May 27, 1975: Lou Brock hits for the cycle

On May 27, 1975, Lou Brock hit for the cycle for the only time in his Hall of Fame career during a 7-1 Cardinals’ victory over the Padres at Busch Stadium II.

Brock entered the game on a roll. Since returning from a shoulder injury that occurred in late April, Brock had improved his batting average to .321 entering that day’s game. While Brock was surging, the 1975 Cardinals entered the game with two consecutive losses and six defeats in their last eight games.

Thanks to a complete-game performance from second-year right-hander Bob Forsch and the veteran Brock’s four hits, the Cardinals began a surge that would include 10 wins over their next 12 games.

Brock led off the bottom of the first with the game’s first hit, a single to center field off Padres right-hander Dave Freisleben. With Ted Sizemore at the plate, Brock stole second, though he would be stranded at third when Keith Hernandez grounded out to end the inning.

The game was still scoreless in the third when Brock came to the plate with one out. Friesleben tried to sneak a curveball past him on the first pitch, and the left-handed hitting Brock hit it an estimated 415 feet.[1]

“That’s about five or six I’ve hit in that section,” he said.[2]

Brock drove another run home two innings later. Forsch led off the fifth with a single before Brock hammered the ball past Padres center fielder Johnny Grubb. Seeing the ball get past Grubb, Cardinals third base coach Vern Benson began to wave Brock home. When the Padres got the ball in faster than expected with a series of quick relays, Benson threw up the stop sign.

It was too late. Brock got halfway home before he tried desperately to get back to third, but Padres catcher Randy Hundley threw him out for the second out of the inning.

“Lou really powdered the ball for that triple,” Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst said.[3]

In the top of the sixth, the Padres got on the scoreboard when Enzo Hernandez hit a leadoff double and scored on a ground ball by Dave Winfield.

The Cardinals broke the game open in their next half-inning. Hernandez led off with a double to right field. Ken Reitz drew a walk before Mario Guerrero hit an RBI single to score Hernandez. That chased Freisleben from the game in favor of reliever Dave Tomlin.

Forsch greeted Tomlin with an RBI single up the middle that improved his batting average to .333 and gave the Cardinals a 4-1 lead. Tomlin struck out Brock before he was replaced with Bill Greif. The Padres’ third pitcher of the day walked Sizemore before giving up a two-run single to Reggie Smith, who had been brushed back with a pitch near his head earlier in the game.

“I know it’s part of the game, but nobody likes to be thrown at,” Smith said. “I said something to Freisleben when I reached first base. It’s not printable, but he heard what I said.”[4]

In the bottom of the eighth, Brock took his shot at the cycle against yet another reliever, former teammate Alan Foster. With one out, Brock doubled to right to complete the cycle. He scored on a single to right field by Ken Rudolph to produce the final 7-1 score.

“Brock didn’t hit a soft one all night,” Smith said.

Padres coach Dick Sisler, who had just returned to Major League Baseball for the first time since 1970, said, “Brock looks just as strong and fast now as he did then. He’s amazing.”[5]

Brock’s 4-for-5 night improved his season batting average to .342.

“I hit three breaking balls and a fastball,” he said.[6]

Forsch, who was pitching on just three days’ rest, allowed just five hits while walking four. With the win, he improved to 5-3 on the season with a 3.01 ERA.

“I tired in the last two innings, so that big cushion and defense helped,” Forsch said. “I usually have trouble in the early innings, but I’ve been able to settle down.”[7]

The 1975 season proved to be a breakout year for Forsch, who went 15-10 with a 2.86 ERA over 230 innings. Brock also enjoyed a nice 1975 campaign, batting .309 with three homers, 47 RBIs, and 56 stolen bases.

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[1] Associated Press, “Brock revs up for cycle against Pads,” Escondido Times-Advocate, May 28, 1975.

[2] Neal Russo, “Brock, Forsch Sizzle At Night,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 28, 1975.

[3] Neal Russo, “Brock, Forsch Sizzle At Night,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 28, 1975.

