Cardinals Clubhouse
Season in Time - 1934
This is the story of the season that made "The Gashouse Gang" one of the most famous teams in baseball history.
Part II: May and June

The 1934 Cardinals entered May in 6th place in the eight-team National League 5 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs.

  • However, the Redbirds were in the midst of a seven-game winning streak in a stretch where they would win 12 of 13 to vault within a half-game of the league-leading New York Giants May 11.
  • First, Frankie Frisch's boys completed a three-game sweep of Cincinnati at Sportsman's Park, with Dizzy Dean, whom the Reds had pounded in the first game, getting the save in the getaway game.

The Cards then hosted the four eastern teams of the league, as was the scheduling custom of the day.

  • The Phillies lost all three with Paul Dean winning the first game despite not looking sharp in the 8-7 slugfest and Dizzy setting down the visitors 7-1 in the finale for his first victory since Opening Day. The Redbird defense continued to sparkle - six double plays in the last two games and 12 in the last five.
    Saturday, May 5 was Ladies' day, a staple of Cardinals baseball since 1917. 2,000 members of the fair sex took advantage of the free admission.
  • The Cards were getting solid hitting from the usual sources - 3B Pepper Martin (.324 as of May 5), LF Joe Medwick (.365), and 1B Ripper Collins (.302). In addition, though, C Spud Davis was hitting .352.
  • The Boston Braves won the first game of their visit, a feisty affair dotted with verbal disputes that broke the home team's seven-game win streak. But the Redbirds won the next two.
    Before the middle game of the series, southpaw P Bill Walker suffered a broken bone in his left forearm when struck by a ball off Medwick's bat in batting practice.
Next came the defending World Series champion Giants to St. Louis for a four-game set.
  • Player-manager Bill Terry told a New York reporter that he expected the Cardinals to be a threat in August and September. So imagine his surprise when St. Louis took the first three games of the series.
  • Dizzy, who loved pitching against the Giants more than any other opponent, twirled a five-hit shutout to win 4-0. Terry almost conceded the game by choosing rookie Johnny Salveson to make his first major league start.
  • The next day, the visitors drove Bill Hallahan from the mound in the third inning to gain a 3-0 advantage. However, miscues in the next four innings helped the Redbirds to move ahead on their way to a 5-4 victory. SS Leo Durocher got singles in his first two ABs on a pop fly that neither C Gus Mancuso nor 3B Johnny Vergez went for. Later The Lip hit another fly that RF Homer Peel lost in the wind. Martin singled and when 2B Blondy Ryan walked to the mound to talk to Hal Schumacher, Martin raced to the uncovered sack. Finally, with Redbirds on the corners and the infield playing in with only one out, Ryan fielded a sharp grounder. Instead on stepping on 2nd and throwing to 1st for an inning-ending DP, Blondy threw home too late to nab Medwick.
  • The third game pitted Paul Dean against the incomparable Carl Hubbell before a Ladies' Day crowd of 6,500. The rookie matched the veteran as the game went into the 10th tied at two. According to a New York reporter, the fans helped their Redbirds plate the winning run. "The score was tied with one down and Durocher on 2nd. Paul Dean hit a fly over short right, and Ryan and Frank 'Lefty' O'Doul both tried for it. Each yelled he had it, but neither could hear the other because of the feminine fans making such a racket. Each slowed up, fearing a collision, and the ball feel free."
  • New York salvaged the finale 6-4 as Tex Carleton faltered after entering the 8th with a 4-1 lead.
  • The Birds split two games with Brooklyn to finish the homestand tied with the Giants for 3rd place just 1.5 games behind the Cubs.
    During batting practice before the last game of the homestand, Medwick and Carleton got into a fist fight. Carleton objected to Medwick taking a turn at the plate while the pitchers were hitting. To which Joe shouted, "I'm tired of taking your abuse!" "Well, let's go," Carleton shouted back. Fisticuffs ensued, each landing a punch before other players pulled them apart. Later the two combatants shook hands and agreed to let bygones be bygones.
    In his next start, Tex pitched his best game of the young season. "His curve never crackled through the strike zone more effectively" in the 2-1 win over the Braves in Boston.

The four western teams now made their first tour of the eastern cities with the Cards also visiting Cincinnati and Pittsburgh before returning home. The Frischmen won 11 and lost six.

  • The highlight of the trip was a duel between Dizzy and Hubbell before 40,000 fans Sunday, May 20 at the Polo Grounds. Neither ace pitched well. The Giants' "Meal Ticket" gave up seven runs in five innings while Diz coasted after the Cards took a 7-1 lead. The final score was 9-5. The teams split the next two games.
    The next day, Freddy Fitzsimmons was warming up in front of the grandstand to start for the Giants when a bat flew outo f the hands of one of his teammates during batting practice and plunked him in the kidneys. So Terry called on Joe Bowman who held the Cards to two runs while the Giants plated five. It was one of only five victories for Bowman that season.
  • The Cards moved across town to Brooklyn, where they split two games, the third being rained out.
    Before the series at Ebbets Field, Dodgers manager Casey Stengel opined, "Not a championship club. Frisch isn't what he once was, the shortstop can't hit, they have a good hitting catcher, and one swell outfielder."
    Harold Parrott of the Brooklyn Eagle wrote this: "Frisch is the strictest manager in either league. He makes the Redbirds check in by 11, insists they eat at regular hours, and he does a bit of snooping. Yet the Cardinals all swear by him."
As the Redbirds moved to Philly, Dizzy announced that "me and Paul" were on the verge of a two-man strike for higher wages.
The pair had engaged in extended negotiations with the club in March. Unhappy at the $3000 contract he was offered, Paul held out for a long time before finally signing. Dizzy now felt Paul made a mistake and, after winning four games in a row, should be paid more.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals lost $83,000 in 1933 in the depths of the Great Depression. Rickey, who had been tight-fisted with money even before the depression, had announced across-the-board salary cuts. So the chances of Paul gaining a raise were slim and none, especially during the season.
  • Dean the Elder took the mound against the Phillies, apparently content to postpone negotiations until the team returned to St. Louis. Showing no signs of being distracted, Dizzy allowed only two runs as the Cards won in ten, 5-2. He also clouted a homer into the LF bleachers against a 40mph gale.
    On the off day for travel from Philadelphia to Cincinnati, the Deans called off their strike. "That's just Dizzy popping off," explained owner Sam Breadon.
  • Paul got the W in the first game of a Memorial Day doubleheader in Cincinnati although he allowed six runs and needed Diz to pitch the final 1 2/3 innings for what today would be classified as a Save.
  • The younger Dean got the Save to complete the three-game sweep over the Reds, giving the Birds six in a row to take over first place by 1.5 games.
    J. Roy Stockton of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote this: "Anyone who questions the esprit de corps of Frankie Frisch's team should have seen yesterday's game. They should have seen Paul Dean go to the hill to hurl the tenth frame, although he worked 7 1/3 hard innings the day before. And as Paul powered the ball through the strike zone, throwing with all his strength, his brother Dizzy was warming up."
    As it turned out, Stockton's assessment was premature.

