With only a little over a week until the 1935 All-Star Game, the St. Louis Cardinals played the second of a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds. The visiting Cardinals (36-27) had lost their last two games and were clinging to third place in the National League, eight games behind the New York Giants. The home-team Reds (27-36) were down in sixth place, 17 games out of first. A tiny crowd of 2,504 braved the cloudy weather to watch the two teams battle. Joe Medwick thrilled the crowd by hitting for the cycle.
Frankie Frisch was in his third season as the Cardinals’ manager. He had guided St. Louis to a World Series championship in 1934, defeating the Detroit Tigers in seven games, and he was looking to have a return trip to the 1935 fall classic. For this Saturday-afternoon match, he called on World Series hero Paul Dean to do the pitching.1 Chuck Dressen was the second-year skipper of the Reds. His pitching choice was Si Johnson, who was in search of his sixth win of the season. Johnson was mostly a starter for Dressen, although he had appeared out of the bullpen a few times. Both starters were allowing better than 4½ runs per game.
Pepper Martin, one of seven St. Louis players named to the NL All-Star squad,2 led off the game with a single to center field. He was forced at second on Ernie Orsatti’s grounder. An out later, Orsatti stole second and then came home when Medwick lined a double to left, giving the Cardinals an early lead. Bill DeLancey started the St. Louis second with a home run, making the score 2-0. Dean faced one above the minimum through the first two innings.
In the top of the third, Johnson retired both Martin and Orsatti, but Burgess Whitehead singled up the middle. Medwick followed by launching a triple into deep center, plating Whitehead. Ripper Collins hit an RBI single to center, and after 2½ innings, the Cardinals were up 4-0. Collins’s single extended his hitting streak to 15 games.
The Reds responded in the bottom of the third. Samuel Byrd reached when St. Louis shortstop Charley Gelbert made a throwing error on a groundball. Dressen inserted Hank Erickson as a pinch-hitter for Johnson. Erickson flied out to right, but then Billy Myers singled to left. An out later, Ival Goodman drove in Byrd with a single to center.
Emmett Nelson replaced Johnson on the mound, and in the fifth inning, he ran into trouble. Medwick singled to right for his third hit of the game. Collins sacrificed Medwick to second, and DeLancey laced a triple to right, driving home Medwick and giving the Cardinals a four-run advantage once more. With the blast, DeLancey came close to hitting his second homer of the game. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, “His second shot at the right-field seats landed on top of the retaining wall and bounded back into the field for three bases. A little higher and it would have been among the customers.”
Dean struck out Nelson to start the bottom half of the fifth, but then the top of the Reds batting order rallied, seeing Dean for the third time. Myers bunted to the pitcher, but Dean threw the ball away and Myers motored all the way to third base on the error. Lew Riggs hit a fly ball, plating Myers, and then Goodman hit his ninth home run of the season, trimming the St. Louis lead to 5-3.
In the home half of the seventh inning, “base hits cracked to all parts of the field, like exploding firecrackers.”3 Before the inning ended, the Reds “had turned the 5-3 deficit into an 8-5 advantage.”4 With the top of the order due up again, Dean faced only one batter. Myers tripled to deep center and Frisch made a pitching change, sending Dean to the showers and bringing on Bill Walker in relief. Riggs greeted Walker by hitting a single to center, driving in Myers. Walker then retired both Goodman (fly out) and Babe Herman (force out), but Jim Bottomley singled, Gilly Campbell singled, Alex Kampouris doubled, and Byrd singled. When the dust settled (after Walker retired pitcher Al Hollingsworth on a pop fly to third baseman Martin), the Reds had batted around and had scored five runs on six hits.
With two outs in the top of the ninth, Medwick, who had flied out in the seventh, swatted his seventh home run of the season, completing the cycle. The drive “hit in a corner formed by the left field foul pole and a support for barbed wire and the umpires ruled it a four-bagger, though the ball bounced back into the field.”5 According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, “As it hit the pipe above the top of the fence, it was considered as having gone out of the playing field. All Medwick had to do was to jog around the paths and register his tally.”6 Hollingsworth gave up a single to Collins, bringing DeLancey to the plate as the tying run. DeLancey drew a walk, and the go-ahead run strode into the batter’s box in Terry Moore. Frisch brought Don Brennan into the game in relief of Hollingsworth. Moore grounded right at third baseman Riggs, who stepped on the bag for the force and final out of the game. Cincinnati had won, 8-6.
Medwick’s 4-for-5 performance raised his batting average to .369; his slugging percentage jumped 27 points to .572. His four hits gave him 100 base hits for the season, making him “the first batter in either league to reach the hundred mark.”7 His 21 doubles also gave him the league lead for two-baggers. After the game, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch described his accomplishment with “Joe Medwick, who has done much to keep the Cardinals as high as they are, hit a cycle of safeties, a single, double, triple and home run.”8 Interestingly, the Cincinnati Enquirer had a different definition for the four-hit rare achievement: “A single, a double, a triple and a home run in a single game is what is known as a grand slam.”9
Medwick scored three runs and drove in three in the losing effort. He was also busy on defense. The Central New Jersey Home News reported, “In the field he raced all over the Cincinnati ball park to capture six fly balls.”10
Medwick was the only player in the majors to hit for the cycle in 1935. His accomplishment marked the eighth time in Cardinals franchise history that a player had hit for the cycle, coming two seasons after Pepper Martin (May 5, 1933). The previous occurrences were Tip O’Neill (April 30, 1887, and May 7, 1887), Tommy Dowd (August 16, 1895), Cliff Heathcote (June 13, 1918), Jim Bottomley (July 15, 1927), and Chick Hafey (August 21, 1930). The next Cardinals player to hit for the cycle would be Johnny Mize (July 13, 1940). As of the beginning of the 2019 season, 19 Cardinals players had hit for the cycle.
The loss kept the Cardinals in third place in the National League standings, only 4 percentage points ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates. They rallied in the second half of the season, finishing the year at 96-58 and in second place, four games back of the Chicago Cubs.
In addition to the sources mentioned in the Notes, the author consulted baseball-reference.com, mlb.com, retrosheet.org and sabr.org.
1 Dean had pitched in two games in the 1934 World Series, winning both with complete games and an earned-run average of 1.00.
3 J. Roy Stockton, “Medwick Hits Home Run, Triple, Double and Single,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 30, 1935: 17.
6 “Medwick’s Homer Is Freak; Hits Pipe, to Bound Back,” Cincinnati Enquirer, June 30, 1935: 25.
7 Central New Jersey Home News (New Brunswick, New Jersey), June 30, 1935: 13.
9 Cincinnati Enquirer.
10 Central New Jersey Home News.