[4] Neal Russo, “Brock, Forsch Sizzle At Night,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 28, 1975.

[5] Neal Russo, “Brock, Forsch Sizzle At Night,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 28, 1975.

[6] Associated Press, “Brock revs up for cycle against Pads,” Escondido Times-Advocate, May 28, 1975.

[7] Neal Russo, “Brock, Forsch Sizzle At Night,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 28, 1975.

May 26, 1978: Cardinals bolster lineup with trade for George Hendrick

If the 1978 Cardinals needed any additional evidence that they needed a bat (or two) in the outfield, they got it in a 6-0 loss to the Cubs on May 26, 1978.

Just hours after obtaining outfielder George Hendrick from the Padres for starting pitcher Eric Rasmussen, the Cardinals managed just seven singles against Chicago pitcher Dave Roberts.

By the time the game was over, left fielder Jim Dwyer was batting .255 with a .689 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Right fielder Jerry Morales was batting .212 with a .598 OPS, center fielder Jerry Mumphrey was hitting just .167 with a .419 OPS, and center fielder Tony Scott was batting .234 with a .549 OPS. Even Lou Brock, now 39 years old and in his 18th major-league season, had seen his seen his batting average fall to .252 and had an even .600 OPS (for reference, the major league average OPS that season was .702).

With the offense relying almost entirely on Ted Simmons, Garry Templeton, and the still unproven Keith Hernandez, it was no surprise the Cardinals were just 15-29 and mired in last place in the National League East, 9 ½ games behind the division-leading Cubs.

In Hendrick, Cardinals general manager Bing Devine had found his new center fielder, a 28-year-old right-hander in his eighth major league season. Like many of his new teammates, Hendrick was off to a slow start, batting just .243 with three homers and eight RBIs in 36 games with the Padres.

Hendrick had been frustrated with his playing time in San Diego, where manager Roger Craig was juggling Gene Richard between left field and first base, Hendrick between center field and left field, Oscar Gamble between the bench and left field, and Gene Tenace between catcher and first base. The time share came one season after Hendrick led the Padres with a .311 batting average to go along with 23 homers, 81 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases.

Hendrick and Gamble were so frustrated that they had gotten together and studied the rosters of teams that might acquire them.[1]

“I hope this stabilizes things,” Craig said after the trade was completed. “We won’t have to make a whole lot of changes anymore.”[2]

In St. Louis, manager Ken Boyer said he planned to use Hendrick or the left-handed hitting Hernandez in the No. 3 spot in the lineup, depending on whether the Cardinals were facing a left-handed or right-handed pitcher. Whoever didn’t bat third would instead bat after the clean-up hitter, Simmons.[3]

“When I played against the Cardinals my observation was that if they had someone in the lineup who could protect Ted Simmons and hit 20 home runs and drive in 80 or 90 runs, I thought they could contend,” said Hendrick, who granted a rare interview following his Cardinals debut. “I’m not saying I’m that guy, but I’m going to try to be.”[4]

A native of Los Angeles, Hendrick had been the first overall pick in the 1968 January draft by the Oakland Athletics. To that point in his career, his best seasons had been in Cleveland, where he made the American League all-star team in 1974 and 1975. In reporting on the trade, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Neal Russo noted that Hendrick “has been accused of not going all-out in his play. He has been known not to run out a grounder at times.” He added that Hendrick “is an excellent base runner and probably could steal a fair number of bases if turned loose, and as an NL coach said, ‘if he desires to.’”[5]

To acquire Hendrick, the Cardinals agreed to absorb the remainder of a three-year, $500,000 contract that ran through the 1979 season. Devine denied that the trade had been stalled by contract renegotiations,[6] but Hendrick’s agent, Ed Keating, told the Los Angeles Times that Hendrick had a no-trade clause in his contract and that he and Hendrick had worked out “special considerations” prior to approving the deal.[7]

The Cardinals also gave up the 26-year-old Rasmussen, who had debuted with the club in 1975. Despite an unsightly 11-17 record in 1977, Rasmussen had pitched well, posting a 3.48 ERA over 233 innings. Craig pointed out that Rasmussen’s ERA had been identical to that of teammate Bob Forsch, who had gone 20-7 that season.

