July 17, 1974: Bob Gibson throws 3,000th strikeout the same day Dizzy Dean passes away

The same day the Cardinals lost one of the best pitchers in franchise history, another claimed his 3,000th strikeout victim.

On July 17, 1974, Bob Gibson claimed the 3,000th strikeout of his career, retiring Cesar Geronimo on strikes in a 6-4 loss to the Reds. Early that morning, Dizzy Dean, the unquestioned ace of the 1934 Cardinals’ world championship team had passed away with his wife Patricia; his brother, Paul Dean; and Paul’s two children at his side in Reno, Nevada. Dean had checked into St. Mary’s Hospital with chest pains a few days earlier, on July 14, then suffered a heart attack early the next day.

“Mrs. Nixon and I join sports fans everywhere in mourning the loss of this legendary figure,” President Richard Nixon said.[1]

Dean cemented his place in baseball lore in 1934 when he led the Gashouse Gang to the World Series championship. Dean won the National League Most Valuable Player Award after he led the league with 30 wins – including seven shutouts – and struck out a league-high 195 batters. Pitching in nine games over a 19-day stretch in the heat of the pennant race, Dean finished the season with 311 2/3 innings and a 2.66 ERA.

He led the league with 28 wins the following season, pitching 325 1/3 innings as he threw 29 complete games. His 190 strikeouts marked the fourth consecutive year that he led the National League in strikeouts.

Given his incredible workload – which included at least 286 innings in five consecutive seasons, plus a variety of exhibition performances throughout each season to supplement the Cardinals’ revenue – Dean’s arm trouble in the late ’30s comes as no surprise. Just before the 1938 season, the Cardinals traded him to the Chicago Cubs, where he battled through injuries until 1941, when he pitched a single inning before retiring.

Dean returned for a lone start in 1947 when, as a radio broadcaster for the St. Louis Browns, he told the audience that he could pitch better than the hurlers the Browns were sending to the mound. Backing up his words, Dean pitched four scoreless innings in a Sept. 28 game against the White Sox.

In 1953, Dean was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and that year he began announcing the nationally televised Game of the Week alongside Buddy Blattner and Pee Wee Reese. Though Reese later denied that Dean ever said such a thing, legend holds that Dean once observed a young couple among the spectators.

“Look-a-there, Pee Wee,” he said over the air. “Those young folks are smooching after every pitch. He’s kissing her on the strikes and she’s kissing him on the balls.”[2]

Dean’s colorful mangling of the English language, including using the term “slud” instead of “slid,” endeared him to audiences, including many who were too young to have seen him pitch in the ’30s. He continued to broadcast games for CBS through 1965 and Braves games from 1966 through 1968, giving him an opportunity to see Gibson’s emergence as the Cardinals’ next legendary pitcher. As Dean remarked, Gibson knew just the right pitch to throw “99 times out of 10.”[3]

Indeed, as Gibson took the mound in pursuit of his 3,000th strikeout, he had long since earned his own recognition in the Hall of Fame. He entered the game with 2,999 strikeouts, one shy of becoming the first National League pitcher and just the second player in major league history to reach 3,000, joining Walter Johnson.

Earlier that day, Tony Perez had announced Geronimo as the favorite to be Gibson’s 3,000th strikeout victim as he set odds for players in the lineup. Six years later, Geronimo also was at the plate for Nolan Ryan’s 3,000th strikeout.

Pete Rose is 20-to-1, Joe Morgan is 30-to-1,” he said. “Johnny Bench is 3-to-2, but only because he may bunt.”

“What if I say I’m not bunting?” Bench asked.

“Then you are 1-to-3,” Perez answered with a laugh. “Me, I’m even money if it gets to me. I (have) been helping Gibson for 10 years. Why not do it now? I mean, I always look for the fastball, right here. It never comes. Just that hard slider, hard slider.”[4]

The first time through the lineup, the Reds played spoiler to Gibson’s milestone. In the first inning, Morgan singled and stole second, scoring on a single by Bench. In the second, Dan Driessen reached on an error by Ted Simmons at first base and scored on a ground ball by Ken Griffey. With runners on first and second and two outs, Gibson struck out Geronimo on a fastball above the strike zone to end the inning.

