In front of a May 5, 1933, Ladies Day crowd of approximately 3,000 at the Baker Bowl, St. Louis Cardinals leadoff hitter Pepper Martin had a field day against the Philadelphia Phillies. In five at-bats, he contributed “Four Dashes of Pepper”1 – a home run, triple, double, and single – as he hit for the cycle. His quartet of hits, coupled with four runs scored, led the Cardinals over the Phillies.
In the 1931 World Series, Martin capped his first full season in the majors by making 12 hits in 24 at-bats, stealing five bases and driving in five runs, leading the Gas House Gang to the championship over the Philadelphia Athletics. His OPS for the seven-game World Series was 1.230. According to Time magazine, John McGraw called Martin “the greatest World Series player I ever saw.”2 Martin spent part of 1932 plagued with injuries, however, making only 85 appearances.3
The Cardinals won only six of their first 15 games in 1933, finishing April in seventh place in the National League, one game ahead of the bottom-dwelling Phillies, who’d won only five games. The teams met in early May in Philadelphia for a scheduled three-game series. The Cardinals won the first game, 5-2, and the second game was set for Friday afternoon, May 5.4
Left-hander Bill Walker made his third start for the Cardinals. He had come to St. Louis in a six-player trade with the New York Giants,5 where he had twice led the NL in ERA, in 1929 (3.09) and in 1931 (2.26). He had lost his first two decisions with the Cardinals, both against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The home-team Phillies sent 27-year-old rookie right-hander Frank Pearce to the mound. This was his second start of the season, and he had already won two games as a reliever.
Leading off for St. Louis was Martin. This was the 29-year-old Oklahoma native’s first full season at third base. In September of the previous season, once the Cardinals were eliminated, he transitioned from the outfield, replacing Jake Flowers. Flowers was traded in the offseason,6 allowing Martin to settle into his new role at the hot corner. This was also Martin’s first full season batting in the leadoff spot. His ability to get on base and steal bases made him the “sparkplug extraordinaire”7 for the St. Louis offense.
Batting right-handed, Martin singled down the third-base line to start the game. He moved to second base and third on two groundouts, both to Phillies second baseman Neal Finn. Rogers Hornsby’s single to left brought Martin home with the Cardinals’ first run.
The Phillies also scored in the first. Alta Cohen doubled to center. Like Martin, Cohen moved to third after two groundouts. After Walker issued a base on balls to Don Hurst, Chick Fullis singled in front of center fielder Ethan Allen,8 driving in the tying run.
After a scoreless second inning, Martin led off the third with a liner to left-center, and he legged out a triple. It was his first three-bagger and just his second extra-base hit of the season.9 Frankie Frisch walked. Pat Crawford hit a grounder to first baseman Hurst, who threw to second to force Frisch, but Martin scored on the play.
The score remained 2-1 until the fifth when, with two outs, Martin “wasted no time in lifting the ball into the left field bleachers”10 for his second home run of the season.
The Phillies’ Chuck Klein, the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, led off the bottom of the sixth and smashed the ball over the right-field fence for his third homer of the season.11 The fifth hit allowed by Walker, it cut the St. Louis lead to one run.
The Pepper Martin show continued in the top of the eighth, when the right-handed batter doubled against the left-field bleachers12 to lead off the inning and complete the cycle. Frisch bunted safely, putting runners at the corners. One out later, Martin crossed home plate on Hornsby’s fly ball to deep center. Martin had scored all four St. Louis runs.
Klein doubled with one out in the home half of the eighth, and he scored on a single by Fullis, Chick’s second RBI of the game. The Phillies had pulled within a run, but the Cardinals rallied again in the ninth. Joe Medwick doubled and scored on Jimmie Wilson’s one-out single. Walker followed with a single, which sent Wilson to third. With Martin due up and two runners on, Phillies manager Burt Shotton, himself a former Cardinals player and coach, called for Ad Liska to relieve Pearce. The move paid off, as Liska retired Martin and Frisch to end the inning.
Walker retired the Philadelphia batters in order in the bottom of the ninth, with a bit of controversy. With two outs, Al Todd pinch-hit for Liska and hit a swinging bunt down the third-base line. Home-plate umpire Charlie Moran called the ball fair. Martin fielded the ball and threw to first to get Todd. The crowd did not like the call, but the game was over and St. Louis had won, 5-3.
