Baseball-Almanac.com's World Series section
Chapter 4: The 1940's
1940: Cincinnati Reds (4) vs. Detroit Tigers (3)
As America welcomed in a new and promising decade, the Cincinnati Reds were still recovering from a miserable loss to the New York Yankees in the previous year's Series. The American League's newest dynasty had once again, swept the National League champs in 4 games (without Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig in their line-up). The Reds almost prevented a sweep in the bottom of the 10th (in Game 4) as they managed to send the tying run to the plate three times, but were unable to finish the job as Johnny Murphy protected the Yankees' 7-4 lead for their second consecutive sweep, and fourth consecutive World Series title. Many National League fans had hoped that a worthy contender would finally step up and dethrone the perennial AL champions, but Cincinnati had come up short… very short. Things were finally looking up for the Nationals in 1940 as Bill McKechnie's club raced to 100 victories with a 12-game margin in the NL pennant race and surprisingly, it was the New York Yankees who had come up short this time for the AL title. The Detroit Tigers had finished one game ahead of Cleveland and two in front of New York with a line-up that combined for 74 home runs and 284 runs batted in. Plus, four Tiger regulars batted .313 or higher.
The American League's newest offensive superpower exhibited some of the skills that had dethroned the defending World Champions in Game 1 as they ran Reds' starter Paul Derringer from the mound in a 5-run 2nd on the way to a 7-2 opening victory. Pinky Higgins, Dick Bartell and Bruce Campbell each knocked in 2 runs for Detroit, who got solid 8-hit pitching from Bobo Newsom whose father had died suddenly after coming in from South Carolina to see his son pitch. The Reds were able to even it up the next day as Jimmy Ripple's 2-run homer and Bucky Walters' 3-hit pitching enabled Cincinnati to win, 5-3. The "seesaw nature" of the Series continued in Game 3 as the Tigers regained the upper hand. Rudy York (who had 33 homers and 134 RBIs), and Game 1 standout Pinky Higgins both nailed crucial 2-run homers in a 1-1, 7th to push their team to a Series leading 7-4 triumph. Reds' starter Paul Derringer returned for Game 4 and had his revenge with a brilliant 5-hit, 5-2 winner that tied the Series at 2 games apiece. The previous 2 seasons' one-sided, 4 game sweeps had left the Series with a feeling of predictability. After 4 close outings, it was truly anyone's game and the Commissioner's Office was obviously pleased with the competitive nature of the 1940 contest.
Detroit kept the streak alive in Game 5 with a strong 8-0 performance that featured an emotional, 3-hit outing by the mourning Newsom (who had dedicated the win to his father). Teammate Hank Greenberg contributed a 3-run homer and batted in 4 runs in support as the Tiger veteran capped off a monstrous season in which he had knocked the AL's top pitchers for 41 homers, 150 RBIs and a .340 batting average. Games 6 and 7 would move east to Cincinnati, but home-field advantage had been certainly offset by the welcome pattern of alternating wins. Nevertheless, it was the Reds turn and sure enough, they delivered. Bucky Walters had not only thrown a 5-hit shutout, but he also added a homerun for the 4-0 victory. Tigers Manager Del Baker called on his #1 ace Newsom for Game 7, even if that pitcher was coming off only one day of rest. McKechnie opted for Derringer, who had two.
Newsom, a 20-game winner in the American League for the 3rd consecutive season, was the beneficiary of an unearned run in the 3rd and made that run stand up through 6 innings. However, Frank McCormick, easily the Reds' top power threat (with 19 homers and 127 RBIs in '40), and Ripple hit consecutive doubles to open the Reds' 7th. With the game tied, 1-1, Jimmie Wilson bunted Ripple to 3rd and after pinch-hitter Ernie Lombardi was given an intentional walk, Billy Myers drove him home with a fly ball to deep center. Derringer was now working with a 2-1 lead and was determined to nail down the Series title. He allowed an inning-opening single to Charlie Gehringer in the 8th, and then retired the Tigers' next 6 batters. The alternating-victory sequence had ended, and so had Cincinnati's long wait for their second Series triumph. Derringer and Walters, (both 20-game winners - Derringer for the 3rd straight season and Walters for the 2nd), saved face for their winless efforts in the '39 Series by posting two victories apiece this time. The Reds' Bill Werber batted a Series-high .370, Wilson hit .353 and Ripple finished with an impressive .333. Ripple and Ival Goodman had 6 and 5 RBIs, respectively, for the winners.
The season, while ending on a joyous note for Cincinnati, had sadness, too. In early August, their reserve catcher, Willard Hershberger had committed suicide in his Boston hotel room. Detroit's standout was Newsom, who had overcome extreme emotional adversity and won two of three decisions with a 1.38 earned-run average in 26 innings. Campbell, Greenberg and Higgins posted .360, .357 and .333 averages and Barney McCosky had a .304 Series mark. None of which was enough to prevent the Cincinnati Reds from winning their first World Series of the non-tainted variety. The title's legitimacy finally gave the Nationals the respect they deserved and it was the first time since 1919 (when they were the beneficiaries of the famous "Black Sox Scandal") that the Reds were hailed as true champions.
