ST. LOUIS -- Lou Brock remembered September 1964 as a time when the St. Louis Cardinals began a salary drive. That's also when they started their path to the World Series championship.
Brock and Game 7 winner Bob Gibson were among members of the team that beat the Yankees who were honored Monday before St. Louis opened an interleague series against New York.
A half-century ago, the Cardinals made up a 6½-game deficit in the last 12 games on fading Philadelphia.
"You could be in last place, but you would see some of the greatest baseball plays in September because you're all looking for a raise," Brock said. "It was all business: 'I need to keep those scissors, a 20 percent cut, off my contract.' "
"And it just caught fire. Momentum, and it never stopped," he said.
Gibson threw the ceremonial first pitch from halfway between the plate and the mound. Longtime catcher Tim McCarver was on the receiving end.
Asked for his best memory from 1964, Gibson replied: "Beating the Yankees, that was the best part. How we did it didn't matter."
McCarver said the team's late-season charge past the Phillies and the fact the National League pennant was up for grabs before the final day of the regular season helped keep the players loose.
Between 1949 and '64, the Yankees won nine titles and were in the Series 14 of 16 seasons.
The Cardinals would have traveled to Cincinnati for a playoff if they lost the finale on the road against the Mets.
"If a little team from the Midwest has a lot of time to think about it, I think any team would be intimidated by playing them," McCarver said. "Obviously, we knew who we were playing with [Roger] Maris and [Mickey] Mantle and [Joe] Pepitone and [Whitey] Ford and all the rich tradition of New York."
"But we weren't intimidated and I think that helped us," he said.
Gibson won the clincher 7-5 in St. Louis, pitching a complete game on two days' rest after another complete-game victory.
Gibson, Brock and Red Schoendienst, a coach on that team, are in the Hall of Fame.