The St. Louis Cardinals, with 11 World Series championships and 19 National League pennants, are a franchise rich in history.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to decide which singular moment is the greatest in history for a team so rooted in baseball lore. The tournament will be done with a 64-seed bracket, continuing today with the 3-14 matchup.
(3) Wainwright strikes out Beltran, 2006 NLCS
First, let’s set the scene: NLCS, Game 7, Shea Stadium. The powerful 97-win New York Mets–the only team in the National League to win more than 88 games–against the scrappy 83-win Cardinals. Peak superstar Carlos Beltran against untested rookie Adam Wainwright.
Then, the curve. Oh, that curve.
Down 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Mets had rallied to load the bases with two outs. A single would have tied the game, an extra-base hit might have won it.
And Beltran was frozen.
It’s the ultimate moment in the midst of the title run–the lid on a magnificent, classic Game 7, complete with an Endy Chavez homer-robbing catch and a Yadier Molina go-ahead shot. The prequel to the World Series win, which ended with another Wainwright curveball.
It’s one of the most memorable moments in Cardinals history, featuring a Redbirds legend and a worthy opponent. This one will be tough to beat.
(14) Oquendo’s 3-run home run, 1987 NLCS
Another NLCS Game 7 moment, Jose Oquendo’s blast put the Cardinals up 4-0 in the second inning at home against the San Francisco Giants. Oquendo, then 23 years old, had hit just two dingers in his career to that point and would go on to hit just 12 more, so it’s fair to say this shot was a bit unexpected.
The trio of runs was more than enough for St. Louis, which shut out the Giants over the final 22 innings of the series. Oquendo, meanwhile, has gone on to become a beloved figure in the Lou.
Of course, unlike Wainwright’s moment, this one doesn’t have the drama of happening in the bottom of the ninth. Also, Wainwright’s has the added magic of the Cards’ 2006 Fall Classic win, whereas they came up short in 1987.
So there you have it: a pair of NLCS Game 7 moments going head-to-head. Which one is your favorite?
Image Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports