The first MLB game I really remember attending was in late 1987 when I was 12. My dad had taken me to a game or two before that, but I wasn’t really into it yet and don’t remember those very well at all. I vaguely remember going to a game when I was 10 in 1985, but don’t remember much about it. In 1987 I started to follow the team more closely as they were locked in a three way pennant race between the Cardinals, Mets and Expos.
All I can remember from this game is that it was in late September, and Cardinals won the game in the bottom of the 9th. They loaded the bases with either 0 or 1 out. Someone hit a real hard ball right down the third baseline. The third-baseman dove and caught it. He was able to step on third for one out, but did not have a play on the lead runner at home who easily scored the winning run. I could not recall the opponent, or the score, or much else. I had mistakenly thought that Curt Ford had the game-winning RBI. This turned out to be incorrect. Luckily through the magic of Baseball Reference, I could search through those late September 1987 box scores and I was able to find the game. The Cardinals beat the Pirates 3-2. So here is more detail on the game.
The score was 0-0 through 5 innings as Bob Walk and Joe Magrane put up zeroes. The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the 6th when Dan Dreissen singled in Ozzie Smith. The Pirates then took the lead in the 7th on a 2-run double by Bobby Bonilla. Barry Bonds and Darnell Coles scored on the play. Dan Dreissen led off the bottom of the 9th with a single, and Curt Ford pinch-ran for him (I knew he played a role in that 9th inning!). Then Willie McGee hit a single and Ford was able to go to third base. Next, Terry Pendleton doubled, scoring Ford to tie the game, and sending McGee to third. An intentional walk loaded the bases (another detail I got right), and finally Lance Johnson hit that shot to third base that resulted in the fielder’s choice.
The only other thing I remember was right after the winning run scored, they updated the out of town scorebaord to show that the Expos had beaten the Mets. The place was still going nuts for the win, and it went up another notch when that score appeared. My Dad thought it was a conspiracy – that they knew the other game had ended, but waited to update the score so it would not be a distraction from the game we were watching unfold. The Cardinals win and Mets loss moved the Mets to 3 1/2 games back. This reduced the Cardinals magic number to clinch the division from 9 to 7.
Here is an AP article about this game: Cards Win on 2-Run 9th