1941: Brooklyn Dodgers (1) vs. New York Yankees (4)
After a short, one-year absence, the perennial champion New York Yankees returned to the familiar territory of post-season baseball in 1941. Despite losing the AL pennant to the Detroit Tigers the year before, the "Bronx Bombers" were still favored after winning 13 of their last 14 Series games and 28 of their last 31 games in baseball's premier event. Joe McCarthy's franchise however, entered the post-season with heavy hearts after Yankee icon Lou Gehrig passed away on June 2 in Riverdale, New York. The "Iron Horse" had finally succumbed to a relatively unknown affliction known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis which has since been renamed Lou Gehrig's Disease. Despite their emotional scars, the power-laden Yanks had managed another one of their dominant pennant runs, winning the American League title by 17 games. Their cross-town and "cross-league" rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers were determined to keep the World Championship title in National League hands and were dependant on solid pitching to keep the Yankees' sluggers in hold. The Dodger's rotation certainly had their work cut out for them as Joe DiMaggio, Charlie Keller and Tommy Henrich all hit at least 30 homers in 1941, and Joe Gordon slammed 24.
Nothing changed in the Series opener as the "Bronx Bombers" continued to get the job done. Gordon remained a standout as he homered and knocked in two runs for a 3-2 victory that featured a Red Ruffing 6-hitter. After losing to the Dodger's Whitlow Wyatt 3-2 in Game 2, the Yankees got a break and reclaimed the Series lead. Brooklyn's Freddie Fitzsimmons was locked in a 0-0 stalemate with Marius Russo in Game 3 when, with 2 out in the 7th, the Yankees pitcher fired a line drive that caught Fitzsimmons square on the knee. While shortstop Pee Wee Reese caught the deflected ball to end the inning, Fitzsimmons was obviously through for the day. Hugh Casey came in as relief but was nailed for 4 hits and 2 runs in the 8th. His teammates were only able to get only 4 hits off Russo and eventually lost 2-1. Despite trailing 2 games to 1, Brooklyn's pitching rotation was doing their share while holding the Yankees' sluggers to less than stellar stats. Through the first four games of the Fall Classic, the "Bombers" had managed a single home run off the Dodgers and in their 34 innings of Series at-bats preceding the fateful ninth of Game 4, the Yanks had scored only 10 runs.
Things seemed to be headed in the Dodgers' favor with a 4-3 lead and 2 out in the 9th (with no Yankees on base) when an error of catastrophic proportions turned the momentum of the game and inevitably, the Series. As a probable 3rd strike on Henrich crossed the plate, it was mishandled by the Dodger's catcher Mickey Owen. Instead of sealing the Series tying victory, the error kept the Yankees alive resulting in a 4 run rally that snatched the sweet taste of victory from the mouths of Brooklyn and left them with the bitter taste of a 7-4 defeat. The frenzied Ebbets Field crowd (who was poised for celebration) suddenly stood in disbelief as they watched their team implode. First, Henrich stole 1st on the Owen error. Then DiMaggio followed with a single, and Charlie Keller shot the Yankees ahead with a 2-run double. After a walk to Bill Dickey, Gordon further quieted the Dodgers faithful with another two-run double. The Yankees' Johnny Murphy then turned in his second consecutive inning of 1-2-3 relief, and New York had handed Brooklyn a devastating defeat.
"Sure, it was my fault," Owen said after the game. "The ball was a low curve that broke down. It hit the edge of my glove and glanced off, but I should have had him out anyway. But who ever said those Yanks were such great sluggers? They're the real bums in this Series, with that great reputation of theirs." It mattered little as the Yankees finished them off the following day when Ernie "Tiny" Bonham put the Dodgers out of their misery, tossing a four-hitter in Game 5. Henrich (who had dodged a bullet in his previous outing) homered in the Yankees' Series-clinching 3-1 triumph. Despite winning their 9th title, the "Bronx Bombers" had certainly failed to live up to their nickname at the plate. Surprisingly, the World Champions had managed only 2 home runs and averaged a mediocre .247 in the Series. Still, they managed to knock off their cross-town rivals (in what would eventually become known as the "Subway Series"), who got even less offensive production with 1 homer and a miserable .182 average.
1942: St. Louis Cardinals (4) vs. New York Yankees (1)
In 1942, it was business as usual for the defending champion New York Yankees. "Joe D" and the rest of the 2nd generation "Bronx Bombers" lit up the American League on their way to their 13th pennant. On the National League side it was the up-and-coming St. Louis Cardinals who were making a name for themselves as a worthy opponent. Manager Billy Southworth's Redbirds had proved conclusively during the 1942 season that they had what it took to win championships. Trailing the NL-leading Dodgers by 10 games on August 5, they rallied down the stretch (winning 43 of their last 51 games) to finish with a 2-game margin over Brooklyn.
Yankee veteran Red Ruffing stole the show in the Series opener while not allowing a single hit until he had 2 down in the 8th. Centerfielder, Terry Moore managed a weak single, but it mattered little as the Cardinals problems were just as bad on both sides of the ball. The Yankees were holding down a 7-0 lead with no errors while St. Louis was desperately trying to send a man home and had 4. Then it happened… just as they had to win the NL pennant late in the season, the Redbirds rallied again. First, Stan Musial, the Cardinals' left fielder, fouled out to open the 9th. Catcher Walker Cooper followed with a single, but first baseman Johnny Hopp flied out. The next batter, pinch-hitter Ray Sanders, walked. Then, the Cardinals lashed 5 consecutive hits that produced 4 runs. That brought Musial back to the plate with the bases loaded. Lucky for New York, Spud Chandler was on the mound and the closer forced Musial into a game-ending grounder to first base. Despite falling 1 run short of another miraculous comeback, the Cardinals had clearly shaken their World Series jitters, and showed the Yankees that they were indeed, a worthy contender.