“I think he will help us in the long run,” said Padres pitcher John D’Acquisto, a former Cardinal who had played alongside Rasmussen with the Redbirds. “He’s a fierce competitor who has good control and keeps the ball low. You’ve got to think about what he’s going to do for us in the future.”[8]

Through his first 10 starts of the 1978 season, Rasmussen was 2-5 with a 4.18 ERA. In discussing the trade, he made a futile effort to hold back tears.

“I hate to leave all my friends in the clubhouse,” he said. “I have been with them a long, long time, but then I figured that San Diego is a good place to go.”[9]

A couple weeks earlier, when the Cardinals were in San Diego for a May 15-17 series, Rasmussen noticed Craig observing him as he threw on the side.

“That got me to wondering,” Rasmussen said, “and when I was on the field during practice and Boyer came walking toward me in the outfield (to inform him of the trade), I yelled out, ‘Goodbye, Forschie.’”

Rasmussen spent three seasons in San Diego, posting a 22-30 record with a 3.84 ERA, before returning to the Cardinals. He split time between St. Louis, Triple-A Louisville, and the Mexican League in 1982. In 1983, he pitched in six games for the Cardinals before being purchased by the Royals. He made his final major league appearances with Kansas City that season, though he continued to pitch in the minors through 1987.

Hendrick, who had stopped granting interviews to the media during his days with the Indians, quickly became a cornerstone of the Cardinals’ offense. In 102 games through the remainder of 1978, he hit 17 homers and drove in 67 runs.

In 1980, Whitey Herzog arrived and Hendrick reached career highs with 25 homers and 109 RBIs, earning an all-star nod and a Silver Slugger Award. He placed eighth in that year’s National League MVP voting. Herzog had never spoken to Hendrick before arriving in St. Louis, but did recall watching one of his games while scouting for the Mets, who held the No. 2 overall pick in the 1968 draft, one spot behind the Athletics. It didn’t take long for Herzog to realize that Hendrick did things his own way.

“Here he was performing in front of major league scouts, and George wasn’t even in uniform for the game: he had on a pair of Levis and a white T-shirt,” Herzog recalled in his 1999 book, You’re Missin’ a Great Game. “He was a center fielder and there was no fence out there, and instead of coming in with his teammates in between innings, if he wasn’t due to bat he’d just wander out and lay in the grass in deep center field, or out on the foul line and take a nap. Who knows what the hell was going on in his head?”[10]

By 1982, Hendrick had become an elder statesman on the Cardinals roster, and the role seemed to fit. He again eclipsed 100 RBIs, hitting 19 homers and driving in 104 to help St. Louis win the National League East. In the Cardinals’ three-game sweep of the Braves in the National League Championship Series, Hendrick hit .308 with a pair of RBIs.

“George kept everybody loose,” Forsch said. “When things were tight, George was calm. It helped us all just stay relaxed.”[11]

In the seven-game World Series against the Brewers, he hit .321 and drove in five runs. With the Cardinals’ backs against the wall in Games 6 and 7, Hendrick went 2-for-5 with an RBI in each game. In Game 7, Hendrick, now a right fielder, threw out Robin Yount at third base in the fourth inning and hit an RBI single in the sixth to give the Cardinals the lead.

After the last out of Game 7, rather than join the celebration in the clubhouse, he exited through the gate in right field, went under the stands, and drove home. The next day, Forsch called to ask where he had gone.

“I just wanted you guys to enjoy it,” Hendrick explained. “I was listening to the celebration in my car while I was driving home.”[12]

Hendrick played two more seasons in St. Louis, earning all-star honors in 1983. After the 1984 season, the Cardinals traded the 35-year-old Hendrick and Steve Barnard to the Pirates for left-handed pitcher John Tudor and catcher Brian Harper. Eight months later, the Pirates sent Hendrick to the Angels as part of a six-player swap. Hendrick remained with the Angels until he retired following the 1988 season.

