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JOAQUIN ANDUJAR of the 1982 Cardinals – One Tough Dominican

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(25 years ago today – on October 20, 1982- Joaquin Andujar’s gutty performace made him my baseball hero.  That’s why I’m re-printing this older article here) 

With the St. Louis Cardinals reign as baseball’s World Series champions about to end, it’s worth looking back at how a Latin American great helped them win their ninth title in 1982.

Twenty-nine-year-old right-hander Joaquin Andujar led the Cardinals out of second place in late-July with a blazing finish to his regular season.  It all started with a 3-2 victory in Pittsburgh on August 12, and St. Louis climbed back to the top of the NL East by the end of the month.  Andujar went 5-0 in September with a major league best 0.81 earned run average to earn National League pitcher-of-the-month honors.

When a line drive drilled him above the right knee in one start that month, he assured second baseman Tommy Herr that he’d be able to finish the inning.  “I’m one tough Dominican,” Andujar told him.  He proved it in his next start – with the Redbirds clinging to a half-game division lead over the Phillies- by hurling a shutout on three days’ rest in Philadelphia.  Andujar beat them again five days later, and his 4-0, 1.43 mark against the playoff-tested Phillies in 1982 was key to St. Louis winning the division by three games.

He started the NLCS opener against the Braves, but heavy rains washed out a strong effort before it was an official game.  Andujar finished off a St. Louis sweep in game three though, winning in Atlanta for the first time in his seven-year career by smothering the league’s highest-scoring offense. 

A second-inning line drive off his left shin looked like trouble, but Andujar didn’t allow any Atlanta runner past second base through six innings.  By then, the game was already well in hand.  Bruce Sutter came on for the save, and the Cardinals headed back to the fall classic for the first time since 1968.

After splitting the first two games at home, St. Louis turned to Andujar in a game three matchup against 1982 American League Cy Young winner Pete Vuckovich of the Brewers.  On a frigid Friday night at Milwaukee’s County Stadium, Andujar was the only player on the field not wearing long sleeves.

He retired Hall of Famers Paul Molitor and Robin Yount with two runners in scoring position to escape a third inning threat, and carried a two-hit shutout into the bottom of the seventh after the Cardinals took the lead in the middle innings.  Milwaukee’s Ted Simmons hit a wicked one-hopper up the middle that struck Andujar just below the right knee though, and this time the pitcher went down…and out. 

Writhing and screaming in the middle of the field, he was eventually carried off the field by two of his teammates.  Andujar became the first pitcher from the Dominican Republic to earn a World Series victory when the Cardinals held on, but the joy of the accomplishment was overshadowed by worried over when he’d be able to walk – much less pitch – again.

Andujar reported to the ballpark on crutches the next two days, and St. Louis lost both games to fall behind in the series three games to two.  The Cardinals evened the series with a blowout in the rain when they got home, but they had no idea if Andujar would be able pitch the decisive game seven.  Redbirds skipper Whitey Herzog joked that he would just forfeit if his ace right-hander couldn’t answer the bell, and prayed for more rain that didn’t come.

Andujar threatened to kill his manager if he didn’t get the ball, but his status remained in doubt right up until the first pitch.  Rookie left-hander Dave LaPoint warmed up beside him just in case, but Andujar told mentor and pitching coach Hub Kittle “this game is mine” after loosening up.  His leg hurt from the opening inning, but Andujar implored his teammates to get him just one run.  If they did, he promised, they’d be world champions.

The Cardinals did score in the bottom of the third, but Andujar’s first pitch of the fourth got clobbered for a game-tying homer.  “I guess we need two runs,” he joked when he returned to the dugout, but the Redbird fans in Busch Stadium grew worried when he surrendered two more runs in the sixth.  The Cardinals rallied to take a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the inning though, and Andujar wrapped up a scoreless seventh by retiring Brewers second baseman Jim Gantner on a come-backer.  A fight almost broke out when Gantner called him a hot dog, speaking for many of the Milwaukee players who’d grown sick of watching Andujar pointing his index finger at them like a pistol.

Sutter got the last six outs to secure the Cardinals first championship since 1967, and Andujar became the first pitcher to win clinching games in both the LCS and World Series since baseball went to divisional play.  He remains the only Latin American pitcher to start and win the seventh game of the fall classic.

Andujar finished the 1982 season with ten consecutive wins, including two against the Brewers.  Despite a 1.35 ERA in the World Series, he got fewer MVP votes than Milwaukee’s Yount (Andujar didn’t even get one!).  Nevertheless, Andujar lived up to his self proclaimed nickname at every opportunity.  Here’s to Joaquin Andujar, truly “One Tough Dominican”.

by MALCOLM ALLEN

onetoughdominican47@hotmail.com

Malcolm Allen is the author of a forthcoming biography of Joaquin Andujar.

(The original version of this article appeared in La Prensa del Beisbol Latino, a publication of the Society for America Baseball Research (SABR), Vol. 3, No. 2.  It is re-printed with the permission of the editor.)

Dominican starting pitchers that won World Series games

1982 game 3 – JOAQUIN ANDUJAR – Cardinals @ Brewers

1982 game 7 – JOAQUIN ANDUJAR – Cardinals v. Brewers

1990 game 1 – JOSE RIJO – Reds v. Athletics

1990 game 4 – JOSE RIJO – Reds @ Athletics

2002 game 3 – RAMON ORTIZ – Angels @ Giants

2004 game 3 – PEDRO MARTINEZ – Red Sox @ Cardinals

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