958, stepped onto the field alongside owner August A. Busch Jr. to congratulate Brock.

“You look at Lou’s career and you envy it. I do. I think most players do,” said Ted Simmons, a future Hall of Famer in his own right. “I’ve enjoyed every ballgame I’ve ever played with him. What he’s done has been remarkable. It’s sad to think of him retiring, but it’s nice to see him going out on the right end of the game. There are too many players who don’t.”[9]

Despite the milestone, there was still a game to be played. Doug Capilla entered the game in place of Lamp and got Hernandez to ground the ball to Cubs first baseman Bill Buckner, who threw Brock out at second base. With Simmons at the plate, Hernandez advanced to second on an error, then scored when George Hendrick singled into center field.

Pete Vuckovich held the Cubs scoreless through the first six innings. Chicago got on the scoreboard with back-to-back doubles by Steve Dillard and Larry Biittner to lead off the seventh inning. After Ivan de Jesus singled, Vuckovich was replaced with Will McEnaney. Pinch hitter Mike Vail lined out to left field to score Bittner and tie the game 2-2.

The game remained deadlocked until the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Ken Reitz singled for the 1,000th hit of his career and was replaced by pinch-runner Tom Herr. Cubs reliever Willie Hernandez hit the Cardinals’ next batter, Ken Oberkfell. With runners on first and second, Chicago called upon its stopper, Bruce Sutter, while Cardinals manager Ken Boyer called upon Dane Iorg to bat for relief pitcher Mark Littell, who had thrown scoreless eighth and ninth innings.

Iorg singled to load the bases, and with one out, Templeton lifted a fly ball into left field that scored Herr and sent the Busch Stadium crowd home happy.

Nonetheless, even a walk-off win wasn’t enough to turn the attention away from Brock’s 3,000th hit and his legacy as one of baseball’s all-time great players – and great people.

“Nothing surprises me about Lou,” pitcher Bob Forsch said. “He plays with incredible intensity, but there have been a lot of great baseball players. The thing I’ll remember most about Lou is how helpful he’s always been. I know he made me feel welcome, and I’ve seen him do the same with other players.

“I’ll never forget seeing him take Jimmy Dwyer out into left field a couple of years ago. He was showing him how to play the bounce off the wet turf. This was another guy they were bringing up to take Lou’s position, and he was out there helping him. But I guess a lot of guys were supposed to take his job at one time or another. He’s still out there though, isn’t he?”[10]

Indeed, Brock appeared in 120 games that season on his way to comeback player of the year honors. With 123 hits on the year, he finished with a .304 batting average.

As promised, Brock retired after the season with 3,023 hits, 938 stolen bases, and a career .293 batting average. A six-time all-star, Brock was at his best in the postseason, batting .391 (34-for-92) with four homers, 13 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases in 21 World Series games. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1985.


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[1] Bob Broeg, “Brock Saw 3,000 As Symbolic Legacy,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 14, 1979.

[2] Rick Hummel, “Brock’s 3rd Jewel Is Winner For Cards,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 14, 1979.

[3] Rick Hummel, “Brock’s 3rd Jewel Is Winner For Cards,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 14, 1979.

[4] Tom Barnidge, “When The Moment Arrived, It Seemed Time Stood Still,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 14, 1979.

[5] Rick Hummel, “Brock’s 3rd Jewel Is Winner For Cards,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 14, 1979.

[6] Tom Barnidge, “When The Moment Arrived, It Seemed Time Stood Still,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 14, 1979.

[7] Rick Hummel, “Brock’s 3rd Jewel Is Winner For Cards,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 14, 1979.

[8] Bob Logan, “Brock 19-year wait ends in glory,” Chicago Tribune, August 14, 1979.

[9] Tom Barnidge, “When The Moment Arrived, It Seemed Time Stood Still,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 14, 1979.

[10] Tom Barnidge, “When The Moment Arrived, It Seemed Time Stood Still,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 14, 1979.

August 10, 1986: Bob Forsch hits a grand slam to top the Pirates, 5-4

Bob Forsch may have made his name as a pitcher, but the Sacramento, California, native originally was drafted for his bat. On August 10, 1986, the veteran right-hander used both to lift the Cardinals to a 5-4 victory over the Pirates.

Upon joining the Cardinals’ farm system, the 26th-round 1968 draft pick played third base and outfield but failed to rise above Class A. In 1970, the Cardinals converted him to a pitcher, and in 1974 he made his major-league debut.

