ST. LOUIS -- Playing 162 games in a baseball season can be grueling, and when the summer days get long, sometimes the best pick-me-up is a good laugh.
Baseball bloopers are all over the internet, on television highlight reels and on scoreboards during games. So as we wait for these winter months to tick by, let’s have some fun and take a look at some comical moments in recent Cardinals history, plus a few throwbacks:
1. Ozuna’s failed Spider-Man
April 9, 2019
Might this go down as Marcell Ozuna’s legacy as a Cardinal? His 52 home runs over two seasons surely will, but this one might be up there. In a 4-0 win over the Dodgers this year, Ozuna misjudged a fly ball from Enrique Hernández to open the eighth inning. He thought the ball was going into the Dodgers’ bullpen, so he scaled the wall, had his glove outstretched and hung on for a second until he realized that the ball was going to fall way short of the wall. He tried to get off the wall in time, but his feet got tangled up and he faceplanted onto the warning track. Los Angeles' bullpen and Ozuna’s teammates refrained from laughing -- at least until they knew the left fielder was OK.
“'A' for effort,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said at the time.
2. Rally Cat (and squirrel)
Aug. 9, 2017
When Yadier Molina pointed his bat toward left field, he wasn’t calling his shot -- he was calling the attention to a stray cat that had made its way onto the field. The feline turned into the “Rally Cat” when Molina launched a grand slam on the next pitch to give the Cardinals an 8-5 win over the Royals. Before Molina’s at-bat resumed, though, the cat had to be caught. A member of St. Louis' grounds crew finally caught up with the cat after it made its way around Kansas City center fielder Lorenzo Cain, but the cat tried to scratch and claw its way out of its captor’s hands. The Royals’ fielders and the Cardinals’ baserunners laughed as they watched the cat being taken off the field, and the Cards continued the celebration with Molina’s slam. Rally Cat wasn’t the first animal to give St. Louis good omens; a rally squirrel seemingly powered the Cardinals to their National League Championship Series win over the Phillies in 2011, and it stayed with them during the World Series, too.
3. Ball sticks to Yadi’s chest protector
April 6, 2017
Yadier Molina is regarded as one of the best defensive catchers of all time, but sometimes even he finds himself in sticky situations. In the Cardinals’ 6-4 loss to the Cubs, a dropped third strike from pitcher Brett Cecil actually got stuck to Molina’s chest protector. The Cards catcher looked around in vain as Matt Szczur ran to first base before everyone realized that the baseball had just defied the laws of physics. The situation was beyond anyone’s control, but the Cubs used it as a rally starter; Kyle Schwarber blasted a three-run homer two batters later to take the game from St. Louis.
4. "Mike! Mike! Mike! What day is it, Mike?"
Sept. 13, 2013
In 2013, the Cardinals had a lot of fun imitating the Geico commercial that featured a camel walking around an office and asking everyone, including a guy named Mike, what day it was (Wednesday) so he could make a joke (it’s hump day!). Because Mike Matheny was the Cards' manager at the time, his players liked to ask him what day it was once Wednesday rolled around. Reliever John Axford took notice when he joined the team and brought the joke to the next level before a midweek game in Colorado. He ordered camel costumes for himself, Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal to wear around the field. One of them even came to Coors Field on a bike, and all of them proclaimed what day it was.
5. Kelly’s NLCS standoff
Oct. 18, 2013
It might have been a high-stakes game, but Cardinals right-hander Joe Kelly and Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke were not going to let nerves get to them before Game 6 of the 2013 NLCS. The two engaged in a lighthearted national anthem standoff for nearly 15 minutes -- long enough for the grounds crew to finish its final preparations, the Cards starters to take the field and a Dodgers teammate to put a batting helmet on Van Slyke for protection -- before being forced back into their respective dugouts so the game could begin. Both sides claimed victory; Kelly was the first to smile and Van Slyke was the first to leave his post. Of course, St. Louis claimed the ultimate victory with its 9-0 win to advance to the World Series.
6. Tony La Russa impression
May 12, 2011
When former Cardinals manager “Tony La Russa” popped out from the dugout before the Cardinals’ 9-1 win over the Cubs, everything looked normal -- the sunglasses, the jersey and even the dark hair. Except it wasn’t La Russa, who was back in St. Louis dealing with shingles. The person who was delivering the lineup card was actually pitcher Kyle Lohse, who paid tribute to his absent manager with an impersonation that made everyone laugh.
7. The Secret Weapon
May 14, 1988
José Oquendo could do it all. In his 12 years as a player -- and 10 as a Cardinal -- Oquendo played all over the field, and one night, he even appeared on the mound. In a 19-inning game against the Braves at Busch Stadium, manager Whitey Herzog ran out of pitchers and turned to Oquendo, who pitched four innings and took the 7-5 loss. He allowed two runs in the 19th and four hits overall while walking six and striking out one. The next day, Oquendo could barely lift his arm above his waist. But Willie McGee was hurt at the time, so when manager Whitey Herzog asked Oquendo if he could play center field, Oquendo was too professional to say no.
8. Seat cushion night
April 18, 1987
It might have been the Cardinals’ 10th game of the season, but the fans at Busch Stadium treated this April game like it was the postseason. A back-and-forth, dramatic game led to Tom Herr’s first career grand slam to give the Cardinals a 12-8 win over the Mets in 10 innings, and St. Louis erupted. The giveaway that night was seat cushions, and fans flung them onto the field. Drivers honked their horns around the stadium. It took the grounds crew almost two hours to clean up all the cushions.
“I guess that will be the end of seat cushion night,” Herzog told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the time. He was right.
May 15, 1984
Joaquin Andujar was known for his eccentric ways both on and off the mound, but one of his funniest moments came at the plate. Andujar, who struck out 315 times in 607 career at-bats and hit just .127, launched a two-out grand slam into right field after calling his shot. The Cards went on to beat the Braves, 9-1, in the game.
The slam wasn’t so much comical as it was a “miracle,” as manager Whitey Herzog called it, but it fit Andujar’s motto -- or what he would often call his favorite word in the English language: “Youneverknow.” The best part about his grand slam is what he took from it: “We’ve [got] only two power hitters,” Andujar shouted to his teammates. “Jack Clark and me.”