October 9, 1934: Dizzy Dean shuts out Detroit and Joe Medwick nearly sparks a riot as the Cardinals win World Series Game 7

At the end of a roller-coaster season, it was fitting that the 1934 St. Louis Cardinals’ final game was a madcap affair, complete with a fight between players, a near-riot in the stands, and Dizzy Dean testing out new pitches en route to an 11-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game 7 of the 1934 World Series.

The 1934 regular season had been a breakout campaign for Dean as he led all of baseball with 30 wins, 195 strikeouts, and 26 complete games. In the final week of the season, he earned three wins to lift the Cardinals to the National League pennant. The Redbirds had trailed the New York Giants by as many as seven games on September 6, but a 21-7 record in the final week of the season propelled them past the defending National League champs.

Through the first six games of the World Series, the Cardinals and the American League champion Tigers had proven to be equals. Dean had taken the loss in Game 5 as Tigers right-hander Tommy Bridges held the Cardinals to one run and seven hits in a complete-game effort.

The following day, Dizzy’s younger brother Paul Dean outpitched Tigers ace Schoolboy Rowe, allowing three runs – one earned – in a 4-3 Cardinals win. That left Cardinals second baseman and manager Frankie Frisch with a decision to make regarding his starting pitcher for Game 7. He could either pitch Dizzy Dean again on one day’s rest or turn to left-hander Bill Hallahan, who had held the Tigers to two runs over 8 1/3 innings in Game 2.

Radio announcer France Laux recalled, “Finally Frisch said, ‘Hallahan, you start. Walker (left-hander Bill Walker), you’re in reserve.’ Just as he said that, the door opened, and here’s old Diz. He called Frisch ‘Franco.’ He said, ‘Franco, you know what the problem is? You’re going over the batting order, trying to decide who to pitch. You want to win, don’t you?’ He said, ‘There’s only one man to pitch, an’ here he is.’

“Frisch said, ‘Are you sure you’re able to go?’

“He said, ‘You let me pitch, an’ you won’t have any more problem.’

“Frisch said, ‘Okay, you start, and Hallahan, you’re in reserve.’”[1]

The Tigers countered with Elden Auker, a 23-year-old right-hander who had gone 15-7 during the regular season, then pitched all nine innings to earn the win in Detroit’s 10-4 Game 4 victory.

Before the game, Dean visited the Tigers bullpen and observed Auker as he warmed up.

“You don’t expect to get anyone out with that stuff, do you?” Dean asked.[2]

After both pitchers cruised through the first two innings, it was Dean who got the Cardinals’ offense sparked with a one-out double in the third. Pepper Martin followed with a single and Jack Rothrock walked to load the bases ahead of Frisch. The 36-year-old Frisch came through with a bases-clearing double to give his team a 3-0 lead.

“That was a million-dollar hit to me,” Frisch said.[3]

Tigers catcher/manager Mickey Cochrane quickly turned to his bullpen, calling upon Rowe, who had earned the win in Game 2 but was outpitched by Paul Dean in Game 6 just one day earlier. After throwing all nine innings the previous day, Rowe had little left for Game 7. Joe Medwick grounded out for the second out of the inning, but Ripper Collins hit an RBI single and Bill DeLancey smacked an RBI double into right field to give the Cardinals a 5-0 lead and chase Rowe from the game.

With Elon Hogsett now in the game, Ernie Orsatti worked a walk and light-hitting shortstop Leo Durocher singled to load the bases for Dean.

“It’s all over, Mick,” Dean told Cochrane as he took his warm-up swings.

Dean bounced an infield single to third base that scored DeLancey, and Martin followed with a bases-loaded walk to extend St. Louis’s lead to 7-0. Finally, Bridges, the Tigers’ fourth pitcher of the inning, got a ground ball to end the inning.

Dean, meanwhile, continued to cruise. Detroit didn’t collect its first hit until Charlie Gehringer singled in the fourth. The Tigers finally threatened in the fifth when Hank Greenberg singled and Pete Fox followed with a one-out double. With two runners in scoring position, Dean struck out Bridges, then retired Jo-Jo White on a ground ball to Durocher to end the threat.

The most famous – or infamous – moment of the game took place in the sixth inning, when Medwick hit a two-out RBI triple. Medwick slid hard into the base, knocking Owen down in the process. After Owen landed on him, Medwick kicked at the Tigers third baseman, and the two players were soon wrestling in the dirt.

