Musial, out of the box and going for two
Like most baseball folk, I’ve been thinking of how to pay tribute to the late Stan Musial. Since I like to look at baseball history through a box-score lens, and since Musial played 3,049 games (counting World Series) — in a NL career that stretched from Gabby Hartnett (1922-41) to Pete Rose (1963-86), spanning Pearl Harbor and the Civil Rights March on Washington (“I have a dream…”) — I decided to honor Stan the Man with what I do best.
What follows is an unscientific sampling of Musial box scores and related comments — often tangential, sometimes frivolous — but let’s open with a couple of broad stat-facts:
- During his career (1941-63), Musial led all players by margins of: 1,056 Hits (roughly Al Rosen‘s career total) … 1,154 Times On Base (safely) … 1,927 Total Bases … 426 extra-base hits … 250 Doubles … 57 Triples … 8 HRs (although he never led the league) … 370 RBI … 416 Runs … 16.2 Wins Above Replacement.
- From 1941-63 alone, 46 players had 4 or more extra-base hits in a game, with 3 such games by Joe DiMaggio and 2 each by Pat Seerey (164 career XBH) and Jim Russell (293) among others, and one apiece by more truly unknowns than you can shake a Louisville Slugger at. (Sam Vico? Jack Lohrke? Phil Weintraub?) Even Charlie Lau did it. Yet the Man who had far more hits and extra-base hits than anyone in this span — more games with one, two or three extra-base hits – never had 4 extra-base hits in a game. Maybe that would have been too flashy.
And here we go. I apologize for the length; but, y’know … 3,049 games.
September 17, 1941: Not two years since converting from pitcher, the 20-year-old Musial debuts in a pennant race with two knocks against Jim “Abba Dabba” Tobin, with a double and 2 RBI, pacing St. Louis to a 3-2 win and a doubleheader sweep of Boston that kept them a game behind Brooklyn with 12 to play. Musial hit 3rd, which seems odd for a contending team. But the ’41 Cards never did settle on a #3 hitter, giving four guys at least 29 starts there. And while the slot was productive overall (2nd in Runs, 3rd in OPS and RBI), leading up to Musial’s debut, the #3 spot had produced 1 RBI in 23 games. Musial would bat 3rd, 4th or 5th in all 11 starts, going 20 for 47 with a 1.023 OPS; he would nearly match that lofty figure over the next 15 years.
- Estel Crabtree (of Crabtree, OH) — who returned that year at 37 after a 7-year absence from the majors, and hit .341 in 77 games — homered in the twinbill opener, then won the nightcap with a walk-off shot, the only time he ever connected in consecutive games.
- In his first full year at the Cardinals’ helm was Billy Southworth. As a player, Southworth led the Cards to their first championship in 1926, batting .345 with a Series-best 6 Runs and 10 hits. In 1940 he took the reins of a 15-29 squad and led them to a 69-40 finish. The Cards fell short in ’41, but won the next 3 pennants and 2 World Series under Southworth, who amassed a .657 winning percentage from 1940-45. Moving to Boston in ’46 (for a salary the Cards wouldn’t match), Southworth took over a Braves franchise that hadn’t contended in 30 years, and brought them home 4th, then 3rd, and finally 1st in 1948. He was belatedly elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008, almost 40 years after his death; while he has the fewest games and wins of any HOF manager, his .597 winning percentage ranks 3rd in that group, and only 9 managers have won more World Series.
- In the visitors’ dugout was Casey Stengel, in his seventh managerial year. His first nine teams all finished in the second division; his 10th squad began a record streak of five straight championships. Taking nothing away from The Perfessor, the fact remains: It’s amazing what a pinstriped suit can do for a feller.
- Jim Tobin, a good pitcher stuck on bad Braves teams most of his career, led the majors in IP and CG for 1941-45 combined, with a 108 ERA+ but a 69-85 record in that span. In a happy ending, he joined Detroit for the ’45 stretch drive, and capped his career as a World Champion.
August 24, 1943: One of two 1-0 games wherein Musial plates the game’s only run, which he does here with a triple in the 10th. Reigning MVP Mort Cooper goes the distance for his 18th win. Younger brother Walker Cooper does not fare as well, going 0-for-5 with a GDP in the cleanup spot, but he’ll run 2nd to Musial for the ’43 MVP. From 1939-46, 15 out of 16 MVPs went to pennant winners; the exception was Hal Newhouser‘s first award in 1944 (29-9), when the Browns edged the Tigers on the final day.) From 1925-44, nine different Cardinals won the MVP.
