Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hero of the Cardinals first championship

The Cardinals had never won a National League pennant before 1926, but they had put together a good team by that time. They were led by 2B/Manager Rogers Hornsby, 1B and onetime Sullivan native Jim Bottomley, C Bob O'Farrell(who won the MVP that season), and OF Chick Hafey. They also had a strong pitching staff led by Jesse Haines and Bill Hallahan.

In midseason, the Cubs placed Hall of Fame pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander on waivers, and Hornsby suggested that the front office should pick him up. Alexander was one of the greatest pitchers of alltime, winning 373 games during his career. However, he was 39 years old in 1926 and suffered from epilepsy and shellshock from World War I. He was also a heavy drinker who wore out his welcome with Cubs management. Alexander was key in the Cardinals winning the pennant over the Reds and Pirates in 1926.

The Cardinals reward for winning the NL pennant was to face the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig led Yankees. This series went a full 7 games and the Yankees took a 3-2 lead going back to New York. In Game 6, Alexander won his 2nd game and pitched his 2nd complete game of the series. Jesse Haines started Game 7 for the Cardinals, but ran into trouble in the 7th inning with St. Louis hanging on to a 3-2 lead.

Hornsby called for Alexander to enter the game, even though he pitched a complete game the day before and was recovering from a hangover from celebrating the win. Earle Combs, Ruth, and Gehrig were on the bases, and Tony Lazzeri was up. After a long battle, Alexander struck Lazzeri out. Alexander retired the next five batters in a row, and had to face Babe Ruth to get the last out. Ruth ended up drawing a walk, and Bob Muesel was up next with the Cards still clinging to a 3-2 lead. Alexander threw the first pitch, and Ruth decided to steal second. Muesel missed the pitch and catcher Bob O'Farrell threw Ruth out to end the game and the Cardinals won their first championship.

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