#Shortstops: A Dash of Pepper
Both teams were loaded with future Hall of Famers, with Frankie Frisch, Jim Bottomley, Chick Hafey, Burleigh Grimes and Jesse Haines for the Cardinals and Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons, Lefty Grove and Waite Hoyt for the A’s.
But one player, Cardinals outfielder Pepper Martin, was the star in this rendition of the Fall Classic.
Going into the 1931 season, Martin’s major league career amounted to playing in just 45 games with the Cardinals in 1928 and 1930. He remained primarily a bench player until June 15, when the Cardinals traded outfielder Taylor Douthit to the Cincinnati Reds. The trade finally allowed him to crack into the everyday lineup.
Before Game 3 at Shibe Park, Martin posed with a Philadelphia policeman who was pretending to “reprimand him for speeding” during the series. Facing Grove again, he went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored as the Cardinals won 5-2. The A’s shut out St. Louis 3-0 in Game 4, with Martin recording the Cardinals’ only two hits in the game along with another stolen base.
Capitalizing on Martin’s hot hitting, Street moved him up from sixth to fourth in the batting order for Game 5. He made Street “look like a genius” by going 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI as the Cardinals won 5-1. His home run, which landed in the upper deck of Shibe Park’s left field bleachers, impressed Philly fans so much that they “gave him a thunderous ovation” in spite of Martin playing for the visiting team.
Martin went hitless in the final two games of the series, but he managed to steal a base and catch the last out of Game 7, sealing the world’s championship for the Cardinals.
Martin was the series’ leading batsman. In seven games, he hit .500 with four doubles, one homer, five RBI, five runs scored and five stolen bases. His 12 hits led all players in the series and tied the record for most hits in a series. With the rest of the team batting .205 in the series, it is easy to see that Martin was the difference maker in the Cardinals’ World Series championship.
Pepper Martin’s hat that he wore in the 1931 World Series is in the collection of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The hat is made of grey wool and is a size 7. It has a red button at the top of the cap with red pinstripes and a red bill. The inside of the hat has a leather sweatband and white seam taping with the word “Martin” written on the seam taping in blue ink. It was manufactured by the Rawlings Sporting Goods Company in St. Louis.
Martin would play his entire Major League career with the Cardinals, helping lead them to another World Series championship in 1934.
Matthew Carter was a curatorial intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development