|Dates:||October 4–October 9|
|Radio announcers:||Bill Slater, Don Dunphy, Bill Corum.|
|Umpires:||Ziggy Sears (NL), Bill McGowan (AL), Tom Dunn (NL), George Pipgras (AL)|
|Future Hall of Famers:|| Cardinals: Billy Southworth (mgr.), Enos Slaughter (mil.), Stan Musial.|
| World Series
The 1944 World Series was an all-St. Louis World Series, matching up the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns at Sportsman's Park. It marked only the third time in World Series history in which both teams had the same home field, Sportsman's Park (the other two being the 1921 and 1922 in the Polo Grounds).
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 Park 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 "Streetcar Series", or the "St. Louis Showdown."
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 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 twenty home runs, shortstop Vern Stephens (who hit exactly twenty); and one player over the 85 runs batted in 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. The Browns squeaked into first place by winning eleven out of their final twelve games, including the last four in a row over 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 American League.
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 Cardinals, somewhat surprisingly, are the last NL team to win 3 consecutive league pennants (1942-1944) That enabled manager Billy Southworth to gain his belated (but well-deserved) selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame in December, 2007.
|1||St. Louis Browns – 2, St. Louis Cardinals – 1||October 4||Sportsman's Park (III)||33,242|
|2||St. Louis Browns – 2, St. Louis Cardinals – 3 (11 innings)||October 5||Sportsman's Park (III)||35,076|
|3||St. Louis Cardinals – 2, St. Louis Browns – 6||October 6||Sportsman's Park (III)||34,737|
|4||St. Louis Cardinals – 5, St. Louis Browns – 1||October 7||Sportsman's Park (III)||35,455|
|5||St. Louis Cardinals – 2, St. Louis Browns – 0||October 8||Sportsman's Park (III)||36,568|
|6||St. Louis Browns – 1, St. Louis Cardinals – 3||October 9||Sportsman's Park (III)||31,630|
|St. Louis (AL)||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||0||0||2||2||0|
|St. Louis (NL)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||7||0|
HRs: SLB – George McQuinn (1)
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.
|St. Louis (AL)||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||0||2||7||4|
|St. Louis (NL)||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||3||7||0|
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.
|St. Louis (NL)||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||2||7||0|
|St. Louis (AL)||0||0||4||0||0||0||2||0||X||6||8||2|
Jack Kramer struck out ten batters on the way to a 6–2 Browns triumph.
|St. Louis (NL)||2||0||2||0||0||1||0||0||0||5||12||0|
|St. Louis (AL)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||1||9||1|
HRs: STL – Stan Musial (1)
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.
|St. Louis (NL)||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||1||0||2||6||1|
|St. Louis (AL)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||7||1|
HRs: STL – Ray Sanders (1), Danny Litwhiler (1)
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.
|St. Louis (AL)||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||3||2|
|St. Louis (NL)||0||0||0||3||0||0||0||0||X||3||10||0|
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.
|St. Louis Cardinals||3||0||3||4||0||2||1||1||1||0||1||16||49||1|
|St. Louis Browns||0||1||4||2||0||0||4||1||0||0||0||12||36||10
<tr><td style="text-align:left;" colspan="15">Total attendance: 206,708 Average attendance: 34,451</td></tr> <tr><td style="text-align:left;" colspan="15">Winning player’s share: $4,626 Losing player’s share: $2,744</td></tr>
The funny thing about that World Series (in 1944), the fans were rooting for the Browns, and it kind of surprised me because we drew more fans than the Browns during the season. The fans were rooting for the underdog, and I was surprised about that, but after you analyze the situation in St. Louis, the Browns in the old days had good clubs. They had great players like George Sisler and Kenny Williams, and the fans who were there were older fans, older men, old-time Brownie fans. But it was a tough series.—Stan Musial.
- ↑ See article by Nate Silver, cited in the references.
- ↑ For a discussion and evaluation of how much difference this depletion of talent made, see Nate Silver's article cited in the References.
- ↑ 1944 World Series Game 1 - St. Louis Browns vs. St. Louis Cardinals. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-05-25.
- ↑ 1944 World Series Game 2 - St. Louis Browns vs. St. Louis Cardinals. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-05-25.
- ↑ 1944 World Series Game 3 - St. Louis Cardinals vs. St. Louis Browns. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-05-25.
- ↑ 1944 World Series Game 4 - St. Louis Cardinals vs. St. Louis Browns. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-05-25.
- ↑ 1944 World Series Game 5 - St. Louis Cardinals vs. St. Louis Browns. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-05-25.
- ↑ 1944 World Series Game 6 - St. Louis Browns vs. St. Louis Cardinals. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-05-25.
- 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.
- Forman, Sean L.. 1944 World Series. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information.. Retrieved on 2007-12-09.