St. Louis Cardinals Opening Day 1996 – Look at the Last 50

St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets

This is the first opening day for Tony LaRussa as Cardinals manager.

Monday, April 1, 1996, 1:45, Shea Stadium
Attendance: 42,060, Time of Game: 2:52

Umpires: HP – Harry Wendelstedt, 1B – Randy Marsh, 2B – Mike Winters, 3B – Brian Gorman..
Field Condition: Damp.
Start Time Weather: 47° F, Overcast, Drizzle

 

Mets Starting Line-up

  • Lance Johnson
  • Bernard Gilkey
  • Rico Brogna
  • Butch Huskey
  • Jeff Kent
  • Todd Hundley
  • Jose Vizcaino
  • Rey Ordonez
  • Bobby Jones
  • Mgr. Dallas Green

Cardinals Starting Line-up

  • Willie McGee
  • Royce Clayton
  • Ray Lankford
  • Ron Gant
  • Gary Gaetti
  • John Mabry
  • Pat Borders
  • Luis Alicea
  • Andy Benes
  • Mgr. Tony LaRussa

 

The Game

This is a game where the Cardinals jumped out to a good lead but couldn’t finish it off. In the top of the 2nd inning Gant walks, Gaetti singles, and Mabry produces a sac fly to make it 1-0. In the 3rd inning McGee singles, Royce Clayton doubles to make it 2-0 Cardinals.

In the 4th Mabry leads with a home run, Borders singles, Alicea follows with a single and Willie McGee crushes and home run and it is a 6-0 lead. The Cardinals will not score the rest of the game.

In the bottom of the 4th Brogna singles and Hundley homer to give the Mets their first two runs. In the 6th Gilkey homers for another run. Then comes the 7th inning which is the undoing of the Cardinals. Rick Honeyutt enters to pith for the Birds and he allows three consecutive singles and Ray Fossas replaces him. He allows two singles and a sacrifice fly and the Mets lead 7-6.

The game stays that way and the New York Mets win the opener.

 

Game Stats

E–Grudzielanek (2), Lansing (1), Smith (1), Eckersley (1). DP–St. Louis 1. 2B–St. Louis McGee (2,off Martinez). HR–Montreal Rodriguez (2,5th inning off Stottlemyre 1 on, 0 out), St. Louis Gaetti (1,2nd inning off Martinez 0 on, 0 out). SH–Lansing (1,off Parrett); Smith (1,off Martinez). IBB–Alou (1,by Parrett). Team LOB–8. Team–14. SB–Lansing (2,2nd base off Stottlemyre/Sheaffer); Gaetti (1,2nd base off Rojas/Spehr). CS–Segui (1,2nd base by Stottlemyre/Sheaffer). IBB–Parrett (1,Alou). U-HP–Charlie Williams, 1B–Mark Hirschbeck, 2B–Bruce Froemming, 3B–Steve Rippley.

 

After the Opener

During the first year of the William DeWitt, Jr. era, the Cardinals went 88-74 during the season and won their first-ever National League Central division title by six games over the Houston Astros. They beat the San Diego Padres in the NLDS, but fell in 7 games to the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS. DeWitt, along with Drew Bauer and Fred Hanser had bought the Cardinals from Anheuser-Busch during the 1995-96 offseason.

Legendary veteran shortstop Ozzie Smith, announced during the season that it would be his last season in the Major Leagues, and veteran outfielder Willie McGee, brought back to the Cards as a free agent. Though the tension between Smith, and exciting youngster Royce Clayton, acquired in a trade, grew thick and troublesome at times as they shared time at shortstop, both players had good seasons. McGee came off the bench and started when needed.

Awards

Tony La Russa, Associated Press Manager of the Year
Ozzie Smith, All Star Game

Postseason

In the NLDS the Cardinals defeated the Padres i by winning two games out of three. In the NLCS the Cardinals took a 3-1 lead in games against the Braves but lost three consecutive games, including Game 7 by a score of 15-0 to be eliminated.