Enos Slaughter grew up in Roxboro, N.C., where he earned the nickname, “Country.”
“To be a big league ball player, you have to love the game,” Slaughter said. “This is a pretty good game and a pretty swell way to make a living. The conditions in the majors are fine and the money is good. So I say keep yelling and hustling every minute you’re in uniform.”
Slaughter began his career with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1938. He spent 13 seasons with the Cardinals, interrupted by a three-year stint while serving in the military during World War II. During the war, Slaughter was a sergeant in the Army Air Corps.
“I wanted to be a pilot,” he told author Frederick Turner, “but they said I was color blind. They wanted me to be a bombardier, but I said if I couldn’t be the one flying the plane, I’d just as soon not be flying. So I became a physical education instructor in charge of about 200 troops.”
Prior to the war, Slaughter established himself as one of the best right fielders in baseball. He led the NL in hits (188), triples (17) and total bases (292) in 1942, helping the Cardinals win the World Series. Following the season, he finished second in the NL Most Valuable Player Award voting.
Following his time in the Army Air Corps, Slaughter didn’t skip a beat upon returning to the diamond – leading the National League with 130 RBI in 1946 and helping the Cardinals to another World Series win. In that seven-game victory over the Red Sox, Slaughter became famous for his “Mad Dash” that resulted in the World Series-winning run.
In the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 7, the score was tied at 3. Slaughter was on first base with two outs when Cardinals manager Eddie Dyer called for a hit-and-run. Outfielder Harry Walker lined a ball to center field and Slaughter took everyone – including the Red Sox defenders – by surprise when he ran through a stop sign at third base. Slaughter beat the relay throw home to score what proved to be the winning run.
Slaughter was named to the All-Star Game in each season from 1946-53. Two days before Opening Day of 1954, the Cardinals traded Slaughter to the Yankees. He was traded to the Athletics in 1955 but returned to New York in 1956, hitting .350 in that year's World Series to help the Yankees win the Fall Classic.
As a valuable reserve, Slaughter would help New York win AL pennants in 1957 and '58 along with the 1958 World Series. He spent the 1959 season with the Yankees and Braves before retiring with a .300 batting average, 2,383 hits, 1,237 runs scored and 1,304 RBI.
A 10-time All-Star and four-time World Series winner, Slaughter was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985. He passed away on Aug. 12, 2002.