Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Bob Gibson

I Never Got to See Stan

The more I learned about the Cardinals as I was growing up, the more I realized that there were 3 players that I never really got to see play, but desperately wanted to:

  1. Bob Gibson was first in my mind. I read the book From Ghetto to Glory for a book report in junior high, and I was hooked on this almost mythological man that pitched on a broken leg and struck out 18 in a World Series game and would knock his grandmother on her ear if she dug in too much on him in the batter’s box. I asked my dad about watching Gibby pitch and if he really was that mean and if he had ever seen a more awesome pitcher.
  2. Ozzie Smith was second. I really started focusing in on players and teams around the time Ozzie retired. I saw a few of his last games on TV, and I know I was at the stadium a handful of times when he was still diving across the turf and back-flipping on to the field, but I don’t remember it. I don’t remember him. Considering the shortstops the Cardinals have gone through in the last few years, even though there have been a few dazzling plays, I know it doesn’t compare.
  3. I never saw Stan Musial. Like most of America, it took me awhile to really see how great “the Man” was during his career. I feel like I really didn’t figure it out until I was in college. I had heard of Stan, but I didn’t understand why he was so great.

Stan2

A perfect knight. The words make you think regal and showy and other such adjectives. Stan was none of those things. He was humble, happy, loyal, a gentleman to the core, and the nicest man you ever got to meet.

I never got to see Stan. He retired long before my parents even met. I never lived in St. Louis to just see him out and about. I never went to his restaurant and had a chance siting of him wandering around glad-handing the customers. I never got to see him drive around the warning track in a golf cart. I didn’t get to be at the stadium to Stand for Stan. I never went to Opening Day and saw him shake Tony’s hand. I never heard him play his harmonica. I wasn’t at the All-Star game in St. Louis when he got his triumphal entry that FOX didn’t even feel the need to really show on live television, and I wanted to throw things at the TV because of it.

I guess I thought I would someday. I live just 3 hours from the stadium now. I’m making plans to go to Opening Day.

I guess I thought there was still time.

I found out about Stan’s passing when I was on vacation this past weekend. In the midst of our relaxing weekend away, my husband and I sat in silence for a little while when we heard the news. I texted my parents, who hadn’t heard the news. We didn’t really have the words to describe what we were thinking. We debated on detouring through St. Louis on our way home from our trip, but it didn’t happen. We both felt drawn to the stadium, like it was calling us to come pay our respects.

I never got to see Stan, but I will never forget him.

The Top 5 Iconic Moments in Cardinal History

Sometimes the fearless leader of the UCB Daniel Shoptaw puts us on the spot with the monthly projects. January’s project is the top five moments in Cardinal history.

Five? I only get five? I don’t know how Bob Netherton managed to narrow it down, but after reading his I was spurned towards figuring out mine (So… thanks Bob!).

If you are digging back to the very beginning of the Cardinals, the pre-1900′s would be a starting point, but those moments were not really ‘iconic.’ Let’s see… where to start…

5. Bob Gibson’s 1968 season

Have you ever known a player to completely change the way the game was played singlehandedly? No, you think. That doesn’t happen. One player cannot change an entire sport. Oh yes it can…

Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
32 STL NL 22 9 .710 1.12 34 34 0 28 13 0 304.2 198 49 38 11 62 6 268 7 0 4 1161 258 0.853 5.8 0.3 1.8 7.9 4.32 AS,CYA-1,MVP-1,GG
17 Seasons 251 174 .591 2.91 528 482 21 255 56 6 3884.1 3279 1420 1258 257 1336 118 3117 102 13 108 16068 128 1.188 7.6 0.6 3.1 7.2 2.33
162 Game Avg. 17 12 .591 2.91 36 32 1 17 4 0 262 221 96 85 17 90 8 210 7 1 7 1082 128 1.188 7.6 0.6 3.1 7.2 2.33
Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB Awards
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/24/2012.

Yes, you are reading that correctly. Bob Gibson’s 1968 season was other-worldly. A 1.12 ERA, 13 complete game shutouts, giving up 38 earned runs over 304 innings… who does this?

No one, not since Bob Gibson. You see, 1968 became somewhat of a “year of the pitcher” in Major League Baseball. Run-scoring was down, and since most fans come to see at least a little bit of action at a baseball game, the powers that be determined that this was a terrible thing. The result? The actual pitchers’ mound was lowered from 15 inches to 10 inches. It was a literal leveling of the playing field, and all Gibson got to show for his season was an All-Star selection, Gold Glove, Cy Young, MVP award, and a National League pennant.

