Have yourself a day, Leo Cardenas

March 19, 2022
                                  Have A Day, Leo Cardenas

 

            You know I have this system of Game Scores for Hitters, which doesn’t include defense or park adjustments, but just summarizes all of a player’s hitting accomplishments for the game into one number. 

            Leonardo Lazaro (Alfonso) Cardenas played 1,941 games in his major league career, earning 199 Win Shares and being credited with 27.2 WAR.  He made five all-star teams and was mentioned in the MVP voting three times. Listed at 5-11 and 150 pounds, some sources 160 pounds, he had extremely long arms but a thin torso which gave him a unique, spider-like appearance; I have never quite seen a body just like it.  A shortstop, much of his value was in his defense, but he wasn’t a bad hitter, either, hitting .294 (1962), .287 (1965) and .280 (1969), double figures in home runs six times including 20 and 18, drove in 81 runs (1966), 75 (1971), 70 (1969) and 69 (1964).  He drew as many as 66 walks in a season, won a Gold Glove and helped the Minnesota Twins win their division in 1969-1970.  He hit 7th and 8th most of his career, but he was a really good hitter for a 7th/8th place hitter.

            Anyway, my point here.  You know I have this system for Game Scores for hitters.  In the first game of a double header against the Cubs on June 5, 1966, Cardenas went 3-for-4 with 2 homers, 5 RBI—the best game of his career by Game Scores, scoring at 87.2.

            And in the second game of the double header, he had the second-best game of his career!  He went 3-for-4 again, hitting two more home runs and this time adding a double, although his Game Score was down to 80.7 since he drove in only 3 runs.  Other than June 5, 1966, Cardenas never had a Game Score higher than 77.5. 

            Cardenas hit two homers in a game only four times in his career. Three of them were in the same week.   On May 31, 1966, he homered twice against Juan Marichal.   Cardenas was in the middle of a kind of incredible hot streak in which the 150-pound shortstop hit six home runs in four games, and eight homers in eight games.   After homering in the 7th and 9th innings against Marichal on May 31 (Tuesday), Cardenal had two hits on Wednesday, did not get a hit on Wednesday but was intentionally walked twice, and had an RBI single on Thursday.   Then he homered on Friday, homered four times on Saturday, and homered again on Monday, no game on Sunday, presumably a rainout, I don’t know.  I would guess that he is the weakest hitter ever to hit 8 home runs in 8 consecutive games. 

            The only other player I know of who had his two best games in consecutive games was Ed Kirkpatrick, who had his two best games on September 28 and September 30, 1969, getting 4 hits and 2 homers in each game.  

 

 

Image result for Photo Leo Cardenas. Size: 199 x 204. Source: www.gettyimages.ca

 

 
 

COMMENTS (9 Comments, most recent shown first)

MattD1
Had that extra bowl of Wheaties that morning.
7:50 AM Mar 25th
 
paulw112
For what it's worth, which is nothing, I always got Leo Cardenas and Jose Cardenal mixed up. Fascinating article Bill, thank you.

4:54 PM Mar 21st
 
Fireball Wenz
I remember reading many years ago that Leo Cardenas was working pumping gas after his playing career was over.
10:45 AM Mar 21st
 
villageelliott
Bill

I have no idea how I ended up triple posting my comment while dropping the "l" at the end of Leo Cardenal's name. Now I have something about which to be chagrined for sure. Please delete all but the one on top
7:22 PM Mar 19th
 
villageelliott
I was going to mention "Leo Cardenas's greatest day was Monday, September 21, 1964, when he stole home...

I remember the scene distinctly except for the minor fact that it was not shortstop Cardines. whom I confused with Third Baseman Chico Ruiz who defied Baseball Wisdom to score the only run in the game.

It was a day off for the surging third place Cardinals, who were 6.5 game behind the Phillies, and the KMOX, the Redbirds' Flagship arranged to broadcast the Reds-Phillies game. I remember listen with my Dad and "Going Crazy, Folks when Leo Cardines stole home in the top of the sixth with two outs and righthand Frank Robinson at bat.

However I do distinctly remember it was the first game of their three game series at home game with second place Cincinnati Reds holding a six and a half game lead with twelve to play.

More significantly, it was the first loss in the Phils infamous ten game snide during which the Phillies slipped to third, two games behind the still second place Reds, when they finally snapped the snide in the first game of the season's last weekend on Friday, Oct. 2 by defeating the same Reds in Cincinnati, 4-3.