Game 2 featured Cardinal Newcomer Beazley, who posted a 2.13 ERA on his way to 21 victories during the regular season. Beazley held onto a 3-0 lead going into the 8th inning, but gave up a run-scoring single to Joe DiMaggio and a 2-run homer to Charlie Keller. Now with the game tied, it was the Yankees turn. Unfortunately for New York, their rally would fall short thanks to Enos Slaughter's double and Musial's single in the bottom of the 8th. Slaughter ended the game with a clutch throw from right-field that nailed pinch-runner Tuck Stainback at 3rd base in the 9th. In the end, the Cards had evened the Series with a 4-3 triumph and they were just getting started. Things continued to go St. Louis' way as Ernie White dominated Game 3 by shutting out the Yankees on 6-hits for the 2-0 victory. It was total team effort though as the lefthander was supported by the great fielding skills that had won 106 regular-season games for the Cards: Moore made a great catch in the 6th and Musial and Slaughter both made clutch "homer-saving" catches in the 7th.
Mort Cooper, who won 22 games, threw 10 shutouts and posted an ERA of 1.78, returned against Hank Borowy the next day. Unfortunately nothing had changed for the Game 1 loser and he lasted only 5 1/3 innings as he was victimized by New York's 5-run 6th. His rival, Borowy only lasted into the 4th, an inning in which St. Louis got 2-run singles from Whitey Kurowski and their struggling pitcher and tallied 6 runs in all. In the 7th, Walker Cooper (Mort's brother) knocked a timely RBI single and snapped the 6-6 tie. Marty Marion added a run-scoring fly and reliever Max Lanier not only proceeded to pitch shutout ball the rest of the way, he also singled home an insurance run in the 9th. Once again the Cardinals had found the resolve and held on for the 9-6 victory.
Game 1 winner, Red Ruffing, returned for Game 5 against the youngster Beazley. Phil Rizzuto, (who had hit a total of 7 home runs in his first two big-league seasons with the Yankees), launched a Beazley fastball into the left-field stands in the 1st inning. St. Louis tied it in the fourth when Slaughter matched Rizzuto with his own homer to right, but New York slipped back into the lead in the bottom of the inning on DiMaggio's run-scoring single. The resilient Redbirds forged another deadlock in the 6th when Walker Cooper's fly ball scored another and the teams went to the 9th tied 2-2. Then, like Rizzuto, another unlikely hero, Kurowski (who had gone 3-for-14 at that point in the Series after batting .254 with 9 homers during the regular season in his first extended big-league play). stepped up to the plate and delivered with a game (and-Series) winning homer into the left-field stands. The surprise Cardinals had dethroned the mighty Yankees and taken the World title back for the National League. The devastating loss was the first since 1926 for the Yankees, who had won in all 8 of their appearances in the Fall Classic.
1943: St. Louis Cardinals (1) vs. New York Yankees (4)
In a classic-rematch of the previous year's contest, the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees once again found themselves competing for the World Championship title. The underdog Redbirds had dethroned the mighty Bombers in 1942 and the devastating loss was the first since 1926 for the Yankees, who had won in all 8 of their appearances in the Fall Classic. Both teams had maintained their dominance throughout the 1943 season, despite losing several key players to military service. The Cardinals were without Howie Pollet (who left in August) and the Yankees lost Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto and Red Ruffing to tours of duty. On the home front, the Card's Stan Musial had a tremendous season, winning the NL batting title with an incredible .357 average. He was also backed up by the finest pitching in the National League as Pollet, Max Lanier and Mort Cooper ranked 1-2-3 in the league in ERA at 1.75, 1.90 and 2.30, respectively. The Yanks still boasted Charlie Keller and Joe Gordon who provided power at the plate with 31 and 17 homers, respectively. First baseman Nick Etten, (acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies) proved a significant addition as well and drove in a team-high 107 runs and Spud Chandler led the pitching staff with 20 wins. Even without "Joe D" and the gang, Joe McCarthy's team still won the AL pennant with a 13 1/2-game difference over second-place Washington.
In a repeat of the previous opener, the Cardinals fell behind, thanks to the pitching of Spud Chandler, who threw a 7-hit, 4-2 winner that featured a key 2-2 tie breaker in the 6th on singles by Frankie Crosetti and rookie third baseman Billy Johnson, a wild pitch by Lanier and another single by Bill Dickey. The big story in Game 2 was the bittersweet play of the Cardinal's Cooper brothers, who were mourning the death of their father who had passed away the day before. Mort pitched a 1-run ballgame for 8 innings and Walker singled in three at-bats and laid down a sacrifice bunt. Both brothers were backed up by Marty Marion, who belted a 3rd-inning homer with the bases empty, and Ray Sanders, who powered a 2-run shot in the 4th. Despite the Nationals best efforts, the Yankees rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 9th and wound up the 4-3 winners.
Al Brazle, a 29-year-old rookie who won 8-of-10 decisions in the regular season and boasted a 1.53 ERA, kept the Cards' hopes alive for a repeat of '42 (in which St. Louis won four straight to take the title) by pitching masterfully through 7 innings of Game 3. Unfortunately, the lefthander was unable to maintain his momentum in the 8th as the Yankees scored 5 times. Joe DiMaggio's replacement in centerfield, converted pitcher Johnny Lindell, started the rally with a double on the error of Harry Walker who misplayed the ball. Pinch-hitter George Stirnweiss bunted, and first baseman Sanders threw to third baseman Whitey Kurowski in an effort to cut down Lindell. The throw was in time, but Lindell crashed into Kurowski and knocked the ball loose. After a fly-ball moved Stirnweiss to second, Crosetti was walked intentionally to load the bases. Johnson, a .280 hitter in his first season with the Yankees, proceeded to foil the strategy by clearing the bases with a triple. Gordon and Etten added run-scoring singles later in the inning, pushing the score to 6-2. Johnny Murphy finished the job by working a 1-2-3 ninth in relief of winning pitcher Hank Borowy.
