Okay, last one for now. Two for the price of one, Sunday, August 18, 1957, Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron wait their turn at the cage prior to a game against the Cardinals. Actually, they played two that day – Mathews hit a home run in the first inning of the first game during a 3-9 day, but Aaron went an uncharacteristic 1-9, as the Braves dropped both games against the second place Cardinals (Stan Musial won the first game in the 10th with a 2-run blast). Milwaukee certainly earned a pass though, coming off an 18-3 stretch going into the day, picking up 8 games on St. Louis in the process, and after the double defeat the Braves still had a commanding 6 1/2 game lead, and would take the NL pennant by 8 games over St. Louis; they would go on to win Milwaukee’s only baseball championship to date.
Yet another great Hy Peskin shot, check out his site and buy a classic photo or two: http://hypeskin.com/shop/Scripts/default.asp
Sunday, May 17, 1964, Milwaukee Braves vs St. Louis Cardinals at Sportsman’s Park (renamed Busch Stadium by then). 1st game of a doubleheader, bottom of the 2nd inning, Eddie Matthews, in a rare start at first base, gets Dick Groat by a half-step to retire the side, as 2B Frank Bolling (behind Groat) looks on. Cards just went up 3-0 in the frame on home runs by Bill White and Tim McCarver, and then an unearned run started by a catcher’s interference by Joe Torre.
Matthews only played first base in 7 games for the Braves that year (after having only played 1B for a few games in 1962), and interestingly, would not play the position again until he moved there virtually full-time in 1967, after the franchise had already moved on to Atlanta. Rookie Phil Niekro would come in in the 8th inning here and pitch his last of 10 games in 1964 (giving up a couple of runs on a Groat triple), before he went back to the minors to give that knuckleball more seasoning. He would stick in 1965.
Cardinals would go on to win this first game 7-3, but lost the nightcap, 4-2, dropping them to 1.5 games behind the NL-leading Giants, who were sweeping a doubleheader from the Mets.
Even then it was a long season, but every game counts. Good thing the Redbirds had their hitting shoes on for this first game – the Cardinals would go on to win the NL Pennant by only one game over both the Reds and surprisingly the Phillies, who would complete the biggest late-season collapse in modern MLB history until the 2000’s (Braves finished 5 off the pace), and took the Series in 7 over the end-of-dynasty Yankees.