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Time Capsule: Cardinals Videos From The 1980s

Spring Training games are in full effect with all 30 teams,  including the St. Louis Cardinals, took to the field to start getting ready for the season.  Meanwhile, Major League Baseball has opened the vaults and given the world access to video clips that were previously locked away.

The Cardinals were a powerhouse team in the National League in the 1980’s.  Three appearances in the World Series, including winning the championship in 1982, as well as some key moments throughout the decade had many people watching the team very closely.

Today, i70baseball brings you nine classic moments from the Cardinals in the 1980’s, courtesy of Major League Baseball.

Use the navigation controls below to take a look at each of the videos.  Leave us some comments and tell us the moments you most remember from the 1980’s in St. Louis.

<b>Bruce Sutter Closes Out 1982 World Series</b>

Picture 1 of 9

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Dave Duncan Departs

The changes in St Louis continue. Thursday Joe Strauss reported Dave Duncan will step down as the St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach.

Duncan has had one of the more remarkable baseball careers. A catcher, he broke into the majors as an 18-year old with the Kansas City Athletics (1964), playing in 25 games. Although he returned to the minors for the next 2 seasons (due to major league signing rules of the time) he returned to the big club to stay in 1967. Duncan’s best year was 1971, when he hit .253/.307/.419 in 103 games and was named an All-Star. The A’s had moved to Oakland following the 1967 season, and Duncan won a World Title in 1972 with the club. After (or perhaps because of) a contract dispute he was traded to Cleveland just before the 1973 season for George Hendrick (who eventually played in St Louis), and then to Baltimore 2 years later. Duncan retired as a player following the 1976 season.

He started his coaching career in 1978 with the Indians. In 1982 he became the Seattle Mariners pitching coach under manager Rene Lachemann, but that didn’t last and he was hired by the Chicago White Sox to work with Tony LaRussa, beginning a professional relationship that lasted the next 30 years.

Duncan is widely considered the best pitching coach in baseball during the last 3 decades. Periodically other names appear in the spotlight and dent the national consciousness, like Leo Mazzone, Dave Stewart, and Mel Stottlemyre, but they rapidly fade away; Duncan has endured and prospered. He coached 4 Cy Young Award Winners (LaMarr Hoyt, Bob Welch, Dennis Eckersley, and Chris Carpenter), one for each team that employed him.

He resurrected numerous careers. Remember Kent Bottenfield? Kent had not won more than 5 games in any major league season before Duncan turned him into an 18-game winner in 1999. Bottenfield actually won as many games in that one season as he had in his major league career to that point. Ask Jeff Weaver what Duncan did for him in 2006. Or Jason Simontacchi (2002). Or Kyle Lohse more recently. Or dozens of other pitchers that saw their effectiveness improve thanks to Duncan’s tutelage.

No word yet on who will replace Duncan in the Cardinals dugout. Perhaps Blake Ilsley, the current Memphis pitching coach, will be promoted, or perhaps Derek Lilliquist will take the job on a permanent basis. Lilliquist, the current bullpen coach for the Cardinals, filled in for Duncan after Dave took a leave of absence to be with his ailing wife last season.

We wish Duncan’s wife Jeannie a complete and speedy recovery from her illness, and Dave all the best during his leave of absence.

Mike Metzger is a I-70 contributing writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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August 22, 1982 – Grand Theft Brummer

There is an old adage in baseball: it doesn’t take speed to steal a base, just the courage to run combined with the wisdom of when not to. Sometimes, it just takes a little bit of luck.

The 1982 season was somewhat of a mirror image of 1964. It was the Cardinals, under new manager and general manager, Whitey Herzog, that jumped out to an early lead, and the Phillies playing catch up. Catch up they did, and Herzog’s retooled Redbirds spent some time looking up at Philadelphia in the standings. Since the end of June, these two teams had played cat and mouse, with neither getting a substantial lead over the other.

That brings us to August 22, and the finale of a three game series with the San Francisco Giants. The teams had split the previous two. The Cardinals had gotten out to a big lead in the opener, but a huge 7 run inning by the Giants turned things around very quickly. Five different pitchers were used in the inning, and none of them were effective, including Bruce Sutter, who would eventually take the loss. The second game would be much like the first, with the Cardinals running out to another early lead, and hanging on by a thread in the late innings. This time Sutter was good, and the Cardinals squeaked out a win.

