Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Boston vs. St. Louis in the Postseason

The Red Sox and Cardinals begin what should be a terrific World Series on Wednesday night at Fenway Park. It's certainly an even matchup as both clubs posted identical 97-65 records during the regular season. It's the third World Series between teams that had the same record (1949 Yankees-Dodgers 97-57, 1958 Yankees-Braves 92-62).

This will be the fourth time that these teams have met in the Fall Classic. It will also be the 11th postseason meeting between St. Louis and Boston teams in the four major professional sports. In fact, Boston and St. Louis are the only cities that have met in a World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup Final and NBA Final.

Year Round Boston St. Louis Result
1946 World Series Red Sox Cardinals Cardinals 4-3
1967 World Series Red Sox Cardinals Cardinals 4-3
2004 World Series Red Sox Cardinals Red Sox 4-0
Year Round Boston St. Louis Result
2001 Super Bowl XXXVI Patriots Rams Patriots 20-17
Year Round Boston St. Louis Result
1957 NBA Finals Celtics Hawks Celtics 4-3
1958 NBA Finals Celtics Hawks Hawks 4-2
1960 NBA Finals Celtics Hawks Celtics 4-3
1961 NBA Finals Celtics Hawks Celtics 4-1
Year Round Boston St. Louis Result
1970 Stanley Cup Finals Bruins Blues Bruins 4-0
1972 Semifinals Bruins Blues Bruins 4-0

In 1946, Ted Williams returned from serving in World War II and hit 38 homers with a .342/.497/.667 slash line to lead the Red Sox to 104 wins and the American League pennant. On the other side, the Cardinals needed a best-of-three tiebreaker to get past the Dodgers and reach the World Series.

Boston was down to its last out in the ninth inning of Game One, but Tom McBride singled in the tying run to force extras before Rudy York's solo homer won it in the tenth. The two sides then traded shutouts, with Harry Brecheen evening the series for St. Louis in Game Two and Dave Ferriss putting the Sox ahead again in Game Three. The Cards thrashed their way to a 12-3 in the fourth game, but Boston took the lead once more with a  6-3 win in the fifth.

The Red Sox needed to win one game in St. Louis to claim their first title since 1918, but it didn't come. Brecheen's complete-game victory in Game Six pushed the series to a seventh game, which was a classic. The Cardinals led 3-1 in the top of the eighth inning, before a second-and-third, no-out jam pushed St. Louis starter Murry Dickson out of the game. Brecheen came in from the bullpen and got two outs and it looked like he'd wriggle out of the mess unscathed. But Dom DiMaggio came through with a double that tied the game. The clutch hit came with a price. DiMaggio injured his hamstring on the play and had to be removed for Leon Culberson.

With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Harry Walker stroked a hit to Culberson in center field and Enos Slaughter scored all the way from first base on what went down in history as the "Mad Dash." Slaughter said he wouldn't have even tried to score if DiMaggio had still been in center field. Brecheen recorded the final three outs in the ninth and the Cardinals won the series.

Two decades later, the two teams met again thanks to Carl Yastrzemski's Triple Crown and a worst-to-first turnaround by the Red Sox. But the "Impossible Dream" team had the nearly impossible task of beating Bob Gibson.

In Game One, the St. Louis ace struck out ten in outdueling Jose Santiago in a 2-1 victory. The only tally against Gibson came on a home run off the bat of Santiago, the only Boston pitcher to homer in the World Series.

A.L. Cy Young winner Jim Lonborg dominated Game Two for the Red Sox. He retired the first 19 batters, but lost the perfect game bid when he walked Curt Flood with two outs in the seventh. He still had a shot at a no-hitter, but Julian Javier doubled with two down in the eighth. That would be the Cards' only hit in a 5-0 Sox victory. Lonborg's was the second World Series one-hitter (Claude Passeau had the other in 1945) and there hasn't been one since.