- Losing pitcher Al Javery (who?) led the NL with 303 innings that year and won 17, one-fourth of Boston’s total. He also struck out the side in the All-Star game (George Case, Ken Keltner, Vern Stephens) — which may help to explain why he was selected for the next All-Star game despite a 3-12 record at the break (he finished 10-19).
- More family connections: Cards #2 hitter Harry Walker is the son of one Dixie Walker, the brother of another, and the nephew of Ernie Walker. Speaking of Walkers, Walker Cooper returned to St. Louis to finish his career in 1956-57, age 41-42; his daughter married Don Blasingame, the Cards’ regular 2B from 1956-59. Marty Marion‘s older brother, Red, played a few games in the majors. Marty put in 11 years as an every-day player, plus 5 more full years as a manager, all before he turned 39; he died at 93 not two years ago.
- Braves’ 2B Eddie Joost goes 0-for-3 and is justifiably lifted for pinch-hitting pitcher Jim Tobin, who can actually hit, and singles. Joost bats .185 that year, the lowest qualifying BA from 1919-90; the glasses (and the walks & HRs) are still years away. Joost died a month after Marion in 2011, age 94.
- Boston cleanup man Butch Nieman averages 111 games and a 116 OPS from 1943-45, but he’s gone from the majors once the veterans return. Nieman plays 1947-51 for class C Topeka (near his hometown), winning 5 straight Western Association HR crowns, including margins of 29-14, 34-20, and 26-19. In 1950, Nieman out-homers young Mickey Mantle, 28-26, though Mick leads in BA, SLG and TB. Nieman also averaged 141 walks from 1947-50 (per B-R Bullpen).
- Braves’ RF Chuck Workman hit 10 HRs in ’43 … and led the team, whose 39 taters tied for last in the NL. But then, NL HRs were scarce as hens’ teeth in 1943; no NL year since 1921 saw a lower HR total or average per game.
- Fun with names: Boston’s #7-8 hitters were Whitey Wietelmann and Heinie Heltzel, who was replaced by Clyde Kluttz. (Name the source: “Despite all evidence to the contrary, there has never been, nor could there ever be, a major league ballplayer named Clyde Kluttz.”)
September 28, 1943: His second 2-triple game of the year gives Musial 20 three-baggers, tying the club’s live-ball record which has not been reached since. The only later Redbird with two 2-triple games in a year, or with 19+ triples in a year, is Garry Templeton (in 1980 and 1979, respectively). Templeton is also the only Cardinal with a 200-hit season younger than Musial.
- Rookie 2B Lou Klein plays 159 games for the ’43 Cards (including WS), batting .287 with a 111 OPS+, and ranks 3rd in the league with 5.8 WAR (2.9 dWAR). But he’s replaced by Emil Verban the next year, and Klein plays just 151 games the rest of his career. Klein was born in New Orleans in 1918, the same year my dad was born in nearby Golden Meadow, and he died in Metairie, LA in 1976, the last year I lived in that N.O. suburb.
August 6, 1944: After a 13-game hitting streak (.510, 18 Runs, 14 walks, 2 strikeouts), Musial goes 0-for-7 in 14 innings, his worst oh-fer.
- St. Louis wins anyway; they’ve been running away from the pack since May, going 49-11 in July & August to reach a pinnacle of 91-30. Of all the .700 teams — 1902 Pirates, 1906 Cubs, 1907 Cubs, 1909 Pirates, 1927 Yankees, 1931 A’s, 1939 Yankees, 1954 Indians, 1998 Yankees and 2001 Mariners – only the ’98 Yanks matched that 91-30 start. The Pirates are playing .600 ball, better than any AL team, and they win the season series from the Cards by 12-10 (no one else better than 8-14) — yet they’re dead before Labor Day. The Cards coast home to 105 wins, their 3rd straight year of 105+. No other team has won at least 103 games for three straight years.
- In spite of this, the only Hall of Famers from this Cardinals dynasty are Musial, Enos Slaughter (1942 and ’46) and Red Schoendienst (1946).
- Out of 2,413 games with at least 4 PAs, Musial reaches safely in 89.0%. (Bonds 89.8%, Ruth 91.8%, Williams 92.9%.)