The finale would feature two of the best young pitchers in the game, Joaquin Andujar for the Cardinals and Atlee Hammaker for the Giants.

Joaquin Andujar in the Powder Blues

For the third time in the series, the Cardinals would jump out to an early lead. Back to back doubles by George Hendrick and Gene Tenace in the second inning lead to the first Cardinals run. Silent George would be part of the next scoring opportunity when he singled ahead of a Willie McGee 2 run homer.

Meanwhile Andujar was crusing, and heading into the sixth inning. On his way to the mound, he must have picked up the wrong ball, stepped on a base line or violated some other pitching taboo, because he was just shelled. It came out of nowhere, totally unexpected. For the third time in the series, Whitey Herzog had to make an early call to his bullpen. John Martin managed to get out of trouble, but the damage had been done. What was once a 3-0 lead had been turned into a 4-3 deficit. Not again.

Both Martin and Doug Bair were great in relief of Andujar, and kept the score at 4-3, hoping for a late inning comeback. Before we get to that, there was one play in the 8th inning that on any other night would have gone by without notice. Steve Braun, pinch hitting for Gene Tenace, delivers a 2 out single. Herzog decides to pinch run for Braun, and uses a backup catcher by the name of Glenn Brummer.

Yes, you know what’s coming, don’t you ? Patience. We’re not there yet.


Facing the Giants closer in the ninth inning and trailing by a run, Ozzie Smith starts things off by striking out. Greg Minton then hits David Green with a pitch. That would turn out to be a big mistake because Green was one of the fastest men on the Cardinals roster. Don’t let that giant frame fool you – Green could fly. And he did, stealing second base and putting the tying run in scoring position. Tommy Herr would fail to drive in Green.

That brought the pitcher’s spot up to the plate. Whitey Herzog goes to his bench for Ken Oberkfell, and Obie comes through big. He rips a line drive that splits the outfielders and the ball goes all the way to the wall. Green scores easily, and Oberkfell ends up at second base with a double. He was stranded there, but now his team had another chance.

Extra innings – free baseball.

Jim Kaat takes over in the tenth inning, and struggles. The huge crowd all exhale in unison when Kaat induces an inning ending double play, stranding a runner in scoring position. That was close! The veteran lefty looks better in the eleventh inning when he gets two quick outs, but a double by Milt May causes Herzog to go to his bullpen again, this time for the hard throwing Jeff Lahti. Lahti is shaky at first, but gets out of trouble, preventing May from scoring. That too was close. Too close.

Meanwhile the Cardinals are getting absolutely nowhere with the new Giants reliever, Gary Lavelle. Guys would get on base, steal their way into scoring position, but nobody was able to get that key hit.

All of this comes into play as the Cardinals head into the bottom of the 12th inning. It is a brutally hot August afternoon, and Jeff Lahti is now spent. Not only that, the Redbirds bullpen looks terribly empty. It is now or never.

The Man of the Hour

With one out, Glenn Brummer singles. Willie McGee follows that with a single. Brummer stops at second base on the play. Julio Gonzalez pops out for the second out of the inning. That brings Ozzie Smith to the plate. If this were 1987, we might expect a big hit from the Wizard, but this is still 1982 and Ozzie was not much of a threat. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be productive, and he is. He hits a slow roller and there is no play on the speeding Smith.

The bases are loaded, but there are two outs.

David Green is the next batter, but he’s not the focus of our story. Glenn Brummer, now standing on third base is. He notices something about Lavelle, something only a catcher might see. When working from the stretch, Lavelle has a very high leg kick, and that slows down his delivery to the plate. He’s also a left hander, which means a runner on third base can take a huge lead. Brummer tells Chuck Hiller, the Cardinals third base coach, of his plan. Those were the only two people on the planet that knew what was coming, and neither man tipped their hand.

Brummer waits until an 0-2 delivery. Being a catcher, he knew the pitch would would be something away, probably off-speed. A waste pitch. That increased his odds of success. A straight steal of home plate in that situation would be the last thing anybody would expect. With a giant lead, Brummer breaks when Lavelle goes into the stretch. Thanks to that high leg kick, and a ton of luck, Brummer beats the pitch and slides safely into home with the game winner. Brummer is lucky David Green caught him out of the corner of his eye because the big man stepped aside just as Brummer hit the batters box in his slide.

