St. Louis Cardinals: 125 tournament round one, part four

ST. LOUIS - APRIL 13: Fredbird, the mascot for the St. Louis Cardinals, tries to get the fans into the game on April 13, 2006 at the Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Cardinals 4-3 in 11 innings. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS - APRIL 13: Fredbird, the mascot for the St. Louis Cardinals, tries to get the fans into the game on April 13, 2006 at the Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Cardinals 4-3 in 11 innings. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The St. Louis Cardinals are a massive piece of baseball lore. 2017 marks the 125th year of the Cardinals existence and contain a treasure trove of great moments.

125 years of St. Louis Cardinals baseball is a wonderful thing. To celebrate, Redbird Rants is thrilled to join our brothers and sisters through the United Cardinals Bloggers and specifically with Cards Conclave (C70 At The Bat specifically) to bring you a special, multi-site tournament recognizing the top 125 greatest Cardinals moments.

For more on this tournament, jump over to my earlier article here.

Today, we at Redbird Rants continue the tournament on our grounds and continue the first round of head-to-head competitions. But first, let’s review the results from our first voting round, part three.

Round one, part three started with iconic St. Louis Cardinals Bob Gibson completing his 3,000 strikeout in 1974 going head-to-head against Tom Herr‘s walk-off grand slam on “Seat Cushion Night” in 1987. Receiving 74 percent of the 80 votes cast, Gibson walked away with the victory and moves on to the second round.

The second competition of round one, part three had Adam Wainwright in his battle against Brandon Inge in the 2006 World Series (the final out of the series) going head-to-head against a St. Louis Cardinals legend, Lou Brock. In this case the competition focused on Brock’s 3,000th hit.

I was incredibly surprised by the vote here as I was almost certain that Brock would run away it (see what I did there?). After receiving 133 votes, Wainwright defeated Brock 83 percent to 17 percent. Waino advances.

To this week’s competitions…

Pujols vs. Kurowski

The first competition of part four focuses on two home runs that made massive impacts on the club in their day. First up, arguably the best first baseman that St. Louis Cardinals have ever had, Albert Pujols was well known for his power prowess. During the 2011 World Series (the miracle team), Pujols managed to blast not just one, not just two, but three homers in one 27-out contest under the bright lights.

In the third game of the 2011 World Series, facing the Texas Rangers in their own home ballpark, Pujols smacked the first of his bombs in the sixth inning (incidentally, this was his first HR of the ’11 World Series). This blast, a three-run HR, made the score 11-6 in favor of the Cards.

His second blast of the night came just one inning later (the Cards were already sitting at 12-6) amassing two additional runs via Pujols’ 2-run HR. But Albert was finished there as he belted his third HR of the night in the top of the 9th with the Cards already leading 15-7. This final HR, a solo-shot, came with two outs in the frame and with a 2-2 count on Albert.

This amazing night can be relived in the clips below:

Not to be outdone in power prowess, but certainly outpaced in name recognition, Whitey Kurowski showed his own pop many years early when the St. Louis Cardinals found themselves competing for rings in the 1942 World Series.

Kurowski was a third baseman for the Cardinals in the WWII era and is best known for the home run that he blasted against the Boston Red Sox in the World Series of ’42 that sealed the victory in game five. While there is no video evidence of this feat, I find the fact that he played for the Cardinals in the World Series of ’42, ’44, and 1946.

Musial vs. Rally Squirel

Let’s all just take a moment to enjoy the piece of grand literature that sits immediately above this paragraph. Where else will you find such poet-laureate-caliber work than what sits in the bold competition header above? Only the St. Louis Cardinals could have such a rich history that they can have arguably their most famous play square-off against a woodland creature in a best-of competition!

Any Cardinals fan knows the name of Stan Musial. As I said above, Musial is likely the most-recognized name to have come from the Cardinals organization. In 1958, Musial joined the club that recent ballplayers (save for Adrian Beltre) often miss: he recorded his 3,000th hit. The illusive 3,000 club is illusive without error– accruing 3,000 hits across a career is one tough nut to crack.

Musial seemed destined to break records and have his name enshrined in the annals of any book ever written about baseball from the first day he stepped on the diamond. His achievement earned in 1958 left no further questions as to his heading to Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame. Even more impressive? He played an additional five years after hitting number-3,000!

Before we move on, let’s revel in the fact that Musial finished his 22-year career with 3,630 hits. I’m not sure about which to be most impressed, the length of his career or his hitting abilities?!

More from Redbird Rants

On to woodland creatures… During the infamous Cardinals season of 2011, the shouldn’t-be-here club managed to claw their way into the postseason thanks to an unbelievable run to October. This unbelievable run was so popularized that then-manager Tony La Russa penned an entire book about leading this pack of warriors against all of the odds include that “One Last Strike.”

Once the Cards had made their way into the NLDS of 2011, they had to muster the guts to keep their momentum. Enter the rally. When other MLB franchises might rally around a banner or around a towel, the 2011 Cardinals found themselves face-to-face with a rodent that most Midwesterners might call an exterminator to eliminate from their house.

It was during the NLDS of ’11 that these pesky squirrels kept showing up behind home plate at Busch Stadium. The national media caught images of them sitting behind the plate, running along the brick wall behind the plate, and balancing ever gracefully upon the top of the protective netting.

And it always seemed to come to pass that the St. Louis Cardinals would go into an offensive run immediately after the squirrels appeared. This became the banner-call of the 2011 NLDS and then subsequently into the World Series. The Cardinals organization seized upon the marketability of this and stuffed-animal squirrels were seen everywhere.

Here’s a great example of the media’s attachment to the rally squirrel of 2011 (including his/her (?) first appearance running in front of Skip Schumaker during his at-bat in the NLDS):

So, the time is yours now. Please go vote. You can find our poll question on Twitter to place your vote. And, come on Cardinals Nation, go out and vote for these well-deserving St. Louis Cardinals moments!

Next: Cards can shine through a quiet deadline

Be sure to visit the other sites participating in the tournament as well and thanks for being loyal followers of Redbird Rants! Go Cardinals!