As the Busch Stadium II crowd of 28,743 cheered, the ultra-competitive Gibson uncharacteristically tipped his cap to the fans.

“I wanted the fans to know that I appreciated that they appreciated my efforts,” he said the following day.[5]

Joe Torre hit a three-run homer and Reggie Smith added a solo shot to give Gibson and the Cardinals a 4-2 lead, but in the fourth inning, Lou Brock lost track of a Driessen fly ball, allowing it to drop for a double. Griffey smacked a double into right field to cut the St. Louis lead to 4-3.

Gibson maintained that lead until the sixth. With two outs, Dave Concepcion singled, Griffey walked, and pinch hitter Terry Crowley, who was batting just .160 on the season, singled into center to tie the game.

In the seventh, manager Red Schoendienst pulled Gibson for a pinch hitter. Gibson finished the day with four strikeouts, giving him 3,003 for his career.

“I thought he was getting a little tired,” Schoendienst said. “He was also leading off the inning and I thought we might get a run.”[6]

Both bullpens continued to put zeros on the scoreboard until the 12th inning, when Cardinals reliever Rich Folkers walked Darrel Chaney and allowed a single to Concepcion. Schoendienst called on Orlando Pena to end the threat, but George Foster greeted him with a double to left field to score Chaney and Concepcion.

In the ninth, St. Louis second baseman Jerry DaVanon reached on an error and pinch hitter Ken Reitz singled. After Pedro Borbon uncorked a wild pitch, Reds manager Sparky Anderson called for him to intentionally walk Brock and pitch to infielder Mike Tyson.

The strategy worked. Tyson popped out to Morgan at second base to end the game.

“I wouldn’t have slept if we didn’t walk Lou Brock and he beat us,” Anderson said. “He’s beaten our club a lot in the last few years, at least three times with home runs. If Mike Tyson had beaten us, I would have slept.”[7]

“That’s the kind of game that makes you lose your hair and get ulcers,” Bench said. “Imagine, two out in the ninth, then an error and a hit. I thought, ‘Here we go again.’”[8]

Never inclined to discuss personal accomplishments following a loss, Gibson had already left by the time reporters reached the clubhouse after the game.

The 38-year-old Gibson finished the 1974 season with an 11-13 record and 3.83 ERA over 240 innings. He retired following the 1975 campaign with 251 career victories, a 2.91 ERA, and 3,117 strikeouts, concluding a career that included two World Series titles, two World Series MVP awards, two Cy Young awards, nine Gold Glove Awards, an ERA title, and nine all-star game appearances. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981.

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[1] “Dizzy Returns To South,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 18, 1974.

[2] John Heidenry (2007), The Gashouse Gang, PublicAffairs: Page 289.

[3] John Heidenry (2007), The Gashouse Gang, PublicAffairs: Page 292.

[4] Bob Hertzel, “Gibson Gets 3000th Strikeout, Reds Get Hits,” Cincinnati Enquirer, July 18, 1974.

[5] Jack Herman, “Fans’ Applause Earns Tip of Gibson’s Cap,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 19, 1974.

[6] Associated Press, “Reds Spoil Gibson’s March Into History,” Mexico Ledger, July 18, 1974.

[7] Neal Russo, “Cincy Book A Sleeper,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 18, 1974.

[8] Neal Russo, “Gibby Is Still Gibby,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 18, 1974.

July 16, 1935: Dizzy Dean wins over the crowd as he accepts the NL MVP trophy

2019 Topps

On July 16, 1935, as he accepted the Sporting News 1934 National League Most Valuable Player trophy, Dizzy Dean took the opportunity to win over the fans once again following a brief controversy regarding an exhibition game in Illinois.