Nothing changed in Game 4 as Marius Russo put on a one-man show. A 5-10 pitcher for the Yankees in '43, Russo held St. Louis to 7 hits, doubled and scored the winning run in the 8th as New York won 2-1. As the Series headed to Game 5, the Yankees were thinking revenge and were 1 win away from having it. The Cardinals on the other hand, were only thinking about survival and selected Mort Cooper to go against Chandler the next day. The Redbirds put up a great offensive effort, knocking the Yankee pitcher for 10 hits, but were unable to score on any of them. The Bombers only needed one, a 2-run homer from Bill Dickey in the 6th that sealed their fate with a 2-0 triumph. The American's had their revenge and manager Joe McCarthy had his 7th (and final) World Series Championship.
1944: St. Louis Cardinals (4) vs. St. Louis Browns (2)
The ongoing war between the Allies and Axis powers certainly had an impact on major-league baseball, but never like it did in 1944. Many of the games' best players were called away for tours of duty 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 in route to their only pennant. They only had one .300 hitter in outfielder Mike Kreevich (who barely made it at .301), one man with 20 homers, shortstop Vern Stephens (who hit exactly 20); and one player over the 85-RBI mark, Stephens, who knocked in 109 runs. On the mound, the Browns boasted Nelson Potter and Jack Kramer who combined for a mediocre 36 victories. With outfielder Chet Laabs drilling 2 final-day homers, the Browns beat the defending champion New York Yankees. The victory, combined with Detroit's loss to Washington, enabled St. Louis to finish one game ahead of the Tigers in the AL. Across town, the other major-league team from St. Louis was doing business as usual. In making off with their 3rd straight NL pennant (leading by 14 1/2 games over Pittsburgh), manager Billy Southworth's Cardinals had won 105 games and ran their 3-year victory total to 316.
Like Chicago, New York and Boston before them, the "Gateway City" was electrified with the excitement of what was billed as the "St. Louis Showdown". Surprisingly, it was the 8-time NL champion Cardinals who were tenants of the AL's downtrodden Browns in Sportsman's Park which would be the venue for the entire contest. Perhaps as an answer to the lack of pre-game respect they had received in the papers, Luke Sewell's AL titleists came out swinging against their heavily favored rivals for the 2-1 opening victory. Denny Galehouse out-pitched Series vet, Mort Cooper and George McQuinn hit a clutch, 4th-inning, 2-run homer that decided Game 1. Unfortunately, the blast would prove to be the Browns' only homer in World Series history. The Cards answered back in Game 2 with Blix Donnelly's stellar relief pitching that tallied no runs, 2 hits and 7 strikeouts in 4 innings. Ken O'Dea came up big as well with a run-scoring pinch single in the 11th for the 3-2 victory. The underdogs prevailed again in Game 3 as Jack Kramer pitched a 7-hitter and struck out 10 batters on the way to a 6-2 Brown's triumph. With the Americans ahead 2-games to 1, the more experienced Nationals proceeded to show what it takes to play in the big show.
Sig Jakucki, the 35-year-old who had won 13 games for the '44 Browns after being away from baseball for 5 years, lasted only 3 innings in Game 4, a contest in which Cards lefthander Harry Brecheen, (16-5 in the regular season) kept the American Leaguers off stride. Stan Musial finished the job with a 2-run homer for the 5-1 win. The following day, Cooper, who was coming off of a 22-win season, beat Galehouse with a 7-hit, 2-0 shutout. In the Cardinals' 1942-1943-1944 stranglehold on the NL championship, Cooper had won 65 games and thrown 23 shutouts. For Game 6, it was Max Lanier and Ted Walks (who both had 17 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 3 years. It was the 8th appearance in 19 seasons for the World Champions, while it was the first (and last) Fall Classic in the Browns' 52-year history.
1945: Chicago Cubs (3) vs. Detroit Tigers (4)
The Chicago Cubs finally made it back to the World Series after a 7 year absence thanks to the timely pitching of Henry Borowy. Acquired on waivers in late July after he had compiled a 10-5 record for the New York Yankees, the "newbie" proceeded to win 11 of 13 decisions and helped Chicago fight off the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League pennant race. Their opponents, the American Leagues' Detroit Tigers were a familiar post-season rival. The Tigers were shooting for their second World Series crown; their only previous Series title had come in 1935, against the Cubs. The Cubs were eyeing their third Series championship; their two titles came in 1907 and 1908 at the Tigers' expense.
Borowy had more than earned the start for Game 1 and he proved himself again and again as he held the Tigers to 6 singles and was a 9-0 victor as the Cubs bombed 25-game winner Hal Newhouser. Bill Nicholson singled, tripled and drove in 3 runs for Chicago, which got 2 RBIs apiece from Phil Cavarretta and Mickey Livingston. Virgil Trucks, a 16-game winner for Detroit in 1943 (and only recently discharged from the Navy), pitched a 7-hitter in Game 2 and won, 4-1, as midseason service returnee Hank Greenberg unloaded a 3-run homer in the 5th. Four days earlier, on the final day of the AL schedule and in a game that marked Trucks' only appearance of the regular season, Greenberg smashed a pennant-clinching, grand slam in the 9th inning against the defending AL champion St. Louis Browns.
