St. Louis Cardinals 1942 Season
References: High-Flying Birds: The 1942 St. Louis Cardinals, Jerome M. Mileur (2009)
Baseball-Reference.com
I - Spring Training

Cardinals OF Enos Slaughter
Enos Slaughter
Cardinals C Walker Cooper
Cardinals P Mort Cooper
Mort Cooper
Stan Musial
Stan Musial
Cardinals Manager Billy Southworth
Billy Southworth

The St. Louis Cardinals lost the 1941 pennant to the Brooklyn Dodgers by just 2.5 games despite losing key players to injury for significant periods.

  • RF Enos Slaughter played only 113 of the 154 games because of a fractured collar bone.
  • C Walker Cooper, only 68 games, fractured shoulder blade
  • P Mort Cooper, only 13 wins, surgery for elbow chips
  • 1B Johnny Mize, 126 games, broken finger
  • 2B Jimmy Brown, 132 games, fractured hand

The Redbirds went to spring training in 1942 as one of the youngest teams in the majors.

  • GM Branch Rickey headed an empire of 22 farm clubs, twice as many as any other team.
  • That system provided the Mahatma with a steady supply of young talent. He cleared the way for them by selling veterans to other clubs.
  • The brightest of the young Cards was OF Stan Musial, who hit .426 in 12 games at the end of the '41 season. In fact, some writers thought that, if Rickey had brought up Musial along with LHP Howie Pollet earlier, the Cards might have caught the Dodgers.
  • The Cards were also ranked at or near the top in another category: speed. Manager Billy Southworth utilized that ability to put pressure on opponents by stealing, bunting, and taking an extra base on hits.
  • Billy also stressed physical conditioning more than most managers. The skipper also brought 12,000 B-1 vitamin pills to spring training, enough for each player to have three a day at breakfast.

Following Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, baseball players weren't sure there would be a 1942 season and, if there would be, whether they would be a part of it or serving in the military.

  • On January 15, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt, responding to a request from Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis, penned his famous "green light" letter in which he wrote:

I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before.

And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before.

Baseball provides a recreation which does not last over two hours or two hours and a half, and which can be got for very little cost. And, incidentally, I hope that night games can be extended because it gives an opportunity to the day shift to see a game occasionally.

The pundits predicted the Cards and Leo Durocher's Dodgers would again battle for the NL pennant while the Yankees were odds-on favorites to repeat in the Junior Circuit.

As the teams broke camp and headed north, the lineups they would use most of the season shaped up like this.

Cardinals Position Dodgers
Walker Cooper C Mickey Owen
Johnny Hopp 1B Dolph Camilli
Creepy Crespi 2B Billy Herman
Marty Marion SS Pee Wee Reese
Whitey Kurowski 3B Arky Vaughan
Stan Musial LF Joe Medwick
Terry Moore CF Pete Reiser
Enos Slaughter RF Dixie Walker
Mort Cooper
Johnny Beazley
Max Lanier
Ernie White
P Kirby Higbe
Whitlow Wyatt
Curt Davis
Johnny Allen

Continued below ...

II - April-May

With the war news getting worse almost daily, major league baseball began its first season since Pearl Harbor.

  • The Baseball Writers' Association announced that its members had picked the Yankees to cop the AL pennant - surprise, surprise! Furthermore, 46 of the 72 ballots had the Cardinals taking the senior circuit crown. The Dodgers were a strong second, indicating that the writers thought the '42 pennant race would parallel that of '41.
  • The St. Louis and Brooklyn clubs were mirror images of each other.

Both played the hard, aggressive National League game, where pitching, defense, speed, and "scientific" baeball were prized more highly than raw power.

  • The teams were built in different ways, however. Most of the Cardinals came up through Branch Rickey's farm system whereas Larry MacPhail had assembled the Dodgers primarily through trades and purchases, including three players from the St. Louis system (LF Joe Medwick, CF Pete Reiser, and C Mickey Owen).
  • The managers, while sharing a similar baseball philosophy, were dissimilar in personality. Billy Southworth "was soft-spoken and reflective, steady and upbeat in anything said about his team and players." On the other side, one critic described Leo Durocher as "an accomplished linguist in the artful use of profanity."

Durocher could be charming off the field, but on it he was one of the most disliked figures in the game, whose personality transferred to his team to make it the most hated in the league as well. ... His aggressive no-holds-barred, anything-to-win, nice-guys-finish-last approach appealed especially to the veterans and made the Dodgers as much feared as hated.

The Durochermen bolted out of the starting gate.

  • By the time Brooklyn came to Sportsmen's Park May 3-5 for the first series between the favorites, they sported a 14-5 mark while the Cards languished at 8-8 to tie for fourth.
  • The Dodgers had no regular hitting over .300 but had found ways to win nevertheless. Opening day starter Curt Davis was 3-0.
  • Two rookies, P Johnny Beazley and LF Stan Musial, provided a spark for the Redbirds. Southworth had ignored Stan's poor spring training and installed him in LF from Day One. Musial entered the Dodger series hitting .293. Beazley, meanwhile, had won two games.

The big series began with a Sunday DH on May 3 before 23,871, the largest St. Louis crowd of the young season.

  • The Cardinals jumped all over Whit Wyatt to forge an 8-0 lead after only two innings and 10-2 after three. The big hit was a grand slam by C Ken O'Dea.
  • Like Wyatt, Durocher didn't survive the first inning, given the heave-ho after, as one reporter wrote, "a long, tiresome, useless flow of words and accompanying gesticulations" following a four-pitch W. Since a new league rule prohibited managers from arguing ball and strike calls, umpire Ziggy Sears had no choice but to oust The Lip. Coach "Fat Freddy" Fitzsimmons then took up the argument and got tossed as well. Freddy was so incensed he tried to punch Sears but was restrained by the umpires and Dodger players. The rhubarb delayed the game 27 minutes - welcome to Brooklyn baseball, 1941 style.
  • But the visitors fought back to knock Harry Gumbert out of the box, then continue the onslaught against Beazley to tie the game in the fifth. The key blow was a 3-run HR by St. Louis native Reiser.
  • LHP Ernie White finally restored order by twirling 4 1/3 innings of scoreless ball.
  • The Cards pushed across 4 in the bottom of the seventh against Johnny Allen to win the slugfest 14-10. The key hit was a bases-clearing double by O'Dea that gave him 7 RBIs.

With the opener taking 3:06, the nightcap didn't start until after 5 pm, making it unlikely the clubs would complete nine innings before dark.

  • Even though Sportsmen's Park had lights since the 1940 season, major league rules prohibited them from being turned on to complete a game that started in daylight. So it was important to get an early lead.
  • The Dodgers got 1 in the second off southpaw Max Lanier only to see the Cards put another 4-spot on the board in the fourth against Kirby Higbe. Another base-clearing hit, this one a triple by 3B Jimmy Brown over Reiser's head in CF, provided what would prove to be the winning margin.
  • After Larry French took over for Higby, the Dodgers continued their war with the men in blue. Plate umpire Tom Dunn told French he didn't have his foot in contact with the rubber when he pitched and swept the slab clean. The lefty wasted no time in kicking some dirt back on the rubber, which drew a warning from Dunn. Just as Fitzsimmons injected himself into the argument in the first game, 1B Dolph Camilli kicked more dirt on the rubber, drawing another warning. Camilli flew into a rage, having to be restrained by teammates, and was ejected. When play resumed, Dunn booted two more Dodgers who were heckling him from the dugout.
  • Brooklyn managed a run in the fifth but no more, as the game was called after the top of the sixth.
  • Musial had a big day in the sweep - 4-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI and a "dazzling, back-handed catch high against the LF wall."

In some odd scheduling, Monday was an off day, giving the Dodgers a chance to stew over losing four in a row to shrink their lead over the Cardinals to 2.5.

  • St. Louis writer Roy Stockton had some advice for NL President Ford Frick.

If Frick really wants to make the Brooklyns change their tactics, he might try a few suspensions. Players and managers do not worry about fines ... [but] suspensions would be a real punishment, a blow to the team's pennant chances.

  • But Frick chose just to issue fines to Durocher and other Dodgers. He did, however, warn that anyone who continued to violate the "anti-squawk" rule might be suspended.

The final game of the series on Tuesday afternoon saw the Dodgers behave themselves and salvage the finale.

  • In the battle of southpaws, French outdueled New Orleans' own Howie Pollet, a 21-year-old rookie.
  • The game went into extra innings with the score tied at 1. Medwick saved the game for the visitors with a leaping catch against the LF wall in the tenth.
  • In the 11th, Brown booted Joe's grounder with two outs and no one on to give the Dodgers new life, and they took advantage of it. Singles by C Mickey Owen and French, still on the mound and batting for himself - two occurences you'd never see today - scored Medwick. The Bums added an insurance run to win 3-1.

So the Dodgers left town with a 3.5 game lead on the Cards. The teams would tangle again in the Merry Month of May.

Continued below ...

Dodgers manager Leo Durocher
Leo Durocher

Cardinals C Ken O'Dea
Ken O'Dea

Cardinals P Ernie White
Ernie White

Dodgers P Larry French

Dodgers 1B Dolph Camilli
Dolph Camilli

Cardinals P Howie Pollet

Cardinals 3B Jimmy Brown
Jimmy Brown

III - May

Cardinals P Johnny Beazley

Reds P Johnny Vander Meer
Johnny Vander Meer

Boston Braves Manager Casey Stengel
Casey Stengel

Giants P Carl Hubbell
Carl Hubbell

Cardinals P Harry Gumbert
Harry Gumbert

Cards 3B Whitey Kurowski
Whitey Kurowski

Cardinals P Murry Dickson

On May 8, the Cardinals left on their first extended road trip of the young season. They trailed the Brooklyn Dodgers by three games.

  • After winning the first game at Cincinnati, the Redbirds dropped the next three, including a Sunday DH in which they failed to plate a run to waste fine pitching performances by Mort Cooper (1-0) and Johnny Beazley (3-0). That dropped their record to .500 (12-12).
  • As was the custom in scheduling in those days, St. Louis then visited the four Eastern cities, starting with Philadelphia. After dropping the first game to fall into fifth place, they finally ended a hitting slump with a 9-1 win the next day. Rain washed out the third contest of the series.
  • The Cards also split two with Casey Stengel's surprising second-place Boston club. The first game was a tough loss as the Braves, after plating their first two runs against Beazley in the eighth to tie, scored the winning run in the ninth without benefit of a hit. The Birds dropped to one game below .500. However, they returned to level ground the next day in a sloppy game in which the visitors committed four errors and Boston hurlers walked 11. The 7-4 win was the Redbirds first of the season over a left-handed starter.
  • Next up were the New York Giants. Manager Mel Ott had two lefties ready for the Sunday DH that drew 49,745 to the Polo Grounds. 39-year-old King Carl Hubbell won the opener 7-1 before the up-and-down Cardinal O outscored the home team 8-6 in the nightcap. The next day produced a 16-4 romp before an 8-4 victory in the finale of the series to move back into third place. The last game gave Manager Billy Southworth added encouragement because Howie Pollet, who had missed several starts because of elbow discomfort, pitched into the seventh.

That cleared the decks for the first visit to Ebbets Field in 1942.

  • Since ending their western swing in St. Louis on May 5, the Dodgers had taken 11 of 12 on their homestand to take a 7 game lead on the Braves and 7.5 on the Cardinals.
  • Some New York writers were already proclaiming the predictions of a tight pennant race between Brooklyn and St. Louis a sham.
  • Mort Cooper blunted that talk with a brilliant two-hitter in which no Dodger got past first base. The Cards scored the only run he needed - and would get - in the fifth on a triple by Mort's brother Walker and a SF by 2B Frank "Creepy" Crespi.
  • The second and final game of the series was cancelled by bad weather.

