Stan Musial

June 23, 1961: Musial homers twice, drives in seven to power Cardinals past the Giants

On June 23, 1961, Stan Musial hopped off the trainer’s table, took the field at Busch Stadium I and proceeded to hit two homers and drive in seven runs to lead the Cardinals to a 10-5 win over the San Francisco Giants.

Just imagine what he could have accomplished if he had been fully healthy.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Musial missed most of the Cardinals’ pre-game batting practice because he was in the trainer’s room with a cold and a sore heel.[1] The ailments seemed to have little effect on the 40-year-old veteran, who hit a three-run homer and the ninth grand slam of his career to help relief pitcher Craig Anderson win his major-league debut.

“I don’t feel any older than, say, seven years ago when I hit five homers in a double-header off the Giants,” Musial said.[2]

Musial got the day’s scoring started in the bottom of the third. Giants left-hander Billy O’Dell walked Bill White and Ken Boyer before Musial launched a three-run homer over the right-field wall.

In the fourth, the Giants answered with an RBI double by Orlando Cepeda, and in the fifth Tim McCarver hit an RBI single to give the Cardinals a short-lived 4-1 lead.

In the sixth, the Giants’ first four hitters each collected hits to spark a four-run rally. Harvey Kuenn hit a two-run double and Cepeda added an RBI triple to chase Cardinals starter Curt Simmons from the game. Ernie Broglio entered the game in relief and allowed a sacrifice fly to Jim Davenport before walking the next batter he faced. Cardinals manager Solly Hemus called upon Anderson, who had just been called up for the Cardinal’ farm club in Portland. Anderson got out of the inning without allowing a run.

Though the Giants had a 5-4 lead, it was once again short-lived. In the bottom of the sixth, White singled and scored on a double by Charlie James.

In the seventh, the Cardinals finally broke the game open. Facing Giants reliever Stu Miller, Anderson doubled down the right-field line for his first major league hit, then scored on a double by Julio Gotay. After White singled, Giants manager Al Dark replaced Miller with Bobby Bolin.

Bolin intentionally walked Boyer to load the bases, then struck out James for the second out of the inning. For a moment, it looked as though the Giants might escape trailing by a single run, but Musial launched the first pitch he saw over the right-field wall and onto the pavilion roof for a grand slam.

“He sure can hit ‘em, can’t he?” said Dark, shaking his head after the game.[3]

“I didn’t hit the second one real good and I thought it would just hit the screen,” Musial said.[4]

Musial’s two home runs gave him 2,340 extra-base hits for his career, passing Lou Gehrig’s 2,338 and placing him second only to Babe Ruth’s 2,920. He also increased his career home run total to 438.

“It’s not just that Musial hit the grand slammer,” Hemus said. “He doesn’t surprise you when he does anything. People get to expect it because he’s so great.”[5]

Following the grand slam, Anderson kept the Giants in check. In the ninth inning, he worked around singles from Felipe Alou and Jim Marshall, retiring Willie McCovey on a fly ball to center field to end the game. He finished with three hits allowed over 3 2/3 scoreless innings.

“I was nervous at first, but not for long,” Anderson said.[6]

Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ lineup enjoyed 14 hits on the day. James led the team with three hits to boost his season average to .330 while White, Curt Flood, and Bob Lillis each had two.

Musial’s home runs gave him nine on the season to go with a .310 batting average. The next day, Cepeda approached Musial at the pre-game batting cages.

“Who said you were done?” the Giants first baseman asked.

“I never said I was,” Musial replied, “but a few thought I was.”[7]

Musial finished the season with a .288 batting average, 15 homers, and 70 RBIs. He played even better in his age-41 season in 1962, batting .330 with 19 homers and 82 RBIs. After earning all-star honors for the 24th time in his career, he retired following the 1963 season.

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[1] Neal Russo, “Ailing Musial Rocks Giants With Grand Slam and 3-Run Homer,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 24, 1961.

[2] “Cards Gain Steam,” Oakland Tribune, June 24, 1961.

[3] “Cards Gain Steam,” Oakland Tribune, June 24, 1961.

[4] Neal Russo, “Ailing Musial Rocks Giants With Grand Slam and 3-Run Homer,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 24, 1961.

[5] “Cards Gain Steam,” Oakland Tribune, June 24, 1961.

[6] Neal Russo, “Ailing Musial Rocks Giants With Grand Slam and 3-Run Homer,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 24, 1961.

[7] Harry Mitauer, “Rookie Halts Cards, 6 to 1,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 25, 1961.

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