August 22, 1944: In a 2-1 defeat of Boston that caps a twinbill sweep, Musial drives in both runs separately, while Max Lanier (the defending ERA and ERA+ champ) throws his only 1-hitter, allowing just Butch Nieman‘s infield hit in the 1st. No Cardinal threw a no-hitter during Musial’s career. Lon Warneke tossed one the month before Musial’s 1941 debut, and the next came from Ray Washburn in 1968. There were 14 Cardinal 1-hitters between Musial’s first and last game, including this near-perfecto.
- Hal Lanier, son of Max, plays 10 years in the majors, compiling a 50 OPS+ — the worst of any live-ball hitter with 3,000 PAs. On the bright side, in his managerial debut, Hal leads the 1986 Astros to the 2nd division title in club history, and is named Manager of the Year. Two years later, he’s gone, never to return as a big-league skipper.
October 7, 1944: After the underdog Browns took 2 of the first 3 games in the Trolley Series, Musial helps turn the tide with his best World Series effort: 3-for-4 with a walk, a double and a 2-run HR in the 1st that stands up all day and breaks a 9-WS-game ribbie drought.
- The Cards win game 5 by 2-0 behind Mort Cooper‘s 12 strikeouts (only Gibson ’68 had more Ks in a WS shutout) and HRs from Ray Sanders and Danny Litwhiler. It’s the 2nd WS game ever where the winning team scored only on solo HRs.
- The game 6 clincher turns on clutch relief work by Ted Wilks: When the Browns get the tying runs into scoring position with 1 out in the 6, the rookie Wilks — 17-4 on the year, but torched in his game 3 start — comes in and thwarts the rally, retiring the last 11 batters in a row, with 4 strikeouts. It remains the longest perfect relief stint in WS history. Wilks is going so well that when the Cards have a chance to stretch the lead in the 8th (2 RISP with 2 out), the sick-swinging Wilks is allowed to bat; he whiffs and they don’t score, but the champagne still flows.
- In 23 career WS games, this is Musial’s only HR and only 3-hit game.
May 19, 1948: In Ebbets Field, Musial’s home away from home, he goes 5-5-5-2 with a walk, his only 5-run game, as the Cards rally to win, 14-7, on 18 hits and no HRs. The next day’s line is 6-3-4-2, HR, 2 doubles, completing an 11-for-15 series that lifts his BA over .400, and he’s hitting .403 at the All-Star break. He “fades” to .376, the highest NL average from 1936-98. His .702 slugging is the NL high for 1931-93, and his 429 Total Bases are the most in either league in the last 80 years.
- In 11 Ebbets Field games that year, Musial hits .522/1.582 and scores 17 Runs. In 163 career games in Brooklyn, he batted .359/1.108 (his best marks of any field with 40+ games), with 141 Runs and 126 RBI.
- Starter Don Newcombe, the eventual Rookie of the Year, is knocked out before retiring a batter for the only time in his career.
- St. Louis held the lead almost continuously into the final week, and with 5 games left they led by 2 in the loss column. But they lost 4 of 5 against second-division Pittsburgh and Chicago, while Brooklyn won 3 of 4, including a 10-inning road win on the final day to capture the flag. In the Cards’ 4-game skid, Musial went 6-for-18 with 3 doubles, but the rest of the club hit .236.
- The Cards finish 2nd for the 3rd straight year. They copped the pennant each of Musial’s first four full years, but were never close again until his final year.
July 27, 1950: St. Louis scores 10 in the last 2 innings to blow out Brooklyn, 13-3. Five different Dodgers allow at least a hit and a run, but none serves up a hit to Musial, and his 30-game hitting streak ends 3 games shy of Rogers Hornsby‘s club record (1922). Albert Pujols matched Musial’s 30 in 2003, the only other Cardinal ever to reach that mark.
- During Musial’s career, the only other streaks of 30+ are Joe DiMaggio‘s record 56 in 1941 (ended before Musial’s debut), Tommy Holmes‘s 37 in 1945 (then the modern NL record), and Dom DiMaggio‘s 34 in 1949. The next to reach 30 in a season was Willie Davis with 31 in 1969.
- The Cards knock a season-high 5 HRs, with 2 by Chuck Diering (3 for the year, 14 career).