It was, perhaps, surprising that Dean had to win over the fans at all after his incredible 1934 season. In that historic campaign, Dean led the league with 30 wins against just seven losses, leading the Cardinals to the 1934 National League pennant and a World Series championship against the Detroit Tigers. His seven shutouts and 195 strikeouts each led the league, and he ended the regular season with a 2.66 ERA in 311 2/3 innings.

In the seven-game World Series, Dean pitched 26 innings, allowing just five earned runs for a 1.73 ERA. He pitched all nine innings of the Cardinals’ 8-3 Game 1 win, then took a tough-luck loss in Game 5 after allowing two earned runs over eight innings. With just one day of rest, Dean pitched the decisive Game 7, holding the Tigers to just six hits in a complete-game shutout.

Following Dean’s historic season, he was named National League MVP ahead of Pittsburgh’s Paul Waner, who placed second, and the Giants’ Jo-Jo Moore, Travis Jackson, and Mel Ott, who finished third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.

2010 Topps

The Sporting News chose to honor Dean with a trophy presentation as part of one of the biggest days on the St. Louis baseball calendar. The Cardinals’ annual Tuberculosis Day carnival raised funds for the Tuberculosis and Health Society, which supported a variety of causes in the city. The fundraiser was so important to the city that union leadership, which was boycotting Sportsman’s Park over the employment of union bartenders and ushers, called a one-day halt to support the event. As the St. Louis Globe-Democrat explained, “The Central Trades and Labor Union, in raising the boycott, was influenced by the fact the Tuberculosis Society spends a great deal of its income to feed underprivileged children, some of whom come from union homes.”[1]

Tuberculosis and Health Society officials declared that the event would be “the largest and most spectacular in the history of the tuberculosis games,” including:

  • a performance by 8-year-old trapeze artist Adele Inge;
  • an exhibition by the Southwest Gymnastic Society;
  • a niblick contest featuring golf stars Johnny and Jimmy Manion, Bob Cochran, Ben Richter, Lou Fehlig, George Dawson, Tom Draper, and Francis Schwartz;
  • a race between 100- and 220-yard world record holder Helen Stephens, University City’s Harriet la Mertha, and U.S. Olympian Gertrude Webb;
  • a model airplane contest;
  • an exhibition by the Shriners Drum and Bugle Corps and Patrol;
  • and a band concert.[2]

The extravaganza featured 3,000 total performers and attracted 16,000 fans to the stadium. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, “Women outnumbered the men in attendance by more than three to one, their bright dresses making a coat of many colors for the stands, and their voices during the closely contested ball game, adding a predominating, vibrant note.”[3]

1992-93 Conlon TSN Color Insert

Despite the positive spirit of the festivities and his accomplishments of the past year, Dean had attracted some controversy in recent days. One day earlier, on July 15, he had been slated to appear at an exhibition game in Springfield, Illinois. However, Dean’s scheduled start for the previous day was pushed back. As a result, he pitched all nine innings in the Cardinals’ 13-6 victory over the Braves. However, after showering, driving 2 ½ hours to Springfield, and stopping at a restaurant, Dean arrived late.

In his Post-Dispatch column, Dean explained:

They tell me in the spring that I am doin’ too many things and should ought to rest more and be sure to eat good nourishin’ food and not miss my meals on account of outside engagements. I try to remember all these things so when I hurry from pitchin’ a ballgame and goes to Springfield and ain’t had my dinner I figure I owe something to the ball club to be sure and eat nourishin’ food, so I goes to a restaurant and orders a steak. And what happens? Why, I get the blast because it seems a Governor and some other people was waitin’. But the Governor can’t pitch for us none and old Diz has got to stay in shape.[4]

Dean was scheduled to receive the MVP trophy from St. Louis Mayor Bernard Dickmann, but in a late change, Dickmann was replaced by Sporting News editor E.G. Brands. With the Braves and Cardinals gathered at home plate, Dean accepted the award and, after a fan loudly shouted, “Say something, you big weed jumper!” made a few brief remarks.[5]

