SI Vault
 
MIRACLE IN ST. LOUIS
William Leggett
October 12, 1964
It was the week that wasn't—or, anyway, the week that couldn't have been. In the American League the Yankees, dead six weeks earlier, effortlessly contained closing rallies by the White Sox and Orioles to win by the biggest one-game margin in baseball history. In the National League it was stark melodrama. Philadelphia was dying. St. Louis was shot through with rumor. Cincinnati was riven with dissension. The Cardinals choked miserably, then rallied to win their pennant by the smallest one-game margin in baseball history. On Sunday the melodrama finally ended in laughter and champagne, but for six long days the tension had been almost unbearable
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
October 12, 1964

Miracle In St. Louis

It was the week that wasn't—or, anyway, the week that couldn't have been. In the American League the Yankees, dead six weeks earlier, effortlessly contained closing rallies by the White Sox and Orioles to win by the biggest one-game margin in baseball history. In the National League it was stark melodrama. Philadelphia was dying. St. Louis was shot through with rumor. Cincinnati was riven with dissension. The Cardinals choked miserably, then rallied to win their pennant by the smallest one-game margin in baseball history. On Sunday the melodrama finally ended in laughter and champagne, but for six long days the tension had been almost unbearable

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2

Late that afternoon Cardinal Owner Gussie Busch came to the dressing room and offered Keane a contract with a substantial raise for next year. Keane said that would have to wait until the season was over. All week there had been rumors that Busch already had signed Leo Durocher for 1965. Busch denied it, but many people did not believe him.

Busch sat in his front-row box next to the Cardinal dugout during the game, leaning forward with eager anticipation. Like everyone else, he expected the Cards to push the Mets around—but they never did. Little Al Jackson pitched a masterful game to beat Gibson 1-0. When their own game was over, the Cardinals sat quietly in the dressing room and listened to the final outs of Cincinnati's 4-3 loss. There were no cheers, just the sigh of relief that comes from the occupants of a car when they luckily avoid a major accident.

The accident happened Saturday afternoon in St. Louis. On the first pitch of the game Catcher Tim McCarver dropped a foul fly that allowed the Mets' Billy Klaus to stay at the plate. Klaus then hit an easy line drive that Lou Brock misplayed in left field, and before the inning was over the Mets had a four-run lead. They won 15-5. St. Louis made five errors.

Brock, put his head alongside Flood's in the dressing room. "It will be different tomorrow," he said. "Somebody's been putting Yankees into the Mets' uniforms. Tomorrow they'll play like the Mets again."

Flood sipped a beer and said, "Yeah, but tomorrow we better not play like the Indianapolis Clowns again." Then he walked over to Curt Simmons, the scheduled Cardinal pitcher for the last game of the regular season. "Please, baby," he said.

That night Mike Shannon told Judy to be ready to see the Cards clinch on Sunday. Javier, whose left hip had been injured in a close play at first, was in bed with ice packs. Dal Maxvill, Javier's probable replacement, played with his two young children and thought back to May when he was so discouraged at being farmed out that he was ready to quit baseball. Groat could hardly sleep in his room at the Bel Air Motel and paced the floor almost all night. As he paced he heard the footsteps of other Cardinals through the thin walls.

Sunday morning Groat awoke logy, Javier's hip felt terrible, and as Shannon was getting ready to go to work his 15-month-old daughter Peggy spilled a cup of boiling water on her arm and he had to take her to the hospital. Maxvill arrived at the stadium early and was told by Keane that he would be playing second base, and Kathleen Boyer got tied up in traffic and missed part of the first inning.

Nothing much happened in that first inning anyway, but in their half of the fifth the Cards won the pennant with three runs—driven in by Maxvill, Boyer and Groat. They added three in the sixth and three more in the eighth, and when Tim McCarver caught a pop foul to end the game the score was 11-5. Curt Simmons had been relieved by Gibson, and Gibson by Barney Schultz, but it was an easy victory.

As the Cards poured champagne all over themselves in the clubhouse, 3,000 people gathered under the stairway that leads to it. They began to chant, "We want Boyer," and Boyer came out. Then Brock, then Flood, then White. They called for every player and each took a bow. They called for Johnny Keane and he stood and took off his cap. McCarver appeared in his Tom Werewolf mask and Sadecki came on as Joe Quasimodo.

With the shouts still in their ears, Boyer and Groat sat on a table in the trainer's room. "I'll sleep tonight," Groat said. Boyer held his glass of champagne near his lips. "Fourteen years of baseball," he said, "that's how long I've waited for this glass of champagne. Thank you, Philadelphia. Thank you, Pittsburgh. Thank you, Cincinnati. Thank you, Cardinals."

1 2