September 3, 1950: In a Forbes Field slugfest, Musial logs a (known) career-best .908 WPA with a line of 4-4-4-3 and 2 walks. His third hit is a 2-run HR, off former teammate Murry Dickson, with 2 gone in the 8th, flipping the Birds into the lead. The Bucs go back in front on Ralph Kiner‘s second HR of the game — his 210th HR in 728 career games, by far the fastest such start to date (since topped by Ryan Howard). Rookie CF Hopalong Howerton ties it with a HR in the 9th, and Musial grabs the lead with an RBI single in the 10th, then scores on Enos Slaughter‘s triple. But in the home 10th, Harry “The Cat” Brecheen sheds the lead on consecutive HRs by Pete Castiglione and Bob Dillinger – respectively, the lone pinch-HR, and one of 10 career taters. With 2 down and the bags empty, Brecheen intentionally walks Kiner — the only searchable bases-empty IBB of Kiner’s career, and the only one in the majors from 1946-52. Gus Bell, who already has 2 triples and a single, lifts a double that brings Kiner all the way around with the winning run.
- Pittsburgh had five walk-off RBI that year, including both times they saw Brecheen. On July 8, he gave up the only game-ending slam in the league that year to Jack Phillips (9 career HRs), his only career slam and only pinch-HR. Brecheen ends his career 10-13 against the Pirates; against his other six NL foes, he’s 118-66 (.641).
- What happened to Bill Howerton’s career? After a cup o’ joe at 27, the left-swinging OF played 110 games for the 1950 Cards, batting .281 with a .375 OBP and some power. But in ’51 he couldn’t crack the lineup, and after just 75 PAs in the first 53 games, he was packaged in trade to the Pirates (the same deal that exiled local boy Joe Garagiola). There he started regularly, with a 124 OPS+ in 80 games. His combined stats for 1950-51 were 685 PAs, 122 OPS+, 22 HRs, 100 RBI, 36 doubles, 11 triples, 83 walks and a .365 OBP. Yet in ’52, the woeful Pirates — a team that totaled 22 HRs from LHBs, en route to 112 losses and a .231 team BA, with 19-year-old Bobby Del Greco in CF (he had never played above class C and hit .217 with 1 HR and a 60 OPS+ for the Bucs, then went back to the minors for three years), and 20-year-old Tony Bartirome at 1B (.220, no HRs, 48 OPS+, never again seen in the majors) — would not put Howerton into their lineup. After 31 PAs in the first 20 games (.320 BA, .452 OBP), Howerton was waived to the Giants, where he played even less (18 PAs in 6 weeks), and was finally sent to Minneapolis in June. Despite leading the American Association with an 1.127 OPS, he was released at the end of 1952 and never got back to the majors.
May 12, 1951: After sitting out two games while his team’s losing streak reached five, Musial comes off the bench for the first time in over a year — pinch-hitting for a pinch-hitter in the 8th — and slugs a 3-run HR off Reds relief ace Frank Smith, creating a 6-4 lead. It’s his only pinch-HR until 1962.
- Musial starts the next 133 games of 1951, sitting out the season finale (2nd game of a doubleheader). From Opening Day 1952, he starts 862 straight games through July 21, 1957 (not starting the 2nd game of that doubleheader), and plays in a NL-record 895 consecutive games.
- Sept. 24, 1963 — Counting down the last four games of his own career, Musial plays against the Cubs and Billy Williams, who homers off Bob Gibson — one game after starting the streak that would reach 1,117 consecutive games, breaking Musial’s NL record.
July 24, 1953: With his team behind 1-0 in the 6th, 2 outs and the whiff-prone slugger Steve Bilko at bat, Musial steals home for the 5th and final time in his career. But the Phillies win it, 2-1, on Granny Hamner‘s walk-off HR, completing the only 2-HR game of his career. Both shots came off rookie Harvey Haddix, who finished 20-9, 3.06, but lost the ROY vote to Jim Gilliam.
September 7, 1953: Musial’s other 1-0 winning RBI comes on a double off Cincinnati’s Herm Wehmeier, in the only quality start Wehmeier managed that year in 10 tries. Out of 610 modern pitchers with at least 200 starts, only Jimmy Haynes had a worse ERA+ than Wehmeier’s 84. But he had his moments, especially with the 1956 Cards:
- In a 12-IP, 2-1 win over Warren Spahn in the next-to-last game of 1956, Wehmeier allowed a HR in the 1st, then blanked the Braves for 11 frames, knocking them out of 1st place; Musial doubled and scored the winning run in the 12th. (Meanwhile, Brooklyn swept Pittsburgh on the final weekend to pass the Braves for their 6th pennant in 10 years with Jackie Robinson.)
