Some of the obvious perks associated with being a St. Louis Cardinals fan include the lifetime of wonderful memories the team has produced in the month of October. Everyone has their favorite Redbird memories from that championship month; some of us are old enough to remember the glorious season of 1964, when the Cardinals surprised the world with their amazing championship run; others were just tykes when the first edition of “Whitey Ball” thrilled Cardinal Nation with the World Championship in 1982.
No matter where your personal recollection of St Louis Cardinals heroics begins, one thing is certain; Cardinal Nation has been blessed with many thrilling October highlights.
Here are my top ten favorite October memories:
10 – October 7, 1982 – Game 1 NLCS – Bob Forsch pitches a three-hit complete game shutout against the Atlanta Braves, as the Cards cruise to a 7-0 win in front of 50,000+ fans at Busch Memorial Stadium. The highlight of this game occurs when Willie McGee stops at third base “for no apparent reason” (Jack Buck’s call), settling for a triple instead of an easy inside the park home run; poor Willie didn’t see third base coach Chuck Hiller’s “green light” to head home on the play. Ozzie Smith, took care of his pal, driving him in with a sacrifice fly, and the Cards were never slowed down.
9 – October 21, 2004 – Jim Edmonds’ two-out, two-run, walk-off home run in the 12th inning, lifts the Cards to a thrilling 6-4 win over the Houston Astros, forcing Game 7 in the NLCS…
8 – Setting up the thrilling 5-2 win the very next night, over Roger Clemens, of all people; the win sends the Cards to the World Series, where they would be swept by the Boston Red Sox, and none of those games made this top ten list; okay?
7 – October 14, 1987 – The Cards win Game 7 of the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants, 6-0; highlighted by Jose Oquendo’s three-run home run off Atlee Hammaker, which broke the game open in the second inning. Prior to this at-bat, Oquendo had two career home runs in 903 regular season at bats.
6 – Then there was the three-run home run light-hitting Tom Lawless hit off Frank Viola, on October 21, 1987, in Game 4 of the 1987 World Series; temporarily giving Cards fans hope for a World Championship over the Minnesota Twins. Unfortunately, the Cards had to play four of those games in the Homer Dome. Forget about it!
5 – The home run Albert Pujols cracked on October 17, 2005, off Brad Lidge, staved off elimination in that year’s NLCS; turning a 4-2 Cardinals deficit into a thrilling 5-4 win. Unfortunately, they lost the next game at home at old Busch Stadium; the last game ever played there.
4 – October 15, 1964 – The Cards win Game 7 of the World Series over the Yankees at the older version of Busch Stadium (aka “Sportsman’s Park”), 7-5. Bob Gibson becomes every Cardinals fan’s biggest hero in that Series.
3 – October 12, 1967 – The same Bob Gibson does it again; this time with a thrilling Game 7 World Series clincher over the Boston Red Sox, at Fenway Park. He even hits a home run in that contest, as the Cards cruise to a 7-2 victory, and Gibby becomes an even bigger hero throughout Cardinal Nation.
2 – October 16, 1985 – Jack Clark’s 450 foot home run off Tom Niedenfuer, gives the Cards a thrilling 7-5 win over the Dodgers in LA, and has many baseball experts wondering to this day, why they pitched to Jack the Ripper with first base open and Andy Van Slyke on deck?
1 – October 14, 1985 – To this day, this was the most memorable date in Cardinals history; Ozzie Smith’s impossible game winning home run off that same Tom Niedenfuer, with one out in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game; 2-2. Who could forget Jack Buck’s legendary play-by-play call of that unforgettable blast? It went something like this: “Smith corks one 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!”
There they are; my personal top ten memories from October baseball. Certainly, Gibson’s 17 strikeout classic in Game 1 of the ’68 World Series deserves an honorable mention; or the thrilling Game 7 win over the New York Mets in 2006; that was definitely a very cool moment, as well. That’s the beauty of memories; especially Cardinals memories; there are plenty of them to last a lifetime.
As we try to cope with the failure of 2010, it is heartening to reflect back on some of the glory of seasons gone by; then we realize how lucky we are to be fans of the most successful franchise in National League history.
That is not such a bad thing, after all. Thanks, Gibby, Ozzie, Lou, Tim, Orlando, and Albert. You have provided one Cards fan a lifetime of great moments to cherish; nothing can dimminish those wonderful memories.