Cardinals Odd Facts - I

1900 St. Louis Cardinals Home Uniform
Cardinals 1900 Home Uniform

Origin of "Cardinals"

The name "Cardinals" was first used for the St. Louis National League team for the 1900 season.
  • The nickname actually didn't refer to the bird but rather the color of the trim and stockings of the new uniforms, which had previously been brown.
  • The year before, St. Louis Republic sportswriter Willie Mc­Hale wrote a column in which he quoted a female fan as say­ing "What a lovely shade of cardinal" when she saw the new uniforms.
  • The name caught on with the fans. So just a year after the Robison Brothers changed the name of their franchise from the Browns to the Perfectos, the team became the St. Louis Cardinals.

St. Louis Cardinals 1900 Road Uniform
Cardinals 1900 road uniform

Favorite Cycle Opponent
The first four St. Louis Cardinals to hit for the cycle all did so against the same team, the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • Cliff Heathcote June 13, 1918
    The rookie played CF and led off at Baker Bowl. He had 19 innings to achieve the cycle. The Cards scored 1 in the top of the 7th to tie the game at 8, and it remained that way until darkness ended the game. The 4-for-9 afternoon raised Cliff's average from .158 to .250. He ended the season at .259 for 88 games.

  • Jim Bottomley July 15, 1927
    The Cards won a 9-7 slugfest before 1,000 at Baker Bowl, a notorious hitters' park. 1B Bottomley, a future Hall of Famer, went 5-for-5 but drove in only one run although he scored three.

  • Chick Hafey August 21, 1930
    This 16-6 romp took place at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. LF Chick had 4-for-5, as did Bottomley, although all of Jim's hits were singles. Chick drove in 5 and scored 3. The Cards, just 63-56 at the time, went 29-6 down the stretch to win the pennant by 2 games over the Cubs. Chick hit .336 that season.

  • Pepper Martin May 5, 1933
    This game at Baker Bowl produced only 8 runs, 5 by the Cards. But 3B Pepper scored 4 of them on his 4-for-5 afternoon. St. Louis fielded a Hall of Fame DP combo that day of Frankie Frisch at SS and Rogers Hornsby at 2B.
Cliff Heathcote
Cliff Heathcote
Jim Bottomley
Jim Bottomley
Chick Hafey
Chick Hafey
Pepper Martin
Pepper Martin
RBI Record Holders - 1

Cardinals 1B Jim Bottomley
Jim Bottomley

Brooklyn P Bonnie Hollingsworth
Bonnie Hollingsworth

Brooklyn P Art Decatur
Art Decatur

The major league record for RBIs in one game is 12, held by two players, both Cardinals.
  • Jim Bottomley drove in an even dozen runs on Sep­tember 16, 1924.
  • Mark Whiten duplicated the feat on September 7, 1993, in a game in which he clouted four HRs.
  • In this article, we'll talk about Bottomley's game and move to Whiten next issue.

The 6th-place Cardinals feasted on the pitching of the 2nd place Brooklyn Robins in a 17-3 romp at Ebbets Field. 12 of the 17 runs were socked in by one man, left-handed swing­ing 1B Bottomley, who took his cleanup role seriously with a 6-for-6 day against five right-hand­ed pitchers, as follows.

  • 1st inning: Two-run single off Rube Ehrhardt. Ehrhardt left after failing to retire any to the first five batters he faced. The loss broke his personal winning streak of five.
  • 2nd: Run-scoring double facing Bonnie Hollingsworth.
  • 4th: Grand slam off Art Decatur
  • 6th: Two-run HR off Decatur
  • 7th: Two-run single against Tex Wilson
  • 9th: Record-breaking 12th RBI on a single facing Jim Roberts

The man whose record Bottomley broke watched it all from the Brooklyn bench.

  • Manager Wilbert Robinson, the inspiration for writers calling his team the Robins, knocked in 11 in 1892 for the Baltimore Orioles against the St. Louis entry in the National League.
  • Bottomley didn't get a chance to tie another record Robinson set that 1892 afternoon when he collected seven straight hits.
  • Reports the next day also credited Jim with effacing the "modern" mark of eight held by six players since 1907. That year is puzzling since the AL and NL signed a peace treaty before the 1903 season, making that season a more appropriate starting point for "modern" baseball.

The defeat hurt Brooklyn's pennant hopes as the Robins trailed their crosstown rivals, the New York Giants, by only one game, which is why a good crowd of 8,000 showed up that Tuesday afternoon.

Interestingly, Jim did not drive in a run the game before or the game after. So he does not share in the record of 13 for RBI in consecutive games.

Bottomley finished his second full season in the NL with a .316 average, 111 RBI, and 14 HRs. Considering he hit .371 in 1923, the '24 season could be considered a disappoint­ment for the future Hall of Famer.

Brooklyn P Rube Ehrhardt
Rube Ehrhardt

Brooklyn P Jim Roberts
Jim Roberts

Brooklyn Manager Wilbert Robinson
Wilbert Robinson

Odd Cardinal Facts - 1928

Rabbit Maranville

Bill McKechnie

Grover Cleveland Alexander

The 1928 pennant-winning Cardinals were involved in a number of strange games primarily in The City of Brotherly Love.