“I admit he slid hard. Joe always played hard. But it wasn’t a dirty slide,” Frisch wrote in his autobiography. “But Marvin Owen, the third baseman, thought Joe was carrying one of his spiked shoes too high as he slid, and perhaps accidentally or perhaps in retaliation, Owen took the high throw and came down on Joe’s leg harder than Joe thought was necessary. So Medwick kicked at Owen’s leg.”[4]

Collins followed with a single to center field, extending the Cardinals’ lead to 9-0. When the Cardinals took the field in the bottom half of the inning, however, the fans began to throw produce, cigar stubs, and empty soda bottles at Medwick in left field.[5]

Paul Gallico of the New York Daily News described the scene:

“I watched the crowd and Medwick, and the pelting missles (sic) through my field glasses, and it was a terrifying sight. Every face in the crowd, women and men was distorted with rage. Mouths were tore wide, open eyes glistened and shone in the sun. All fists were clenched. Medwick stood grinning with his hands on his hips, just out of range of the bottles. A green apple rolled to his feet and he fielded that too.”[6]

The game was delayed as staff tried to clear the field of trash and the public address announcer pleaded with fans to allow the game to resume.

“I don’t know where they were getting all that stuff from,” Gehringer said. “It was like they were backing produce trucks up to the gate and supplying everyone.”[7]

Meanwhile, Medwick picked up an apple and began to play catch with Martin and Orsatti.

“Aw, it’s nothing, Joe. Don’t let it bother you,” Durocher said.

“Nothing, hell,” Medwick replied. “If you think that, you play left field and I’ll play shortstop.”[8]

Finally, commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis called Medwick, Owen, Frisch, and the umpires to his box on the third-base line.

“Mr. Owen, did Mr. Medwick attempt to kick you?” Landis asked.

“Yes, sir,” Owen answered.

“Is that true?” Landis then asked Medwick. “Did you attempt to kick Mr. Owen?”

“Yes, I did, sir,” answered Medwick.[9]

After determining that Owen had done nothing to prompt Medwick’s anger, Landis ordered the Cardinals slugger removed from the game. With 11 hits in the series, Medwick’s shot at tying the record of 12 was over.

“It’s a good thing Joe didn’t have a bat in his hands,” Frisch said. “He would have killed some of those fans.”[10]

“I was running to third base,” Medwick told the St. Louis Globe-Democrat after the game. “I saw Owen in front of the bag and I slid in hard. Then the row followed. When Mr. Landis called me to him he asked me if I had anything against Owen. I said ‘no.’ He asked Owen the same question and he said ‘no.’ I offered to shake hands with Owen but he refused. Mr. Landis then told me I was out of the game. That’s all there was to that and I left.”[11]

After a 20-minute delay, the game was able to resume.

In the seventh inning, Durocher tripled and scored on an error and Rothrock hit an RBI double to make the score 11-0. It proved to be 10 runs more than Dean needed, even as he experimented with new pitches.

“Hey Frank,” he shouted to Frisch late in the game. “If I’m as good as (Giants pitcher Carl Hubbell), I should be able to throw a screwball. Watch this.”[12]

Dean’s ensuing pitch sailed over DeLancey’s head.

“Bear down, dammit!” Frisch shouted.[13]

In the ninth inning, Gehringer and Billy Rogell each singled, but Dean struck out Greenberg for his fifth strikeout of the game. When Owen hit a ground ball to Durocher and the Cardinals’ shortstop flipped the ball to Frisch at second base for the force out, the Cardinals were world champions.

Dean had allowed just six hits over nine shutout innings and every player in the Cardinals’ lineup had at least one hit. Together, he and his brother Paul Dean had earned all four of St. Louis’s World Series wins.

After the game, Dizzy celebrated with a rubber, inflatable tiger.

“Look at old Frankie Frisch over there,” he said. “He’s the best manager in both leagues. He knows more baseball than all them Tigers thrown together. Everything was just lovely today. I let them Tigers have a couple of base hits and then I throwed strikes at ‘em. Boy, there was nothing to it.”[14]

As champions, each of the Cardinals received $5,941 while the Tigers received $4,313.90.[15]

With tensions still high following Medwick’s dustup, the Cardinals received a police escort back to their hotel. There, Medwick and his roommate, pitcher Bill Hallahan, observed two men following them on the elevator and then down the hallway. They had barely gotten to their rooms when there was a knock on the door. It was the two men who had been following them.

