October 12, 1982: Paul Molitor records World Series record 5 hits as Brewers cruise in opener

This article was written by Gregory H. Wolf

Paul Molitor (COURTESY OF THE MILWAUKEE BREWERS)

It was an eagerly anticipated matchup between opposite styles of play: Harvey’s Wallbangers and Whiteyball. Skipper Harvey Kuenn’s Milwaukee Brewers who led the majors in home runs (216), runs scored (891), and slugging (.455) against manager Whitey Herzog’s St. Louis Cardinals who paced the NL in stolen bases (200) and fielding (.981), while hitting the fewest round-trippers (67) the big leagues.

The result of Game One of the fall classic was a “whale of a skunking,” opined Gateway City sportswriter Bob Broeg;1 while Herzog himself quipped that it was a “good, old-fashioned butt-kicking”2 as the Brew Crew played small ball, pounding out 17 hits, but only four for extra bases, to pummel the Cards, 10-0, in the most lopsided shutout in the World Series since the New York Yankees beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 12-0 in Game Six in 1960. The Brewers “did what the Cardinals are known for,” noted Redbirds beat reporter Rick Hummel, “bouncing balls off the artificial turf, plugging the gaps in the outfield and running like the wind.”3

The AL-pennant-winning Brewers boasted the best record in baseball (95-67), but needed the final game of the season to capture the East crown after losing seven of 11 games. Their struggles continued in the ALCS, in which they lost the first two to the California Angels before taking the next three to advance to their first World Series. After more than a decade of irrelevance, the NL East champion Cardinals produced the best slate (92-70) in the senior circuit, advancing to the postseason for the first time since the glory days of Bob Gibson and Lou Brock in 1968.

A blockbuster trade between the two clubs after the 1980 season enabled each team to end years of mediocrity. The Cardinals sent reliever Rollie Fingers and pitcher Pete Vuckovich (both of whom subsequently won Cy Young Awards in 1981 and ’82, respectively), and perennial All-Star catcher Ted Simmons to the Brewers in exchange for pitchers Lary Sorensen and Dave LaPoint and outfielders Sixto Lezcano and David Green. The Cardinals afterward flipped LaPoint and Lezcano as parts of separate trades after the ’81 campaign to acquire Lonnie Smith and Ozzie Smith, each earning All-Star berths in ’82.

On a clear, crisp Tuesday evening with temperatures in the high 60s, Busch Stadium was rocking with 53,723 rabid fans. Many prognosticators wondered if the Brewers could adjust from their grass field at County Stadium to the Redbirds’ fast artificial turf. The Brew Crew came out swinging against Bob Forsch, longtime staff workhorse and former 20-game winner who had tossed a nifty three-hit shutout in his last outing, in the opener of the Cardinals’ three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS. In a fear-inspiring lineup, AL MVP Robin Yount (29-114-.331) sliced a one-out single followed by Cecil Cooper’s (32-121-.313) walk. Two batters later, Ben Oglivie (34-102-.244) hit a routine hopper to Gold Glove first baseman Keith Hernandez. “I just booted it,” admitted the former NL MVP, and Yount scored.4 Gorman Thomas (39-112-.245) followed with a hard-hit smash that shortstop Ozzie Smith stopped on the outfield turf, but not in time to make a throw to first while Cooper tallied the second run. Forsch tossed 39 pitches in the first inning and looked taxed. The Brewers Express kept rolling. After two more singles in the second didn’t produce any runs, Charlie Moore scored the third run when he led off the fourth with a double and raced home on Paul Molitor’s bloop single over Ozzie’s head.

The game marked the return of Simba to St. Louis. Still widely popular and an offseason resident in the Mound City, Ted Simmons (23-97-.269) gave his hometown fans something to cheer in the fifth inning of an otherwise disappointing game, at least for them. Simmons has a “picture-perfect left-handed swing,” poetically waxed Redbirds scribe Kevin Horrigan, and sent “the ball screaming on a low arc through the St. Louis night to crash seconds later against the concrete façade above the home-run line down the left-field line” to give the Brewers a 4-0 lead.5 “I’m a good fastball hitter,” said Simmons, “so I expected a lot of slow stuff.”6 Forsch fed him a heater and the result was a no-doubter one pitch after a monstrous blast had curved foul.

Milwaukee’s relentless lineup scraped together two more in the sixth with two outs. Yount’s two-out bloop double plated Jim Gantner and Molitor (both of whom had singled) to end Forsch’s evening. “Forsch seemed to be trying to steer the ball,” said longtime Cardinals instructor George Kissell “[H]e tried to pinpoint his pitches too much.”7 He was replaced by Jim Kaat, who at age 43 became the second oldest pitcher to appear in a World Series game, following Jack Quinn of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1930.