Nelson Briles pitched the Cardinals to a Game Three victory before Gibson's five-hit shutout gave them a 3-1 series lead. Boston was in a big hole, but Lonborg kept them alive with a three-hitter that sent the series back to Fenway. The Sox hit four solo homers early in Game Six, but it was 4-4 in the eighth inning. Boston busted out with four runs to force a seventh game and another date with Gibson.

The future Hall of Famer did it all in the ultimate game, homering off Lonborg and striking out ten in a complete-game 7-2 win, his third of the World Series. Boston's championship drought dragged on and would not end until 2004 when these two met a third time.

2004 gave us two sensational League Championship Series, with the Red Sox coming back from an 0-3 deficit to beat the rival Yankees and the Cardinals outlasting the Astros in a seven-game thriller. After Boston's historic LCS victory, the World Series was an anti-climax.

Four batters into the first inning of Game One, the Red Sox took a 3-0 on David Ortiz's three-run homer. Boston never looked back. They outslugged the Cardinals 11-9 despite making four errors. The Boston battery led the way in the second game. Jason Varitek's two-run triple in the first inning provided the offense for Curt Schilling, who pitched six innings without allowing an earned run. The Sox won 6-2 to take a 2-0 series lead out west.

It was another night, another first-inning knockout punch for Boston in Game Three, which came on Manny Ramirez's two-run homer. St. Louis put the tying and go-ahead runs on base with nobody out in the third inning, but pitcher Jeff Suppan's baserunning blunder at third base turned into a double play. Pedro Martinez set down the next 13 Cardinals and the Red Sox won 4-1 to move on the precipice of a curse-ending sweep.

Johnny Damon led off the top of the first inning of Game Four with a home run, giving Boston a first-inning lead for the fourth straight game. Derek Lowe pitched seven shutout innings of three-hit ball before Keith Foulke finished the 3-0 win by recording the out that New England had waited 86 years for.


The one St. Louis-Boston playoff meeting in the NFL was memorable one. The powerhouse Rams were 14-point favorites against the upstart Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI.

New England's defense kept the high-flying Rams in check early in the game and only trailed 3-0 after the first quarter. A turning point came about halfway through the second quarter when Ty Law picked off Kurt Warner and ran it back for a touchdown that gave the Patriots the lead.

New England extended its lead right before halftime when Ricky Proehl fumbled and set up a Tom Brady touchdown pass to David Patten with only 36 seconds until intermission. Their defense continued to stymie the Rams and stunningly, the Pats were up 17-3 in the fourth quarter.

It looked like they put the game away in the fourth quarter when Warner fumbled near the goal line and Tebucky Jones picked it up and ran it 97 yards for an apparent three-score lead. But a holding call against Willie McGinest negated the play and gave the "Greatest Show on Turf" new life. Warner ran in for a score two plays later and the the lead was cut in half with 9:33 to play. With less than two minutes left, Warner started a lightning-quick touchdown drive. On just three plays the Rams moved 55 yards in 21 seconds, tying the game on Proehl's 26-yard grab. It was 17-17 and it appeared that New England's luck had run out.

But little did we know that a football legend was about to grow before our eyes. Tom Brady took over at his own 17 with 1:21 remaining and no timeouts. Calling the game on FOX with Pat Summerall, John Madden advised a conservative approach to play for overtime. He quickly changed his mind after Brady completed three short passes to J.R. Redmond and one big one to Troy Brown that got them to the Rams' 36. One more Redmond catch set up Adam Vinatieri's game-ending championship-winning 48-yard field goal that sealed one of the NFL's greatest games and kick-started a great dynasty.


The most common Boston-St. Louis postseason matchup came on the hardwood, with the Celtics and Hawks meeting for the NBA crown four times in a five-year span.

Rookie Bill Russell led the Celtics to their first NBA Finals in 1957, while Bob Pettit's Hawks were also making their first appearance in the championship round. Game One went into double overtime, and it was St. Louis that pulled out the victory 125-123. To date it is the only NBA Finals opener that required two OT's. That was a sign of things to come, as they split the first six games with three of them were decided by only two points.

