August 22, 1982: Glenn Brummer steals home and becomes an unlikely Cardinals hero

On August 22, 1982, Glenn Brummer became arguably the most unlikely game-winning hero in Cardinals history.

An Illinois native, Brummer had played his college baseball at Lake Land College in Mattoon, Illinois, and signed with the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent in 1974. After working his way through the Cardinals’ farm system, Brummer made his major-league debut in 1981, appearing in 21 games, primarily as a defensive replacement.

In 1982, Brummer appeared in two April games as a defensive replacement, then returned to Triple-A Louisville, where he served as the backup catcher. When Darrell Porter broke his finger in May, the Cardinals called Brummer back up to St. Louis. With a two-hit game against the Padres and a three-hit showing against the Giants, Brummer’s batting average climbed to .375 by the end of the month.

When Porter returned to action, the Cardinals kept Brummer around as a third-string catcher, and he was used primarily as a late-game replacement.

“He’s the best third-string catcher I’ve ever seen,” Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog said.[1]

By the time the Cardinals faced the Giants on August 22, Brummer’s batting average was at .268. It had been more than a month (July 16) since he had a hit. The only reason to think Brummer might play a key role was the fact that the Cardinals’ bench was a player short; Dane Iorg and his wife were at the hospital celebrating the birth of their fifth child.[2]

Thanks in part to a recent five-game win streak, the Cardinals were two games ahead of the Phillies in the National League East, and Joaquin Andujar was scheduled to take the mound against the Giants. Andujar was just 9-10 on the season, but had pitched well in his last three starts and had a 2.78 ERA entering the game.

The Giants had enjoyed a 10-game win streak earlier in the month, including three walk-off winners, but had dropped the first game of the series to the Cardinals, 7-6. They countered Andujar with Atlee Hammaker, a 24-year-old left-hander who was 8-7 with a 4.40 ERA.

Both pitchers cruised through the first inning, but in the second the Cardinals took the lead on back-to-back doubles by George Hendrick and Gene Tenace. Willie McGee hit the second home run of his career – a two-run blast in the fourth – to make it 3-0, but the Giants rallied to take the lead in the sixth.

After retiring the first batter, Andujar allowed a double to Joe Morgan and a single to Chili Davis. Jack Clark doubled into left field to score Morgan and Davis, and Darrell Evans followed with an RBI single to tie the game. After a single by Dave Bergman chased Andujar from the game, Milt May drove in a run on a fielder’s choice to make it 4-3.

The Giants held a one-run advantage until the bottom of the ninth. After Greg Minton struck out Ozzie Smith to lead off the inning, he hit David Green with a pitch. Green stole second before Ken Oberkfell doubled into the right-field gap to tie the game.

“He got it up a little over the plate,” Oberkfell said. “I hit it where they weren’t for a change.”[3]

It was Oberkfell’s first successful pinch-hit attempt in three seasons with the Cardinals.

“I figured he was due,” Herzog said.[4]

Both bullpens held firm in extra innings. In the 10th, Jim Kaat got an inning-ending double play to get out of a bases-loaded jam. An inning later, the Giants stranded runners on first and second when Jeffrey Leonard grounded out.

Brummer, who had entered the game as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning and then stayed in the game at catcher, began the Cardinals’ 12th-inning rally with a one-out single to left field. McGee followed with his fourth hit of the day to advance Brummer to second, and with two outs, Smith bounced an infield single back to Giants pitcher Gary Lavelle to load the bases.

As Lavelle began to focus on Green, Brummer realized that the Giants reliever wasn’t paying any attention to him at third base.

“I mentioned to (third base coach Chuck Hiller) after a couple of pitches that the pitcher wasn’t paying any attention to me,” Brummer said. “I don’t know what he said. He didn’t exactly say no. He didn’t exactly say yes either. He didn’t know what to say.

“I was thinking about it all the time but I didn’t want to tip it off. I took my normal lead on three of the pitches. On the second and third pitch, I noticed there was a lot of high leg kick in his stretch. If he has a high leg kick, he’s taking some time to get rid of the ball. I got to a certain point where I knew they were not going to pick me off. I was 30 feet off. I just kept edging, edging. Slowly, slowly. When he stretched, I just went.”[5]

On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, with Lavelle ahead in the count 1-2, Brummer took his chance and broke for home. Green stepped out of the batter’s box, May stepped in front of home plate to see the ball, and umpire Dave Pallone stepped to the side to see the play at the plate. Brummer was safe.