The huge crowd erupts, and shouting can be heard in houses throughout the Gateway City. The Cardinals win, 5-4 on a walk-off straight steal of home plate. Even now, 29 years later, we still look back at that Sunday afternoon game and smile as if we are listening to it on the radio for the first time.

But let’s not forget the importance of that game. Philadelphia had already won their game, and the Cardinals needed this win badly to stay two ahead of the Phillies. This was not a fluke, or one off entertaining win. Brummer knew that they needed to win, that his reliever was on fumes, and there was little help left in the bullpen. It was a heady play, and we would see many such plays throughout the tenure of Whitey Herzog. We would not see Brummer steal many more bases, and certainly none as exciting or as important as this one.

Bob Netherton covers Cardinals history for i70baseball.com and writes at On the Outside Corner. You may follow Bob on Twitter here or on Facebook here.

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October 20, 1982 – The Other Other Game 7

Last week, Michael Metzger took us back to Game 7 of the 1987 World Series with his article, The Other Game 7. It was truly an amazing game that had more plot twists than a Dan Brown novel. With the 25th anniversary coverage of the 1985 World Series last month, that leaves just one more Game 7 for the Cardinals in the Whitey Herzog era. That would be October 20, 1982: The Other Other Game 7.

Getting There

Even though they had the best record in the National League East in the strike shortened 1981 season, not everybody was convinced that the St. Louis Cardinals had the pieces in place to win the division in 1982. Cardinals fans were still upset over the sequence of events that brought Darrell Porter to St. Louis and sent long time favorite Ted Simmons to Milwaukee. There were also questions about where the production lost in the Garry Templeton for Ozzie Smith trade was going to come from. We did have Bruce Sutter, Bob Forsch and Joaquin Andujar, but Steve Mura, John Stuper and Dave LaPoint didn’t seem like the back end of a championship rotation. To make things more interesting, nobody on the Cardinals roster had career years, although Bruce Sutter, George Hendrick and Keith Hernandez were certainly very productive.

If there was a surprise, it was Lonnie Smith. He was just what manager Whitey Herzog needed at the top of the order – a good hitter with speed. A catalyst – the archetype of a Whitey Ball player. He would not be enough though, as the final piece fell into place when David Green, recently obtained in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, went down with an injury. A young speedster named Willie McGee was called up to fill in for Green. As Brock had done in June 1964, McGee turbocharged this lineup and transformation to Herzog’s “running rabbits” was complete.

A huge winning streak at the start of the season gave the Cardinals some separation from their chief competition, the Philadelphia Phillies. The two teams would battle all summer for the NL East championship. Another well timed winning streak in September proved to be too much for the Phils, and the Cardinals cruised to their first division title since the league adopted the format in 1969. Step one complete.

There was another roadblock to the date with Game 7 – the Atlanta Braves. The Braves, behind NL MVP Dale Murphy, won the NL West division on the last game of the season. This would be their second trip to the playoffs and were the slight underdog to Herzog’s Cardinals. But in a short series, anything can happen. And it did.

The original Game 1 was interrupted by rain at a most fortunate time for the Cardinals. Trailing 1-0, the game was just a few outs from being an official game before umpires called it. A do-over. In the second Game 1, Bob Forsch cruised to an easy win, throwing a complete game 3 hit shutout in the 7-0 victory. Game 2 was a nail biter and would go down to the wire. Newcomer Darrell Porter proved to be the hero with an important RBI double in the middle of the game, followed by scoring the tying run a few innings later. Ken Oberkfell would send the huge St. Louis crowd home delirious with a walk off single after some well executed small-ball. The series would briefly move to Atlanta as the Cardinals jumped out to an early lead in the clincher and never looked back. A sweep of the NL West Champs sent the Cardinals to the World Series.

Meet the Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers were the exact opposite of the St. Louis Cardinals. Where the Cardinals were like a military band marching in precision, the Brewers looked like they just rolled out of a bar at closing time. The Cardinals ran, the Brewers slugged. The Cardinals played excellent defense all around the field. The Brewers slugged. What the two teams had in common were their closers – Rollie Fingers and Bruce Sutter, but Fingers would not be available for the World Series due to an injury. It was hoped that he would be able to return some time in the series, but that never happened, and the Brewers played with one less pitcher on their roster.

