At the Polo Grounds, site of baseball magic for the hometown Giants, the Cardinals got to experience something extraordinary, too.
Seventy years ago, on June 15, 1952, the Cardinals erased an 11-0 deficit and defeated the Giants, 14-12, at the Polo Grounds, the ballpark located between Coogan’s Bluff and the Harlem River in upper Manhattan.
Eight months earlier, in “The Miracle of Coogan’s Bluff,” Bobby Thomson hit a walkoff three-run home run in the ninth for a pennant-clinching Giants triumph versus the Dodgers.
Thomson was in the lineup the following year when the Cardinals made their improbable comeback.
A crowd of 41,899, the largest of the season in the National League, gathered at the Polo Grounds on a hot, sunny Sunday for a doubleheader between the Cardinals and the Giants.
In the second inning, the Giants struck for five runs against Presko, snapping his streak of 18 consecutive scoreless innings.
After the Giants added six more runs in the third against Jack Crimian for an 11-0 lead, confident manager Leo Durocher began substituting, taking out left fielder Bob Elliott and catcher Wes Westrum.
The Giants’ lead “was as safe as money in the bank,” Bob Broeg wrote in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Cardinals first-year manager Eddie Stanky, the former Giant, also considered lifting some starters, but “something inside told me not to make the changes,” Stanky told the Post-Dispatch.
The Cardinals, shut out by Maglie for four innings, began their comeback in the fifth, totaling seven runs against him to make the score 11-7. The big hits were a three-run home run by Enos Slaughter, a solo shot by Tommy Glaviano and Stan Musial’s two-run single.
(Musial had a career .474 on-base percentage versus Maglie. In 171 games played at the Polo Grounds against the Giants and Mets, Musial batted .343 with 216 hits.)
“With the big lead, I relaxed,” Maglie told the New York Daily News. “Then they started hitting and, when I tried to bear down again, I just didn’t have it.”
Rookie knuckleball specialist Hoyt Wilhelm relieved, and in the seventh the Cardinals scored three times against him, cutting the deficit to one at 11-10.
Preparing to face George Spencer leading off the eighth, Solly Hemus asked Stanky whether he wanted him to try to draw a walk. Stanky instructed him to swing away. Hemus took a rip at Spencer’s first offering, driving it against the front of the upper deck in right for a home run, tying the score at 11-11.
Max Lanier, the former Cardinal who was traded to the Giants for Stanky, relieved. He retired Red Schoendienst and Musial, but Dick Sisler singled, Peanuts Lowrey drew a walk and Slaughter followed with a single, scoring Sisler and putting the Cardinals ahead 12-11.
Hemus hit another homer, a two-run blow in the ninth against Monty Kennedy, extending the lead to 14-11, and the Cardinals went on to a 14-12 triumph.
Cardinals relievers Bill Werle, Eddie Yuhas and Willard Schmidt combined to limit the Giants to one run over the last seven innings. Boxscore
“Greatest rally I’ve ever seen,” Stanky told The Sporting News.
Cardinals coach Buzzy Wares, 66, said, “I’ve been in baseball since 1905 and I’ve never seen anything like that.”
According to the New York Daily News, no Giants team “ever suffered a more humiliating defeat.”
“How the Giants ever contrived to blow that horrendous opener is something that doubtless will remain to plague Durocher for all his days,” the New York Times declared.
When the second game began at 5:52 p.m., less than half of the crowd remained. Those who departed missed the performance of Giants starter Dave Koslo, who pitched a shutout in a game called after seven innings because of darkness. The win was his 11th in a row versus the Cardinals. Boxscore
(A left-hander, Koslo stretched his streak against them to 13 consecutive wins before the Cardinals beat him on Sept. 14, 1952. His career record against the Cardinals was 24-21.)
The day after the doubleheader, the Cardinals took a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth, but Bobby Thomson again did something special, hitting a walkoff grand slam for an 8-7 Giants victory.