In Game 3, Chicago's Claude Passeau tossed a 1-hitter in which Rudy York singled to left field with two out in the second and led the National Leaguers to a 3-0 triumph. Following his teammate's cue, Ray Prim sat down the first 10 Detroit batters he faced in Game 4, but after yielding a walk, 2 singles and a double in what became a 4-run 4th for the Tigers, Prim was pulled in favor of Paul Derringer. While Derringer and fellow relievers Hy Vandenberg and Paul Erickson pitched shutout ball the rest of the way, it was to no avail. Detroit's 4-1 triumph, fashioned on Dizzy Trout's 5-hit pitching set the tone for the rest of the contest. Now manager Charley Grimm went to Borowy, not once, not twice, but three times. Grimm, in his second year with the Cubs, was obviously impressed with Borowy's combined regular-season record of 21-7, his second-half heroics (which netted him the NL's ERA title with a 2.14) and his 56-30 mark with the Yankees.
Grimm's newest "go-to-guy" held Game 5 to a 1-1 tie after 5 innings in which he matched Newhouser, who had just led the American League in victories (29 in 1944), strikeouts for the 2nd successive season and topped the AL with a 1.81 ERA. Unfrotunately, it would be his turn to fall short as the Tigers' pitcher would be the one to go the distance. Borowy was pulled after allowing 4 straight hits at the outset of the 6th as Detroit scored 4 runs in the inning and swept to an 8-4 victory. Greenberg continued to perform at the plate and slugged 3 more doubles for the Tigers.
Trucks and Passeau went at it for Game 6 and both dominated the other's line-up for over 4 innings. Trucks blinked first and was routed in the Cubs' 4-run 5th which featured Stan Hack's bases-loaded single. Passeau followed his opponent to the dugout in the 7th after Detroit managed to score twice. After the Cubs answered with 2 runs in their half of the inning, it was 7-3, Chicago. But Detroit struck for 4 runs in the 8th, the game-tying run coming on a Greenberg homer. Suddenly Manager Steve O'Neill's Tigers were in a position to close out the Cubs in six games. Dizzy Trout came on in relief for Detroit in the last of the 8th, and when the 7-7 game moved into the 9th, Grimm decided to make another pitching change. Having followed Passeau with Hank Wyse (the Cubs' top winner of '45 with 22 victories) and Prim, Grimm now wanted Borowy back. Once again, the "newbie" delivered, holding Detroit at bay with 4 scoreless innings. Then, in the bottom of the 12th, with 2 out and Billy Schuster at first base as a pinch-runner (for Frank Secory, who had come through with a pinch single), Hack hit a drive to left field that took a weird bounce and bounded over Greenberg. The hit, ruled a double, scored Schuster and gave Borowy and the Cubs a crucial 8-7 victory.
As the Tigers prepared to close the door on the Cubs and the 1945 season, Chicago's newest hero was selected to keep his team alive in Game 6. The Chicago press had questioned the decision and printed that Grimm was making a serious mistake by using Borowy who was going on one day of rest after pitching the final 4 innings of Game 6. He had also pitched into the 6th inning in Game 5 and many wondered if his arm would hold up. The decision would prove costly as the fatigued pitcher yielded singles to the Detroit's first three batters, Skeeter Webb, Eddie Mayo and Doc Cramer. Grimm, realizing that Borowy had done all he could for the '45 Cubs, told his weary pitcher to call it a day. Paul Derringer came in as relief for Chicago, but by the end of the inning Detroit had scored 5 runs. The well-rested Newhouser went the distance for the 9-3 victory, allowing 10 hits and striking out 10 Cubs. Once again Chicago had come up short (their 7th Series loss) and even worse, it was (once again), to the Tigers.
1946: St. Louis Cardinals (4) vs. Boston Red Sox (3)
1946 represented one of the most exciting and prosperous years in American (and baseball) history. The war against the Axis powers had finally ended in August of '45 and most of the Allied troops were returning home after serving overseas. Major-League Baseball had played a major part in supporting the war effort and provided a much-needed escape from the daily emotional and financial stress felt by most on the homefront. Many players had been called to action and their absence was felt in both the clubhouses and stands of every major ballpark. As both players and fans returned from their tours of duty, baseball was once again reborn as America's National Pastime.
Despite losing several key players of their own, the St. Louis Cardinals had repeatedly topped the National League in '42, '43 and '44. Nothing changed for the '46 season, however, when the Cards and Brooklyn Dodgers tied for the top spot in the NL, both met in the Major-Leagues' first-ever pennant playoff. The Redbirds managed to beat the Dodgers for two-straight (in a best-of-three match) capturing their 4th NL flag in 5 seasons and another ticket to the Fall Classic. After the Red Sox opened the Series with a 3-2, l0-inning victory that was decided on a Rudy York homer, Harry Brecheen came back the next day and evened the score with a 3-0, Cardinal triumph. Game 3 showcased the pitching talents of Boston ace Dave Ferriss, who threw shutout ball in a 4-0 winner that appeared to put the Red Sox ahead of the pace. Unfortunately for Fenway fans, the "Curse of the Bambino", was in effect as Enos Slaughter lived up to his surname with a 12-3, 20-hit "slaughter" of his own. Whitey Kurowski and rookie catcher Joe Garagiola both matched the outfielder's efforts with 4-hits each.
