St. Louis Cardinals: Remembering Bob Forsch and the 1982 NLCS
January 13th was former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Forsch’s birthday. It’s time to remember the late right-handed starter, not only for his career with the Cardinals, but specifically his impact on the 1982 NLCS.
Bob Forsch’s 15 year career with the St. Louis Cardinals now seems atypical in baseball. With today’s free agency rules, players who stay with one team after their arbitration years, are somewhat uncommon.
However, the Cardinal Hall of Fame member, played during a different age of baseball and stayed with the Cardinals organization from his signing in 1968 until he was traded in 1988. After being called up in 1974, Forsch had a 20 win season(1977), two no-hitters, two Silver Slugger awards.
Even with his great career, it was the 1982 season and his performance specifically in the NLCS that many Cardinal fans will remember. Arguably, without his nine inning gem in the “second game one” of the NLCS, the Cardinals may not have even made it to the 1982 World Series.
The “second game one” you ask?
1982 Regular Season
Bob Forsch had better years than 1982, but his 15-9 record with a 3.48 ERA in 1982 was an important piece in the Cardinals run to the NL Eastern Division Championship. Only Joaquin Adujar pitched more innings than Forsch (265 vs 233) and had a better WHIP among the starters (1.080 vs 1.253).
Forsch was known for his strikeouts early in his career after recording 108 in 1975 and 114 in 1978. However, by 1982, with lower velocity, Forsch became more of a control pitcher. With a stellar infield of Keith Hernandez, Tommy Herr, Ozzie Smith, and Ken Oberkfell behind him, Forsch was able to depend on his location and defense to keep him in games.
During the 1982 regular season, Forsch pitched more innings and allowed fewer walks than his stellar 20 win year in 1977. His 2.1 walks per nine innings in 1982 were the second lowest of his career and his 54 walks were the second fewest next to Andujar’s (50).
The St. Louis Cardinals faced the NL Western Division Champs, Atlanta Braves, in the NLCS in 1982. Facing Phil Niekro of the Braves, the Cardinals were trailing game one of the series 1-0. Then with two outs before it became official, rain washed out the game,requiring a postponement. The “second” attempt to play game one occurred the next night with Forsch facing the Braves Pascual Perez.
More from St Louis Cardinals News
- Cardinals: Here is Willson Contreras’ first message for St. Louis fans
- How do the St. Louis Cardinals stack up with Willson Contreras?
- Cardinals: The insane asking price the Athletics had for Sean Murphy
- St. Louis Cardinals: Ask me anything with Josh Jacobs – 12/8
- The St. Louis Cardinals sign catcher Willson Contreras
The Cardinals won this “second first game” of the series 7-0 behind Forsch’s nine inning, three hit, no walk shutout. To add to Forsch’s legacy in this game, he went 2 for 3 at the plate with an RBI. The Cardinal victory gave the Cardinals a crucial 1-0 lead and put the pressure on the Braves in the games that followed.
Consequently, the Cardinals went on to defeat the Braves in the next two games and were propelled into the 1982 World Series vs the AL Champs, the Milwaukee Brewers. Catcher Darrell Porter was named the series MVP, but Bob Forsch’s game one clutch performance has established itself in St. Louis Cardinals lore.
Although Bob Forsch had a few decent seasons after 1982, he never made the same impact on a team like he did with the ’82 World Champions. In 1988, he was traded to the Houston Astros before the waiver trade deadline and retired after the 1989 season.
Forsch goes into the Cardinal record book as third among all Cardinal pitchers with 163 victories, and the only player in team history to pitch more than one no-hitter. In 2015, the fans of the St. Louis Cardinals elected Forsch into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame.
Bob Forsch died in November, 2011, less than a week after throwing out the first pitch of game seven of the 2011 World Series. Certainly a fitting last performance by a former Cardinal who spent so many years wearing the Birds on the Bat.