Herzog’s Cardinals were just supposed to be a speed bump on the Brewers path to immortality. When the Brewers opened the series with a 17 hit 10 run attack, it looked like that might be the way the series would go. Mike Caldwell did to the Cardinals what Bob Forsch had just done to the Braves – a demoralizing 3 hit shutout.

The Brewers jumped out to a quick lead in Game 2, but the intrepid Cardinals kept clawing their way back. An 8th inning run proved to be the difference in the game as the Cards tied the series.

Now, off to Milwaukee.

Thanks Ted

Game 3 was the coming out party for Willie McGee. He was a one man assault on the Brew Crew. Not only did he hit 2 home runs on the day, but he robbed Gorman Thomas of one with a Jim Edmonds like catch well above the center field fence. If that wasn’t enough, he made one of the most amazing diving catches, saving another run and preventing a possible rally. As good as McGee was, Andujar was better. He was throwing darts at the Brewers bats, and other than a couple of McGee gems, they weren’t hitting him. Until ex-Cardinal Ted Simmons comes to the plate in the 7th inning and lines the ball off Andujar’s right leg. Andujar had to be helped off the field and by all reports, was done for the series. The Cardinals held on for the win, but the heart and soul of the team just died. Or so we thought.

The next two games would reinforce that belief. The Brewers would get to Bob Forsch and Dave LaPoint in the next two games and take a 3-2 lead in the series.


Game 6 – the first elimination game. It was a cold and rainy night in St. Louis. The temperatures would quickly drop into the 30s – it was just a brutal night for baseball. Whitey Herzog gave the ball to rookie John Stuper, but all hands were on deck in case there was trouble. Through two long rain delays, Stuper was magnificent. He took a 1 hitter into the 9th inning while his teammates chewed up the Brewers bullpen to the tune of a 13-1 laugher. The young rookie right-hander may have just saved the World World Series.

The Other Other Game 7

To everybody’s surprise, Joaquin Andujar was announced as the Cardinals starting pitcher. Just a few days earlier, he had to be helped off the field. We’d last seen him standing on crutches with a huge bandage wrapping his knee. Now he’s standing in front of a sellout crowd at Busch Stadium in the biggest game of the season. His opponent would be former Cardinal, Pete Vukovich, who looked like he had slept in his uniform. Andujar was elegant, Vukovich unkempt. Andujar threw fastballs. Vukovich threw junk. The differences between these two couldn’t be greater.

Watching Andujar warm up, it was pretty obvious that he wasn’t right. He was landing gently, unable to put all of his weight on his right leg. He would throw across his body awkwardly. None of that seemed to matter though as Andujar, pitching on pure adrenaline, retired the first 9 men he faced. On the other side of the diamond, Vukovich was in trouble all night, throwing high pressure pitch after high pressure pitch. One of these two were about to crumble – we just didn’t know which one.

At first it looked to be Andujar. The second time through the order, the Brewers started a rally. Paul Molitor led off the fourth inning with a sharp single to right field. Robin Yount followed that with a slow ground ball to Ken Oberkfell at third base. Molitor was forced at second, but Yount easily beat the throw at first. Andujar was really struggling at this point in the inning. Cecil Cooper then dribbled a single to right field.

The Turning Point

What happens next will determine the winner of the 1982 World Series. On the Cooper single, the speedy Yount tried to take third base. George Hendrick, a vastly underrated defensive player, comes up firing and throws a strike to Ken Oberkfell. Oberkfell does his part by blocking off third base. The throw beats Yount and Oberfell makes the easy tag for the second out of the inning. If you know anything about Joaquin Andujar, you can guess what happens next. That is exactly the kind of play that can get Andujar back into the game, and it does just that. He throws two more pitches in the inning as Ted Simmons pops out. Brewers rally finished – momentum swing in the Cardinals direction.

As if scripted, the Cardinals would finally break through in the bottom of the fourth inning. Just moments after the run saving throw from Hendrick, the bottom of the order gets to Vukovich. A single by Lonnie Smith gives the Cardinals a 1-0 lead, and the hometown crowd is ecstatic. They fail to extend the inning though as Vukovich toughens.

Ben Oglivie would tie the game in the fifth inning with a long long long leadoff home run. Gorman Thomas nearly left the park with a long fly to the warning track that gave Lonnie Smith all sorts of trouble. Two ground balls end the inning without any further damage. Vukovich follows that with his best inning of the game so far, retiring the Cardinals with very little drama.

