September 30, 1934: Dizzy Dean’s 30th win clinches the National League pennant

After pitching their second complete game in three days, most men would have applied every cube of ice they could find to their aching pitching arm. After shutting out the Reds on the final day of the 1934 season to secure the National League championship, Dizzy Dean had other ideas.

Shortly after Dean walked off the mound with his 30th win of the season, a young boy ran out to the mound and placed a four-pound block of ice on the mound.

“Dizzy told me this morning to put it there after the game,” the boy explained when reporters asked him why he had done such a thing. “Said it would be burning up if I didn’t. Go ahead and feel it. Even the ice hasn’t cooled it down yet.”[1]

At 94-58, the Cardinals entered the final day of the regular season with a one-game lead over the defending World Series champion New York Giants. With a win over the Reds at Sportsman’s Park, the Cardinals could clinch their own World Series berth, where they would face the American League champion Detroit Tigers.

As if that weren’t motivation enough, Dean had an opportunity to earn his 30th win of the season. If he reached the milestone, he would join Lefty Grove as the only pitchers to reach 30 wins since Jim Bagby did it in 1920, and the first National League 30-game winner since Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1917.

The pitching performances of Dean and his brother, Paul Dean, had led the Cardinals to the cusp of the NL pennant, even though they briefly left the team in August in a salary dispute. Just one day earlier, Paul won his 19th game of the season, holding the Reds to one run in a complete-game performance that lowered his ERA to 3.43.

Dizzy, meanwhile, was slated to make his 12th appearance of the month on just one day of rest. On September 28, Dizzy had dominated the Reds, scattering seven hits and striking out seven for his 29th win of the season. With the win, Dizzy exceeded 300 innings on the season, part of a stretch that had seen him pitch in five games from September 21-28, including three complete-game starts.

Even after that incredible workload, Dizzy was set to face the Reds one more time with a possible trip to the World Series on the line. If he was fatigued, he certainly didn’t show it in the first inning, even as the scoreboard showed that the Giants had scored four first-inning runs against the Dodgers. With 37,402 fans in attendance, the largest crowd at Sportsman’s Park in three years,[2] Dean retired the Reds’ first three hitters in order, thanks in part to a diving catch by center fielder Ernie Orsatti.

The Cardinals’ lineup gave Dean an early lead in the bottom of the first. After Cincinnati’s Si Johnson walked Ripper Collins to load the bases, Cardinals catcher Bill DeLancey singled to right to give St. Louis a 2-0 lead.

In the fourth, the Cardinals broke the game open. Johnson was clearly battling his control, as he hit Collins with a pitch and walked DeLancey and Orsatti before Reds manager Chuck Dressen came to the mound to replace him with Benny Frey.

Light-hitting Cardinals shortstop Leo Durocher greeted Frey with an RBI single to right before Pepper Martin punched a two-run single into the left-field gap to make the score 5-0. One inning later, DeLancey hit his 13th home run of the season onto the pavilion roof in right-center field, and in the seventh Collins hit a two-run homer for his 200th hit and 35th blast of the 1934 campaign.

DeLancey’s third hit of the day, an RBI single in the eighth inning, made it 9-0 Cardinals. By that point, there was no doubt that the National League pennant belonged to St. Louis. Nonetheless, Dean had to battle to complete his shutout bid. After the Reds’ first three batters reached to load the bases, the scoreboard was updated to show that the Dodgers had rallied to defeat the Giants 8-5, clinching the pennant for the Cardinals. As confetti fell from the upper decks of Sportsman’s Park, Dean struck out Clyde Manion and Ted Petoskey before getting Sparky Adams to pop out to DeLancey behind the plate.

With the final out recorded, the capacity crowd surged onto the field and Dean was quickly escorted off the field by the police. “For about two hours afterwards the crowd milled about underneath the grandstand, outside the exit gates and along the streets bordering the ball park,” the St. Louis Star and Times reported. “Everyone, it seemed, wanted to get a glimpse of this superstar, Dizzy Dean.”[3]

Dean’s two ninth-inning strikeouts gave him seven for the game and a league-high 195 for the season. It marked the third consecutive season Dean had led the league in strikeouts.

