Today we celebrate the great Steve Carlton and his 19-strikeout game on September 15th of 1969, the real first glimpse of the greatness to come over the next 15 years:
Ironically enough, Carlton actually lost the game, because of Ron
Swaboda's TWO two-run home runs which gave the Mets all the runs they
needed to beat Carlton and the Cardinals, 4-3.
However Carlton had it all working for him that day, as he marched right
into the record books by beating the previous record of 18 strikeouts
which was jointly held by Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax and Don Wilson.
This was pretty much the first historic highlight of the future Hall of
Famer's stellar career, as he'd go on to then post his first 20-win
season in 1971 while still with the Cardinals, then post his uber-famous
1972 Triple-Crown winning year as a Philadelphia Phillie, winning his
first of four Cy Young Awards.
Carlton would end his 24 year career with 329 wins, 55 shutouts, a 3.22 earned run average and a whopping 4136 strikeouts.
Those monster numbers got him inducted to Cooperstown on his first try in 1994, getting named on 436 of 456 ballots.
I remember seeing Carlton pitch at the end of his career when he was trying to hang on those last couple of years.He pitched for the Cleveland Indians against the New York Yankees at the
Stadium on April 14th, 1987, giving up a grand slam homer to Yankee
catcher Joel Skinner, and eventually taking the loss.
It was kind of a bummer, as he was a shell of his former self, and was
caught in that vicious "hanging on" phase some players tend to get stuck
He'd move on to Minnesota later that year, and even pitch in four games
for them in 1988 before finally hanging them up, putting to rest an
incredible baseball resume that only a couple of other lefties can match
in the history of the game.