On This Date in Sports October 10, 1926: Cardinals First Championship

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The St. Louis Cardinals win their first World Series Championship stunning the New York Yankees 3-2 in Game 7 at the Bronx. The World Series ends stunningly as Babe Ruth is caught stealing for the final out; it is the only time the Fall Classic ended with a caught stealing. The hero of the series is Grover Cleveland Alexander, who earns the save in Game 7 after winning Game 6. Alexander had not expected to pitch and was hungover when he entered the game in the seventh inning and did not allow a hit. Future President Ronald Reagan would later portray Grover Cleveland Alexander's heroics in the biopic "The Winning Team" in 1952. 

Following a disappointing season, in which Babe Ruth struggled on and off the field, the New York Yankees returned to the World Series for the first time in three years. The Yankees had finished seventh in 1925 with a record of 69-85; they posted a record of 91-63 under manager Miller Huggins to edge the Cleveland Indians by three games for the American League Pennant. It was the start of a 40-year stretch in which the Yankees did not post a losing record. 

The St. Louis Cardinals had been a team on the rise in recent years. They broke through and won their first pennant in 1926, posting a record of 89-65 for player-manager Rogers Hornsby. The Cardinals edged the Cincinnati Reds by two games as catcher Bob O'Farrell won the League Award, a precursor to the modern Most Valuable Player award. 

The Yankees won the opener of the World Series 2-1, as Herb Pennock outpitched Bill Shrdel, with Lou Gehrig delivering the game-winning hit in the sixth inning. Grover Cleveland Alexander got the start in Game 2 and gave up two runs in the second. However. he allowed just one hit the rest of the way, with ten strikeouts as the Cardinals won 6-2 to even the series. Billy Southworth provided the bit hit with a three-run home run in the sixth. 

Game 3 at Sportsman's Park was the Jesse Haines show. The Cardinals pitcher shut out the Yankees 4-0, allowing five hits while hitting a two-run home run. The Yankees' bats came alive in Game 4, as Babe Ruth had the first three-homer game in postseason history as New York evened the series with a 10-5. The Yankees also won 3-2 in ten innings on a sacrifice fly by Tony Lazzeri to head home with a chance to win their second World Championship. 

Looking to force a seventh game, the Cardinals had Grover Cleveland Alexander on the mound in Game 6. With Jim Bottomley hit a double, St. Louis built a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Leading 4-1, the Cardinals blew the game open in the seventh inning, scoring five runs, Les Bell hitting a two-run homer. Alexander had ten strikeouts as he allowed two runs on eight hits for his second win of the World Series, as the Cardinals won 10-2. 

After earning his second win, Grover Cleveland Alexander went out of a night on the town. Assuming he would not be used in Game 7, Alexander spent the night drinking as the series came down to one game for it all. Babe Ruth gave the Yankees an early lead with a home run in the third inning. The Cardinals answered in the fourth, scoring three unearned runs against Waite Hoyt in the fourth inning, as left fielder Bob Meusel dropped a fly ball to open the door for the Red Birds. Jesse Haines was pitching well for the Cardinals, as the Yankees scratched across a run in the sixth. With a single and two walks, the Yankees loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, when Rogers Hornsby, leading 3-2, made the surprise call to the bullpen for Grover Cleveland Alexander. Old Pete Alexander, as his teammates called him, was dealing with a hangover as he entered the game and struck out Tony Lazzeri. Alexander set down the Yankees in order in the eighth, and with a 3-2 lead, retired the first two hitters in the ninth before walking Babe Ruth. With Bob Meusel at the plate, Ruth tried to steal second, with Bob O'Farrell made the perfect throw to Rogers Hornsby, who tagged the Great Bambino out at second base, to the end the series.