Richie Ashburn (Trading Card DB)

June 3, 1956: Richie Ashburn’s only career 5-hit game lifts Phillies over Cardinals

This article was written by Thomas E. Merrick

Richie Ashburn (Trading Card DB)

On June 3, 1956, Richie Ashburn rapped two doubles and three singles in the second game of a Sunday doubleheader to lead the Philadelphia Phillies past the St. Louis Cardinals, 9-3. It was the only game in Ashburn’s 15-year Hall of Fame, career in which he collected five hits.

It may be surprising that Ashburn, who led the National League in hits three times, rolled up four hits in a game 35 times, and totaled 2,574 career hits, had just one five-hit game. By way of comparison, Ashburn’s Hall of Fame contemporary Nellie Fox, a player with similar offensive skills,1 registered five hits on four occasions.2

The Phillies had won the first two games of this four-game series at Busch Stadium. Ashburn got one hit and scored a run in Friday’s game, and on Saturday he drove in three runs on two hits. The first game of Sunday’s doubleheader went to the Cardinals, 2-1, with Ashburn going 0-for-2, to drop his average to .301. (He had hit .338 to win the NL batting title in 1955.)

In that game 39-year-old Murry Dickson (3-4), recently traded to St. Louis by the Phillies, outpitched Robin Roberts (5-6). Rookie Don Blasingame drove in the winning run in the seventh, when with runners at first and third, he bounced a ball high off home plate and toward third. Third baseman Willie Jones and pitcher Roberts, hoping the ball would settle in foul territory, watched as it stopped 10 feet down the line and stayed fair.3 Rip Repulski dashed home with the Cardinals’ second run, which proved to be the game-winner.

Hoping to gain a split for the day, the seventh-place Phillies turned to left-handed Harvey Haddix (2-2). Haddix would gain notoriety on May 26, 1959, by pitching 12 perfect innings for the Pittsburgh Pirates, only to lose in the 13th. The 31-year-old Haddix had come to Philadelphia on May 11 in the trade that sent Dickson to the Cardinals.4

Lindy McDaniel, a 20-year-old rookie5 who usually pitched out of the bullpen, was the second-game starter for fourth-place St. Louis. McDaniel had been effective in his relief role, piling up four wins without a loss. He picked up one of those wins on May 19 by throwing six strong innings in relief against Philadelphia. In his only previous start of 1956, McDaniel lasted just two batters into the third inning against the Chicago Cubs, but avoided a loss when St. Louis rallied to win.

Ashburn opened the Philadelphia first with a disputed infield single. He stood on first base after a “safe” call “that pained the Cardinals deeply,” reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.6 A walk to Granny Hamner pushed Ashburn to second, and he scored the first Phillies run when Stan Lopata lashed a single to left. Hamner soon scored on an infield single by Del Ennis, staking Philadelphia to an early 2-0 lead.

St. Louis scored in its half of the first: Leadoff hitter Blasingame ripped one of Haddix’s pitches to right-center field and raced to third for a triple. Red Schoendienst lifted a fly to right; Blassingame tagged and scored, cutting the margin in half.

With one out in the third, Ashburn doubled to right, and was stranded there when Hamner popped to second and Lopata grounded to third. In the bottom of the frame, Haddix served up doubles to Bobby Del Greco and McDaniel, with Del Greco coming home to knot the score, 2-2.

Over the next two innings the Phillies benefited from shoddy St. Louis defense to take a lead they would not surrender. With one out in the fourth, Elmer Valo slapped a single to center. Willie Jones hit a skimmer that got by Schoendienst for an error; Jones made it to second base, and Valo sped home, scoring an unearned run that put Philadelphia on top, 3-2.

The Philadelphia fifth began with Haddix punching a single to center field, and he went to second when Ashburn got his third straight hit, a single to center. With two on and no one out, Hamner grounded back to McDaniel, who tossed out Haddix at third for the first out. Hank Sauer caught Lopata’s foul fly to left for the second out.

With two outs, Ashburn on second, and Hamner at first, Ennis bounced an infield single. Ashburn rounded third and ran right into a rundown. Third baseman Ken Boyer, in his second big-league season, made what Jack Rice of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called “an ill-timed toss.”7 Catcher Hal Smith dropped the ball for an error, and Ashburn slid home, stretching the Phillies’ lead to 4-2.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth Del Greco slammed his second double of the game and McDaniel drew a walk, putting runners at first and second. But the home crowd’s hope for a rally was soon dashed; Blassingame popped out and Schoendienst’s grounder to short forced McDaniel for the third out. The Cardinals failed to score, and still trailed by two.