After the final out, two fans entered the field to complain to Moran about his call on Todd’s bunt. The fans, both women, commenced an “Amazon attack”13 on the umpire, verbally assaulting him. The ump “took it all with a smile”14 until they began swinging their umbrellas at Moran’s head and tried to kick him as well. Shotton intervened, allowing Moran to “slip down the runway unmolested,”15 as the women continued to tell him off.
Walker held the Phillies to eight hits in his first complete game of the season. Klein was 3-for-4 in the losing effort, and he finished the game with eight total bases on two doubles and a home run.16
Martin’s four runs scored accounted for more than the Phillies’ team. The victory was the fourth straight for St. Louis, boosting their record to 9-9. They moved into a three-way tie for third place with the Boston Braves (9-9) and Cincinnati Reds (8-8). Martin also excelled on defense in the game. He had eight chances without an error at third base, including the controversial bunt that ended the game.
With his 4-for-5 performance at the plate, Martin’s batting average shot up 48 points to .346. This moved him into fifth place in the National League and marked the first time he cracked the league’s top 10 hitters in 1933.17 Two days later, on May 7, in the first game of a doubleheader against the Brooklyn Dodgers, Martin again collected four hits, further raising his batting average to .379 as his slugging percentage rocketed up to .603. He was a triple shy of hitting for his second cycle in two games.
He batted .365 in May en route to leading the National League in runs scored (122) and stolen bases (26) for the season. He holds the distinction of being the leadoff batter in the first All-Star Game, played on July 6, 1933, at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. Martin finished the season batting a career-high .316.18 The Cardinals closed the season in fifth place at 82-71 with one tie.
Martin accomplished the seventh cycle in Cardinals franchise history.19 In addition, he was the first of a record eight major leaguers who hit for the cycle in 1933, breaking the mark of seven set in 1890.20
This article was fact-checked by Kevin Larkin and copy-edited by Len Levin.
In addition to the sources mentioned in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com, MLB.com, Retrosheet.org, and SABR.org.
1 J. Roy Stockton, “‘Pepper’ Hits Homer, Triple, Double and Single in 5 Times Up,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 5, 1933: 13.
2 “Sport: Wild Horse to Pasture,” Time, November 4, 1940, found online at https://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,764951,00.html. Accessed May 2023.
3 In 1932 Martin batted a career-low .238.
4 The third game of the series was rained out and played on August 16 as part of a doubleheader.
9 Martin had one home run in his first 14 games (he had no doubles or triples in his first 14 hits), which translated to a slugging percentage of .362.
10 Stan Baumgartner, “Pepper Has Homer Among Four Blows; Women Strike Ump,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 6, 1933: 18, 20.
11 Klein went on to hit 28 home runs in 1933, his third consecutive season (and fourth time in five seasons) leading the National League.
17 Martin finished the season batting .316, sixth-best in the NL.
18 Martin’s .316 batting average was equaled in 1940. He retired after the 1940 season to manage the Sacramento Solons, the Cardinals’ affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, although he did return to play 40 games for the Cardinals in 1944, helping their war-depleted roster, batting .279.
19 As of the beginning of the 2023 season, there have been 20 games in which a Cardinals player has hit for the cycle. Tip O’Neill and Ken Boyer accomplished the rare feat twice. Ed Eagle, “Players Who Have Hit for the Cycle,” MLB.com, June 23, 2023, https://www.mlb.com/news/players-who-hit-for-the-cycle-c265552018.
20 In 1933 Martin’s cycle performance was followed by Chuck Klein (Philadelphia Phillies, May 26, against the Cardinals), Arky Vaughan (Pittsburgh Pirates, June 24, against the Brooklyn Dodgers), Mickey Cochrane (Philadelphia Athletics, August 2, against the New York Yankees), Mike “Pinky” Higgins (Athletics, August 6, against the Washington Senators), Jimmie Foxx (Athletics, August 14, against the Cleveland Indians), Earl Averill (Indians, August 17, against the Athletics), and Babe Herman (Chicago Cubs, September 30, against the Cardinals). In 2009, eight players also hit for the cycle.