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Cards Top Mets at Shea, 3-1

July 10, 1964 - Mild-mannered Johnny Keane, the former Seminarian who doesn’t look or act as if he’d every play gambler’s guitar, had ‘em buzzin’ today, cousin, as a result of boldly having put the winning run on base.

The St. Louis Cardinal manager flew in the face of baseball tradition and the game’s “book” of percentages with high strategy tonight — and the hunch worked in a 3-1 victory over the New York Mets at Shea Stadium.

Into the ninth inning, where they had suffered four of their seven most recent defeats, Bob Gibson (pictured) and the Cards carried a two-run lead over the last-place Mets.

The New York misfits, darlings of some 825,433 spectators for just 31 dates, had scored a run back in the first inning on Gibson’s only previous walk, an infield out, and Joe Christopher’s single.

The Cards, checked by Jack Fisher until the fourth, scored twice then on Dick Groat’s single, a walk, Ron Hunt’s error, and young Mike Shannon’s timely smash up the middle. The third run developed in the sixth on Bill White’s one-out triple and Tim McCarver’s slow roller.

Gibson was breezing when he retired two men in the ninth, but then Christopher singled and hurried to third on Ed Kranepool’s double to left-center.

The next hitter was Jesse Gonder, lefty catcher with a .283 average. Gonder never gut his cuts.

Keane, rushing out of the visitors’ dugout, directed Gibson to walk Gonder intentionally. That’s putting the winning run on base, in baseball parlance. And it just isn’t done. Why did Keane do it?

“Because,” said the Redbird manager, “I was determined to win or lose it right there. I didn’t want to be tied.

“Gonder is a pretty good hitter, better than anything else he [Casey Stengel] had left, and I knew he had no lefthanded bench man.”

Keane reasoned that Stengel’s choice would be righty Jim Hickman, batting only .216.

“Sure, I knew Hickman might get a long one, but I felt that it would take two hits to beat me and only one, a single, to tie,” said Keane. “I didn’t want Gonder to have that chance. I knew Gibson was tired, but I felt he’d reach back for something extra.”

He did. Hickman hit softly to Julian Javier to give a successful climax to seldom-seen strategy.

With 37 more home dates scheduled, it is possible that the Mets will play before about 1,700,000 persons at Shea this year.

Such a total would establish a major league record for a last-place team. This is, of course, assuming that the Mets remain safely in 10th place, a spot they seem to own.

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