“I want to thank the Sporting News for this trophy and I want to thank each and every St. Louis fan for the loyal support you have given me and I hope I will spend many more years here with the fans of St. Louis,” Dean said.[6]

The St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported, “Dizzy’s speech won his public back, and they cheered loudly as he left the field.”[7]

1980-01 Perez-Steele Hall of Fame Series

In the game that followed, it was another Cardinals pitcher, Jesse Haines, who stole the show, allowing one run on eight hits in a complete-game victory. After the Braves’ Buck Jordan hit a first-inning home run, Bill DeLancey hit an RBI single and Terry Moore drove a run home on a fielder’s choice in the fourth. St. Louis won the game, 2-1.

A few days later, the Baseball Writers Association of America presented Dean its National League MVP Award before a July 21 double-header against Brooklyn.[8]

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[1] “T.B. Charity Carnival to Be Staged Today at Sportsmans Park,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 16, 1935.

[2] “T.B. Charity Carnival to Be Staged Today at Sportsmans Park,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 16, 1935.

[3] “16,000 At Ball Game On Tuberculosis Day,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 17, 1935.

[4] Dizzy Dean, “Poppin’ Off,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 17, 1935.

[5] “16,000 Witness Colorful Events at T.B. Carnival,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 17, 1935.

[6] “Charity Day Race At Ball Park Won By Miss Stephens,” St. Louis Star and Times, July 16, 1935.

[7] “16,000 Witness Colorful Events at T.B. Carnival,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 17, 1935.

[8] “Writers Will Award Dean Trophy Sunday,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 17, 1935.

July 15, 1927: Jim Bottomley gets five hits, becomes second Cardinal to hit for the cycle in a 9-7 comeback win

On July 15, 1927, “Sunny” Jim Bottomley became just the second player in Cardinals history to hit for the cycle as he led St. Louis to a 9-7 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in the Baker Bowl.

Bottomley’s 5-for-5 day helped the Cardinals rally from a 7-1 deficit after the Phillies jumped on starting pitcher Bob McGraw and a Redbirds defense that committed four errors.

Jimmie Wilson got things started for the Phillies with a two-run single in the bottom of the first. They added two more in the third inning when Cy Williams walked and scored on an error and Dick Attreau added an RBI single.

Down 4-0, the Cardinals got on the scoreboard in the fifth inning as Specs Toporcer, the first major league player to wear glasses on the field, hit a two-out double to right field to score Heinie Schuble.

The Phillies, however, wasted little time in responding. In the bottom of the fifth, Williams hit an RBI double, Wilson added a sacrifice fly, and Attreau hit an RBI triple that made the score 7-1.

In the top of the sixth, Bottomley started the Cardinals’ comeback. After singling in his first two at-bats, he led off with a double that hit the top of the right-field wall so hard that it ripped off the top board. Billy Southworth drove Bottomley home with a single to left and Schuble added an RBI single that scored Southworth. Wattie Holm hit a two-out RBI double to cut the Phillies lead to 7-5.

In the seventh, Bottomley hit his 10th home run of the season over the wall and onto the site of a proposed railroad depot. With the lead down to a single run, Phillies manager Stuffy McInnis replaced Alex Ferguson with Claude Willoughby, who retired the next two batters to end the inning.

Willoughby would not be so fortunate in the eighth. Johnny Schulte led off the inning with a game-tying home run. After Schuble doubled to right for his second hit of the game, McInnis went to his bullpen again, this time calling on Jack Scott. Scott got Les Bell to ground out, but Wattie Holm hit a double to center field to score Schuble and give the Cardinals their first lead of the game.

