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The 1944 World Series was an all-St. Louis World Series, matching up the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns at Sportsman's Parkmarker. It marked only the third time in World Series history in which both teams had the same home field (the other two being the 1921 and 1922 World Series in the Polo Groundsmarker in New York City).

1944 saw perhaps the nadir of 20th-century baseball, as the long-moribund St. Louis Browns won their only American League pennant. The pool of talent was depleted by the draft to the point that in 1945 (but not 1944), as the military scraped deeper and deeper into the ranks of the possibly eligible, the Browns actually used a one-armed player, Pete Gray. Some of the players were 4-Fs, physical rejects whose defects precluded duty in the trenches but not limping around the bases of ballparks. Others divided their time between factory work in defense industries and baseball, some being able to play ball only on weekends. Some just plain got lucky.

Stan Musial of the Cardinals was one. Musial, enlisting in early 1945 but never called, was able to stay with his team throughout the war. The Browns, on the other hand, were not so fortunate, and their 1944 team was a patched together fabric of those ineligible for military service, virtual misfits, alcoholics and retreads who somehow managed to win games.

As both teams called Sportsman's Parkmarker home, the 2–3–2 home field assignment was preserved. The Junior World Series of that same year, partly hosted in Baltimore's converted football stadium, easily outdrew the "real" Series and attracted attention to Baltimore as a potential major league city. Ten years later, the Browns transferred there and became the Orioles. Another all-Missouri World Series was played 41 years later, with the Kansas City Royals defeating the Cardinals in seven games.

The Series was also known as the "Trolley Series," "Streetcar Series," or the "St. Louis Showdown."

Getting there

Many of the games' best players were called away for the war, and the result was a seriously depleted pool of talent. The top team in the American League was the St. Louis Browns, who collectively batted .252 en route to their only pennant in 52 seasons. They only had one .300 hitter in outfielder Mike Kreevich (who barely made it at .301), one man with 20 home runs, shortstop Vern Stephens (who hit exactly 20), and one player over the 85 runs batted in mark, Stephens, who knocked in 109 to lead the league. On the mound, the Browns boasted Nels Potter and Jack Kramer, who combined for 36 victories. The team squeaked into first place by winning 11 out of their final 12 games, including the last four in a row over the defending champion New York Yankees. The last victory, combined with Detroit's loss to Washington, enabled St. Louis to finish one game ahead of the Tigers in the American League. Their 89-65 record was the worst ever for an AL champion.

Across town, the other Major League team from St. Louis was doing business as usual. In making off with their third straight National League pennant (leading by 14½ games over Pittsburgh), manager Billy Southworth's Cardinals had won 105 games and ran their three-year victory total to 316. The Cardinals were the first franchise with three consecutive 100 win seasons. The 1944 club featured league MVP Marty Marion and future Hall of Famer Stan Musial.

Summary

Matchups

Game 1

Wednesday, October 4, 1944 at Sportsman's Park marker in St. Louis, Missourimarker

George McQuinn hit the Brown's only home run of the series to put his team ahead in the fourth inning, while Denny Galehouse outpitched World Series veteran Mort Cooper to hold on for the win.

Game 2

Thursday, October 5, 1944 at Sportsman's Park marker in St. Louis, Missourimarker

Blix Donnelly came in as a relief pitcher in the eighth inning, and tallied no runs, two hits and seven strikeouts for the win. Ken O'Dea's pinch-hit single in the eleventh scored the winning run.

Game 3

Friday, October 6, 1944 at Sportsman's Park marker in St. Louis, Missourimarker

Jack Kramer struck out ten batters on the way to a 6–2 Browns triumph.

Game 4

Saturday, October 7, 1944 at Sportsman's Park marker in St. Louis, Missourimarker

Brown's starter Sig Jakucki had been away from baseball for five years, but returned to win thirteen games in 1944. He lasted only three innings giving up four runs. Stan Musial hit a two run homer in the first, and the Browns never recovered.

Game 5

Sunday, October 8, 1944 at Sportsman's Park marker in St. Louis, Missourimarker

Mort Cooper recovered from his opening game loss to beat Galehouse with a seven-hit, 2–0 shutout. In the Cardinals' 1942–1944 stranglehold on the National League championship, Cooper had won 65 games and thrown 23 shutouts.

Game 6

Monday, October 9, 1944 at Sportsman's Park marker in St. Louis, Missourimarker

For Game 6, it was Max Lanier and Ted Wilks (who both had seventeen wins and shared a 2.65 ERA), that wrote the final chapter to the Brown's "Cinderella season" with a 3–1 victory that wrapped up the Cardinals' second Series title in three years.

Composite box

1944 World Series (4–2): St. Louis Cardinals (N.L.) over St. Louis Browns (A.L.)

Series quotes

Notes

References

  • Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series. 1st ed. New York: St Martins, 1990. (Neft and Cohen 196–200).
  • Silver, Nate. 2007. "1944 American League: The Home Front," in Steven Goldman, Ed., It Ain't Over 'til It's Over: The Baseball Prospectus Pennant Race Book (New York: Basic Books): 326-362.
  • Reichler, Joseph, ed. (1982). The Baseball Encyclopedia (5th ed.), p. 2152. MacMillian Publishing. ISBN 0-02-579010-2.


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