1987 NLCS recap

Cardinals defeat Giants, 4 games to 3

September 30th, 2022

World Series were hard to come by for San Francisco fans after the New York Giants moved west following the 1957 season. There had been a tough seven-game loss to the Yankees when Bobby Richardson snared Willie McCovey's liner in 1962, and that was it. The only other postseason action for the San Francisco Giants had been an elimination by Roberto Clemente and the Pirates in four games in the 1971 NLCS, when the extra tier of playoffs was still relatively new.

The 1987 Giants were the gradual start of a brighter era to come. Roger Craig's "Humm Baby" brand of baseball was taking root, with young first baseman Will Clark leading the way. In the NLCS against St. Louis, Jeffrey Leonard was the Giants' big bat. He hit four home runs, going on to earn NLCS MVP honors - the last member of a losing team to do so. The bold swagger of his "one flap down" gimmick - rounding the bases while holding his left arm against his side - also served to rile up the Cardinals and their fans, and surely served as bulletin-board fodder toward the series' lopsided end.

It was an even series in terms of the scoring (23-23) and hits (56-54, Cardinals), but once the teams returned to Busch Stadium for Games 6 and 7, the air had completely deflated from the Giants' balloon. San Francisco, which had a 3-2 series lead, was held scoreless over the final 22 innings. The coup de grace for St. Louis was a thorough hammering of Giants starter Atlee Hammaker in the clincher, scoring four quick runs in the second on the way to a 6-0 rout. It was the Cardinals' third pennant in six years, as the famous Budweiser eagle marquee in St. Louis flew with two flaps up.

Path to the NLCS: St. Louis (95-67) won the NL East by three games; San Francisco (90-72) won the NL West by six games

Managers: Whitey Herzog, STL; Roger Craig, SF

MVP: Jeffrey Leonard