Andujar would get himself into a world of trouble in the sixth inning. A leadoff double sets up a disastrous sacrifice bunt that Andujar throws away. That allows Jim Gantner to score easily, plus put Paul Molitor into scoring position. A single and sacrifice fly would give the Brewers a 3-1 lead. It would also get the Cardinals bullpen busy. Andujar would close out the inning without any more trouble. There are now just 12 outs remaining and the Cards had a 2 run deficit.

Vukovich’s flirting with danger would finally get the best of him in the bottom of the inning. A one out single by Ozzie Smith followed by a double by Lonnie Smith set up the Cardinals best scoring opportunity of the game. Lefty Bob McClure replaces Vukovich and gets into trouble of his own. He walks pinch hitter Gene Tenace to load the bases. Mike Ramsey then runs for Tenace, putting good speed on the bases. On his 29th birthday, Keith Hernandez singles, scoring the 2 Smith’s. Silent George Hendrick follows that with a single, scoring Ramsey with what would turn out to be the game winning RBI.

With a slim 4-3 lead, Herzog stays with Andujar for the seventh inning, hoping he can get one more inning out of the right-hander. If so, he can turn the game over to Sutter – the best closer in baseball. Doug Bair and Jim Kaat are warming up, just in case. Andujar strikes out the dangerous Gorman Thomas, but the next batter silences the huge crowd. Roy Howell hits a towering shot to left field that totally fools Lonnie Smith. He breaks the wrong direction, turns the wrong way on the warning track, but somehow leaps at the very last second to catch the ball. Smith did absolutely everything wrong in the making that play, except he made the catch. 50,000+ fans in St. Louis exhaled in unison. A single by Charlie Moore sets up the Brewers last chance. Jim Gantner lines an Andujar pitch up the middle, but the “One Mean Dominican” snags it for a brilliant defensive play. He throws a 90 mile per hour strike to Keith Hernandez for the last out in the inning. Andujar knew he was done for the night, and being Andujar, wanted to go out with a flourish. Gantner takes exception to the showmanship and pleasantries were exchanged. Each of the players indicated that the other was #1 in their heart too, or something like that. Home plate umpire Lee Weyer quickly got in between the two players to prevent any unnecessary escalation.

That was the last we would hear out of the Brewers in the 1982 season. The Cards would tack on two insurance runs later in the 8th inning, but it was now Sutter’s game and he did not disappoint. The bearded one would face just six batters and retire them all with nothing leaving the infield. The only Brewer that put up a fight was Gorman Thomas, the last man Sutter would face. He worked the count full and then fouled off a number of pitches. That’s when Sutter would get the big man to swing at an outside fastball and miss.

The sight of Darrell Porter jumping up, throwing away his catchers mask and running out to hug Bruce Sutter is one of the greatest images in Cardinals history. Game 7 of the 1982 World Series was really one for the ages. An unexpected pitching performance from Joaquin Andujar, who was not even supposed to be available. George Hendrick’s run saving throw, and then a couple of innings later, driving in the winning run. And Bruce Sutter being Bruce Sutter.

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October 13, 1985 – The Inning that sent the Cardinals to the World Series

It had been three years since the Whitey Herzog managed Cardinals shocked the baseball world by beating the seemingly invincible Milwaukee Brewers in the 1982 World Series and St. Louis was once again in the postseason. While those ’82 Cardinals were labeled as the Running Rabbits, they were a balanced lineup compared to what Herzog had to work with in 1985.

Upgrades, Downgrades and Stuff We Don’t Want to Talk About

The once dependable position of catcher turned into a huge liability for the 1985 Cardinals. Injuries and declining offensive production from the hero of 1982, Darrell Porter, gave rookie Tom Nieto an opportunity. He’d been impressive in a pair of call-ups in 1984, showing off a good bat to go along with some stellar defense. He became the number 2 catcher when Glenn Brummer was released at the end of the season, perhaps in fear that he might start stealing bases again. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, neither Nieto’s bat, glove, nor arm showed up for most of 1985, leaving a rather unproductive platoon situation at catcher.

