The United Cardinals Blogger project for this month is to post about a Cardinals game in the past that you would have liked to have attended. My selection is the October 2, 1968 game in which Bob Gibson set the record for most strikeouts in a World Series game with 17 strikeouts. I was in second grade when this game occurred, so technically, I could have attended the game. I will write about the game like I had actually been there, through the eyes and words of a second grader.
My dad had started taking me to Cards games that summer. He taught me how to keep score on a scorecard. I loved spending time with him and watching baseball with him. We would watch games on TV or listen to games on the radio at home. I could only listen to West Coast games during the summer when I didn’t have school.
I was so excited when Dad came home from work and told me that his boss gave him his tickets to the game because he had a meeting and couldn’t go to the game. I thought that was really nice of Dad’s boss to give him World Series tickets. Mom wrote a note to the teacher to get me excused from school. I couldn’t hardly sleep the night before because I was so excited that I was going to the game.
It was the first game of the Series. The Tigers were playing the Cardinals. Bob Gibson was pitching for the Cards and Denny McLain was pitching for the Tigers. Gibby was my dad’s favorite pitcher because he pitched quick. The batters were always scared of Gibby too. He threw inside when he had to, to move the batter off the plate, my dad said.
After what seemed like forever, the game finally started. My scorecard was on my lap and I was ready to keep score. My dad would help me with scoring if I asked him.
In the top of the first, Dick McAuliffe was the first batter and Gibby struck him out. Mickey Stanley got a single, but Tim McCarver threw him out when he tried to steal second. The crowd cheered. Gibby struck out Al Kaline to finish the inning. Gibby had 2 strikeouts. The Cards didn’t score in the first.
In the top of the second, Gibby struck out all three Tigers batters he faced. 5 strikeouts for Gibby. In the bottom of the second, Orlando Cepeda hit a fly ball to center field. McCarver hit a triple, but Mike Shannon and Julian Javier struck out. No score yet.
In the top of the third, Bill Freehan struck out, but then Don Wert hit a single to center field. Gibby struck out McLain, and then McAuliffe grounded out. 7 strikeouts for Gibby.
In the bottom of the third, Dal Maxwell walked. It was the first walk of the game. Gibby bunted Maxwell over to second. Lou Brock got on base by a fielder’s choice and Maxwell was out at third. Lou twisted his left ankle when he stole second, but he got back up and kept playing. Whew! I sure was worried he was hurt bad. Lou went to third on an error by the second baseman. Lou didn’t get to score because Curt Flood hit a pop fly to the shortstop. Still no score.
The Tigers didn’t score in the top of the fourth, as Stanley and Norm Cash both flew out and Al Kaline struck out. I counted Gibby’s strikeouts on my scorecard again as the half inning ended. There were 8. That was a lot of strikeouts.
The Cards finally scored in the fourth. McLain walked Roger Maris and McCarver. Mike Shannon hit a single and Maris scored. Shannon went to second and McCarver went to third when Willie Horton booted the ball. Julian Javier got a hit and Shannon and McCarver scored. The crowd went wild. The score was 3-0, Cards.
In the top of the fifth, Horton hit a pop fly and Northrup lined out to the shortstop. Freehan walked, but Don Wert struck out looking. Nine strikeouts for Gibby. In the bottom of the fifth, Brock grounded out and Flood hit a pop fly to the second baseman. Maris reached on an error by the first baseman, but Cepeda lined out to the left fielder. The score was still 3-0, Cards.
I thought the Tigers might score in the top of the sixth. Tommy Matchick pinch hit for McLain, but he grounded out. McAuliffe singled, but Stanley struck out. Kaline hit a double and moved McAuliffe to third, but Cash struck out. Eleven strikeouts for Gibby. Dad wondered out loud what the record was for the number of strikeouts in a single World Series game. I didn’t know but I sure was enjoying this game.
Pat Dobson took over the mound from McLain in the bottom of the sixth. McCarver hit a pop fly to second and Shannon grounded out. Javier walked, but was caught stealing with Dal Maxvill up to bat.
In the top of the seventh, Gibby continued his magic. Willie Horton lined out to the shortstop and then Jim Northrup and Bill Freehan struck out. The count was up to 13 strikeouts for Gibby. In the bottom of the seventh, Maxvill and Gibby both hit to the first baseman. Lou Brock proved his ankle was fine because he hit a home run to make the score 4-0. Curt Flood hit a single and then stole second, but Maris flew out for the final out.
In the top of the eighth, Mathews struck out – number 14 for Gibby. Brown and McAuliffe both hit fly balls to the left fielder and the top of the eighth was over, just like that. In the bottom of the eighth, Don Mathews took over the mound for Dobson. Flood hit a fly ball, which was caught in foul territory. McCarver hit into a ground out. Shannon hit a single, but Javier hit a fly ball to the center fielder. The score was still 4-0.
When the ninth inning started, everyone stood up. How could you sit when Bob Gibson was getting ready to win Game 1 of the Series and maybe set a record too? The crowd groaned as Mathews hit a single. But Gibby settled down and struck out Kaline, Nash, and Horton to win the game. Gibby had a complete game shutout. The scoreboard flashed that Gibby had set a World Series record with 17 strikeouts. History had been made and I had been there to see it.
When I got home, I was so excited. I told Mom all about the history making game I saw. She smiled and told me she had watched the game on TV. What a story I had to tell the kids at school the next day!
I hope you enjoyed my “story.” Thanks for reading! See you next time!
1968 World Series Game 1 box score, http://www.baseball-reference.com, http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN196810020.shtml