Following Joe Dobson's 4-hit, 6-3 decision in Game 5 that sent Boston ahead 3 games to 2, Brecheen squared the Series by stopping the Red Sox, 4-1. An unlikely hero, the Cardinal pitcher had compiled a 30-9 record in 1944 and 1945, but had fallen to 15-15 in 1946. Still, his 2.49 ERA and 5-shutout performances had dulled some of the doubts from his .500 season. Now he stood as a 2-game winner with a crucial victory that forced one of the most exciting Game 7's in World Series history.
After 7 innings at Sportsman's Park, St. Louis held a 3-1 lead over Boston. Murry Dickson had allowed only one hit since the 1st inning and the Cardinals' right-hander added a tie-breaking double in the 5th that scored Harry Walker. The pitcher crossed home himself when Red Schoendienst singled, but unfortunately, his work was only getting started. Now, in the top of the 8th, Dickson would face Boston's 8th, 9th and 1st-place hitters. The first batter was to be Hal Wagner, but Manager Joe Cronin made a quick change and sent in Glen Russell who singled to center. Joe Dobson (who had relieved Ferriss in the 5th) was due up next, and this time Cronin sent in George Metkovich. The result was a double to left, and Boston had the potential tying runs in scoring position with no one out.
St. Louis' rookie manager, Eddie Dyer saw trouble on the horizon for Dickson and responded with a call to the bullpen. Lefthander Harry Brecheen, who was already a 2-game winner in the Series, reported to face two of Boston's best left-handed hitters; Wally Moses (who had collected over 5 hits in 11 at bats so far) and Johnny Pesky. Brecheen started off strong and promptly struck out Moses. Then he got Pesky to line out to Slaughter, whose textbook throw to the infield kept the runners on their bases. Next up was the right-handed-hitting Dom DiMaggio. "Joe D's" little brother, came through by ripping one off the wall in right-center field. The blast scored Rip Russell and Catfish Metkovich, tying the game at 3-3. Despite the sudden rally, the Cardinals' pitcher managed to get out of the inning by retiring Ted Williams on a popup.
As the Red Sox took the field in the bottom of the 8th, Bob Klinger was sent out to the mound, Roy Partee had replaced Wagner behind the plate and Leon Culberson was now stationed in centerfield. Enos Slaughter led off with a single and raced home after Harry Walker hit a shot over Pesky's head into left-center. Slaughter had managed to stretch a safe trip to 3rd and his daring baserunning had thrust St. Louis into a 4-3 lead. Brecheen continued the suspense in the 9th after allowing singles to Rudy York and Bobby Doerr to open the inning. As the Sportsman's Park fans winced in anticipation, Pinky Higgins hit into a forceout that moved pinchrunner Paul Campbell to third. With 1 out, Boston's tying run was now only 90 feet away. Partee came up next and fouled out to first baseman Stan Musial, leaving it up to pinch-hitter Tom McBride. In a final stand, the Cardinal's MVP ace induced the outfielder with a grounder to Red Schoendienst at second base, who tossed the ball to shortstop Marty Marion for a game-ending forceout and the Cardinals' 6th World Series title.
1947: Brooklyn Dodgers (3) vs. New York Yankees (4)
The 1947 season is remembered not for the performance of any particular team, but that of an individual named Jackie Robinson. The Brooklyn Dodger's newest prospect became the first black player to break baseball's color barrier and the rookie infielder brought the Negro leagues' electrifying style of play to the majors. Although he was still subject to resistance among the ignorant, Robinson quickly became Baseball's top drawing card and a symbol of hope to millions of Americans. Jackie made quite a first impression with a .297 batting average, 12 homers and a league-leading 29 stolen bases in his first season. The defending world champion St. Louis Cardinals gave the Dodgers the best challenge in the NL pennant race, but ended up 5 games behind New York. Number 42 wasn't the only standout in Dodger blue as the "Bums from Brooklyn" also got solid production from its outfield. Pete Reiser totaled a .309 avg. in 110 games, Carl Furillo hit .295 with 88 RBIs and Dixie Walker tallied .306 and added 94 RBIs. On the mound, Ralph Branca finished with a 21-12 record, Joe Hatten went 17-8 and Hugh Casey nailed down 10 victories in relief.
The '47 Yankees, rallied down the stretch with a 19-game winning streak that began in late June and went on to win the American League pennant by a 12-game margin. Despite lacking the usual "Bronx Bombers" mystique (with no player attaining 100 RBIs) and only one, Joe DiMaggio, reaching the 20-homer level, the Yanks managed to counter the missing offense with great pitching. Allie Reynolds won 19 games in his first season with the club (after being obtained from Cleveland), Spud Chandler led the league with a 2.46 ERA, rookie Spec Shea and ace reliever Joe Page both had 14 wins and 2 new acquisitions and Bobo Newsom and Vic Raschi each won 7 games.
Shea drew the start for Game 1 and got the Yankees off to a strong start with a 5-3 opening victory despite a great 4-inning effort by the Dodger's Ralph Branca that imploded in the 5th. Reynolds maintained the Yanks momentum in Game 2 with a 10-3 triumph that featured a 15-hit rally by the Bronx Bombers. Leftfielder Johnny Lindell led the charge with 2 RBIs in each of the first two games. Back at Ebbet's Field, the Dodgers struck back with a crucial 9-8 win thanks to a 6-run, 2nd inning in which Brooklyn got 2-run doubles from Eddie Stanky and pinch-hitter Carl Furillo. The Yankees almost came back after "Joe D" hit a 2-run blast in the 5th, Tommy Henrich doubled home a Yankee run in the 6th and Yogi Berra added his own homer in the 7th. Unfortunately, it was too little - too late and the Dodgers held on for the victory.