Four victories in five games in New York City had produced a winning record of 7-6 for the Cardinals on their road trip.

  • The culprit for the mediocre play was the hitting, the club averaging just .236 in the 13 contests.
  • After clouting three homers in the first two games of the trip, the Cards hit just two more.
  • Rookie Stan Musial had a tough swing, hitting only .179 to lower his season average to .292.
  • Some reporters were questioning Branch Rickey's trade of Johnny Mize to the Giants in the off-season.

The Cardinals returned to the Mound City for a brief homestand consisting of three games in two days against the Reds.

  • After winning the opener 6-3, the Cards lost their second DH in two weeks to Cincinnati.
  • Southpaw Johnny Vander Meer - he of the back-to-back no-hitters four years earlier - outdueled Mort Cooper and Beazley in the opener 3-2.
  • Then Ray Starr twirled a three-hitter to take the nightcap 2-0 as the Cards wasted an excellent outing by Harry Gumbert.

St. Louis left for a swing through the other three western cities with a 19-17 record, good for third place, 6.5 behind dem Bums. By the time they returned home, they had won six of seven to climb to second place but still trailing by six.

  • The offense was helped by the return of IB-OF Johnny Hopp from a broken thumb. Southworth continued shuffling his lineup as well as his batting order, putting George "Whitey" Kurowski at 3B and moving Jimmy Brown to 2B - a move that became permanent when both played well.
  • Two victories at Wrigley Field were followed by two more at Forbes Field. Rookie Murry Dickson made his first major-league start in the opener at Pittsburgh, pitching fairly well but getting no decision as Beazley won in relief as he did again the next day thanks to what today would be called a blown save in relief of Cooper. As soon as the game ended, a fan jumped out of the stands and assaulted umpire Tom Dunn. When police broke up the fight, Dunn declined to press charges, saying that his partner, Ziggy Sears, had made the call that upset the fan. So it was simply a case of mistaken identity!
  • Vander Meer ended the winning streak, 3-2, in the first of two on Memorial Day at Crosley Field, but the Birds rebounded to avoid a third Reds DH sweep, 10-5.
  • In some strange scheduling, St. Louis returned to Chicago for a Sunday DH that drew 34,105. Pollet gave up ten hits but shut out the Cubs 3-0 in the opener. The bad news was that Musial sprained his ankle sliding into the plate and would be out of the lineup for a week.
  • The second game ended abruptly when showers fell in the bottom of the first. Half an hour later, the Cubs management wanted to resume play only to learn that the umpires had already called the game and left the stadium without waiting the minimum 30 minutes. Irate GM Jim Gallagher protested to NL President Ford Frick.

The Cardinals finished May with a 25-18 record in second place, 6 behind the Dodgers.

  • The Redbirds' late surge had made up all but a half-game of the deficit they faced vis-a-vis Brooklyn during the month.
  • Cubs manager Jimmy Wilson didn't think the Cards would catch the Bums because the Redbirds expended "too much energy, entirely too much. No team can keep charging around a park the way they do and stay in one piece."
  • While the NL race had some doubt, the Yankees had jumped out 33-11 in the junior circuit to lead Detroit by eight.

Continued below...

IV - Early June

The Cardinals entered June in second place, six games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers.

  • Returning to St. Louis from Chicago, the Cards stopped in Rantoul IL on Monday, June 1 for an exhibition game with a military team at Chanute Field, training base for the Army Air Corps. (The Air Force would not be established as a separate branch of the service until 1946.)
  • The four NL East teams (not an official subdivision but a practical one for scheduling purposes) visited the western contingent for the next two weeks before the halves reversed the venues.
  • The commander of the Dodgers, Leo Durocher, used military terminology to state his goals for his team's western swing.

We plan to reduce these cities one-by-one. We will attempt to raze only war industry targets in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Cincinnati, but St. Louis will feel the full brunt.

First into St. Louis were the Boston Braves, who lost two of three in the Mound City.

  • Mort Cooper, with assistance from Johnny Beazley for the last two outs, outdueled Jim Tobin 4-3 in the opener. Redbird SS Marty Marion went 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs, both of which came in the 6th after Braves manager Casey Stengel ordered Whitey Kurowski to be walked intentionally to load the bases.
  • The second game was the Cardinals' military relief game. Under the policy adopted across the majors, everyone entering the park, including players, umpires, and the press, paid admission. Before the first pitch at 5:30, a contingent of soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood went through a series of maneuvers on the field. Then the disappointing crowd of 14,449 watched the Braves turn the tables with a 4-3 victory of their own to end the Birds' five-game winning streak. A 24-year-old rookie named Johnny Sain pitched four scoreless innings of relief to earn what retroactively has been scored as a Save. The righthander, who would record four 20 win seasons after he returned from military service in 1946, came in with the bases loaded and none out in the sixth and kept the tying run on third from scoring. The Cards filled the sacks again in the ninth, but Enos Slaughter whistled a liner to 1B Max West that turned into a DP to end the game.
  • The Cards plated 5 in the 2nd the next day on their way to a 6-2 decision in the rubber game of the set. 33-year-old Lon Warneke won his fourth, scattering 10 hits.
  • St. Louis neither gained nor lost ground to the Dodgers, who beat Pittsburgh on Tuesday before the remaining two games of the series were lost to rain.

Next up for the Cardinals were the New York Giants.

  • The series began with another lefty bedazzling the Redbirds. In this instance it was Dave Koslo, who pitched a four-hitter, 3-1. Former Cardinal Johnny Mize produced the go-ahead run with a sixth inning homer off Max Lanier.
  • Heavy rains washed out the Saturday game.
  • Buoyed by the return of Stan Musial, who had missed five straight games during which his replacements had gone a collective 3-for-14, the Redbirds swept the Sunday doubleheader.
  • Howie Pollet surrendered nine hits but only one run in the 4-1 opener over Carl Hubbell, whose record fell to 1-5, the worst start of his career. Carl threw four no-hit innings before being tagged for 3 runs in the fifth.
  • Mort Cooper went Pollet one better in the nightcap, twirling a four-hit shutout. The Cards got only five hits themselves, but one was Johnny Hopp's first HR of the season to win 2-0.
  • Manager Billy Southworth wondered what he could do to ignite his club's offense after they compiled only a .217 average in the two series just concluded.

The Dodgers came to St. Louis for a scheduled three-game series.

  • St. Louis sportswriters pegged the set as crucial for the Redbirds to avoid "peeking over the brink of pennant oblivion" (as one writer put it). Brooklyn had just taken four of five in Chicago to extend their lead to 7 games.
  • But three straight days of thunderstorms washed away the entire slate. Since wartime restrictions forbade them from reporting weather condition, reporters had a hard time explaining why the contests weren't played. Cardinal announcer Dizzy Dean told listeners to stick their heads out a window to know why he wasn't broadcasting baseball.
  • Two of the games were rescheduled as back-to-back doubleheaders in July while the other was set as a Monday night game on August 26. Overall, the Cardinals suffered a loss of revenue since the three-game set was expected to draw 45-50,000.
  • Since the Cardinals were coming off a stretch when they won 10 of 13, the players rued the loss of the games when they were playing their best ball of the season.

The homestand concluded with the last-place Phillies for a four-game weekend series.

  • Southworth, who still hadn't settled on a pitching rotation - primarily because of the arm troubles of Ernie White and Pollet - could go any way he wanted after four days of idleness.
  • He sent his ace, Mort Cooper, to the hill for the opener. The Cards could muster only 6 hits and 2 runs off Tommy Hughes, 1-8 entering the game, but that was enough as Coop secured his seventh victory, 2-1.
  • The rains returned Saturday to cancel still another game.
  • The Redbirds took care of business Sunday by sweeping a DH, putting a smile on Billy's face with 15 runs. Musial came alive in the first game, going 3-for-3 with 2 RBI as Warneke cruised, 9-1. Stan sat out the nightcap which saw his team answer the Phils' two-run first with five in the bottom of the inning, the big clout being another HR by Hopp. Then the home team bats went silent while the visitors pecked away, scoring single runs in the 7th, 8th, and 9th to tie it. In the bottom of the 9th, the Cards loaded the bases with one out. Slaughter hit a grounder to 1B Nick Etten, who won the race to first but forgot that was only the second out. He then threw frantically home too late as Marion crossed with the winning tally.

The Cardinals embarked on their second eastern swing of the season 5.5 behind the Dodgers, who split the only two games they were able to play in Cincinnati.

Continued below ...

Cardinals P Lon Warneke
Lon Warneke

Braves P Johnny Sain
Johnny Sain

Giants P Dave Koslo
Dave Koslo

Giants 1B Johnny Mize
Johnny Mize

Cardinals P Max Lanier

Cardinals 1B Johnny Hopp

V - Rest of June

When the Cardinals started a series in the Polo Grounds on Tuesday, June 16, they sported a five-game winning streak that had them in second place, 4.5 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers.

  • Giants manager Mel Ott always made sure he had Carl Hubbell ready to face the Redbirds. Howie Pollet squared off against the veteran in the series opener. Former Redbird Johnny Mize hit a homer in the sixth as the Cards lost 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 leads before winning in the tenth on Enos Slaughter's HR into the short RF porch. Johnny Beazley gained his sixth victory with five innings of scoreless relief.
  • The next day, Mort Cooper pitched another masterpiece, a 5-hit shutout for his eighth straight victory. Rookie Whitey Kurowski hit his first ML HR for one of the three runs. Unfortunately, the sweep of the two-game series gained no ground on Brooklyn, the next opponent on the Cards' second Eastern swing of the season.

The Dodgers boasted four of the six top hitters in the league.

  • CF Pete Reiser first with .355, LF Joe Medwick second .333, C Mickey Owen fifth .313, RF Dixie Walker sixth .301.
  • By contrast, the Cardinals had three .300 hitters, Kurowski at 3.16, Slaughter .304, and Coaker Triplett .302.
  • The managers had their starters lined up like this, where the last two games were a Sunday doubleheader:
    Game One: Max Lanier vs Larry French
    Game Two: Ernie White vs Whitlow Wyatt
    Game Three: Lon Warneke vs Curt Davis
    Game Four: Mort Cooper vs Ed Head
    Game Five: Howie Pollet vs Kirby Higbe

To say that the big series didn't go well for the Cardinals would be an understatement.

  • A twilight crowd of 23,643 saw their Dodgers score 3 in the bottom of the eighth off Beazley to cop the opener, 5-2. Johnny had relieved Max in the sixth. French pitched a complete game eight-hitter, two of which came off the bat of Lanier. No game with Durocher's club could pass without an incident. In the sixth, Medwick tried to advance from first on a passed ball, but Walker Cooper gunned him out. Despite being a dead duck, Joe slid hard with high spikes into SS Marty Marion, who knocked the former Cardinal's legs down with his glove, leading to an exchange of words and punches. Other players from both teams joined in the fray. Medwick and 2B Creepy Crespi were ejected and later fined $25 each by the league. Kurowski emerged with a black eye, and Dixie Walker injured his left ankle.
  • The boys behaved themselves for the Ladies Day crowd of 28,729 the next day. St. Louis plated two in the ninth but fell short, 4-3. Even the ladies directed their ire at the visitors, who were blamed to putting one of their favorites, Dixie, on the bench. One Dodger run came on Reiser's steal of home in the fourth.
  • Warneke pitched well for four innings in the Saturday game but didn't get an out in the sixth as the Dodgers broke a 4-4 tie on their way to a 10-4 romp to extend their lead to 7 1/2.
  • Mort Cooper tamed the Dodgers in the Sunday opener (on this writer's first birthday) in an 11-0 romp. Stan Musial sparked the 14-hit attack with a HR and triple.
  • Proving once again that momentum in baseball is only as good as the next game's starting pitcher, Higbe cooled the Cardinal bats on the hot day in the nightcap, 5-2. Both teams collected six singles and one double, but the Dodgers pooled some of theirs and took adavantage of Crespi's error for three in the sixth. Ebbets Field organist Gladys Gooding, a St. Louis native, played the "St. Louis Blues" as a dirge when the game ended.

After losing four of five, the Redbirds left with their tails between their legs for Boston, where they hoped to get their mojo back against the seventh-place Braves.

  • When the Tuesday game was rained out, the Cards played a doubleheader on Wednesday that Casey Stengel's club swept, 6-2 and 3-1.
  • St. Louis got 11 hits off knuckleballer Jim Tobin in the opener, but scored only on C Ken O'Dea's HR in the seventh. Boston managed eight hits but profited from ten walks from three hurlers, Harry Gumbert taking the loss.
  • Bill Donovan twirled a five-hitter in the nightcap to win his first game of the year and administered the Cards' 13th defeat to a lefthander. Manager Billy Southworth kept Musial on the bench, not confident the rookie could hit lefties.
  • A crowd of 25,093 came to Braves Field for the Army-Navy relief game despite drizzling rain. If there was anyone who could pull the Birds out of a losing streak, it was Mort, who threw a two-hit shutout. Both bingles were of the "excuse me" variety. The big righthander had now given up just one run in his last five starts and extended his scoreless innings streak to 32.

Now down nine to the Dodgers, the Cards moved to the last stop on the road trip, Philadelphia, where they encountered more rain.

  • Both the Friday and Saturday games were cancelled.
  • In Sunday's first game, the Cards managed only one run off righthander Tommy Hughes, who came in 2-8 for his last place club. Hughes pitched all 15 innings while Beazley went the first 12 for the visitors. Finally, the Phils pushed across the winner off Howie Krist, who lost for the first time in two years after thirteen straight wins. Amazingly, Hughes survived a scare in the tenth when he collapsed after running from first to third. But he was revived and returned to the mound.
  • Lon Warneke pitched his best game of the season in the nightcap to win 3-1. The Cards garnered 11 hits, including a HR by C Walker Cooper, but left eight men on base to continue the disturbing trend of the past week.

So the final ledger for the road trip read like this.

  • Five wins (three from Mort Cooper), seven losses
  • Loss of 4.5 games to Brooklyn

Even a St. Louis writer wondered if the Cards could catch the Dodgers.

The trip marked the finish of a journey which may ultimately prove to have been the finish of St. Louis pennant hopes.

Continued below ...

Mort & Walker Cooper
Mort Cooper shows his grip to his brother Walker

Dodgers CF Pete Reiser
Pete Reiser

Dodgers LF Joe Medwick
Joe Medwick

Cardinals SS Marty Marion
Marty Marion

Cardinals 2B Frank "Creepy" Crespi
Frank Crespi

Brooklyn OF Dixie Walker
Dixie Walker

Braves P Jim Tobin
Jim Tobin

VI - Early July

Cardinals P Mort Cooper
Mort Cooper

Cardinals P Johnny Beazley
Johnny Beazley

Cardinals CF Terry Moore
Terry Moore

Cardinals C Walker Cooper
Walker Cooper

Cardinals 3B Whitey Kurowski
Whitey Kurowski

Cardinals P Howie Krist

The Cardinals returned to Home Sweet Home Sportsman's Park June 30 to start a whopping 22-game homestand with four tilts against the Pirates.

  • Pittsburgh ended Mort Cooper's string of 32 scoreless innings in the first but he won his eleventh straight, 4-2. 3B Jimmy Brown poled his first HR of the season.
  • Ernie White started July with a six-hit shutout, 4-0. One of the Cards' lefty nemeses, Ken Heintzleman, suffered the defeat.
  • The good pitching continued the next evening with Johnny Beazley twirling a 5-hitter, 3-1. What was becoming a Redbird trademark, opportunistic baserunning, plated the cllinching runs in the eighth. With CF Terry Moore on second and LF Stan Musial on first, C Ken O'Dea whacked a sharp single to RF. Moore didn't hesitate around third and scored easily when the throw went wide. Musial, seeing P Dutch Dietz chasing the ball, roared home and crashed into C Babe Phelps just as the relay arrived, knocking the ball away.
  • The Bucs salvaged the finale, building a 5-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth and holding on 5-4. O'Dea went 3-for-3 as the Cards outhit the visitors 13-10. Starter Lon Warneke took the loss.

Next to visit the Mound City were the Cubs with back-to-back doubleheaders on Saturday, July 4, and Sunday.

  • Cooper finally had a bad outing in the Independence Day opener. Chicago erupted for five in the fifth to chase him from the mound and then held on for a 6-5 victory. Recently-acquired AL veteran Jimmie Foxx had three RBIs, two of them on a ringing HR into the LF stands.
  • The Redbirds romped in the nightcap 9-3. RF Enos Slaughter went 4-for-5 with two doubles. Young Howie Pollet continued to struggle, giving up all three Cub runs in 2/3 of an inning before Murry Dickson shut the door.
  • St. Louis swept the Sunday twinbill, 5-3 behind Harry Gumbert's complete game and 11-6 with Beazley getting an easy victory by pitching just 1/3 inning of relief just before his mates exploded for 6 in the bottom of the fifth to break the 5-5 tie.

All clubs took three days off for the All-Star Game at the Polo Grounds. Five Cardinals and six Dodgers provided almost half the NL roster.

  • Jimmy Brown started at 2B. The Cooper brothers provided the opening battery.
  • Mort gave up three in the first on two homers, one by leadoff man Lou Boudreau of Cleveland and a two-run shot by Detroit's Rudy York, before pitching two scoreless innings.
  • Slaughter took over in RF and Moore in CF in the seventh. Walker Cooper and Slaughter each had a single in two ABs while Brown was 0-for-2 and Moore 0-for-1.
  • The AL won 3-1.

The day after the All-Star classic, the Cardinals sold Warneke to the Cubs.

  • Owner Sam Breadon explained the waiver deal this way:

You can't have a pitcher of Warneke's class and salary around if you can't work him regularly, and we believe the younger men are more valuable to us, particularly for next year.

  • The press pounced on those last three words to claim that the Cards were conceding the '42 pennant.
  • Another twist given to Breadon's announcement was that the team was jettisoning his $12,500 salary to help balance the budget after allegedly losing $60,000 when most of the recent home series against the Dodgers was rained out. Breadon vigorously denied both allegations.

The schedule resumed on Thursday the 9th with the four Eastern teams heading west. The Giants were first up in St. Louis.

  • Warneke's replacement in the rotation, Beazley, fired a 6-hit shutout. Six in the sixth broke open the game as Slaughter clouted a HR and a triple and Moore added a four-bagger. Johnny also clouted a three-bagger.
  • The Cards extended their winning streak to five the next day with a thrilling 3-1 victory in ten innings. Bob Carpenter dazzled the Redbirds with his off-speed pitches and led 2-0 with two outs and none on in the ninth. He had Whitey Kurowski down 0-2 in the count, but the third-sacker singled. Pinch-hitter Walker Cooper belted a double to left. Manager Mel Ott called on Ace Adams to get the final out. But another PH, Coaker Triplett, hit the first pitch into LF to tie the game. After Dickson shut down NY in the top of the tenth, Moore and Slaughter led with singles. Then Adams fielded Musial's bunt, whirled, and threw to 3B without noticing that no one was covering the bag. So Moore sprinted home with the winning run.
  • Southworth tried Pollet in the finale, but Howie didn't get out of the first inning again, giving up 3 as the Giants won 8-3. Carl Hubbell scattered nine hits in a route-going performance.

Nine games behind the Dodgers, the Cards needed to feast on the 7th-place Boston Braves.

  • Gumbert threw a two-hitter to start the series with a 5-1 win in the opener of the Sunday doubleheader. In the second game, the Cards fell behind 3-0 before putting a 6 on the board in the fourth on their way to a 9-3 romp. Walker Cooper went 3-for-4 with a HR and double to jump his average over the magic .300 mark by three points. Howie Krist won his fourth game with five innings of scoreless relief.
  • Monday's open date affected the ballclub when Moore tore the nail off the little finger of his throwing hand while trying to disentangle the bumpers of two cars. Terry said nothing to his skipper the next night, but Southworth knew immediately something was wrong during his first at-bat. So he benched him for what turned out to be four games.
  • The Braves made the Cards' task tough, jumping to a 5-0 lead going into the sixth. Mort's woes continued as he allowed eight hits in five innings. But three in the sixth and Whitey's two run HR in the eighth sent the game into extra innings. In the bottom of the eleventh, Musial poled a two-run HR onto the RF Pavilion for his fourth hit of the game. He led the team with a .318 average.

St. Louis had gained all of one game on Brooklyn. The Birds needed another sweep of the last-place Phillies.

Continued below...

VII - Late July

Cardinals OF Harry Walker

Cardinals P Ernie White
Ernie White

Cardinals 3B George "Whitey" Kurowski
Whitey Kurowski

Dodgers CF Pete Reiser
Pete Reiser

Dodgers GM Larry MacPhail
Larry MacPhail

Eight games behind the Dodgers, the Cardinals continued their homestand on July 15 with a four-game set with the Phillies.

  • The series began with a doubleheader on the annual Tuberculosis Day with military bands, a drum and bugle corps, and a Navy unit marching around the field along with 52 recruits being sworn in on the spot.
  • Johnny Beazley, esconced in the starting rotation, scattered nine hits to win the opener 7-3.
  • The Redbirds won the nightcap with equal ease, 9-4, Murry Dickson pitching the seven-hitter and Harry Walker, replacing Captain Terry Moore and his torn fingernail in CF, going 3-for-4.
  • Philadelphia won the next day, 4-3 in ten innings, to break the Cards' five-game winning streak. RHP Tommy Hughes, who had beaten the Birds in 15 innings in Philly, went the distance. Manager Billy Southworth brought in his ace, Mort Cooper, to try to get out of Whitey Moore's jam in the tenth but without success. The Cards' bugaboo, men left on, struck again to the tune of twelve runners stranded.
  • Howie Krist started his first game of the season, coasting 10-1 to run his record to 6-1. RF Enos Slaughter had three hits, including a triple and a double.

Unfortunately, the Cardinals remained eight behind but would have a chance to do something about it as Brooklyn came to town for back-to-back doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday.

  • The Dodgers had won twelve of sixteen on their road trip. As usual, they caused controversy at every stop. For example, Manager Leo Durocher threw a wet towel at an umpire in Pittsburgh, and a beanball war erupted in Chicago.
  • Writers in both cities proclaimed the four-game series in St. Louis as the Redbirds' "last shot" at the high-flying Bums.
  • The crowd of 19,395 for the Saturday twinbill would seem to be disappointing until you compare it to the 2,984 that showed up seven days earlier for a game against the Giants.
  • The first game pitted two southpaws, Ernie White for the Cards and Larry French for the visitors. The Dodgers took leads of 3-0 and 4-1, but White shut the door thereafter and St. Louis plated two in the 5th and three in the 6th to forge a 7-4 victory, outhitting Brooklyn 16-9. Durocher's club suffered a loss in the 6th when Stan Musial lined a ball off relief P Hugh Casey's pitching hand, ripped the nail off the little finger. White's complete game was just what the doctor ordered for the first of four games in two days.
  • The Dodgers again jumped in front in the second game, 4-0, against Max Lanier, then survived a three-run 7th featuring a RBI triple by C Walker Cooper followed by a HR by Whitey Kurowski. Then Curt Davis in relief retired the last eight Cards. The 4-3 Brooklyn victory meant the Cardinals would have to sweep the Sunday DH to gain any ground

And that's exactly what the Birds did before the season's largest crowd, 34,896.

  • Despite wartime gas shortages, a tour of the parking lots showed vehicles with license plates from Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, and Oklahoma.
  • The home team went right to work on 10-2 Whitlow Wyatt in Game One, driving him from the box in the five-run third to make it 7-0. That lead looked safe with Cooper on the hill. After all, he hadn't allowed a run to Brooklyn all season. But the Bums scored the next five to make it 7-5 into the bottom of the 8th. An insurance run made the final 8-5 with Lanier getting the last four outs after Coop's ailing elbow became too inflamed to continue. The Dodgers went to the beanball again, hitting Kurowski twice and throwing at several other batters.
  • As on Saturday, the Cards could not let the Dodgers leave town with a split. After spotting Brooklyn two in the first, the Cards scored one in the second on Kurowski's third round-tripper of the series and again put up a 5-spot in the third to take a 6-2 lead. But the visitors drove Beazley from the mound with four in the fifth. The game stayed tied until the bottom of the 11th with almost all the fans still present after five and a half hours of baseball.

Then occurred a play that had the biggest impact on the pennant race of any that season.

  • Leadoff batter Slaughter laced a Johnny Allen pitch to the deepest part of the park, just to the right of straightaway CF. Pete Reiser knew he had to catch it to prevent a triple. He raced back, leaped high, and got his glove on the ball just as his head and arm collided with the concrete wall. He staggered to his feet and returned the ball to the cutoff man, but the throw to the plate was too late to prevent the inside-the-park homer.
  • So the Cards trimmed the lead to six games but, more importantly, the league's leading hitter at .350 had collapsed again. "It was like a hand grenade had gone off inside my head," Pete later said. Meanwhile, hundreds of jubilant fans ran around the field, bombarding each other and the Dodgers with seat cushions. After a few minutes, Reiser got up and was helped to the bench, where he collapsed again.
  • After showering, he rode an ambulance to the hospital, where the Cardinals' physician diagnosed the condidtion as a severe concussion and fractured skull and recommended Pete not play any more that season. When GM Larry McPhail received the news, he snorted that the doctor just wanted to keep the Dodger star out of the lineup.
  • Pete spent a few days at his parents' home in St. Louis before returning to action six days later. He went 2-for-4, and all seemed well. But that was not the case at all.

After going 17-5 on the homestand and gaining three games on the Dodgers, the Cardinals embarked on their third Eastern swing of the season.

  • They began by taking two of three in the City of Brotherly Love, the highlight being Beazley's 7-0 shutout for his 11th victory.
  • Four games in Boston produced three victories with Lanier twirling an 8-0 whitewash.
  • Next stop was Brooklyn.

Continued below ...

VIII - July into August

After the crucial doubleheader sweep of Brooklyn July 19, the Redbirds embarked on another Eastern swing 6 games behind the Dodgers. The Cards must not squander the games they had gained by winning 18 of 23.

They started fine, taking two of three from the last-place Phillies.

  • Howie Krist, replacing the ailing Mort Cooper, waltzed to a 6-1 complete game victory in only his second start of the season. A three-run eighth broke open a tight game. Every member of Billy Southworth's lineup garnered at least one hit.
  • Johnny Beazley contributed another complete game the next, allowing 10 hits but no runs. Another 14 hits gave the Cards 26 for the two games.
  • Philadelphia salvaged the final game, 4-3, overcoming 2-0 and 3-2 deficits. St. Louis left 11 men on base as Harry Gumbert took the loss that dropped the Cardinals seven behind the Dodgers.

Next was Boston, one notch above the Phils on the standings ladder. Nothing less than three out of four would be satisfactory.

  • It was Max Lanier's turn to feast on a weak team with a 6-hit shutout. Enos Slaughter, Stan Musial and Ray Sanders had three hits apiece of the 16 banged out. Four in the eighth and two in the ninth cemented the 8-0 rout. Demonstrating Southworth's preferred style of play to take advantage of his team's speed, the Cards laid down an amazing eight bunts, three for hits and two for sacrifices.
  • Another double-digit hit total, 10, produced three in the fifth and another three in the sixth to give Krist another win, 6-3. Slaughter cracked a homer and a triple and drove in three.
  • The Cards jumped on Braves' starter Al Javery in the first game of the Sunday doubleheader, as Casey Stengel pulled his starter after the first three batters got two hits and a walk. Tom Earley took over and proceeded to pitch one-hit ball the rest of the way. Boston hit Beazley for four in the second to win, 5-2.
  • St. Louis rebounded to cop the nightcap, 5-3. Gumbert won with four innings of one-hit, scoreless relief.
  • The Birds left Boston exactly where they were when they arrived, seven behind the Dodgers, who rebounded from losing three of four in St. Louis to win six of the next seven.

Writers again described the next series in Brooklyn as "do-or-die" for the Redbirds.

  • The first game was scheduled for Leo Durocher's 37th birthday, Monday, July 27. However, rain forced postponement to the next day as part of a doubleheader.
  • 33,212 "boisterous Brooklynites," the second largest weekday crowd of the season, turned out.
  • After the Cards scored an unearned run in the top of the first, the Dodgers got five unearned ones of their own in the bottom of the inning thanks to a two-out error by usually reliable SS Marty Marion.
  • However, the Cards fought back, finally tying the game at 6-6 in the sixth. Howie Pollet, who had struggled all season, pitched well after relieving Ernie White with two outs in the first. But in the eighth, the New Orleans southpaw hung a curve to former Cardinal Johnny Rizzo, who smacked it far into the LF seats for a 7-6 win.
  • After rain delayed the nightcap by 90 minutes, Lanier and Kirby Higbe engaged in a tight 1-1 pitching duel for six innings until the Cards exploded for 8 in the seventh.
  • With black skies, thunder, and lightning in the area during the big inning, the Dodgers went into stall mode, hoping rain would wipe out the game. After several changes of pitchers and other slowdown tactics, Whitey Kurowski intentionally got caught in a rundown for the third out in what one reporter called "a farcical race against time." The weather gods didn't give Durocher a belated birthday present as the rain stayed away, allowing the Cards to complete the 9-1 victory. As was typical of a team that didn't hit many homers, St. Louis rapped three doubles and 13 singles, with Harry Walker, still in CF for the injured Terry Moore, and Musial resonsible for three each. Max Lanier moved his record to 6-4.
  • The next night, another 26,682 ignored the rain that delayed the game 20 minutes to watch Mort Cooper return to the hill after resting his ailing elbow for ten days. Coop didn't continue his mastery over the Bums, giving up four runs in five innings. Meanwhile, the Cards threatened in almost every inning but left 11 runners stranded. After the visitors scored two in the top of the seventh to pull within 4-3, plate umpire "Beans" Reardon abruptly ended the game with one out in the bottom of the inning due to wartime "dim-out" regulations in New York that forbade stadium lights from being on more than an hour after sundown.
  • Brooklyn CF Pete Reiser, severely injured when he crashed into the wall on the last play of the series in St. Louis, played all three games, going 2 for 10.
  • The Dodgers, with an eight-game lead, thought the lights had been turned out for the Cardinals' pennant chances as well. Tommy Holmes of the Brooklyn Eagle wrote:

There was a lot of yip-yap going on in the clubhouse with the Dodgers making like crazy as though the 1942 National League pennant race had been won.

  • Holmes pointed out that, despite winning 22 of 31 in the month of July, St. Louis gained no ground on Brooklyn.
  • Even a St. Louis writer, Roy Stockton, penned: The remainder of the season doesn't look too bright for the Cardinals [whose] pennant hopes have faded to a point where even die-hard fans are having their doubts. ... It's been a long time since the circuit had such a poor race.

The Redbirds remained in the Big Apple for a four-game series with the fourth-place Giants.

  • The New York writers continued on harp on how much St. Louis missed the power of Johnny Mize, traded to the Giants in the off-season.
  • The wet system stayed over the city, causing the Friday game to become part of a Saturday twinbill on the first day of August.
  • Lanier raised Redbird spirits without another fine outing, a 5-hit 3-1 victory. Slaughter's two-run HR in the first inning turned out to be all Max needed especially with the defense turning five DPs behind him.
  • Beazley started the nightcap but left for a PH in the top of the seventh trailing 3-1. But the Cards rallied for four in the eighth on Musial's two-run blast and run-scoring singles by Kurowski and PH Moore. But Pollet, who took over on the hill in the bottom of the inning, quickly surrendered a "Polo Grounds HR" to 1B Babe Young just inside the foul pole down the 258' RF line. In the bottom of the 11th, the Cardinal infield, which had made play after play all afternoon, misplayed two straight bunts to set up the winning SF.
  • The next day brought the regularly scheduled Sunday DH. In the opener, the Giants drove Ernie White from the mound with a four-run fifth to even up Carl Hubbell's record at 6-6 with a 7-1 triumph.
  • Badly needing a split in the series, Southworth sent Cooper to the mound with three days rest. After giving up two unearned tallies in the first, Mort shut out the home team the rest of the way. The Cards plated a run without benefit of a hit in the top of the ninth to break a 2-2 tie. Musial reached second on a bad throw by SS Dick Bartell. Sanders bounced out to the right side to send Stan to third. After an intentional walk, Kurowski laid down a suicide squeeze. Cooper retired the side to complete the 4-hitter.

The road-weary Redbirds traveled to Cooperstown to face the Philadephia Athletics in the fourth annual Hall of Fame exhibition game the next day when former St. Louis great Rogers Hornsby was among those enshrined.

  • While the Cards defeated the A's 5-3, the Dodgers began a series in the Polo Grounds.
  • 57,035 jammed the park for the 6:45 game, the proceeds of which went to the Armed Forces Relief Fund. Brooklyn carried a 7-4 lead into the last of the ninth. But with two on and the tying run at the plate, umpire George Magerkurth abruptly called the game, once again enforcing the dim-out rule. The angry fans booed lustily even as the organist tried to stop them by playing the National Anthem. Less than a week after their previous encounter with the rule, the Bums had benefitted from New York's wartime restriction.
  • NL umpire-in-chief Bill Klem blamed Dodger P Whitlow Wyatt, working even slower than usual, for delaying the game, especially while walking Mel Ott during the aborted last inning. League President Ford Frick also condemned the stalling tactics.
  • Giants owner Horace Stoneham, after saying that the Army had denied his request to keep the lights on until 9:30 if necessary, announced that, after the next day's game, no more twilight games would be played at the Polo Grounds.

But what did the Dodgers care? They enjoyed their 9.5 game lead.

Continued below ...

Cardinals P Max Lanier
Max Lanier

Gus Mancuso and Stan Musial
Stan Musial (r) with player-coach Gus Mancuso

Cardinals 1B Ray Sanders
Ray Sanders

Boston P Tom Earley and Manager Casey Stengel
Boston P Tom Earley and Manager Casey Stengel

Johnny Rizzo, Dodgers
Johnny Rizzo

Dodgers P Kirby Higbe
Kirby Higbe

Polo Grounds, New York City

Giants 1B Babe Young
Babe Young

Dodgers P Whitlow Wyatt
Whitlow Wyatt

IX - Early August

 

Cincinnati P Joe Beggs
Joe Beggs

Reds CF Eric Tipton
Eric Tipton

Cardinals P Murry Dickson

 

 

 


 

Dodgers Manager Leo Durocher and GM Larry MacPhail
Leo Durocher and Larry MacPhail

NL Commissioner Ford Frick
Ford Frick

Dodgers OF Dixie Walker
Dixie Walker

The Cardinals' Cooper Brothers
Mort and Walker Cooper

Cardinals 2B Jimmy Brown
Jimmy Brown

The Cardinals continued their road trip with two games in Cincinnati August 4-5.

  • They faced one of their southpaw nemeses, Johnny Vander Meer, in the opener. Howie Krist and Harry Gumbert gave up four in the first three innings and the "Dutch Master," with help from Joe Beggs (who got his seventh save as retroactively calculated), survived a 3-run Cardinal seventh, the inning ending when CF Eric Tipton, former Duke triple-threat TB, ran down Stan Musial's long drive to CF with the bases loaded. The Cards fell a whopping 10 games behind Brooklyn.
  • Johnny Beazley, who had struggled in recent outings, authored a masterful 3-hit shutout the next day and his teammates made the most of seven hits for a 5-0 victory.

The Redbirds had a day off to travel to Pittsburgh for a four-game weekend series.

  • Frankie Frisch's Pirates chased Hal Lanier with an 8-run 2nd and cruised to a 13-6 win.
  • The Saturday contest produced a team's worst nightmare, a 16-inning marathon that ended in a tie, forcing the visitors to lay over until Monday to replay the game. The situation was produced by baseball's stupid rule that prohibited the lights from being turned on to finish a game. Ace Mort Cooper did nothing to allay the fears about his arm when he gave up five runs in 2 1/3 innings. But Krist, Gumbert, and Murry Dickson shut out the Bucs the rest of the way, allowing the Cards to tie it in the top of the eighth on a PH double by Terry Moore before their bats went silent the rest of the way.
  • In the first game of the Sunday DH, St. Louis struck for 3 in the first, the big blow being a two-run triple by Musial, playing before family and friends from nearby Donora PA. Beazley continued his shutout string until the sixth, when Pittsburgh put up a 3-spot of its own. But Musial struck again in the eighth, doubling home the run that gave the victory to Dickson.
  • The nightcap was another low-scoring one-run affair. Single runs in the first and second by the Cardinals were enough to top the Pirates' lone tally in the second. Musial's double drove in the first run. Krist got his ninth victory with 6 2/3 innings of scoreless relief after Ernie White was literally knocked out of the box by a line drive that ricocheted off his groin (ouch!). The game was called after the eighth inning because Pennsylvania "blue laws" forbade play after 7 pm on Sundays.
  • The Buccos won the replay game on Monday 6-4 as Cooper again was ineffective.

The Redbirds left Pittsburgh nine behind the Dodgers, who were just 3-4 in their last seven games. No one could have conceived that St. Louis would now embark on the most astounding stretch run in baseball history, winning 41 of their last 48!

 Enos Slaughter, Terry Moore, and Stan Musial
Enos Slaughter, Terry Moore, and Stan Musial
The onslaught began with three straight wins in Chicago.

  • Needing a complete game from its starter after five games in the Steel City and another DH looming the next day, the Redbirds got exactly that from Lanier to win 7-2.
  • 1B Johnny Hopp drove in 3 and RF Enos Slaughter 2 to spark the 9-4 victory in the opener to give Beazley his 13th win, tying him with Cooper for tops on the staff.
  • Gumbert pitched a complete game in the nightcap with great support from the offense, which pounded out 24 hits in the twinbill. The 8-3 win cut the margin to 8 behind the Bums.

The Dodgers were playing mediocre ball, much of the chagrin of their flamboyant GM Larry MacPhail.

  • CF Pete Reiser continued to experience dizziness and headaches from the fractured skull suffered in the Dodgers' last game in St. Louis. Without his bat in the middle of the lineup, the team's hitting had declined.
  • Larry also stewed over the fact that NL President Ford Frick had fined P Whitlow Wyatt $75 after still another beanball contest August 8, $25 more than the Braves P who retaliated. Furthermore, Frick promised to fine the managers $500 in the future
  • After his team beat lowly Philly 1-0, MacPhail summoned his manager, Leo Durocher, and his coaches, and all the players to the press box to berate them in front of the sportswriters for lackadaisical play.
  • He began, though, by blasting Frick and the press.

We have a bad press. The rest of th eleague hates us. Do you think Ford Frick wants to see us win the pennant? They're all taking pot shots at us.

  • Trying to goad his team to bear down, the GM predicted the Cardinals could and likely would win the pennant if the Dodgers didn't shake out of their doldrums.
  • Angry OF Dixie Walker (brother of the Cards' Harry Walker) offered a $100 bet that the Dodgers would win, but Larry declined.

The Redbirds lost the finale in Chicago before returning to St. Louis after three and a half weeks on the road.

  • The Cubs collected 13 hits and enjoyed 8 walks in their 13-5 romp, with Dickson taking the loss.
  • The Cards would not lose again in over a week.

The three-week homestand began with a five-game sweep of the Reds.

  • Mort Cooper, stuck at 13 wins, decided to switch his jersey number from 13 to 14. Whether that did the trick or not, he looked like his old self, twirling a two-hit shutout and adding a double in the 4-0 victory.
  • Saturday's rainout was rescheduled for Monday, an off-day for both teams. The Dodgers pulled victory from the jaws of defeat when Dolph Camilli hit a two out, two strike, two run homer in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Braves 4-3.
  • The 13,833 who came to Sportsman Park for the Sunday DH liked what they saw. Their Redbirds got double-digit hits in both games to win 10-5 and 6-3. 2B Jimmy Brown, newly returned from injury, and C Walker Cooper banged out three hits each in the opener. In the bottom of the eighth with the score tied at 5, the Reds walked Musial intentionally to fill the bases with two outs. But Cooper foiled the strategy with a solid single which, combined with a throwing error, cleared the bases.
  • It's hard to imagine from today's vantage point that any manager would replace Musial against a southpaw, but Billy Southworth inserted Coaker Triplett in LF in the nightcap against Vander Meer, who had beaten the Cards four times, twice via shutouts. But the move paid off as Coaker contributed a 2-run single in the five-run fifth that sent Johnny to the showers.
  • Only 1,792 showed up for the rescheduled game on Monday. The Reds outhit the Birds 10-8 but lost 5-2 as Krist went the distance. Slaughter went 2-for-3 to edge a point ahead of Musial's .315 batting average for team high.

Next in town were the Cubs for two games.

  • Lanier scattered seven hits in the 5-0 victory in the opener before a nice Tuesday crowd of 10,807.
  • About 700 more spectators saw their heroes win 5-1 the next afternoon as Mort, wearing his brother's #15 jersey, also threw a seven-hitter for his 15th win. Walker Cooper as well as Slaughter belted HRs.

St. Louis lay 6.5 games back as they welcomed the Pirates for a weekend series before entertaining the beloved Dodgers.

Continued below ...

X - Late August

The Cardinals continued their 22-game homestand on August 21 with a four-game weekend series against the fifth-place Pirates.

  • The Redbirds had to resist the temptation to look ahead to the next series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, whom they trailed by 7 games.
  • An afternoon crowd of 2,010 saw no signs of that as a four-run fifth broke open a 1-1 game. Johnny Beazley went the distance for the 10-2 victory, his 15th against five losses. LF Stan Musial hit his 9th homer and C Walker Cooper his 7th to account for five RBIs between them.
  • The Saturday game was more of a nail-biter. The Cards scored 7 in the first four innings and held on, 7-6. Max Lanier, normally a starter, got the victory with three innings of scoreless, one-hit relief. Southworth actually brought back Beazley in the fifth for an inning and a third. 2B Jimmy Brown and RF Enos Slaughter provided three hits each, more than half the 11-hit attack.
  • The eight-game winning streak ended in Sunday's opener, 5-3. Ken Heintzelman continued the pattern of southpaws cooling the Bird bats as he won for the third time over St. Louis. 3B Whitey Kurowski's HR was one of only seven hits for the home team.
  • Southworth needed a fine pitching performance in the nightcap, and he got it from little righty Murry Dickson, a complete game four-hitter, 5-2. Again showing how you never knew which Cardinal would spark the offense, CF Terry Moore, the captain-coach, rapped out a double and two singles.
  • But back in Brooklyn, the Dodgers swept four games from the Giants to increase their lead to 7.5 as they embarked on their last Western swing.
  • New York bookies were quoting 5-to-1 odds against the Cardinals winning the pennant.

The Redbirds would have a chance to decrease those odds in the next series.

  • Tommy Holmes wrote in the Brooklyn Eagle en route to St. Louis: Railroad wheels rolled jingle, jangle, jingle as our guys rode merrily along. It was a laughing, boisterous gang of Dodgers that Leo Durocher led toward the old fur trading post on the west back of the Mississippi River.
  • The trip was historic - the first time a team played one day on the East Coast and the next in the league's westernmost city. The 22-hour ride put the Dodgers in St. Louis mid-afternoon for that evening's game.
  • Leo felt especially good because his strategy of resting his starting pitchers against the Giants had not backfired. So he had his best lined up: Larry French, Whitlow Wyatt, Max Macon, and Curt Davis.
  • Southworth announced that Lanier would start the opener but wouldn't commit beyond that. Hal was an obvious choice because of his success against the Dodgers. (He would go 5-2 against them for the season.) He attributed his mastery to Durocher's shouting at him all the time. "He thought it was going to upset me, but the madder I got, the better I could pitch."
  • The Cardinals had developed a way of lessening the tension of the pennant race. Trainer Doc Weaver played the popular tune "Pass the Biscuits, Mirandy" on the clubhouse phonograph. Harry Walker took a liking to the rendition by Spike Jones' band and reformed the Mudcat Band from the Gashouse Gang days of the 1930s. Musial played harmonica, Lanier the slide-whistle, and Walker the coat-hanger drumsticks. As the wins kept coming, the record got more and more worn.

The series would prove to be the turning point of the pennant race.

  • Whether it was the shouting or Dodger fatigue from the long trip, Lanier limited the best-hitting team in the league to four hits, the Birds knocking out 12 in a 7-1 breeze that delighted the 25,588 in attendance. The run in the eighth broke Hal's streak of 20 1/3 scoreless innings. The Cards had three doubles and a triple as well as three stolen bases. Moore led the onslaught with three hits, four runs, and two RBIs.
  • Former Redbird Joe Medwick had a particularly unpleasant evening in LF. The bleacherites subjected him to verbal harassment, and the entire crowd booed him every time he came to the dish. The fact that Medwick, like Durocher and Reiser, lived in St. Louis - and that Joey had not asked to be traded to Brooklyn - made no difference to the fans.
 Joe Medwick, Leo Durocher, and Curt Davis
L-R: Joe Medwick, Leo Durocher, Curt Davis

A record throng of 33,527 turned out the following evening.

  • Mort Cooper continued his superstition, wearing jersey number 16 as he tried for victory #16. Wyatt matched Mort goose egg for goose egg for 12 innings until the visitors, minus their manager after he was ejected for arguing balls and strikes the previous inning, broke through with a run in the 13th on C Mickey Owen's single, a sacrifice, and a two-out single by 3B Lou Riggs.
  • But with one out in the bottom half, Slaughter walked, and Musial singled Enos to second. Walker Cooper lined a single to CF that sent home the tying run standing up. Holmes wrote: "The roar of the jam-packed St. Louis stand must have awakened the long-dead Indians in their mound cemeteries" across the Mississippi in Illinois. When play resumed after seat cushions and straw hats were removed from the field, French relieved and got a double play started by 2B Billy Herman's brilliant backhand grab.
  • After Cooper set down the Bums in order, Kurowski led off with a bunt single, and, after Les Webber replaced French, SS Marty Marion laid down another bunt that 1B Dolph Camilli fired to second too late. Mort Cooper, hitting for himself after 14 innings of work, also bunted but this time Webber fired a strike to 3B to cut down the lead runner. The Dodgers then negated Webber's fine play by walking Brown intentionally to load the bases. With the clock approaching midnight (no blackout rules for an inland city), Moore hit a grounder between 3B and SS. Riggs lunged, grabbed the ball, whirled and threw to the plate to Owen, stretching like a 1B. But Marion beat the peg by a split second to send the crowd into delirium.