Game Three had some fireworks before tip-off. Red Auerbach took issue with the height of the baskets in St. Louis and asked for them to be measured. Hawks owner Ben Kerner was offended and an argument ensued that ended with Auerbach punching Kerner right in the mouth. Imagine if Gregg Popovich punched Jerry Reinsdorf before a game today. Red was fined 300 bucks by the league.

The seventh game was one of the greatest in NBA Finals history. The two teams went back-and-forth, ultimately going into double-overtime once again. Pettit's 39 points led the way for the Hawks, but Russell grabbed 32 rebounds and Tommy Heinsohn scored 37 points and added 23 boards for a 125-123 Celtics lead.

With three seconds left and needing to go the length of the court, Hawks player-coach Alex Hannum put himself in the game to make a daring attempt. He'd throw the ball all the way off the other backboard and Pettit would catch the bounce at the foul line for the game-tying shot. Amazingly, the play worked perfectly, but Pettit missed the put-back and the Celtics won the series.

The next year brought a Finals rematch and after two games it seemed like they were headed for another down-to-the-wire thriller. The set was tied at 1-1 and Game Three was all square as well when Russell sprained his ankle and was finished for the series. The Celtics hung around, but St. Louis won in Game Six at home behind Pettit's marvelous 50-point performance. He scored 18 of the Hawks last 21 points in one of the best Finals performances ever.

That loss must have made the Celtics really angry, because they responded by winning the next EIGHT league titles. They swept the Lakers in 1959 before another pair of showdowns with the Hawks. 1960 was a seven-game series with no team winning back-to-back games. But it wasn't that dramatic for a seven-gamer as the average margin of victory was 14.4 points. 1961 was the most lopsided of the four series, with Boston winning in five games. The Hawks moved to Atlanta after the 1968 season and other than the brief two-year existence of the ABA's Spirits of St. Louis, there hasn't been pro hoops in St. Louis since.


We finish on the ice and although the Bruins and Blues haven't met in the postseason in over 40 years, this matchup provided one of hockey's most indelible moments.

In both of their first two seasons as an expansion team, the Blues went to the Stanley Cup Finals in and were swept by the Canadiens. They made it back in 1970 and this time they went up against Bobby Orr's Bruins. Orr led the league in scoring, becoming the first (and to date, only) defenseman to claim the scoring title.

The Finals opened in St. Louis and the Bruins dominated anyway, winning the first two games 6-1 and 6-2. At home at Boston Garden, they cruised to a 4-1 victory in Game Three, but Game Four was much tighter. Both teams scored a goal in each period and the contest went to overtime knotted at 3-3.

Orr was tripped while scoring the Cup-winning goal and this photo of him in flight is one of the most famous in sports.

The 1972 semifinal series between the two was an absolute rout, with the Bruins sweeping four games by a combined score of 28-8. Boston moved on to the Finals and beat the Rangers in six games. This Bruins-Blues set is the only series featured here that wasn't for the championship.

The history between St. Louis and Boston sports teams doesn't run as deep as that between some other cities, but it's highlights are as memorable as any. Slaghter's Mad Dash, a double-overtime NBA Finals Game Seven, Bobby Orr's famous goal, the Sox ending the Curse and a Super Bowl walk-off win. Hopefully this World Series will produce a moment like those.

Matt Adams John Axford Carlos Beltran Matt Carpenter Adron Chambers Randy Choate Allen Craig Daniel Descalso David Freese Matt Holliday Jon Jay Joe Kelly Pete Kozma Lance Lynn Seth Maness Carlos Martinez Yadier Molina Edward Mujica Shane Robinson Trevor Rosenthal Kevin Siegrist Michael Wacha Adam Wainwright Kolten Wong Quintin Berry Xander Bogaerts Craig Breslow Clay Buchholz Mike Carp Ryan Dempster Felix Doubront Stephen Drew Jacoby Ellsbury Jonny Gomes John Lackey Jon Lester Will Middlebrooks Franklin Morales Mike Napoli Daniel Nava Jake Peavy Dustin Pedroia David Ross Jarrod Saltalamacchia Junichi Tazawa Koji Uehara Shane Victorino Brandon Workman

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