Manager Bucky Harris chose Bill Bevens (winner of only 7-of-20 decisions in '47) for Game 4 and the unlikely hero pitched one of the most amazing 9 2/3 innings in World Series history. Although he permitted a 5th inning run (on 2 walks, a sacrifice and a ground ball), he entered the 9th with a no-hitter and a 2-1 lead. Bruce Edwards started the Dodgers' half of the inning by flying out, and Furillo drew a walk. Then Spider Jorgensen fouled out, bringing Bevens within one out of the first no-hitter in World Series history. Reserve outfielder Al Gionfriddo was sent in to run for Furillo and Pete Reiser came in as a pinch-hitter for reliever Hugh Casey. Gionfriddo proceeded to steal second and Reiser was walked intentionally, despite the fact he represented the potential winning run. To add yet another change, Eddie Miksis was sent in to run for Reiser, who was bothered by a recurring leg injury. Eddie Stanky was the next in the line-up, but Burt Shotton, (who had stepped in as Dodgers' manager after Leo Durocher was suspended) replaced him with veteran Cookie Lavagetto. The "Chess like" strategy of Shotton's multiple player moves proved brilliant as Lavagetto walloped Bevens' second pitch and Gionfriddo and Miksis sped home ending the potential no-hitter and evening the Series at 2 games apiece.
Down, but far from out, the perennial AL Champions responded in true Yankees fashion by "shaking it off " and answering the call with a 2-1 tie-breaker on a Spec Shea 4-hitter. Surprisingly, Brooklyn jumped to a 4-0 lead in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium, but fell behind 5-4, and then regained the lead with a 4-run, 6th capped off by Pee Wee Reese's 2-run single. Then, with 2 on and 2 out in the bottom of the 6th, Joe DiMaggio made a valiant effort to tie the game with a rocket launched toward the leftfield bullpen. Just as it appeared the ball might drop over the fence, Gionfriddo (inserted into the game as the Yankees came to bat) made a phenomenal glove-hand catch near the 415-foot mark sealing the victory. Once again, Brooklyn had come from behind to tie the Series forcing a Game 7. Things appeared to go their way at the start of the Series finale when Brooklyn seized a 2-0 lead and drove Shea from the mound in the 2nd. The rally was short lived though as the Yankees scored a run in the 2nd, 2 in the 4th and had tremendous relief pitching from Joe Page. The Yankees ace went on to throw 5 scoreless innings while allowing only 1 hit in the 5-2, Series ending triumph. For several standouts including Lavagetto, Gionfriddo and Bevens, it would be not only their last World Series, but also their last major-league games.
1948: Boston Braves (2) vs. Cleveland Indians (4)
The surprising Cleveland Indians won their second pennant in 1948 after beating the Boston Red Sox in an 8-3 playoff for the AL championship. The win prevented what would have been another classic rematch between the Sox and their hometown rivals, the Boston Braves, who had captured the NL flag by 6 1/2 games. While the Braves had a good-hitting ballclub, much of the National Leaguers' hopes rested on the arms of Johnny Sain and Warren Spahn. In fact, a formula penned in the papers as "Spahn and Sain and two days of rain" seemed to capture not only the depth of the team's starting pitching, but also the essence of the Braves' strength. Cleveland's big winners in '48 were rookie lefthander Gene Bearden, Bob Feller and Bob Lemon and many felt that this Series would be decided on the mound.
Bob Feller, who had won 25 or more games three times in the majors (and 24 on another occasion), was a 19-game winner in '48 and drew the start for Game 1. Sain, a 24-game winner himself in '48, was the obvious choice for the Braves and both went at it for an 8-inning, scoreless duel. Then in the bottom of the inning, Boston catcher Bill Salkeld drew a leadoff walk and gave way to pinch-runner Phil Masi, who was sacrificed to second by Mike McCormick. Eddie Stanky then was issued an intentional walk, and Sibby Sisti came in to run for the Boston second baseman. Feller attempted to pick-off the leading runner, but Umpire Bill Stewart made a safe call on the sliding Masi. Player/Manager Lou Boudreau argued strenuously that he had made the tag before the baserunner got back to the bag, but the call stood. Tommy Holmes came in and singled home the contested base runner for the 1-0 lead. Sain held on for the opening victory despite giving up 4 hits to Feller's 2. In Game 2, Lemon pitched shutout ball over the final 8 innings as Cleveland tied the Series with a 4-1 triumph. Boudreau and Larry Doby, who had become the American League's first black player in July of 1947, each singled, doubled and drove in a run for the Indians.
