Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August 5, 1964 & 1967 - Two For Tuesday

Wednesday, August 5, 1964 - At Busch Stadium I (Gordie Richardson - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent:  Chicago Cubs (Bob Buhl - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance:  11,614

Even the most die-hard of Cardinal fans old enough to remember much about the '64 season, probably don't remember a 25-year old rookie left-handed pitcher by the name of Gordie Richardson - who made his major league debut on July 26, 1964 - getting a complete game victory (6-1) over the Philadelphia Phillies in the first game of a double-header at Connie Mack Stadium.  The Cardinals would also win the second game to inch closer to the top of the standings - although few really considered them a legitimate contender at the time.

Hindsight tells us that every single game the Cardinals somehow managed to win that year was absolutely necessary in their quest for the NL pennant.  Richardson certainly did his part by starting six games for St Louis late that season, and was used for relief duty, as well.  It's highly unlikely the Cardinals would have made it to the top of the National League without his contributions - a 4-2 record with a stellar 2.30 ERA in 47 IP.  His reward for his efforts was to be traded to the lowly New York Mets in the off season - and after two unsuccessful seasons, Richardson's career was over before his 28th birthday.  That's the harsh reality of the vast majority of major league baseball careers - they usually don't last very long.  Of course, many players never get the chance to be part of a world championship team - especially in their rookie year.  I'm pretty sure this rookie enjoyed the brief time in the limelight.

Of course, there wasn't much limelight for young Gordie to deal with as he took the mound against the visiting Cubs on this hot August night.  Less than 12,000 fans bothered to attend this game - an obvious indication that pennant fever hadn't infected Cardinal Nation.  That would change in a few weeks.

For now, the rookie was just trying to survive a shaky start to this game.  After issuing a lead-off walk to Joe Amalfitano, the next Cubs batter - Leo Burke - hit a ground ball to third baseman Ken Boyer.  Instead of turning two, Boyer bobbled the ball - allowing Burke to reach first safely as Amalfitano advanced to second.  Richardson struck out the next batter - Billy Williams - but Ron Santo drove in the first run with a single, then Ernie Banks singled in another run - an unearned run - to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead.

The Cardinals got one run back in their first trip to the plate.  After Cubs starter Bob Buhl struck out Julian Javier, then Lou Brock to start the bottom of the first - Bill White singled - and so did Ken Boyer - to put runners on first and second for Curt Flood, who scored White with a base hit of his own, as Boyer advanced to third.

Then, with Mike Shannon batting, Boyer tried to steal home - unsuccessfully.  I'll bet Harry Caray went nuts in the KMOX broadcast booth on that one.  Time for another ice-cold Busch.

The score remained 2-1 in favor of Chicago when the Cardinals came to bat in the fifth-inning.  Javier coaxed a one-out walk off a tiring Buhl, then Brock lined a single to left - putting runners on first and second for Bill White - who promptly hit one on the pavilion roof for a three-run home run, to give the Cardinals a 4-2 lead they would never relinquish - but things got a bit dicey the next time the Cubs came to bat.

Richardson had some trouble of his own in the sixth-inning.  Santo led-off with a single to left field, then Banks walked - putting two on and nobody out.  Manager Johnny Keane wisely decided to bring in a fresh arm - replacing his starter with reliever Bob Humphreys - yet another unsung hero for the Redbirds in '64.

The veteran reliever had a stellar '64 season for St Louis - going 2-0 with a 2.54 ERA in 42.2 IP.  He also had two saves - and got one of them in this game.  Humphreys not only got out of the sixth-inning unscathed, he also kept the Cubs off the board for the balance of the game.  All told, he allowed just two hits in four innings - walking none and striking out three.  Now that's a save!

As a footnote to the July 26 arrival of Gordie Richardson - at the time, the Cards were just a .500 ball-club (48-48).  However, they would finish with a NL-best 45-21 record with more than just a little help from guys like Gordie and Humpreys - to catapult them into the World Series.

Saturday, August 5, 1967 - At Busch Stadium II (Ray Washburn - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent:  Cincinnati Reds (Mel Queen - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance:  48,019

Exactly three years after the now-retired Gordie Richardson defeated the Cubs in front of a sparse gathering at the old ballpark on Grand and Dodier - the Cardinals played a twelve-inning marathon at their new downtown ballpark which nearly 50,000 fans turned out to witness.  It was worth the wait, as the Cards walked-off with the win, thanks to a pinch hit single from an unlikely player - backup catcher Dave Ricketts.

The Cardinals scored first in this game, when back-to-back doubles by Lou Brock and Curt Flood staked Ray Washburn to an early 1-0 lead.  Reds starter Mel Queen retired the next three batters after Flood's two-base hit - to keep it just a one run deficit.

It was still a 1-0 ballgame when the Reds came to bat in the sixth-inning.  A lead-off double by Tommy Harper was followed by Vada Pinson's two-run blast - to give Cincinnati its first lead of the game:  2-1.

However, the Redbirds quickly regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth, off a tiring Mel Queen.  With one out, Brock tripled - then Flood doubled, to tie the game.  After Roger Maris walked, Orlando Cepeda hit one deep to center - but Pinson tracked it down for the out.  After the catch, Flood tagged up and advanced to third.

At this point, Reds manager Dave Bristol brought Cool Billy McCool in from the bullpen to pitch to Tim McCarver - but the strategy was foiled when McCarver lined a single to right - scoring Flood with the go-ahead run.  It was now a 3-2 St Louis lead - but not for long.

After Washburn walked Harper to start the eighth-inning for the Reds, manager Red Schoendienst brought in Joe Hoerner from the Cards' bullpen to face Pinson - who moved Harper to second with a sacrifice bunt.  Next up - the relentless Pete Rose - he tied the game once again with a base hit - but Hoerner was able to escape further damage in the inning - and through the tenth-inning, as well.

Ron Willis then relieved Hoerner to start the eleventh - holding Cincinnati scoreless for the next couple of innings.  He would be the winning pitcher - improving to 4-3 after his nice work.

The fifth pitcher of the game for the Reds - Don Nottebart - retired the first batter he faced in the bottom of the twelvth - Tim McCarver - on a ground ball right back from where it came.  Mike Shannon then singled to start a one-out rally.  Phil Gagliano followed that with an infield hit down the third base line, to put runners on first and second.  Dal Maxvill then grounded one to shortstop Tommy Helms, which should have been an inning-ending double play.  Instead, Helms booted it - loading the bases for pinch hitter Dave Ricketts.

Ricketts had seven pinch hits in '67 - and this one was his most significant - a line drive base hit to center field to score Shannon with the extra-inning walk-off winning run.  It was a long night for the Cardinals, but for the fans who stuck around past their bedtimes, it was worth the wait.

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