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camera day 1972 ---- chapter 1: the cake

when i was home two weeks ago, i hunted down a couple sleeves of photos i took at busch stadium on camera day in 1972, when i was 9 years old. shot 'em with my kodak instamatic, the original point-n-shoot.

the date was july 16, 1972 -- the cards' 7th year in busch stadium. they started the day in 5th place, a disappointing 33-43. stl had finished a strong 2d in 1971, but they dumped 20-game winner steve carlton that spring (right before the strike -- '72 was the first strike year) and got a poor followup from reigning mvp joe torre, of whom more momentarily. here's the 1972 roster.

their opponent was the big red machine, the cincinnati reds -- best record in the nat'l league at 50-31, leading the nl west by 3.5 games. they sent jack billingham to the mound against a rookie named don durham, who was making his major league debut. he pitched a nice game -- 7 innings, 3 runs against the eventual nat'l league champions -- but billingham (a tepid 5-9 coming in) pitched a complete-game 8-hitter. here's the boxscore.

before we leave the subject of don durham, you should know that he hit .500 for the cards in 1972 -- 7 for 14 -- with 2 hr, for an ops of 1.429. his pitching line? 2-7 with a 4.34 era, as if that mattered.

on that 1972 day i got pixs of quite a few of the guys who'll be coming to busch this weekend to say goodbye. i'll ladle them out here over the next few days, a few at a time, beginning today with a sequence that features joe torre -- one of the few ex-cards who won't be attending the festivities (prior engagement in boston, apparently). the shots are blurry and obstructed, but give me a break: i'm 9 years old -- probably 4 foot 2 or some such.

so here's torre in photo #1, talking to a reporter who vaguely looks like bernie miklasz -- i don't think bernie's old enough to have been working in 1972, but i could be wrong. he's framed by one of the old lou costello security guards and either a) a woman with a jane-fonda hairdo, or b) a chewbacca.

the previous year, torre had compiled one of the greatest individual seasons in busch stadium's 40-year history -- a .363 batting average (highest ever recorded there), 24 hr and 137 rbis. torre led the league in average, hits, total bases, times on base, and runs created; he was 2d in obp and 3d in slugging, a most deserving MVP. here he comes, right up to me:

he was 30 years old in 1972, coming off his third consecutive 100-rbi season. he roared out of the gate in 1972, hit .396 for the first month; has avg cooled off in june but he mashed 6 homers and knocked in 19 for the month. torre came into july 16, 1972 game batting .310 with 10 hr and 49 rbi. in this blurry shot he seems to be signing an autograph for jane/chewbacca . . . .

but no -- it's a cake! jane/chewie has brought a lovely baked treat right onto the field and handed it to her hero. and why would she do that? why, because joe's 31st birthday is in two days! nice going, fonda. how thoughtful.

something happened to torre in mid-1972: he stopped hitting. from july 1 forward, his last 291 at-bats of the year, he hit only 1 homer and tallied just 37 rbis. the rest of his line: 261 avg, .348 obp, .347 slg. . . . . ugh. in this next shot, lou brock saunters over to check out torre's tasty present:

  • brock: what you got there, man?
  • torre: it's a cake -- and don't say a word, the freak who gave it to me's standing right over there.

  • brock: what, 'syour birthday or something?
  • torre: tuesday.
  • brock: oh, well happy birthday. . . . say man, did you look at that thing? that cake looks nasty.
  • torre: hey keep it down. she's gonna hear you.
  • brock: what's that frosting say? "number 9, you're so fine . . "
  • bobby tolan (entering stage right): hey what it is, lou!
  • brock: hey bobby, come on over here a get a look at this cake.
  • tolan: shiiiit. please tell me you ain't gonna eat that, joe.
  • torre: shut up. it looks delicious. let me scrape off a little of the frosting here with my finger . . .

  • tolan: god damn! did he eat that?
  • brock: oh, man --- now he's gonna stink up the whole clubhouse with his gas.
  • tolan: i'm glad i got traded.
  • torre: medic. . . .
  • brock: i'll see you round, bobby.
  • tolan: hey which way he gonna go with that cake? cause i'm-a go the other way.

more photos, more stars, more nostalgia to come all weekend long . . . .