Pepper Martin

May 5, 1933: Pepper Martin hits for the cycle in 5-3 win vs. the Phillies

On May 5, 1933, Pepper Martin, “the wild horse of the Osage” himself, ran wild on Frank Pearce and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Batting leadoff, Martin singled, doubled, tripled, and homered while scoring four times in a 5-3 St. Louis win. Martin’s assault on Phillies pitching even surpassed the swings of two female fans who struck umpire Charlie Moran with their umbrellas after the game.

A native of Oklahoma, Martin was one of the characters who would make up the Cardinals’ Gashouse Gang in 1934. To comlement their on-field activities, he formed a band with teammates Lon Warneke, Max Lanier, Bill McGee, Bob Weiland, and Frenchy Bordagaray called the Mississippi Mudcats. He also raced midget cars and was known to hunt rattlesnakes with a stick and burlap sack.[1]

Martin made his major league debut in 1928, but spent the entire 1929 season and most of 1930 in the minors. In 1931, after batting .363 with 20 homers for Rochester the previous year, Martin enjoyed a breakout rookie campaign, hitting .300 with seven homers, 75 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases. In the World Series against the defending champion Philadelphia Athletics, Martin tied a record with 12 hits, batting .500 with one homer, five RBIs, and five stolen bases.

The 1932 season was a down year for Martin, as he hit just .238 in 85 games, but 1933 would prove one of the best years of his career. Heading into the May 5 game against the Phillies, Martin was batting .298 with a .411 on-base percentage.

He continued that success in his first at-bat against Pearce, a rookie right-hander from Middletown, Kentucky. Martin singled to left field to open the game, then scored on a two-out single by Rogers Hornsby.

The Phillies answered in the bottom of the first against Cardinals starting pitcher Bill Walker. A two-time National League ERA champion for the New York Giants, the 29-year-old Walker went just 8-12 with a 4.14 ERA in 1932 and was traded to the Cardinals that offseason.

Philadelphia left fielder Alta Cohen, making his debut in the Phillies outfield, welcomed Walker to the game with a leadoff double and Chick Fullis hit an RBI single to center to tie the score, 1-1.

Martin helped the Cardinals regain the lead in the third with a leadoff triple to center field. Two batters later, Pat Crawford grounded out, allowing Martin to score.

Martin homered to left field in the fifth to give the Cardinals a 3-1 lead, and Chuck Klein homered in the sixth to cut the Cardinals’ lead in half.

In the top of the eighth, Martin capped off his four-hit day with a double to left field. He later scored on a sacrifice fly by Hornsby.

Fullis added another RBI single off walker in the eighth, but in the ninth Joe Medwick doubled and Jimmie Wilson drove him home with a single to make the score 5-3.

Walker retired all three batters he faced in the ninth to secure his first win of the season. The final batter, Al Todd, hit a swinging bunt that Moran called fair for the final out of the game. Todd and Phillies manager Burt Shotton each debated the call, and several women – celebrating Ladies’ Day at the ballpark – joined the Phillies on the field to dispute the call.

In the Philadelphia Inquirer’s accounting of the incident:

“They milled about the umpire, verbally assaulting him with such music as ‘You’re a bum – robber – thief,’ – ‘You’re as blind as my husband and twice as dumb,’ – ‘If I was married to you I would put arsenic in your coffee.’

Moran took all this with a smile … but when two of the feminine contingent lifted their umbrellas (although it was not raining) and started to impress their thoughts on his head, he demurred.[2]

Eventually, Shotton calmed matters enough to allow the umpire to leave the field.

Walker earned his first win of the season, scattering eight hits and a walk over nine innings. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s J. Roy Stockton wrote that, “Walker showed his best form of the season … and while he didn’t have the speed that made him the league’s outstanding pitcher in 1931, he was putting his curve just where he wanted it.”[3]

The win marked the Cardinal’s fourth consecutive victory and improved their record to 9-9 on the season. The team finished the year 82-71, good for fifth place in the National League.

Martin went on to bat .316 with eight homers and 57 RBIs, and led the National League with 26 stolen bases and 122 runs scored. He was named to the first of four career all-star games and was fifth in the National League MVP vote at the end of the season.

Enjoy this post? Find similar stories listed by decade or by player.

[1] John Heidenry (2007), “The Gashouse Gang,” PublicAffairs, 95.

[2] Stan Baumgartner, “Martin Runs Wild As Redbirds Top Phils,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 6, 1933.

[3] J. Roy Stockton, “Martin Bats Cardinals To 5-3 Victory Over Phillies,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 5, 1933.

Leave a Comment