On September 15, 1969, Steve Carlton of the St. Louis Cardinals sets a major league record by fanning 19 batters including three in the final frame, to establish a new major league mark for strikeouts for a nine-inning game but loses a 4-3 decision to the New York Mets at Busch Stadium.
Carlton, a 24-year-old lefthander, struck out the side in four of the nine innings as he surpassed the record of 18 strike-outs set by Sandy Koufax, Bob Feller and Don Wilson. He even fanned Ron Swoboda twice-on his first and third times at bat. Swoboda would get even and hit a pair of two-run homers.
Carlton had 16 strikeouts entering the final inning, he struck out Tug McGraw, who had relieved Gary Gentry in the seventh inning of a game that had been delayed twice by rain for a total of 81 minutes. That was No. 17. Next came Bud Harrelson, and he looked at strike three for No. 18. And finally, Amos Otis-just recalled from the minor leagues-swung and missed the third strike for No. 19 and the record.
“It was the best stuff I ever had,” said Carlton, like a sculptor who has just created a masterpiece and then accidentally chipped it. “When I had nine strikeouts, I decided to go all the way. But it cost me the game because I started to challenge every batter.”