- Wehmeier also outlasted the 1st-place Braves in August for a 10-inning, 3-2 win, driving in Bobby Del Greco (who still couldn’t hit) with the go-ahead run against Lew Burdette. The Cards played three games that year in which both starters went 10+ IP, and Wehmeier started and won all three.
- Musial faced Spahn more than any other pitcher, and treated him like every other Tom, Dick and Harry: .330 BA, 1.016 OPS in 327 PAs.
May 2, 1954: Game 1 is the first of Stan’s two career 3-HR games. The second HR, a 2-run shot in the 5th off southpaw Johnny Antonelli, reverses a 1-run deficit; the third is a 3-run clout that busts a 6-all tie in the 8th. In the nightcap, Musial homers twice against Hoyt Wilhelm. Five HRs in a doubleheader sets a new record that has been equaled just once.
- Also enjoying a career day in the twinbill is rookie Tom Alston, the first black player in Cardinals history. (Only seven years after integration!) He goes 5 for 6 with a HR, a double, 5 RBI and 3 walks. Alston’s first month is a roaring success; 27 RBI in 28 games, hitting .308/.930. But he slumps in the next six weeks and is sent back to AAA, virtually ending his big-league career.
- Willie Mays goes 1-for-7 in the doubleheader. Through 17 games (and following his 2-year Army stint), the Say-Hey Kid is hitting .229. Then he breaks out: 26 games, 13 HRs, .419 BA. Going into the season finale, Mays trails teammate Don Mueller by less than a quarter of a point in the batting race. Each gets a hit his first time up and makes out the second. Mays pulls ahead with a triple and double, while Mueller makes two outs. But the game goes into extra innings, and Mueller doubles to start the 10th, with Mays two spots away. If Mueller gets one more hit while Mays makes two more outs, Mueller would win the crown by .3441 to .3339. But Mays is intentionally walked, Mueller makes an out in the 11th, and Mays wins his only batting title.
- In game 2, Royce Lint relieves during New York’s 8-run 3rd and winds up with his first big-league loss, the day after notching his first win. At 33 and in his 13th pro season, Lint has finally reached the majors after a 22-10 year in the PCL. He won’t last the season, but he does make one very nice memory: On July 4 in Wrigley, he shuts out the Cubs and rips a 2-run double off Jim Brosnan for his only MLB hit. Lint is one of 58 pitchers who had a shutout and no more than 2 career wins.
- Lint also played a small role in this freak game – the first time that a team used 8 or more pitchers in a 9-inning win. From the 6th through 8th innings, the lead changed hands in six consecutive half-innings. (Lint’s contribution: allowing a double and a walk, then booting a sac bunt.) There were five such games in 2012, including two straight by the Giants in Denver.
May 5, 1955: In his first career start, Tom Lasorda gets a thrill by whiffing Musial with men on 3rd and 2nd and no outs. Lasorda doesn’t allow a hit, but his 1st inning begins walk, wild pitch, walk, wild pitch, whiff, wild pitch, and he doesn’t come back for the 2nd. Lasorda also faced Musial in his MLB debut (sac fly), and walked him in their other meeting.
- Lasorda also struck out Mickey Mantle in back-to-back games; unfortunately, Tommy also gave up 9 runs in 4 innings in those contests, and his MLB career ended a month later in a blaze of inglory.
April 17, 1956: In the traditional Opening Day game in Cincinnati, Musial redeems an 0-for-4 day with a tiebreaking 9th-inning HR off Joe Nuxhall after Red Schoendienst‘s 2-out bingle. It’s Musial’s third and last Opening Day home run. Vinegar Bend Mizell gets the win in his return from a 2-year Army hitch, with last-out help from 41-year-old Ellis Kinder in his Cardinals debut. New skipper Fred Hutchinson, hired despite a .397 winning percentage in 2-1/2 years managing Detroit, gets off on the right foot. Five years later, he led the Reds to their first pennant in two decades; but three years after that, he died of cancer at age 45.
