Professional baseball has been played in St. Louis since 1882. The team was then called the St. Louis Brown Stockings. They became the Cardinals in 1900. Since then, the team has won 18 National League Pennants and 11 World Series titles. With so many great teams there is an abundance of iconic moments in the team’s history. Redbird Rants’ staff writer Marilyn Green and I have come up with our top five iconic moments in the franchise’s great history for the United Cardinal Bloggers monthly project.
5. Enos Slaughter’s ‘Mad Dash’
During Game 7 of the 1946 World Series against the Boston Red Sox, the game was tied heading into bottom half of the eighth inning. Cardinals outfielder Enos Slaughter led of the inning with a single. The following two batters made outs without advancing Slaughter. Harry Walker was the next batter and stroked a line drive to left-center field. Slaughter had started running on the play. The ball was fumbled by Red Sox outfielder Leon Culbersome and Red Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky took too long to throw the ball in allowing Slaughter to score all the way from first. The Cardinals held on in the ninth to win the game 4-3 and the World Series Championship.
4. Ozzie Smith’s walk-off home run in Game 5 of 1985 NLCS
Smith was not exactly a power hitter during his career. He hit a total of 28 home runs in his 19 seasons in MLB. Probably no homer meant more to Smith. Not only did he hit the home run in a monumental moment, but it was the first home run he ever hit from the left side of the plate. Nice timing indeed! The home run was voted the greatest moment in the history of Busch Stadium in 2005. Here is a transcript of Jack Buck’s call:
Smith corks one into right, down the line! It may go! Go crazy folks, go crazy! It’s a home run, and the Cardinals have won the game, by the score of three to two, on a home run by the Wizard! Go Crazy!
3. Stan Musial hits 3 home runs in game against Giants on July 8, 1962 (written by Marilyn Green)
In Game 3 of the 2011 World Series, Albert Pujols hit 3 home runs to become one of only three MLB players to accomplish that feat in a postseason game. While Albert may be the only Cardinal to hit 3 home runs in a postseason game, he is not the only Cardinal to hit 3 during a major league game. Stan Musial hit 3 home runs in 3 consecutive at bats during a game against the Giants on July 8, 1962. It was actually the second time in his career Stan had hit 3 home runs in a game. What made Stan’s three home run game that day remarkable was that he did it at age 41, making him the oldest player to hit 3 dingers in a major league game, beating out both Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson, who did the same thing at age 40. In addition, Musial had hit a home run during his last at bat in the previous day’s game, making it 4 home runs in 4 consecutive at bats. Pretty good feat for a 41 year old. As an over 40 American (actually over 50, but who is counting), I find that accomplishment something to be lauded indeed. The Man will always be the The Man
2. Mark McGwire breaks Roger Maris’ record for home runs hit in a single season, September 8, 1998 – (written by Marilyn Green)
I was only 2 years old when Stan Musial hit his 3 home runs at age 41, so I have no personal memory of that feat. But I remember September 8, 1998 like it was yesterday. I was sitting in the same spot I am sitting right now writing this (different couch and different TV though) watching history being made. It was a game against the Cubs, the team of McGwire’s chief rival for the record, Sammy Sosa. The home run he hit that night was not the prettiest one he ever hit, it actually barely made it over the wall, but it counted just as much. I was jumping up and down in my living room, screaming at the top of my lungs, and making my neighbor wonder whether I was being attacked (seriously, she came knocking on my door to check on me, I guess she wasn’t a baseball fan). Regardless of how you feel about McGwire’s subsequent PEDs issues and whether or not that diminishes his accomplishments, that moment has to go down as one of the proudest moments any Cardinals’ fan can experience. I still have the T-shirt, though it is quite unfit to be worn in public.
1. Bob Gibson’s 17 strikeout performance in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series
Gibson had one of the more spectacular seasons in major league history going 22-9 with a minuscule 1.12 ERA. He faced the Detroit Tigers’ ace Denny McClain who won 31 games during the regular season. 1968 is often called the “Year of the Pitcher” and Gibson did not disappoint in Game 1. He set down 17 Tigers via strikeout setting a World Series record that still stands. While the Cardinals went on to lose the series in 7 games, Gibson’s performance during a game of such magnitude was simply amazing.
We know you’re looking for David Freese’s walk-off homer and it was an obvious top five, if not the number one choice. But, Marilyn and I being a tad older than the rest of the staff, went with some moments further back in the past or not so fresh in the mind. Our colleague Daniel Solzman’s piece with his top five iconic moments covers Freese nicely.