May 15, 1984: Andujar calls his shot, hits grand slam

After Joaquin Andujar held the Atlanta Braves to one run in a complete-game mound effort and supported his own cause with a grand slam, Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith had to admit that he was disappointed.

“There’s no way we can get on him now,” Smith said. “We like to give him trouble, but there’s nothing we can do now.”[1]

Not after one of the best all-around performances of Andujar’s career.

Heading into the Cardinals’ May 15, 1984, game against the Braves at Busch Stadium, Andujar was off to a 5-3 record, just one win shy of his disappointing 1983 season in which he went just 6-16 with a 4.16 ERA.

“The way I tried to pitch in 1983, I tried to throw everything too hard,” Andujar said. “There’s no way you can pitch in the National League by throwing everything yard. You’ve got to have other pitches to go with your fastball. This year I’ve got four pitches working – my changeup, curve, slider, and fastball.”[2]

Andujar credited new Cardinals pitching coach Mike Roarke with his success on the mound and at the plate.

“He’s my pitching coach and hitting coach,” Andujar said. “He tells me when to slow down my swing.”[3]

Though the Padres roughed him up in his second start of the season, three of Andujar’s five wins had come in complete-game shutouts, including his most recent start, a 7-0 win over the Padres.

The Cardinals got on the scoreboard first after Tom Herr led off the first with a single and advanced to second on a balk. The next batter, Willie McGee, doubled to score Herr and give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.

“I’m just doing what I’ve been doing,” McGee said. “I’m just going out there and swinging.”[4]

The Braves answered with their own version of “Whiteyball” in the third, as Alex Trevino singled, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and a ground ball to second base, then scored on an infield single by Rafael Ramirez. It was the only run the Braves managed on the day, as Andujar retired the next eight batters he faced.

With Andujar holding the Braves’ offense in check, the Cardinals reclaimed the lead in the sixth after McGee doubled advanced to third on a ground ball. With two outs, George Hendrick scored McGee on an infield single. An inning later, Ken Oberkfell scored on a passed ball to give the Cardinals a 3-1 lead.

The Cardinals didn’t break the game open until the bottom of the eighth. After walking Andy Van Slyke intentionally to load the bases, Braves reliever Jeff Dedmon uncorked a wild pitch that scored McGee, and Smith scored Tito Landrum with a ground-ball force out. After Smith stole second base, Dedmon walked Nieto intentionally to bring Andujar to the plate with the bases loaded.

That proved to be a mistake.

As he stood in the on-deck circle, Andujar pointed to the outfield wall and told his teammates he was about to hit a home run.

“What’s worse is (he) pointed before he hit the damn thing,” Smith said. “Just like Ruth. Ruth and Andujar. He’s going to be impossible.”[5]

Though Andujar had not hit a home run since he was playing for the Astros in 1980, he took Dedmon deep from his less-powerful side of the plate. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that it was Andujar’s first career home run batting lefthanded,[6] though Baseball-Reference.com indicated that he hit one in 1979.[7] According to the Post-Dispatch’s research, Andujar was the first Cardinals pitcher to hit lefthanded and righthanded home runs in the same season.[8]

“I’ve got more power righthanded, but everybody knows I’m strong enough. I’ve been telling you for three years: if I make contact, it will go,” Andujar said.[9]

“Every day I hit five or six home runs in batting practice,” he added. “It doesn’t surprise that I hit a home run. I know I’m not a good hitter. I know I’m a horsebleep hitter, but like I tell you, if I make contact, it’s gone.”[10]

Smith had a great vantage point from second base to watch Andujar’s home run sail over the wall.

“When I realized the ball was going out of the park, I was trying to pull it back,” Smith said. “I was wondering if there was any way I could go back to first base.”[11]

On the heels of his grand slam, Andujar threw a scoreless ninth inning to secure the win. The Braves scattered eight hits in the game as Andujar allowed one earned run while striking out six. With his sixth win, Andujar matched his total from the previous season and his 71 2/3 innings pitched led the National League.[12]

“I pitch like that before,” he said. “I’m not surprised. Nobody should be. I’ve been nine years in the major leagues and went to two all-star games. It surprises me if I pitch bad. I’m not going to say I’m the greatest, but I’m not as bad as I was last year.”[13]

After the game, Cardinals general manager Joe McDonald and scout Wilfred Calvino, who signed Andujar to his first professional contract, presented Andujar with a bottle of wine to commemorate the occasion.[14]

Though it proved to be the final home run of Andujar’s career, he continued to build upon his early success on the mound. By the all-star break, he was 13-6 with a 2.90 ERA. He led the league with 20 wins, 261 1/3 innings, and four shutouts. He finished the year with a 3.34 ERA as he won a Gold Glove Award and placed fourth in the Cy Young Award voting.

“He’s one of a kind,” Herzog said. “There’s only one Joaquin, but I’m glad we’ve got him.”[15]


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[1] Rick Hummel, “Andujar, Cards Slam Braves,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 16, 1984.

[2] Lyndal Scranton, “The Dominican is tough again,” Springfield Leader and Press, May 16, 1984.

[3] Lyndal Scranton, “The Dominican is tough again,” Springfield Leader and Press, May 16, 1984.

[4] Rick Hummel, “Andujar, Cards Slam Braves,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 16, 1984.

[5] Mike Eisenbath, “Cards, Andujar slam Braves,” Belleville News-Democrat, May 16, 1984.

[6] Rick Hummel, “Andujar, Cards Slam Braves,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 16, 1984.

[7] “Joaquin Andujar,” Baseball-Reference, https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.fcgi?id=andujjo01&year=1979&t=b.

[8] Rick Hummel, “LaPoint Beats Braves, Not Odds,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 17, 1984.

[9] Rick Hummel, “Andujar, Cards Slam Braves,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 16, 1984.

[10] Rick Hummel, “Andujar, Cards Slam Braves,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 16, 1984.

[11] Rick Hummel, “Andujar, Cards Slam Braves,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 16, 1984.

[12] Rick Hummel, “Andujar, Cards Slam Braves,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 16, 1984.

[13] Rick Hummel, “Andujar, Cards Slam Braves,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 16, 1984.

[14] Rick Hummel, “Andujar, Cards Slam Braves,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 16, 1984.

[15] Lyndal Scranton, “The Dominican is tough again,” Springfield Leader and Press, May 16, 1984.