- Nuxhall is one of the few pitchers Musial saw a lot but didn’t master: .254 BA, .686 OPS, 2 HRs in 140 known PAs. With data known for 1946-63, there were 16 pitchers Musial faced in 100+ PAs. Only Nuxhall held him below an .842 OPS or .284 BA, and his combined line against these stars was .333/.983, each a hair above his career marks.
- Frank Robinson debuts in this game, batting 7th, and knocks a ground-rule double in his first time up; he later draws an intentional walk, and will retire ranked #3 in that category (since the stat became official). The rookie Robinson becomes one of the youngest to start an All-Star game, batting 2nd in front of Musial. Robby strikes out in both his trips, but Musial swats the last of his 6 All-Star game HRs, answering the back-to-back jacks hit by Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle off Warren Spahn.
August 21, 1957: The only time the batting race came down to Mays and Musial, and Stan pulls a Secretariat. Willie trails by 6 points heading into a 3-game set in the Polo Grounds, and he holds his own with 4 for 11. But Stan goes 7 for 9 and homers in each game, building a 14-point bulge that will not be threatened — especially since he hits .500 in an injury-shortened September. It’s the 7th and last batting crown for Musial, and his 15th straight year at .310 or better.
- Two days after the Mays showdown, Musial misses a game for the first time since the end of 1951, ending his NL record streak at 895. He’ll miss 15 straight games, returning to play part-time in September (despite a fractured shoulder) as the Cards tried to chase down Milwaukee. By my count, it’s the only time he ever missed 10 or more games in a row.
- Hank Sauer‘s HR makes him the first 40-year-old with 20+ HRs; nine more have gone “20@40″ since. When Musial retired, only he, Sauer, Ruth, Ted Williams and Cy Williams had hit 200+ HRs from age 31 onward; 42 more players have since joined those ranks, including 23 in the last 20 years.
April 11, 1962: Beginning his 20th full year, the 41-year-old Musial drives in the first run ever against the newborn Mets with career hit number 3,402. During the year, he will pass Honus Wagner, Cap Anson and Tris Speaker to trail only Ty Cobb on the all-time hits list. The Mets don’t get him out all day, as Musial adds 2 more hits (including double #698).
- A week later, facing the Mets in the Polo Grounds, Musial knocks in 3 with a pair of singles and ties Babe Ruth for #2 in Total Bases. On July 8, he treats Mets fans to his second (and last) 3-HR game. He hit .468 against the ’62 Mets (22 for 47) with 4 HRs, all in the Polo Grounds. His career line in that park: .343 BA, 49 HRs in 171 games, his best HR rate of any park.
- The Cards start off 7-0, yet trail the 9-0 Pirates. After reaching 10-0, the Bucs take their first loss from the 0-10 Mets, and within a month they’re at .500; Pittsburgh musters 93 wins but are never in the race after July.
June 18, 1962: In Dodger Stadium, Musial singles twice off Sandy Koufax and passes Cobb for #1 in Total Bases. Bob Gibson duels Koufax into a scoreless 9th, but Tommy Davis wins it with a solo HR. Koufax, the reigning strikeout king, gives just 5 singles and fans 9, but Musial is 2 for 3 with a groundout; the Cards’ 9th ended with Ken Boyer caught stealing as Musial stood at bat.
- Against Koufax, Musial went 13 for 38 with 2 HRs, 6 walks and 5 strikeouts, although most of the damage was done in the ’50s.
September 27, 1962: In Candlestick, with the Giants desperately chasing LA — 2 games back with 4 to play — and Billy O’Dell chasing his 20th win, Musial goes 5-for-5 in a 7-4 win, his last 5-hit game (a day after hitting his second 3-run pinch-HR, off southpaw Billy Pierce). The Cards then do the Giants a huge favor, sweeping the Dodgers in LA on the final weekend. In the 3-2 opener, Musial drives in the tying run in the 5th after a Curt Flood sacrifice, then sets up the winner in the 9th, pulling a hit into RF off lefty relief ace Ron Perranoski that sends Flood to 3rd with no outs. Then Ernie Broglio stones LA on 2 hits in a 2-0 win, and Curt Simmons completes the sweep, 1-0, on Gene Oliver‘s 8th-inning HR off Johnny Podres.
- In 1962, Stan hit .330 with .508 SLG and .924 OPS, still the highest modern marks for a player age 41 or older.