Hendrick’s 18-year career included a .278 batting average, 267 home runs, and 1,111 RBIs. In seven seasons with the Cardinals, he hit .294 with 122 homers and 582 RBIs.

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[1] Dave Distel, “Hendrick Traded to St. Louis,” Los Angeles Times, May 27, 1978.

[2] Dave Distel, “Hendrick Traded to St. Louis,” Los Angeles Times, May 27, 1978.

[3] Neal Russo, “Cards Lose, Wait For Hendrick,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 27, 1978.

[4] Neal Russo, “Ex-Padre Hendrick Answers Cardinals’ Prayer,” The Sporting News, June 17, 1978.

[5] Neal Russo, “Cards Lose, Wait For Hendrick,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 27, 1978.

[6] Neal Russo, “Cards Lose, Wait For Hendrick,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 27, 1978.

[7] Dave Distel, “Hendrick Traded to St. Louis,” Los Angeles Times, May 27, 1978.

[8] Dave Distel, “Hendrick Traded to St. Louis,” Los Angeles Times, May 27, 1978.

[9] Neal Russo, “Cards Lose, Wait For Hendrick,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 27, 1978.

[10] Whitey Herzog and Jonathan Pitts (1999), You’re Missin’ a Great Game: From Casey to Ozzie, the Magic of Baseball and How to Get it Back, New York; Berkley Books: Page 160.

[11] Rob Rains and Alvin A. Reid (2002), Whitey’s Boys: A Celebration of the ’82 Cards World Championship,” Chicago; Triumph Books: Page 27.

[12] Bob Forsch with Tom Wheatley (2013), Tales from the St. Louis Cardinals Dugout, New York; Sports Publishing: Page 31.

May 24, 2006: Adam Wainwright homers in his first big-league at-bat

When defending Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter was scratched from his May 24 start against the Giants with inflammation of a bursa sac located between his right shoulder and rib cage, the 2006 Cardinals pitching staff was dealt a blow.

In Carpenter’s place, the St. Louis pitching staff started dealing some blows of its own, including an Adam Wainwright home run on the first pitch he saw in the major leagues.

The day began on a down note after Carpenter reported discomfort in his throwing shoulder. He had experienced the same stiffness during his previous start against the Kansas City Royals, when he allowed six earned runs in six innings.

“We gave it some time and treated it and two days ago it felt perfect,” Carpenter said. “Then I played some catch and re-aggravated it, so we’re going to make sure we give it enough time.”[1]

Cardinals trainer Barry Weinberg said he believed that rest and anti-inflammatory medication would allow Carpenter to avoid an extended absence from the rotation.[2]

With Carpenter unable to make his scheduled start, the Cardinals informed Brad Thompson approximately three hours before game time that he would make his first major-league start.[3]

The Giants didn’t greet him kindly. Randy Winn led off the first with a single to left field and Omar Vizquel followed with a triple down the right field line. A two-out RBI double by Mark Sweeney gave the Giants a 2-0 lead.

The Cardinals got on the scoreboard in the second inning as Giants starter Noah Lowry walked Scott Rolen and Juan Encarnacion to lead off the game. Hector Luna singled to load the bases before Yadier Molina hit into a double play that scored Rolen.

Thompson pitched a scoreless second inning before Jason Marquis entered the game to pinch hit for him. Marquis, who won a Silver Slugger Award in 2005 with a .310 batting average, tripled into the right-field gap. David Eckstein followed with an RBI single to left to score Marquis and tie the game.

In the third, the Cardinals called on Tyler Johnson, who worked around a leadoff single by Vizquel for a scoreless inning of work.

Wainwright entered the game in the fourth. Todd Greene welcomed him to the game with a double and Daniel Ortmeier followed with an RBI single. With two outs, Vizquel tallied his third hit of the game and Steve Finley drove in another run before Vizquel was thrown out at the plate.

With the inning over, Wainwright stepped to the plate in the top of the fifth for his first major-league at-bat. It didn’t last long.