Leaving under somewhat of a black cloud in a trade that ranks among the worst in Cardinals history, the Cardinals had lost one of their stars when Keith Hernandez was traded to the Mets for Neil Allen. A former NL MVP and perennial Gold Glove winner, Hernandez was one of the best at his position, playing exceptional defense to go along with some of the best gap-to-gap hitting in the major leagues. George Hendrick had initially taken over for Hernandez and played well, but started showing signs that his best years were behind him. In the spirit of Branch Rickey’s motto, “Always trade a player a year too soon, rather than a year too late” , Hendrick would be traded to Pittsburgh for a left handed starter named John Tudor – more on him later. Prior to the start of the 1985 season, the Cardinals made a blockbuster deal with the San Francisco Giants, sending four players for the slugging first baseman, Jack Clark. Just as with Orlando Cepeda nearly two decades earlier, Clark had been bitten by the injury bug that caused him to wear out his welcome in San Francisco. And like Cepeda, when healthy he became an offensive juggernaut in St. Louis, driving in runs at a frightening pace. Injuries would interrupt all three seasons Clark was in St. Louis, but in two of them (85, 87) he still managed MVP caliber performances.

A young switch hitting Terry Pendleton was the new third baseman but had yet to match Ken Oberkfell’s offensive production. He would prove his worth many times in 1987, and several more times with the Atlanta Braves, but in 1985, Pendleton was a young man learning how to play in the majors. He played well, but not as well as his predecessor.

A youngster named Andy van Slyke was the new right fielder, and while a defensive star, his offensive numbers were a big step down from the former right fielder, George Hendrick. He would eventually wear out his welcome in St. Louis and be shipped off to Pittsburgh for key piece to the ’87 championship team, catcher Tony Pena.

There were a few notable upgrades though.

If Lonnie Smith had been a catalyst at the top of the 1982 batting order, Vince Coleman was a herd of charging buffalo. Even though he was a light hitter and susceptible to striking out, when he did get on base exciting things happened. And generally very quickly. Coleman’s 110 stolen bases terrorized pitchers and catchers throughout the National League and led to a Cardinals trademark of scoring a first inning run without the benefit of a hit. The top of the lineup featuring Vince Coleman, Willie McGee, Tommy Herr and Jack Clark gave many pitchers in the National League the yips.

The other notable improvement was in the pitching staff, both starters and the bullpen. With two 21 game winners at the top of the rotation, and Danny Cox not far behind with 18 wins, the Cardinals seemed well equipped to play a short series but unlikely to be able to withstand the tests of a long season. What seemed like a liability when the season started, suddenly became one of the most feared bullpens when Todd Worrell was called up just prior to the postseason eligibility deadline. The hard throwing Worrell would complement one of the best lefties in the game, Ken Dayley.

The Cardinals had battled the heavily favored New York Mets all season long. Thanks to the amazing 19-1 turnaround from John Tudor, the Cards outlasted the rivals from New York and won the division by 3 games with an unbelievable record of 101-61. Thanks to the season long fight, this Cardinals team learned how to win – in every way imaginable. That would come in handy as the Cardinals were about to face the biggest adversity of the season, if not the decade.

A Rough Start

In the National League Championship Series, just expanded to a best of seven format, the Cardinals would face the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even though the Cardinals had won 6 more games than the boys from Hollywood, the Dodgers were heavily favored in the series. The Cardinals were supposed to be just a speed bump on the Dodger’s road to the World Series.

As the series opened in Los Angeles, it appeared that the experts might be right. The Dodgers won the first two games rather convincingly. Both Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser seemed to be invincible, and their bullpen didn’t even break a sweat.

The series moved to Busch Stadium and the Cardinals hung on to win game 3. The Cardinals got to Bob Welch early and a combination of Danny Cox, Rick Horton, Todd Worrell and Ken Dayley kept the Dodgers at bay.

This brings us to a Sunday night game on October 13, 1985. Every one of the 53,000 in attendance knew the importance of this game. A win and the series is tied. A loss with as many as two games to be played in Los Angeles would be a very difficult hill to climb. It was now or never time for the Cardinals.

Before the game even started, things took a turn for the worse. No, not worse – the unthinkable. A light rain had started falling and a decision was made to cover the field to keep the infield dry. Vince Coleman failed to notice the automatic tarp rolling onto the field and one of his legs got caught underneath the heavy roll of tarp and machinery. He would suffer a badly bruised leg to go with a chipped bone and would spend the rest of the playoffs on crutches, supporting the team from the dugout.

That hill the Cardinals needed to climb just got a lot higher.

