May 7, 1940: Cardinals clobber seven home runs in 18-2 rout of the Dodgers

Just three weeks into the season, the 1940 St. Louis Cardinals already were in dire straits.

Heading into their May 7 contest against the first-place Brooklyn Dodgers, the Cardinals had won just five of their first 15 ballgames. They opened the season by losing six of their first eight, and had already lost their first two games in the Brooklyn series.

To compound matters, shortstop Marty Marion had injured his knee and center fielder Terry Moore sprained his shoulder in the first game against the Dodgers, leaving the Cardinals short-handed and desperate for a win.

They would respond with a historic offensive performance that featured 20 hits, including seven homers, four doubles, and two triples in an 18-2 drubbing. The Cardinals’ 49 bases on the day broke the modern National League record of 47, set by the New York Giants in 1931, and their 13 extra-base hits tied a modern major league record set by the Tigers and Cardinals in 1925 and the Cardinals again in 1931.[1] Their seven home runs also tied the National League record. Along the way, the Cardinals had a hit in each inning and every player in the lineup had an extra-base hit, scored, and drove in a run.

After Brooklyn’s Hugh Casey worked around a single by Enos Slaughter in the first inning, Don Padgett got the Cardinals on the scoreboard with a second-inning home run that landed just beyond the 422-foot measurement in center field. He hit the ball so hard that Dodgers center fielder Charlie Gilbert gave up on the play 25 feet short of the outfield wall.[2]

The Cardinals rallied for five more runs in the third. Eddie Lake led off the inning with a home run, then Stu Martin singled and scored on a triple by Slaughter. Joe Medwick hit an RBI single to score Slaughter, and Johnny Mize blasted a two-run homer to make it 6-0.

At that point, former Cardinal shortstop Leo Durocher, now managing the Dodgers, removed himself from the game and inserted rookie Pee Wee Reese to play the remainder of the game. The future Hall of Famer had little impact on the game’s outcome, as the Cardinals continued to build upon their lead.

Martin added a solo homer in the fourth, and in the fifth Johnny Hopp hit an RBI double and Lake added a two-run double. Casey walked Slaughter to lead off the sixth inning, setting up a two-run homer by Medwick. Jimmy Brown added a sacrifice fly later in the inning to make the score 13-0.

Lon Warneke had shut out the Dodgers through the first seven innings – including a stretch in which he retired 14 consecutive batters – before they finally got on the scoreboard with four hits in the eighth. Casey was replaced with a pinch hitter in the inning, mercifully allowing him to exit after allowing 13 runs on 15 hits, including five home runs and 10 extra-base hits.

“He asked to stay in there,” Durocher said. “He hadn’t had much work, and as long as the game was gone, I let him continue.”[3]

Former Cardinals pitcher Max Macon took the mound for the Dodgers in the ninth and didn’t fare any better, as Mize and Lake each homered, Hopp hit an RBI single, and Warneke added an RBI double.

For the game, Lake finished with two homers, a double, and five RBIs to lead the Cardinals’ effort. Mize had three hits, including two homers and a double, to finish with three RBIs, and Martin added three hits, including a home run.

Warneke finished the Dodgers off in the ninth to capture his first win of the season. For the day, he allowed two earned runs on nine hits and a walk.

Warneke pitched the ninth inning to catcher Bill DeLancey, who entered the game in place of Padgett for his first major-league appearance in almost five years. DeLancey had caught every inning of the 1934 World Series for the Gashouse Gang and was considered by Branch Rickey to be one of the best catchers he ever saw. In 1935, however, he fell ill with serious lung ailments and retired to Phoenix, Arizona, where it was believed the dry air would assist his recovery. DeLancey missed the entire 1936 season and became a player-manager for the Cardinals’ minor-league affiliate in Albuquerque in 1937.

DeLancey was declared fit to play for the Cardinals in a part-time role in 1940, and he was credited with helping the development of prospect Mickey Owen, who was only four years younger than DeLancey.

“DeLancey, as he strode to the plate, drew even greater cheers than the Cardinals’ tremendous hitting had attracted,” the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported.[4]

DeLancey played in just 15 games, and the next two seasons he served as a minor-league manager. Following the 1942 season, DeLancey left baseball as his health deteriorated once again. He died on his 35th birthday in November 1946.

After the Cardinals made history with their win over the Dodgers, Brooklyn’s ballclub made its own history. With their flight from St. Louis to Chicago, the Dodgers became the first major league team to travel by plane.[5]

Meanwhile, the win didn’t turn the Redbirds’ season around, but it did show their terrifying offensive potential. After a 9-5 loss to Brooklyn on June 6 that dropped the Cardinals’ record to 14-24, manager Ray Blades was removed from his position. Mike Gonzalez served as interim manager for six games (losing five) before Billy Southworth was named manager.

Southworth guided the team to a 69-40 record for the remainder of the season, good for third place in the final National League standings. Southworth’s Cardinals won 97 games to place second behind the Dodgers in 1941 before winning the National League title and the World Series in 1942.


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[1] Martin J. Haley, “Cards Break 2 Records and Equal 7 in Routing Dodgers, 18-2,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 8, 1940.

[2] Martin J. Haley, “Cards Break 2 Records and Equal 7 in Routing Dodgers, 18-2,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 8, 1940.

[3] “Casey Wanted to Stay In,” The Sporting News, May 16, 1940.

[4] Martin J. Haley, “Cards Break 2 Records and Equal 7 in Routing Dodgers, 18-2,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 8, 1940.

[5] “Dodgers in Chicago After First Mass Plane Flight by Major League Team,” Brooklyn Citizen, May 8, 1940.

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