“By hurling two shutouts with only one day of rest in between, Jerome Herman climaxed the greatest baseball finish of all time,” Ray J. Gillespie wrote.[4]

The win was Dean’s seventh in a row and his seventh shutout of the year. Together, Dizzy and his brother Paul had combined for 12 of the Cardinals’ 15 shutouts on the season as they claimed 49 of the team’s 95 total wins.

“There is no question in my mind about who should be declared the most valuable player of 1934 in this league,” Cardinals manager Frankie Frisch said in his column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “There is no candidate in my estimation except Jerome Herman Dean. He deserves the award.”[5]

In the clubhouse, the Cardinals celebrated with singing, dancing, hugging, and shouting.

“What did I tell yuh – what did I tell yuh?” shouted in the midst of the celebration. “I asked yuh to get me one run and it would be a breeze for us.”[6]

Finally, Frisch arrived in the clubhouse. Immediately, his players tackled him as they offered him congratulations.

“It’s swell of you fellows to say all these nice things,” Frisch said when they finally let him go.[7]

“Swell of us?” responded Paul Dean. “Heck, we’re going to do more than this for you when the World Series is over.”[8]

Later, Frisch slumped onto a bench as his players continued the celebration around him. His thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of his ace pitcher, Dizzy Dean. “They shook hands quietly, did these two men who had just come through a great experience together, and Frank moved over on the bench to make room for Jerome Herman, where they sat talking until interrupted by photographers,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.[9]

Even after the Cardinals completed their revelry, their fans awaited outside the stadium. Police guided Paul Dean into a waiting cab only to be informed that his car was in a nearby parking lot. As a result, the police had to lead him back through the crowd again to find his vehicle.[10]

If anything, Dizzy faced an even greater challenge. As the Star and Times described the scene: “Dizzy, who had shown no fear in the face of enemy bats, turned white as he was confronted with the yelling, wild mob that attempted to grab his hand. The blue-coats quickly came to his rescue, fought away the fans and escorted the ‘people’s choice’ to safety.”[11]

It was a good thing for all concerned that Dean escaped unscathed. After all, the Cardinals would need him in Detroit just three days later for Game 1 of the World Series.

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[1] Doug Feldmann (2015), Dizzy and the Gas House Gang, McFarland, Kindle file, Page 135.

[2] “Final Game Drew Largest Crowd Since Cubs’ Double Header of 1931,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 1, 1934.

[3] Ray J. Gillespie, “Crowd of 37,402 Cheers Dizzy Dean As He Hurls Cards To Flag,” St. Louis Star and Times, October 1, 1934.

[4] Ray J. Gillespie, “Crowd of 37,402 Cheers Dizzy Dean As He Hurls Cards To Flag,” St. Louis Star and Times, October 1, 1934.

[5] Frankie Frisch, “Frisch Says He Never Played On Club With More Courage or Confidence Than The Cardinals,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 1, 1934.

[6] Sid K. Keener, “Keener Paints Picture of Cards’ Flag Celebration,” St. Louis Star and Times, October 1, 1934.

[7] Sid K. Keener, “Keener Paints Picture of Cards’ Flag Celebration,” St. Louis Star and Times, October 1, 1934.

[8] Sid K. Keener, “Keener Paints Picture of Cards’ Flag Celebration,” St. Louis Star and Times, October 1, 1934.

[9] Damon Kerby, “‘We’re in the Money,’ Theme Song of Cards After Victory,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 1, 1934.

[10] Ray J. Gillespie, “Crowd of 37,402 Cheers Dizzy Dean As He Hurls Cards To Flag,” St. Louis Star and Times, October 1, 1934.

[11] Ray J. Gillespie, “Crowd of 37,402 Cheers Dizzy Dean As He Hurls Cards To Flag,” St. Louis Star and Times, October 1, 1934.

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