All-St. Louis World Series brought out the best in Cardinals, Browns
The 1944 World Series, considered a David versus Goliath matchup at the time, was an all-St. Louis affair featuring the prodigious Cardinals, a franchise having just won its third consecutive National League pennant, and the plucky Browns, the winners of its first American League pennant in its 43rd year of existence.
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The Cinderella story Browns, who had only one winning campaign in the previous 14 seasons, finishing with an 82-69 record in 1942. In the end, Goliath won the ’44 World Series in six games.
All the 1944 World Series games were played at Sportsman’s Park – the ballpark owned by the Browns, who hosted the Cardinals a tenant. The seventh one-city World Series at the time, it was the third to be staged in one ballpark after the Giants and Yankees played at the Polo Grounds in New York in 1921 and ’22.
“I wrote for more dope on the pitcher. My correspondent insisted Jakucki could win in the American League, not only this year, but in the circuit as it was before the war. I finally sent for Jakucki. Look at him now – the man who will win the pennant for us, the greatest bargain in the history of the major leagues.”
After the Browns took the third contest, 6-2, led by McQuinn’s three hits and two RBI and Jack Kramer’s complete game, the Cards won the final three games to capture the World Series crown. Harry Brecheen went the distance in Game 4’s 5-1 win, Mort Cooper tossed a 2-0 shutout in the penultimate contest, and Max Lanier and Ted Wilks combined for a three-hitter in the 3-1 victory that brought the Redbirds their fifth World Series championship since 1926.
Though he collected five hits and batted only .227, defensively he accepted his 29 chances flawlessly.
“The best ballplayer in the series was Marty Marion,” said NL President Ford Frick. “He showed us some shortstopping we’ve rarely seen before and won’t see many times again. He killed off at least four big Brown rallies. They found it just about impossible to hit one past him.”
Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack agreed: “I’ve looked at a lot of shortstops in my day, but that fellow is the best I’ve ever seen.”
“The Series was entirely a family affair. This was not alone due to the circumstance that all the games were played in one city, but to the fact that St. Louis is not a town divided within itself. It is different in that respect from other cities that have had the Series exclusively. Chicago has its North Side, where the Cubs rule supreme, and its South Side, where the White Sox are the favorites, and there is internecine warfare when they meet. In New York, the Yankees are the pride of the Bronx, the Giants of Manhattan and the Dodgers of Brooklyn. Nothing good ever came out of the other sections, according to the inhabitants of one of the three, creating a natural rivalry that extends to the diamond.
Bill Francis is the senior research and writing specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum