After This, I Never Had A Chance.

August 22, 2012 at 3:47 pm (Uncategorized)

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30 years ago today, the moment that made me a Cardinals fan for life.

The situation: bottom of the 12th inning in a close game against a team that had given the Redbirds fits throughout the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The Giants had the Cardinals number always during that era, it seemed. The ’82 Cardinals were trying to hold off the Phillies for the division lead, and the Phils had already posted a win that day. If the Cardinals lost, the lead in the NL East would be a single game.

The score was 4-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth, Giants leading with Greg Minton on the mound. He retired Ozzie, but then plunked David Green (Green was supposed to be a 5-tool guy with power and speed, but never panned out as anything but an extra outfielder thanks to drink and drug problems). Green stole second, but Tommy Herr couldn’t get him home and there were two outs, with Ken Oberkfell coming up. Kenny Oberkfell was a nice slap hitter, but a terrible RBI guy. With RISP he was probably the last guy Whitey Herzog wanted up there, but he was out of hitters. Down to his last strike, Oberkfell doubled to tie the game.

And so the 12th. Silent George Hendrick led off with a flyout off skillful Giants bullpen ace Gary Lavelle, who was straining in his third inning of work. Glenn Brummer was the third Cardinals catcher (yes kids, back in the days when you only had 10 pitchers instead of 12, you could carry a third catcher)and had come into the game after Whitey pinch hit for backup catcher Gene Tenace (who’d started) with Steve Braun. Braun had a bad hamstring, so Whitey had sent Brummer out to pinch run for Braun, which drew catcalls from the dugout given that the popular Brummer was possibly the slowest player in baseball. Willie McGee followed Brummer’s hit with a single. Julio Gonzalez–who’d come into the game after Whitey had pinch hit for Mike Ramsey earlier–popped out in foul territory. 2 outs. Ozzie up, 2 outs, runner on second. Ozzie topped a ball hit weakly between the pitcher and third and Lavelle didn’t even bother to throw. Bases loaded, and David Green up with 2 outs.

Lavelle put up two quick strikes on Green. Brummer had noticed the Giants pitcher totally ignoring him and pitching from the windup, not the stretch…and so on the third pitch, Brummer lit out from third to the shock of everyone in the stadium–fans, opponents, teammates, and his own manager. He was called safe–that we know. Lavelle and his manager Frank Robinson angrily argued that the pitch Brummer stole on should’ve been called strike 3 and ended the inning. The replay above shows it was probably high and a little outside, actually.

For Cardinals fans old enough to remember that game, it’s like their own happier JFK moment. They all remember where they were and what they were doing when Brummer stole home. (Me, I was with my mom at my stepbrother’s house and the game was on the radio on his back deck and he was grilling pork steaks and I was probably making a nuisance of my young self.)

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