The Dodgers could still salvage a split.

  • 13,815 turned out for the Wednesday twilight game to see Beazley battle southpaw Macon. Durocher juggled his lineup to put a spark into his offense, but the ploy didn't work.
  • Each hurler was on his game. The Cardinals scored a run in the second and lost a great opportunity to add more as Macon got a strikeout and a DP to wiggle out of a bases-loaded-none-out jam. The visitors tied the game the next inning when SS Arky Vaughan hit a high bouncer beind the mound that Beazley, blinded by the late-afternoon sun coming through the grandstand, let drop. Arky later scored.
  • Johnny had to work out of more jams than Max but held Brooklyn at bay into the ninth when the Dodgers tried some psychological warfare on the young hurler. With one out, Owens and Macon rapped singles to put runners at first and third. Durocher then strolled to the plate to speak with the umpire. After Leo returned to the bench, Owen called time to tie his shoelaces. In the meantime, Macon had left first and gone into the dugout. When everyone was finally ready to resume play, Beazley decided to tie his shoelaces, giving the Bums a taste of their own medicine. Riggs sliced a ball to shallow left where Coaker Triplett caught it just inside the foul line and fired a quick throw home to hold Owen. Then Vaughn sent the LF in the opposite direction to haul in his long drive.
  • For the second night in a row, the teams battled into extra innings. With one out in the bottom of the tenth, Brown walked. Moore followed with a single to left to move Jimmy to second. Slaughter swung hard and topped the ball down the 3B line, where Macon fielded it and fired him out at first - the equivalent of a sacrifice. Triplett repeated what Enos had done, dribbling a grounder down the 3B line. With two out, Brown raced down the line. Macon rushed over to field the ball but, having no play at first, scooped it toward Owen. Jimmy crashed into the C, knocking the ball out of his hands to score the winning run.

Now Brooklyn had to win to avoid a sweep.

  • Southworth gambled and brought Lanier back with only two days rest to face side-arming "Coonskin" Davis. Max started fine with four shutout innings, but the Dodgers got to him for a four-spot in the fifth thanks to a change in strategy and some rare lapses in the Cards' D.
  • Instead of taking pitches, the Dodgers started swinging at first-pitch strikes. With one out, Owen looped a single off Brown's glove. Vaughan hit a grounder between first and second that looked like a DP but Brown and 1B Johnny Hopp did the Alphonse & Gaston act to let the ball go into RF. Owen lumbered toward third, but Slaughter's throw sailed wide, allowing Arky to head to second.
  • With the infield drawn in, Davis punched a single to CF to drive in both runners. SS Pee Wee Reese also singled as did Herman to score Davis. Lefty Ernie White came in from the bullpen to face Reiser, who fouled out. But Medwick got some satisfaction after three miserable days by singling home Reese.
  • That ended the scoring for the Dodgers, but the Cards could add no more to the run they plated in the third to allow the visitors to leave St. Louis with a 5 1/2 game lead.
  • To read the St. Louis writers the next day, you'd think the loss had killed their heroes' pennant hopes. Bruce Bohle, who wrote the day before that the Cards had "out-hustled and outplayed the cocky Dodgers," now said: "Brooklyn's Dodgers are gone and so, it seems, are the Cardinals chances for winning their first pennant since 1934."
  • The problem was that the Cards had only two contests left with the Bums as well as more games left with the stronger Western teams than did the Dodgers.

The Cardinals still had three series at home against the weaker Eastern teams, starting with the Phillies.

  • The Redbirds took care of business, sweeping the three games 7-4, 7-5, and 5-2. Cooper won the finale wearing #17.
  • With their second DH in three days, the Cards needed some second-line pitchers to step up, and White and Harry Gumbert did so in the Sunday nightcap, combining to beat Boston 3-2 after Beazley breezed 8-3 in the opener. Gumbert also drove in the winning run in the 11th. After a welcome day off, the Birds made in six in a row, sending the Braves on their way, 4-3, for Cooper 18th (wearing #18 of course). Mort, who preferred pitching at night, volunteered to take the hill with only two days rest. The Cards scored the go-ahead run with the help of a phantom squeeze play in the eighth. Hopp singled to open the inning, was sacrified to second by Kurowski, and went to third on an infield hit by Marion. With Mort Cooper at the plate, Hopp broke for home as RHP Al Javery threw. When Cooper bunted toward third, Javery hurried off, fielded the ball with his back to 3B, turned and fired home. However, Hopp had returned to third. So the bases were loaded. Brown followed with a SF.
  • The three-week homestand concluded with two games against the Giants, who belted Lanier to win the opener 8-2 before Howie Pollet pitched a four-hit shutout for his first victory since June 7 to even his record at 5-5.
  • During this period, the Brooklynites finished their Western swing with a 6-2 mark in Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati. As a result, their lead shrunk by a game to 4.5 as Labor Day weekend began.

1942 Brooklyn Dodgers
1942 Dodgers

Spike Jones "Mirandy" Album

Cardinals P Max Lanier
Max Lanier

Mort and Walker Cooper
Mort and Walker Cooper

Dodgers C Mickey Owen
Mickey Owen

Dodgers 2B Billy Herman
Billy Herman

Dodgers SS Arky Vaughan
Arky Vaughan

Cardinals OF Coaker Triplett

Dodgers P Max Macon
Max Macon

Cardinals 1B Johnny Hopp

Dodgers SS Pee Wee Reese
Pee Wee Reese

 

Continued below ...

XI - Early September

Dodgers P Bobo Newsom
Bobo Newsom in his first stint with the Dodgers (1929-30)

 

 

Cardinals RF Enos Slaughter
Enos Slaughter

Cardinals LF Stan Musial
Stan Musial

Cardinals CF Terry Moore
Terry Moore

Giants P Hal Schumacher
Hal Schumacher

Phillies P Tommy Hughes
Tommy Hughes

Phillies SS Bill Burich
Bill Burich

Phillies C Mickey Livingston
Mickey Livingston

Cardinals P Bill Beckman

On September 4, the Cardinals began a 16-game, make-or-break road trip 4.5 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers.

  • The Redbirds concluded their long homestand with an amazing mark of 20-3, including taking three of four from the Bums to cut their their lead in half.
  • RF Enos Slaughter led the hitters with a .372 average during that time, with 1B Johnny Hopp only ten points behind.
  • Both the Cardinals and Dodgers made moves before the end of August to bolster their rosters for the stretch run.
    • Brooklyn acquired veteran P Bobo Newsome from the Senators. The brash 34-year-old, now on his ninth ML team if you count multiple times with Brooklyn, the Browns, and Washington, wired congratulations to Leo Durocher, bragging that the Dodgers had just "bought pennant insurance."
    • St. Louis GM Branch Rickey turned to his vast farm system to bring up OF-3B Erv Dusak, who had barely missed making the squad at the end of spring training.

The Redbirds moved into Cincinnati right after the Dodgers departed following a sweep of the two-game series.

  • Led by Stan Musial's two-run triple and Whitey Kurowski's HR, the Birds built a 4-2 lead after three innings and hung on 5-3 behind Johnny Beazley, who won his 18th with Howie Krist's help for the final 2 2/3 innings.
  • The Cards flashed their speed again the next day. Down 1-0 in the sixth, they had CF Terry Moore on third and LF Stan Musial on first. Ken O'Dea, giving Walker Cooper a day off behind the plate, blooped a single in the Bermuda Triangle between LF, CF, and SS. Musial, running on impact, scored all the way from first. With the score tied at 2 in the ninth, Hopp lined what looked to be just a single to CF but kept going to just beat CF Eric Tipton's hurried throw to 2B. Kurowski's single drove in the game-winner. Krist won in relief of Harry Gumbert.
  • Ace Mort Cooper toed the slab on Sunday wearing uniform #19. The Birds rapped 11 hits to make Mort's task easy: 10-2.
  • Meanwhile, Brooklyn lost two of three to the Giants at the Polo Grounds to reduce their lead to 2.5.
  • The Cincinnati writers, who had just seen the Dodgers and Cards invade Crosley Field back-to-back, agreed to a man that the Cardinals were the better ball club. They showed more speed and power than did the Dodgers, and more of the old hustle. ... if they continue to slash into good pitching and tear around the bases the way they did here ... they will either win or give the Dodgers an even greater scare. (Tom Swope, Star-Times)

Next stop: a Labor Day DH in Pittsburgh

  • The fifth-place Pirates didn't roll over and play dead. With the Cards enjoying a 5-0 lead behind Max Lanier entering the bottom of the sixth, the Bucs erupted for seven hits and three walks. Aided by an error, they plated 11 runs off Lanier, Murry Dickson, and Howie Pollet. The Cards outhit the home team 13-11 but lost 11-6. Reporters pointed out that this was Lanier's second poor start since pitching the opening and closing games of the four-game set with the Bums in St. Louis.
  • Beazley pitched on two days rest in the nightcap. He wasn't at his best, scattering nine hits, but won 6-4.
  • The Dodgers also split in Boston to keep the margin at 2.5.

St. Louis now rolled into Manhattan to face the Giants.

  • The Redbirds had found in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh that fans around the league were rooting for them to overtake the hated Dodgers. And that was true in spades in the Polo Grounds.
  • In a game delayed one day by rain, Pollet was set to face veteran Carl Hubbell just as he had in St. Louis. But as King Carl began to warm up, an errant throw from the Cards' fielding practice conked him behind the right ear. Manager Mel Ott replaced his woozy southpaw with "Prince Hal" Schumacher. Even though he was given extra time to warmup, Hal started slowly, as the Cards jumped on him for three in the first on their way to a 5-1 victory.
  • Meanwhile, the Dodgers beat Pittsburgh but lost to the Cubs 10-2 to drop another half game off their lead. The next day, Tommy Holmes of the Brooklyn Eagle lamented: Our heroes seemed dead on their feet and slow between the ears from the very first pitch.

So the Cardinals invaded Ebbets Field only two behind, the closest they had nipped at the Dodgers' heels since May 3. Sweep the Friday-Saturday series and you're tied for first!

  • Billy the Kid expressed great confidence in his high-flying Birds, winners of 26 of their last 31. Now that we're going full speed we don't expect to stop until after we've played the Yankees in the World Series.
  • Rickey told Harold Parrott of the Eagle that strong finishes were a trademark of the teams he fashioned. Look at 1926, 1930, 1931, 1934, all years we won pennants. We started slowly, but did not jell until later, and then really went to town. He added: The Brooklyn club is sitting on a volcano of sudden disintegration. I will give you a word of warning, young man. Win the pennant in Brooklyn this year, for if you do not you will find the Cards will win easily in 1943.
  • The mood on the other side was anything but optimistic. GM Larry MacPhail seemed fatalistic. When the ball club was eight and one-half games ahead, I warned it that it would blow the pennant unless it played better ball. Some of them thought I was seeing things, and maybe were unimpressed. Now, I doubt if we can win.
  • The Dodgers' veteran staff was showing the effects of the long campaign, finishing only four of fifteen games. Durocher was using starters in relief to try to win ball games. However, he held Whitlow Wyatt out of the rotation for six days to save him for the opener with St. Louis.

Southworth sent his ace Cooper out to face Wyatt for the third time that season.