Bearden continued to add to his outstanding stats with a 5-hit shutout against the Braves in Game 3. The 28-year old pitcher performed well on both sides of the plate as he singled, then doubled and scored the first run (on a throwing error) in the 2-0 contest. His teammate, Steve Gromek followed suite the following day with a 2-1 triumph that put Boston on the brink of elimination (despite homers from both Doby and Marv Rickert). An end-of-the-season replacement for outfielder Jeff Heath, who had batted .319 for Boston with 20 homers before breaking his ankle, Rickert wound up starting five World Series games for the Braves after appearing in only 3 regular-season outings for Billy Southworth's club. In what would be a crucial last-stand, Boston showed what had got them to the Series in Game 5 with a clutch, 11-5 victory in front of a record major-league crowd of 86,288 at Cleveland Stadium. Spahn, who tossed one-hit, scoreless ball in 5 2/3 innings of relief, was the winning pitcher. Among the five pitchers used by the losing hometeam was 42-year-old Satchel Paige, the Negro leagues legend who had been signed to his first big-league contract by Indians President Bill Veeck in July. The appearance by Paige, who compiled a 6-1 regular-season record for the Tribe, made him the first black pitcher to take the mound in a World Series.
Bob Lemon, a 20-game winner, was selected to finish the job for the Indians and responded to the challenge with 1 2/3 innings of relief help from the steady Bearden. The result was a 4-3, Game 6 clincher that showcased the diversity of the onetime infielder who had broken into the majors as a third baseman and played center field for Cleveland in Feller's no-hitter against the New York Yankees in 1946. After switching to the mound in 1948, he had won 20 games for the AL champions (a plateau he would reach six more times in the majors) and 2 World Series outings. Pitching was (as predicted) the deciding factor as Cleveland prevailed despite slumps from Joe Gordon and Ken Keltner. Gordon (who hit 32 homers and totaled 124 RBIs while batting .280 in the regular season) had 1 homer, 2 RBIs and a .182 hitting mark in the Fall Classic. Keltner (coming off a .297 season in which he slugged 31 homers and knocked in 119 runs) collected 2 miserable singles in 21 Series at-bats (.095) and did not drive in a single run. Player/Manager Lou Boudreau did more than his share and contributed a .273 average for a team that hit .199 against the Braves.
1949: Brooklyn Dodgers (1) vs. New York Yankees (4)
After 9 unsuccessful seasons with both Boston and Brooklyn (in which he never finished higher than 5th), manager Casey Stengel finally had success in the minors while coaching Oakland to the Pacific Coast League pennant in 1948. Shortly after, he was called up to replace Bucky Harris as the Yankees skipper in what would become the start of a long-standing… and winning relationship. New York, who had fallen from 1st to 3rd under Harris, responded to Stengel's appointment by winning their 16th American League pennant and doing so in dramatic fashion. Stengel's team trailed Boston by one game as manager Joe McCarthy's Red Sox arrived at Yankee Stadium for a season-closing two-game set, but the Yankees swept them in classic "Curse of the Bambino" fashion. Across-town the Brooklyn Dodgers were "cutting it close" as well while managing to beat the St. Louis Cardinals (by 1 game) in the NL pennant race.
Don Newcombe, who had a 17-8 record as a Dodgers rookie in 1949, drew the start and did all he could to spoil Stengel's debut. Through 8 innings of Game 1, Newcombe struck out 11 Yankees, walked no one, surrendered only 4 hits and had not permitted a run. Pitching rival Allie Reynolds wasn't far behind with 9 strikeouts, 4 walks, 2-hits and no runs. Reynolds managed to retire the order in the 9th on a grounder, popup and fly ball, but Newcombe was not as lucky as the Yankees' Tommy Henrich put one over the right field stands for the win. The Dodgers answered the close Yankees' triumph the next day with a Game 2 nailbiter of their own. Preacher Roe outpitched Vic Raschi for the 1-0 win and Gil Hodges singling home Jackie Robinson, who had doubled, in the 2nd inning.
The tensions continued in the third game as both teams remained locked in a 1-1 stalemate through the 8th. Former National League slugger Johnny Mite, (purchased in August from the New York Giants), knocked a bases-loaded single off Dodger starter Ralph Branca in the top of the 9th for the 3-1 Yankee lead and Jerry Coleman followed with a run-scoring single off reliever Jack Banta. New York's Joe Page, having pitched 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief since taking over for Tommy Byrne in the fourth, shouldered that lead into the Dodgers' half of the inning. Page was rocked for 2 home runs, the first a one-out shot by Luis Olmo, who hit one homer for Brooklyn in the regular season, and the second a two-out smash by Roy Campanella. But no one was on base either time, and Page and the Yankees hung on for a 4-3 victory.
In Game 4, the Yankees drove
Newcombe from the mound with a 3-run, 4th (Cliff Mapes
supplied the key hit with a two-run double) and then got 3
more in the 5th when Bobby Brown drilled a bases-loaded
triple off Joe Hatten. Brooklyn answered back with 4 runs in
the 6th off Eddie Lopat. Reynolds came to the rescue by
retiring Brooklyn's final 10 batters and New York, a 6-4
winner, was one victory from their 12th World Series title.
Determined to finish the job, the Bronx Bombers ended all
the trends and came out swinging in Game 5. The Yankee
sluggers scored in 5 of the first 6 innings and promptly
built a 10-2 lead. Gil Hodges' 3-run homer in the Dodgers'
4-run, 7th cut into the deficit, but Page's relief work in
place of Vic Raschi shut down Brooklyn's batters. In the
end, the Yankees prevailed 10-6 with Coleman driving in 3
runs and Brown and DiMaggio both collecting 2 RBIs each.
"Joe D", (who missed half of the season because of an
injury, but still batted .346 with 67 RBIs in 76
regular-season games), struggled overall in the Series, but
added a bases-empty homer in the 4th. Although it was the
Yankees 12th World Series title, it was Casey Stengel's 1st
and there were many more to come.
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