Oh, that’s all.

4. October 27, 2011 – “They just won’t go away.”

Despite the recentness of this moment, it is crazy to think that game 6 of this past year’s World Series might not make this list. On the whole I feel like I am a pretty lucky baseball fan. I’ve seen my team play in 3 World Series (winning twice) and countless playoff games in my 25 years on this earth. On the flip side, my grandpa turned 80 years old last year and is still waiting for his beloved Cubs to win it all.

The 2011 postseason had its share of thrills, spills and chills, but the Cardinals found themselves against the wall, finding themselves down to their final strike not once, but twice, and they still came out on top. David Freese became a household name with his game-tying triple, then followed it up with his walk-off winner. Joe Buck gave us all goosebumps with his call of the home run, channeling his dad with a “We will see you tomorrow night!”

The team wouldn’t quit. They pushed through and came out on top. Also, to further my point that I am a very lucky baseball fan? October 27 is my birthday. ;)

3. The teams that would not die. 

The 2011 team was not the only one that was left for dead. 1964 was a wild pennant run in and of itself (and if you want a more detailed look, check out Bob Netherton’s posts on the subject). Ten games back? Nine games back? No matter, somehow these two Cardinal teams rose from the ashes and claimed a place in history.

Now, did it take a hard fall from the teams that were ahead of them in order for the birds on the bat to make it to the playoffs? You betcha. The 1964 Phillies are still remembered for that epic collapse. Will the 2011 Braves be remembered in the same way? Probably not, in all honesty. People don’t talk about the 1964 World Series the same way they will talk about the 2011 version. One thing is certain: no one will forget the Cardinals and their fight to the end!

2. Big Mac breaks the record

1998 was a magical summer for 11 year old me. I was living and dying with every long ball hit by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. I watched more Cubs baseball on WGN than any sane baseball fan should ever have to endure.

Yeah yeah, steriods. I know. But I didn’t back then. I’m not the only one that didn’t see behind the curtain either. Many of those that did, just didn’t care. For the first time since the strike of 1994 crippled many baseball fans from their love of the game, baseball had life. Games at Kauffman Stadium and the Astrodome were being sold out, and those teams had no business having that many fans in the stands. Nightly news would be cut off to update the score and the fact that Mac/Sammy had just blasted another one (and I didn’t live in the St. Louis/Chicago area to get full coverage).

But September 8, 1998 is a night that I will never forget. I screamed, I jumped around the living room, and I almost cut off my poor sisters’ circulation from hugging them so tightly. Watching that ball skirt over the wall, watching Mac almost miss first base, seeing the Maris family and Sammy running in from the outfield and all the people screaming and cheering… I was a part of that! We were all part of that. Despite what we know now… back then we were all just baseball fans again.

1.  “Go Crazy Folks”

Ozzie with one out. Took a ball just outside. Cardinals have left ten men on and they left a lotta men on early. A runner at third nobody out in the first and didn’t score, second and third in the second and didn’t score. Smith corks one into into right down the line… it may go… go crazy folks! Go crazy! It’s a home run, and the Cardinals have won the game, by the score of 3-2 on a home run by the Wizard! Go crazy!

Seeing the words just doesn’t do that call justice. It never will. The 1985 NLCS game 5 home run by Ozzie Smith was great in and of itself. He wasn’t a home run hitter, especially not from the left side. The home run was incredible, but it was not the iconic moment.

It was the call. It was Jack Buck. There will never be another.

~*~*~*~*~*~

There you go – the top 5 moments in Cardinals history from my eyes. What say you? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments…

Is it baseball season yet?

An Interesting Game

There are many beautiful things about the game of baseball. The smell of the grass. The pop of the glove. The crack of the bat. Many people have written many words about its beauty. Announcers talk about all the things that make the game great. They have to use a variety of words and probably constantly find themselves looking for new ways to describe a 6-4-3 or a routine fly ball. I think of Bob Uecker’s character Harry Doyle in Major League 2 when it comes to summing up baseball on some days…

"It's a funny game, eh Monty?"

A lot of words are flying around about last night’s game with the Marlins. I could pick out a few right now – awkward, rollercoaster-esque (okay, I made that one up), ugly, confusing – but there was one word last night that is just stuck in my mind.

Interesting. It was an interesting game.

