This Is Very Sad.

November 4, 2011 at 11:29 am (Uncategorized)

A week to the day of one of the greatest celebrations in St. Louis Cardinals history–the improbable comebacks of the Game 6 win, Bob Forsch–the fellow I wrote about last Friday and the gent who threw out the first pitch of Game 7 of the World Series–died suddenly at his home last night of a heart aneurysm.

So very sad, and feeling a bit too old right now.

A quick story, if you will, to illustrate why Bob Forsch is revered and greatly mourned today.  In 1987, The Cardinals averted a late-season collapse (brought on by an ankle injury to slugger Jack Clark that left a team that was cruising through July fighting for their postseason in September) and were in the NLCS, facing the then-hated Giants.  Early on in the season, Giants outfielder Candy Maldonado had criticized St. Louis and its fans as being part of a “cowtown” (when the NLCS returned to St. Louis for game 6, Cardinals fans turned up with what seemed like 50,000 cowbells, banging them incessantly; that whole “best fans in baseball thing” wasn’t bestowed, it was earned.)  Meanwhile, Maldonado’s teammate Jeffrey Leonard had sniffed about the Cards not even being the equals of the Giants.  Leonard crushed a couple of long home runs early in that series, and when Jeffrey rounded the bases he did it at a pace would have had him losing a footrace to some glaciers out there.  He did this “one flap down” thing, and generally just acted like an ass out there.  Leonard lived to show up other players, and as far as I can tell was then and remains now one of the most-hated players in St. Louis sports history.  Think Brandon Phillips only without the sly humor that lets you know he’s putting everyone on, or Nyjer Morgan with actual talent.

And so it’s Game 3 of the NLCS, and the series is in San Francisco.  With rookie pitcher Joe Magrane on the hill, Jeffrey Leonard has already hit his 3rd HR in as many games in the series, and the Cardinals trail 4-0.  Whitey Herzog brings in Bob Forsch to pitch the 4th inning.  Forsch, by then, was in the twilight of his career, an aging vet who only survived on guile and pitch location.  With 1 out in the fifth, the hated Jeffrey Leonard came up to bat…and Forsch promptly absolutely drilled the guy in the ribs.  Pasted him.  Leonard took his base like a pro, but after Forsch wriggled out of the bases-loaded jam the HBP (and then some awful infield play) got him into, the Cardinals stormed back to win that game 6-5, and eventually won the NL pennant in 7 games (with the Giants shut out without scoring in games 6 and 7 amid a cacophany of cowbells when the series came back to St. Louis.)  At any rate, even as an aging long-reliever past his prime, Forschie still was the heart and soul of the Redbird pitching staff, a guy the team rallied around.  I don’t think that team wins the 1987 pennant without Bob sticking an 88-mph fastball in Penitentiary Face’s side.

3 Comments

  1. Stu said,

    Truly sad indeed, but in a way it’s nice to know he must have still been feeling the glow of seeing his team achieve a glorious victory – and of being a visible part of it. If you have to go, perhaps it’s best to go on a high note…

  2. Brian S. said,

    Great stuff. I think it was Chili Davis who called STL a cow town though.

  3. Chris said,

    Brian, you’re right! Thanks for the correction, it was indeed Chili Davis who made the “cowtown” comment. Candy was the guy who lost that tailing line drive off the bat of Tony Pena in the lights that led to the only run that scored in Game 6.

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