The Phillies increased their lead in the sixth and knocked McDaniel from the game. Jones started things with a single and, after an out, Ted Kazanski also singled, sending Jones to second. Haddix slapped his second single, driving in Jones and sending Kazanski to third. Ashburn – facing McDaniel for the fourth time – pulled a shot to right for his fourth hit, scoring Kazanski.

McDaniel was done, giving way to right-handed Larry Jackson, who got Hamner to hit into an inning-ending double play. Philadelphia was up, 6-2. McDaniel threw 5⅓ innings and gave up 13 hits and six runs (four earned); he walked just one, and had no strikeouts.

Neither team scored in the seventh. In the eighth St. Louis scored its third run when Blasingame smashed his second triple of the game, this time to left-center, and Schoendienst’s hard single to center brought him home. The Cardinals still trailed, 6-3.

The Phillies added three more in the ninth off 6-foot-3 right-hander Tom Poholsky to salt away the game. With one out, Ashburn slammed a pitch high off the right-field screen, just missing a home run. He pulled into second base with his fifth hit and second double of the contest; he was a perfect 5-for-5.

Ashburn did not remain at second base for long; Hamner bounced to third baseman Boyer, who threw the ball into the dirt for an error; Hamner stood on first and Ashburn cruised into third. Lopata then scorched a ball that cleared the bleacher wall 425 feet away for his 10th home run of the season, sending Ashburn and Hamner home ahead of him. The Phillies’ lead grew to 9-3, and that was the final.

Haddix pitched a complete game. Although he struggled at times – five of the Cardinals’ nine hits were for extra bases – he walked just one, struck out five, and received good defensive support throughout, including two double plays, to raise his record to 3-2.

McDaniel fell to 4-1, taking his first loss as a major leaguer. He completed his rookie season at 7-6 (2-4 as a starter) and continued to pitch in the majors until 1975 for five different teams. He retired at age 39 with 174 saves and a 141-119 record in 2,139⅓ innings pitched.

From 1952 to 1955 Philadelphia enjoyed four consecutive first-division finishes, but the Phillies slipped to fifth place in 1956 (71-83). They did not finish in the first division again until 1963, a stretch that included four straight last-place finishes (1958-61) and a historic 23-game losing streak in 1961.

St. Louis (76-78) finished fourth in the eight-team NL in 1956, five games better than the Phillies and 17 games behind the pennant-winning Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1957 the Cardinals were in sole possession of first place as late as August 5 before falling to second, eight games behind the pennant-winning Milwaukee Braves. St. Louis had to wait until 1964 for a championship, passing Philadelphia in the last week of the season to capture the NL crown.

With his 5-for-5 performance against St. Louis, Ashburn’s batting average jumped from .301 to .323, but he could not sustain that pace, and did not defend his batting title. Playing all 154 of the Phillies games, Ashburn batted .303, well behind Henry Aaron’s league-leading .328. Ashburn did win a second batting crown in 1958 with a career-high .350.



This article was fact-checked by Gary Belleville and copy-edited by Len Levin.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted and for pertinent information, including the box score and partial play-by-play. The author also relied on game coverage in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and reviewed SABR BioProject biographies for several players participating in the game.



1 Ashburn had a career .308 batting average, 2,574 hits, 317 doubles, 109 triples, and 29 home runs; Fox finished with a .288 BA, 2,663 hits, 355 doubles, 112 triples, and 35 home runs.

2 Eddie Waitkus, a far lesser light, reached the five-hit plateau four times, including three times in 1950, when he was Ashburn’s teammate on the Phillies. As for the other great center fielders of the 1950s, Willie Mays had five such games, Mickey Mantle four, and Duke Snider two.

3 Art Morrow, “Infield Hit Decides 1st; Haddix Wins,” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 4, 1956: 23. The Inquirer account said the ball bounced “out of the dirt” rather than off the plate, as described by the Post-Dispatch. My description uses elements of both stories.

4 Philadelphia sent Dickson and Herm Wehmeier to St. Louis in exchange for Haddix, Ben Flowers, and Stu Miller

5 McDaniel pitched 19 innings for St. Louis in 1955 as a 19-year-old.

6 Jack Rice, “Haddix Stops Birds After Dickson Wins Opener of Twin Bill,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 4, 1956: 20.

7 Rice.

Additional Stats

Philadelphia Phillies 9
St. Louis Cardinals 3
Game 2, DH

Busch Stadium
St. Louis, MO


Box Score + PBP:

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1950s ·