I won’t rehash all of the issues with the Cardinals defense this year. Emily did that quite nicely yesterday. 28 errors in 31 games. I’ve seen better lines on slow pitch softball church league teams… with me in the lineup (all bat, no arm). It’s just… bad.

Yadi’s throws were scaring me last night. All the errors are terrible. No error is a good error (unless it is made by the opposition… or the Cubs), but seeing Yadi throw the ball away twice in a game just hit a nerve with me. I was good with Berkman being a less than average defender (and he hasn’t embarrassed himself totally out there). I’ve been able to make peace with second base being sub-par (although I think Dirty Danny D, with consistent playing time, could change that). I’ve forced myself to deal with Theriot at short (but that doesn’t mean I like it).

But Yadi throwing balls into the outfield? I can’t handle it. It makes me sick. I take his defense for granted, and dangit, I can’t say that about many players. I need it for someone, and I thought it was him.

More interesting, although rather unsurprising, was Carpenter’s start. I’m not going to say that Carpenter is pitching poorly this year, because he’s obviously not. Last night he threw roughly 110 pitches and 67 strikes over six innings. A roughly 60% strike rate? Not great. Fell behind in the count, walked some guys. He also fussed at a couple of Marlins after Hanley Ramirez made an interesting slide after he was already out at home, the ump called a close play at first against Carp, and when Ramirez reacted after grounding out and Carp got on him about that. Geeze. I honestly just don’t like seeing his hot-headedness come out like that. Nothing good comes of it. Some players become more effective when angry – the anger propels them to perform at their peak. When Carp gets hot-headed he doesn’t really get good results.

People compare Carp’s intensity to Bob Gibson. I hate that comparison, and that’s not a knock to Carpenter so much as it is a rather severe nod to the excellence of Gibson. Dude tried to pitch on a broken leg. He was accused of being surly, crass, and borderline rude. The words I would use to describe Carp (besides intense, obviously)? Fierce is fair, but after that… crabby. No really. When he does things like that, it seems like a hissy fit from an old man yelling at you to get off his lawn to me. I have no idea where that image of Carp came from, but it’s all I see.

This game exhausted me. Thankfully it never felt out of reach. This is a team that has the ability to come back, and they honestly almost did at the end, despite it all. It was just… interesting. I caught this tweet last night, and all I could do was agree…

Early start today – 12:45PM Central. Westbrook is on the hill to hopefully continue to forget his first few starts of the year and continue with the momentum he’s built in his last two outings. Go Cards! :)

Note: Coming up this Saturday is the UCB Progressive Game Blog. It looks like we have drawn the seventh inning, which could mean either we spend our time talking about how great the starting pitching is, how Tony is using the bullpen, hoping the team holds on or cheering for a comeback. Either way, it should definitely be exciting! Head on over to the UCB website to see the entire roster of blogs for the event!

Words? Meet Actions

I wish I could say that I didn’t see the start of this week’s ‘feud’ (for lack of a better term) between the Reds and Cardinals coming awhile ago. I didn’t really see this exactly, but I wasn’t surprised either.


Okay, I’ll explain. I’ve been out of the loop here for a couple of weeks, so bear with me as I knock some cobwebs out…

That slide is a long way away from home plate.
Photo by Ang

July 28 – Reds at Brewers. Brandon Phillips hit a long grand slam in a 10-2 drubbing of the brew crew. I caught an interview the next morning on Sportscenter with Phillips, and when asked how far he thought the home run had gone, his response was something along the lines of ’500 feet! Woo! The guys were teasing me in the dugout, saying I had embarrassed them. But man, I hit that a long way!’ I apologize for not being able to track down said interview, but trust me, you didn’t miss much. It was quite a blast – hitting off of Bernie Brewer’s slide in left field and measured at 450 feet, not quite the 500 that one of our newest ‘friends’ of the CDD had predicted, but still a solid piece of hitting.


I shook my head at the interview, because I knew that there would not be kind words said about Phillips up here in the land of cheese. Needless to say, I was correct. Brewer fans are frustrated with how their season has played out to say the least, but having an opposing player mouth off did not sit well with anyone I know around here. I wasn’t feeling the love for Phillips myself, but at the time, despite my beginning a feeling of dislike of the player, I took solace in the fact that he wasn’t talking about my team.


Oh how things change. I’m not going to say that Phillips started a fire in the Cardinals, because I don’t want to give him that much credit. He absolutely doesn’t deserve it.