When Bottomley stepped to the plate to lead off the top of the ninth, he was 4-for-4 with two singles, a double, and a home run. At first it looked as though he might miss the cycle as he hit a pop up behind the plate. As the Philadelphia Inquirer described it, catcher “Jimmy (Wilson) went after it, but the wind picked it up, gave the Reach a Charleston wiggle, and Jim misjudged it. On the next pitch he (Bottomley) parked the onion over Fred Leach’s new haircut for three bases.”[1]

In other words, Bottomley hit the ball over the head of Phillies center fielder Freddy Leach and reached third base safely to complete the cycle. After Dutch Ulrich retired Southworth on a pop fly, Taylor Douthit grounded to Phillies shortstop Jimmy Cooney, who threw home too late to catch Bottomley sliding into home.

With a two-run lead to hold, Bill Sherdel worked around a leadoff single to earn his first save of the season.

Bottomley was the clear star of the game as he raised his batting average 12 points to .330.

“The blows were all ‘legits,’ real base hits that whistled around the field and made Sam Payne’s orchard look like a sieve,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported in a story beneath a headline declaring Bottomley a “terror with the ash.”[2]

Holm finished with three hits while Schulte and Schuble each finished with two. Vic Keen, who threw two innings of scoreless relief, earned his first win of the year. McGraw received no decision after allowing seven runs (four earned) in 4 2/3 innings.

Wilson led the Phillies with two hits and three RBIs. Attreau added two hits – including a triple – and two RBIs. Willoughby took the loss after allowing two runs in 2/3 of an inning.

The two teams continued on a similar trajectory the remainder of the season, as the Cardinals went 92-61 to finish second in the National League pennant race, 1 ½ games behind the Pirates. Philadelphia went just 51-103 to finish last in the eight-team league.

In franchise history, Bottomley’s cycle matched those of Tip O’Neill (who hit for the cycle twice in 1887) and Tommy Dowd (1895) during the team’s days as the St. Louis Browns. Cliff Heathcote, who hit for the cycle in a 19-inning game in 1918, was the first Cardinal to hit for the cycle (the Cardinals franchise officially begins with the collapse of the American Association and St. Louis’s return to the National League in 1892, making Bottomley’s the second in the team’s official records).

Bottomley finished the 1927 season with a .303 batting average to go with 19 homers and 124 RBIs. He finished 13th in that year’s National League MVP voting. The following year, Bottomley won the MVP Award as he hit .325 and led the league in triples (20), home runs (31), and RBIs (136).

Bottomley played 11 of his 16 major league seasons with the Cardinals before he was traded to the Reds ahead of the 1933 season. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame posthumously in 1974.

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[1] Stan Baumgartner, “Bottomley Terror With Ash As Late Flurries Top Phils,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 16, 1927.

[2] Stan Baumgartner, “Bottomley Terror With Ash As Late Flurries Top Phils,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 16, 1927.

July 13, 1940: Johnny Mize hits walk-off triple to complete the cycle

The Cardinals needed every one of Johnny Mize’s four hits to beat the New York Giants 7-6 in the first game of a July 13, 1940, double-header at Sportsman’s Park III.

Mize’s feat marked the sixth time in franchise history that a Cardinal hit for the cycle, joining Cliff Heathcote, Jim Bottomley, Chick Hafey, Pepper Martin, and Joe Medwick, and the first since Medwick did it five years earlier in 1935.

The game pitted two of the game’s best pitchers of the previous decade in New York’s Carl Hubbell and St. Louis’s Lon Warneke. Hubbell was a two-time National League MVP who had just been selected to his seventh career all-star game, which took place four days earlier at Sportsman’s Park. Now in his 13th season, the 37-year-old Hubbell entered the game with a 5-4 record and a 3.38 ERA.

The Cardinals countered with Warneke, a 31-year-old right-hander who had led the National League with 22 wins and a 2.37 ERA with the Cubs in 1932. Warneke, who had four all-star game selections to his credit, was coming off a tough 10-inning performance in which he took the loss despite allowing just two earned runs. He entered the game with a 5-7 record despite a 2.83 ERA.