  • April 25, 1928
    Rabbit Maranville, who has not yet taken the field in the game, is ejected in the 12th inning of the game at Cincinnati for heckling the decisions of umpire Charlie Moran from the dugout. In the 14th, Redbird manager Bill McKechnie sends Wattie Holm to the plate to hit for SS Tommy Thevenow. Maranville takes over at SS in the bottom of the inning. Reds manager Jack Hendricks objects to Rabbit's presence on the field, but Moran allows Maranville to remain in the game. The Reds finally push across a run in the bottom of the 17th to win 5-4, thus obviating any protest to the league office.

  • June 2, 1928
    The Cardinals and Phillies set a record by using a 37 players in the Redbirds' 13-12 victory at Baker Bowl. In addition to ten pitchers (six for St. Louis), the teams employ seven pinch-hitters and a pinch-runner (Pepper Martin, who did not stay in the game). Three different Cardinals play 2B, and four Phils take turns playing RF.

Baker Bowl
  • July 31, 1928
    Another batters' field day at Baker Bowl. The Cards club 20 hits and score 18 runs while Grover Cleveland Alexander holds the home team to five. The St. Louis onslaught begins with a bonehead play in the 5th. Philly SS Heinie Sand, thinking there are three out, tosses the ball toward the pitcher's mound and leaves the field accompanied by some of his teammates. Chick Hafey scores all the way from 1B to break the 2-2 tie. The Birds add four more in the inning.

  • September 15, 1928
    It isn't often a team leaves 29 men on base in a doubleheader and yet wins both games. But the Cardinals do just that at - you guessed it - Baker Bowl on a Saturday. (Pennsylvania law prohibits Sunday baseball. So the Phillies play their doubleheaders on the Jewish Sabbath.) Eleven Birds are stranded in the 3-2 win in the opener. St. Louis plates 8 runs to 6 for the home team in the nightcap but could have had so many more if they hadn't left 18 on the basepaths.

Our last odd fact comes from 1940 but relates to one of the incidents described above.

  • May 5, 1940 -
    The Brooklyn Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals use 39 players to break the record of 37 set in 1928. Cards' manager Ray Blades is famous for his frequent substitutions, but Leo Durocher outdoes him 22-17 as Brooklyn wins 9-6 at Sportsman's Park. The Lip sends five pitchers. the same number as the Redbirds, plus four catchers.

Reference: Cardinals Journal: Year by Year & Day by Day with the St. Louis Cardinals Since 1882, John Snyder (2010)

George Puccinelli
On July 21, 1930, the Cardinals played a doubleheader at Ebbets Field. The two games were a perfect example of that lively ball season when six of the eight NL teams hit over .300 and the other two averaged .281.
  • After the Dodgers won the opener 9-8, the Cards bounced back to cop the nightcap 17-10.
  • In the opener, the two clubs tied a major league record by hitting three pinch hit HRs - Jim Bottomley and George Puccinelli for St. Louis and Harvey Hen­drick for Brooklyn.
  • Hal Lee hit a pinch homer for the Dodgers in the second game. It was Lee's first ML hit as it was for Puccinelli in Game One.

Puccinelli had an odd ML career.

  • Or maybe we should say an "even" ML career because he played every other year: 1930 and 1932 for the Cards, 1934 for the Browns, and 1936 for the Philadelphia Athletics, with the last year the only full season.
  • "Pooch" hit .283 in 187 games over the four years, which is a respectable mark. However, fielding deficiencies prevented the San Franciscan from becoming a regular.
  • Nevertheless, he made the Hall of Fame - not the one in Cooperstown but the International League Hall of Fame. He slugged 172 HRs in seven seasons for Rochester and Baltimore in that league.
  • His best season was 1935 when he won the Triple Crown playing for Baltimore: 53 HRs, 49 2Bs, 172 RBIs, .359.
  • He died at age 48 of a heart attack while playing golf.

St. Louis OF George Puccinelli 1930
George Puccinelli

Three of First Four All-Star HRs

Cardinals 2B Frank Frisch
Frankie Frisch

Cardinal batters accounted for three of the first four All-Star Game home runs.
  • 1933 (Comiskey Park)
    2B Frankie Frisch homered in the 6th off General Crowder (Washington Senators) after Babe Ruth fittingly hit the first round-tripper in the 3rd.

  • 1934 (Polo Grounds)
    Playing in his old stomping grounds when he was with the Giants, Frisch smacked a homer to deep RF off Lefty Gomez (Yankees) to lead off the bottom of the first.
    Two innings later, LF Joe Medwick smacked another Gomez offering for a four-bagger, this one to deep LF.
A switch-hitter, Frisch hit the 1933 HR left-handed and the '34 clout right-handed.

Cardinals LF Joe Medwick
Joe Medwick

Three with 200 Hits

The 1963 Redbirds boasted three batters with 200+ hits and they all barely made the magic double century mark.

  1. SS Dick Groat - 201
  2. CF Curt Flood - 200
  3. 1B Bill White - 200
Cardinals SS Dick GroatCardinals CF Curt FloodCardinals 1B Bill White
Dick Groat, Curt Flood, Bill White 
The feat has never been accomplished in any other Cardinal season, although St. Louis has had a pair of 200+ hitters eight times.
  • 1920: Rogers Hornsby 218, Milt Stock 204
  • 1921: Rogers Hornsby 235, Austin McHenry 201
  • 1925: Jim Bottomley 227, Rogers Hornsby 203
  • 1937: Joe Medwick 237, Johnny Mize 204
  • 1964: Curt Flood 211, Lou Brock 200 (played part of season with Cubs)
  • 1970: Joe Torre 203, Lou Brock 202
  • 1971: Joe Torre 230, Lou Brock 200
  • 1979: Garry Templeton 211, Keith Hernandez 210