I will say I like the response the Cardinals have made over the last two days. I think the team has a fairly good tradition of letting their actions speak louder than words. There haven’t been a lot of ‘big talkers’ for the Cardinals over the years. You could look at players like a Bob Gibson, who made statements, but we never had a Rickey Henderson or Reggie Jackson, stirring up trouble and talking big to the media. Reach back to the Gas House Gang of the 1930′s and you’ll find such crazy personalities as Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher and  Pepper Martin, who talked loud and played louder, backing up every one of their crazy ideas with results. However, it took me 80 years of baseball history to get to some major Cardinal blabbermouths. I’m okay with that.


Last night’s melee began when Phillips tapped Yadier Molina’s shin guard before the game. I hadn’t really heard of this or noticed it before last night, but apparently it’s a greeting of some sort between hitters and catchers. Yadi rightly took offense and snapped at Phillips, and it escalated from there. BJ Rains had a quote from Yadi here, where we read,

“I was ready to start the game and he touched me,” Molina said. “With the comment that he made yesterday that he’s got no friends over here, why you touch me then? You are not my friend so don’t touch me. That’s exactly what I said. If we are not good for you, then you are not my friend.” 

I couldn’t agree more. Why would you say, ‘I hate the Cardinals’ (among other things), then walk in the box and try to say, ‘Hey man, let’s have a good game.’ Not okay. But you know what? Yadi settled it on the field. Not in the papers, not in the post-game. He walked to the plate in his next at bat after the scuffle and blasted a home run over the wall. The same could be said for Ryan Franklin, who shut Phillips down in the 9th after saying that the comments weren’t worth talking about, as well as Skip Schumaker, who dropped a grand slam over the wall Monday night and said after the game that he wasn’t sure why anyone would say something like that.


When the Cardinal players heard about the comments that were made against them, most of them didn’t have much of a response. They kept their comments to themselves (at least as far as the media is concerned) and just said, ‘We’ll settle it on the field.’ They did, putting up 7 runs Monday night and 8 more last night. I love that, because I’d rather see runs on the scoreboard and wins in the standings than a war of words that are not backed up by solid play.


Game 3 starts early – 11:35 this morning! Let’s finish this shall we? Before I go, I did want to leave our newest friend with a note…

That looks like it hurt! Poor baby!
Jim Prisching – AP Photo

Dear Mr. Phillips,
You said you would play against the Cards on one leg. To us, it’s looking like both your legs are working. Your bat, however, is having some issues. Your mouth might also be in need of a bar of soap, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood Diamond Diary ladies. Please wash, rinse, and repeat. Thanks for playing, and feel free to keep that nice 1 for 10 stretch over the past two days going until October. Then you can talk all you want from the comfort of your own home.


October is for people whose actions speak louder than words.

How Good is Jaime?

Spending the last four days without any internet connection was absolute torture, because it meant I was completely cut off from baseball. The only baseball I could find solace in was in the texts I received from various sources, 15 second Cardinal highlights on Sportscenter, and the six Nationals hats I saw while wandering DC. Don’t try to tell me they give a rip about baseball out there…

But I digress.

I’ve been working on a little project that was suggested to me as a possible topic for the blog a week or so ago. The challenge: put together a comparison between Jaime Garcia’s first 7 games and the first 7 of some of the more well-known rookie Cardinal pitchers of the past. I realize that Jaime has now pitched 8 games, but I got the research before I left town, so 7 it is. My criteria was fairly simple: players included (roughly) one starting pitcher for each decade and they had to come up through the St. Louis farm system. The later names I’m sure most of you know, but the earlier names might be a little unfamiliar, so here are bios on all the boys.

Jaime Garcia (full rookie year: 2010) – Jaime was selected in the 22nd round of the 2005 draft. He came up for one start and a handful of relief appearances in 2008, then was shut down for almost all of 2009 after having Tommy John surgery. He came back to pitch well at the end of 2009, and won a place in the starting five coming out of Spring Training this year.


Rick Ankiel (2000) – Rick was signed out of high school and given a $2.5 million signing bonus, which the Cardinals had not ever seen before nor have paid since. He was 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting in 2000 and struck out almost 10 batters per 9 using a devastating curveball, a mid-to-high 90′s fastball and a sharp sinker. He fell apart in the NLDS, throwing 5 wild pitches in 1 inning against the Braves. 5 more went to the backstop in game 2 of the NLCS against the Mets, and things did not improve in 2001 for Rick. He went back to the minors and… well, you know him now as Rick Ankiel, centerfielder for the Kansas City Royals. To quote Harry Doyle in Major League 2, “It’s a funny game, eh Monty?”