On the first pitch he saw, Wainwright homered over the left-field wall to cut the Giants’ lead to 4-3. With the blast, he became the 22nd player in Major League Baseball history to hit the first pitch he saw for a home run and the third reliever to accomplish the feat, joining Hoyt Wilhelm in 1952 and John Montefusco in 1974.[4]

“I wasn’t thinking anything until I hit third,” he said. “I was wandering around the bases making sure I was going the right way. I hit third and I said, ‘Oh, my goodness. I just hit a home run in my first at-bat.’ It was crazy.”[5]

Wainwright retired the side in order in the bottom of the fifth before the Cardinals took the lead in the sixth on an RBI single from Molina and a sacrifice fly by So Taguchi.

St. Louis broke the game open in the seventh. Encarnacion hit an RBI single, Molina walked with the bases loaded, Taguchi drove in a run on an infield single, and Chris Duncan added an RBI groundout to give St. Louis a 9-4 lead.

Taguchi added a solo home run off Brad Hennessey in the ninth to make the final score 10-4.

Wainwright earned the second win of his career with his three-inning performance, and Randy Flores and Braden Looper combined to pitch the final three innings.

Between Wainwright’s homer, Marquis’ triple, and a ninth-inning double by Looper, Cardinal pitchers accounted for three of the team’s four extra-base hits.

“They almost hit for the cycle, the pitchers,” Giants manager Felipe Alou said. “They surprised everybody.”[6]

“Today may be the only at-bat I get all year because it’s a bullpen day,” said Looper, who actually received one more at-bat that season. “Obviously, it’s fun to get a base hit because how many chances am I going to get to hit in my career?”[7]

The Cardinals finished the day with 15 hits, including two apiece by Scott Spiezio, Albert Pujols, Encarnacion, Luna, and Taguchi. Giants pitchers also passed out seven walks, including three by reliever Scott Munter in just 1/3 of an inning.

“They were going to have their starter. We were going to have guys pitching out of their roles,” Eckstein said. “It doesn’t look good if you’re writing it on paper. It was a real good win. They all count the same, but there are definitely some that are really nice to get and this was really nice to get.”[8]

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[1] Joe Strauss, “Pitching takes a hit …” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 25, 2006.

[2] Joe Strauss, “Pitching takes a hit …” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 25, 2006.

[3] Joe Strauss, “… but smacks three,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 25, 2006.

[4] Derrick Goold, “Hot Corner,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 28, 2006.

[5] Joe Strauss, “… but smacks three,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 25, 2006.

[6] Janie McCauley, “Cards’ pitchers a hit,” San Francisco Examiner, May 25, 2006.

[7] Joe Strauss, “… but smacks three,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 25, 2006.

[8] Joe Strauss, “… but smacks three,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 25, 2006.

May 11, 1934: Paul Dean emerges with extra-inning win over Carl Hubbell and the defending world champion Giants

Two months after signing his first major-league contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, Paul Dean’s burgeoning career was at a crossroads.

His big brother, Dizzy Dean, had taken it upon himself to serve as Paul’s spokesperson, telling anyone who would listen that his little brother was an even better pitcher than he was, and predicting that together the Dean brothers would win 45 games that season.[1]

The early results, however, weren’t promising. Making his debut in the Cardinals’ second game of the season against the powerful Pirates lineup, Paul lasted just two innings, as Pie Traynor and Gus Suhr each homered and Lloyd Waner added an RBI single to give Pittsburgh an early 4-0 lead.

Seeking to lessen the pressure on his rookie pitcher, manager Frankie Frisch used Paul in relief in each of his next two appearances. In a 15-2 loss to the Cubs, Paul pitched the fourth and fifth innings, allowing two runs. Six days later, he pitched two more innings and allowed two more runs in a 7-1 loss vs. Chicago.

On May 3, Paul earned his first major-league victory, throwing five innings of relief as the Cardinals beat the Phillies 8-7. He didn’t pitch particularly well, allowing five runs on seven hits and two walks. Nonetheless, Frisch selected the younger Dean for a May 11 start against the defending world champion New York Giants and their ace pitcher – Carl Hubbell.