At the end of the day they were still in third, but only a game behind the Reds, who had gone 8-2 in the same ten game stretch, briefly taking over first. However each were leap-frogged by the Cardinals, who had swept the Phils to go 9-1, from during that stretch they started five games back in third but ended with a half game lead on the Reds.

We know how it all ended.

I was chagrinned when I remember what I had forgotten, but was far enough along to finish the comment I started to willingly suffer a well-deserved Bronx Cheer to thank you for reminding me of the first day of my greatest month as a Baseball Fan.


Bill
Bill

I was going to mention "Leo Cardines's greatest day was Monday, September 21, 1964, when he stole home...


I remember the scene distinctly except for the minor fact that it was not shortstop Cardines. whom I confused with Third Baseman Chico Ruiz who defied Baseball Wisdom to score the only run in the game.


I remember the scene distinctly except for the minor fact that it was not shortstop Cardines but Third Baseman Chico Ruiz who defied Baseball Wisdom to score the only run in the game.

It was a day off for the surging third place Cardinals, who were 6.5 game behind the Phillies, and the KMOX, the Redbirds' Flagship arranged to broadcast the Reds-Phillies game. I remember listen with my Dad and "Going Crazy, Folks when Leo Cardines stole home in the top of the sixth with two outs and righthand Frank Robinson at bat.

However I do distinctly remember it was the first game of their three game series at home game with second place Cincinnati Reds holding a six and a half game lead with twelve to play.

More significantly, it was the first loss in the Phils infamous ten game snide during which the Phillies slipped to third, two games behind the still second place Reds, when they finally snapped the snide in the first game of the season's last weekend on Friday, Oct. 2 by defeating the same Reds in Cincinnati, 4-3.

At the end of the day they were still in third, but only a game behind the Reds, who had gone 8-2 in the same ten game stretch, briefly taking over first. However each were leap-frogged by the Cardinals, who had swept the Phils to go 9-1, from during that stretch they started five games back in third but ended with a half game lead on the Reds.

We know how it all ended.

I was chagrinned when I remember what I had forgotten, but was far enough along to finish the comment I started to willingly suffer a well-deserved Bronx Cheer to thank you for reminding me of my greatest month as a Baseball Fan.

I was going to mention "Leo Cardenas's greatest day was Monday, September 21, 1964, when he stole home...

It was a day off for the surging third place Cardinals, who were 6.5 game behind the Phillies, and the KMOX, the Redbirds' Flagship arranged to broadcast the Reds-Phillies game. I remember listening with my Dad and "Going Crazy, Folks when Leo Cardines stole home in the top of the sixth with two outs and righthand Frank Robinson at bat.

I remember the scene distinctly except for the minor fact that it was not shortstop Cardines but Third Baseman Chico Ruiz who defied Baseball Wisdom to score the only run in the game.

However I do distinctly remember it was the first game of their three game series at home game with second place Cincinnati Reds holding a six and a half game lead with twelve to play.

More significantly, it was the first loss in the Phils infamous ten game snide during which the Phillies slipped to third, two games behind the still second place Reds, when they finally snapped the snide in the first game of the season's last weekend on Friday, Oct. 2 by defeating the same Reds in Cincinnati, 4-3.

At the end of the day they were still in third, but only a game behind the Reds, who had gone 8-2 in the same ten game stretch, briefly taking over first. However each were leap-frogged by the Cardinals, who had swept the Phils to go 9-1, from during that stretch they started five games back in third but ended with a half game lead on the Reds.

We know how it all ended.

I was chagrinned when I remember what I had forgotten, but was far enough along to finish the comment I started to willingly suffer a well-deserved Bronx Cheer to thank you for reminding me of my greatest month as a Baseball Fan.


7:18 PM Mar 19th
 
garywmaloney
Five times an All-Star, including (for the third consecutive year) the game just weeks after these highlights.
6:32 PM Mar 19th
 
archieleach
I forget what we pay to be on this web site.
Whatever it is-----articles like this MORE than pays for it.

I know exactly who will lose a beer bet to me, when I figure out how to phrase the question.
2:18 PM Mar 19th
 
archieleach
I forget what we pay to be on this web site.
Whatever it is-----articles like this MORE than pays for it.

I know exactly who will lose a beer bet to me, when I figure out how to phrase the question.
2:18 PM Mar 19th
 
Manushfan
One of the last guys I would think of going on a homer streak like that. He was a good if underrated player too.
12:41 PM Mar 19th
 
 
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