In Game One of the 2011 World Series, Allen Craig was the offensive hero with his pinch hit single off Alexi Ogando in the sixth inning. It was a cold night, Craig had been sitting on the bench for a long time and Ogando was really throwing some heat. Looking totally overmatched in two earlier strikes, Craig shortened up his swing and shot a 1-2 outside fastball perfectly down the right field line. It would score David Freese with the go-ahead run. With another spectacular performance from the Cardinals bullpen, Craig’s RBI would hold up, and the Redbirds took Game One.
As it so often happens, that reminds me of another player. And yes, we will be going back to 1964 for this one. That player was Carl Warwick.
Warwick came up through the Dodgers organization as somewhat of a power hitting outfielder. His frame might have appeared to be diminutive, but his bat was anything but. In the Dodgers farm system, Warwick would lead his teams in home runs and runs batted in, and was among the leaders in batting average. To put this in perspective, he played alongside Frank Howard, the 6ft 7in slugger who was the 1960 NL Rookie of the Year and then went on to terrorize American League pitchers with the Washington Senators. If not for injuries and opting to finish his career in Japan, Howard might have accumulated enough hits and home runs to be in the Hall of Fame. And Warwick outslugged Big Frank.
No Room at the Inn
When the young outfielder did break into the major leagues in 1961, he found himself on a Dodgers club with Frank Howard (1960 Rookie of the Year), Willie Davis (2 time All Star, 3 Gold Gloves) and Wally Moon (1954 Rookie of the Year, 3 time All Star, 1 Gold Glove). There’s our first Allen Craig comparison – lack of playing time reducing his role to a bench player. And like Craig, he struggled in that capacity.
Just a few weeks into his rookie season, Warwick would be traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, along with a swap of utility infielders. Cardinals General Manager, Bing Devine, was still trying to assemble a workable outfield. He initially took over center field duties, but that came to an end when Cardinals manager, Solly Hemus, was replaced by Johnny Keane. One of the first things Keane did was put Curt Flood in center field, and let him know the job was his, regardless of what happened. Well, we know how that story ends.
For Warwick, it meant a trip back to the International League, where he regained his batting stroke. He would get the call to rejoin the Cardinals when the rosters expanded in September, and he would hit .444 with a home run and 3 RBIs in those remaining games.
Early in the 1962 season, he would be traded to the Houston Colt 45s (soon to be Astros) for left handed reliever Bobby Shantz. Shantz would pitch well for the Cardinals, but his biggest contribution would come in 1964, when he was part of the Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio deal. As for Warwick, he had two fine seasons in Houston, proving he could be an every day outfielder. He had become mostly a singles hitter, and struck out a bit too much, but a solid defender that can hit .260 could play a long time in either league.
Back to St. Louis
Prior to the start of the 1964 season, Warwick would find himself back in St. Louis. The Cardinals were still trying to solve the outfield problem, so they traded a young pitching prospect named Chuck Taylor and a light hitting utility player named Jim Beauchamp for Warwick. Ironically, both Taylor and Beauchamp would come back to Cardinals in later deals. Warwick would compete with Johnny Lewis, Charlie James and Doug Clemons, eventually winning the right field spot. A pair of early June trades, first for veteran outfielder Bob Skinner and then the blockbuster deal for Brock, put Warwick back on the bench. This time, the results were different. With three years of playing time under his belt, he didn’t struggle. In fact, his hitting improved slightly – so much that Keane turned to Warwick as his pinch hitter of choice. Just like young Mr. Craig.
A Record Setting Performance
That brings us to the 1964 World Series, and it was a most memorable one for Carl Warwick. By the time of the World Series, the outfield was a fixture of Lou Brock, Curt Flood and Mike Shannon. While Bob Skinner and Carl Warwick would occasionally spell one of them, the demands of chasing the Phillies for the last month of the season didn’t provide many opportunities. If Warwick was to make a contribution in the World Series, it would have to be from the bench.
