In 1964, I had the opportunity to be present when the St. Louis baseball Cardinals clinched the pennant on the final day of the season. The game was played at old Busch Stadium (Sportsman’s Park).
A janitor at our high school offered to take several students to the final game of the season. He had purchased reserve seats about three weeks before the game. At that time, the Cardinals were about ten games out of first place. The chance of playing in the World Series was a distant thought.
However, the Cardinals managed to go 30-14, from August 17. They made up a lot of games on the division leading Philadelphia Phillies. Still, they had to win the final game of the season to make the Series. On October 4, the Cardinals beat the the visiting New York Mets 11 to 5 to clinch the National League title.
During the final weeks leading up to the season ending game, the Cards had acquired future Hall of Fame player Lou Brock, from the Chicago Cubs. Bing Divine was fired as General Manager on August 17 by Gussie Busch. It was rumored that manager Johnny Keane would be fired. This made Keane a lame duck manager.
However, the team pulled together and managed to not only win the National League, but beat the Yankees in the World Series as well.
I can still remember that final regular season game. Watching the scoreboard and waiting for that final out was so intense. The Cardinals hadn’t been in the Series since 1946. Everyone was standing as Tim McCarver caught the final out on a foul pop fly. The Reds and the Phillies each finished just one game behind St. Louis.
After the game, nobody wanted to leave the ball park. Some individuals even began getting in line outside the ticket office, to purchase tickets for the World Series. I only wish that I would of had enough money to get in line myself.
Call it chance, if you want. However, it was one of my most exciting moments, in my life. I actually felt like I was a part of Cardinal baseball history.