The 31-year-old Hubbell had won the National League MVP Award the previous year. With his left-handed delivery and baffling screwball, he had won 23 games and posted a 1.66 ERA over 308 2/3 innings.

Why did Frisch have confidence in Paul against arguably the best pitcher in the game? In The Gashouse Gang, John Heidenry writes that the Cardinals’ manager believed Paul “was trying to imitate his brother instead of developing his own style. The younger Dean also lacked Dizzy’s enormous self-confidence, which no number of defeats, no criticism from colleagues, no taunting from opponents could erode.”[2]

To boost that confidence, Frisch invited Paul to his dining car as the team traveled by train between cities.

“We open with the Giants in about a week and you’re going to start the third game,” Frisch said. “Those Giants will be tough, but smart pitching can beat them. Let’s analyze their batting form.”[3]

Together, the Cardinals’ 36-year-old player/manager and the 21-year-old rookie pitcher spent the next two hours discussing the Giants lineup, with Frisch standing into the aisle to imitate the Giants’ batting stances. Through the entire conversation, Frisch never once mentioned Paul’s brother; instead, he emphasized his primary message: that Paul had the talent to beat the Giants.[4]

The Cardinals put that message to the test in front of 6,500 fans at Sportsman’s Park on May 11.

Paul worked himself out of trouble in the first inning. Jo-Jo Moore drew a leadoff walk before Paul struck out Lefty O’Doul and Bill Terry. Mell Ott hit a two-out single to advance Moore to third base, but Paul got Travis Jackson to fly out to center field for the final out.

The Cardinals gave Paul some early run support when Pepper Martin led off the bottom of the first with a double and Frisch tripled to drive him in. Ripper Collins singled to score Frisch and gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.

The Giants got on the scoreboard with three more hits in the second inning. Blondy Ryan led off with a single to center, then scored with a two-out double by Moore. From there, both pitchers settled down for the long haul.

Paul retired the side in order in the third and worked around a two-out walk to Paul Richards in the fourth. In the fifth, O’Doul singled and stole second, but Dean retired Ott on a fly ball to right field to end the inning.

In the sixth, the Giants loaded the bases with one out before Hubbell drove Ryan home with a sacrifice fly to right field.

With the score tied 2-2, Paul worked out of trouble again in the seventh. O’Doul led off the inning with a single and Terry reached base on an error by Martin at third base. After Ott laid down a bunt to advance O’Doul to third, Travis Jackson hit a ground ball to third and Martin made up for his earlier misplay, throwing O’Doul out at the plate. Paul then retired Ryan on a ground ball force out.

Paul retired all three batters he faced in the eighth, then worked around a leadoff single by Moore in the ninth. Hubbell matched Paul pitch for pitch, retiring Joe Medwick, Collins, and Spud Davis in order in the ninth to send the game into extra innings.

In the 10th, Paul retired the side in order. In the Cardinals’ half of the inning, Leo Durocher hit a one-out double, then advanced to third when Ryan misplayed a pop fly off Paul’s bat. Hubbell chose to intentionally walk Martin to face right fielder Jack Rothrock, who was 0-for-4 on the day.

It proved a poor decision for the Giants. Rothrock singled to left, and Ernie Orsatti, in the game as a pinch runner for Durocher, scored the game-winning run. With the victory, the Cardinals continued a streak that included five consecutive wins and victories in 12 of their last 13 games.

Hubbell fell to 4-2 on the season after allowing three earned runs in 9 1/3 innings.

Dean, meanwhile, improved to 2-0 with two earned runs allowed over 10 innings. As Doug Feldmann wrote in Dizzy Dean and the Gas House Gang, “Paul Dean had proven that he was here to stay, and gained some more respect from the rest of the Cardinals for his performance.”[5]

Paul’s performance certainly caught the attention of New York Daily News sports reporter Jimmy Powers.