Just as Allen Craig did in the 2011 World Series, Carl Warwick came off the bench to deliver the key hit in Game One in 1964. That game was tied at four runs each, thanks to a monster 2 run homer off the bat of Mike Shannon. Tim McCarver would follow that with a double. After Charlie James, pinch hitting for Dal Maxvill, popped out, Keane called on Warwick to hit for Ray Sadecki. Warwick singled, scoring McCarver easily with the go-ahead run. Keane pinch ran for Warwick, using Julian Javier. Javier scored an important insurance run a few moments later when Curt Flood drove the ball over the head of Tom Tresh, who appeared to lose it in the late afternoon sunlight.
In Game Two, Warwick would be called on again, this time to pinch hit for Dal Maxvill in the eighth. This time the Cardinals were trailing 4-1, but Warwick’s leadoff single started a late rally that got them back into the game. Bob Skinner would follow that with a shot over the head of Tom Tresh that would bounce into the bleachers for a ground rule double. Warwick, now on third base, would score on a Lou Brock groundout. Unfortunately, Yankees starter Mel Stottlemyre worked out of the game, and a bullpen meltdown in the ninth gave the Yanks the win.
Warwick would get another chance in Game Three. With the score tied at one run each, a Phil Linz error put Tim McCarver on base to start the ninth. Mike Shannon bunted McCarver over to second, but it left first base open. Once again, Warwick stepped up to the plate, pinch hitting for Dal Maxvill. This time, Jim Bouton was not going to let Warwick beat him. He pitched around the Cardinals pinch hitter, eventually walking him. Yankees fans held their breath as the next batter, Bob Skinner, sent Roger Maris to the warning track, but the Yankee center fielder made the catch. Lou Brock grounded out to end the threat. Reliever Barney Schultz would face just one batter in the bottom of the ninth. Mickey Mantle – do I need to tell you how this one ended ? We’ll just say 2-1 Yankees.
Game Four was one of the greatest World Series games in Cardinals history. Ray Sadecki was shaky early, and gave up three quick runs. Roger Craig and Ron Taylor were nails, keeping the score at 3-0 until the Cardinals could muster some sort of rally. They did, in the sixth inning, and Carl Warwick started it with another leadoff pinch hit single. Curt Flood would follow that with a single. With one out, a Bobby Richardson error on what should have been an inning ending double play loaded the bases for Ken Boyer. Only momentarily though as Ken Boyer ripped an Al Downing changeup into the bleachers, just inches fair, for a grand slam. The thought of Warwick, Flood and Groat standing behind home plate to congratulate Boyer still gives me goosebumps. Boyer’s blast would prove to be the game winner as Craig earns the win and Ron Taylor picks up the save.
Game Five was a Bob Gibson 10 inning win. Not a lot of opportunities for pinch hitters in this extra inning nail biter. But don’t forget about Warwick, he would get one more chance.
That would come bottom of the seventh inning of Game Six. The game was still close when Warwick stepped up to the plate for the fifth time in the series. Jim Bouton had a 3-1 lead this time, and nobody was on base. He was able to go right after Warwick, and this time he won the battle. Warwick popped out harmlessly to Clete Boyer at third base. Once again, a bullpen meltdown would follow and the Yankees would win this game in a laugher.
That closes the book on Carl Warwick’s 1964 World Series. In 5 pinch hitting appearances, he would collect three hits – a World Series record. He would drive in one huge run, score two more (three if you include Game One when he was removed for a pinch runner). That .750 batting average ticks up to a .800 on-base percentage, thanks to a walk, for a whopping 1.550 OPS. He was also the catalyst for most of the late inning rallies, some that won games and a few that just fell short. It was an amazing performance for a bench player that couldn’t work his way into the outfield, but became a clutch hitter and key contributor in an improbable World Series win. Maybe we can soon say the same thing about Allen Craig.