Heading into the match-up against the last-place Pirates, Forsch already had 11 wins with a 2.62 ERA. Forsch and the Cardinals matched up against Pittsburgh right-hander Mike Bielecki, a former first-round draft pick out of Valencia Community College in Orlando, Florida. In two previous games against the Cardinals that season, Bielecki held the Cardinals to just two earned runs over 14 innings, though he received no decision in either start.

The Cardinals used their speed to get on the scoreboard in the first inning. Bielecki walked Vince Coleman to lead off the inning. Coleman – who stole four bases on the day – swiped second, then advanced to third when Curt Flood grounded out to second base. Tom Herr’s sacrifice fly to center field scored Coleman and gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.

Forsch held the lead through five innings, allowing just a third-inning walk to Bielecki.

“That’s as good as I’ve seen him,” Cardinals catcher Mike LaValliere said. “He had great location on his fastball and he was getting his sinker down and away to the lefthanders. He was outstanding.”[1]

In the bottom of the fifth, Bielecki walked Clint Hurdle and allowed singles to LaValliere and Jose Oquendo. With the bases loaded, Forsch hit the ball into the left-field bleachers, becoming the seventh pitcher in Cardinals history to hit a grand slam.

“Bielecki lost the whole concept of what pitching is about in that inning,” Pirates manager Jim Leyland said. “He had been throwing strike, strike, strike. Then he walks Hurdle … You’d think he was pitching to Babe Ruth.”[2]

With the grand slam, Forsch joined Mike O’Neill (1902), Curt Davis (1938), Bob Gibson (1965 and 1973), Rick Wise (1973), and Joaquin Andujar (1984). It was the ninth home run of Forsch’s career, tops among active National League pitchers and trailing only Boston’s Tom Seaver among major-league hurlers. Seaver had 12 career home runs.[3]

After Forsch returned to the dugout, the crowd of 36,286 continued to cheer until their hero climbed back up the dugout steps for a curtain call.

“I understand what the fans wanted me to do, but I didn’t want it to look like I was showing up the pitcher,” Forsch said. “I’ve seen hitters do that kind of thing, but I’m a pitcher first and I’ve thrown some long balls.”[4]

The Pirates ended Forsch’s no-hit bid in the top of the sixth as Joe Orsulak entered the game as a pinch hitter for Bielecki and doubled to left field. The next batter, U L Washington, singled up the middle to cut the Cardinals’ lead to 5-1.

Forsch retired the side in order in the seventh, but ran into trouble in the eighth as Junior Ortiz and Johnny Ray each singled. Benny Destefano scored Ortiz on a sacrifice fly, and after Forsch walked Washington, Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog turned to left-hander Ricky Horton to face rookie outfielder Bobby Bonilla. Bonilla doubled to left field, scoring Ray and Washington. Suddenly, the Cardinals led just 5-4. Forsch was credited with all four runs.

“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “All of a sudden I just started missing on my pitches, and the Pirates are tough. They keep coming at you.”[5]

With no room for error, Herzog inserted rookie closer Todd Worrell. After a passed ball allowed Bonilla to advance to third, Worrell retired the next two batters to end the inning.

Worrell worked around a one-out double by Jim Morrison to throw a scoreless ninth inning and record his 24th save of the season, a new rookie record.

“I had to work for it but I’m getting these saves because of the defense this team plays,” said Worrell, who had a bottle of champagne sitting next to his locker when reporters arrived. “Tommy Herr made a great play up the middle today and that really saved the game.”[6]

The win was Forsch’s 12th of the season and marked the first time in his career he had won six consecutive starts. He finished the year with 14 wins and a 3.25 ERA. The following year, Forsch earned the Silver Slugger Award as the National League’s top-hitting pitcher. He retired after the 1989 season with 168 wins over his 16-year career.


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[1] John Sonderegger, “Forsch-ful,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 11, 1986.

[2] Charley Feeney, “St. Louis pitchers batter Pirates, 5-4,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 11, 1986.

[3] John Sonderegger, “Forsch-ful,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 11, 1986.

[4] Charley Feeney, “St. Louis pitchers batter Pirates, 5-4,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 11, 1986.

[5] John Sonderegger, “Forsch-ful,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 11, 1986.

[6] John Sonderegger, “Forsch-ful,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 11, 1986.