“When you hand either Paul or Jerome (Dizzy) a baseball and tell them they are to pitch a nine-inning contest they more or less mechanically turn in an excellent job,” Powers wrote after Paul and Dizzy each defeated the Giants during a three-game series later that month. “If you tell them they are to pitch against the New York Giants their eyes glow fanatically, they snatch the horsehide away from you and they stride out to the mound with nostrils breathing fire.

“Until the world champs appeared in St. Louis the younger Dean was just another performer. Most of the western clubs had knocked him out of the box. Now, he is made. He has beaten us twice and so has his bigger brother. Both are Texans, both are tank towners and both look upon themselves as consecrated Saint Georges turning back the Metropolitan dragons. If the Giants do not win the pennant this summer and the Cardinals do, you can credit the remarkable Deans.”[6]

Powers’ words proved prophetic. Trailing the Giants by as many as seven games on Sept. 6, the Cardinals made a furious rally in the season’s final weeks. On Sept. 28, Dizzy Dean shut out the Reds to move the Cardinals into a tie with the Giants. The following day, Paul Dean earned the win in a 6-1 victory to give St. Louis the lead, and in the season finale, Dizzy threw another shutout to clinch the pennant and secure his 30th win of the season.

The Cardinals went on to defeat the Detroit Tigers in a seven-game World Series, and the legend of the Gas House Gang was born.

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[1] John Heidenry (2007), The Gashouse Gang, PublicAffairs, Kindle file, Page 68.

[2] John Heidenry (2007), The Gashouse Gang, PublicAffairs, Kindle file, Page 114.

[3] John Heidenry (2007), The Gashouse Gang, PublicAffairs, Kindle file, Page 114.

[4] John Heidenry (2007), The Gashouse Gang, PublicAffairs, Kindle file, Page 114.

[5] Doug Feldman (2015), Dizzy and the Gas House Gang, McFarland, Kindle file, Page 73.

[6] Jimmy Powers, “The Deans Are Mad!” New York Daily News, May 24, 1934.

April 26, 1992: Ozzie Smith swipes his 500th career stolen base

Heading into the 1992 season, Ozzie Smith was on the cusp of history.

With 499 career stolen bases, was set to become just the 16th player in Major League Baseball history to steal 500 bases. However, heading into the Cardinals’ April 26 game against the Expos, The Wizard had yet to steal a base and had only tried once.

At Busch Stadium, he responded by stealing not only his 500th base, but swiping two more for good measure.

Smith captured his milestone in the fourth inning after leading off with a single. With Todd Zeile at the plate, Smith took off on 2-0 pitch. The umpire ruled him safe. Then the fans began to chant his name.

“It’s a great achievement when you think about the number of people who have played the game, to be only the 16th one to do it,” said Smith, who took off his helmet and saluted the fans in response to their cheers. “I guess when you’re around a long time, things like that happen.”[1]

Smith didn’t stay at 500 stolen bases for long. Zeile drew a walk, and with Brian Jordan at the plate, Expos starter Chris Haney attempted to pick off Zeile at first. Smith took advantage of the distraction to steal third.

Smith singled again to lead off the sixth but was stranded at third. In the eighth, he singled to center field and stole second base on Haney’s first pitch to Zeile. It marked the 10th time in his career that Smith had stolen three bases in a game.

Unfortunately, Smith provided the bulk of the Cardinals’ offense in the 6-0 loss as Haney held the Cardinals to just five hits in the complete-game effort. He struck out eight.

Haney said the key was keeping leadoff man Ray Lankford off base so that Smith’s base hits didn’t turn into rallies.

“I mean, those three singles were hit so that they could have easily moved Lankford to third if he’d somehow been on,” Haney said. “Lankford on third? We’re talking trouble then.”[2]

Smith went on to steal 43 bases in 1992 while batting .295. He made his 12th all-star game appearance that season and won his 13th and final Gold Glove Award.

Following the 1996 season, he retired with 580 career stolen bases.

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[1] Vahe Gregorian, “Ozzie Gets Milestone 500th Stolen Base,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 27, 1992.

[2] Jeff Blair, “Haney delivers nifty wake-up call,” Montreal Gazette, April 27, 1992.