Ankiel was attempting to calm his nerves after he famously threw five wild pitches in one inning for the Cardinals during Game 1 of the 2000 National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves. All told, he threw nine wild pitches in four innings during his meltdown.
"Before that (first) game ... I'm scared to death. I know I have no chance," the 37-year-old Ankiel said on 590 The Fan, a St. Louis radio station. "Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Lo and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted.
"I'm sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. I had never drank before a game before. It was one of those things like the yips, the monster, the disease ... it didn't fight fair, so I felt like I wasn't going to fight fair either."
Ankiel's pitching days ended in 2004 before he returned as an outfielder in 2007, playing the position for St. Louis, the Kansas City Royals, Atlanta, the Washington Nationals, Houston and the New York Mets.