The Next Matchup in the Greatest Cardinals Moments tournament features two record breaking events:
Lou Brock Swipes Number 105… And Musial hits five bombs in a day
(4) Lou Brock
September 10, 1974 against the Philadelphia Phillies, Lou Brock immortalized himself as the greatest base stealer of all-time. Sliding under the tag of Larry Bowa, Brock stole his 105th base of the season and second of the night, breaking Maury Wills’ record of 104 in 1962.
For baseball, Brock became the pinnacle of athleticism until Ricky Henderson came along. But for Cardinals fans, 105 meant much more. The Stan Musial era was in the rearview and Bob Gibson was in the twilight of his career. Lou Brock was a new brand of Cardinal baseball.
In his age 35 season, Brock took his athleticism and added an intelligence factor. With overall speed waning in his later years, Brock had to adapt to remain elite. He needed to be patient and wait for the best opportunities to successfully steal. Having only been caught stealing 33 times that year, Brock had a knack for knowing when the best times to run were.
Having already proven himself as an elite base stealer, Brock took his game to the next level in his record setting year. The brand of Cardinals baseball became centered around speed and athleticism. Many Cardinals fans refer to this style of play as “Whitey Ball” from Whitey Herzog’s tenure as manager in the ’80’s, but it was Brock who brought speed to St. Louis.
Before McGwire’s 70 homer season in 1998, Brock was the symbol of dominance in St. Louis. With the steroid accusations against McGwire, however, Brock remains the face of pure dominance in St. Louis while still holding the National League stolen base record.
(5) Stan Musial 5 Home Runs
Stan Musial’s time in St. Louis produced 24 All-Star appearances, 3 MVP awards, and 3 World Series trophies.
One of his most impressive accomplishments to add to that list was his five-home run game.
Five home runs by one player in a single game is a near-impossible task. It has never been accomplished on the MLB level, and it might never occur. Five home runs by one player in a single day is similarly near-impossible and has only ever been accomplished twice, once by Stan Musial and once by Nate Colbert.
Musial’s record day took place on May 2nd of 1954, in a double-header against the New York Giants. Batting third and playing right field, Musial didn’t hit his first homer until his second at-bat in the third inning, it was a deep solo shot. Two innings later in the fifth, he hit another dinger, this time with a runner on base.
With two bombs already in the books, Stan’s biggest homer of the day, came in the eighth. Tied 6-6 with two runners on base, Musial launched a clutch, go ahead three run shot which led to a 10-6 win for the Cards. In the game Musial went 4-4 with three home runs and six runs batted in, single handedly leading the Cardinals to victory.
Musial started the second game of the double-header by going 0-1 with a walk. Then, more fireworks came in the fifth inning. With a runner on first base facing knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm, Musial hit his fourth homer. This wasn’t the last time Musial would see of Wilhelm though, three innings later Stan took Hoyt deep again, hitting by far the farthest ball of the day. His 5th and final shot went to right field “over the pavilion roof,” cementing Musial in history.
Stan ended the day going 6-9, with two walks, nine runs batted in, and a record five home runs.
Which is the Greatest Cardinal Moment?
In my opinion, while 5 home runs in a day is an incredible feat, Musial did it over the span of two games and nine at-bats. An incredible day, for sure, but Lou Brock’s 105th steal was an accumulation of incredible effort over the course of an entire season. The storied history of baseball makes his feat that much more impressive. To be the best ever in one of the most important aspects of the game cannot be overlooked, especially since his record still holds so much esteem today.
What do you think?