NOTE: The BND has endeavored to identify an objective list of the top 100 St. Louis Cardinals players of all time, based on statistical formulas developed through sabermetrics. We’ll count down the list daily, player by player, until April 4, the day of the Cardinals’ 2019 home opener. The running list and player bios can be found at bnd.com.
NO. 92 BAKE MCBRIDE
As a high school senior in Fulton, Mo. — less than a two-hour drive west of St. Louis — Arnold “Bake” McBride broke his ankle so badly playing basketball that doctors seriously wondered if he’d walk again.
Within five years, he had sprinted his way to the National League Rookie of the Year Award. But the remnant pain of that injury — and others — followed him throughout an 11-year major-league career during which he carried the unfortunate reputation of a player who lacked hustle.
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Lou Brock, who broke the single-season stolen base record during McBride’s outstanding rookie campaign of 1974, stood up for his teammate by telling the St. Louis Post-Disptach he’d been given a “bad rap.”
The numbers don’t support the reputation, either. Over five seasons in St. Louis, McBride batted .307 with a .361 on-base percentage. He stole 75 bases and scored at least 70 runs three times.
But never did he showcase his speed and hustle more than he did in New York on the night of Sept. 11, 1974.
The Cardinals were trailing the Mets 3-1 with two outs in the top of the ninth. Third baseman Ken Reitz tied the game with a home run to force extra innings.
It was McBride’s 25th-inning reprisal of Enos Slaughter’s “Mad Dash” that ended what remains the longest game in which a winner was decided in MLB history (the Braves and Dodgers played a 26-inning tie in 1920).
He led off the inning with a single and had taken a healthy lead. Mets’ reliever Hank Webb attempted to pick him off, but his throw got past the first baseman and skipped down Shea Stadium’s right field line.
McBride scored all the way from first, blowing through the stop sign by third base coach Vern Benson to score the winning run, seven hours and four minutes after the game had started.
He went 4 for 10 in the game.
McBride was on his way to his best season in 1977 when new Cardinals manager Vern Rapp bristled over his refusal to shave his beard and had him shipped to Philadelphia for Rick Bosetti and Dane Iorg. He went on to career highs in average (.316), home runs (15), and stolen bases (36) and was an integral part of the Phillies 1980 World Series championship.
SEASONS IN ST. LOUIS: 1973-1977
.307 avg. with Cardinals | 75 stolen bases | Rookie of the Year 1974
TOP 100 SCORE: 2.12