Monday, November 28, 2011

The All St. Louis World Series

In 1944 the country was deep into World War II and there were quite a few players in the military at that time. The Cardinals were missing Enos Slaughter, Terry Moore, Howie Pollet, and a few other players from their pennant winning teams the prior two seasons. They still managed to win 105 games without them with Stan Musial, 1944 MVP Marty Marion, and the Cooper brothers(Walker and Mort) leading the way. The Browns clinched the American League pennant the last day of the season just beating out the Detroit Tigers. The Browns were a team of 4-A nondraft elgible players, drunks, and castoffs with shortstop Vern Stephens being their top player.

1944 marked the first and only time two St. Louis teams would play each other in the World Series. All games would be at Sportsmen's Park, which the two teams shared. This was also the first World Series for the St. Louis Browns, who were a perennial loser up until now. It was familiar territory for the Cardinals, who were the Yankees of the National League during this time. This was the third straight World Series appearance for the Cardinals, and their 8th appearance since 1926. Needless to say the Cardinals were heavy favorites to win the World Series.

The Cardinals officially had home field advantage for the World Series, even though all games were in the same ballpark. The Browns jumped out to an early lead when Denny Galehouse outdueled Mort Cooper in Game 1. The Cardinals won a 11 inning Game 2 on pinch hitter Ken O'Deas RBI single. The Browns roughed up Cardinals starter Ted Wilks in Game 3 knocking him out after three innings. The underdog Browns now had a 2-1 series advantage.

In Game 4 Stan Musial hit a 2 run home run in the first helping the Cards to a 5-1 win over the Browns, evening the series. Game 5 was a pitching rematch of Game 1 with Cooper outdueling Galehouse for the win this time. In Game 6 the Browns jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, but the Cardinals scored 3 runs in the fourth giving them the lead. That would be all the Cardinals needed, and they went on to win the game and the World Series over their intercity rival the Browns.

This was the fifth time the Cardinals had won the World Series, and the second time in three years they had won. Stan Musial would be drafted in 1945, but he returned in 1946 winning the batting title, MVP, and led the Cardinals to another championship. The Browns never returned to the World Series, and were plagued by low attendance after the war. After a 100 loss last place season in 1953, Browns ownership sold the team to Baltimore investors. The Browns moved to Baltimore becoming the Baltimore Orioles and St. Louis became a one team town.

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