The Rough Inning

When the game finally started, Whitey Herzog would call on John Tudor to turn things around for the Cardinals. Even though he had taken the the loss in Game 1, the lefty had pitched well and there was no reason to think he would not be able to do so again tonight. In the first of a series of questionable managerial decisions from Tommy Lasorda, the Dodgers would counter with former Cardinal and St. Louis native, Jerry Reuss. Reuss had some success in Los Angeles, and while not a top of the rotation guy, he was a solid fourth starter.

Cardinal fans were way more engaged in this game, and it suddenly had less to do with it being the pivotal game in the series. Expectations had been high when Reuss broke in with the the Cardinals in 1970. The tall blonde lefty had been a star in high school and had become an ace at AAA Tulsa. His fortunes with the Cardinals were much different as moments of brilliance were overshadowed by struggles with the strike zone. We had hoped for a second Steve Carlton, but instead got a right handed Mike Torrez. As Reuss enjoyed success with the Pirates and Dodgers, our desire to see the Cardinals beat him increased. Since this was the 17th season for Reuss, there was a lot of pent-up frustration that needed to be released. Throw in a bit of “Win one for the Vincer” and you now have the makings of a huge game.

The Cardinals would erupt in the second inning, one of their most productive in postseason history. After a scoreless first inning, Jack Clark and super sub Cesar Cedeno would lead off the home half of the second inning with singles. Tito Landrum, filling in for the injured Vince Coleman, would single Clark home. The Dodgers made a huge defensive error in letting Pedro Guerrero’s throw go to the plate as it allowed both Cedeno and Landrum to take the extra base. That turned out to be significant when Terry Pendleton grounds out to second base in what would have been an easy double play. The Dodgers only had one play, retiring Pendleton at first, and the Cardinals would score their second run of the inning.

Next up is the light hitting Tom Nieto and he would walk in front of ninth place hitter John Tudor. The Dodgers hoped for an inning ending double play and an end to the rally, but instead dug themselves into a deep deep hole. The Cardinals sensed that this was an opportunity to break the game wide open. Forget the Ozzie Smith “go crazy folks” home run in game five and the three run Jack Clark bomb to win the series in game six, what happened next was the play of the series.

It was not if, but when would Herzog would put on the squeeze play. Aggressive base running is what got the Cardinals this far, and it would have to carry them to the World Series. Everybody in the stadium knew it was coming. The Dodgers were certainly expecting it. Everyone except Reuss. With Landrum running from third, Tudor lays down the bunt and Reuss is unable to field it and everybody was safe. The Cardinals had a three run lead, had been given yet another out, and the Dodgers were clearly rattled. This is when the Cardinals really poured it on, ending the post season career of Jerry Reuss.

In a rare productive out, leadoff hitter Willie McGee would hit an opposite field line drive which would allow Tom Nieto to move up to third base. That turned out to be important as Ozzie Smith followed that with a ground ball deep in the hole at short which scored Nieto. Tommy Herr followed that with a single, scoring Tudor. That would be all for Reuss and the Cardinals fans gave him a sarcastic ovation as he left the field.

Future Cardinal Rick Honeycutt would come in to try to end the rally. Honeycutt was the fifth starter who was sort of an odd man out in a short series. He would face four hitters and fail to retire any of them. Jack Clark would single, Cesar Cedeno would walk, and both Tito Landrum and Terry Pendleton would get their second RBIs of the inning with singles. Both Landrum and Clark were 2-2 in the inning. Tommy Lasorda would go to his third pitcher of the inning, the right hander Bobby Castillo. With a blowout in the making, Castillo was going to be in the game for a long time so that the Dodgers didn’t wear out their bullpen in case they were needed tomorrow afternoon for Game 5. Castillo finally gets the last out by striking out Tom Nieto to end the inning, but not before the Cardinals had a 9-0 lead. With John Tudor pitching, it might as well have been 200-0.

John Tudor did not disappoint as he pitched seven strong innings, allowing just three hits. The lone blemish was a meaningless home run by Bill Madlock to lead off the seventh inning. Tudor would be lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh, saving him for a possible return in game seven, if needed. Rick Horton and Bill Campbell each pitched an inning to seal the 12-2 victory, and the once over-matched Cardinals were beginning to look like National League champions. That would come later with two dramatic late inning home runs, but Cardinal fans knew that with this victory, the series was all but over.

Bob Netherton covers Cardinals history for i70baseball.com and writes at Throatwarbler’s Blog. You may follow Bob on Twitter here or on Facebook here.

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