“Which one of you is Joe Medwick?” one of them asked.

“He is,” Medwick said, pointing to Hallahan.

“I am not,” said a startled Hallahan. “He is.”

The men explained that they were plainclothes detectives assigned to protect Medwick until he left town.[16] Medwick ate dinner with the two detectives in his room that evening.[17]

“I never knew a city to take a World Series defeat so bitterly,” Frisch said. “Twenty-five years later, our center fielder, Ernie Orsatti, was in Detroit on a business trip and he registered at the Sheraton-Cadillac Hotel, where we were housed while playing the 1934 World Series. The desk clerk looked at the name on the register, then looked at Orsatti. He told Ernie he didn’t believe he could give him a room. Orsattie thought he was joking, but he wasn’t. Ernie had to go over the clerk’s head to get a room at the hotel.”[18]

While there was no love lost between Detroit’s fans and the Cardinals, the Tigers didn’t have any hard feelings for the Dean brothers.

“This Dizzy Dean they’re all talking about told the boys what he’s going to do to them, but after listening for a while I kind of liked the kid,” outfielder Goose Goslin said. “There’s no real harm in him.”[19]

 

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[1] Peter Golenbock (2011), The Spirit of St. Louis: A History of the St. Louis Cardinals and Browns, HarperCollins Ebooks, Page 191.

[2] Doug Feldmann (2000), Dizzy and the Gas House Gang: The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals and Depression-Era Baseball, McFarland & Company, Inc.: Jefferson, N.C. and London, Page 165.

[3] Charles W. Dunkley “Cochrane’s Handshake Fills Frank’s Cup To Brim,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 10, 1934.

[4] John Heidenry (2007), The Gashouse Gang: How Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher, Branch Rickey, Pepper Martin, and Their Colorful, Come-From-Behind Ball Club Won the World Series, PublicAffairs: New York, Page 270.

[5] John Heidenry (2007), The Gashouse Gang: How Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher, Branch Rickey, Pepper Martin, and Their Colorful, Come-From-Behind Ball Club Won the World Series, PublicAffairs: New York, Page 270.

[6] Paul Gallico, “Riot,” New York Daily News, October 10, 1934.

[7] John Heidenry (2007), The Gashouse Gang: How Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher, Branch Rickey, Pepper Martin, and Their Colorful, Come-From-Behind Ball Club Won the World Series, PublicAffairs: New York, Page 271.

[8] John Heidenry (2007), The Gashouse Gang: How Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher, Branch Rickey, Pepper Martin, and Their Colorful, Come-From-Behind Ball Club Won the World Series, PublicAffairs: New York, Page 271.

[9] Doug Feldmann (2000), Dizzy and the Gas House Gang: The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals and Depression-Era Baseball, McFarland & Company, Inc.: Jefferson, N.C. and London, Page 168.

[10] John Heidenry (2007), The Gashouse Gang: How Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher, Branch Rickey, Pepper Martin, and Their Colorful, Come-From-Behind Ball Club Won the World Series, PublicAffairs: New York, Page 272.

[11] Martin J. Haley, “Cardinals Win Series as Fans Stage Riot,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 10, 1934.

[12] Doug Feldmann (2000), Dizzy and the Gas House Gang: The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals and Depression-Era Baseball, McFarland & Company, Inc.: Jefferson, N.C. and London, Page 168.

[13] Doug Feldmann (2000), Dizzy and the Gas House Gang: The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals and Depression-Era Baseball, McFarland & Company, Inc.: Jefferson, N.C. and London, Page 168.

[14] Charles W. Dunkley “Cochrane’s Handshake Fills Frank’s Cup To Brim,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 10, 1934.

[15] “Each Card Gets $5,821, Tiger $4,313,” New York Daily News, October 10, 1934.

[16] John Heidenry (2007), The Gashouse Gang: How Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher, Branch Rickey, Pepper Martin, and Their Colorful, Come-From-Behind Ball Club Won the World Series, PublicAffairs: New York, Page 276.

[17] Doug Feldmann (2000), Dizzy and the Gas House Gang: The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals and Depression-Era Baseball, McFarland & Company, Inc.: Jefferson, N.C. and London, Page 170.

[18] Peter Golenbock (2011), The Spirit of St. Louis: A History of the St. Louis Cardinals and Browns, HarperCollins Ebooks, Page 194.

[19] Charles F. Faber (2014), The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals, Kindle Android Edition, Location 3536.