With the game well out of reach, the Brewers added four more runs, all with two outs, in the ninth. Key hits were Don Money’s RBI single, Gantner’s two-run triple, and Molitor’s World Series-record fifth hit (and fifth consecutive single) driving in the final run.8 Suffering from tendinitis in his right elbow over the last six weeks,9 Molitor led the majors with 136 runs scored, joined teammates Cooper and Yount in collecting at least 200 hits in the regular season and thrived in relative anonymity on a team with big personalities and sluggers.

As impressive as the Brewers batters were, starting pitcher Mike Caldwell was even better. The 33-year-old left-hander, who overcame serious arm injuries early in his career to post a 79-48 record over the last five seasons with the Brewers, including a 17-13 slate in ’82, had been struggling. In his last three starts, including a disastrous one in the ALCS, Caldwell had been clobbered for 32 hits and surrendered 16 earned runs in just 18 innings. “At times he has tried to overthrow,” said pitching coach Pat Dobson. “When he does that, he gets the ball up in the strike zone and they hit it.”10 Nonetheless, Mr. Warmth, as teammates called him ironically for his ornery and competitive personality, demanded the ball in the club’s maiden World Series contest. “I don’t hate batters,” he snapped. “I just hate everybody on the other team. Once they cross the white line, to hell with them.”11

A control pitcher who relied on changing speeds on his assortment of sliders, sinkers, and screwballs, Caldwell had also long been suspected of throwing spitters. That reputation and pinpoint location flummoxed Redbird batters the entire game. He went the distance, yielding just three hits, two of which were infield singles. Said an exasperated Keith Hernandez, who went 0-for-4, “He might have been throwing me screwballs, but I never saw a screwball drop like that.”12 Cardinals DH and catcher Gene Tenace suggested that batters gave a psychological edge to pitchers if they requested umpires to check for wet ones; instead he credited Caldwell’s command performance. “He got the ball where he wanted it and he had good motion on his offspeed pitches. He kept the ball down.”13 Caldwell adamantly rejected any charge of using an illegal substance, “Nope — nothing but natural sinkers tonight and I’ve got the blister to prove it,” he retorted.14

Supported by his teammates’ run barrage, Caldwell yielded only one hit — a second-inning double by Darrell Porter — through seven innings. In the eighth Porter and Ken Oberkfell connected for scratch singles, but they were sandwiched around the defensive play of the game. Right fielder Charlie Moore, a converted catcher, raced back to the warning track to snare David Green’s potential run-scoring extra-base hit. Caldwell breezed through a 1-2-3 ninth to end the game in 2 hours and 30 minutes.

“That’s as good as you’ll ever see Mike Caldwell,” opined Simmons. “He was throwing the groundball. He had a great slider, and he was changing speeds on his sinker.”15 Caldwell tossed only 100 pitches (66 for strikes), fanned three, and walked one.

“It ain’t that bad,” said Broeg of the Cardinals’ humiliating loss in their first World Series game since the Detroit Tigers’ Mickey Lolich outdueled Gibson in Game Seven of the ’68 fall classic.16 And Broeg was right. In a seesaw series, the Cardinals overcame a three-games-to-two deficit, returning to St. Louis to win the final two games at Busch Stadium and secure their first title since 1967 and ninth in franchise history.

 

Sources

In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author also accessed Retrosheet.org, Baseball-Reference.com, Newspapers.com, and SABR.org.

 

Notes

1 Bob Broeg, “Cards Bounced Back Before,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 1982: 1B.

2 Rick Hummel, “Brew-haha. Cardinals Embarrassed,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 1982: 1A.

3 Ibid.

4 Joseph Durso, “Brewers 10, Cardinals 0,” New York Times, October 13, 1982: B7.

5 Kevin Horrigan, “‘Simba’ Comes Home in Rousing Triumph,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 1982: 1A.

6 Durso.

7 Neal Russo, “Hernandez: It’s Not the Heat, It’s Humidity,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 1982: 1B.

8 Molitor (five hits) and Yount (four hits) marked the first time since 1946 that more than one player had at least four hits in a World Series Game. It had happened last in Game Four when four players had four each: Enos Slaughter, Whitey Kurowski, and Joe Garagiola of the Cardinals and Wally Moses of the Red Sox in the Redbirds’ 12-3 victory at Fenway Park.

9 Arnold Irish, “Molitor Surprised by Record,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 1982: 1B.

10 Murray Chass, “Molitor Defensive About His Offense,” New York Times, October 13, 1982: B7.

11 Mike Smith, “Brewers ‘Mr. Warmth’ Proves Too Hot for Cards to Handle,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 1982: 1B.

12 Russo.

13 Ibid.

14 Smith.

15 Vic Feuerherd, “Caldwell Decks Cards,” Milwaukee Sentinel, October 13, 1982: II, 1.

16 Broeg.

Additional Stats

Milwaukee Brewers 10
St. Louis Cardinals 0
Game 1, WS


Busch Stadium
St. Louis, MO

 

Box Score + PBP:

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