Neither pitcher enjoyed an easy afternoon on the mound. The Giants got on the scoreboard in the top of the second inning with an RBI single by Billy Jurges, but the Cardinals answered with back-to-back doubles by Marty Marion and Mickey Owen. Warneke helped his own cause with a single that scored Owen. In the third inning, Mize’s 22nd home run of the season gave the Cardinals a 3-1 lead.

The Giants took the lead in the top of the fourth, chasing Warneke from the game with five consecutive hits to open the inning. After Jurges singled to give the Giants the lead, Cardinals manager Billy Southworth replaced Warneke with Jack Russell, a 15-year veteran from Paris, Texas. Russell got Hubbell to hit into a 6-4-3 double play that gave the Giants a 5-3 lead before ending the inning.

New York added another run in the sixth after Russell walked Mel Ott and Tony Cuccinello. Jurges followed with a sacrifice bunt, and Ott scored on a groundout by Hubbell to make the score 6-3.

In the seventh, the Cardinals rallied to tie the score against a tiring Hubbell. Don Gutteridge, pinch-hitting for Russell, reached on an infield single. Hubbell walked Jimmy Brown and Martin hit a run-scoring single before Mize, who doubled to right field in the fifth, followed with an RBI single of his own to chase Hubbell from the game. Giants reliever Jumbo Brown walked Ernie Koy to load the bases and Joe Orengo hit a sacrifice fly to center field to tie the game 6-6.

The Cardinals’ Max Lanier and the Giants’ Red Lynn each retired the side in order in the eighth, and Lanier induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the top of the ninth. After Martin struck out to lead off the bottom of the ninth, Mize stepped to the plate a triple shy of the cycle. Incredibly, he got it when he smacked a drive off the concrete center-field wall 412 feet from home plate. Giants left fielder Jo-Jo Moore retrieved the ball and fired it back to the infield, but Jurges briefly mishandled the ball before relaying it to the catcher, Harry “The Horse” Danning.

Coaching at third base, Southworth saw Jurges’ misplay and sent Mize home. At first, that appeared to be a mistake. “Mize looked like a gone goose, but Danning, over-eager, despite a thin veneer of nonchalance, took his eye off the ball to see whether he’d have Mize by 10 feet or 20 and that was his undoing,” J. Roy Stockton wrote in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.[1] “He fumbled the bounding ball and Mize scored the winning run.”

The official scorer ruled the play a triple with an error on Danning, simultaneously taking away Mize’s RBI and giving him the cycle.

Mize’s four-hit day raised his season average to .292 and paced a Cardinals offense that finished the game with 13 hits. Lanier was credited with the win after pitching two scoreless innings in relief, while Lynn took the loss for the Giants.

In the second game of the double-header, the Cardinals again broke a ninth-inning tie with a clutch walk-off hit, this time an RBI single by Terry Moore. With the wins, the Cardinals improved to 29-41 on the season and 14-12 under Southworth, who had taken over the club after Ray Blades opened the season with a 14-24 mark and Mike Gonzalez went 1-5 in six games as the interim manager.

The double-header may have been a turning point for both clubs. While the Giants stumbled to a sixth-place finish, Southworth’s Cardinals surged, finishing the year with an 84-69 record, good for third place in the National League.

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[1] J. Roy Stockton, “Cards Beat Giants Twice in Ninth, 7-6, 4-3,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 14, 1940.

July 12, 1996: Gant, Gaetti pace Cardinals’ seven home runs in win over the Cubs

With 142 home runs in 162 games, the 1996 Cardinals weren’t exactly known for their power. But on July 12, the friendly confines of Wrigley Field couldn’t contain the St. Louis lineup as the Redbirds tied a 56-year-old team record with seven home runs in a 13-3 win over the Cubs.

Ron Gant and Gary Gaetti each hit two home runs and Ray Lankford, Brian Jordan, and John Mabry each added blasts as four of the six pitchers the Cubs used were taken deep. The power surge equaled the team record set on May 7, 1940, when Eddie Lake and Johnny Mize each hit two runs apiece to pace an 18-2 rout of the Dodgers and marked the first time the Cubs had allowed seven home runs in a game since the Dodgers did it to them in 1976.