  • Mort had outdueled the Dodger ace in the first two, a 1-0 two-hitter and a 2-1 14 inning win in August. Both pitchers normally wore #13, but Mort, following the superstition that had worked for weeks, donned #20.
  • Neither P disappointed the 29,774 that nearly filled Ebbets Field, posting goose eggs into the sixth. But Cooper led off that inning with a bouncing single to CF that just eluded diving SS Pee Wee Reese. Brown sacrified Mort to second, but Moore made the second out. Slaughter had been slumping, but he came through with a drive that tipped off the glove of 1B Dolph Camilli to score the first run of the game. Cooper again ignited a rally in the eighth by beating out a slow roller to Reese. This time, Southworth let Brown hit away, and he responded with a double down the LF line. When Moore fell behind 0-2, Whit tried a waste pitch high and inside. But the Cards' captain somehow smashed it into the LF corner to score both runners. Wyatt: I'll never know why he swung and still less how he ever hit the pitch that hard. Coop finished off the three-hit shutout, with only four baserunners, to close the gap to one game. It was Mort's seventh straight victory and eighth shutout, three of them against the Dodgers.
  • Both managers thought long and hard about who to start. Southworth had either the Beaz or Lanier. Max had beaten Brooklyn in the first game in St. Louis in August but lost the fourth one on two days rest and hadn't won since. But Billy was reluctant to expose the high-strung Beazley to the merciless bench-jockeying of the Dodgers. So he went with Lanier. Durocher chose young lefty Max Macon over veteran righty Curt Davis because he hoped the southpaw would pitch more effectively against left-handed batters like Slaughter and Hopp and cause Southworth to bench Musial in favor of .
  • Holmes remarked on the demeanor of the two clubs as they worked out before the first game of the crucial series. The veteran Dodgers were grim and obviously thoughtful while the younger Red Birds were smiling and sure of themselves although not overconfident. Tommy also sensed a fatalistic attitude among the 27,511 in the stands at Ebbets Field. If our Bums don't win this one, they'll lose the pennant.
  • The second inning determined the outcome as it produced the only runs of the tight affair. With one out, Walker Cooper singled. Macon tempted Kurowski with three slow curves, all of which Whitey pulled foul into the LF stands. Then Max went to that well once too often as the third-sacker lined it ten feet fair into the lower stands. The Dodgers cut the lead in half in the bottom of the frame on Reese's two-out double that drove home C Mickey Owen from first. As the tension mounted inning by inning, the Cards' fielding prowess helped Lanier preserve the slim one-run lead. In the fourth, Enos raced in to grab Reese's short fly with two on. No series wit the Dodgers could end without at least one outburst, and it happened in the seventh. Owen led off with a grounder between first and second that Hopp couldn't reach, but 2B Brown fielded to his left and t hrew to Lanier covering first to nip the Dodger C. Right after calling Owen out, 1B umpire Al Barlick threw 1B coach Charlie Dressen out of the game, "igniting an arm-flailing, jaw-to-jaw discussion of the call between coach, player, and umpire. A livid Leo Durocher leaped fro the Dodgers' dugout to join in challenging the umpire's decision with all of his customary vigor." (Jerome Mileur) The next inning, Musial, a late-inning replacement in LF, ran into LCF to grab a potential leadoff double. Finally, in the ninth, Slaughter struck again, tracking down a drive to deep RCF to deprive Brooklyn of another extra-base hit. Still, the Bums had runners on first and third with two outs and Camilli at the plate. But Lanier got Dolph on a grounder to 3B for what Roscoe McGowan of the New York Times called "the most important time at bat for a Dodger this year."

Even though the Dodgers were tied with the Cards, the outlook of the New York area writers was that of despair.

  • Durocher would have none of that. It took these guys five months to catch us. Now it's a new season.
  • However, St. Louis owner Sam Breadon said, "I think we're in," and made plans to print World Series tickets.
  • With 14 games left, captain Moore held an informal meeting with his teammates at Penn Station before boarding the train to Philadelphia. We've got about two weeks of this fight left. Let's agree that nobody stays out late until this thing is over. We will give all we have and anyone who beraks our own rules - well, we'll know how to treat him. The players indicated their assent by cheering.
  • It didn't take long for that unity to dissipate. Upon arriving in the City of Brotherly Love, Beazley got into an altercation with a porter. When the red cap asked if he could carry Johnny's bag, Johnny declined whereupon the porter cursed him, according to Johnny. So Beaz threw his bag at him, whereupon the red cap pulled a knife and slashed the star P's right thumb.

Nevertheless, the fabulous rookie took the mound in the first game of the Sunday doubleheader (an event that Pennsylvania "blue laws" prohibited until 1933).

  • A crowd of 20,798 turned out, most rooting for the Cardinals instead of their last-place (by 19 games!) Phils and cheering every time the scoreboard showed Cincinnati scoring in Brooklyn.
  • Beazley showed no ill effects of his injury, shutting down the home team for eight innings. However, his teammates could manage just a single run off Tommy Hughes. Then the Redbird D, so splendid in Ebbets Field the day before, cost Johnny his 20th. First, Slaughter, Hopp, and Brown converged on a short fly down the RF line but no one took charge and the ball dropped for a double. One out later, rookie SS Bill Burich lined a single to CF. Moore made a perfect throw to the plate but Cooper dropped the ball for an error as the tying run scored. Then SS Marion fumbled an easy grounder to move the winning run to second. C Mickey Livingston rapped a sharp single to RF for the victory. When the runs were posted on the Ebbets Field scoreboard, the crowd stood and cheered, delaying the game for three minutes.
  • After just three hits in the opener, the Cards doubled that total in the nightcap. They needed all of them to win 3-2. Musial's triple in the fourth scored Slaughter, then Hopp doubled home Stan. After the Phils tied it in the bottom of the inning, sending Krist to the showers, Moore lined his sixth homer of the season into the upper deck in LF. Bill Beckman, recently called up from Rochester, gave up only three hits in six innings to win his first ML game.
  • Despite the split, St. Louis gained a game on the Dodgers, who lost both games to the Reds. The Cardinals were in first place by themselves for the first time all season!

Continued below ...

XII - Late September

As the Cardinals faced the Phillies on Monday, September 14, they enjoyed the heady atmosphere of first place in the National League by one game over the Brooklyn Dodgers.

  • Having won 30 of their last 37 games, the Redbirds needed to keep the pedal to the metal for the remaining 12 games.
  • They took the last two in Philadelphia but not without some anxiety.
    • The Phils led 3-2 heading into the top of the ninth but four hits, including a triple by Harry Walker and a double by Stan Musial, plated four to give the victory to Howie Krist in relief.
    • The Tuesday finale stretched to 14 innings as Mort Cooper dueled with Si Johnson. Coop wore #21 as he tried for that number of victories but the superstition didn't work. Murry Dickson took over in the ninth with the score tied 2-2 and pitched three-hit, no-run ball the rest of the way. The Cards finally broke through when Dickson doubled, and Jimmy Brown singled him home.
    • Since the Dodgers were idle both days, the St. Louis lead stretched to two games. Brooklyn suffered from the ill will the club had engendered throughout the league. For example, GM Larry MacPhail suggested that Cincinnati was not trying as hard against other teams as they did against the Dodgers, leading Reds traveling secretary Gabe Paul to accuse the Bums of having a "persecution complex." He added:

    You know the old saying, something about reaping what you sow, don't you? Well, that's what's happening to the Dodgers right now. All year they've been hollering "teacher" every time something happened they didn't like. Some of them, like coach Chuck Dressen, have said some pretty mean things to rival players, too. They're getting it all back now.

The Redbirds continued their Eastern swing with two games in Boston.

  • The Cards took a six-run lead behind Ernie White and coasted to a 6-2 victory. Enos Slaughter and Musial continued their friendly battle to top the club in hitting, with Enos's 2-for-3 including his 13th HR putting him at .315, one point behind Stan, who went 2-for-4 with a 2B. Both trailed Boston's big-nosed C Ernie Lombardi who would go on to win the league title.
  • The next day, the Cardinal express came perilously close to defeat. With Johnny Beazley departing after only two innings, the Redbirds trailed 3-1 heading into the ninth against Al Javery. Sometimes rallies start in humble ways. C Walker Cooper beat out a dribbler down the 3B line, and 1B Johnny Hopp drew a walk. 3B Whitey Kurowski tried to sacrifice, but Cooper was thrown out at third. Billy Southworth called backup C Ken O'Dea from the bullpen to pinch hit, but Hopp called time and walked in to urge his skipper to use Ray Sanders instead because Ray, who hadn't had a hit in weeks, smacked the ball hard in batting practice. Sure enough, Sanders, who was Johnny's backup at 1B, lined a single to score his promoter and send Kurowski to third. O'Dea then hit for P Howie Pollet and squeezed home the tying run. Before Bill Donovan could quell the uprising, St. Louis posted three more to win 6-4.
  • Braves' manager Casey Stengel praised the Redbirds.

It's one of the few clubs I ever saw that gets its extra base hits out of its ankles. They aren't a ball club, they are a track team. ... This is the fastest ball club I've ever seen in my life; they're a bunch of Cobbs all rolled up into one.

  • Meanwhile, the Dodgers, in the midst of a 16-game homestand, split with the Pirates to fall three games behind with with ten to play.

The Cardinals spent Friday traveling to Chicago.

  • Rain postponed the Saturday game, which was played as part of a Sunday doubleheader that attracted 38,519, the largest crowd of the season at Wrigley Field despite the fact that the Cubs were stuck in fifth place 33 games behind.
  • Both games produced shutouts, one for each team. Cooper got his 21st in the opener, twirling a four-hitter to make the fourth-inning run produced by a double steal stand up. The victory was the 100th of the season.
  • Claude Passeau won his 19th in the nightcap, scattering five hits to outduel Max Lanier, who gave up all three runs in 2 2/3 innings.
  • The Dodgers beat the Phillies on Saturday 5-4 before splitting their twinbill on Sunday to stay 2.5 behind. It was an indication of the despondency in Flatbush that the DH attracted only 15,666. Tommy Holmes wrote in the Brooklyn Eagle that the Dodgers "had all the appearance of fellows attending their own wake."
  • The Eagle had sent Harold Parrott west to cover the Cardinals. He was astonished by the antipathy all the cities felt toward the Dodgers because Durocher is a bully, a swaggering menace to baseball. ... Old timers will tell you that never before was so much venom pumped into a 154-game schedule.

St. Louis finally returned home after going an astounding 13-3 on their road trip. They had left four games behind and returned 2.5 ahead. They would finish the season with series against their three West rivals at Sportsman's Park.

  • First in were the Pirates for a two-game set. Ernie White outdueled Hank Gornicki 2-1. The first Cardinal run came when SS Marty Marion hustled home from 2B on an infield hit up the midle by Brown.
  • The Cards enjoyed a romp in the Tuesday finale, 9-3. Another southpaw, Pollet, started but lasted only 2 2/3 before Gumbert and Dickson shut down the Bucs the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Musial's grand slam topped off a six-run fifth. Eight of St. Louis's nine runs were unearned.
  • The Dodgers did what they had to do, beating the Phillies 3-1 on Monday before edging the Giants 9-8 in twelve. Larry MacPhail reappeared at Ebbets Field after ten days incognito to announce that he had accepted a commission in the Army and would no longer be the GM at the end of the season.

Next into the Mound City were the Reds.

