Cards can look to '82 for hope of bouncing back
Blanked by Brewers in Game 1, St. Louis won World Series in seven games
BOSTON -- It was the first World Series for Bud Selig as owner of the Milwaukee Brewers.
It was the first World Series for USA TODAY, the national newspaper which had been launched the month before on Sept. 15, 1982.
And it was a World Series in which the St. Louis Cardinals were hammered by the Brewers, 10-0, in the first game and rebounded to win the championship in seven games.
So as the Cardinals lick their wounds after being crushed by Boston, 8-1, in the first game of this year's Octoberfest, all they have to do is look back to 1982 to gain a measure of hope.
Or as losing pitcher Adam Wainwright put it after Wednesday's jarring setback at Fenway Park: "That's the thing about baseball. You have to be able to turn the page. We've had some tough series before. We were down two games to one to Pittsburgh. I don't know how many elimination games we've had over the last few years, but it's a lot. And we've responded well to tough losses every time."
Easier said than done.
In '82, the Cards won three games at home, and they didn't lose there after the 10-0 debacle. The Brewers managed just two wins at old Milwaukee County Stadium.
The Cardinals this year have three games at Busch Stadium (beginning Saturday) and the Red Sox can play as many as four at fabled Fenway.
The 1982 Series brings back a myriad of memories.
Many reporters had never heard of USA TODAY when we arrived on the scene at Busch Stadium.
I was the baseball editor then and decided it would be great for the new national newspaper to have an authoritative voice at our first World Series.
I talked Bill Veeck into coming aboard, and having him around was more rewarding than watching the Cards rebound from the deep hole they dug in Game 1. He related baseball stories by the hour and at times drew a bigger audience from the media than the players.
Regardless, Veeck had enormous insight into that World Series. His contribution turned out to be a terrific way to introduce the infant newspaper to baseball and our readers.
Veeck helped put USA TODAY on the map that October. Arguably baseball's greatest promoter and/or maverick, he was in his glory in St. Louis. Because it was there Veeck owned the Browns, who were unable to compete with the Cardinals. He finally threw in the towel and sold the franchise to Baltimore after the 1953 season and the Browns became Orioles.
It was in 1951 that Veeck sent Eddie Gaedel, a dwarf, up to bat for the Browns, a story that bring laughs and will live forever. Veeck had just sold the White Sox the year before when I asked him to join our 1982 World Series team. He quickly accepted, adding he hoped to own another team. It didn't happen. Veeck died Jan. 2, 1986.
Paul Molitor had five hits and Robin Yount chipped in with four in the 10-0 rout in the opener at Busch Stadium.
"That game wasn't as close as the score," Veeck said. "I'll guarantee you that's the kind of game a team can put behind quickly. Close losses, heartbreakers, are more difficult to overcome."
I thought about that Wednesday night as the Cards played like they had first-night jitters, dropping balls, making errors, losing big.
Veeck, reaching back in his memory after the 10-0 loss, talked about how in the 1945 Series opener, the Cubs blanked the Tigers, 9-0, and in 1959's first game, the White Sox sent the Dodgers reeling, 11-0.
The losers weren't so overwhelmed after all. The Tigers won the 1945 Series, and the Dodgers won their first World Series in California in 1959.
So this is all legitimate fodder as the Cardinals attempt to rebuild this Series. Of course, it has to be mentioned. The last time St. Louis played at Fenway Park in 2004, the Red Sox were on their way to a four-game sweep that exorcised the "Curse of the Bambino."
The flip side of that is it was 2004 when the Red Sox, down three games to one in the American League Championship Series, began one of baseball's greatest comebacks, riding David Ortiz's two-run homer to victory. They went on to win the ALCS and added the World Series title at the expense of St. Louis.
After the numbing 8-1 loss, St. Louis manager Mike Matheny called it a wake-up call.
"That is not the kind of team that we've been all season," Matheny said. "And they're frustrated. I'm sure embarrassed to a point. We get an opportunity to show the kind of baseball we played all season long and it didn't look anything like what we saw tonight. You're going to have games like that periodically. But if you begin to accept that, then this could not really go anywhere."
The 1982 Brewers were managed by Harvey Kuenn, and because they hit 216 homers during the regular season, the team was nicknamed "Harvey's Wallbangers."
But trailing 4-2 midway through Game 2, the Cardinals came to life and won 5-4.
In Game 3, Joaquin Andujar was working on a three-hit shutout when a line drive off Ted Simmons' bat struck him just below the kneecap in the seventh inning and he was finished -- for that game. The Cards, however, coasted to a 6-2 win.
After the Brewers took Games 4 and 5, the Cardinals, managed by Whitey Herzog, breezed, 13-1, in Game 6, and Andujar returned with a solid effort in Game 7. The Cards won, 6-3, and celebrated the championship.
Darrell Porter, who batted .286, drove in five runs with a homer and two doubles, was MVP.
For Selig, who's now MLB Commissioner, that was his only trip to the World Series as a team owner.
Hopes were high after the smashing 10-0 first-game win. But that changed in a hurry.
The 2013 Cardinals should take notice.
Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.