October 9, 1926: Cardinals clobber Yankees 10-2 in World Series Game 6

Heading into Game 6 of the 1926 World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals had their backs against the wall.

Down three games to two against Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig’s squad, the Cardinals were further disadvantaged by the absence of two-thirds of their starting outfield. Left fielder Ray Blades had been out of the lineup since August, when he caught his spike in the chicken-wire fence that had been strung along the outfield wall at Sportsman’s Park. The injury required season-ending surgery, and though Blades’ career would continue, he carried a slight limp for the remainder of his life.[1] In his place, future Hall of Famer Chick Hafey started in left field.

In the Cardinals’ Game 4 loss in St. Louis, Hickey and center fielder Taylor Douthit collided in the outfield. Douthit suffered strained ribs on the play and would not return in the series; in his place, manager Rogers Hornsby called upon Wattie Holm, who batted .285 in 55 games during the regular season. Holm went 0-for-4 with a walk in his Game 5 start.

With the season on the line, Hornsby called upon Pete Alexander, who had outdueled Urban Shocker in the Cardinals’ 6-2 Game 2 victory. In that complete-game performance, Alexander allowed just four hits while striking out 10.

To counter him, the Yankees’ Miller Huggins turned to Bob Shawkey, a 35-year-old veteran who started just 10 of his 29 regular-season appearances. He had gone 8-7 with a 3.62 ERA during the 1926 campaign, but more importantly, he had retired all 10 Cardinals he had faced in two previous appearances during the World Series.

It didn’t take long for Yankees fans to begin questioning Huggins’ decision after Jim Bottomley hit an RBI double down the left-field line and Les Bell followed with a two-run single to give the Cardinals a quick 3-0 first-inning lead.

Alexander worked around a leadoff double by Bob Meusel in the second inning, then escaped a third-inning jam when Hank Severeid led off with a single and Tommy Thevenow committed an error.

In the fourth, the Yankees got on the board as Meusel tripled and Gehrig brought him home with a ground ball to first base. The Cardinals answered in the top of the fifth. Thevenow singled and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Alexander. Holm, who led off the game with a single, collected his second hit of the day with an RBI single into center field.

The Cardinals held a 4-1 lead until they broke the game open in the seventh. Thevenow singled and Alexander reached on an error to lead off the frame. Billy Southworth hit a fly ball to left field, but Meusel lost it in the sun and Southworth was credited with an RBI double into left field.

Trailing 5-1, Huggins turned to Urban Shocker. Hornsby greeted him with a two-run single into center that made the score 7-1, and with two outs Bell hit a two-run homer to make the score 9-1.

Yankees center fielder Earle Combs hit an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh, but the Cardinals added another run in the ninth for the final 10-2 score. St. Louis finished the day with 13 hits, including three by Bell and two apiece by Holm, Southworth, and Bottomley.

“We hit the ball today when we had to, and we will hit again tomorrow when hits will mean even more than they did today,” Hornsby said.[2]

Alexander, meanwhile, had his second complete-game victory of the World Series, allowing two earned runs on eight hits and two walks.

“It was so cold that you couldn’t work up a sweat,” Alexander said. “I was afraid in one of those long innings of being kept too long on the bench where it was colder than (on the field). That was my only worry. I knew I had enough to stop them but I was afraid that the cold weather might affect me.”[3]

While Combs, Meusel, and Joe Dugan each had two hits, Alexander held Ruth to a walk in four plate appearances. Ruth had already made his impact in the series, hitting a World Series-record three home runs in Game 4.

“We didn’t hit,” Huggins said. “The boys are playing some in-and-out baseball in this series, but it will be all right when we win tomorrow. Alexander had a better game left in his system than we thought, and he was better than our pitchers today.”[4]

While Huggins didn’t immediately announce his starting pitcher for Game 7, Hornsby declared that Jesse Haines, who shut out the Yankees in Game 3, would take the mound for the Cardinals.

“I was absolutely confident that Alex would beat the Yankees today and I am just as confident that Jess Haines will beat them again tomorrow and give us the championship,” Hornsby said. “Jess may not shut them out again, but we don’t figure he will have to, to win.”[5]

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[1] Russell Wolinsky, “Ray Blades,” Society for American Baseball Research Biography Project, https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/ray-blades/.

[2] Brian Bell, “Clubhouse Chatter After Game,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 10, 1926: Page 2S.

[3] Paul E. Doutrich, The Cardinals and the Yankees, 1926: A Classic Season and St. Louis in Seven (2021), Kindle Android version retrieved from Amazon.com, Location 2621-2624.

[4] Brian Bell, “Clubhouse Chatter After Game,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 10, 1926: Page 2S.

[5] Brian Bell, “Clubhouse Chatter After Game,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 10, 1926: Page 2S.