  • MacPhail lit into veteran Cincinnati manager Bill McKechnie to the press for pitching Johnny VanderMeer, "the best pitcher in the league against the Cardinals," in a "meaningless game" the day before in Chicago. McKechnie took it in stride. That's the first time in all my baseball experience I ever heard of the president of one club trying to tell the manager of another who to pitch.
  • As the Cards took the field for the night game, they knew that Brooklyn had beaten Philadelphia 6-0 behind Larry French's one-hitter.
  • The Reds jumped on Beazley for two runs, one of which was unearned. But the rookie shut them down the rest of the way, allowing only two hits. In the meantime, the Cards plated three in the third and one more in the seventh for a 4-2 triumph.
  • With their Magic Number down to two, the Redbirds rode their horse, Mort Cooper, to a 6-0 triumph to clinch a tie for the pennant. Mort matched Beazley with a two-hitter for his 22nd victory. Musial drove in three runs with three singles.
  • The Dodgers didn't cooperate, beating the Braves 5-3 to keep their flickering hopes alive for at least one more day. They also won 6-5 in 11 innings the next day to pull within two with two to play.

The Cards needed to win just one of their two final games against Chicago to clinch their first pennant since 1934.

  • A rainout on Saturday opened the door for them to back in should the Dodgers lose in Philadelphia, but Durocher's boys, fighting hard to the end, bopped the Phils 8-3. They could still tie with a win Sunday and a Cubs' DH sweep.
  • More than 31,000 showed up on a clear chilly day in Sportsman's Park. Chicago tallied a run off Ernie White in the fourth, but the Cards erupted for four in the fifth off Lon Warneke, who started the season in a St. Louis uniform. Another four-run inning (the 7th) propelled the Cards to the pennant 9-2. Men in the crowd tossed straw hats onto the field in celebration as the Birds carted Southworth and White off the field on their shoulders.
  • Even though Southworth played many second stringers in the meaningless nightcap, the Cards won 4-1 for Beazley's 21st victory.
  • On the East coast, the Dodgers edged the Phils 4-3 to close out the season with eight straight wins. In a precursor of the 1954 AL season, Brooklyn won 104 games but finished second as the Cards won 12 of their last 13.

St. Louis had staged one of the most incredible stretch runs in baseball history.

  • The last time they lost two in a row was August 2 to put them nine games behind.
  • From that point to the end of the season, they went an astounding 45-10.
  • While many of their fans accused the Dodgers of "blowing it" or "choking," they won 32 and lost 21 from August 3 on. Brooklyn didn't lose the pennant; the Cards took it from them.
  • Durocher wired congratulations. We have been beaten by a great ball club, and we'll all be pulling for you in the World Series.

Southworth's young crew now prepared to meet the Yankees, nine game winners in the Junior Circuit.

To be continued ...

Cardinals OF Harry Walker

Phillies P Si Johnson
Si Johnson

Braves C Ernie Lombardi
Ernie Lombardi

Cardinals 1B Ray Sanders
Ray Sanders

Reds Manager Bill McKechnie
Bill McKechnie

Pirates P Hank Gornicki
Hank Gornicki

Cardinals P Ernie White
Ernie White

Cardinals P Johnny Beazley
Johnny Beazley

Cardinals Manager Billy Southworth
Billy Southworth


XIII - World Series
The first game of the 1942 World Series had to be postponed one day to Wednesday, September 30, because wartime travel restrictions made it impossible for the Yankees to make it to St. Louis in time.
  • 451 members of the media covered the Series. The Mutual Broadcasting Company paid $100,000 for the radio rights. The Gillette Safety Razor Company sponsored the broadcasts, which would be beamed to U.S. Armed Forces overseas.
  • Sportswriters overwhelmingly picked the veteran Yankees (103-51), who had won the last eight World Series in which they appeared (the last loss being to St. Louis in 1926), to take the series over the upstart Redbirds (106-48).
  • Fans paid $3.45 for seats in the Sportsmen's Park Pavilion and $1.15 for bleacher tickets. Scalpers offered $6.50 box seat ducats for $50 and asked $20 for reserved seats.
  • To increase capacity, the Cardinals installed temporary field boxes that forced the teams to sit on benches in front of their dugouts.
1942 World Series Sluggers
L-R: Joe DiMaggio, Enos Slaughter, Charlie Keller, and Terry Moore 

1942 World Series Program

Cardinals 1942 World Series Patch

Game One: Yankees 7 Cardinals 4 (Attendance: 34,769)
  • Cards Manager Billy Southworth went with his ace Morton Cooper (22-7) while Joe McCarthy, who was 5-0 in the Series with the Yankees, chose 37-year-old Charles "Red" Ruffing (14-7).
  • Appearing in his seventh Fall Classic, Red stole the show from his younger rival, holding the Redbirds hitless until Terry Moore singled to RF with two outs i the 8th.
  • In the meantime, the Bronx Bombers built a 5-0 lead, which they extended to seven runs in the top of the ninth.
  • But the Cards rallied for four in the bottom of the inning to drive Ruffing from the box and bring in Spud Chandler who got Stan Musial, who fouled out to start the inning, to ground out with two men on.
  • CF Joe DiMaggio led the Yanks with three of their 11 hits while 3B Red Rolfe, C Bill Dickey, and 1B Buddy Hassett contributed two each.
  • The Cardinals would later point to their ninth inning uprising as giving them confidence that they could beat the mighty Yankees.

Game Two: Cardinals 4 Yankees 3 (34,255)

  • Badly needing a split before heading to Yankee Stadium for Games 3-5, Southworth sent his sensational rookie, Johnny Beazley (21-6), to the mound to face Ernest "Tiny" Bonham (21-5).
  • The St. Louis fans tried to help their heroes by clanging cowbells and singing. Beazley secretly did his part by carrying a rabbit's foot to the mound for luck.
  • The home team needed to jump on top, and they did just that. Jimmy Brown led off the bottom of the first with a walk. Playing for one run from the start, Southworth had Moore bunt. Bonham tried and failed to get Brown at second. After the top two Cards in batting average, Enos Slaughter and Musial, flied out, C Walker Cooper came through with a clutch double to RCF to put the Birds on top 2-0.
  • Beazley shut down the Bombers, although the didn't retire the side in order until the sixth. The Cards added another run in the 7th on 3B Whitey Kurowski's triple following 1B Johnny Hopp's single.
  • With two out and none on in the eighth, the Yanks appeared to be going down quietly. But RF Roy Cullenbine beat out an infield hit and stole second in a daring move by McCarthy. DiMaggio ended the shutout with a single. When Charlie "King Kong" Keller followed with a clout over the RF Pavilion onto Grand Avenue. Just like that, the visitors had tied the score.
  • Undaunted, the Redbirds retook the lead in the bottom of the inning on Slaughter's two-out double and Musial's first hit of the series, a ground single into CF.
  • In those days before closers became a baseball staple, Beazley strode to the hill in the ninth and immediately allowed Dickey's single to put the tying run on first. McCarthy inserted Tuck Stainback to run for the veteran backstop. When Hassett singled to right, Stainback set sail for third. But Slaughter made another key play, firing a strike that nailed the PR by two strides. Ruffing pinch-hit for Bonham and flew out before SS Phil Rizzuto grounded out.
1942 New York Yankees
1942 New York Yankees
Game Three: Cardinals 2 Yankees 0 (69,123)
  • After a travel day, the Series resumed at the House That Ruth Built before a record Saturday throng. None of the Cardinals had ever seen the inside of Yankee Stadium, but they didn't play like they were intimidated.
  • Lefty Ernie White (7-5) continued the fine pitching that had restored him to the starting rotation down the stretch to shut out New York on six hits.
  • Chandler pitched well but surrendered a run in the 3rd on a walk, a bunt single, a sacrifice, and a groundout.
  • The game stayed a nerve-wracking 1-0 until the ninth when Brown singled, Moore reached when the Yankees again botched up one of his bunts, and Slaughter singled.
  • Joltin' Joe touched White for a one-out single, but Ernie retired the next two hitters to give the Birds a 2-1 series lead. It was the first time the Yanks had been shutout in the World Series since Jesse "Pop" Haines of the Cards blanked them 4-0 in '26.

Game Four: Cardinals 9 Yankees 6 (69,902)

  • The attendance record lasted just one day. Southworth had planned to save Mort Cooper for Game Five, but the big righthander persuaded his skipper to move him up a day.
  • The Yanks touched Mort for one in the first, and rookie Hank Borowy (15-4) held the lead until the fourth when the roof caved in. The Cards drove him from the hill with four singles and two walks, then continued against Atley Donald to the tune of six runs. Musial sparked the onslaught with a single and a double.
  • With Mort cruising along, the lead seemed safe. But these were the Bronx Bombers after all, and they sent the Cardinal ace to the showers with a five-run sixth, sparked by Keller's three-run clout to deep RF to make it 6-5. Harry Gumbert relieved but an error and a double added tied the game before Howie Pollet got Donald to end the uprising.
  • Just as they had done in Game Two when the Yanks pulled into a tie, the Redbirds jumped back in front with two in the seventh on Cooper's single and SS Marty Marion's flyout.
  • Southworth called on lefty Max Lanier (13-8) to hold the line, and he did just that, yielding two hits but no runs. He made his task a little easier by singling home a run in the 9th. The scorer rewarded Max with the victory.
Cardinals After Game Four
The Cardinals congratulate Max Lanier on winning Game 4.
Game Five: Cardinals 4 Yankees 2 (69,052)
  • Southworth charged Beazley with the task of closing out the Yankees. He pitched well on the overcast, foggy day, allowing a run in the first on Rizzuto's HR and another in the fourth.
  • Meanwhile, Slaughter smacked a HR off Ruffing in the fourth, the Cards' first round-tripper of the Series. Then singles by Moore and Musial and a SF by Cooper tied the game in the sixth.
  • The moundsmen mowed down the opposition until the top of the ninth. Cooper singled to open the frame, and Hopp sacrificed him to 2B. Kurowski, after pulling a pitch just foul down the LF line, straightened the next one out to give St. Louis a 4-2 lead.
  • The defending World Champs didn't go down without a fight. 2B Joe Gordon opened with a single to LF for his first hit of the Series. Then 2B Brown botched a potential DP grounder to put the tying runs on base. Then, with the crowd roaring, came another crucial defensive play that took the heart out of the Yankee rally. With Gordon trying to get as good a lead as possible in anticipation of a sacrifice, Beazley fired a high hard one that caused the hitter to pull back, which allowed Cooper to fire to second to pick off the lead runner. Beaz set down the next two batters to give the Cardinals their fourth World Championship.
Kurowski After Game 5 HR
Whitey Kurowski crosses home after his game-winning HR in Game 5. 
Pandemonium reigned in the visiting locker room.
  • We beat the Yankees! yelled the victorious Redbirds. We beat 'em in their own back yard! Kurowski refused to let go of the bat that smacked the winning HR.
  • The players hoisted Southworth onto their shoulders, then did the same for Kurowski and Beazley.
  • Even GM Branch Rickey and NL President Ford Frick got hoisted on high. Frick said, I never saw an;ything like this. Let me out of here.
  • McCarthy came over to congratulate the winners, as did many of the Yankees, including DiMaggio.
  • Southworth gushed: We took 'em and we took 'em decisively ... we won in clean, honest, sportsmanlike fashion ... with dash and youth ... Anytime you can beat a ball club like the Yanks ... well, I just feel wonderful. If I felt any better, I wouldn't be able to stand it. A marvelous bunch of kids!

Reporters attributed the Redbirds' smashing victory to their youth and speed.

  • The kids ran their elders ragged. They were too fast, too lively, too hungry to be halted ... thosing dashing Cardinals. John Kieran
  • Speed confused and confounded the Yankees ... In the fact of that speed, a constant haunting thing, the Yankees cracked. Charles Dunkey (AP)
  • Philadelphia A's manager Connie Mack said the Cardinals had invented a new game.
St. Louis would win the next two NL pennants as well, losing to the Yankees in the '43 World Series before beating the St. Louis Browns in '44.
1942 St. Louis Cardinals