Dizzy Dean

July 1, 1934: Dizzy Dean pitches 17 frames and Joe Medwick hits a game-winning homer in 18-inning marathon

Dizzy Dean may not have been at his best when he faced the Reds July 1, 1934, at Crosley Field, but his 17-inning pitching performance kept the Cardinals in the game long enough to top Cincinnati, 8-6.

Dean entered the game having won 11 of his last 12 decisions and each of his last four appearances. While Dean and his younger brother Paul were keeping the Cardinals in the pennant race, the Reds were mired at the bottom of the National League standings with a 21-44 record. Despite their season-long struggles, the Reds would prove a challenge for Dean and the Redbirds as the lead exchanged seven times in the 18-inning affair.

Dean and Cincinnati southpaw Tony Freitas exchanged zeros through the first three innings. Frankie Frisch got the Cardinals on the scoreboard in the fourth with an RBI single, but the Reds scored a run of their own with two singles and an RBI groundout in the bottom of the inning.

After Dean retired the first two batters of the fifth inning, the Reds rallied for three consecutive hits, including an RBI single by Gordon Slade and an RBI triple by Mark Koenig that gave Cincinnati a 3-1 lead.

St. Louis tied the score again in the top of the sixth. Pepper Martin led off the inning with a single, snapping an 0-for-11 slump, and scored on an RBI double by Frisch. With two outs, Ripper Collins singled into center field to score Frisch.

From there, the teams continued to trade runs. A sacrifice fly gave Cincinnati a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth before Martin hit a sacrifice fly of his own to tie the score in the seventh. In the bottom of the frame, Koenig doubled and former Cardinal Chick Hafey singled into right field to give the Reds a 5-4 lead. The Cardinals wouldn’t tie the score again until the ninth, when Chick Fullis hit a leadoff double and Leo Durocher singled into center field to drive him home.

Incredibly, Dean and Freitas exchanged scoreless innings until the top of the 17th. With one out, Joe Medwick launched his eighth home run of the year over the wall and onto a factory roof across the street.[1]

“The Reds had a lot of fun kidding Ducky during batting practice before the warfare started about his recent light hitting, and they also kidded him a lot when little Tony Freitas fanned him in the second and fourth innings of the long game. But he had the last laugh on Bob O’Farrell’s crowd,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.[2]

Dean returned to the mound for the bottom of the 17th inning holding a 6-5 lead, but after he retired the first two batters he faced, Tony Piet doubled to left and Slade hit an RBI single to tie the score yet again.

The Reds had replaced Freitas with a pinch hitter in the frame, so Paul Derringer entered the game for Cincinnati in the 18th. With one out, Derringer walked Burgess Whitehead. Pat Crawford, called upon to pinch hit for Dean, singled into center before Martin popped up for the second out.

With Jack Rothrock at the plate, Derringer uncorked a wild pitch that advanced the runners to second and third. Rothrock took advantage of the opportunity, reaching on an infield single that scored the go-ahead run. Frisch followed with his fourth hit of the day, a single into center field that gave the Cardinals an 8-6 lead.

With a two-run lead to protect, the Cardinals called on Jim Lindsey, a journeyman reliever who had pitched for the Reds earlier that season. On May 23, the Reds traded Lindsey to St. Paul of the American Association to acquire Freitas. Two weeks later, the Cardinals purchased Lindsey from St. Paul and inserted him into the bullpen.

Lindsey’s former teammates didn’t make it easy for him. After Lindsey retired Hafey on a fly ball to center field, Jimmy Shevlin singled and Ernie Lombardi reached on an error. Lindsey retired Harlin Pool for the second out, but then walked Adam Comorosky to load the bases.

That brought former Cardinals slugger Jim Bottomley to the plate. The 34-year-old first baseman lifted a high fly into left field, and as the Cincinnati Enquirer described it:

When the ball left his bat it looked good for three bases and would have won the game then and there. But Medwick cut back toward the scoreboard like a startled hare, leaped high and came down with the ball tightly encased in his glove.[3]

Frisch led the Cardinals offense with four hits in eight at-bats, while Martin, Rothrock, and Collins had three hits apiece.

Dean improved to 13-3 on the season with the win, which tied him with the Braves’ Fred Frankhouse for the National League lead. Over 17 innings, Dean allowed six earned runs on 18 hits and seven walks. He struck out seven of the 75 batters he faced.

“Just where the Cardinals would be without those Dean boys is not so hard to figure out,” Jack Ryder wrote in the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Somewhere down in the second division, anyway.”[4]

Lindsey earned the save.

Incredibly, after a game that lasted almost 4 ½ hours, the Cardinals and Reds had the second game of a double-header to play. That contest, which was played “just to keep faith with the fans who had been promised a double-header,”[5] the Cincinnati Enquirer reported, ended in a 2-2 tie after five innings before it was called due to darkness. Medwick drove in both the Cardinals’ runs with his second home run of the day.

“It was a great day, with a fine crowd and an abundance of remarkable plays, but 23 innings ought to be enough for the most confirmed fanatic,” Ryder wrote. “No one could complain that he didn’t get his money’s worth on this occasion, at least.”[6]

For the Reds, Freitas received no decision for his 17-inning performance, which included six earned runs on 17 hits and two walks. He struck out five. With the loss, Derringer fell to 4-10 on the season.

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[1] Jack Ryder, “Reds Lose First In Eighteenth — Second Game Tie Affair,” Cincinnati Enquirer, July 2, 1934.

[2] “Dizzy Dean’s 18-Inning Victory Keeps Cards Near Front,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 2, 1934.

[3] Jack Ryder, “Reds Lose First In Eighteenth — Second Game Tie Affair,” Cincinnati Enquirer, July 2, 1934.

[4] Jack Ryder, “Reds Lose First In Eighteenth — Second Game Tie Affair,” Cincinnati Enquirer, July 2, 1934.

[5] Jack Ryder, “Reds Lose First In Eighteenth — Second Game Tie Affair,” Cincinnati Enquirer, July 2, 1934.

[6] Jack Ryder, “Reds Lose First In Eighteenth — Second Game Tie Affair,” Cincinnati Enquirer, July 2, 1934.

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