“I never would have thought that I’d steal home in my career,” Brummer said. “It’s like a dream come true that a catcher would try to steal home for the St. Louis Cardinals or anybody else to win a ballgame.”[6]

Herzog admitted that he hadn’t seen it coming either.

“Nobody knew he was coming,” said Herzog, who stole home himself during his playing days. “I didn’t either.”[7]

As the Cardinals celebrated, the Giants argued that the pitch was over the plate and that Pallone had never ruled the pitch a ball or strike. Pallone, however, insisted that he had called the pitch a ball.

“As far as I could see, the pitch was out of the strike zone,” he said. “If I felt like the pitch was a strike, then the inning would have been over.”[8]

When he was asked where the pitch was, however, he said he didn’t recall. “It was somewhere out of the strike zone,” he said.[9]

“He wasn’t even behind the plate when the ball got to the plate,” Giants manager Frank Robinson said. “He didn’t call a ball. He didn’t call anything. He’s a liar.”[10]

“The conversation after the play tells you he didn’t know what was going on,” Lavelle said. “(Giants pitching coach Don) McMahon came up to him and said, ‘What was the pitch? You have to call the pitch.’ After that, Pallone said, ‘Then it was a ball.’”[11]

McMahon said, “The umpire was jumping out of the way. He wasn’t even in position to make the bleeping call.”[12]

Herzog argued that since May stepped in front of the plate to receive the pitch, it must have been a ball.

“How can it be a strike it if never gets to the plate?” he asked.[13]

After four hours, the game was over and Brummer had written his name into Cardinals history.

“I thought I had seen it all,” first baseman Keith Hernandez said in the locker room after the game. “I have not seen it all. I’ll probably never see that again in my career. Stealing home plate with two strikes and two outs … I’ll never see that again.”[14]

Of course, Brummer’s mad dash for home never could have happened if it weren’t for the efforts of the Cardinals’ bullpen. Martin, Doug Bair, Kaat, and Jeff Lahti combined for 6 2/3 shutout innings, allowing just three hits over that span.

McGee finished the game 4-for-6 with a home run and a stolen base to raise his season average to .331. Hendrick singled, doubled, and scored twice.

The Cardinals went on to win the NL East with a 92-70 record, topping the Phillies by three games on their way to the 1982 world championship.

Brummer made six more appearances the rest of the way, including a start in the final game of the season. He finished the year batting .234 with eight RBIs and two stolen bases in 64 at-bats. In the postseason, he didn’t have any at-bats but did play in the ninth inning of the Cardinals’ 13-1 Game 6 victory.

Brummer played with the Cardinals through the 1984 season, playing in 129 total games. He played the 1985 season for the Rangers, batting a career-high .278 in 121 plate appearances. He played for the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate in Hawaii in 1986 before retiring with 178 career games over five major-league seasons.


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[1] Rick Hummel, “Brummer Steals A Game For Cards,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 23, 1982.

[2] Rick Hummel, “Brummer Steals A Game For Cards,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 23, 1982.

[3] Rick Hummell, “Oberkfell Delivers Most Important Hit,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 23, 1982.

[4] Rick Hummell, “Oberkfell Delivers Most Important Hit,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 23, 1982.

[5] Rick Hummel, “Brummer Steals A Game For Cards,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 23, 1982.

[6] Rick Hummel, “Brummer Steals A Game For Cards,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 23, 1982.

[7] Rick Hummel, “Brummer Steals A Game For Cards,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 23, 1982.

[8] Terrence Moore, “Robby: Umpires are bush,” San Francisco Examiner, August 23, 1982.

[9] Terrence Moore, “Robby: Umpires are bush,” San Francisco Examiner, August 23, 1982.

[10] Rick Hummel, “Brummer Steals A Game For Cards,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 23, 1982.

[11] Terrence Moore, “Robby: Umpires are bush,” San Francisco Examiner, August 23, 1982.

[12] Terrence Moore, “Robby: Umpires are bush,” San Francisco Examiner, August 23, 1982.

[13] Rick Hummel, “Brummer Steals A Game For Cards,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 23, 1982.

[14] Rick Hummel, “Brummer Steals A Game For Cards,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 23, 1982.

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