When people think about the St Louis Cardinals they many times remember the World Series champions of 2006 or 2011 or any of the past years. Most of the time, it is a brief moment or a game that burns in their memory and it is called an iconic moment.
The United Cardinal Bloggers will be using February 1st as the date for each individual blog to recognize what they feel are the Top Five Iconic Moments in Cardinals History. There are more than five but I have narrowed them down to these events.
This moment in history took place on October 14, 1985. The television network had just flashed on the screen for the world to see that Ozzie Smith has never hit a left-handed home run as a major leaguer. It was Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. Ozzie proceeded to hit a liner into the right field seats off Tom Niedenfuer of the Los Angeles Dodgers for a game winner and one step closer to the World Series. This iconic moment is shared by Ozzie Smith and legendary announcer Jack Buck. I still remember the 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 3 to 2 on a home run by the Wizard…Go crazy!”
Another iconic moment took place on October 15, 1946 and it is was Game 7 of the World Series. Enos Slaughter leads off the inning with a single in the bottom of the eighth inning. Two outs later he still stands there as Harry ‘The Hat” Walker strolls to the plate. Walker hits a shot over the head of the shortstop Johnny Pesky and Slaughter takes off. Leon Culbertson, the centerfielder, gets to the ball and makes the throw into Pesky. Slaughter never slows down and continues towards the plate. Pesky hesitates not thinking Slaughter will take them all and makes his throw to the catcher too late. The Cardinals win the game and become World Champions on the “Mad Dash” of Enos Slaughter.
This moment in Cardinals history had a season long build up as Mark McGwire continued on his quest to break a 37 year record of Roger Maris. The record had no serious challengers since the 1961 record was set. Now the world was watching two players go for it. Besides McGwire, Sammy Sosa was charging towards the record at an equal pace for most of the season. With two out and the bases empty, in the fourth inning on September 8, 1998, McGwire homers of Steve Trachsel of the Cubs to become the single season home run champion and the world celebrated the feat. The home run was the shortest home run by distance the McGwire hit the entire season as it traveled 341feet.
The World Series will bring out the best in some players. Bob Gibson was already known as a tough competitor as the 1968 World Series began. The season was already an outstanding one for Gibby as he saw his wins and ERA reach frighteningly good numbers. Now he faced the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the World Series on October 2, 1968. He dominated. He took it to the ninth inning and struck out future Hall of Fame Al Kaline for the third time in the game to notch his 15th strikeout to tie a World Series record set by Sandy Koufax in 1963. In stepped one of their sluggers, Norm Cash, and Gibson fanned him for the third time on the game, also. He finished strong by tossing a called third strike past Willie Horton to finish the game with 17 strikeouts in a World Series game.
Stan Musial became the greatest player to ever wear a Cardinal uniform. He did it for St Louis for many years. Stan almost quit baseball in 1940 when he finished the season after posting a 2.62 ERA and a 18-5 record as a left-handed pitcher for Class D Daytona Beach where he was a farm hand. Stan injured his elbow and wasn’t going to get to pitch anymore. He is asked by manager Billy Southworth to stick around a play the outfield. On September 17, 1941, Stan collects his first major league hit and follows that with his first home run on September 23. To finish the season, he collects five hits, throws out two runners and steals a base on the final game of the year. As we fast forward through the career of Stan Musial, we come to May 13, 1958. The Cardinals are at Wrigley Field and manager holds Stan out of the game as he has 2999 hits and he wants to save it for the home crowd in St. Louis. The game action dictates that in the sixth inning, manager Fred Hutchinson, needs a pinch hitter to face Moe Drabowsky of the Cubs. Calmly, Stan strolls to the plate and smacks a double to collect his 3,000th career hit. This is another iconic moment in St Louis Cardinal History.
Some others that were left off my list by probably equally as iconic:
- Jack Clark’s homer in Game 6 of the 1985 NLCS
- Rookie Whitey Kurowski home runs wins 1942 World Series
- Ken Boyer hits a grand slam off the Yankees in 1964 to send the Cardinals a World Series Championship
- Lou Brock breaks Maury Wills’ stolen base record
- Mark Whiten hits two Grand Slams in the same inning of the same game against the Dodgers