The next round of our Greatest Cardinals Moment tournament pits potentially the two best Cardinals ever against each other.
Stan Musial’s 22 seasons in St. Louis produced 24 All-Star appearances, 3 MVP awards, and 3 World Series trophies. Meanwhile, Bob Gibson produced 9 All-Star appearances, 1 MVP award, 2 Cy Young awards, 2 World Series trophies, a no-hitter, and arguably the greatest season for a pitcher in history. But which great moment is the best?
(5) Stan Musial 5 Home Runs
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 a 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.
(12) Bob Gibson Pitching on Broken Leg
Bob Gibson, a first ballot hall of famer, was one of the best pitchers in MLB history. Over the course of 17 seasons, Gibson compiled an ERA of 2.91 with over three thousand punch outs. He was a two-time Cy Young winner and a one-time MVP. Although his career numbers are great, most St. Louis fans knew Gibson for his intensity and toughness. He was a gritty, hard-nose player who never showed weakness in any situation, especially on July 15th of 1967.
In the fourth inning, against division rival the Pirates, Bob Gibson got set and threw an outside fastball against Roberto Clemente. Clemente, an all-time great, hit a laser back up the middle hitting Gibson squarely, right above the ankle. Bob collapsed momentarily.
When the trainers made it out to the mound and helped Gibson up, he insisted he was fine, telling the trainers that he “didn’t feel anything, just numbness.” The trainers were hesitant at first, but after seeing him pitch a couple soft pitches to home let him stay in the game.
Moments later, after walking a batter and getting another to pop out, Gibson began a battle with Donn Clendenon. Clendenon eventually worked a 3-2 count, and as Bob strode home to deliver the next pitch, there was an audible, dull pop, and Gibson once again fell to the ground, this time writhing in pain.
Later that day, after an X-Ray, it was confirmed that not only had Bob Gibson broken his fibula, but that he had pitched to three batters with it fractured before it finally gave way.
(We are unable to find a videos of these moments, but if you can please let us know! Tweet us @Cardsblog)
Photo Credit: © Jasen Vinlov USA Today Sports