When the Cardinals arrived in Pittsburgh, the Dean brothers announced they would pitch no more until their salary differences were settled.

  • Dizzy told his manager that he was unable to pitch the opener against the Pirates as scheduled because of a sore arm.
    Diz's decision was the aftermath of Branch Rickey's visit to Cincinnati, where the vice president held a conference with Frisch. Dizzy then went to Frank's hotel room, hoping to settle the controversy. Instead, Frisch told Dizzy that he would not ask Breadon to give Paul a salary boost. When Dean responded with a verbal tongue lashing, the manager told his star hurler, "If you don't want to pitch, go home."
    "If Paul had my nerve," said Diz, "we'd both be back in St. Louis. I don't need a second invitation to leave when I'm not appreciated."
    Paul joined the conversation to say that he too had a sore arm that would knock him out of action for some time to come.
    "Paul must get $1,000 cash, and there will be no compromising," explained Diz to Ray Gillespie of the St. Louis Star-Times. "When Paul and I went on strike in New York, Frisch promised he'd go to the office in St. Louis and plead our case. Now Frank has turned his back on us. Paul and I aren't running out on the other players - we'd do everything possible to help win the pennant and an extra $5,000 apiece, but we feel that we're getting the run-around by the club, and if the management doesn't care about the extra money, why should we?"
  • The Cards lost the opener to the Pirates 4-3.
    Frisch explained afterward that he had conferred with Breadon via telephone and been assured that the owner would support him in handling the situation. When Dizzy was informed of Breadon's attitude, he abandoned plans to quit the club.
  • "My arm's getting better fast," Diz announced the night before a Saturday doubleheader. He then got the victory 13-4 in the opener. However, the Cards lost the second game and again the next day.
  • Amid the turmoil, the Redbirds, who had been in 1st place by 1.5 games after the sweep in Cincy, lost three of four and headed home June 3 in a three-way tie for 1st with the Giants and Cubs.
    A big reason for the Cards' success on the road trip was Joe Medwick, who smacked 26 hits in 53 ABs, including a HR, four triples and four doubles.

Playing at home through June 29 with the Dean controversy settled, the Cardinals had a chance to take over 1st place by themselves.

  • Instead they won 12 and lost 9 to fall to 3rd, two games behind the Giants in the tight three-team race.
  • The Deans won four games each - 2/3 of the team's total - and lost only two. That ran their combined record to 22-4. The rest of the staff was 16-21.
    These facts supported what reporters around the league were writing. For example, Joe Williams in the New Yor World-Telegram: "That the Deans were not permitted to walk out is proof enough that the management recognized their value and realized it all the time. Without the Deans, St. Louis would be lucky to finish in the first division."
  • Hallahan went into a tailspin, going 0-4 on the homestand and not finishing any of his starts.
    "I don't know what's wrong with me," said Wild Bill, the bell cow of the 1931 World Series champion Cardinals' staff. "I've lost a few games because I didn't get the breaks, but on the whole I've been a mess. Maybe I'm trying too hard."
    Frisch on his slumping southpaw: "I've tried everything. I've rested him. I've worked him oftener than his regular schedule. I've advised him to use more fast balls, and then I've asked him to specialize on the curve. When a great pitcher gets in a rut he has to pitch himself out of it. A manager can't help him."
National League Standings
as of June 27
  Team Record GB
1 New York 41-24 --
2 Chicago 40-26 1.5
3 St. Louis 38-25 2
4 Pittsburgh 34-28 5.5
5 Boston 34-29 6
6 Brooklyn 26-39 15
7 Philadelphia 23-41 17.5
8 Cincinnati 19-43 20.5

To be continued ...

Pepper Martin

Joe Medwick

Ripper Collins

Spud Davis

Bill Walker

Bill Terry

Bill Hallahan

Carl Hubbell

Tex Carleton

Casey Stengel

Paul and Dizzy Dean

Branch Rickey

Reference: The Dizziest Season: The Gashouse Gang Chases the Pennant, G. H. Fleming (1984)
Cardinals Quiz
Match each Cardinal with the franchise career record(s) he holds.

  1. Lou Brock
  2. Jesse Burkett
  3. Vince Coleman
  4. Mark McGwire
  5. Stan Musial
  1. Batting average
  2. Bases on balls
  3. Games played
  4. Slugging %
  5. Strikeouts
  6. Stolen bases
  7. Stolen base %




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