“Seemed like no matter what I threw, they were hitting,” said Cubs starting pitcher Steve Trachsel, who allowed four of the Cardinals’ seven home runs. “They hit them high, they hit them low, they hit breaking pitches, fastballs, everything.”[1]

The Cardinals didn’t need the long ball to get the scoring started in the second inning. After Trachsel retired the side in order in the first, Jordan reached on an error. Mabry followed with a single to right and an error by Sammy Sosa allowed Jordan to score. An RBI single by Mike Gallego, newly returned from the disabled list, gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.

The home run barrage started in the third inning as Mabry hit a two-run homer and Gaetti followed with a solo shot over the left-field wall.

Cardinals starting pitcher Andy Benes allowed an unearned run in the third on an RBI double by Mark Grace, but St. Louis broke the game open in the fifth. Lankford and Gant hit back-to-back home runs to open the inning and chase Trachsel from the game.

“I know how good that young man is,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of Trachsel. “I wouldn’t have bet a dime we’d hit one, much less seven, but the boys took care of our No. 1 strategy – get so far ahead that I can’t mess it up.”[2]

With Rodney Myers taking over on the mound for the Cubs, Jordan doubled and Gaetti hit a two-run blast – his second homer of the day – to make it 9-1.

In the sixth, Cubs reliever Tanyon Sturtze walked Lankford and Gant before allowing a three-run blast to Jordan. An eighth-inning home run by Gant gave the Cardinals a 13-1 lead before a Dave Magadan home run and an RBI double by Doug Glanville made it 13-3.

Mabry led the Cardinals with four hits on the day while Jordan and Gaetti each had three.

“He’s just a hungry hitter,” La Russa said of Mabry. “He doesn’t throw any at-bats away, whether he’s 3-for-4 or 0-for-4.”[3]

Benes, who had won just one of his first eight decisions since signing a free-agent contract with the Cardinals during the offseason, improved to 7-8 with the win. Over eight innings, he allowed two earned runs on nine hits and a walk.

“He’s getting a lot of payback for pitching well early in the season,” La Russa said. “He was pitching better than his record.”[4]

Dennis Eckersley pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning, striking out the final two batters he faced.

It was a forgettable outing for Trachsel, who allowed four of the Cardinals’ seven homers. He allowed six earned runs over four innings and fell to 7-6 on the season.

“One guy hits a homer with a one-armed swing, another guy hits a split-fingered pitch I had down in the zone,” Trachsel said. “I didn’t have good location on a lot of my pitches, but they were hitting balls they shouldn’t have been hitting and when that happens I tip my cap to them.”[5]

“When the wind is blowing out, even pop-ups can go out,” Mabry said. “Trachsel had good stuff, but he was just on the wrong side of the wind.”[6]

Incredibly, the Cardinals’ home run outburst represented almost 5% of their home runs for the season. Their 142 homers for the season ranked 23rd in the majors, 115 behind the Orioles and 35 below the league average. Gant led the Cardinals with 30 homers, followed by 23 from Gaetti and 21 from Lankford.

Despite their lack of home run production, the Cardinals went 88-74 to win the National League Central. They swept the Padres in a three-game National League Division Series before falling to the Braves in a seven-game National League Championship Series.

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[1] Associated Press, “Cards homer-happy against Cubs,” Decatur Herald and Review, July 13, 1996.

[2] Rick Hummel, “Cards Test Big-Bang Theory,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 13, 1996.

[3] Rick Hummel, “Cards Test Big-Bang Theory,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 13, 1996.

[4] Rick Hummel, “Cards Test Big-Bang Theory,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 13, 1996.

[5] Mike Kiley, “Cubs’ long day result of long ball,” Chicago Tribune, July 13, 1996.

[6] Associated Press, “Cards homer-happy against Cubs,” Decatur Herald and Review, July 13, 1996.