May 2, 1963: “It’s 715!” … doubles, that is, as Musial clears the bases and becomes the 6th player to reach 1,900 RBI. The next day in Cincinnati, Stan the Man rests while Charlie Hustle strokes the first triple and HR of his career (and first 2 RBI) off Ernie Broglio, while Joe Nuxhall shuts out the Cards.
- After 14 games, Rose has 2 triples and that home run, but the first of his 746 career doubles is still a week away. Rose totaled 38 doubles in his first 2 years, then averaged 38 per year for his next 16 seasons. Rose and Musial played against each other 14 times, but they never doubled in the same game; Musial sat out three other Cards-Reds games that year, and Rose doubled in each one.
- Musial was there at Nuxhall’s debut 19 years before, when he became the youngest ever to play in the majors (then didn’t resurface for eight years). The Cards won that game, 18-0, with 19 singles, 2 doubles and 14 walks (5 by Nuxhall, 6 by Buck Fausett – even if you’ve never heard of him, you know his nickname was Leaky); Musial went 4-4-3-3 with 3 walks in his first 4-Run game. In ’63, Nuxhall — now 34, having been released by three teams in the past two years — notched career highs of 4.6 WAR, 169 SO and 4.33 SO/BB.
- For 1960-63, Broglio ranked 5th in ERA+ and WAR, and 15th in Wins and Strikeouts. Landing Broglio in ’64 (plus others) for Lou Brock, who at that point owned a .306 OBP in 1,300 PAs, could have been a coup for Chicago, but his arm went bad and he won just 7 games after the trade, while Brock immediately transformed into a star.
- The record stands until 1973, broken by Hank Aaron‘s 704th HR. Barry Bonds passed Musial in 2006 (the same year he passed Ruth in HRs).
- In 1972, Aaron passed Musial in Total Bases. Stan remains 2nd all-time in Total Bases and 3rd in Extra-Base Hits.
July 28, 1963: In the midst of his career year, Chicago’s Dick Ellsworth fans 10 Cardinals in a 5-1 win. In his 3,003rd game (counting WS), Musial finally strikes out 3 times in a game, for the only time in his career. Musial has just 64 games of 2+ strikeouts; Adam Dunn topped that last year alone, and both he and Pedro Alvarez had 20 games of 3+ whiffs in 2012.
- Ellsworth finishes 22-10 with a 2.11 ERA, pitching 21 of 37 games in Wrigley; the Cubs are 60-70 without him. He leads both leagues with a 167 ERA+, and tops Koufax in total WAR, 9.6-9.5 (including batting), with a better HR rate in spite of their parks — but Sandy goes 25-5 and wins both Cy Young and MVP.
September 16, 1963: After trailing LA by 7 games on August 29, the Cards have won 19 of 20, pulling within a game with 10 games left, starting with three head-to-head in St. Louis. The Dodgers take a 1-0 lead to the 7th, but Musial ties it with a HR off southpaw Johnny Podres; Musial hits Podres .352/1.001 in 122 PAs. (It’s #475, his last HR.) But in the 9th, reliever Bobby Shantz, riding a 14-inning scoreless string, gives up 2 runs, on a Willie Davis single and Julian Javier‘s error, and the Cards go quickly in their half, including a Musial groundout. Game 2 is a Koufax shutout, win #24 en route to his first CYA; he’s 4-0, 0.96 against the Cards.
- The finale is a crusher in 13 innings. Gibson cruises to the 8th up 5-1, but LA tallies thrice off Gibson and Shantz, and Dick Nen ties it in the 9th with a HR in his MLB debut (2nd AB). After singling in the 7th, Musial comes out for pinch-runner Gary Kolb, who is caught stealing to end that inning. Dick Groat opens the home 10th with a triple, but Kolb (now in Musial’s spot) strikes out, and after two intentional walks, the threat withers on a pair of groundouts. Lew Burdette, acquired by STL at the deadline, squirms out of trouble in the 10th, 11th and 12th, but LA breaks through in the 13th, helped by Javier’s 2-base throwing error. The Cards go in order against Ron Perranoski, who lasts 6 scoreless innings for his 16th relief win. St. Louis now trails by 4 with 7 games left, and they get no closer.
- St. Louis will win 3 pennants and 2 World Series in their first five years post-Musial. From 1941-68, the Dodgers won 11 pennants, the Cards 7, the Giants and Braves 3 each, and one apiece for the Cubs, Braves, Phillies, and Reds.
Subscribe to: RSS feed