Prior to Wednesday night's game against the Red Sox, the Cardinals celebrated this rare Interleague matchup with a 50th anniversary celebration of their 1967 championship. Boston won in 13 innings on Wednesday, 5-4, but back in '67, St. Louis triumphed in a seven-game classic, with World Series MVP Bob Gibson closing the Red Sox out by fanning George Scott to win it.
So, it was only fitting that Gibson threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Wednesday to the man who caught the ball in '67 -- Tim McCarver.
Another strike, 50 years later.
Gibson and McCarver had fond Game 7 memories that they shared with MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch. The Cardinals won that contest, 7-2, but going into the action, it wasn't clear that it would be that easy. The Red Sox had forced a Game 7 with an 8-4 win, and the Fenway Park crowd was boisterous. Boston actually sold the center-field seats in the batter's eye, and since the fans were wearing white shirts, McCarver had trouble following the ball to catch Gibson's pitches.
Meanwhile, Gibson wasn't fully recovered from a broken leg suffered on a Roberto Clemente line drive in mid-July. Yet somehow, he recorded a 0.96 ERA during his five September starts as the Cardinals clinched the NL pennant, and then twirled three complete-game victories with a 1.00 ERA in the World Series. How did he manage it? "Sheer stupidity," he cracked to Langosch.
Naturally, Gibson was on the mound to finish it off. "I always told [manager Red Schoendienst], 'When you think about taking me out, look down in the bullpen and tell me what you see,'" he recalled. "I wasn't going to come out."
The Red Sox couldn't even stop Gibson at the plate, as he got in on the fun with a fifth-inning solo homer.
It was a small bit of vengeance that Gibson's blast came off Red Sox starter Jim Lonborg, as thanks to his two victories earlier in the Fall Classic, one Boston newspaper had printed "Lonborg and Champagne" as the headline that day.
"That upset us," said McCarver to Langosch. "That's all we needed with Gibson going. It was perhaps the most viciously competitive individuals on any team that I was ever a part of. [We were] a ruthlessly competitive team."
Gibson's response said it all. "It said 'Lonborg and Champagne.' No. 'Lonborg and Shampoo.'"