SI Vault
 
THE DESPERATE CHASE
William Leggett
September 23, 1963
One of baseball's famed clichés is the cry of the team that is almost out of the race: "We've got to win 'em all." This is what the Cardinals were saying three weeks ago when they trailed the Dodgers by seven games. Since then, in the hottest pennant drive in memory, St. Louis has climbed upward—crucial day by crucial day. Last week, true to the cliché, they won 'em all. Here, game by game, is an intimate look at the Cards' dramatic pursuit
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
September 23, 1963

The Desperate Chase

One of baseball's famed clichés is the cry of the team that is almost out of the race: "We've got to win 'em all." This is what the Cardinals were saying three weeks ago when they trailed the Dodgers by seven games. Since then, in the hottest pennant drive in memory, St. Louis has climbed upward—crucial day by crucial day. Last week, true to the cliché, they won 'em all. Here, game by game, is an intimate look at the Cards' dramatic pursuit

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6

In the eighth the Cubs look like they can blow the ball game apart. A single and a walk put two on, and Billy Williams, a good lefty power hitter, comes to the plate. "Recently," figures Flood, "I've been getting balls hit to me in critical situations, and sometimes I break out in a cold sweat under them." Flood sees Taylor throw a fast ball on the outside corner and leans to his right. Williams lines the ball to left center for at least a double and two runs. But Flood is running at top speed and might get there. No, he can't.

But instead of cutting the ball off and holding Williams to a double, Flood is still gambling to reach it. In the last possible instant he catches the ball, and the Cardinal team comes to the top of the dugout steps and applauds him.

With a runner on first and two out in the bottom of the eighth, Mike Shannon comes to bat. In the seventh he had replaced Musial. Along with Gary Kolb and Dal Maxvill, Shannon must play his games as a defensive man only. The three call themselves the Chinese Bandits. Flood is in the on-deck circle and watches Shannon challenge Ellsworth. The Cardinals need some elbow room here if they can get it. Shannon hits his first major league home run, 390 feet to left center field, and the final score is 4-0.

Sad Sam Jones, the ancient relief pitcher, turns Mirandy up loud in the dressing room. He shakes a toothpick from an old olive oil bottle and talks slowly to Shannon. "Did you watch it go in?"

"No," says Shannon, "I thought it was up enough to get in, but I just started to run."

"When I get one," says Sam, "I like to watch it go in. Kinda make sure it don't hurt any children." Jones roars.

The Dodgers win in Pittsburgh 9-4.

THURSDAY, SEPT. 12

Curt Flood rises early this morning and reads James Baldwin's Another Country. "It is very hard and very slow for me to read this," he says. "I feel it all so deeply." He takes out a pencil and his sketch pad and does some cartoons of the Cardinals making things tough for the Dodgers. "The Dodgers," he says, "are playing great ball." He sketches because "it keeps the pressure away from me." Today all the Cardinals would like a "laugher," an easy game.

The Cards get a two-run lead off their old teammate, Larry Jackson, and in the fifth inning, when Jackson walks White with the bases loaded, Chicago's Don Elston is called from the bullpen. Flood drives a single to center, and the Cards are ahead 5-0. They get their "laugher," 8-3. In the dressing room, as Mirandy blares away, Dick Groat lies on a training table with a "deep heat machine" on his chest. "It hurt me to yell, so I asked to come out in the eighth inning," he says. "We cannot afford to lose one single game. The Dodger game is going to be broadcast here tonight, but I'm not going to listen to it. I'm just going to think all night about Warren Spahn."

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6