Matt Morris (1997) – Matty Mo was taken 12th overall in the 1995 draft, and didn’t waste time becoming a fan favorite in St. Louis. He pitched well for a few years, underwent Tommy John in 1999, then won 22 games in 2001, made the first of his two All-Star appearances, came in 3rd for the Cy Young and won the Comeback Player of the Year award. After 2005 he signed a 3 year deal with the Giants, and was traded to the Pirates before retiring in 2008.


Danny Cox (1983) – Danny was drafted in the 13th round of the 1981 draft. His numbers fluctuated a little over his first 5 years, then he dropped off the radar completely after 1988, when he underwent shoulder surgery and was released by the Cardinals. After recovering from surgery he was a changed pitcher, found himself in Philly, Pittsburgh and Toronto and finished his career as a rarely used relief pitcher.


Bob Forsch (1974) – Forsch was taken in the 26th round of the 1968 draft. He is one of few pitchers to pitch two no-hitters in his career, both of them coming at Busch II. These are also the only two no-hitters pitched in Busch II. His brother, Ken, was also a pitcher and also pitched a no-hitter, making the Forsch brothers the only set of brothers to ever accomplish this feat. Bob was a ‘better’ hitting pitcher, holding down a .213 batting average and winning two Silver Sluggers in his career.


Steve Carlton (1966) – Carlton was brought on as an unsigned free agent in 1963. Were it not for contract disputes with the volatile Gussie Busch, Steve wouldn’t be remembered as one of the greatest Phillie pitchers of all time. He was already a 2 time All-Star by the time 1970 rolled around, however he held out during Spring Training, then lasted through 1971 before Gussie had him traded to the Phils, in what many consider to be the worst trade the Cardinals have ever made (yes, worse than Mulder, for you more recent fans).


Larry Jaster (1966) – Jaster was signed as an undrafted free agent in 1962, and spent a few years in the minors before getting the call in late 1965. In his rookie year alone he shut out the Dodgers 5 times – and the Dodgers won the pennant in ’66! He had another solid year in 1967, but never matched up to those first two full years. Jaster found himself in Atlanta in 1970 where he made 14 relief appearances, then appeared in 5 more games in 1972 and was out of baseball after that – at only age 28. Fun fact: Jaster was the first pitcher to throw a pitch in Canada.

Thank you Wikipedia!

Bob Gibson (1959) – If I tried to say 5 words on Hoot, I’d talk for 5 paragraphs. I defer you instead to the box at the right, noting all of Gibson’s highlights. Add ‘Hall of Fame’ to that résumé as well, if you would.


Dizzy Dean (1932) – Ol’ Diz is in a class by himself. He was one of the leaders of the Gashouse Gang of the 1930′s, and his colorful antics and bizarre way with words made him both endearing and irritating to all who tried to follow him. Along with his brother Paul, Diz predicted that the two of them would combine to win 45 games in a season – and they did! If you’re looking for some lighthearted fun in baseball history – look no further than Dizzy Dean.


Those were the boys (and yes, there will be a quiz). Now for the statistics! Putting the stats together was time-consuming, hence my unwillingness to add in an 8th start to every pitcher. For several, the ‘first seven’ for each pitcher sometimes spanned a couple of different seasons. The year listed is the year that they had their first full season.


So, how good is Jaime? He leads this rather spectacular group in ERA, runs, earned runs, hits allowed, batting average against, on base percentage and on base plus slugging. Ol’ Diz had a leg up on the slugging line, as he played in the ‘Dead Ball Era,’ otherwise Garcia would have had a clean sweep on the percentages. I feel that the most true number here to balance out innings pitched (among other factors) is to note the WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) line. While Jaime does not lead that category, pulling second in that ferocious lineup is still quite impressive.
Bottom line – do I or anyone else expect Jaime Garcia to continue running these kind of numbers up the scoreboard? No, of course not. All of the players in this study went on to have very different careers. Some became Hall of Famers, some saw their careers end far too soon, and there’s always Ankiel. What I am saying is that our current rook is definitely making his case to be something special, and I know I’m not the only one out there who is ‘honking for Jaime.’
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