July 15, 1927: Jim Bottomley gets five hits, becomes second Cardinal to hit for the cycle in a 9-7 comeback win

On July 15, 1927, “Sunny” Jim Bottomley became just the second player in Cardinals history to hit for the cycle as he led St. Louis to a 9-7 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in the Baker Bowl.

Bottomley’s 5-for-5 day helped the Cardinals rally from a 7-1 deficit after the Phillies jumped on starting pitcher Bob McGraw and a Redbirds defense that committed four errors.

Jimmie Wilson got things started for the Phillies with a two-run single in the bottom of the first. They added two more in the third inning when Cy Williams walked and scored on an error and Dick Attreau added an RBI single.

Down 4-0, the Cardinals got on the scoreboard in the fifth inning as Specs Toporcer, the first major league infielder to wear glasses on the field, hit a two-out double to right field to score Heinie Schuble.

The Phillies, however, wasted little time in responding. In the bottom of the fifth, Williams hit an RBI double, Wilson added a sacrifice fly, and Attreau hit an RBI triple that made the score 7-1.

In the top of the sixth, Bottomley started the Cardinals’ comeback. After singling in his first two at-bats, he led off with a double that hit the top of the right-field wall so hard that it ripped off the top board. Billy Southworth drove Bottomley home with a single to left and Schuble added an RBI single that scored Southworth. Wattie Holm hit a two-out RBI double to cut the Phillies lead to 7-5.

In the seventh, Bottomley hit his 10th home run of the season over the wall and onto the site of a proposed railroad depot. With the lead down to a single run, Phillies manager Stuffy McInnis replaced Alex Ferguson with Claude Willoughby, who retired the next two batters to end the inning.

Willoughby would not be so fortunate in the eighth. Johnny Schulte led off the inning with a game-tying home run. After Schuble doubled to right for his second hit of the game, McInnis went to his bullpen again, this time calling on Jack Scott. Scott got Les Bell to ground out, but Wattie Holm hit a double to center field to score Schuble and give the Cardinals their first lead of the game.

When Bottomley stepped to the plate to lead off the top of the ninth, he was 4-for-4 with two singles, a double, and a home run. At first it looked as though he might miss the cycle as he hit a pop up behind the plate. As the Philadelphia Inquirer described it, catcher “Jimmy (Wilson) went after it, but the wind picked it up, gave the Reach a Charleston wiggle, and Jim misjudged it. On the next pitch he (Bottomley) parked the onion over Fred Leach’s new haircut for three bases.”[1]

In other words, Bottomley hit the ball over the head of Phillies center fielder Freddy Leach and reached third base safely to complete the cycle. After Dutch Ulrich retired Southworth on a pop fly, Taylor Douthit grounded to Phillies shortstop Jimmy Cooney, who threw home too late to catch Bottomley sliding into home.

With a two-run lead to hold, Bill Sherdel worked around a leadoff single to earn his first save of the season.

Bottomley was the clear star of the game as he raised his batting average 12 points to .330.

“The blows were all ‘legits,’ real base hits that whistled around the field and made Sam Payne’s orchard look like a sieve,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported in a story beneath a headline declaring Bottomley a “terror with the ash.”[2]

Holm finished with three hits while Schulte and Schuble each finished with two. Vic Keen, who threw two innings of scoreless relief, earned his first win of the year. McGraw received no decision after allowing seven runs (four earned) in 4 2/3 innings.

Wilson led the Phillies with two hits and three RBIs. Attreau added two hits – including a triple – and two RBIs. Willoughby took the loss after allowing two runs in 2/3 of an inning.

The two teams continued on a similar trajectory the remainder of the season, as the Cardinals went 92-61 to finish second in the National League pennant race, 1 ½ games behind the Pirates. Philadelphia went just 51-103 to finish last in the eight-team league.

In franchise history, Bottomley’s cycle matched those of Tip O’Neill (who hit for the cycle twice in 1887) and Tommy Dowd (1895) during the team’s days as the St. Louis Browns. Cliff Heathcote, who hit for the cycle in a 19-inning game in 1918, was the first Cardinal to hit for the cycle (the Cardinals franchise officially begins with the collapse of the American Association and St. Louis’s return to the National League in 1892, making Bottomley’s the second in the team’s official records).

Bottomley finished the 1927 season with a .303 batting average to go with 19 homers and 124 RBIs. He finished 13th in that year’s National League MVP voting. The following year, Bottomley won the MVP Award as he hit .325 and led the league in triples (20), home runs (31), and RBIs (136).

Bottomley played 11 of his 16 major league seasons with the Cardinals before he was traded to the Reds ahead of the 1933 season. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame posthumously in 1974.

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[1] Stan Baumgartner, “Bottomley Terror With Ash As Late Flurries Top Phils,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 16, 1927.

[2] Stan Baumgartner, “Bottomley Terror With Ash As Late Flurries Top Phils,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 16, 1927.

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